Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Everything old is new again

For many years, almost the past two decades in fact, pain has been a constant part of who I am, and I do mean constant. I would go to sleep in pain, wake up in pain, and with me all my waking hours, there was pain. Even when this started, I strongly desired not to go through life on constant medication, so I just sucked it up and dealt with it. My shoulders hurt? Very well then, my shoulders hurt. It's what shoulders do.

As a result of this, I suspect my pain threshold to be rather higher than most people's; I've become so used to working through pain that I no longer really notice it.

This morning, when I woke up, nothing hurt.

Think about that. For the first time in almost twenty years, nothing hurt.

Of course, once I got up and started moving, all the little aches returned, but for a while, I got to experience life without pain.

I still don't think it's worth medication, but that's just my opinion.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Salty water?

I've been wearing glasses for twenty-mumble years. In that time, I've gone from being a small child to a fully grown adult, with attendant increases in the size of my skull. Since I was wearing glasses full-time (roughly 2/3 of the time, since for most of my life I've only removed my glasses for sleep), and my prescription has always been a high one (high enough that nobody is now willing to allow me to have lenses which are not high-index), and I have long preferred metal frames (to the point that I now can't even stand the metal frames with a single bridge pad; I must have the pad either side of the nose), there was, while my skull was growing, significant pressure on my nose. As a result, it has wound up with rather narrow nasal passages; I'm prone to sinus congestion (and, until I switched to high-index roughly five years ago, had in fact lost the ability to breathe through my nose due to permanent sinus issues) and I get depressingly frequent sinus headaches. Fortunately, pseudoephedrine clears them up (at half the stated dose; a full dose gives me shaking hands and palpitations, which I Do Not Like), but I'd rather minimise that.

I'd been recommended a neti pot some years ago, but couldn't get hold of one, and began formulating objections. Today, though, after a little discussion with Ray in the past few days, I realised that all my objections boiled down to "I don't wanna". So I gave it a try.

I really must do that more often.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Philosophy of Underwear

The LA and I saw a product of Fashion this evening: a young person wearing jeans which a) had a beltline below the buttocks and b) were so tight they must have required talcum powder to don. Apparently, these days, boxer shorts (of the old-fashioned, woven-fabric-and-elastic-waistband type) are no longer considered "underwear". I disagree with this, but that's mainly because my preferred underwear is that type.

However, I had a think about it, and functionally, it's not underwear for me either. I may not have it on display, but my boxers exist more to provide a consistent, non-chafing lining for the upper part of my trousers. For some years, I have been of the opinion that the best approach to underwear is to get as close to commando as possible. At Faire last Spring, I discovered that boxers are functionally equivalent to commando, a practice which is definitely less than pleasurable, since one is effectively dressed as an item of furniture in a hot environment. When one is sweating profusely, some figure-hugging is preferable to prevent chafing, if one must confine oneself in clothes.

However, in general, I prefer to minimise the irritance of my clothes, and so I wear boxers as the best option. Denim chafes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why not D&D?

I am a gamer. I enjoy tabletop role-playing games, but I don't play or run the most popular of them all, Dungeons and Dragons. Why is that?

First, the initial expense is high. D&D's approach of making multiple core rulebooks, sold separately, at a relatively high price point, is excellent for their business, but I'm afraid I start to think at $30. I also dislike the implication that "the players don't need to know the rules" given by the existence of a separate book for those running the game. Players should know the rules, in my opinion; what they shouldn't know is the GM's intent.

Second, in D&D 4e especially, there's an ongoing expense. To get full benefit from your books, you'll want to get a D&D Insider subscription. Now, while this is an insignificant expense at $5 per month (assuming you get the most cost-efficient option, which is to pay for a year at a time; buy it month-by-month, and it's $8 a month), it's still a recurring expense, and while it's tiny (forgo tea at the knitting group meetings a couple of times a month), my mental block against such things starts at $0. This is why I don't play MMORPGs, among other issues (such as my addictive personality); I have difficulty dealing with recurring expenses for what I see as non-essential. Water, trash, phone, internet; I can justify these to myself. Even Netflix. But for D&D? Thanks, but no thanks.

Third, it's the 900lb gorilla of RPGs. While it's obviously done SOMEthing to merit its leading position, I resent its near-complete dominance of the market, and my previously mentioned dislike of the popular kicks in as well. I realise my contrariness is silly, but it's part of me.

Fourth, I just don't like it. This is actually the most important part; I've looked at the rules, and I don't like them, nor would I be able to easily house-rule out the parts I dislike. I'd rather start from a system that doesn't have the bits I dislike.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Yes, for the first time since buying my first high-index pair, I'm getting new glasses. Since I'm now at -8 in both eyes, high-index is a must; I'm buying lenses at a 1.67 index, which is the same as I have now. I'm also buying four lenses; a second pair was a very reasonable price, so for the first time ever, I shall have a choice of glasses.

Now I just have to wait for a week or so.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I believe that's called "two birds with one stone"

The LA and I have been lacking an effective vacuum cleaner for some time. Since moving from Los Angeles, in fact. As an aside, do not expect a stick vacuum to be effective.

Recently, we borrowed my mother-in-law's vacuum, which while less than brand new is still an effective piece of equipment, as long as its bags are regularly emptied. It's recently lost suction, which I realised was due to a full bag. I suggested to the LA that we look into replacement bags, and we wound up choosing a new vacuum. It being available from Best Buy, I was able to check stock online, although only in a "some/none" sense, and so I was all set to go pick one up tonight. Unfortunately, the LA had changed into her pyjamas, and wasn't willing to change back.

