Creating your smarthome is somewhat like embracing our eventual rule by robots in the most fun possible way while Skynet smiles in anticipation. Let's not pretend this isn't exactly where it's going and we're actually kind of okay with it.

It's also baffling as fuck combined with so easy it's almost uncanny. Right now, the biggest problem is quite literally it's updating and generationing like fruit flies and there are so many systems and so many protocols.

I took the easiest route; my laptops are Dell because they're locally founded and owned, my BFFs brother works there along with some of my friends, and I will be with them probably until the bitter crashing end, and my smarthome controller of choice is Samsung, which has a local headquarters and my ex-BIL and his son--my son's BFF--works there. Yes, Samsung makes phones that on occasion are known to abruptly explode; no one's perfect.

To break this down into pieces, I'm going to start with my smartlight review. All of these option require home wifi and a working router, and we'll get more into the router part later.

your hub light ecosystem )

your non-hub light ecosystem )

I started this entry last week and left in draft. Then I discovered on Tuesday, routers can be a problem and so held this entry until I'd solved it. It has to do specifically with wifi networks in general.

so about those routers )
I am deep in that territory we call 'homebuilding', in which I unexpectedly find myself carefully researching Edison lightbulbs for their steampunk-retro ambiance while tossing $2.50 throw blankets from Wal-Mart in my cart and calling it a day. (Also, cushions for my porch loveseat, because Christ, I'm a person who owns one of those and the matching table.)

I assumed--foolishly, in retrospect--that I'd burn this shit out once I was mostly-moved and turn my attention to higher things--Python, for example, or Plex vs Emby vs Kodi for my media server, rewrite some bash scripts to double as daemons, that kind of thing--and that happened! I went back ot my natural territory of ripping my blurays and fighting makemkv's command line interface when I couldn't make Fast Five work (fuck Fast Five) and reinstalling my entire server to prep for it's media server future.

And I was on course for just that. Then, tragedy.

me and prince hal 3000 )

So to return to the subject, I thought I was over this entire 'decorating my home' thing. Then I got paid, and oh.

me and home shenanigans )

Mattress Review

Reference: Zinus Memory Foam Green Tea Mattress, 12-Inch, Queen, review under tag.

It's been about six weeks, and I can report that this mattress is an excellent bargain and I recommend wholeheartedly, but only if you like firm, for it is not hard but it is firm. Adjustment is roughly three and a half weeks to a month, at which time you'll know for sure whether it works for you. Everything I said here is still true. I keep wanting to say it's softened, but no, it hasn't; I just got used to its give now so it feels normal.

A few concerns: I have a better idea on the heat-retention and while there may be some, it's also summer in Texas and also my life. So no better or worse than any other mattress I've slept on, but I do use only one sheet and a light blanket during summer to sleep. The lack of transfer motion--ie, anyone getting into or out of bed--does not exist. A normal legged tray is fine; steady it when you crawl in right beside it, but once you're sitting, nothing. You will also not feel your cat crawl into bed with you until it tries to eat your feet.

Cat

For those who have been wondering: her name is Fearful Symmetry, Sym for short, and boy has she earned it.

Home Improvement

My next item of business is to review wifi and hubbed lightbulbs because a.) I've bought almost all the brands that are able to be controlled by Alexa, Hue, and/or SmartThings (and therefore can be ultimately voice controlled by Alexa), and b.) I have opinions and why not. I also ran into some issues that it took me ridiculous amounts of time on google to solve and I need to record them here.

Short version: initial investment can be a little high, but provided you're willing to take the creation of your bulb network slowly, it's not ridiculous, just an item for your budget, and in this case, one that's energy conscious. A lot of this, however, won't have much to do with cheap versus quality but what you're going to use them for, where, and why. One thing that I couldn't find out easily was an answer to that question and hopefully, this will help. I'll also try to go over actual practical brightness and size as opposed to lumens and watts, which are surprisingly inconsistent even when one lightbulb matches another; I bought more than one bulb that wouldn't physically fit where I intended it and that still makes me cranky.

If anyone is specifically interested in doing this themselves, feel free to tell me what you want to know or your specific concerns. I will say the benefits of having a range are very high rather than committing yourself to one brand or system so poly is the way to go, but compatibility is required.

For anyone like me who likes that kind of thing, SmartThings jumped four levels when I discovered you can write your own SmartThings SmartApps that are used internally by SmartThings. They provide you with an online IDE, templates, documentation, examples, the code for actual internal SmartApps you use on the app already, a tutorial in Groovey, and simulator on the site to run your scirpts. I'd put this at a one-one and a half to five for challenge because you can go from copy-paste to some very cool uses of your sensors and lights to do awesome things. I'll come back to this later, but those of you who are hobby programmers or need a practical reason to learn, it's perfect and also extremely casual. The reason I go as high as five is both potential complexity and also what your setup is like. Just lights or a motion sensor and lights would be about a one and a half, but once you throw in a multipurpose sensor that can sense vibration and axis and contact, dude, it gets really fun.
So last night, the following occurred:

1.) A young adolescent cat leaps onto my porch where I am innocently reading.
2.) Child--sensing a disturbance in the Force--comes down the hall from his bedroom.
3.) Cat for no reason plasters itself against glass door.
4.) Door opens and I watch a Disney romantic comedy in progress as two--beings?--find each other like there should be a goddamn soundtrack playing featuring Mariah Carey.

a cat's tale )

Glad I got that off my chest.

Apartmenting

1.) Got my bed set up finally, directly under the ceiling fan because it was the only way to keep my posts and holy shit recommended.

2.) My porch now boasts a rug, a patio table, and a patio loveseat. I feel very--like I have a small plastic outdoor living room?

3.) Got a wifi doorbell. Because why the hell not?

4.) Acquired a Samsung SmarthThings hub with two (2) multipurpose sensors, one (1) motion sensor, and one (1) arrival sensor because I'm not sure really and we'll get to that now.

This was going to happen from the moment I got the Echo and realized I could live in Star Trek. So let's just go with it.

home automation: the adventure continues )
The moving is (mostly) complete*.

* There is still a recliner, a sofa size painting that belonged to my grandmother, and sundry boxes of non-vital things and Christmas stuff, but close enough.

So in my last entry, I mentioned my apartment complex is on a hill. It's more clinging to the side of a hill, and the hill is a landfill just off a creek that hilariously stretches most of north Austin; ie, if it had enough water, I could paddle back to my old house. When it does have enough water, that's usually flood times, which means not recommended. Just saying, that could happen, who knows.

apartment shenanigans )

random stoneware-based digression that includes my grandmother )

continuing apartment shenanigans )
Currently on day five of the new apartment, in which about two thirds of the lights are wifi controlled and so is the thermostat. My bed is in pieces, but I can control light and weather with my voice. And when my new doorbell is installed, I can watch people outside my door from the comfort of my phone like a creep.

I think that makes me a god. Like, a really discount one, but you take what you can get.

So, two weeks with new mattress, review for first few nights here.

mattress oh mattress )
So I explained about how I ended up impulse-purchasing an Amazon Echo to avoid a huge ass 4K curved tv I would never use except as a head for my server? Good, let's start there.

Amazon Echo with Alexa

I was vaguely aware of the existence of Echo without much in the way of caring about it, which is how this story usually goes. Then I ended up looking at it one night to avoid the ridiculous TV and actually read what it did.

Summary: You can be Star Trek.
Me: *clicks Add to Cart*

So that was something. While I waited the eternity to receive my 'why am i buying this, right, i am captain kirk' (this was inevitable) I went to check out what people do with Alexa other than talk to it and no longer have to lie when someone asks if they have any friends ("Alexa was telling me about the weather in Chicago, yeah. Really cloudy with a thirty percent chance of rain. Ten days from now, possibly snow.")

...not that I do that or anything.

From this point on, I'm using Alexa instead of Echo, because this is less about the product and more about AVS (Alexa Voice Services). Also, Alexa likes that better.

Alexa's uses are probably legion, but you have to think of it like smartphones about ten years ago. Lots of potential but not a lot of apps yet, so to speak (in Alexa, we call those 'Skills'). There are entire skills devoted to such things as 'cat questions', 'random facts about India', 'how to make a lot of alcoholic drinks step by step'. This will come in handy later.

music all of it )

weather and trivia and such )

home automation, god help you )

Having said that, you're glancing at the price tag and thinking...yeah. Okay, easier, cheaper, and more moving parts):

Create Your Own Alexa Device, No, Really

This is a really good guide. I do not exaggerate, this was very, very well written and detailed.

I built one (as of three hours ago), so yes, this does work AND IT IS GODDAMN MAGIC. The only thing it can't do is be always on, like Echo is (Alexa hears all, knows all, answers "I don't understand the question"...all). It does everything else. When you're done, download the Alexa app and connect them up, then marvel at the world.

now, a word from me on many things, including what to buy, what to do, and why you should try it )
Dear internet (and ellixis): I bought a mattress online.

Just now, half of you flinched; I know. The problem is, a 512 G solid state Samsung PCIe hard drive went on sale for $99.00 and it was buy a damn mattress or resign myself to sleeping on a bed of old hard drives with an (awesome) upgraded server. Or possibly a new server: it needs refurbishing, now that I think about it.

This is my story.

and other things )
I haven't posted much--or at all--but I do have reason; abruptly in January, my job transitioned to a new testing methodology called Agile, and everything went to frantic, high stress hell. Then I entered dental hell in March, which if you know about already you just winced and if you don't, you can guess. Note: never try to do all your dental work in two and a half months: you will still be putting off the last two appointments after the horror of May. Which I will not discuss because holy shit.

However, now I am a.) in the middle of an allergy attack and b.) at home noting how rain really does exist because after the last couple of years it felt more like a legend. Also, I'm about to move.

so much moving )
On a guess, this would be the best place to post this, but I'll copy to Tumblr later:

Dear Mystery Person Who Sent Me These For My Birthday,

(Could be two of you, but my money's on one or affiliated.)

Thank you very much for the ninja swords and Kindle bookcover. I will honestly state I did not at any point see those coming (especially the swords), but I have swished those swords allll around, no lie. They are as awesome as they appeared in Amazon. I have a black leather trenchcoat my grandmother got me with her magical garage sale skills and seriously, I feel like I should star in my own anime and defeat some sort of Eldritch tentacle monster.

Really (really) don't know what to say but thank you. The last few months have not been among the best for me due to work, but there is nothing--and I do mean nothing--like swishing a sword and having small children (related to you) squeal in terror to really upgrade your mood.

(Also, the cover is already on my kindle and God it looks classy.)

(I HAVE NINJA SWORDS.)

--jenn
Case in point:

Wandering through Central Market looking for Candycots (where are they? IT IS TIME) and bubblegum grapes, and satisfied myself with brie, pretentious bread (because Central Market), apriums, champagne mangos, and cherries were back and oh.

Okay.

When I was growing up, cherries weren't delicious, they were crappy at the local grocery store, tiny and hard and vaguely blandly sour. Then I grew up and lo, the grocery stores had the good ones, the plump dark red ones with a sheen that you'd happily sell your soul for a lifetime supply (or maybe that's just me), and just as importantly, these go on sale during the summer to the point where it's a crime not to buy them. We're on the leading edge, so they're still not hitting 'five pounds of cherries every time they enter our line of sight', but suffice to say, time to get started.

Which is fine, but I always forget you kind of have to pace yourself after months without them. And by "I forget" I mean no matter how many years I've spent on this earth, I forget every time the cardinal rule of 'do not fucking buy a pound of cherries and eat them half of them on the way home after a multi-month-long dry spell waiting for cherry season.'

Body: You sure about this, Sep?
Me: *sucking cherry off the seed* Fuck off.
Body: We'll talk later. Have fun with that.

Later:
[redacted]
Body: I told you so.
[redacted]
[redacted]
[redacted]
[expunged]
Me: *gets rest of cherries*
Body: ...you're kidding, right?
Me: *sucking cherry off the seed* Fuck off.

Repeat ad infinitum.

