Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] gb
Losing your mind?? Draw a Slovakian!!

I want to ink this in a weird way, but I'll probably stuff it up so scanning the sketch likely prudent



Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:03 am
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[personal profile] gb
Yesterday was a thrill ride and not a good one. I wrote a handy script for RPG Maker VX Ace, problem is I stayed up until three am to do it, powered by sheer spite at how much time I've wasted this week stressing about things not worth stressing over.

Let's give this another shot...


Mar. 21st, 2017 10:56 am
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[personal profile] gb
This picture from the Choose Your Own Adventure title Inside UFO 54-40 (which has nothing to do with the hidden ending I found almost immediately cos I always enjoyed flipping through CYOA books) is a perfect depiction of my current state of mind.

The more things I manage to do and the more things I become interested in, the more I can't tell if I'm moving forward at last or if I'm only regressing faster.
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
The March category in the Wordy Birds’ reading challenge is transport or travel, and I headed back to China Mieville (sorry, Becka! it’s pronounced Mee-ay-vill…) to re-read The City and The City. March sees me embarking on an intensive six-month novel programme, and one of the requirements is to analyse a ‘comparison novel’. Now, I could never write anything as amazing as The City and The City, but it’s a contemporary fantasy novel with a twist to reality, which is how I would describe my novel, so I was looking for tips on how to present a different world without weighing the narrative down with exposition.

The City and The City is a murder mystery set in a pair of fictional eastern European cities. The twist on reality is that they both occupy the same geographical space, but are so completely separate that the inhabitants of one are not allowed to acknowledge the existence of the inhabitants of the other, even when they’re walking down the same street.

The travel aspect comes into it when the detective (a resident of one of the cities) has to go to the other city in order to investigate the murder, and the way that transition is portrayed is brilliantly done. There’s a section in the novel where he has to go into a large government building, go through all the tedious hoops of security and passport checks, and then exit the same building, but into the other city. It’s a telling indictment of the endless bureaucracy of foreign travel in our own world, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that he hasn’t actually travelled anywhere in real terms.

The whole book is so clever, with the setting providing a million little moments of conceptual genius, but it’s difficult to talk more about it without giving too much away. The characters are engaging, the details of the murder case are fascinating, and there are so many great uses and abuses of the rules of the two cities. And then there’s the introduction of a kind of regulatory body called Breach, which monitors interaction between the two cities, and takes the book to a whole new level of mind-bending weirdness. It’s a wonderful book, which I would highly recommend.


Mar. 17th, 2017 02:41 pm
karzilla: a green fist above the word SMASH! (Default)
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...

(no subject)

Mar. 17th, 2017 09:24 am
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Doc thinks the abdominal pain/bloody urine is due to a UTI (not a bladder/kidney stone) and is sending me over to pee in a cup at the lab! Whee.


Mar. 16th, 2017 11:24 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
I also realized I had not introduced you all to the new feline occupant of the house!

Meet Thea:

Thea lounging on the vet counter, fresh out of fucks to give

So, [personal profile] without_me retweeted a tweet a friend of hers had made, looking for a new home for a friendly former-feral whose human had died and who was living on the streets being intermittently fed by the neighbor. [twitter.com profile] detachment_red hadn't been involved in that, but was looking for a new home for her, since the neighbor apparently wanted to stop feeding the cat and was going to just leave her roaming the neighborhood. (Special place in hell, etc.) Alas, she already had a cat who needs to be an only! So, to Twitter she turned.

Sarah and I had agreed that after losing our three boys in the space of a year, and since Ginny, Ruth, and Naomi had settled down into a comfortable balance, we weren't looking for another cat, but fortunately, Sarah understands that sometimes Twitter just hands you a cat. ([personal profile] without_me has confirmed that she specifically RT'd it because she knew I'd see it. It's like I'm a well known sucker or something.) We picked up the cat the next day and took her straight up to the vet's, where she promptly (and accurately) identified us as suckers and got a head start on the snuggles:

Thea crawls into my lap during her first vet visit

This is less than an hour after we met her, btw. I'm just saying. It's important that you allow a new cat to acclimate to you in her own time and don't force your attentions on them. entirely too many cat pictures )

We're not yet seriously going to start worrying about her inability to get along with Ginny/Ruth/Naomi (who have all been curious but very well behaved about the strange cat in the house) or her tendency to charge at the door whenever she sees/hears one of the others on the other side of it. Our current hope is that the pain from the teeth fuckery is affecting her temperament and she'll mellow the fuck out once we get the teeth treated. She's sweet as hell to humans (occasional nip aside, and we've got that mostly trained out of her by now), at least, barring the time she was charging at Ginny and Sarah got in the way and got clawed to shit for it. ("I swear I'm not self-harming," she had to tell the new doctor she was seeing this week. "We just adopted a new cat. Which can be kind of like a form of self harm, if you think about it...wait, it was my wife's idea, I guess that makes it domestic abuse.") All she wants to do is be in your lap! Until she gets tired of being petted and bites you instead of jumping down and walking away, heh.

