Monday, March 31, 2008

On accessories

My costume on Sunday was rather bare of tchotchkes, which was a little sad... however, this was due to more than one reason. First of all, I don't actually have a pouch - this, I need to fix. Second, although I have a tankard hanger (which is suitably beaten up) and indeed a tankard (a nice brass job, turned rather than moulded), the hanger is useless as it stands due to the lack of a button. That, I can fix with a trip to the Fount of Wonder that is F&S Fabrics, and maybe 2 minutes' work sewing the button on.
The tankard itself is being cleaned right now, with the aid of some cola (well, I can't drink the stuff; it gives me horrific migraines), and should be fine for Saturday.

I also managed to get around to improving my boots for Faire; I took a length of thread, and simple whipped the ends of the laces, thus protecting them from fraying and yet not drawing attention to their distinctly non-period features, such as being blue (definitely blue... yes, and suede... no, I'm not Elvis), having Dickies stamped into them... I could have sewed on metal aglets, but that would have drawn attention...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

On good people

The LA was unable to manage workshops today, but we managed to beg me a ride from another guild member. Meanwhile, the Smaller Madam had been making my doublet and breeches, which was wonderful of her. I'm also all done with classes, and should be approveable for costume tomorrow... cutting it fine for getting a pass, but that's how it goes.

I discovered today that Land Rovers smell exactly the same over here as they did in the UK. Also, I can fake BFA with just a little attention to certain phonemes. My natural accent is close enough to BFA that more than once I had people thinking I was in BFA when I wasn't, and threatening to start cribbing from my accent. And the barometer joke went down brilliantly...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On more than one subject

Recycling. You would think, in a state as hippie as California, that recycling would be easy, particularly given that you get 5¢ back per can, and similar amounts for plastic bottles. You'd think there'd be someplace on just about every street corner where you can deposit cans and bottles and have a machine count them and print you a little chit saying "this is good for x amount". You would think.

This turns out not to be the case. There is a recycling place on a street corner... the thick end of a mile away. I attempted to go there... at 3pm, they'd already closed. So, tomorrow, since I don't have any use of a car, the LA and I must get up early and drive to deposit our recycling.
The system is not set up for families which work...

Beer. Surprisingly, I have no trouble finding good beer while in the USA. Even beer which has been declared approved by the Campaign for Real Ale is available. If I get on a bus, I can even get taken directly to a place I can be served pints.

Darts. This place also has at least one dartboard. Since my darts are no longer in the clutches of USPS (having been forgotten in my briefcase until coming BACK from Utah - well done, LAX security screeners!), I shall be heading out to there and getting my eye back in - along with teaching the LA the basics of the game. It's not that hard, really - one picks a starting total (anywhere from 301 to 1001), and begins throwing darts. Any which hit the scoring area score points. The scoring area has 20 sectors scoring from 1-20 points, plus the bullseye. The bull has an outer ring worth 25 points and an inner ring worth 50. There is a thin ring around the outside of the scoring area which doubles the points scored for a sector (so if you hit the very outer edge of the 20-point sector, you score 40 points) and another ring halfway in which triples the points scored (hence the ability to score 180 points in three darts). Each player throws three darts, works out how many points those three scored, and subtracts that from the starting total (so 180 scored in a game of 301 would leave a score of 121). The final wrinkle is that when reaching zero, it must be done exactly (so scoring 14 when you only have 12 points left is a bust, and you lose your go) and it must be done by scoring a double (so to score 12, the 12-point sector is not allowed; you need a double 6 instead).

Eek. Wall of text. It takes a lot of words to explain something that can be shown someone almost instantly.

Thank goodness I wasn't attempting to explain LBW in cricket. The LA already understands that.

On neatness, scruffiness and users

Some of you may remember a while back that Ubuntu made a change to their base system: they replaced the target of /bin/sh with dash, rather than the accustomed bash. This immediately began breaking things (in at least one case, expensive things sold by Borland), and a flamewar ensued, with Ubuntu developers explaining that it should work and that therefore they should not make any effort to reduce the breakage, and users explaining that should was not good enough and they would really rather like to take the minor performance hit and have things not break.