As I once realized to my horror, I could be the first documented case of someone killing themselves disgustingly with prunes, for given a bag of them, I will eat them all; given a warehouse, I won't survive and I pity the person who finds my body. I don't just like them; I will eat until they're gone or I am.

I have very selective and stupid fruit weaknesses. I can live without apples, most citrus, pears, whatever. But Turkish apricots (dried), bubblegum grapes, east Texas raspberries, blueberries, cherries, candycots, locally grown Texas peaches, cloudberries, figs, dates, currants, prunes, I treat like Schedule One drugs. I will walk over your body after stabbing you to get to them, and given an unlimited supply, I won't ever move again from my fruit paradise.

If I were a supervillian, this is how I'd be caught; the stupidest trap in the world baited with a fruit medley. Take me to Arkham, fine, but I got a metric ton of fruit to finish and I will cut you if you disturb me before I'm done. Throw in some fried plantains in the Arkham kitchen with honey mustard and honestly, I might not want to leave.

Reference:
Candycots - they're as close as you can get in this world to processed sugar in fruity apricot form and what the gods really want while miserably chugging nectar and ambrosia. These are amazing, is what I'm saying, and in Texas, they're sold in ridiculous sets of twelve in plastic because wisely, Central Market with coffee bean bar get it yourself and leaves open containers of other, lesser fruits in the fruit section for snacking knows those Candycots would all be gone--all of them--in under fifteen minutes (if I'm there, five, after considerable bloodshed, for the Candycot gods sometimes require a sacrifice to prove your love).

I'm going to warn you now; if you taste these, think the White Witch and the disappointment of Turkish Delight. If she'd offered Edmund Candycots, everyone on earth would not only completely understand but approve of Edmund's actions because Candycots.

You won't recover from this, and nothing in your life will ever satisfy you like these will; you will spend the rest of your life vaguely unsatisfied with all things for you have seen perfection and what's the point: Monet, Picasso, David, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, the Wonders of the World, nice, I guess, but does the taste of them make you believe for a moment you're a god on earth and all you see is your demesne? Does spacetime warp around you and you understand the perfection which man has strived for over endless generations; did they give you a glimpse of infinity in all its vastness?

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. <--Corinthians speaketh of Candycots.

You can't taste paint and rock, you say? So the answer is no.

And by the pound, they cost more than heroin, which is no surprise at all.

These go on sale in San Francisco at the Farmers market next weekend, and by the way, fuck you San Francisco.

...someone there send me some? Please?
So the Rain

Well, it hasn't rained in a few days, so there's that. The entire backyard is all visibly soaked dirt, and I won't talk about the patio because it's beyond words. Last week we had a lot of people out of the office literally due to rain, and this week (and next) being the graduation for most of the state, it's been--well, wetly triumphant, maybe?

So More Things

So you may not know that guinea pigs have entered my life. Apparently, this has been a thing for a while, I just didn't know.

Let me explain.

They weren't mine, I want that clear. My youngest sister purchased them some number of years greater than two and less than five ago, and they came to her as small and are now super-sized guinea hogs, if you will. They were given a standard cage and toys and being low maintenance and fucking hateful--they make my former rabbit warren look loving and kind--we all just sort of existed in a detente where we moved them around as needed and fed them while they pretended we didn't exist or attacked whoever was foolish enough to try to keep their cage clean and them healthy, because they're malicious.

Here's where this gets weird.

At some point in the last eighteen months--and I can't tell you how or when, it just happened--I began buying all their food, snacks, and litter, feeding and bathing them (bathing. them.) and had been for quite a while because my sister isn't actually anywhere near them (ie, no longer lives here) and somehow, I...took over, like some kind of unholy geas and I don't know how or why.

I'm bathing them. Let me clarify this, because this is where I'm convinced I pissed off a sorcerer or a wizard and this is actually a curse.

I actually get a giant towel and Child (to distract them from going for my throat), grab each one and put them in a box (with minimal bloodshed), carry them to the bathroom, fill a tub--my bathtub--with water (not too warm, not too cold, I test this) until it reaches just their bellies and set them in there to swim and glare at them hatefully before shampooing them one by one, risking my fingers, or at least bits of them, because guinea pigs can't be fucked to do the minimum amount of work to keep themselves clean no matter how often I clean out their truly nightmarish cage and if they weren't bathed, they'd be quite literally made of fur and their own excretions. Then I rinse them, check their fur for issues--risking so much finger-flesh--towel-dry their ungrateful asses (now with shiny fur), and take them back to their fresh cage where they immediately create more filth to wallow in while I return to my bathtub and stare in horror at what I have to clean up (and that shit is deliberate, and I do mean shit. What is wrong with them?).

A couple of times a month, I do this.

I'm doing this of my own free will, and I honestly can't tell you why because I hate them, they hate me, and it makes no sense and I can't emphasize this enough, I can't work out when this started. However, I had a revelation this week while miserably cleaning out their hideous cage and resenting the fuck out of anything with fur; I don't have to live like this, this is bullshit.

Time to deal.

I hate them but at this point it can't be denied they're mine--once you carry the scars of their tiny teeth, someone is owned and it's not gonna be me--so they're going to live to a standard by which my rabbits once lived, because no pet of mine (fuck my life, I have guinea pigs) is going to look like their owner isn't creepily overinvested in their lifestyle and living accommodations.

Midwest Interactive Guinea Habitat Plus - that's eight to nine square fucking feet lined with PVC canvas containing a ramp, a care area, and is recommended by veterinarians. I'm throwing out everything they're using now; their resentful little asses are gonna experience a lifestyle upgrade. They are getting a new grass house, a grass ball, new chewtoys, a new feeder, and fuck my life, I went shopping for absorbent pads used on people beds for those who need such things for night accidents to line this sucker with and I also got them treats and snacks because reasons. I googled guinea pig food type for the most nutritious and evaluating if it would be in their best interests to start them on a Central Market and Whole Foods diet of overpriced organic vegetables and greens.

You know what guinea pigs do? They wallow. That's it. They lay there, resenting the effort it takes them to eat their own food because that requires movement. They bore the cat. You can't get lower than the cat thinking you aren't even worth watching hungrily. They're like furry rocks made of hate and a lack of motivation. They are a literal rebuttal of the theory of evolution, because selection should have wiped them out and yet, here they are, alive and forcing me to re-evaluate how trustworthy science really is.

It gets worse.

While shopping I learned; guinea pigs are neglected as hell when it comes to fun pet shit. Hamsters and ferrets, mice and rats, toys and pipes and hammocks and awesome playscapes, but guinea pigs? Do they get giant-ass playscapes I'd like in human-size? Nope. Do they get tubular extravaganzas? No. I admit, furry hate-rocks wouldn't use them, but that's not the point; this should be equal opportunity and guinea pigs are getting the short end of the stick here.

...I hate them, they loathe me, they are furry hate rocks who I genuinely think would kill me if they were less fucking lazy, but on their behalf I've been hating the entire pet industry and googling PVC piping to see if it comes in transparent so I can build them a playscape so as not to be inferior to fucking hamsters that they'll never use because they are furry rocks of hate. And I gotta bathe them tomorrow because the cage should be here when I get home from work and they are gonna go into their new home clean and this isn't happening, it can't be.

Wizard curse, it's gotta be.
So. Much. Rain.

So, Record storms in Texas and Oklahoma is a thing. Hays County is adjacent to Travis to the southwest; most if not all the bad weather is coming from the west-southwest, so they're getting hit even harder than Travis county is, where I live.

For those playing the home game, Texas, like California, has been a drought state for several years; that was a key reason for the massive Bastrop fires a few years ago that could literally be seen from space.

As most of you can guess, getting rain is awesome; we need it. Getting it at this intensity and this fast isn't. On one hand, it's raising our lake water levels, which is super important; on the other....I'm going to give a very mild, non-drama example of the problem that places that are in danger are having.

I live on what's called a hundred year flood plane (this includes about a full third of Austin, btw). We have to get flood insurance, but actual flooding simply doesn't happen unless a lot of very specific conditions are met (I mean, usually its has to be the perfect storm of shitty luck). A few years after we moved to Austin, they remodeled the gully out back (Austin is filled with these) from a muddy dry creek run-off to a limestone-and-rock quarry that would be fucking awesome to intertube and it goes for miles in our neighborhood (and the equivalent exists in many others). So when rain hits, it looks cool--seriously, I'll put up video if needed, its awesome--and we can enjoy it because the highest it gets is stil about ten to fifteen feet below our backyard.

However, we've reached saturation of the ground at this point; it's not just not dry, it's wet as in squelch even after twenty-four hours of no rain (which has happened like, once in the past couple of weeks, maybe twice).

Rough measurements:
Patio: 12 feet from door to edge by about 18-22 ft; it's wet I'm not measuring now.
Yard: 20-26 feet from patio edge to the back fence.
Back fence: one foot before drop off to watershed.

So when it rains now--and it comes down hard and fast then slow and eh then hard and fast, break, repeat--the water is immediately in puddle form and from my understanding of physics and engineering, it's still running off to the back but not fast enough. Most recently, I watched in fascination as standing water crawled about four and a half inches up the patio to quiver there before the rain let off and it slowly withdrew back to the (already soaked) ground. Right now, it's standing just short of the patio, which is about three inches above dirt level at that point and one half inch from the top of the water standing there.

Here's what I didn't even know about flooding because where I grew up--rural--we were on top of hill and everything rolled down fast: your entire backyard does not have to be flooded and your watershed does not have to be overflowing and gravity and elevation sometimes work against you when speed is involved. My backyard right now has several high spots which are just mud that are higher than my patio, but right now--the rain just started again--the water just went over the lip of my patio again at the four inch mark and is crawling toward me.

However, math! The patio--due to age and dirt and maybe God--has a slight downward inclination due to settling over the years, so the water does have to work to get to me. And it's only like, maybe a quarter inch of water right now edging toward me like very shallow doom. So most of it's running back to the yard to supersaturated dirt and I need more geometry to work out how long it might take with x hours of rain and y amount of rain per x to get to my back door (which is about three inches above the patio) or possibly wonder why I'm trying to do the math of flooding right now.

Also, I'm resenting that little island of perfectly unflooded dirt (wet, granted) a few feet from the patio right now. Seriously, what's up with that?
Okay, I give up: I need someone who knows geometry.

I'm trying to enclose a rectangle of known dimensions within an ellipse and expand the ellipse thirty feet from each angle. No, Pythagorean theorum didn't work (why????????), I tried expanding the rectangle theoretically by thirty feet at all diagonals, I tried magic.

I have Pythagged, sined, cosined, tangented and right now I could pass my junior trig and geometry with a A, but I cannot make a fucking ellipse that's perimeter entirely encloses a rectangle of known dimensions that is at least one hundred feet from the closest point in the rectangle.

What. Do. I. Need. To. Do?

Assume all measurements in feet, m is the multiplier to get the ratio to recalculate w, h to a, b for second rectangle and expanded ellipse.

Formula to calculate an ellipse: https://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/ellipse-perimeter.html <--approximation 3

Current Rectangle:
w = 2640
h = 450
d = Sqr(x) = (w ^ 2) + (h ^ 2) = 2678.0776
p of rec = 6180
p of ellipse = 5487.4475

Increasing the diagonal by 100 at all angles
d2 = 2678.0776 + (100*4) = 3078.0776

(Corrected 30 to 100; I couldn't make thirty work at all).

I thought it was working with this formula:
New Rectangle:
m = d2/d = 3078.0776/2678.0776 = 1.1493
a = w * m = 2640 * 1.1403 = 3034.3126
b = h * m = 450 * 1.1403 = 517.2123
p of new rect: 7.103.0501
p of new ellipse = 6304.7578

It could work, but I'm not sure, because when I start expanding the rectangle itself and apply the formula to get real ellipse and new ellipse, it doesn't work and I don't know why. The only explanation I have is that I'm changing the height and width too much, but the same results occur no matter what I do.

