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40 Odd Things About Me Meme

(Stolen from Shadowkat. None of these questions strike me as particularly odd, but what the hell.)

1. Do you like blue cheese?

Yes – love them skeezy cheeses.

2. Coke or Pepsi?

Neither. I gave up caffeine a long time ago.

3. Do you own a gun?


4. What flavor of Kool-aid?

None. Don't like it.

5. Hot dogs?

Very occasionally. I have to be in a hotdog mood, and they have to be really good hotdogs. I prefer bratwurst or Italian sausage. When I do have them, I like them with mustard and sauerkraut.

6. Favorite tv show?

Currently? Probably The Good Place.

7. Do you believe in ghosts?


8. What do you drink in the mornings?

Water, milk, or coconut water.

9. Can you do a push-up?

Not really. I'm working up to it.

10. Favorite Jewelry?

A pair of silver and opal earrings I got at the Tempe Art Fair last year.

11. Favorite hobby?

Writing, when it's working.

12. Do you have ADD?

No idea. I've never been evaluated by a medical professional. My mother always claimed that if I'd been born twenty years later, I would have been diagnosed as ADD, but I grew up in the 60s, so I was just labeled disruptive and fidgety. However, I grew out of that kind of behavior by... fourth grade or so, I think? Or maybe I just learned how to channel more constructively. I've read the lists of symptoms, and some of them do apply to me, but some of them don't, so who knows. If I am, I've learned to cope with it reasonably well.

13. Do you wear glasses?


14. Favorite cartoon character?

Bugs Bunny.

15. Three things you did yesterday:

Took the dog for a walk, played Minecraft, and pored obsessively over the polls on Fivethirtyeight.com.

16. Apparently, there is no 16.

17. Current worries?

Whether or not we're in for another round of layoffs at work, the probability that democracy is in a worldwide hellish death spiral, and assorted minor health issues.

18. Do you believe in magic?


19. Favorite place to be?

I don't have a single favorite, but one of them is an interesting second-hand/antique store.

20. How did you ring in the new year?

At home with a few friends.

21. Where would you like to go?

Great Britain.

22. Name five people who will participate in this.

Shan't, and you can't make me.

23. Favorite movie?

Singing in the Rain.

24. Favorite color?


25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?

No. They're slippery and annoying.

26. Can you whistle?


27. Where are you now?

In my chair in the living room.

28. Where would you rather be right now?

Where I SHOULD be is in bed.

29. Favorite food?

Sashimi. Or homemade cherry pie. Or dark chocolate with sea salt. It depends.

30. Thing you hate most to do?

Talk to strangers.

31. Best job you can think of?

I'm pretty happy with the one I have.

32. What's in your pockets?


33. Last thing that made you laugh?

A joke someone made at our RPG meeting earlier this evening. It was one of those 'you had to be there' things.

34. Favorite animal?


35. What's your most recent injury?

A blister on my hand from mowing the lawn this afternoon.

36. How many TVs are in your house?

Two. But only because we inherited Mom's TV when she passed on, and my wife won't let me get rid of it. (If she had her way, we'd have one in every room.)

37. Worst pain ever?

It's a tie. Worst Pain #1 was the time I had to have all four sideways impacted wisdom teeth removed from my jaws with a bone saw. I came to in the middle of the operation and they had to give me more anesthetic. Afterwards I was too nauseated from the anesthetic and all the blood I'd swallowed to keep any pain meds down, and I remember just lying in bed crying for an entire weekend, too sore and sick to do anything. I couldn't eat for days. Worst Pain #2 was the time I fell off of my bike without a helmet, and smacked face-first into the pavement, and had to go to the emergency room. I remember walking into the house, looking at my mangled face in the mirror, and thinking, "Huh, maybe I do need to go to the hospital," and a few fragments of walking to the car, and then (according to my wife) I lost all memory of the previous two months for about half an hour, and kept asking her where I was and why my head hurt. My next memory is of us getting out of the car at the hospital, and being descended upon by nurses. I think the wisdom teeth may actually have been worse pain-wise, because I was in shock for a lot of the worst of the bike accident, but the bike accident involved more area (I also wrenched a toe and fucked up both hands) and took longer to recover from. It's really hard to choose.

38. Do you like to dance?

No. I'm very bad at it and I find it intensely embarrassing to flop around in front of strangers.

39. Are your parents still alive?

No. My father died when I was seventeen, and my mother died last year.

40. Do you enjoy camping?

Yes, very much.

