vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Dear DuckDuckGo, sometimes you worry me. Like when I type "blood pressure", and before I can add "cuff", the phrase "blood pressure cooker" pops up.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Read Lia Silver's Laura's Wolf. It is very fine winter reading. I loved sitting in a nest of blankets with a heat pack, a cat, and a cup of lapsang souchong, with a stew cooking in the oven, in Melbourne winter weather, reading about the heroine in a hut in Yosemite, snowed in with the electricity out and her only companion an injured werewolf.

I kind of want to read the urban fantasy romance where in order to survive the werecat's bite, the heroine has to find her inner cat and transform. LICK YOUR BUTT. SCRATCH THE FURNITURE. PRODUCE A HAIRBALL. DRAPE YOURSELF DECORATIVELY, TAKING UP THREE QUARTERS OF A BED FIFTY TIMES YOUR SIZE. COME ON, I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT, DON'T GIVE UP NOW.

Picked up Les Miserables again. Am now up to page 210 of 1194 (endnotes not included.) In another 54 pages, I'll reach the end of the first volume. This book is hard work, and I say that as someone who's read A Suitable Boy, Infinite Jest, War and Peace, Middlemarch, and the Bible cover to cover.


Read Carrying Dangerous Goods by [ profile] novembersmith. It's a Gen Kill/Temeraire fusion. Ray/Brad. The pining/miscommunication plot got a little ridiculous by the end, and I like pining, but the details of how the Gen Kill characters fit into Temeraire's world were great.

TV and Movies

More Avengers Assemble: episode 5, 'Blood Feud'. Black Widow, who in Avengers Assemble only exists to be rescued, is bitten by Dracula. The highlight of this episode is of course Hulkula. But I'm not sure how much more sexism I can stand.

More POI. Watched 'Super' and 'Root Cause' and 'Blue Code' (in which the person of interest is Michael Hey It's That Guy Aronov.) So far I don't like canon Nathan as much as fanon Nathan, and I have difficulty understanding why Finch likes Nathan. Have developed a regrettable tendency to refer to Root as w00t. Still not as silly as what she calls herself. Finch clearly agrees with me on this. When she introduces herself on IRC, he makes this little disapproving motion with his mouth.

As far as Finch is concerned, a sensible way to pick your pseudonym would be:
textfile = open('verylonglistofbirds.txt', 'r')
lines = textfile.readlines()
for line in lines:
   chunks = line.split()
   surname = chunks[0]
   print "Hello, my name is Harold " + surname + ". "

See? Much more practical than naming yourself after Australian slang for fucking the Unix superuser and base of filesystem.

(And yeah, I'm sure there's a better way to chomp /n in Python. Give me a break, I don't know any Python at all. I fudged that script from the one in this Python Pals puzzle.)


Played Shisen Sho so much I got Tetris effect from it.


More knitting.


Made beef stew for the first time, using the cast iron casserole dish I got for Christmas. I didn't use a recipe so much as do a quick search for how much liquid, how hot an oven, and for how long, and then wing it. 1.3kg silverside beef, 2tbsp olive oil, 2c water, 1 green capsicum, salt, cracked black pepper, crushed garlic, dried rosemary and oregano. Preheat oven to 160'C, chop beef into ~1in cubes (trimming the silvery bit and giving a little bit to a very appreciative cat), place in cast iron casserole dish with all ingredients except capsicum, stir, cover with lid, cook for 1 hour. Roughly chop capsicum and add (next time I'll add it later.) Cook for another hour, check. It's still not soft enough, and there's too much liquid, so turn the heat up to 180'C and cook for a third hour. Makes five servings. Result was very good, although next time I'll use less pepper, and maybe some wine or stock or tomatoes or something to replace some or all of the water. But as a proof of concept, it worked just fine.

Bought a new cooking knife for the first time in like ten years. Such an improvement.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
Have you sat your cat down and raised the possibility with them that they are a cat? Some cats may lack insight into their condition, and need to be gently brought to an understanding of it. Other cats may have already had their suspicions, and would appreciate affirmation from you on this point. Follow-up is also very important, as many cats will have further questions, and most will need reinforcement on the main concepts.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
The more I know about people, the more I like my cat.