Second group:
w = 10560
h = 24390
d = Sqr(x) = (w ^ 2) + (h ^ 2) = 26,577.9175
p of rect = 69,900
p of ellipse = 57,070.34402

Increasing the diagonal by 100 at all angles
d2 = 26577.9175 + (100*4) = 26977.9175

I thought it was working with this formula:
m = d2/d = 26977.9175/26577.9175 = 1.015
a = w * m = 10560 * 1.015 = 10718.92893
b = h * m = 24390 * 1.015 = 24757.07165
p of rect: 70952.00116
p of new ellipse = 57,747.0583

What is wrong with my brain that this isn't working? I verified my results with google and it agrees something is wrong with either a.) my brain or b.) geometry. I think it's geometry. I get ellipse calculations are complicated, but I double checked that part a few times and it's working, I think. At least, google thinks so when I enter my numbers to get the smallest ellipse but this is making no sense why I can't get that second one to work.

I'm listening to country music and not like, Girl in a Country Song but stuff like The Dance and The Thunder Rolls and Straight Tequila Night and The Bluest Eyes in Texas and I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box) (On a Slow Train Down to Georgia) (this is the South; we like to be detailed about how you are breaking our hearts, fucker). This is Southern wake after the death of grandma level shit here; this is when we drink Southern Comfort and Wild Turkey and a metric ton of margaritas (if your Southern is Texan), eat potato salad and fried anything, and everyone gets drunk, talks about their rifles and family scandals and at some point one to three parents have a knock-down drag out among the funeral flowers and someone hides in the closet with a brownie and...we're not talking about my childhood, right.

...this is where I am right now. Fix my geometry or I won't be understandable when I talk to anyone not in a central Texas bar; I already have too many vowels in my words and all my gerunds are missing a very important ending 'g'. I will write all my entries in the dialect of a central Texas rural farmer if I have to, and don't think I won't.

This has been a mathematical cry for help.

ETA: Oh God, I Want to Be Loved Like That just came up on rotation. Help.

ETA 2: If you saw an ealirer version, I was using '30 feet' not '100 feet'; I switched when testing the formuals to 100 because thirty simply didn't work and I wanted a dramatic change. All math here is based on an increase of 100 from all angles, or an increase of 200 of each diagonal.

ETA 3: Aded figures worked out in pencil, verified in excel and google, cited my formulas, and still WHAT.




Answered by [personal profile] edgewitch: Link to solution with proof!.
So last week and this weekend were--terrible, to be honest. Mostly the weekend, actually; the week was fine, but an emergency release went out at work and I was validating one portion when they brought up the system (there was a PDF of the entire nightmare) and when my time came (late, I expected) it failed (that, we didn't).

Finally by Monday it was up, but working Saturday and Sunday even from home is just freaking stressful when it's something like this. And I do take it personally; it's like, why, app, do you hate me? I may or may not have said that out loud over several days until Monday, when the failure fixed itself (no one can figure out what the hell; we just go with it).

Three things made this weekend and week not suck balls:
1.) downtoagincourt - there is a tumblr about my fic series! FUCK YES I READ IT ALL LIKE FORTY TIMES AND FAVORITED EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. Also, an amazing review here by bert-and-ernie-are-gay that I indeed do re-read. Like a lot.

I have no idea about the etiquette of reblogging really literate (more literate than the series, to be honest) reviews of your fic. Can you do that?

2.) Two tumblr uses liveblogged some of their reactions while reading. This is one of them.

Fireintheimpala here:
Gah, nonstop agony thanks to Down to Agincourt…maybe I should live blog my read of it for cathartic release…

*ahem*

Day 1,231: the destiel glacier is reported to have advanced 1.52 millimeters in the south. Scientists are being dispatched to test for possible measurement errors.

Day 3,456: the scientist have returned and bring with them exciting reports of moderate precipitation! Will this add to the mass of the glacier? Stay tuned.

Day 7,278: tragic news from the glacial front: a scientist has been killed! Though the surface of the glacier is by all measurable accounts benign–inert even!–inexplicable emissions of angst have increased. Eruption danger: Orange.

And here:
Down to Agincourt update.

Day 10,000 or so: I should have taken a break for smut, fluff, or single chapter episode codas 3,000 days ago. Now it’s too late. Now I can’t imagine these characters progressing to any sort of self awareness for at least, oh, 50 more years.


It's funny because it's true.

3.) I bought six inch heels and learned to walk in them.

My Relationship With Heels

I'm a switcher; I go through phases of wanting nothing but ballet flats or low mary sues, with various exceptions in various heels; my work encouraged it, especially when I was at the ombudsman's office where no denim allowed at all and business casual was barely casual. When I became a QC Analyst, however, the dress code was "not naked" and never again having only one pair of jeans because all my clothes income was for button ups, slacks, and skirts. Generally I devote myself to Black Widow and Batman t-shirts, hoodies, jeans, and semi-regular showering (and flats, comfy ones). I'm QC; there are very low expectations in our dress sense. Then I got a promotion (WHEE ME), and for no reason (I can't explain this), I kind of went crazy and bought dresses and tops to wear with jeans (or tights) and dragged out all my heeled sandals to gloat over (I. Don't. Know. But I now own five dresses, three pairs of skinny jeans (one glittery: GLITTERY) and two very pretty new work-appropriate sleeveless tops and adorable cardigan sweaters to wear with them.)

Which leads to the next part.

Last year, I decided to start training myself up again with heels without ending up with feet that will hate me all my life due to the purchase of a three and a half inch pair of kick-ass sandals that were viciously on sale (chunky heel, utterly gorgeous), a pair of wedges, and a cruel Fry's sale on adorable brown suede sandals. The chunky three and a half inch sandals took work, but seriously, they're adorable and had decent ankle support, and successfully did not die in them.

Last month, I saw a pair of stiletto booties and said "I'm getting me some of that."

And I also said, "And not kill myself wearing them." That part is important.

Luichiny Women's Hi N Low Boot, Size 10. Two inch platform, four inch shaft, so effective four inch elevation for my heel. They also look fucking amazing, not gonna lie, but they are not walking out clubbing shoes (my sandals, oddly enough, are).

Here's the thing; they are also my first real experience (other than at Vividcon) wearing stiletto heels and not chuck or wedges (and then I was also drunk, they were thigh-high boots, and Vividcon means miracles occurred when I jogged up and down the stairs).

Balance wasn't a problem--I'd been wearing my sandals once a week for a month to get used to the shift in my center of balance, fix my posture, and automatically align myself on top of my heels instead of the balls of my feet--but learning to walk was very new. Chunk, even with sandals, do generally allow a lot of leeway as long as my posture is correct; stilettos, I found, require perfect or nothing.

(Chunk with no platform also (gently) trained me out of one problem I have due to being a sprinter in high school and never getting over it; my weight when walking in shoes at all unless I'm thinking about it comes down on the outer ball of my foot, not the inner, around the fourth and fifth toe, and my heel doesn't come down often (almost never) when I'm walking fast, which I usually do. In flats and barefoot I still do it (and can afford to), but when I hit about two inches in a heel or any boot, I have to adjust and that takes practice to remember to do before killing myself. I still have to think about it when walking or yes, I will topple over like the saddest bowling pin in history and die or something.)

The nice thing with these boots is, they fit close; if you're not exactly a nine and a half (low end) or ten, though, the 10 will not fit (go to 11). I had to wear trouser socks to get my feet in and adjust, but they were literally a perfect fit, skin close but not painful or pinching other than foot adjustment time while walking until they shaped to the balls of my feet correctly. They also have fantastic ankle support, which I didn't realize would be so important but should have, since the entire strength of walking in them was keeping my ankle straight (and not trying to go up on my toes; it's almost impossible at this height, which helps).

After checking numerous websites on walking in heels, and trying many things to help the process of not dying (while being six fucking three in those things and gleefully staring over everyone's heads at work because I can do that), here is what I learned.

1.) Leaning backward does help like a lot. Centering my entire weight on my heel isn't really enough; without the backward lean, I pitched forward.

2.) Wearing them improves my posture one hundred thousand percent just on the strength of not wanting to topple over. Not just a straight back either; shoulders back, head up, stomach in, chest up, and I can feel the second I go out of alignment and fix it (because otherwise, death by heels).

This actually bleeds over to when I don't wear heels; I'm a slumper and sloucher and training myself out of that is almost impossible without sufficient motivation (ie, death by heels). The last two months have definitely helped in that much; I've noticed I don't slouch automatically (now it's by preference, really), and more importantly, I am aware of when my posture is bad because I know how it feels when it's good.

3.) Walking and staying alive I've mastered, but walking gracefully is still hit or miss and I usually stumble (sometimes literally) into doing it right (ie, the sweet spot). It's harder than I thought, but once I hit it, I'm fine for the rest of the day. I know it's a matter of how I'm shifting my center of balance and weight to the ball of my foot and using the heel only for balance, but it's not something I can do consciously yet. It's not a stride issue, either; long or short, something clicks and boom, I have the walk. Or it doesn't and I'm just terrifyingly tall and no one can stand against me. No one.

4.) Everything is much lower when one is six-three (I love those shoes), including people. I will not say that made me mad with power, but I won't deny it, either.
Fortunately, my job and how television portrays it (Quality control, aka program testing) isn't a subject for television because generally one hour drama doesn't focus on the minutia of a company building a program step by step because come on, that can be a multi-year process.

....with one exception.

I once ran across the dramatization of the dev process (montage-like) on TV and watched because it's kind of soothing to watch developers suffering (they're like a floor away from me and I've had a bad week, okay?) until we got back to real time and I promptly lost my mind.

A Summary of the Horror:
They're like "almost there after weeks of (montage) work, oh noes there's a null character mcguffin plot reason thing must get it out like right now tonight no waiting!" or something like that, how do you even know this you just finished the last line and haven't compiled it...hold up, where are the design docs, I haven't seen any since this started, how are they--and they're all scanning the source code--scanning a million lines of source code with their eyes ON SINGLE MONITOR WHY, not even using a search algorithm--who does that, what kind of fucking IDE are you using, why don't you have color enabled to make this easier, wait, that looks like microsoft notepad with the background painted black-- "OH FOUND IT FIXING IT NOW" wait, no, did you erase something and then hit enter that's a new line, but go back, problem, the mcguffin wouldn't be in there, that's in a class file, why are you--hold up, what language is this-- "Okay, compiling now!" holy shit did you just-- "Almost done!" wait, what, no, you can't do that, you don't fly edit your code (that did like magic or word processing, they weren't clear) have you ever heard of debug or like-- "Okay, done, send it--" IN TEN SECONDS REAL TIME THAT WASN'T A MONTAGE "--to whothefuckever we can start distribution like next week awesome going to hawaii!" WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU DIDN'T EVEN RUN IT-- "Everyone go on vacation now bye!" NO NO YOU UNIT TEST SYSTEM TEST USER ACCEPTANCE LAST HAS TO CHECK FOR MEMORY LEAKS AND LOAD AT LEAST RUN SOME AUTOMATED SCRIPTS WHAT ARE YOU DOING DID YOU EVEN CHECK TO SEE IF IT EVER WORKED IN A REAL-TIME ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE YOU MACHINES ARE SET TO IDEAL CONDITIONS NOT THE WILDS OF PRODUCTION--

I'll spare you the rest--they say when the trauma becomes too much, the memory's blocked so sanity can be retained--but one thing's really just bothering me here.

In this ultra-tech, totally pro too many coffee cups suspiciously unstained and without chips or being shattered against the wall and no crumpled up design documents because the analysts are sadistic fucks and will give you three contradictory rules and don't understand how to use Visio or the concept of driver flow...all the super-cool computers only had one monitor each.

I get it now.

This is about a desperate dev team torpedoing the project due to hideous working conditions, inadequate equipment, lack of support personnel, and no design documents because they were set up to fail by an evil CEO who wanted to cut corners and get rid of the entire dev department to bring in an alien design team from Mars (who secretly plan to conquer the world because even aliens wouldn't agree to this nightmare unless they had another motive entirely) and now it all makes sense!

this is totally what happens next )
Expectation of the Week: I will get through the day without sending a group of mobile developers an email stating my fucking cat could do a better job at integrating web services. It's not true; my cat would fuck it up deliberately, rather than by sheer incompetence, because he's a goddamn cat.