Her name with her last human was Missy, but we didn't think it suited; after a week or so of trying everything under the sun, we settled on Thea.

I really, really hope we can mellow her out enough to keep her, and that it's not a case of "must be the only cat in the household"! I mean, come on, look at this fucking adorable sweetheart of a face:

Thea, sacked out in my lap (and snoring)

(If she does turn out to need to be an only, I'm going to try to talk my mom into taking her -- Mom's been missing having a cat lately since their last one died last year -- but if I can't convince her, I may put out the call to see if anyone can give this precious baby a home where she'd be the only cat. But that's borrowing trouble at this point! There was sniffing through the cracked door today and only a little attempted murder...)

mutter mutter mutter

Mar. 16th, 2017 10:16 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
"Fucking bodies" TMI muttering behind the cut )

Oh, and for those who follow me on Twitter ([twitter.com profile] rahaeli) and saw me marveling about how my e-chart showed a call to my specialist Friday morning post-surgery, after which I suddenly got better pain meds (read: actual pain meds, not "barely the level of pain meds I take on a daily basis"): I had the monthly visit with the specialist yesterday, and asked about it! Turns out they did not actually call down to verify with her that I wasn't a drugseeking addict, after all: the call was actually Thursday afternoon, not Friday morning when I was happening to the nurse over pain management.

What it actually was, though, is not necessarily more reassuring: it was the anesthesiologist calling her to find out what CYP2D6 ultra-rapid metabolism was. (The call notes apparently included the phrase "when we called back, he said he had already found information on Google".) CYP2D6, for those who don't know, is the liver enzyme that processes a large number of the drugs we use in modern medicine; it's produced by a cytochrome in the liver that has high variability in populations, and some people produce none of the enzyme and some people produce a whole lot of it. (I produce a whole lot of it.) My particular mutation means that I process most drugs very fucking quickly, and require very high dosages of anything that's metabolized by CYP2D6 and weird dose schedules for anything where it's the metabolite that actually has an effect, rather than the substance itself.

Something like 25% of the drugs we use in modern medicine are processed by CYP2D6, including pretty much every drug used in anesthesia, and while there's very wide phenotypical variation among populations and racial groups, estimates range anywhere from 20% to 40% of the population has some non-standard expression of the genes that code for it. It is the sort of thing an anesthesiologist ought to consider basic fucking fundamental knowledge, basically, and this dude had no fucking clue what I was talking about. Like, the last time I went for surgery, I specifically asked the anesthesiologist (who'd also done the surgery before that and managed to get it perfect) what I should tell future anesthesiologists to make sure that shit got handled, and she said "oh, just tell them you're a 2D6 ultra-rapid metabolizer, that'll be enough for anyone."

(No, it's not just that I was using the wrong vocabulary. I tried a few different ways of explaining it.)

But hey, I didn't wake up on the table and I did wake up once I was in recovery, so I guess it all worked out in the end. (Definitely asking for a different anesthesiologist if I have surgery at that hospital again, though, oi.)


Mar. 14th, 2017 11:54 am
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[personal profile] gb
If there were a term for a piece of media that brutally flunks the Bechdel-Wallace test on a literal and philosophical level, that would be the perfect phrase to describe Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
morganmuffle: (do not approach (Staffa))
[personal profile] morganmuffle
I know that Article 50 is coming, despite all the back & forth I was pretty certain there was no avoiding it, but as we get closer the impending sense of doom and panic from last summer is back. Just tear up my identity and our economic future and the hopes of a peaceful Europe and scatter them to the wind, 'm sure we won't regret this decision.

I just... like I've kept my head down so much in work but I definitely feel at the moment as if everything is unravelling.

Even though I know the speech is not really saying what I want it to and that John of Gaunt might well be a Brexiter if transplanted through time all day I've had this bit of his This England speech in my head.
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds.

I will attempt to be less melodramatic in future but I can't promise to be any calmer internally.