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Write something, Barb

Uuuuugh I've been meaning to make a post for weeks, but I keep not doing it. Lessee... exciting developments in my life:

1. A week or so after the tree out front broke in half, we had another big storm, and the remaining big branch on the other side broke off, too. So now we have a denuded-looking trunk with sad, stumpy half-branches left. It's a pretty fast-growing tree, so it should recover in a few years, but in the meantime, it's pretty pathetic looking.

2. We are definitely going to see my mother in law in Florida for Christmas. Only for four days, so we'll have a few days of holiday time to recover when we get home, before we have to go back to work.

3. I am working on Chapter 14 of A Parliament of Monsters again, and have about 7500 words of first draft written. There are three scenes left to go. I had to go back and re-read some of the previous chapters to get back in the groove with my own versions of the characters, since most of the fandom discussion of late has been about the annoying developments in Season 12, and the probability of the conclusion sucking even more than Chosen did. (Oh, sure, NOW everyone loves Chosen, but that was not at all the case when it aired. Maybe twenty years from now people will be fawning over Season 12, too, but somehow I doubt it.)

I have a weird relationship with BtVS canon, because although my own 'verse is way AU, I try very hard to ground my characters in their canon selves. However it pains me to say it, S12 may end up being my breaking point, where I have to say, "Nope, not canon for me." The problem is not that I can't fanwank Buffy's 180 from the end of S11; I can fanwank anything if I have to. It's just that doing so puts me back in a place where I don't like Buffy very much, and I don't like being in that place. For all the quibbles I have about seasons 10 & 11, I liked Buffy in them, and felt like I understood where she was coming from and why she did and said the things she did, and that was so so nice after so many years/seasons of feeling grumpy about the writing choices for the main character in the franchise. The Buffy in S12 feels like a completely different person, and I still don't see any good in-story reason for that to be so.

4. I chucked some money at the Pillowfort kickstarter, and distributed the startup codes I got to the populace on Tumblr, hoping to convert them to the joys of threaded comments.

5. I found two random Minecraft seeds in a row where a woodland mansion generates within two thousand blocks of the spawn point (though in one case, it only generates in 1.12, not in 1.13, a problem I solved by creating the world in 1.12, teleporting to the mansion coordinates to generate that block, immediately closing the world and reloading it in 1.13.)

That's really about it. I want very badly to start working on some projects for the long term improvement of the back yard, but it's still too hot, and anyway I can't buy materials until I pay off the plane tickets to Florida. (Buying plane tickets to Orlando on Christmas week is... let's just say all our flights are red-eyes.)

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Some good stuff happens

So last weekend framefolly visited, and we all got to hang out together and watch movies and shoot the breeze just like in the Olden Days! Much fun was had by all. Yesterday was Kathy's birthday, but I had already gotten her her present (an enameled cast iron Dutch oven) so I just got her flowers and took her to dinner at Sauce, which is a hipster pizza joint, but before we did that, we went and got our ears pierced again.

We'd been talking for awhile about doing it -- it was the second piercing for me, third for her. I'd been putting it off because the first time I had it done, it really, really hurt, and my ears were sore and bleedy for what seemed like forever. But I did some googling and found a couple of local body piercing places with good reviews, and astonishingly enough, when you have it done by a professional, rather than some rando in a booth at the State Fair, it really does only hurt for a second. So I have a pair of really cool black opal studs now.

Today was less fun; I logged in to work to find that one of the back-end data transfer processes had failed, so we couldn't run any of the nationwide reports which normally go out today. Which means I'll have to run them all tomorrow, which will be a madhouse -- there's a reason we split them up over two days. :P And then, at lunch, I spilled my drink on my keyboard (my own keyboard, thankfully, not my work laptop, which was closed at the time) and it died, so I had to run over to Best Buy and get a new one. The irritating thing is, I'm positive I have a spare keyboard stashed around here, but I couldn't find it. It'll doubtless turn up now that I have a new one.

However, Kathy got hold of her Mom on the phone at last, and we've pinned down that we'll be going to visit her over Christmas. So I gotta look into plane tickets and arrange to board the dog.

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I keep saying I'm too old for this

And somehow I keep ending up helping people move anyway. A couple from our local RPG group just bought a new house, and we spent about six hours Sunday helping them pack and load boxes. The guy is one of these people who has literally rooms full -- and I mean packed to the ceiling full -- of action figures and military models. Luckily, most were still in their original boxes, and so they were fairly easy to pack, but good gravy. His significant other is trying to convince him to pare down the collection as they unpack, and I wish her luck.