Also, would it kill them in some unspecified way to have error messages that have meaning? All of them have the same text because they're still working on creating pop-up error messages that say what's actually wrong, and do it three times in a row sometimes. I'd take a goddamn random-ass number-letter code.

Playlist of the Week: May Kicks Ass, created from the songs used on several Women of Marvel vids on youtube. Setting May kicking Ward's ass forever to empowering music does things for me.

Note: All the TMI. I'm posting this at one thirty in the morning after three days of work related wtfery and pretty much nothing is a bad idea at this point.

so, about your masturbation habits, menstruation, and tmi like it's the end of the world and why not )

In closing: yeah, I shouldn't have stopped when I was writing this post (around playlists, to be specific) and checked my dash. That never ends well, though to be fair, it's not like anyone sane saw this coming.
I just want to say, as a Texan, we already had Rick Perry. Ebola is just salt in the wound here.

In related news:

I have never spent so much time having to fact check people on ebola and google on my phone what it does, is, and how you get it. I have never spent time fact checking anyone, to be honest--generally, listening to other people be paranoid or wrong is an enjoyable hobby and one that requires minimal effort on my part, that being "staying awake", which gotta admit can be hard. Yet I do it, because not only is it bad information and wrong information, even when it's right conversation is drifting dangerously close to "And Obama will use this to take my guns so I cant' shoot ebola when it shows up" or so I assume; I'm telling you, it's getting very weird.

I get this is a horrible disease, I do. And I get that people are afraid, which makes sense: see "horrible disease". However, I'm also lazy; I don't get having to expend effort in feeling terror before we're at minimum out of single digits for the entire US. I don't even get out of bed for a tornado warning unless something achieves three feet levitation in my vicinity. How do people have this kind of energy?

Between Wikipedia's wealth of information on the cat genome, Cracked teaching me about the pros and cons of being a pickpocket or running Afghanistan as military governor, and trying to decide if I really need to go to the bathroom now (standing up?) or can wait (no standing up!) it's like--dude. You could right now be finding out all the forms aphasia can take and how many cities in India have a population greater than 1 million. And you are spending it on a disease in single digit numbers in the US. *

You could be on reddit reading in nosleep and realizing far, far too late what a terrible idea that was, but at least your irrational fear would be of cameras and eyedroppers--seriously, that was creepy.

This has been a message from me, as it's been a very long week.

* this applies to US citizens only, especially those on talk radio who really, desperately need naps or possibly muzzles.
So just seeing how this sounds:

Vacation with entire extended immediate family including: mother, both sisters, sister's husband, sister's MIL, sister's three kids, other sister's kid, mother's parents, me, and Child.

In one house on the beach.

Okay, that does in fact look terrifying when seen in print. I was wondering. There will be the gulf and a confection store that makes their own fudge. I'm clinging very hard to that right now.

Wait, there's more:

Child in his infinite wisdom at some point in the past--who knows when--broke a tooth but couldn't be assed to tell me or care until Friday evening, when the entire left side of his face rounded out not unlike a ripe tomato. At first--not knowing the tooth sitch because who hides tooth pain? How?--I thought it was an unexpected reaction to a topical anesthetic we keep for those times you bite the inside of your cheek or poke yourself in the gum with a pencil which no, isn't something that happens to me because I have much better hand/eye coordination than that and will fight any comment to the contrary to the death if necessary or whatever. It became very clear, however, that it wasn't and he reluctantly admitted maybe there was a tooth that was bothering him maybe a little, which you don't say, ye who has lost any vestige of facial symmetry.

Saturday morning was spent frantically googling for a dentist open on Saturdays who took walk-ins or emergencies or both. Found one, who didn't have a time open and then listening to me start to dissolve into tears--seriously, over-ripened tomato Child, but not that color, it was unsettling--offered to fit him and for that will love her until the day I die. Fortunately--and this is literal--Child was still in pain and the appointment was in less than an hour, and even so, it was a bad ten minutes getting him dressed and to the vehicle while he protested--with asymmetry growing by the moment--that it didn't hurt that much and he was fine (I actually stopped to stare at him disbelievingly, wondering if the infection reached his brain already).

We shall not speak of what we discovered of Child's unbelievable lack of interest in what goes on in his own mouth (I whine when I poke my gum with a pencil, fine, judge away), but anyway, surprise, he broke a tooth and it got infected and how. So we left with antibiotics, painkillers, and a very serious speech that if he starts having vision problems to go to the ER immediately, which was one of those surreal moments where I stare at Child and Child acts totally shocked about how nature and infection work.

brief Child digression, for parents who haven't had to deal with this )

short family digression, related )

After this adventurous weekend, I wonder why there aren't more dentists who decide to specialize in 'emergency' and 'weekends' only because seriously, they could probably make a killing doing nothing else. Every weekend dentist I found (very not many) wasn't just packed, but stacking them up in the waiting room. I didn't even bother with trying to negotiate my (annoying) insurance and paid cash, I was that desperate and from the looks of those waiting with me and Child, that wasn't unique. And why isn't there a Dental ER somewhere?

Note: Child still looks asymmetrical but much better, and is hilariously following almost exactly the dentist's prediction on how long it would take for the swelling to go down and the pain to taper off.
Apparently, Polar Vortices (I had to look up the plural, yes) cause amnesia, because I don't remember being allergic to everything, ever. I think I'm allergic to water.

...this is going to be a very long summer, with much sneezing and eucalyptus oil, per a coworker who swears this will cure all things. When I can smell it--once, twice between sneezes--it does have a pleasant fragrance.
So I got my merit bonus at work in lump sum instead of a raise, which trust me, not a problem. So I told Child his share and what he wanted to do with it.

Child: I want to go see Fall Out boy in concert.
Me: You can't go alone.
Child: I'm not a child, it's a concert (imagine teenage arguments here. You know what they sound like.)
Me: I could go with you.
Child: Okay, we'll get up front. Maybe I can touch Pete Wentz! Can he be my new daddy if I catch him?
Me: ....well played. Let me think about it.
Child: I thought you'd see it my way.

I'm not actually worried about Child, per se, but it's a concert and this is new to him. If one of his friends go with him and he keeps his phone on, I don't have a problem with it. His second choice is hideously expensive shoes, which is weird, because Child isn't a clothing person at all.

Well, I take that back; he's picked up an inexplicable thing for suits that I can't explain, matched with a truly unearthly number of ties. I buy my kid random ties. I mean, this being Child, I'd feel a lot better about it if he was using them for evil, but no, he wears them without irony with really nice button up shirts, and it comes out of nowhere. Days of Child in school uniforms or maybe gym shorts and graphic t-shirts, then suddenly he wants to go shopping and browsing the tailor-this portion of Dillards or Nordstroms with a dissatisfied expression on having to (not) buy off the rack, because Child also doesn't understand what suits are used for.

Child: Why don't you dress up for work?
Me: I'm state and tech. Analysts aren't supposed to wear things that even match, so I'm one up there. It shows we're committed to the job and have no human attachments to interfere. They'd prefer I shower less, to be honest. Really show my commitment to my work and assure I'm not tempted to get a life.
Child: ....you're kidding.
Me: When's the last time you saw me wear makeup?
Child: You used to wear make up?
Me: I rest my case.

Child was actually very hazy on my days at the Ombudsman, which if anyone heres' been reading long enough, was a period of about two years I had to shop regularly for dress clothes as I had none, because no denim at all, no t-shirts, all business casual all the time, and because we were only three steps down from the Commissioner, that shit was taken seriously. I pulled out a few of my old slacks which he stared at in awe, then looked at me, dressed for work in a black tank top, batman t-shirt, black hoodie, skinny jeans, and my black chunk heels, and eyeliner, because that's not makeup, that's eyeliner.

Child: What people wear suits?
Me: You're gonna choose your job by the clothes?
Child: I like suits.
Me: I've heard worse.

Sometimes, I really like him.
So last night, I finally got around to changing my yahoo and gmail passwords and set up two factor authentication. This sounds like a very boring story, and it is, trust me, but it's also an example of the password equivalent of completionist doctrine: it must all be done.

Because Heartbleed, and why not.

I have a locked and secured doc that has a full list of all my accounts and passwords because you get to the point in your online life where everything can't be happy1 or you end up writing an article about how your iPad was bricked because someone wanted your twitter name and infiltrated your entire Apple ecosystem (that article was nightmare fuel and I don't have an iPad). One of the few useful tips I got from the article is having an account that has no purpose but to be a secondary email on all my accounts; it literally does nothing but receive email about my password changes or activities on my account. I call it my keysmash yahoo account that is the recovery backup for every single account I have. The password is a modified keysmash of thirty-two characters, the username isn't much better, and I don't even know it without looking it up.

This is significant because my master doc is huge--I made an effort with anything important to make a strong password that I could also, at least nominally remember. I added app passwords eventually, so it's ridic long. I started off fixing my gmail first and then my yahoo's--each has a specific type of email it receives (one devoted entirely to Facebook and Harrods, because why not), and setting up two factor authentication (kind of fun) on everything and getting more text messages than I ever have in my life.

Here's the thing; online security was not designed for the human brain, or at least not my brain. I honestly don't know who it was designed for except someone who gets off on calculating pi for days on end or has a hardon for prime number memorization, who can think like that.

At work, I have to change the password (upper case, lower case, number, special character) every three months for my computer, PPM (for looking up defects and modifications for program testing), and my HR login to see my leave and etc. All have a two to three year password memory. My Groove messenger--like AIM, but for work--has another one that can be permanent, thank God. My secure email with Vontage--as opposed to regular email--has to have another one, and I think it has to be changed once a year. Seeing Middleware queues--where webservice calls go to die--needs to be updated every six months. For SQL queries in Oracle, the connection descriptors, usernames, and passwords for six different programs in four environments are each updated four times a year and each program has two to four users. I also have a weird encryption program on my work computer but it changes with my windows login. Oh, and VPN access so I can log in to my work computer from home, Jesus.

In a year as a tester, I will have to create or get updates for about one hundred and thirty two passwords just to log into my computer and do my job.

Online in my regular life, it's more flexible, but to secure my most important accounts, I have to have at least twenty high-security passwords with uppercase, lowercase, special character, number that I can remember off the top of my head and that doesn't count the login for my phone, tablet, laptop, my router login, my wifi login, and my server.

Facebook has an impossible one--I rarely use it, so I don't care that i have to look it up but I do care if someone hijacks it--Apple, Google Every Fucking Thing, Tumblr, DW, LJ, JF, Twitter, AO3, Hulu, Netflix, Roku, Dropbox, Evernote, Trillian, my bank app, my health insurance app, Paypal, Ebay, Sharebuilder, Newegg, my website bank login, cable, utilities, my phone, Amazon, my credit card, my retirement account at work, my health savings account through work, avast mobile security so if my phone is stolen I can erase it, McAfee, okay, I'm getting a headache. All of these have various levels of importance and security, right, because who compares your social media to your bank?

So when i was done with my password changes--smooth segue here--I was looking at my list and started working out how they were connected for vulnerabilities--remember that article I mentioned about the guy and his bricked iPad?--to see which could be considered major keys to everything.

Getting my google, I'm dead in the water, no lie; google infrastructure is like that, so that's a strong memorable password plus two factor authentication. Cracking my trillian gets you my fandom yahoo and google passwords, right, two factor the yahoos, already doing that. Which at this point, I sat down and diagrammed my online life by email address and account and how to limit the damage if one was hacked. The keysmash email seems relatively safe--you know, until fucking Heartbleed--but I ran into a problem here: I'm not a goddamn wizard. Mapping possibilities here in worst case scenario, there's no way I can do a separation that would limit hacking damage to my life to less than 20 percent without magic. For my online life--and real non-work life--I have right now eighty-nine separate passwords that are between medium and high-security needed password levels, and about twenty of them I have to be able to remember off the top of my head because I use them every day.

Modern world, I get that, but every time I read a smug security expert talking about how people are just stupid because they don't choose high security passwords for all five hundred of their online accounts and it's their fault they were hacked I want to destroy worlds or at least explain using small words this isn't (always) an issue of being stupid or lazy; the entire online ecosystem is working against you on this one.