(post title courtesy of senior clergy person in a meeting earlier re: the theory/face that it's easier to get people to pay bills to a church than it is solicitors (or any other business) ♥)

ETA Meanwhile my MP is releasing statements about how dog owners should flick poo into the undergrowth not put it in a bag... because clearly that's everyone's priority.


Mar. 13th, 2017 03:47 pm
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[personal profile] gb
RIP Murray Ball

It's late and I don't generally make these kind of posts, but this journal's title and subtitle is, in fact, a punchline from a particularly memorable Footrot Flats comic. So it seems apropos.
Next time I visit a relative who owns all the books, I'll find and scan it for the internet :D
[personal profile] dr4b
You know, I thought I'd maybe start writing a journal again but it turns out that I'm just bad at it. Also that my life is boring and unlike when I was in my 20's, I'm never sure it makes sense to take notes about my day. I do keep a spreadsheet about some basic everyday things though recently it's just, where did I eat lunch and dinner and with who, and how did I get to/from work, and which meals had meat in them?

Oh yeah, so back in November I decided to go semi-vegetarian-like, in making a rule for myself that I only eat meat in one meal a day tops (with exceptions when travelling, so our Australia honeymoon was one large exception). I had wanted to cut down on meat for a while, but the only way I figured I could do so was to set an actual damn rule and follow it. What has mostly happened is that I eat a lot of vegetarian lunches. It's silly, but basically, even while food at Google is pretty good, if I eat meat at lunch that means my dinner options are more constrained, and then I have to work things out with Chris, and so if I eat a vegetarian lunch we can do whatever we want (either from a Google cafe or otherwise) for dinner.

It is kind of ridiculous, but we really don't cook food ourselves at all for the most part (we did make a point a weekend or two ago to buy stuff at a supermarket and cook, but). The problem is that since we eat free food at work so often, if we have food in the house, it just goes bad inbetween times that we'd want to prepare it. I guess we could be better about it but the other thing is that neither of us really enjoys cooking all that much anyway.

What was I here to talk about? I'm not sure. Since last time I wrote I spent a week in Arizona in February for Fighters spring training, and I wrote that up on Marinerds. I have a ticket to the WBC in LA next week, but I still don't know if I'll go (though I said I'd go if Japan makes it to the finals, and that looks pretty likely, so maybe I should go reserve a hotel and stuff, I'd just drive down).

We've seen a bunch of musicals in the past few weeks:

Finding Neverland was at the Orpheum in January. It's a pretty mediocre musical, in that the lyrics are very predictable. I thought it was funny how obvious the main role had been rewritten for Matthew Morrison, and without him it seemed kind of silly.

If La La Land counts as seeing a musical, it was... well, I'm glad it didn't win Best Picture. The director clearly went off and watched a ton of Astaire and Kelly and such movies and then tried to remake them all, but somewhere in the middle he got lost and forgot he wasn't just making an Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling rom-com. I think had he gone one way or the other (total remake of 1930's-50's Hollywood musicals, or rom-com with songs whee!) it would have been good, but instead it felt schizophrenic and dragged because it couldn't stay in one mode or the other. I did appreciate the shoutouts to those older musicals, but it just fell really flat for me.

Fun Home came to the newly remodelled Curran Theater and we went to see it. I'd seen Fun Home on broadway with the original cast that won all the Tonys, in the Circle in the Square theater, and I wondered how it would transition to a normal stage. Fortunately, it worked just fine. I'm really critical of musicals these days I think, and I had absolutely no qualms whatsoever with the SHN production -- it was a solid production of a solid show. If anything, the only thing I noticed on a second watch was some slight anachronisms with Alison Bechdel's actual life (ie, a scene that takes place in the bicentennial, or 1976, when she should have been 16, uses the "young Alison", who is supposed to be like 10 years old).

Same week we saw Fun Home we saw Rent, which is touring for its 20th anniversary (technically last year, but still, holy crap). Rent is still a solid show that holds up fairly well over time, although I wonder what it is like watching it if you're only 20 now and didn't live through the time when AIDS was really scary shit. Anyway, my only complaint about this performance was that the actor who played Roger was pretty bad. Other than that everyone was great. Even if you listen to the soundtrack a bazillion times there's still something about actually seeing the show performed live that makes a big difference. I did feel like the Benny plothole makes less and less sense over time though, but that might just be me though. (ie, Benny starts out as the bad guy and somehow ends up being the good guy but you have absolutely no idea where the hell the motivation comes from on his part OR on anyone else's part to re-accept him).

