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September 02, 2009


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I will be catatonic with exhaustion by Christmas

You'll be tired, but a good kind of tired.

I don't really have any automnal plans. Not true. I'm flying to the San Francisco Bay Area the week of September 21, to finally meet my new boss, for better or for worse. More important, it'll be the chance for me to see a friend I've known for 20 years and we'll have a belated celebration of my birthday. Other plans? I'll be giving a small party here (date still up in the air), with some of the local fans as my guests. On November 13's meeting of the SF club, I'll be giving my steampunk-movie presentation. Oh, and I'll be doing further research for that steampunk novel my wife wants us to write together.

Not quite as hectic a schedule.

Susan, that is a *crazy* schedule. I wish it had worked out that I would have been in NY to attend one of your NYC things! Maybe sometime in the future.

Serge, I'm really excited that you two are going forward with the steampunk novel!

My Autumn plans include continuing to take tribal belly dance lessons up in Tempe, meeting a fellow dancer from CO and her now-local friend in Scottsdale, going to a Bead Retreat in October (probably my last one, my interests are shifting more towards dance), and working my way through the gigantic stack of books I brought home from NY.

Plus, of course, I have to finish beading my Cthulhu plush in time for said Retreat. *goes back to stitching*

AJ... Mind you, it'll be months before we can even start plotting the darn thing, what with my wife's current deadlines. That gives me time to do some thinking of my own about where I'd like the story to go. And time for research. I also found a scientist who said he'd be willing to answer some of my questions. (Appropriately enough, he was the inspiration for Bill Heterodyne, father of the Girl Genius.)

As for your Cthulhu plush...
The horror. THe horror!!!

So is that insane or what?

Is it too much to ask for both?

First day back at school today!

For both good and bad reasons I don't have a timetable yet so am just turning up where I'm least expected. (Language Lab! Food Tech Suite! Dance Studio! - no not really, just Maths.)

Let me see... Wedding this weekend, followed by birthday, followed by Mum's birthday... bit of a gap... Three October birthdays (including mine which will inevitably lead to the manliest of competitions, a bake-off) and by then hopefully it's the end of term 1, beyond which I currently cannot forsee.

I inevitably misread Bead Retreat as Beating [the] Retreat which would be a somewhat different event.

Susan, you'll be turning in circles the rest of the year!

Serge, he also plays ukelele. Near the early morning of a con-night, he's been known to lie down on the floor in the con-suite and play until he goes to sleep.

Marilee... For a moment, I thought you meant that Cthulhu played the ukulele. Quite an eldritch concept. Then I realized you were referring to Bill.

Neil... Tonight on the Discovery Channel, the latest installment of "Manly Bakeoff"...

My fall sounds positively relaxing by comparison. I'll be going up to the Berkshires to visit friends in mid-October. Otherwise, I'm working (Sunday schedule starts soon--oh, joy), and making a quilt. I'd like to put the pictures from my Alaska trip in a scrapbook, but somehow I doubt I'll get around to it.

It looks like things will be a bit more exciting for me than I thought. I finally got the specs of a project that has to be deployed by October 23, and I find myself with lots of questions. Alas, one of the project's originators is away until September 21, as she's getting married. The other originator is also away, but because her dad just died. This means I may have to talk to their boss, who already thinks I'm intellectually deficient. Bleh.

I'm starting school next week. I'm not doing a full load because of my medical issues, but since two of the courses are fourth year (including one combined grad/undergrad course) and I expect I'll find the other to be dreadfully boring, I will still be quite busy if I manage to stay in all three.

My husband and I went to Stratford yesterday. West Side Story was as fabulous as you described. I was nervous about A Midsummer Night's Dream since the reviews were uniformly bad, although they all praised Geraint Wyn Davies' performance as Bottom (and deservedly so, with bonus swoon for the Welsh accent). We enjoyed it overall, perhaps because of such low expectations.

Hello, Carol. Long time no read.

It looks like my dread-inspiring project may turn out not to be lovecraftian after all. My team lead gave me some pointers about how to 'translate' what the user's specs say into the corresponding system programming that I'm supposed to tinker with. What a relief!

Meanwhile, considering how busy Susan will be for the rest of this year, maybe we should load up on tea and wit.

Hello, Serge! I continue to lurk. I'm glad your project seems to be less daunting now, and the book project sounds like fun.

I have dozens of types of teas in my pantry (I'm currently drinking iced white tea with raspberry -- unsweetened, of course) and am quite Witty, so I'm set.

I haven't done any baking this week though. I should make some muffins later this weekend for snacking at school for myself and my son, and most likely a cake later in the week once my husband decides what he wants to do for his birthday.