Google alone terrifies me on a theoretical level, because it's linked to so much; Apple, same thing; Amazon, Jesus, it's growing in leaps and bounds; Yahoo, fuck my life; Microsoft, urgh; and I hate to point this out, but there's only so much separation possible. While diagramming my future hacked life, the safest measure seemed to be create a new email account for every single important account (bank, credit card, paypal, etc) to deliver to and secure each one to limit how much information a single hack can get, and it's not like there are a lot of secure online places to set up email accounts, and even if there were, we can't remember that many passwords.

I get--because it's all I know--that this is how it is, that there's no way to be invulnerable, but completionist doctrine: I spent most of last night changing all my major and medium passwords because for the life of me, I spreadsheeted my online ecosystem to figure out a way to be a smart user and limit the damage if I was hacked and I couldn't get it below compromising twenty percent of my accounts with one successful hack. I'd get notified fast--I think I got that much from keysmash yahoo account and two factor authentication--and some of the accounts are pretty minor so it wouldn't matter, but--twenty percent. I'm still working on a security model via staring at my spreadsheet and hating everything, but I keep hitting things i never thought of--my student loan account, places I shopped once or twice where I used Paypal or Google Wallet, and thought about how many places I thoughtlessly and crazily used my credit card and how they link into the ecosystem of online life and what else am I forgetting? And how many passwords I changed yesterday that I still need to memorize because sure, firefox saves passwords, Chrome saves password, IE saves passwords, but if I get hacked, those are the first against the wall, and what if my laptop is stolen or hacked?

Or I take it to a repair shop and completely didn't think about any of that because apparently in the back of my mind repair guy/customer privilege, like lawyer/client privilege, and its not he knew that file existed, or the random name, or feel any need to open it out of the thousands of files on my computer and be curious why it was protected and crack the password. Because God knows, that was a very stupid user mistake, and for four days I didn't know I was 100% vulnerable in my entire online life.

I can't tell if I'm overreacting yet. I also have five passwords >= 20 characters to memorize, which isn't helping my mood at all. Paranoia: it's totally a thing.

Further Reading
Yes, I Was Hacked Hard - welcome to my nightmare
So Friday, I spilled an entire glass of tea on my laptop.

...I honestly have no idea how this happened. I've never done that before; I have sacrificed my skin to avoid even the possibility of such a thing. Because this is my life, my laptop immediately died without even a hope of resurrection.

(This is the month, by the way, that I just purchased my new tablet, so my budget did not include emergency laptop replacement. It's like, what the hell.)

So on Saturday, I went to Parts People down the road, who are literally the only people I buy parts for my laptop from and who are allowed to touch it at all. They always have the right part, and M told me it would probably be ready on Monday.

On Monday, he emailed to tell me that they didn't have a new board, which was the most likely culprit, but was still looking.

On Tuesday, he sent me the saddest email in the world that he could not find the part anywhere. I verified this; I did a google search and found two--two in the world--one of which shipping would cost me a new laptop price, and the other twice my budget threshold on the entirety of repairs.

So googling, I pulled up my model and found out why; my model was discontinued due to the quad i7 processor being too high and throttling the system leading to heat death. My laptop apparently is one of the rare few that survived a year alive, much less almost four. Which is why you couldn't find a lot of them, new or used. Further research confirmed there were two others in my series; the lower one was completely incompatible, but the upper one was a remake of mine, but with a duo i7 processor because see heat death issue.

(This was actually a problem with mine; it would get hot enough that I couldn't sit it even on a pillow for very long or risk setting the pillow on fire (a messageboard had a harrowing narrative of such a thing). I've bought a lot of laptop trays with multiple fans. I could first degree burn myself on my laptop easily when it was running for less than thirty minutes.)

The upper model they had in stock.

I called M and he explained the differences; he could use it to test my motherboard to see if it was really burned out or repairable (spoiler: it wasn't, the tea won), but if I decided to switch, I'd get the duo i7, which is faster and with a bigger cache, but it wouldn't be a quad and my multitask capabilities would be slightly lowered (I asked what I'd have to do to push it and suffice to say, I don't run that many programs at once. Ever). It'd be a straight trade on the processor: theirs for mine, since they're the same price, no cost for me. I'd pay for the new motherboard, which was slightly more expensive than my model, but had a much better video card. He also replaced several parts that were damaged or otherwise less than perfectly functional, cleaned it out, reinstalled my drivers, added arctic ice to everything and the heatsink to lower the heating problem, and apparently felt bad for me and gave me half off labor. And I have sound back, which is nice, since that may or may not have been fried by a heating issue. And came in under budget, which blew my mind and I almost cried.

To offset this: last week, my new manager called me into his office, and told me he and the new assistant manager authorized me for a merit raise of 3%. I used to get the merit bonus when I was a caseworker and ombudsman, but not since I got to testing, so I almost cried. He also added a Mac to testing, which will be my responsibility, and told me he and the AM were impressed with my work.

TO offset that: my youngest sister abruptly went stupid two weeks ago that culminated in super!drama this week, and the super!drama is so dramatic I don't even have words that weren't first uttered in daytime TV. I'm not thinking about it right now, but eventually, when Sherlock and I are over the first flush of joy in being reunited, I'll totally vent my ass off because seriously, new worlds of stupid.

So you know, this has been a really weird couple of weeks.
My life, now:

1.) Teaching Child the Finer Points of Do Not Engage.

He's a Sterek shipper but loves the whole cast--seriously, even the annoying ones, it's weird--and a hardcore Destiel shipper who likes Sam, and Tumblr is a daily test of his ability to not get his ass doxxed before he's legally no longer my responsibility. It's a countdown to eighteen, when he can play the youtube, instagram, and facebook personal humiliation angle to his heart's content. Per usual, he finds this completely unfair; this would be, he explains, a learning experience for me as a parent; how to deal with your fanboy kid when he becomes the subject of a massive fandom-wide wank. I reminded him I've been here longer and I have an army and I will troll his ass into the ground, because that too, is a learning experience; do not stress your parent during weirdness at work.

BTW, I need an army, just in case. Anyone got one I could borrow? No reason.


2.) So That Family Legend Thing Was Like, Real?

A couple of months ago, we got a random letter from a firm in Colorado or Oklahoma--I should know this, but it's just so weird--to the estate of my grandfather, who died twenty-one years ago, so passing to my Dad, who died almost two years ago, to us, check enclosed. Not much here, but thing; we own mineral rights somewhere since like, my great-grandpa's time (who died before I was born), or possibly my great-great-grandfather (eighteen freaking hundreds, folks), or so we were told. Much like the Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster and the theory of trickle-down economics, it was told over campfires (barbecues and polish sausage?) as a thing that no one actually believed because seriously, who believes trickle-down works?

Right, I digressed, and here's another one; I come from a long, long, Jesus long line of sharecroppers, semi-subsistence farmer, serfs, and ethnic Wends Lutherans running away from religious persecution due to a union between two disparate versions of Protestantism in Bavaria (I looked this up and I still can't tell the difference, but all of them were going to hell from what I understand) while also failing to get anywhere above 'growing enough food to continue the family line, and how'. Which let me say is an accomplishment and possibly a miracle. Some of us live in the Rockies and don't talk to people or possibly shoot at strangers, it's a thing we do. I've heard bears are involved.

So you see why our first reaction was hysterical laughter followed by wtf followed by calling and being genuinely surprised this wasn't a poor British widow whose colonel/general husband died in India (to this day, I still think it was an email from Victorian England; there's no other explanation) but an actual lawyer--seriously, passed the bar and everything--and so many years ago, some great (-great?) grandparent split up shares between their kids and lo, for the first time ever, that shit was 1.) a real thing that was real and 2.) produced (a very small) amount of money that was actually real and came in legal tender form to be--not kidding--deposited in an actual account without anyone (FBI?) muttering "suckers" like those poor people who thought the fake Publisher's Clearinghouse check was real.

Again, very small amount (somewhat more if I kill all the other heirs, the math is very interesting if my how serendipitous genealogy information is accurate but depends on if this is great or great-great-grandpa as origin (if it's great-great-grandpa, I may need a professional consultation for the number I'm getting on the number of direct descendents, because huh, calculators don't lie)), and this proves 1.) wow, so evil really is a light-switch, who knew and 2.) these things actually happen?

The universe moves in mysterious ways. My entire worldview is in revolution, or something.

3.) So That's a Much Better Interpretation Than Mine and I Wrote It.

I read a fantastic review of one of my fic and it was both surreal and gratifying beyond words, but what really got me thinking was reading it again out of the context of the fandom at the time.

It's not just author death in this case; it's well over a decade, the fandom has progressed past all recognition, but far more interesting to me is that it still works, just in a completely different way than it did then, and in some ways much better because it can stand alone like this. To get my intention in the fic--and the readers at the time picked it up immediately--you had to have read not just several other fic in the fandom, but been in the fandom and subject to the atmosphere at the time, enough that you were--if you were me--deeply committed to being very tired of it all.

The thing is--and I say this with mixed feelings--I'm torn on Death of the Author. I don't necessarily believe it, but I'm a massive fan of people who are and practice it, and the reason is why I'm in fandom in the first place. A text is static--it's words on the page, they can't change--but people do, over a week, a year, a lifetime, an age, a millennia. The idea that we are reading Homer exactly the same way as the Greeks did the odd thousands of years ago would imply we've managed, quite literally, to have progressed absolutely nowhere except invented flight and cellphones. What we read, how we read, how we process it, what we see in the text and what we take away from it better be subject to change.

I remember high school and college English as a dark period of my existence--I've never gotten over how I couldn't get the teacher to debate The Lady or the Tiger in eighth grade and I will take that to my grave--and the noble papers I wrote on the real meaning of The Yellow Wallpaper (ghost, obviously) and A Good Man Is Hard to Find (why am I reading this, two thousand goddamn words of making up shit; Man Is Fucked Up, what do you want from me?) and a plethora of forgettable short stories and novels where I was asked to describe what I got out of it and how that was very wrong because reasons (unknown, but definitely there). If there's one defining characteristic of fandom, it's that we all care deeply about the one true interpretation as meant by the author/writer/producer right up until we disagree with them and kill them immediately and write the one true true interpretation their blood, and you get this is metaphorical, right? I can see how that'd be a concern after point two. Metaphor, promise.

Text doesn't change, it can't; it's words. People should. I will happily take a thousand Moby Dick as unsettling psychosexual drama with man/boat/whale threesome on a semen sea--I'll need therapy, but whatever, I'll take one for the team--than risk the stagnation, however small, however irrelevant it may seem, of human thought in which we cannot comprehend the idea of seeing something new, a thought that didn't exist when Homer wrote it that exists now. Anyone who tells you there's nothing new under the sun's never seen anything but a single candle in a dark room.

*****

Brief afterward; it has been a very unsettling work week and insomnia is apparently a feature. I'm kind of looking forward to reading this when I'm rested and relatively sane again. In that way I will never be able to mock Child's tumblr posts again from any kind of high ground, but hey, he won't know that.
....it's sleeting. I didn't know central Texas could do that.

This is surreal, like I'm in the wrong state or timeline or something. Have there been any changes in the local timespace continuum I don't know about, because seriously, a heads-up would have been appreciated.
It's 72 F in Texas, after hitting a boggling 17 F a week ago, which I get is nothing compared to the Deep South and Northern US, but was in a word freaky.

To clarify )

Reading about Atlanta and Nashville and Winnipeg (aka, The Place That Got Colder Than Fucking Mars, Holy Shit) and checking in with friends in New York and Chicago (IM: "TELL ME IF YOU ARE A POPCICLE PLEASE"). Luckily, cousins around the country checked in with various relatives--some for the first time in about a decade--to announce they were still alive and give us a narrative of their lives and times, so apparently the Polar Vortex brought family together. I honestly had no idea some of my great-aunts and uncles were still alive, or that they knew who we even were, since the last conversation I remember having with them was about thirty years ago at my paternal grandfather's funeral. They are all well and my, it's cold.