Ironically, she likes people much better than I do. (She does spend less time reading about science fiction conventions and their safety procedures.)
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
That it is possible to purr grumpily.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Trying to get back in the rhythm of doing this on Wednesday, not some other day.


Finished listening to Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers (Blackstone Audio, read by Simon Prebble.) Thing I had not realised until right now, reading the Wikipedia page: this was his first novel, and he was only 25 when he finished it. I'm a little more inclined to forgive some of the sentiment and some of the bad taste jokes now that I know that.

Dickens is one of those authors I have difficulty thinking of as ever having been young. When he sermonises about how old and tired Pickwick is but how much he loves to see the young people being happy and this has always been his greatest pleasure in life (Pickwick never having been young himself, presumably) I had thought this was Dickens writing sentimental glurge contrary to his own experience either because it sells well or because he's buying his own line of tripe. But nope, it sounds like he hadn't had the experience yet himself, and was romanticising about an old age far ahead of him. I feel better knowing that.

(Which is not that he probably didn't feel at least a hundred years old by then - I am not discounting his early life. David Copperfield has more about the workhouse and child labour stuff, but Pickwick has plenty of debtor's prison stuff informed directly by Dickens' father's experiences.)

Read Jo Walton's My Real Children all in one long gulp from start to finish this afternoon. 89-year-old woman with severe dementia keeps switching between two timelines: they diverged when she was 23 and her fiance told her they had to get married now or never. I loved the two narratives of Patricia's life, they were wonderful, I loved the alternate history. I felt the writing was very spare and tell-not-show, but it seemed deliberately so, and it worked as a narrative choice, the more so because there was so much ground to cover (66 years, twice.) But I hated the ending.

Some content notes for My Real Children, because some people might want them: thyroid cancer, dementia (probably Alzheimer's, but that's not stated), partner abuse, child abuse, suicide, a mental illness thing I'll mention under spoiler cut, and some very, very upsetting stuff about end of life and disability and elder rights. (Not necessarily in an "the author fucked it up" way, but definitely in a "potentially really triggering" way.) Spoilers for the ending after the cut:

spoilers, mental illness talk )


Read Anamnesis, by [ profile] linman. Vorkosiverse, the events of Memory from Simon's POV. AMAZING. In particular, Lady Alys was really well written - there was everything I dislike about her and everything that makes her a great character and endearing to the characters who do like her.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Aimee Mann's 'Frankenstein'. Person of Interest. Nathan/Harold. Canon-compliant.

Why yes, I'm aware of the theory that vids should be set to songs that suit the canon aesthetic, or which the characters involved would listen to or like. I just don't subscribe to it.

I'm not sure who this imaginary vid is meaner to, Finch or the Machine.

Here's the first verse:

"I don't know you from Adam, it could make my day
If you leave me a message I'll give it away
'Cause the most perfect strangers that you can talk to
Are the ones who pretend that you're not really you."
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Read Cathy Park Hong's Engine Empire. Was reminded how someone or other said that operatic plots are not sensible because when people are feeling sensible they do not burst into song. I think maybe when Cathy Park Hong is not feeling bleak and stark, she does not write poems.

Which is not to say I didn't like it. Sharp and smart and poignant and really skillful with language.

Pickwick Papers: in the home stretch. Which is to say, I have about 5 hours of audio left, out of a total of 30. And it's a week overdue at the library after I already renewed it as many times as I could.

Reread [ profile] lalaietha's your blue-eyed boys (Marvel, Steve/Bucky.)

Re-watched [ profile] isagel's vid Skeleton Key (POI, Root), which captures many of the things I like best about Root, her ruthless self-sufficiency, her refusal to be pitied.

Unexpected WIP I got sucked into reading and then hooked on: Weeds, by [ profile] Dien. POI, AU, Finch/Reese/Fusco, on the premise that Finch and Reese advertised for a houseboy, and Fusco (who never met them and is just out of prison, having taken the fall for HR) didn't know what all the acronyms meant and thought it was just yard work, cleaning, and dog-walking. So yeah, crackfic, but hilarious and surprisingly moving crackfic. As I said, WIP, but it's been updated recently.