Hmm. I do have some fresh fruits I can share instead: peaches, pears, cantaloupe and apples. Help yourselves!


peaches, pears, cantaloupe and apples. Help yourselves!

I don't think I'd call myself witty. After all, Voltaire once said that puns are the death of wit. Then again, he probably envious because he never could come with a good pun.

My best wishes to your hubby for his birthday!

("What's that, Serge?")
I just got Carol's joke about her being Witty.

My parents have gone on holiday leaving four huge boxes of apples. I've managed to eat, give away or leave in other people's fruit bowls 28 apples in the last week, but I doubt I'll be able to keep that rate up. Help yourselves (metaphorically). Please! I still have nearly 4 boxes!

(The wedding was brilliant. We learnt that the bride was conceived while her father was playing Jesus in a film*, which explains so much. Also I left 7 apples with my hosts (as well as picking up the taxi fare for all of us after the reception) so I've not been a complete deadweight as a guest)

* Not while he was actually performing; it wasn't that kind of film.

Neil.. An apple a day keeps the Devil away, but what will twenty-eight of them do?

Keep him away all month, if the month happens to be February and it's not a leap year.

Paul A... But what if we use all 28 apples in one single day? Which reminds me to wonder how an apple can keep the Foul Deceiver away since all our troubles began with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, with said fruit usually depicted as an apple. On the other hand, one apple falling on Newton's noggin led to the discovery of the Law of Gravity.

Paul A... But if, as you suggest, we restrict ourselves to one apple a day, what happens during summer, where two consecutive months each have 3 extra days?

See, I always heard it as "keeps the doctor away" as if it were some cheezy advertising slogan touting the healthy effects of eating fresh apples.

I'm pretty sure that 28 apples in a single day would actually require the presence of a doctor to deal with your stomach upset.

I believe that some argue that the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge was a pomegranate. My friends and I were joking that it was breadfruit the other day, due to our gym pushing a "grains are evil" diet.

AJ... Maybe it's the doctor that apples keep away, not You-know-who. Maybe both versions of the saying exist. Most likely, my brain slipped a cog.

Breadfruit in the Tree of Knowledge? Next, someone will be suggesting that it was fruitcake, except that nobody wants to eat fruitcake.

nobody wants to eat fruitcake

Untrue! I *like* fruitcake.

Mary Aileen... That reminds me of John G Hemry's first JAG-in-space novel, in which the main character finds out that the Navy celebrates the coming New Year by putting a fruitcake in the torpedo tube.

I like fruitcake if it has real fruit and not the citron stuff, and if there's no alcohol. And yes, that pretty much makes it fruit bread.

I find myself wondering if I've ever had real fruitcake. I've heard that the stuff available in grocery stores very much pales in comparison.

Serge, I'm sure it's just a regional difference on whether apples keep doctors or Old Scratch away.

My Mom used to make a tasty fruitcake by using a spice cake mix and adding normal dried fruit into it. No alcohol involved, my parents were teetotalers and the only time we had booze in the house was to help whelping dogs or on the rare occasion that Mom made rumballs for my uncle as part of her holiday baking.

AJ... a spice cake mix and adding normal dried fruit into it

Now that sounds yummy, with or without booze. I expect that my past experiences originated at the grocery store(*). That's probably where Gary Larson also got his, thus his Far Side Christmas cartoon about the Fourth Wise Man, who's seldom mentionned because his present to Jesus wasn't gold, incense, or myrrh, but fruitcake.


(*) Does anybody still call them supermarkets? When I was growing up, what used to be called grocery stores were what's now called a small convenience store, but with a meat counter.

I call them all grocery stores, my neighbor here calls them all markets (without the 'super'). I haven't paid enough attention to know, otherwise.

Mary Aileen... I guess my calling them supermarkets betrayed my advanced age, right? :-)

Serge: I don't know about that. My neighbor's older than you are.

Hearing someone call them supermarkets wouldn't surprise me (the way 'market' always does), it's just not the term I tend to use.

On further thought, I often say (or think) just 'store', not 'grocery store'. "I'm going to the store" means I need groceries. "I'm going shopping" means I'm going to buy other things, like clothes.

Apropos of nothing special, there is a lovely photo spread here of Newport Vintage Dance Week, which is the event I taught at in late July. I'm not in any of the photos; my dresses aren't super-fancy and photogenic. But they're pretty cool anyway, and it's the New York Times!!

Susan... Nice. Also, this hopefully will really put your name out there.

Well, it's the third time I've taught at Newport, but I think this was the best one yet by far for me as a teacher. I had a successful evening DJing, too.