Work

At the moment, not much, but that changes as of these coming weeks. We're doing an Oracle update, which means a full--and I do mean full--regression of all functionality, which includes SQL queries for database functionality, which as I foolishly learned SQL, I may also be called in for that. One of the big problems that came up during downtime was database mismatching, which is kind of the nightmare scenario for testing.

very boring work minutia )

Learning SQL seems to have been a mistake; now I know enough to worry about a whole host of new things and how they can go tragically wrong.

Music

Because I need to cheer myself up. These are exclusively by way of Pandora, because I ended up buying a subscription and now wonder how I lived without it. And so revoltingly easy to buy a track when you really like it. Damn them.

Sooner or Later, Matt Kearney - he seems to be growing on me, no idea why. Maybe it's the striped shirt?

Wrecking Ball, Miley Cyrus - Dude, judge away. I can't even tell why I like this one, but it got into my work playlist somehow. Goddamn Pandora.

End of All Time, Stars of Track and Field - Okay, I forgive Pandora everything; I love this song. It drew me in a week before Christmas and went onto my home playlist for regular melancholy brooding at the stars and whatnot.

What a Shame, Shinedown - I think they're officially hitting critical on the number of tracks to qualify as a favorite band. The only thing that makes sense is that I need a harder rock presence in my life or something to leaven out the alt. I have no idea.

Face Down, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - Another Pandora find. It's definitely not subtle, but the beat is seriously awesome.

Show Me What I'm Looking For, Carolina Liar - I love them. I love them.

I Lived, OneRepublic - So continues my shocking descent into loving OneRepublic. It only took like, ten years?
My niece had her birthday party at Gattiland, and after doing my duty shepherding three under-six year olds for a while between games (easy, really; everything is shiny, so it's a matter of keeping them all moving in the same shiny direction), I was free to play. Which is, and I don't know if you know this, a surprising hazard.

I played skeeball.

I woke up this morning with a huge pain on my right side just between waist and hip and went through the options I was dying or seriously injured or you know, accidentally sacrificed something vital for three wishes that I'd forgotten I'd made (this is me; it could happen) until I mentioned it to Child, who gave me the most disappointed look ever.

"Turn around," he said, and rolled his eyes and turned me himself. "Where does it hurt?"

Blank, I pointed, and he poked me gamely because that's my kid. "Ouch, and what the--"

"Okay, try this," he says, getting my arm and pulling it back and nudging my shoulder. "Pretend you're skeeballing."

I did so, and crouched, seeing the game before my eyes now, lights lit up and fucking missing 10,000 again and--oh. Ouch.

"You can get skeeball injuries?" I asked, surprised. Because hey, you can. "How many games did I play?"

"A lot," he answers grimly, visibly not rubbing his side, which oh. "Skeeball hates left handed players."

Which it does, which is why his shoulder hurts too. Because apparently Child and I are the kind of people who get super competitive about skeeball to the point of injuring ourselves playing. No, we don't know how many games we played, but apparently, way too much. Which now explains why the rest of the skeeball lanes were mysteriously empty while Child and I doggedly ramped up the tension of playing like our souls were at stake.

So now you know--Skeeball Side and Skeeball Shoulder Are A Thing. Is there any exercises I should do before the next time? Get in shape, if you will.

Black Butler

Child has been trying to drag me into anime and manga as a serious thing, and in my absence, my niece is his favorite victim. Which is how I wandered into the room just as Sebastian's careless lock of black hair fell between his red eyes and fell in love, echoing my niece's cooing, and sat down. Two eps later, Child came in to gaze upon his work in satisfaction for a job well done.

You know, my fannish life was much less eclectic--and anime-filled--when it was online. Adding in an IRL fanboy in residence totally changes the rules. Any moment of any day I can and will be accosted with new fandoms, and God help me, he's trying to get me into Homestuck like an evangelical on a bender. It's surreal. Not as surreal, of course, as finding out we frequent some of the same journals and forums, but up there. There's a part of me--cruel--that kind of half-wishes he hadn't been coached into fandom so carefully and so knows the basics; he's a teen, and therefore has poor-impulse control, and he'd be fantastic in random flame war. Though his adoration of Misha Collins is worrying me on his troll potential. We shall not speak of his appalled discovery of comms that loathe Misha, as it's best left to the imagination, but I will tell you it was hilarious and only a mention now can set off a tirade to do a OTCer proud.

Black Butler--okay, yes, I should have totally jumped on this one like, yesterday, fine. God.

Duolingo

Note: it actually does work. Yeah, that was interesting to find out.

My text Spanish is dramatically improved, and I can report this objectively since at work I help review the Spanish and English text for SSP, and while I used to just be able to check for special characters, I can read most if not all of it now and can even--to my own shock--realize the rare times we get a translation for one thing that ends up matched to the wrong English text when a sentence from another part of the site ends up crammed into the wrong page. Which makes some hysterical reading now.

I'm as surprised as anyone on this one; college and high school did very little for me other than being able to pass the tests, and only when I was a clerk and then a caseworker did it ever actually progress to real-world usability. Now, it's not completely effortless, and I have to concentrate, but it's doable to read through a Spanish wikipedia article and get most of it. Duolingo's strongest arena is obviously going to be reading and translating, but equally surprising was the verbal--listening, not speaking--is coming across pretty well. I used to have to use the slow repeat a lot more than I do now, and I can sometimes follow the conversations at work from a few of the Spanish speakers.

i am totally into this )

Also, it's raining. I like this.
As [livejournal.com profile] druidspell just posted, the Weather Gods, who are way too fucking literal here, just sent down a flood warning until 4:30 PM for north Austin. All of us at work had our phones go off at the same time and were staring at them blankly, as we are people who test the latest changes in cutting-edge technology and yet are confused by our phones squealing an ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO DIDN'T CALL IN SICK TO WORK TODAY LIKE A NORMAL PERSON ON A FRIDAY while displaying our doom on a pop-up box.

I have a liter of Mexican pepsi (made with sugar, by God), my tablet, and my phone. Provided we aren't here long enough to turn to cannibalism in a desperate bid for survival, I think we'll be okay. Though two and a half hours is really pushing it.
Hilariously, ten days vacation ended up mostly without internet, as the wireless at the condos went out dramatically, and of course, my phone's 4G did not extend to the beach. There is something seriously wrong with that, for the record.

However, short version: I had a [personal profile] niqaeli for four days, in which we saw giant windmills (I am told they are now called turbines if you want to be fancy), a town I swear doesn't exist.

The town is called Sinton, and it does not exist. I know it doesn't because until we got there it was not showing in my googlemaps and all my life I have driven down to Mustang Island but into the town of Sinton we never went, nor do I remember anyone ever speaking of it. Yet we drove through it--and it had a brick Dairy Queen, which what the hell--and now it shows up. And everyone knows about it. Interesting, yes?

I have a theory that [personal profile] niqaeli drove us into an alternate dimension and my dimension--where I no longer am--has no Sinton but this one does, so everyone who tells me about their experience with Sinton (not kidding, at work a co-worker swears she taught there once. Really, I said, surprised; suspicious how 'Sinton' never came up in conversation before). Also, now that lack of wireless suddenly is suspicious, and I have no sunburn despite the fact I actually saw with my own eyes direct sunlight and even exposed it to my own skin, which right there tells me that this dimension has very different radiation from the sun.

So I'm in the wrong universe, and I must adapt to all of you being AU versions of my friends. I have some questions--for one, tell me of your sun and its UV rays, in my world I turn red and it would cause burnage and pain, yet here, no so much--and your customs and traditions, which are strange to me. I'll adapt, I'm sure, but in the future, if I seem wary of you upon meeting you, it's because you met my alternate self, not me, and in my world, you are not evil vampires, but I have no idea if you are here. It's a whole new world and your ways are strange to me. You all call this the internet, right? Was dreamwidth always spelled with a 'd' there?

In addition, Child met [personal profile] niqaeli and is in raptures for her Teen Wolf love and hysteria ensues. He's still threatening to run away to Phoenix. I want him to try. I would love to see how he'd go about it.

Random App Recs

No internet on the beach with minimal things to do during the heat of the day:
1..) duolingo - the crackiest language app ever. It helps if you have the very minimum high school level of a language somewhere in your memory, but it works pretty well even if you don't. It's also addictive as hell. It's split into sections and those into lessons with a final review at the end, and it's crack. A single lesson takes less than ten minutes, and failing a lesson is a do-over with similar but rearranged and interestingly reinterpreted questions. I learned more by failed lessons I did over than I would have if I'd gotten it right the first time, especially in multiple definitions and even source and contextual definitions of certain words which nailed them into my memory. La rueda is freaking burned into my brain now, you have no idea.

Also contains 'strengthening your skills' where you can click and get a random assortment of bits from past lessons. I use that a lot to calm down after Failure With Adverbs (All the -mente in the world). This is where being somewhat familiar with Spanish and the overlap with English is a huge problem. Reading it is easy; calling it from memory or spelling it kicked my ass like, a dozen times.

Highly, highly, highly recommended. Seriously, this is fun.

Teaches: Spanish, Italian, French, German, English, Portuguese

2.) Memrise - this is more difficult to define, since it says it's about languages, but it's kind of about everything that they can get someone to write a lesson for. Including history, art, Pokemon--yes, I mean that--and physics.

I tried the Russian; I do know Cyrillic from college both print and written forms, but it's been a while, and it nailed it the print back into me in less than an hour. The bigger problem with it is the same problem I had in class; the first basic words they teach you in Russian are fucking huge. There is no Hola or adios; hello, goodbye, please, and thank you are not only in Cyrillic but all greater than five letters, and hello is freaking eleven. For me, I needed to see the word and write it like a lot at the same time to get it, or at least hear it while writing it, which unfortunately for the spelling portion it did not do. I also did the quick lesson on shell scripting, which wasn't useful per se for anything I needed but just to see how it worked. I will say it was very good for learning commands I wouldn't use, but it did give me three or four that I didn't know that I could use.

Teaches: Kind of everything?
Website: memrise
Dear Flist (and Assorted Persons),

Since yesterday's entry, eight people started following me on tumblr.

Please don't be < 18 and at any point use the word Gigantor. This is just for my sanity.

Also...

....well played.

love,
seperis
Randomly, Child finally linked me to his tumblr account, but only with the promise I'd never follow or reblog him as long as we both live. It was extraordinarily, almost freakishly, adorable to watch him squee over an entire team of soccer players (I think?), and today, he tried to talk me into getting Converse shoes to match his.

Reproduction of actual conversation today at Academy:
"Because," he said seriously, "then I can show you to my friends."

"You said your friends think I'm awesome already," I replied, confused. "Because I'm tall. They call me Gigantor, which thanks, I do know you came up with that name."

"No, they think you're an awesome person because you are and [because of] fandom. Not how you dress."

"...how many of your friends know my username?"

Nothing about this conversation was comfortable, but I'm not sure whether I'm upset because his friends know my screennames or because he criticized my dress sense.

This is the unacknowledged downside of your username becoming your online identity and literally cannot imagine getting another one anywhere. It really makes your son's fanfic-writing (Christ) friends find you easily, and now anyone who follows me on tumblr is Possibly One of Them.

However: I honestly think half the reason Facebook makes me uncomfortable is that my RL name is there and while online, it feels like I'm pretending to be someone else. Someone boring, by the way: if you friended me on Facebook, you may notice my lack of content. Because it's the wrong goddamn name. Facebook even has its very own email account attached to it unrelated to my other ones, because again, not really me and I'm vaguely uncomfortable checking it.
The snake of a thousand evils returned yesterday morning while I innocently--and I do mean innocently--drank my coffee and contemplated healthy thoughts of Clark/Lex bondage and Supernatural season five (my son is rewatching) and Buffy season six (my sister is watching), and maybe I was praying too, so you see how I didn't deserve to stare at a snake draped over a flower stand less than eight feet away staring at me mockingly.

After achieving what may have been teleportation (I don't remember what happened but I was inside like really fast), I've come to the conclusion that snakes, like small children, cats, and dogs, are most attracted to those that hate and fear them, which is why I win for most snake sighting ever in my family. I'm not actually kidding here.

