Thursday, July 29, 2010

She said it.

The LA has a blog. Its title is "Productivity through Procrastination", and that state, I have today achieved. You see... well, it's a somewhat involved story. It starts with my discovery of Lego, in the mists before I was properly forming memories (and before Lego was ventilated to prevent choking; I remember the introduction, without fanfare, of the swallow-safe Lego cylinders!), and the love of making things that protean toy introduced. I've always loved making things, be they useless or merely decorative, and very recently, a friend I made through making things (one of the theatre folk) made me aware of a place by the name of TechShop.

TechShop costs money, of course, but frankly, for what they offer, they are EXTREMELY inexpensive. $1200 per annum is peanuts for practically unfettered access to a very well-equipped workshop; I have ideas for things I wish to make there, but at present, the LA and I simply cannot shake loose the necessary budget. To that end, I'm looking for a job.

Which would be why the bookshelves and table in the game room are the best-organised they've been in six months.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A blast from the past.

When I first began knitting, I had trouble deciding what to knit. I finished up making dice, which at least introduced me to the basic techniques. I documented them on Ravelry, before I pretty much stopped remembering to document projects.

Now, someone has found them, and begged me to write up the patterns.

Fortunately, I did make good enough notes at the time to extract the formulae needed to let people work out how to do it, and so I spent this morning writing up the patterns and providing worked examples. There's a little more work to be done, but fairly soon, I should have my first pattern available for download.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Harping on

By now, I doubt I have any readers who don't know of my bursitis. To summarise its progress, though, it arose around the 5th or 6th inst., having been heralded by something resembling a large and exceedingly angry zit. I popped that, and the next day, my elbow was swollen, red, hot and tender to the touch, and felt like a highly pressurised bag of water. All in all, a classic presentation of bursitis caused by an infection. My hypothesis is that I was bitten by an insect, providing a vector for some nasty bacterium to invade, but really, the cause is not entirely important.

On the Friday of the first week, I took it to my doctor, who prescribed antibiotics and ice. The ice helped, but the initial antibiotics didn't; I turned out to be allergic to them. The second attempt worked out better; I finished taking those on Sunday, and by then the pressure was much reduced.

As of today, I'm declaring the trouble officially over. I can find no trace of the inflammation, there's no pain, and the elbow doesn't look significantly different from its pre-bursitis appearance, with one exception.

The skin has much improved. For as long as I can remember caring, that elbow has had exceedingly dry skin, and nothing has been willing to help much. While the bursitis was stretching the skin, the horrible dry layers were abraded gently off by my shirtsleeves, and now that it's gone down, I find that the skin beneath is smooth and in good condition. I shall have to take care to keep it that way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A little housekeeping.

You may have noticed that the theme changed recently. I've also added the "sharing" buttons, should anyone care to use them, and the tickyboxes to say things. The "more please" and "less please" ones will be used to judge what you fine folks enjoy reading about, so that I (hopefully) don't bore you too much.

The bathtub curve

Anyone in engineering or technical professions will be familiar with this concept. In brief, it states that the likelihood of failure for a given thingummy will be high when it is new, will see a fairly rapid drop as it's sorted out (because, after all, you cannot test for everything, and the real world has a habit of finding things you didn't test for), and then will stay pretty low until the end of its life. Basically, your stuff will fail when it's brand spanking new, or will fail when it's "old" (and we must bear in mind that for many things, "old" is defined as "one day after the expiration of the manufacturer's warranty"), but in between that, is highly likely to work right without bothering you. If it survives the initial period, it's good to go for a long time.