This past week we went to see Into the Woods. Rather than a typical broadway tour, this is put on by Fiasco Theater and they went for a hipster barebones version of the show where there are only 11 members in the cast and they almost all play instruments. There's no Narrator, and everyone doubles up in some way or another for the most part. Doubling up in ITW isn't rare, especially having the Wolf be played by Cinderella's Prince -- that's a standard casting decision and it's pretty much even written into the vocal range of the characters and into what that actor stands for in the show. However, this production went a ton further. Cinderella's Prince also plays the Wolf, and ALSO plays one of the Stepsisters. And Rapunzel's Prince is the other stepsister AND is also Milky White. Red and Rapunzel are played by the same actress (who also can't sing high notes nor play the trumpet). Jack's mother and the stepmother are the same actress too, and Jack even doubles up as the prince's steward. The only non-doubling roles are the Witch, Baker, and Baker's Wife (well, and technically the Mysterious Man, but that's because he's the cello player and has to be playing music in most scenes)

Before the show, the Pianist said how "Don't forget there are two acts to this show! So after your 20 minute intermission please come back and watch the second half."

After the opening number (which if you know the show is the 11-minute intro that tells you what all the story lines are), Chris and I were both staring at the stage with our mouths open like "WTF IS THIS CRAP". I thought how "I guess they are telling people to stay to the second act because so many people are walking out after the first because it's so terrible?"

Fortunately it got a lot better. Red/Rapunzel was awful, but at least everyone else could mostly act or sing or play their instruments. Into the Woods is a really funny show as written, so it doesn't take a lot of acting to pull off the funnier parts (unless you are this particular Red). I think the best thing they did was to have Milky White played by a human, which I know intuitively makes no sense whatsoever, but there was a lot of funny things they did with Jack's bromance with his cow, and since the cow is an actual human, in the scenes where the cow is just supposed to be sitting off to the side (like during "It Takes Two") the guy playing the cow was often doing funny things as if the cow was emoting, or dancing along, or whatever.

But the barebones aspect of the show hit hard in a lot of ways. Because there were too many people doubled up, they simply couldn't DO One Midnight Gone, Two Midnights Gone, or any of the songs that involve all the characters parading across the stage and saying their little catchphrases (like "The slotted spoon can catch the potato!" and all). They took out various parts of the other songs, which I realize 99% of the people in the audience wouldn't notice, but this is ME, and this is like the 10th? or so production of Into the Woods that I've seen, and I know the show backwards and forwards, so every time something got cut or botched or whatever I was wincing like "ow, you can't DO that". While the lack of a Narrator kinda sorta worked in the first act (other cast members just would step up and say the lines the Narrator would), I think it fundamentally cut out a huge turning point of the second act -- the fact is, when they throw the Narrator to the giantess, there is this big thing of "holy shit, who's telling the story now?" and when they realize there IS nobody telling the story and they have to tell it themselves and take their fate into their own hands, that's a big deal. I felt like the scene where they interact with the giantess was really awkward, and it was partially because they had to redo it so hard, plus they had three actors switching roles during it.

I tried to think how I would change the show if I was trying to make the minimal change to keep their hipster barebones vision intact but take out of some of the most painful parts, and I think I'd basically at a minimum hire two people to play the stepsisters and to play some of the instruments adequately that the cast members couldn't (probly get one to be trumpet/french horn and one to be clarinet/bassoon). I'd also ideally split Red/Rapunzel into two actresses, but maybe I just really hated this particular actress so much that I wanted to change it so badly.

Anyway, I guess this got my desire to rant out of my system. We're seeing Hamilton later this month, I'm sure I won't have any complaints there. (I mean, I saw it on Broadway a year and a half ago, having gotten a ticket when it was still in previews, so I already know it's a good show.) It is amusing how full the theaters are for most of the SHN shows this year because so many people subscribed just to get Hamilton tickets. (Chris has been a subscriber for years, though.)