From specific traumatic moments to general
1.) Rattlesnake hanging from roof - me
2.) Rattlesnake sleeping in drawer - me
3.) Rattlesnake on porch in staring match with cat - me
4.) Rattlesnake pursing me and Lindy across the front yard - me
5.) Huge mating ball of water moccasins over side of low bridge holy fuck nightmare fuel to this day - me
6.) Garter snake that looked like shoelace - me
7.) Snake in front yard, leaped onto folding chair with girlish scream - me
8.) Snakes in tank behind house in the country - MANY TIMES
9.) GODDAMN BLOTCHED WATER SNAKE - TWO TIMES NOW
10.) Rattlesnakes in general - LIKE A LOT
11.) Snakes in lake behind house in the country - MY CHILDHOOD LIKE A LOT

I'm not counting every time I have to go to the reptile pet stores because I try to repress those memories. I just learned there that reptiles have a smell and I react to it much like any animal and want to cry and hide in the bunny pit.

This is the funny thing; like claustrophobia, snake fear was something that developed rapidly and with no actual defining event that hit me during puberty. I know this is starting to sound like repressed memory where it ends up I recall being the virgin sacrifice during a satanistic orgy at daycare or something and EXPLANATION (maybe it involved being placed in a coffin during the proceedings?) but no one remembers this now--I liked snakes. I wanted one as a kid. I wanted specifically a python, because during the competitive summer reading program at the library someone brought a giant awesome python (to encourage reading?) and I fell in love.

I do not believe I'm repressing a satanistic orgy memory or anything, but I also think Snakes on a Plane's most terrifying possible sequel would be Snakes in An Elevator In The Tallest Building in the World With No Air Conditioning. Just knowing it appeared in theatres would assure I never left my bedroom again. In my life.

Life

Oddly enough, two people have been converted to The Wonder and Bank Account Destruction that is Keurig. Ever since I got my first one, I never looked back, and I routinely stare hungrily at newer models with more water capacity and more buttons. My sister and a coworker both just fell madly, deeply, and financially destructively in love, and so I ruthlessly ordered more coffee from Amazon just to give them samples and watch as they, like me, lose any hope of keeping a savings account when they taste:
1.) Gloria Jean's Macadamia Cookie
2.) Gloria Jean's Mudslide
3.) Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut
4.) Donut House Light Roast
5.) Green Mountain Nantucket Blend

They will sell their souls at 59 to 81 cents a pod. This is joy.
Aug. 16th, 2013 06:57 pm

argh

Okay, so this build at work is kind of destroying my sanity. However, the duckling testers are awesome.

the new testers: life and times )

Okay, so work. This is gonna be fairly short yet terrifying.

work work work )

This week I have to finish writing my tests for the next build, try to pass everything that's still open this build (I'm going with a hopeful 85% pass), because as of August 24, I'm on vacation for ten glorious days, some of which will be spent with my family and extremely adorable Infant Niece, my officially as of this next week kindergarten Niece and Nephew, and my still-preteen Niece, and God help me, a high school junior Child. Which is insane. Just--what the hell.

I also get [personal profile] niqaeli for four entire glorious days! So you know, get through this week. I can do that.
Due to me being that kind of very determined person, we got a giant whiteboard at work, so giant that I decided to add a word of the day to the space using the time-honored method of wikipedia freefall-- that is, starting from my previous word of the day, I follow links until I find something interesting in under five minutes. Though it's more word every three days, because the whiteboard is less easy to wipe clean than you might think;

Current: Prosopagnoisa, aka face blindness.

Previous: jamais vu, presque vu

While surfing my way through aphasia, I remembered I wanted to check what it's called when someone has left-right confusion, and discovered--again--that this isn't yet an actual thing in itself, but is a major hanger-on of pretty much every brain malfunction you can possibly have, and while it possibly effects up to twenty-five percent of the population in varying degrees of severity, it's still--a thing among many things, a description of a few words that tells is it's something that happens. What it is seems a little vague, and science has yet to tell me why.

left to right, what? )
The only legitimate defense I have here is that I paid absolutely no attention to the words "Annual Physical" on my appointment notice. I thought it would be a blood pressure/breathing/how's your thyroid doing these days (slowly degrading past the point of having any kind of functionality in my body other than decorative, thanks for asking) kind of thing.

This all changed when the nurse put little cloth covers on the stirrups of the medical bed (pink) and a fresh sheet on it while I stared in incomprehension and then laid out a fresh sheet and gown and told me to put the ties in the back. You would think--anyone sane would know--that this is the point I should have gotten with the program as I slipped on the gown, wrestled with the missing ties (what the hell is up with that, why do I always get one with a broken tie?) and saronged my sheet of choice over unshaven legs while still clinging to my underwear in a state of what at this point must be considered truly epic denial.

yeah, I don't know either; tw for things that involve stirrups and not horses )

After which I got dressed and considered the possibility that I really need to read the notices. As it turns out, it's mentioned on there! Who knew I should read past the time and date?

I know what you're thinking--this has been a learning experience. I want to remind you that I am still amazed by the coming of my period and currently my phone is set to alert me that I'm going to want to listen to my "cut your wrists" playlist and stare into the backyard pondering the meaningless of life and file truly sarcastic defects at work. Sometimes while thinking I could have been an astronaut (I'm claustrophobic) and why I fail at knitting as a life skill (I stab myself with the needles; it's weird). I've learned nothing. Check back here June 2014, and you'll see what I mean.

Final Note: You may not think this, but in general, if my doctor had chosen to Surprise!Pap me instead of stating it very clearly in unambiguous terms on the appointment notice, I wouldn't blame him. Historically--and he knows this--anything more than a blood pressure/breathing/how's your thyroid doing these days (it's being a lazy fucker, we're not speaking right now, thanks for asking) kind of thing results in the blank, staring silence that makes the entire situation feel about as comfortable as an autopsy, requiring him to fill the silence, hearkening back to the days that we all stared in bafflement at my lung x-rays after those two bouts of atypical pneumonia when he said "It's just interesting, how the ones now (April) are identical to the ones from November! Your hospital-requiring bouts of pneumonia are weird, you know? No idea why this is happening." because he's a doctor and this is what they like to talk about. Generally, it's much better to set me off into a monologue on the relative merits of Ohio.

(Similar to the specialists who during the second bout came into my room while I was gripping an oxygen mask before breakfast to crowd around my bed and say excitedly "It's not cancer! Or Legionaires! But we have a ton of possibilities to go! We need to bioposy your lungs!" and ten minutes later I remember to ask the space where they'd been standing "Wait, cancer?" because again, the blank staring silence thing is apparently desperately uncomfortable.)

I live life like a box of chocolates without fingernail marks on their bottom to check contents before consumption. Why don't I fingernail mark them and find out if this is a lemon or a caramel? Like the love of God, it passeth all understanding.
My least favorite time to write anything is when I really have something to say. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true, and this is why; when I do have something to say, that rarely if ever coincides with any desire to talk about it, which sets up a conundrum in that everything else piles up behind it. As many a apocryphal mother has said, you can only eat one bite at a time, except that would end with choking and a tragic yet easily preventable death when you have too many bites and don't get with the program, while this just ends in not being able to talk about anything at all. Or at least, nothing that makes much sense. It does lead to a lot of uploading old Smallville fic to AO3, so if you're curious, almost everything is there now.

TW: abuse, alcoholism, etc in part two.

this is what I'm not talking about, part 1 )

this is what I'm not talking about, part 2 )
The only explanation I have for this is that Child was still pre-verbal when I first watched Tarzan, so this part of Tarzan--to this day, as in, five seconds ago--still sets me off into fits of tears. Basically, anytime the gorilla mom or the human mom are on-screen, I have this total connection and also, being me, hoping a gorilla mother would take in Child should I be killed by tigers. Fuck tigers. Just, fuck parent and baby gorilla eating goddamn tigers.

Parenthood, let me remind you, is rarely sane, and I'll be honest, the first year of parenting should be considered a viable entry in the DSMIV on principle. It manifests in two very distinct ways and I think most parents will agree with me on this one; you will spend a significant amount of time being paranoid--and I do mean paranoid--about completely normal things like killing the kid by changing his diaper wrong, or you're copacetic with putting a baby seat on a motorcycle but like, the likelihood of aliens actually existing goes up like whoa and a certainty kidnapping is imminent. Sometimes both at the same time but in general, the human brain does get there are limits, and when air itself becomes a viable threat to your sprog, it does eventually reset itself to sanity or something less likely to require medical intervention via IV with concerned strangers asking what the voices are telling you.

To give you perspective on this, my nightmare scenario--born of a goddamn Dean Koontz novel turned shitty TV movie but strangely having very little actual relation to it--was a home invasion where I'm tied to a chair, Child (pre-verbal, remember?) in his high chair, and the burglar for sadistically inclined reasons is willing to trust in probability and sets a whole bunch of small legos on the high chair for Child to choke on while I watch. Child never once choked on anything in his life that I remember--and believe me, I would--but that stuck in my head and became this Thing. I mean, I get there was some deeply symbolic subconscious meaning going on, but dude, the literal was plenty nightmare fuel for me. Which is why I was like the only parent in the world who didn't worry about their kid setting the world on fire with his discovery of matches--though this could also be because Child's hand-eye coordination has never been what we'd call advanced for his age--but did spend valuable time considering how to trick the hypothetical burglar in question into tying the ropes badly or working out how to secret a knife on my person without that leading to dramatic questions on my intentions should it come out I was carrying one in less dangerous conditions, like say, going swimming.

It's also the reason that to this day, the four times--I can count this--when I was genuinely shocked into terror at home, my first act was to palm a knife from the kitchen. A steak knife at that, I wasn't picky here, I wanted sawing capabilities as well a pointy tip. Writing it out looks insane, but I can promise you that if someone were to break into the house--or like, there's a sound like that is going on--today, I won't even think about it, I'll go for the first I find in the drawer. You also have to keep in mind my one and only work-related event of the flying squirrel guy when I was a caseworker, after being knocked over by the door, I crouched there holding an unfolded stapler guarding the erstwhile door with ninja-like thoughts on how I'd use it even as at the time my brain was screaming at me what the hell are you doing to do to the guy with a stapler? Staple him? and my internal answer every time was YES. YES I WILL. A THOUSAND TIMES. because apparently, that's just how I roll. Apparently, that includes not being sure if a stapler refill has a thousand staples, which I'm looking up right now, just in case.

In case anyone is curious, Child has officially entered true teenage surliness, but this is my kid and so, it has variations. Everything is out to get him and unfair, but he expresses his pain both normally (as TV has taught him, of course), but also in reciting blank verse at the top of his lungs and gets my five year old nephew to add performance art to the entire situation. It is really, really difficult to hold onto parenting values--I am still working the entire raise him not to be a serial killer or menace to society rock bottom minimum parental accomplishment and it's working out well so far--when he's treating me to at least college-quality improv in the living room and I don't have to even pay for tickets. Being a parent, I think he's genius, but also as a realist, I think he's a genius at knowing how to work with my weaknesses by reciting the equivalent of teenage-level Gilgamesh in which he fights the good fight against parental monsters and symbolic representations of heroic tasks like taking out the trash. It's unreal. I mean, I don't know whether to send him to his room to think about what he's done or applaud, so I end up doing both, which may be the very definition of a mixed message.

I'm wondering when he'll realize his guitar is also a viable weapon of obfuscation of parental wrath. He's tone deaf--I mean, his singing can actually make my eardrums want to burst, he's discovered notes I didn't know existed and really shouldn't, not unless we're summoning Cthulhu for a personal visit--and his ability to navigate strings is very iffy, but I'm honestly not sure what I'd do if he started setting his teen-pain to a beat with terrible accompaniment. This ends in Elder Gods or sheer shock, but both ways will include insanity, and I do not yet have a plan to deal with this well. It may be the unbeatable weapon.
So I had an interview Thursday. I don't expect to get the job--this one is definitely going to be decided a lot on tenure--but I went ahead and applied because it's been a while since I applied for a job and since I really do like what I'm currently doing, it wasn't a big deal. Plus, I felt my interviewing skills needed a brush up.