I usually say "grocery store," but also just "grocery." "I went to the grocery."

For me, a "supermarket" is a large building, probably part of a national or international chain, with rows and rows of stuff and multiple cash registers. A "grocery store" would be smaller, probably owned locally, with just one cash register which may well be operated, at least part of the time, by the owner in person. A "market" is probably outdoors, and involves multiple independent stalls.

In addition, I note that the supermarket nearest here doesn't actually sell groceries. (Foodstuffs in sealed plastic packages that can be displayed near the checkouts to tempt peckish shoppers, yes. Perishable foods, no.)

Paul A... So the distinction still exists in Australia?

What a lovely example of people separated by a common language!

I use the term "grocery store" to apply to my local supermarkets. But hearing them called supermarkets wouldn't surprise me. It feels vaguely old-fashioned, though, perhaps more something people called them when I was a child and there were non-super markets to contrast them to? Around here supermarkets are all there are except for small convenience stores with high prices and no fresh food. The supermarkets have substantial produce sections and butcher's sections.

I vaguely remember separate butcher's stores, but nowadays do not see them except when I go to Stratford, where I often have sandwich meat cut for me at one. I suspect the only places around here they are really common is in neighborhoods with a population of people observing restrictions about how meat is killed and prepared: Jews and Moslems keeping kosher or halal rules.

"Market" I would think of as a farmer's market, all fresh produce and other farm products. I would probably not use the term by itself. There are plenty of those around. But actually my first association with the unadorned term would probably be the stock market, as in "the market is up today." That's got to be a childhood thing, too; my father was a stockbroker when I was a kid, so I grew up with a cloud of investment discussion around me. I didn't inherit or absorb any ability with money, myself, alas.

A flea market would never be just a market, though, always a flea market.

Susan... But hearing them called supermarkets wouldn't surprise me. It feels vaguely old-fashioned, though, perhaps more something people called them when I was a child

Darn. I guess this confirms that I am an old geezer now. Now, where did I put my cane?

I just realized why Serge is suddenly on about his age this week. Duh.

Here's the link to wish him a belated happy birthday at his own LJ!

Did I really go on more than usual about my age? If I did, it wasn't to subtly tell Rixo about my birthday. Really. That's my story and that's what I'm sticking with. Actually, I was thinking about things that were, but are no more. That stuff.

That being said, thanks, Susan!

My dread-inspiring project may not quite be a Project from Hell, but it sure feels like it's close to Purgatory, if only because its definite deadline means it won't go on forever. (My saying that probably betrays my Catholic upbringing.)

Is your job essentially project-based or do you have ongoing programming/support/something responsibilities as well? Are the projects tacked on to your normal workload or is project-by-project the way your job goes?

Susan... My workload usually is a combination of all of the above. When a project like this one comes along, especially when it has a drop-dead deadline, it takes priority over everything else. Rather, it should. Alas, in this case, I found myself asked by my manager to help someone else's project because I was the one with the knowledge. Also, when a subsystem I'm responsible for appeared to have a problem in the data we were providing to another group, I had to spend a lot of time looking into it. And discovered that the problem was with the other group's system. Grrrr... As a result, the previous two days have been 15-hour ones. I am hoping that today will not be like that. On the bright side, the user I'm doing this for is very appreciative.

Susan... At which point of your busy schedule are you now?

I've run out of metaphorical tea.

It IS quiet, too quiet...

[tiptoes up behind Serge]



Somewhere or other on Rixosous, which I now can't find, Serge was asking about the TV show The Champions. I caught half an episode last night before having to rush off for dinner. I have seen it before and my thoughts are that, like a lot of 60s TV it takes it's ridiculous situations very, very seriously; the Champions, seen as superheroes, are interestingly low-powered and finally, why are the good guys working for an organisation called Nemesis, what do they actually do all day, and why are bad guys trying to stop them? It's either generally incoherent, or I should have watched the episodes in order.

If watching a slightly camp, dated 60s action/fantasy TV show is your idea of fun, I see no reason not to get it. It looks like Youtube may have one or two episodes up, probably without permission.