We came home, showered, and collapsed for awhile, and then, as evening approached, the wind started kicking up. As I may have mentioned, we've been having monsoon storms most evenings/nights for the last week or so, and Sunday was no exception -- not much rain in our area, but lots of wind. When the initial wind gusts hit, this happened:

Luckily, the tree fell into the street, not towards the house. It was a mesquite tree that just came up and grew on its own, probably seeded from the ones in the apartment complex down the street. It's technically on city property, but we're the ones who get dunning notices from the city when it overgrows the street too much, so I've always considered it ours.

The storm passed very quickly, and while I was out on the curb examining the damage, a young woman walked up, said her family lived down the street, and her father did tree-trimming and removal. So she gave me his card, and I called him the next morning, and as of today, the fallen branches are gone and the remaining tree is trimmed up. I don't know if it will survive, but I'd like to give it a chance. If it doesn't make it, or if another storm takes down the remaining branch (which is a definite possibility; mesquites are attractive and fast-growing and drought resistant, which makes them popular landscape trees here, but they have brittle wood, a tendency to sprawl, and a shallow root system, so our summer storms often break or uproot them) well, I've still got the tree guy's number.

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Stormy Weather

We've had several days of monsoon storms in a row, and some of them have been doozies. Tuesday night there was a big lighting storm, and all of Wednesday, my credit union's website had a doleful, apologetic note up saying that they were sorry for the inconvenience, but the storm had taken out their server, their backup server, their backup backup server, their on-site generator, and probably concussed the ninety-year-old guy in the vault who has all fifty thousand account passwords memorized, Just In Case.

July was a sort of sucky double anniversary month: a year since Mom broke her hip, and a little over six months since she died. I was talking about it with my Texas cousin the other day – her mother, Mom's older sister, passed away last year in July, a week or so after Mom broke her hip, so she was going through the same thing.

I've been having a lot of dreams about Mom in the last few weeks, and about my sister (who died of colon cancer in 2015) as well. In the dreams, they're as they were when I last spoke to them – my sister dying, Mom very frail. In the most recent one I remember, I dreamed that my sister had moved in with Mom so that Mom could take care of her in her final days. Which would have been absurd in real life; Mom drove my sister crazy, and Mom was long past being able to care for someone else by that time. But in the dream it made sense, and while it was sad, it was also... weirdly peaceful, in that I had a chance to talk to both of them, say goodbye in a way I didn't get to in reality.

I suppose that's something. I still miss Mom terribly, and probably I always will. I mean, I still miss my sister, and it's been three years. Mom was a much bigger part of my daily life. While the grief is still there, it's... settling, I guess. It's funny; I was reading a Pride & Predjudice soulmate AU the other day (it was recommended as a soulmate AU for people who don't like soulmates, and it did not disappoint) where the author writes an exceptionally sympathetic examination of the heroine's grief after her first husband's death, and the progression of her year of mourning. I found myself thinking that it's a bit of a pity that mourning has gone out of fashion. I wouldn't want to be restricted to black (or even violet) for a year, but recognizing that people may need that long to adjust when a huge chunk of their lives is torn away, and that this period of adjustment is normal and necessary, is something that's fallen by the wayside.

In brighter news, framefolly is coming to visit next week! Woohoo!

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And the Heat Goes On

I have a whole list of things I would like to do to fix up the back yard now that the block fence is complete: put up a patio over the back porch, plant a couple of bushes or perhaps even a tree, put up a rain gutter on the portion of the roof over the tiki bar, go over to the place that sells scrap iron and see if there are any pieces suitable for bolting to the fence as decorative trellises, etc. And it's too damned hot to do any of it. At least the 110+ heat has broken for awhile – hopefully for good. I was able to take Bo out for his whole walk this evening for the first time in a couple of weeks, much to his delight. It was still hot and muggy, but not unbearably so.

I took Bo in to the vet for his heartworm shot Monday; he's doing pretty well for an old-ish guy. No sign of hip problems so far, and no sign of any suspicious lumps. He's still very alert and energetic. Hard to believe he's almost ten.

Out of curiosity, I've been trying to track down the various superpacs sponsoring political ads in AZ. There are three candidates fighting for the Republican nomination for Jeff Flake's seat, and there have been some reeeeeally odd ads as each tries to paint the others as wild-eyed liberals. Generally, if an ad against a Republican candidate is sponsored by a Democratic-aligned PAC, it will go something like this:

SERIOUS MUSIC plays. MIDDLE AGED WHITE COUPLE looks sadly at the camera.