TV and Movies
Another three episodes of Person of Interest. Am I supposed to find it hilarious every time Reese does something cartoonishly violent or lawless for the greater public good, or every time Finch tries to explain to a person of interest how they should overcome their trust issues and not hide from people? Because I do.

If I ever write fic in this fandom, at least one of my stories will include a really furious argument between Finch and Root on the subject of structural and systematic violence, and how the Machine is programmed only to prevent unexpected deaths, not deaths that are business as usual.

Tracy Grammer, Flower of Avalon. I'm going to have 'Gypsy Rose' stuck in my head for the rest of my fucking LIFE, and it's not anywhere near my favourite song on that album. (My favourite songs on that album are 'Hey Ho' and 'Preston Miller'.)

"In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid - troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours"
- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.

Guerlain's Jicky, reviewed here.
Knize Ten, reviewedhere.

Another few squares of the mitred square blanket, while watching POI and while having dinner with [personal profile] fasangel and [personal profile] mills_23. And then I brought the Pickwick Papers CDs in from the car and knit some more while listening to them with a warm, heavy cat on me.

My desktop upgrade is nearly finished.

cut )

Bonus Beatrice photo: she expresses her opinion on various subjects.

cut )
vass: Champ Bear holding baseball bat, caption "Dyke" (Dyke Bear)
I'm listening to NPR's 'Ask Me Another'.

Jonathan Coulton is playing theme songs for the quiz show contestants to guess. He says "To make it extra climactic, we're gonna have ________ play this one."

I know that the guests that week were They Might Be Giants, so what he said is that he's going to have They Might Be Giants play this one. I KNOW THIS.

But I still hear "To make it extra climactic, we're gonna have my vagina play this one."
vass: Dykes To Watch Out For: Janis, pre-transition, singing Britney Spears (happysingingjanis)
Opening notes: Alcohol! Marzipan! Kerosene!

Drydown commences: DID WE MENTION KEROSENE? Also some blown-out birthday candles. Plus more marzipan, and this sweet, light floral note I can't place. Trashcan fire in springtime. Much kerosene, wow. And just a hint of My Little Pony plastic, my old friend. And cordite? Is that what cordite smells like? I don't think I've ever smelled it, but it's what I imagine cordite to smell like.

It is amazing how very industrial this perfume is WITHOUT fucking me up. My nose and throat do not have a burning sensation, and I don't feel woozy, and I don't have a headache, mild or otherwise. Whatever compounds have those effects on me, this perfume does not contain them.

Further along the drydown process, burned plastic/paint/other things that should not be burned, after the fire went out and it all cooled down. Burning rubber. There is something complicated going on here, a bunch of different but related 'industrial' scents that I can identify as being different from each other but can't tease out and name individually. And the faintest whiff of citrus. And salt, like sweat from the heat of whatever's burning.

And then I started getting vanilla. Really faintly, but sweet. I'm told this is a leather perfume, but if I smell leather at all, it's leather that's buried in cigarette smoke.

I love it. It is very much what I hoped Bulgari Black would be like. I wouldn't want to wear it all the time, but it's definitely nice to meet and spend some time with.

I'm trying to think what character this perfume represents, and I'm actually imagining Jenny Sparks. Or Katina Choovanski. Or Laura Cadman, or Sam Carter. A cheerfully violent woman with a love of explosives, fun to be around. Gleeful. Yes: Cadman. The smoke stings your eyes as you stand beside her, and you notice that her eyes are watering too, and her face is red from the blast, and you can't hear her laughter over the ringing in your ears, but there's no hiding the grin on her face, or her triumph at timing the detonation just right.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Not scandalously filthy on me.

Fresh lavender and dried lavender and a bit of talcum powder and a bit of not totally clean butt, not in a suggestive or shocking way, just someone you're close enough to that you'd help them wipe their butt if that was what they needed. Or it's your own butt. Matter of fact, not ooh la la or ha ha bottoms. Mainly just lavender, though. Smells like your grandma, but not if your grandma is Madame Armfeldt.