This applies to humans as well. There are many ways to become broken in childhood, and many diseases and infirmities to which the elderly are prey, but in between, provided one makes reasonable efforts, the first world is a remarkably non-fatal place. I was reminded of this by realising that I'm actually considered a very good risk in health insurance terms; I'm "too young" for such things as prostate trouble, while being old enough to know better than to do things like jumping off buildings, and as long as I keep my weight reasonable (which I have been doing; I did gain a chunk after moving, but have now lost it again and so far am keeping it off, although I could stand to lose more) I'm quite alright regarding many potential issues. My teeth are in maintenance mode; with my paucity of fillings, there's little to go wrong as long as I clean them daily, which I do (in fact, I can't sleep these days without the hint of mint...). My eye exams happen every two years; in between, my vision doesn't change significantly (although at my level of myopia, a quarter dioptre is insignificant; must ask, next time, for a list of places which offer laser surgery).

Sadly, these salad days will inevitably come to an end, and the time will come when I can no longer maintain rude health by means of telling my doctor to eff off. Until that happens, though, I have my health, and intend to enjoy it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do it fast enough and it doesn't hurt.

The weather, here in our little corner of Nova Albion, continues hot. Not, admittedly, as hot as Arizona, in which I'm informed by a resident that it is indeed physically possible to fry an egg on the road, but certainly hotter than it normally becomes in, for example, the UK. The current temperature outside, as reported by a local weather station within optimistic stone-throwing distance, is 88.1 °F / 31.2 °C; this is fairly typical for an inland area of this state, at this time of year.

Naturally, both the LA's car and mine are getting a goodly amount of use out of their respective air conditioners. While mine is operating nowhere near its achievable maximum (I'm informed, by someone who has done it, that that system can be induced to produce duct temperatures below freezing; it ices up over the course of an hour, at which point one deactivates the compressor and allows the melting of the ice to cool air until such time as the coils are clear and cooling can begin again), it operates satisfactorily enough.

However, that's not the point of this narrative. No, my point is that despite the heat (and the inadequacy of the house's air conditioner; while its duct temperatures would be adequate for a properly ducted house, this house is by no means properly ducted; half of the house becomes much cooler than the other half, in which reside the Wii, the television, the DVD player which of late we've been using to observe goings-on aboard a vessel by the name of Battlestar Galactica, and sundry other entertaining devices), cooking a good meal is still possible, provided only that one does so as rapidly as can be managed. Tonight, the protein came in the form of sausages (precooked, so only requiring to be heated through), and they were accompanied with corn on the cob (prepared by my usual method, which uses a microwave; it handily beats any stovetop method for convenience and flavour), potato wedges (somewhat of a specialty of mine), and baked carrots. The baked carrots were rather experimental; they'll be a regular part of my repertoire from now on.

The reason they were experimental is that I had stolen the recipe from a friend. Or rather, I'd stolen the fact that such a pleasant result was possible; not only was I attempting to replicate it using a fundamentally different oven (gas vs electric, a contest which inevitably falls to the favour of gas in my opinion), I'd had no guidance. Thankfully, my instinct for cooking saw me through; the period of guessing was mercifully short. That is what the title refers to; not the act of cooking itself!

Friday, July 16, 2010

At times, I become confused.

Right now, my shirts are confusing me. Allow me to explain...

This began with the initial attempt at antibiotic treatment for the bursitis I've been harping on about ad nauseam (which is, should you desire to know, going down, thankfully), which medication came with a warning to remain out of direct sunlight. Not a problem, said I; I shall simply wear linen trousers and long sleeves. That, however, was before I consulted my stocks of clothing, to find that I was near-devoid of long-sleeved shirts. Cue a trip to the clearance racks of a local department store, from which the LA and I extracted a selection of light long-sleeved shirts at considerable discount.

Two of them, so far, have had features which mystify me to some extent. The first is a well-known brand, although not as much known for shirts - people associate Levi Strauss with jeans, and rightly so. However, they do make quite decent shirts; one of my favourite short-sleeved shirts is one of their products. This long-sleeved shirt, though, had two odd features. First, it's largely devoid of buttons; the front is closed by snap fasteners, with a pearl-like finish upon the exposed surface. Second, it has a front yoke; the upper shoulders are oversewn with a bias-cut version of the main fabric, which is very obviously on the bias due to the chequered pattern. I'm starting to think that these odd features are part of an attempt to appear old-fashioned; the snaps as an imitation of studs, and the front yoke because in years gone by, a front yoke was common. Not that it particularly matters; the shirt is comfortable and looks good on me, and that is after all what matters.