This here article, which I found over at Shamus's blog, explains who's right and who's wrong in this debate, which is currently being rehashed with Internet Explorer 8 (Eight? EIGHT? Wasn't six going to be the Last Version?) and Web Standards.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On story, ratings and plot development

The LA and I have both been glued to the television (this in itself is noteworthy; longstanding friends of mine will know of my views regarding television) for the CBS series Jericho. Last night, season 2 ended - after a mere seven episodes. Now, British readers may think this is long, especially as Jericho occupied a one-hour timeslot, and so was 40 minutes long each week, but the first season was 22 episodes. A lot happens in a season of a plot-driven show out here.

Jericho nearly didn't have a second season. The first season suffered from falling ratings during its run, probably not helped by a significant hiatus and the plot-driven nature of the show - it was a Bad Idea to leap in in the middle. In fact, after the finale, the show was cancelled. A letter-writing campaign ensued, and CBS received sufficient encouragement to un-cancel Jericho. However, the second season was only picked up for seven episodes. As a result, there was a lot more action, and far less character development in season 2. Characters who could have become nuanced were instead stereotyped; practically every major character introduced during season 2 (including one who had actually appeared briefly in season 1) was a cardboard cut-out. Some storylines were abruptly cut off before properly resolved. Somehow, the writers managed to pack a full season's worth of plot into a mere seven episodes, but this came at the expense of character development. What they also did was to wrap up most of the major plot arcs, but with sufficient hooks remaining for future development, possibly in a movie. There are also numerous hooks within the season which would allow for what I'm calling "interquels"; added episodes which focus away from the main, overarching plot which dominated the second season, and add in some of the missing character development. I hope some of this happens; the second season managed to finish where I think the second season should have finished, but there's a lot fallen by the wayside. Hopefully someone can pick it up.

Monday, March 24, 2008

On the interaction between photons and impure silicon

While in Utah, I took some pictures. I also entrusted my camera for a while to my father-in-law, as he's also a shutterbug.

Some results follow.

Nearby mountains

Myself and the LA, at a viewing area over the Great Salt Lake

More mountains

Food fight!

On the importance of seeing what is there

Today, I had to go and get more strawberries to adorn the LA's breakfast (personally, I can't abide strawberries without cream, while the LA has a dairy intolerance, leading to somewhat of an impasse, but that's by the by), and while at the rather good but rather pricey shop near which we live (it's very good food, and generally ecologically sound, being as this is a health-conscious place in California) I checked the freezer aisle for the blood orange sorbet to which both the LA and I have cleaved. There were tubs of it, and immediately below was a placard, the only part of which I registered was the notation that regular price was $4.99, while sale price was $3.99. Well, of course, I leapt upon this and grabbed two tubs.

You know what's next, don't you?

Indeed you do. When I arrived home, I checked my receipt, and found that I had paid $4.99 apiece for the sorbet. Naturally, I was miffed; had I not seen a placard saying it was on sale? Well, I climbed upon my high horse and set off back to the shop, receipt in hand and dugdeon in tow should I need to embark.

This time, I read the placard, and noted that I had failed to spot that it referred to the variety which was next to the blood orange. Moreover, the ticket relating to the blood orange stated that it was $4.99 per tub.

Next time, dear reader, I shall attempt to remember to read all of the offer before leaping upon it. This time, it cost me merely two dollars and a modicum of pride. Next time may not be so inexpensive.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Meeting the Family