This interview did not go as expected.

really, not at all )
Replacement phone arrived! And the SIM card is faulty, which is typical, so picking up new SIM card at t-mobile store tomorrow, as they closed right before I was told I could get a new SIM card there.

However, I do feel soothed just holding it in my hand and cooing at it. Also named Dean, as our time together was far too short, and they look the same, so let's say this is an AU.
Historically, my vacations tend to end up being adventurous--again, see my DC Summer Flight Trauma--but I can honestly state that this? Is a whole new level of new.

Halfway between Kingsville and Raymondville, [personal profile] amireal and I were stopped for not changing lanes within one hundred feet of signaling we were going to do so.

To give an idea of how very much I wasn't paying attention, it wasn't until we pulled over and I asked Ami what the hell was happening that I realized we were even being followed by a task force police SUV and was still in a state of wtf--

("What did you do?" "I didn't do anything!" "Are you sure?" Ami stares at me hatefully until the officer comes to my window and smiles winningly while I try to remember how windows work. As one does.)

Ami handed over her driver's license and insurance and then looked for the rental agreement while trying to look non-threatening (I mean, I'm not sure how we could have looked less threatening than blank expressions while listening to the Buffy "Once More With Feeling" soundtrack, which we may or may not have been singing along with). He wandered away with her paperwork, then to my utter horror asked her to get out of the car after stepping into the lane to divert traffic and I watched in the rearview mirror as she got into the police car and closed the door. While clutching three bags on my lap in a non-threatening manner. As one does when one is freaked the fuck out.

Eventually--I mean, this was like ten minutes--the officer came back and asked me for Ami's real name--it was close thing not saying Amireal, let me tell you--and what we were doing and where we had come from and our vacation plans and a short quiz on my home city while I continued to clutch every bag Ami had gone through looking for the rental agreement--before wandering back to his car where Ami was waiting, and another few minutes passed before I got out--non-threateningly--and asked if I could smoke so I could more easily stare at them in case he took off with Ami and left me in the middle of nowhere to die alone since right, my phone was stolen in San Antonio and Jesus Christ, this is not my life. Eventually, Ami returned to the car and I got back in as quickly as humanly possible, and as we drove away, Ami told me about the 100 feet violation--seriously? That's a thing?--and then asked me if I was questioned on our plans.

Ami was questioned on our plans, our most recent location, and whether or not she had cocaine, marijuana, or around twelve thousand dollars cash in the car somewhere to buy them. At which time, I realized next time I played "Never Have I" at VVC, I could take a shot for "Have you ever been pulled over in South Texas on suspicion of having cocaine or large amounts of money to buy it?"

Currently on my pool-facing balcony in South Padre contemplating whether or not Ami or I should risk going out of the condo at any point this week.
Due to reasons, I went for a walk at midnight through san antonio looking for coffeee or any liquid and after two miles--I have no idea how I did that--I came back to teh B&B and lost my phone. Dean teh phone is an ex-phone, and it is sad.

You would think this would be a bad sign on vacation--it's not. You see, the DC Summer Flying Horror? Still wins. And I got to ride a train from Austin to SA with [personal profile] amireal and it was amazing fun.

So far? Vacation is pretty much okay. Leaving for south padre tomorrow!
Combining logging into work with pre-vacation laundry and housecleaning is not exactly my idea of a great Saturday morning. However, Lifehouse's Between the Raindrops does help. Well, music period. For Christmas, my mother bought me ridic awesome headphones--ones I would never buy for myself, that is how deeply awesome they are, they come with their own hard case and detachable cables, plural--so listening to my entire music collection has been a revelation. Dude, the difference.

In weirder news, Samsung gave me a free copy of Avengers for my phone. I love my phone. I would marry my phone. I cannot imagine watching a movie on my phone. Yet there it is.

Vacation To-Do List
1.) Find beach canopy with the foolish belief [personal profile] amireal and I can actually assemble it ourselves.
2.) Actually move it to an accessible location to take it with us if we lose our minds and think we can actually pull that off.
3.) Finish laundry.
4.) Find bathing suits and wrap skirts.
5.) Find all USB chargers for evaluation.
6.) Select media to bring as cannot bring server.
7.) Reconsider bringing server instead of canopy. I could do a lot of programming at the beach.
8.) Make grocery list with the knowledge me and Ami will break it the moment we walk into Central Market and get trapped in the cheese section.
9.) Find the location of the border checkpoint (falfurrias?).
10.) Get Ami a travelers' Spanish guide.
11.) Send her youtube mariachi so the trovadores at Mitierra don't startle her too much.
12.) Go to Texas Meat Market for hot dogs.
13.) Pack favorite cookbook.
14.) Actually do at least a few things on this list.

Vacation Schedule

So far, we think we have a plan. Hotel and condo reservations bear this out.
Monday - Ami arrives! Dinner at Kerby Lane! Apparently pumpkin pancakes.
Tuesday afternoon - train to San Antonio.
Tuesday through Thursday - Explore San Antonio.
Thursday morning - leave for Port Isabel
Thursday afternoon - stop in Corpus Christi for lunch
Thursday-Tuesday - South Padre! Condo on the beach! Balcony! Loafing! Hot chocolate and fajitas and homemade tortillas on the balcony! Exciting cooking! Pirate cruise! ATVs! Horseback riding! Massages! Last three in the same place!
Tuesday morning - return to San Antonio
Wednesday morning - return to Austin/New York and Real Life. Bah.

If anyone is around at any of these places and wants to meet up, please email me! I'll send you my phone number.

Will finish actually work stuff now. *stares at computer* I will feel inspired if it kills me.

Question - if one were to bring a canopy to the beach, is there anything I can use to put on it to track it by GPS? My mother has said I cannot bring it unless I want to replace it, since the last one was stolen. Any help here would be appreciated.
Happiness could be defined as: one week from today, I will be on a balcony in South Padre that overlooks the gulf with [personal profile] amireal. It is perhaps the most awesome thing ever. It will be five nights of doing absolutely nothing. I mean, I assume we might have to eat, but surely that will not take up too much prime lounging time.

Maybe margaritas. Or vanilla rum hot chocolate and pretend we added tequila?
Mostly for my own sanity, the reason why I ended up ordering new boots from Amazon in a fit of retail therapy due to work. They are goddamn awesome boots, and just wearing them made me feel better as a human being, so.

In this entry, I said that two weeks of work was basically scrubbed. That's inaccurate.

it's actually a lot worse )

In case anyone is curious, I went for an eye exam earlier today and during the process there was a period of intense light per eye that has since developed into a headache that eased off just in time for me to reach terminal insomnia. This is fun for me.
So radio silence is lifting briefly due to the realization of how long it's been since I chatted or posted, and also because my life sucks immensely at this point, and work is only like, a tenth of it, but honestly, without the other ninety, that would still be enough.

Due to reasons (the legislature), our first two weeks of testing were thrown out and we have to start from scratch at the very beginning. There is a very mild upside in why this happened--now our test period is much longer--but its' also being combined with another test period. Also, I have to rewrite about a quarter of my tests, which is not an upside, just a bitter reality.

I am not dealing with anything well right now, tbh, and I'm very, very tired. I honestly do not know if I've ever been quite this tired in my life.
Due to [personal profile] synecdochic's potential for reality-bending dreams (and becoming an SCP herself), I started thinking about how that would work out if I didn't get to dream up the existence of a sharkopus (you know you would love life lived like a sci-fi original movie, don't lie), and one of my more vaguely realistic and less surrealist ones.

The thing is, this is where I explain I don't understand people who say they don't dream in plotlines, or at least, don't seem to think of them that way. I dream like I'm living a novel that I have the ability to revise, so half of any dream I spend trying to fix scenes I don't like--most tend to be surrealist after school special lessons on if you change things, they get worse, not fucking with you, I dream in goddamn platitudes--and some are sequels to earlier dreams, or at least, a related episode. They have their own memory sets, in fact, that come with them. The only ones that actually bother me a little, however, are the ones that create memories for me later that it takes me a while--and I do mean a while--to realize are dream-related, because they're both breathtakingly normal and background enough that I don't think about them deeply at first and are just off enough that when I finally recognize them, there's this holy shit moment.

this was not about a sharktopus, though that would be awesome )
My Weekend

Saturday - Prince Birmingham the rabbit makes a break for it by leaping wildly over playpen fence and is captured. Rain the rabbit dug his way out of his playpen and under the fence to run far, far away.

Sunday - Prince Birmingham is depressed. Rain returned, apparently offended by the world not being what he expected.

Like, I have no idea of Rain's expectations of the world here, but sometimes, I wonder about his planning skills.

Work

First day back after bout of pneumonia, long and tiring. While I was gone, we both gained and received an employee. Also, we may or may not be moving and may or may not be doing so with a change in our cubicles to a sort of pod formation. Seriously, nothing happens at work for months, I leave for a week and it's all CHANGE EVERYWHERE. Also, teh new place may have only one fridge. It's stressing.
We have emerged triumphant from Lowe's with a front door, a storm door...and patio furniture. It wasn't our fault. We were sitting on it waiting for help to find a swing for the back porch--not joking--and it was on sale. Then the lady just loaded it up and we paid for it and they took our money for goods and services, as one does in a capitalist society.

It was so odd to have someone willingly sell us a door, I'm not even joking. Like, he even seemed to want to. Who knew?
There really is no possible way to make up for the lack of VVC right now; however, dragging someone (willingly!) into Teen Wolf fandom totes makes up for that. Not that they fought that hard, I want that for the record. Or like, at all, now that I think about it.

Home Depot

I don't know if you know this, but they don't like selling things to people who offer money for their goods and services.

For the fourth time in two years, we approached Home Depot after careful research to buy 1.) a front door and 2.) a storm door. We have model numbers and item numbers. We have colors. We have a place on the outer wall of our home that needs a door. Most importantly of all of those things, we are carrying money to buy it right now.

Somewhere in Home Depot is one man (1) who knows how to order a fucking door. Me, I was ready to go home, grab my toolkit, and buy the model off the floor and install it myself, but apparently that was not in the cards.

We've been going there to try and get these doors for two years and it's like, the minute we show an interest in purchasing, no one knows how to do anything. Once, we actually got an invoice--wait for it--and went to pay it so they would come install our doors that we had ordered...and no one would take our money. We waited in the door area for a while. Or call us back about the doors we ordered. Or even apparently knew what a door was, from repeat visits.

On a very primal level of wtf, I cannot figure out what they think will happen if they sell a door to us.

Air Conditioner

We are having an equal problem getting anyone to agree to fix our air conditioner, which does not believe we should have temperatures lower than eighty-three. Our new air conditioner that we just bought.

I have goddamn pneumonia and am finishing my round of steroids while arguing with three (3) Home Depot people, none of which could explain teh alchemy of the door buying process other than no one knew it.

I feel like this is some kind of life lesson, but the lesson seems to be muddled. Am I supposed to step up and learn how to install doors and fix air conditioners in an empowering way that will lead to true love, or is this the value of patience in trying times?
Whoever the anonymous person was who called pneumonia a few days back has won! The prize is personal satisfaction. As of Monday, I have pneumonia, which I'll be honest actually surprised me, as both my experiences with it were fairly traumatic, involving ambulances and three day hospitalization and once, a catheter. Apparently, it does not always herald itself with trauma and the ER. Who knew? But in case I felt comfortable or something, I was told this could change at any minute, so that was a cheerful conversation.

I guess I'm most weirded out by the fact I don't have (many) breathing problems other than when fits of coughing take precedence, which granted is a lot. However, as my future is steroids and antibiotics again--zpack is a joy and a delight forever--I am not against this per se.

In other news, I'm still absorbing Teen Wolf's last ep and trying for coherence. As what. The. Fuck. Dude, this show. It has to be the compressed timeline that I'm not used to that's screwing with me, because wow.
In honor of the strangely sad drama that is my immune system at this point in time, I have named the fever Chris. This is just demeaning.

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