Neil... like a lot of 60s TV it takes it's ridiculous situations very, very seriously

I think my original mention of the Champions was in the Aetheric Mechanics thread. That being said, yes, that show now requires putting oneself in a certain frame of mind. The plots are very silly comic-booky ones, often with wait-a-moment logic. Then again, why did James Mason use elaborate schemes to try bumping off Cary Grant in North by Northwest when a bullet to the head would have been more efficient? But I digress. Regarding your questions... They were working for Geneva-based intelligence outfit Nemesis before they became superpowered. So, they did run-of-the-mill spy stuff during the days while trying to hide their talents from the boss. How did they become the Champions? In the first episode, they were 'normal' spies who had infiltrated a communist bio lab in China where some nasty stuff was being brewed. They escaped, but their plane crashed in the Himalayas. They were dying. Instead they woke up, their severe bodily damage was gone and, as they tried to make their way back home without being killed by communists, they realized they had been repaired beyond the basic. Repaired by whom? Yes, you may think 'Shangri La'. Anyway, they now had, not just greater strength, but also more acute senses. And an empathic link between them. In one episode, one of them, on a solo mission, got himself killed by a poisonous snake and the other two felt it, hundred miles away. Using the mental link, one of them restarted his heart.

This reminds me that I haven't watched a Jason King episode in a long time.

Speaking of British TV... I have a question about Doctor Who. Was there a full season after the one where Donna was the Companion? According to what's available on NetFlix, there was the special "Planet of the Dead", then "The Next Doctor", with the latter serving as a transition from Tennant to the new Doctor. "The Next Doctor" was recommended to me at last night's meeting of the local SF club as being quite steampunky, so I put both DVDs on our queue.

"The Next Doctor" is not, despite appearances, the transition to the new Doctor. It's lots of fun, however.

I don't think there's been a full season PD (post-Donna). My understanding was that they were doing several (four?) specials with Tennant before picking up with the new Doctor for a full season.

Mary Aileen... It's lots of fun, however

Thanks. So I was told last night.

I'm pretty sure that Mary Aileen is right.

And I was just starting to get used to Tennant and his annoying hipster hair.

AJ... They did seem to over-mousse Tennant's hair during Donna's tenure as the Companion. To tell the truth, I didn't like that season as much because they had jacked the slambang/shoot'emup aspect of the stories. As for Tennant, I wasn't sure I liked him, after Eccleston as the Doctor. What eventually won me over was Tennant's Doctor being so gosh-wow "Oh this is neat!" about this or that corner of the Universe in spite of the dangers. That over-the-top curiosity of his went away for most of the Donna season, though.

Oops. Sorry about the goofup with my 'signature'.

It always takes a little while to get used to a new Doctor.

Has anybody seen the post-Tennant Doctor's adventures yet? They're available on NetFlix so I'll probably rent them. He seems a bit young, even younger than AJ, but we won't hold youth against those who are young. Heheheh


I don't know what you're seeing on Netflix, but the post-Tennant Doctor's episodes haven't aired yet. They haven't even finished filming all of them.

Also, you've got the specials the wrong way around (probably because you fell into the trap of thinking "The Next Doctor" was the last one): The correct order is "The Next Doctor" (first aired Christmas 2008), then "Planet of the Dead" (first aired Easter 2009). Then "The Waters of Mars" (due to air Real Soon Now), still with Tennant, then if I recall correctly a two-part special around Christmas that will be Tennant's send-off.

Then, next year, a full season with the new Doctor, new companion, and new head writer.

Paul A... I just realized that what NetFlix posted was an advance warning for when the post-Tennant stories are released on DVD. Thanks for the list of past and future specials.

Speaking of the Doctor... If you click here, you will be taken to a recent post of the blog of Scott Wegener, Atomic Robo's artist. Scroll downdowndown, past the photos of Wegener and of his wife, until you reach a picture of their offspring (captioned " this is what happens when nerds breed"). What does that have to do with the Doctor? You'll see, you'll see.

Two hours ago, I finally got the signoff for my Big Project. Good thing too, what with its deployment being scheduled for Friday. I decided to treat myself. I have subscribed to Weird Tales. I made a donation to Studio Foglio for their recent Halloween wallpaper. Later today (since it's now past midnight) I'm buying a BIG golf umbrella.

Ah, presents for yourself! Good idea!

Marilee... And my wife and I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. When our waiter said "I'm dotdotdot and I'll be your server", I should have asked if he was unix-based or Windows-based.

General update: I have now completed the gender-role-free contra dance camp gig, so I'm about halfway through my fall schedule. November is a relatively calm month, though. Good thing, since December will be fairly crazy until I reach the holidays and collapse.

I went back and edited the post with a few updates.

This place is way too quiet. I think I'll start rearranging the furniture. Idle hands and all that.

Come now, Serge. Surely things aren't that bad.

Paul A... things aren't that bad

Of course not. It's just that, when things are quiet, I find myself succumbing to some unspeakable urges, one of which is the rearranging of furniture in familiar surroundings. (I'd do it with my office, but everything is bolted down.)

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