Oh, another thing that happened recently. My old Nexus 5X phone -- the one I got as a holiday gift from Google at the end of 2015 -- bricked itself on Feb 14th (easy to remember because Chris and I went to Chez TJ for Valentine's Day and I had to take photos of the food with my old iPhone 5). I got a loaner Nexus 6 and was supposed to return it by March 10th. In the meantime, I went and tried out the new iPhone 7 and 7+ at Apple stores, and I tried out the new Pixel by asking friends at work if I could play with theirs (including having a lunch with a friend where I literally put a meeting on his calendar that said "show me your pokemans"). I had decided to get a Pixel, but the problem is that Pixels didn't seem to exist anywhere if I wanted one with 128GB of storage. The thing about the iPhones was that like, the 7+ has this amazing camera and all, BUT the damn thing will not fit in my pocket, and after carrying around the Nexus 6 for a month I figured out that fitting in my pocket was really important to me. And the iPhone 7 just wasn't worth it without the cool camera stuff. However, it really was looking like I might have to get an iPhone because I wasn't seeing Pixels in stock in the Google store...

...until this past Tuesday! So I ordered one and it got here on Friday, and I even ordered a case for it that I can attach all my little Japanese baseball strap things to and all. And so I've had the Pixel all weekend. So far I am mostly happy with it, and it fits in my pocket, but we'll see.
morganmuffle: (emotional)
[personal profile] morganmuffle
Title from the latest episode of The New Adventures of Peter & Wendy which was the actual worst (you know when your feelings of desperately wanting to protect your OTP run up against the fact that maybe one of them is bad for the other one? That)

So that's #1 of the three shows that nearly made me cry tonight 2 & 3 being Call the Midwife (obviously) and The Good Karma Hospital which slightly snuck up on me by having a sneakily good cast in amongst the ridiculousness and beautiful scenery.

Things I need/want to write about- Twelfth Night, how Lent it going, The Pitchfork Disney, Anyone Can Whistle, awesome views from the top of the Tate Modern, the way that my work-life balance at the moment feels like a work-different work balance... I'll probably get to the 3 theatre things eventually at least. Probably.

Now I'm going to go back to thinking about the end of Call the Midwife and sobbing.

Katwe, Eisner, Chiang, Logan

Mar. 12th, 2017 07:38 pm
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
My film of choice on the plane on the way back from New York last weekend was Queen of Katwe. I’d heard good things about it when it came out, and the story of an African chess star was appealing. I quite enjoyed it overall, but it didn’t feel like it had anything new or interesting to say. The plot was very predictable and pretty unoriginal, in terms of both story points and general arc. Now, I know it’s based on a true story, but it should still be possible to present fresh ideas and a new take on the age-old rags-to-riches story, even within the confines of a real-life premise.

Still, David Oyelowo is always good value for money, and didn’t disappoint. And a lot of the kids gave good performances, too. The most interesting character to my mind, though, was the mother, played with admirable complexity by Lupita Nyong'o. She definitely had the most inner conflict to contend with, struggling between wanting her children to have opportunities, while trying to keep them safe, and also not really being able to understand what was being offered to them and what it involved.

So, overall, it passed the time quite pleasantly on the plane, but it wasn’t as good as I had been led to believe.

Whilst in the US, we went to visit the New York Public Library, where there was a small exhibition about the graphic novels of Will Eisner. One of them looked quite interesting, so I bought the Kindle version and read it in its entirety in less than a day. Contract With God tells three separate stories about the people who live in an inner city tenement block - and it’s bleak as all get out. The overriding message is that people either do bad things or have bad things happen to them - that this is inevitable and doomed to be repeated indefinitely. The art was compelling and the stories themselves immersive, but the whole thing was very depressing and quite unpleasant in places.

Of more varied content was The Story of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang, a short story collection, which provoked much discussion and debate at Family Book Club this lunchtime. Everyone liked and disliked different stories, largely based on how interested they were in the technical detail and how much they were able to relate to the characters and situations. I found it very interesting to re-read the story on which the film, Arrival, was based, particularly since the film made significant changes to the story, in order to imbue it with greater jeopardy and a more intense emotional impact.

I much preferred the more character-based stories, and the ones that had less technical detail, but they all raised fascinating questions about society, human behaviour, interaction with technology, and moral and ethical what-ifs.

And, on Friday night, we went to see Logan in the cinema. And, well, hum. I had been warned beforehand that it was very bloody. While at no point did the violence actually cause me to look away, it was quite overwhelming in its frequency, and quite disturbing the nature of one of its main perpetrators. Also, there wasn’t much else, other than grimness, unpleasantness, tragedy and despair to distract from it. So, I found the whole experience very draining, despite excellent performances and some interesting thematic focus. It was by far the best of the lone Wolverine outings in terms of quality, but that’s a very low bar, and what it did provide was not presented in a way that was appealing to me at all. I actually almost walked out a couple of times - and probably would have done, if I’d had anything with me to read, or even my phone to play games on while waiting for my companions to exit as well.