Also, my skin eats this. Very little throw, and it wears off very quickly, leaving just a faint hint of lavender and powder, like where your grandma kissed your cheek. On your face.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Finished Ancillary Justice. The best book I've read (or will read, probably) this year. I haven't read the other Hugo best novel nominees, but if this doesn't win it'll be a crime.

The politics are so fucking smart and hard and complicated and painful. The worldbuilding is so good. And the characters... I'm going to stop here before I just end up writing hearts around them.

The gender politics... again, smart, hard, complicated, and painful. Because Leckie went and took the situation that I sometimes long for (gender characteristics have no social importance; there is no social meaning attached to whether a person presents as what here in 2014 in this world) would be considered 'male' or 'female' ways, from sex acts to dress to mannerisms to bodies to reproduction; everyone uses one pronoun set) and shows just how much an artifact of privilege that particular fantasy would work out to be in practice.

Practised my knotting skills. By which I mean, I have an app on my phone with step by step instructions on how to tie rope into various types of knots, and I'm doing that. Just in case you thought I meant anything else.

Tripped and fell back into Khan Academy. Spent... well, spent more than five hours on it in a space of three days. I now remember how to divide 32 into 4342 without a calculator, and also why I wouldn't want to.

I haven't enjoyed maths this much since I was 9 years old and would sit by myself for hours doing simple multiplication problems over and over for fun, and got ridiculously mad in maths class if the teacher wanted us to do more "exciting" projects instead of letting us just work through the problems in the book. Supid boring milk carton castle, GIVE ME BACK MY WORKBOOK. >:| (If this had been in the year 2009 and I hadn't already been diagnosed with Asperger's by then, that would probably have been when. But it was 1989, so my teacher just got her feelings hurt.)

Cat Toys

Beatrice is working on her aerial pirouette. If she's in exactly the right mood, and I throw the pompom just right, she leaps up and spins in mid-air to catch it. Seven years old and finally developing an interest in ballet.
vass: wonder girl facepalming (Facepalm)
Or does it drive anyone else crazy that in coordinate geometry, when you write (0, 1), x is the number on the left, and y is the number on the right, but when you're plotting it on a graph (and using positive numbers) the y axis label is written to the left of the x axis?
vass: Dykes To Watch Out For: Janis, pre-transition, singing Britney Spears (happysingingjanis)
Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, by John D. Clarke. The full 1972 out of print book, as a pdf.

Not So Much Competence Kink As Competence Tentacle Porn
The Competent Eldritch Horror

Rachel Swirsky, 'If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love'

Cards Against Humanity creator apologises for transphobic card, among other cards, like the date rape one ("It's embarrassing to me that there was a time in my life that that was funny," Temkin said,) embraces punching up, not down. I really hope this applies to the disability and race cards too, because some of them are very shitty.

Medical Linguistics
The nomenclature of monoclonal antibodies. There's a pattern to it!

Kasarani Concentration Camp: A Global Issue, by Sofia Samatar.

A PDF copy of Lundy Bancroft's Why Does He Do That?

The Internet With A Human Face

Adventures in Meat
Ellen Klages: The Scary Ham

Peacock Spider Dances To YMCA (hattip: [personal profile] azurelunatic)
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
The Goffindors. A pack of brave, loyal, reckless, mostly Muggle-born witches and wizards who prefer black and purple to red and gold, do not think their schooldays were the best days of their lives, and like to blow smoke animals with their clove cigarettes, and heckle ghosts for being insufficiently scary.

Hufflepuff_Fail_Anon: an anonymous gossip and discussion scroll that any witch or wizard (regardless of House affiliation) can contribute to, circulated by owl, whose initial focus was on unmasking a perceived 'cult of nice' in Hufflepuff Hogwarts graduates and current students. The result was entirely predictable, in hindsight. Still more compelling and informative than the Prophet.

Adult Ravenclaws Anonymous, a support group drawing on the concept of Adult Gifted, founded by a Muggle-born Ravenclaw whose parents were psychologists. Not actually a 12-step recovery group, despite the name. But they are anonymous, because OH MY GOD, WHAT WOULD MY PARENTS SAY IF THEY KNEW? Informally referred to as The Burnouts.