WOMAN: I just don't know how we're going to survive if [Candidate] takes away our health care.

MAN: (Nods solemnly, holds up ADORABLE GRANDCHILD) And think of the children!

VOICEOVER, AS A TEAR RUNS DOWN ADORABLE GRANDCHILD'S FACE: Healthcare is super important! Vote for [Other Candidate] who gives a shit!

However, if it's sponsored by a Republican-aligned PAC against either a Democrat OR a fellow Republican:



From my point of view as an actual wild-eyed liberal, every single one of the three is a certified ultra-far-right loon, so it's absolutely bizarre seeing them each acting as if the other two are to the left of Bernie Sanders.

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Five-second kerfuffle

So there was a BtVS 'reboot' announced, and fandom went crazy for like two days, before it was clarified that it was more of a spinoff than a reboot. I am much happier to see a spinoff, but a lot of reboot backlash I saw had fairly unpleasant undertones -- any time a sentence starts with "I'm not racist, but..." people should just shut up right there, because nothing non-racist ever follows those four words. But anyway, it seems all has ended well, with the caveat that all this is still just smoke and mirrors at the moment, and many shows get pitched that never make it to air.

My brother visited for a couple of days this week, and finally got his tools and two boxes full of Kinder Egg toys (which I've been holding since we cleaned out Mom's house back in 2015) shipped to his place. There's still a giant plastic Kinder Egg shelf kind of thing to go. I also went through the Phoenix Bird collection, and put together a full dinner service for six with all the serving pieces, and we'll ship that the next time he visits. (He works for a Major Airline, so he gets a discount with FedEx.) It's five banker's boxes full of dishes, since I wrapped them in enough bubble wrap to float a battleship. I feel kind of bad that I can't keep more of it, knowing how much Mom loved it, but we already have two sets of china, and we just don't have room for more. And to be honest, I don't like the pattern all that much.

So... after taking out the dozen or so pieces that Kathy and I are keeping, the set I sent to my sister's family, the set I sent to my cousin, the set I first gave to my brother that his then-girlfriend kept when they broke up, and this set, I still have... almost a dozen boxes of this stuff to get rid of. Most of the nicest pieces have been parceled out already, but there are still a few large, hard-to-find pieces that I want to try selling on eBay. The rest of it... I dunno. Back in the 1980 and 90s this stuff was very collectible, but the market for it pretty much crashed in recent decades. If I were willing to put the little stuff up on eBay indefinitely, I could probably sell most of it eventually, but I don't know if I have that much patience. It's taking up a lot of floor space in the computer room.

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It's done! I know it weird to get excited over a bunch of concrete bricks, but this has been one of the four Really Big Projects we've wanted to do since we bought this house.* We no longer have to stare at the dumpster in the alley when using the back patio!

*The other three were enclosing the carport and expanding the kitchen/dining room (done), remodeling the front bathroom (done) and expanding the back bedroom and bath into a master bedroom/bath (not gonna happen for quite awhile.)

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Trying to get back into miniature painting. Here's a couple of my latest efforts:

The elven fighter/thief is Leto, a character belonging to a friend of mine (I painted this for her birthday present, and still have to give it to her.) The centaur is Ralfaella Thunderhoof -- I'm not playing her at the moment, but she's always been one of my favorite characters. I have another version of her somewhere in armor, which I painted ages ago, and stupidly did not primer, so it had started to chip. If I can find it, I'm hoping I can clean the old paint off and re-do it. It was one of the old-fashioned lead miniatures they don't sell any longer -- these two are pewter, part of an old Ral Partha series which is apparently no longer in production, and that's a real pity, because they're gorgeously sculpted. I've got several more from the same artist lying around that I want to paint. But the next one on the list is the 3D-printed custom figure of the kitsune character I'm currently playing, and it's got a ton of fiddly little detail, so we'll see how that goes.

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Because damn that is a lot of grapes.

Well, not really. We had tons more than this when I was a kid, and Dad had a dozen vines in the back yard. But it's more than I can easily eat by myself, and the figs are getting ripe now too. I have some experimental peach-fig bread cooling right now, and we'll have to see how it comes out. I used a recipe which called for dried apricots, and there was a lot more moisture in the fresh fruit, so I had to knead in a lot more flour as it rose, and I'm not sure if it will be tasty or just weird.

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