So once we'd finished dinner and I'd finished putting away folded clean clothes, I bid the LA goodbye and went out under a darkening sky for my first solo drive. Soon afterwards, I was on my way home, with a brand new vacuum cleaner in the back of the car. I had been cut up by one idiot in a small Chevy (whatever they're calling their equivalent to the Focus these days; it came up behind me, swung out to the left, passed me, pulled in in front and braked to turn right; charming behaviour, considering I was doing the speed limit in the right lane) and, on the way back, I found myself making a bad lane choice at one notoriously bad intersection; Buskirk and Monument, if you wish to look it up, but aside from that and the probable drunk who pulled out of Safeway in front of me (doing 25 in a 35 zone, which would cost one a driving test; weaving across the lane) I had no great problems.

I'm rather liking the ease of driving over here, particularly the ability to turn right at red lights. I'm also rather keen on my usual steed; the sports-tuned 2.4l engine and rather responsive auto box in the Scion tC make it a real pleasure to drive, compared to the definitely economy-tuned Focus I learned in. It also astounded me just how much better the visibility is with no passenger; I shall have to drive like that more often...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

To the taxi driver on Mt Diablo this morning

Mount Diablo is, as you're aware, a one-way street, and in the block between Salvio and Willow Pass, is lined on both sides with angled parking spaces. It's also a 25mph limit. While I have no doubt that you are a very experienced driver, I find it astounding that you consider it safe to blast along that street at around 50mph, because the parking spots (on the left, anyway) are sloped away from the centre of the street, leading to a need for anyone backing out of them to feed the car with fuel, since very few cars have sufficient torque to reverse creep uphill at idle. This means the foot is less than available for the brakes. Add in the rather restricted visibility (since most cars are designed with little thought to backing up, and SUVs are a popular class of vehicle around here) and you will rapidly see why the folks backing out of the parking spaces have right of way; they are FAR less able to see or to respond to hazards than someone driving along the road. Moreover, a small sports car like the Scion tC I drive will be well-hidden by other cars (a fact I can actually verify through using Google's street view, since one of the vehicles parked along there when the street view car went past was a Scion tC) and thus would appear unexpectedly when backing up.

All of which is to say: you were driving FAR too fast, particularly given the fact that it had just started raining, and we are BOTH lucky that I slammed my brakes on as soon as I saw something unexpected. Me because had I not done that, you WOULD have hit me and almost certainly totalled my vehicle (for the UK readers: write-off). You because you would have been found 100% at fault for the collision. I doubt that your aging Crown Victoria has a black box, but my little Scion does, and the data from it would certainly have shown, by a simple calculation, just how fast you were going, and you would have lost your license.

the new driver you didn't manage to scare into never driving again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Now I get the moans about the DMV.

My first brush with the DMV, much like my first experience with the air-puff glaucoma test, was so positive that I was wondering what all the fuss was about (the glaucoma test, by the way, was yesterday, while having an eye check; I need new glasses, is the verdict). I went in back in November to get a permit (UK equivalent: provisional license) and found it so streamlined that I was prepared to defend the DMV.

Today, though, was less wonderful. First of all, I'd made an appointment... four weeks ago. Yes, there was a month's waiting time on the appointments. Sigh. So, I turned up, reported as ordered, and just before going round to the start point, used the nastiest toilet facility I have ever been in (portaloos at festivals INCLUDED) to offload the calming cup of tea I'd had for lunch, and then joined the line. At this point, the "hurry up and wait" began. We were in said line for, I kid you not, an hour, in full sun. When we eventually reached the front of the line, off I went to take the test. Shortly thereafter, I returned, and was informed of what I needed to get better at (turns, mostly; I'd been a little overcautious on turns, but that was pretty much it for the 7 penalty points I incurred) and was then congratulated.

I am legally allowed to drive in North America. Heck, I'm OK temporarily in Europe as well, as long as it's not a manual gearbox.

Although in the UK, I would be going to put it in gear and opening the door instead. Sorry, family, but I'm a LHD man!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I don't know what I was procrastinating on...

but it must have been something impressive.

Solid start

I started with these...

Fabric start

And this.

About half done

Not long afterwards, this was the state of play.

With some scale

Underside, mostly done

This is how I got there.

The tabletop!

And this was the final result.

This thing is BIG!

That game board is a shade under three feet long, and not much less than two feet wide.

Much bigger than the host table

And the old table was too small to play the game sensibly. The new tabletop will allow us to use the big-box expansions.

Go me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The long weekend.

The LA and I had a very long weekend. In fact, the recovery is still going on. On Thursday, we headed down to San Jose and toured the Winchester Mystery House, an historic architectural curiosity which was under continuous construction for several decades. On Friday, having spent the night in a Santa Clara hotel, we spent most of the day not buying yarn at Stitches, and then on Saturday we spent the day buying yarn. The LA got a lot of alpaca and some nice wool, I got some wool and a nice amount of variegated red cotton which I shall be using to make myself a sweater-vest, or a sweater if there's sufficient. On Sunday, we hit Stitches again, but my knees had given out and we finished up heading home early.

Today, we've been recuperating.

And over the weekend, I had a thought: why are books only numbered in ascending order? Many thick books would prove far less intimidating if one could see at a glance just how many pages were remaining.