This weekend, the LA and I were in Utah to visit the LA's family. The occasion was the 90th birthday celebrations of her grandfather, who is a charming man with a good singing voice and a wonderful fund of stories. In attendance were his sister, his children (all four, and that was a small family for this family, if you see what I mean) and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A good time was had by all, and I find I have learned several things.
A bulleted list follows.
  • This family has many similarities to my father's family, in size (although this family is far larger overall), in packrat tendencies ("Don't throw that away, I can use it!"), in use of gardens (they grow very good vegetables), and in sense of humour (I was conversing much as I did with my great-uncle a couple of years ago when he turned 90, and was getting laughs).
  • I got on well enough with the Texas contingent to gain an open invitation to visit, partially because of my Cornish ancestry (having explained that Cornwall is Not The Same as England, much like Texas is Not The Same as the rest of the USA).
  • The Great Salt Lake is an average of 13 feet deep, and very pretty.
  • Utah as a whole is very pretty, in fact.
  • I want to go to Utah on holiday sometime. I missed out on geode beds and the World's Biggest Man-Made Hole (despite going around the mountain range in which it sits), and I want to see them.
  • Salt Lake City airport security are somewhat more alert than LAX security, and as a side note, I need to be more careful about checking what's in my bag. Fortunately, the US mail is pretty good at not losing packages...
  • The LA's laptop seriously needs to be nuked and paved (and I've been assigned to do that)
  • It can be freezing even with the sun out. We're talking single-digit Centigrade, low 30s Fahrenheit. Brrrr!
  • You get pretty dang tired at 4500 feet up when you're not used to it.
  • The LA's family really are the black sheep of the family.
  • You can get upholstered toilet seats.
All in all, a fun trip.

Note to self: call the Tooele Chamber of Commerce tomorrow and correct their grammar. Although what they had printed is grammatically sound, it conveys the opposite meaning to what they had intended, and this could prove problematic if people are smart enough to understand it but dumb enough to not think about it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

On entertainments

So, here I am, well over five thousand mile from where I grew up. I'm actually reading less, what with housework, but that's beside the point. What would you suppose I would be missing most, in terms of entertainment?

Top Gear? I have BBC America. They show little else. No, Top Gear is not the answer.

Test cricket? I have the internet, which allows me to listen to TMS online. No, Test cricket is not a problem.

Rugby Union? No, there are plenty of places I could have watched the Six Nations had I wished.

My book collection? No, the Lovely Attorney (to whom I am married) has books I have yet to read.

My computer games? No, I'm just waiting patiently to be able to go and collect them. A fair number will work on the Mac Mini, too.

Darts? Surprisingly, no, although I would like a set of 24 gram soft-tips so that I could use the electronic dartboard in the rec room. Even though it isn't susceptible to my usual wire-bending. I would like to have access to a proper bristle dartboard, but it's OK.

No, gentle reader, what I miss most is the Daily Telegraph crossword. Anyone feeling like going to Amazon and asking them to send me the compilation books, I would not be unhappy at all; be they quick or cryptic. I'd be happy with a gift subscription to the Telegraph's online Crossword Club, too.

Of course, all this post really is, is begging, but American crosswords just aren't right for me. I miss the need to actually figure out words. I dislike the ability to give up on a clue and later on, fnd out that oh, hey, I did it anyway by getting other clues. I don't go much on the formalised rules of American "cryptic" crosswords (most of the ones I've tried are of a challenge level roughly on a par with the Telegraph Quick), and prefer the deviousness of the Telegraph's compilers. Besides, the Telegraphs's CC includes their clueless crossword, which is beautifully challenging; I've had to brute-force cryptanalyse it on the train to work before now. I seem to recall someone pointing me at an online automated clueless of the daily persuasion, once. Sadly, that was on another computer and I never bookmarked it anyway. Anyone got any suggestions? The LA loves sudoku, but I really don't find that fun myself, so I'll stick with my crosswords and clueless crosswords - if I can find them!

And now, I should get back to packing for Utah.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What? Content?

Having got the initial setup out of the way, here's some real content: this weekend, I'm going to be in Utah. It's my new grandfather's 90th birthday, and it behooves me to go and meet Rabbit's new friends and ralations. So, flying out to Utah on Saturday, back on Sunday, and hopefully I'll remember to take my camera and some batteries!

I just hope the kitties will forgive us for leaving them!

Some introductory stuff...

Previously, I've been blogging on LiveJournal. However, recent changes there have somewhat soured me, so I decided it was time to use this account. Please don't expect me to be insightful, or to have any kind of theme; this is just a place on the web where I do occasional brain dumps. Someday I may or may not import my old LJ content. As it stands, probably not.

Meet the new blog, much the same as the old blog

This is where I blog now. Don't expect great things, but do expect me to be annoyed and annoying.