The second shirt is the one I happen to be wearing today. It's fairly unremarkable in most ways; the strangest thing is the presence of a moulded autograph on all the buttons. It appears to be that of one Tony Hawk, whoever he may be. However, it has one feature whose presence is an annoyance to me; the mystery is why it's considered necessary.

When wearing a long-sleeved shirt, it may become necessary at some point to roll the sleeves up. This is easy to accomplish, and when done correctly (folding the cuff back, and then folding back the folded-back cuff, and so on, such that you always have a wide folded-back section as opposed to a mere sausage of fabric) is perfectly secure. However, it appears Americans aren't expected to understand the concept of rolling up one's sleeves properly; this shirt has buttons approximately halfway up the bicep, and internal straps to retain wadded-up sleeves. I'm rather disappointed that such measures are considered necessary.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I owe my family a deal of thanks.

As you probably know, my original move to the US was not intended as a move. It became a move following advice from an immigration attorney that we had one chance to make it work out as it has; we seized that chance.

As a result of the unplanned nature of the move, I found that many things I would otherwise have brought with me are still in the UK. My parents are storing most of them, and eventually I have no doubt that I shall return to claim my own. In the meanwhile, many of my favourite books have been inaccessible to me.

However, in recent weeks, a trickle has begun. My mother sent me a copy of China Mieville's The Scar, which is greatly appreciated if only for the better cover and spellings; I had already resigned myself, and shortly beforehand, bought a US edition. In fact, I have the three China Mievilles that I love here, and so don't need any more sent over. Today, I received from my older sister a parcel containing my copies (and they are my copies; I recognise the handwriting of the price...) of Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and The Diamond Age. That completes to my satisfaction my collection of Neal Stephenson. At this point, the collection I miss most is my K J Parkers; particularly the Scavenger and Fencer trilogies, since I've re-bought the first two of the Engineer trilogy (in part because I prefer the US covers of these).

I'm having difficulty thinking of anything else by way of books I'm actively missing that's neither game rules nor a comic. I can, for as long as it's required, live with the film tie-in edition of Lord of the Rings, if I want to read it again, for example.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well that was fun.

For certain values of fun, anyway. Remember the bursitis? I took it to my doctor last Friday, and he looked at it, agreed it was a problem, and to go with rest and ice, prescribed a course of a generic for Bactrim DS, which is a nicely effective (at the moment) cocktail of two antibiotics, both from the same general family.

Well, over the succeeding days, I took my pills like a good little patient, and found that I was getting more and more wooly-headed, irritable, and suffering a very annoying muscle weakness. This morning, I got up fine, but after having breakfast (which included the morning dose) I was colliding with doorways, and could barely stand up.

Turns out, I have an allergy to the family of antibiotics I was taking. So, we're trying a different one (or will be, as soon as the pharmacy receives the script), and hopefully those will have rather less effectiveness on me than on the bacteria. It also doesn't list any interactions with ethanol, but I'll be staying off the beer anyway.

Meanwhile, the bursitis is apparently clearing up somewhat. I honestly can't tell, since I see it every day.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It never fails.

Recently, the LA and I have established a regular routine on the first or occasionally second weekend of every month: we meet up with friends (mostly "my" friends, although we both spend time with them) and go bowling.

The June session was interesting; I'd injured my thumb a few weeks before, and so the bowling produced a lovely blood blister. That thumb's healed now.

However, I've developed a lovely bursitis in my left elbow, just in time for the July trip (which was delayed by it being a holiday weekend and everyone having other plans).

Anyone care to make book on what I'll have wrong with me for August?

Edited to add: I'm guaranteed to bowl poorly. The antibiotics I've been prescribed are a no-beer-with-these type.