Union of Socialist Slytherin Republicans: widely regarded as a terrorist organisation, they are actually anti-monarchist, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, pro-union, pro-magical species equality, pro-worker's revolution, and hands-down the most vicious, cutthroat den of political infighting, backstabbing, and factionalism that you have ever seen... except for Hufflepuff_Fail_Anon.
vass: Warning sign of man in water with an octopus (Accidentally)
I am mad at the planet and want to destroy it by eating it all up. All of it.

My current plan:
- put on warmer clothes
- go buy the tiny screws I need to finish upgrading my desktop (fingers crossed that I don't need another unanticipated component and have to delay it again)
- also buy a heating pad for Beatrice, she looks nearly as miserable as I am
- then go outside and spend some time in nature, even though it is fucking cold, because clearly I need to adjust my sense of proportion right now.
- go buy some dim sims and potato cakes and maybe some sort of burger, as a planet surrogate
- email committee person I have to email about the thing I didn't know I had the power to do let alone the responsibility and now suddenly have to do by tomorrow
- do a load of laundry
- finish upgrading desktop
- fill out online application form for Victorian Greens volunteers re coming state election
- shit out at least another 1000 words of the fucking novel
- finish reading Ancillary Justice
- set alarm for early morning, go to bed early
- tomorrow, after chook group, phone foster coordinator and tell them my foot's better and I'm available for kitten duties again.

Then reassess desire to devour the planet.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
When I'm confronted with the prime minister's smirking face on Facebook (which I read on my phone app, so there isn't an extension to block his image) and go AUGH and put the phone down, and there's my cat presenting her anus for me to admire. Yes, much better. Not the prettiest part of my cat, but so much better than what I was looking at right before that.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Reading Ancillary Justice. This book is very sharp and pointy. I like that in a book.

Started The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Still listening to Embarrassment Squickwick. If secondhand embarrassment could cause burns, I would have been a charred wreck after Sam's valentine.

Read [personal profile] st_aurafina's Ride a White Horse, an XMFC/Valdemar fusion. Xavier is a Companion, Erik is his Chosen, Raven is a Changechild. It was delightfully horsey in a way that doesn't come through enough in Lackey, and I liked the relationships and the worldbuilding. But like I told [personal profile] st_aurafina, Erik brings his own magnetic field effect with him, charging everything to the bleak pole of the fandom. Even Valdemar.

Read The Warrior Prince of York, by [ profile] azar, a POI/Black Jewels fusion fic. It worked really well. My only complaint is that it was not as fucked up and horrifying as it could have been.

Read various other Finch/Reese and Root/Shaw fics.

Spent some time reading the Person of Interest wiki. Why I love fandom, in two successive dot points from the article on Finch:

- His phone number or some other form of numeric identification is located in the first 3000 digits of Pi. ("2πR")
- Harold has a voicemail box number @ (917)-285-7362. Note this is not in the first 3000 digits of PI.

TV and Movies

Watched epic-for-me quantities of Person of Interest (for a normal person, probably just a normal amount of television.) Am unfortunately unable to take this show seriously: the melodrama makes me giggle too much. The fanfic, yes, those are some epic feels; but the show is pure ridiculousness, with little nuggets of brown sugar chocolate chip cookie dough angst stirred through (hmm, I seem to be craving Ben & Jerry's), but not in enough quantity to overwhelm. That's a good thing right now, actually. I don't have enough energy for SRS BUSINESS tv shows.

Also watched some more of the Trondheim - Bodø (Summer) Nordland Line Cab Ride Norway, which I'm working through a little bit at a time. I forget if I've mentioned this here yet. It's a train video. There are lots of them like it, and I'm going to watch more of them once I've finished this one. They put a camera in the front of the train for the whole trip, nearly ten hours of it, so it's a train's eye view of the route. No dialogue at all, no people except the occasional pedestrian walking over rail bridges or standing at stations. Just train sounds and beautiful scenery. There are four complete videos of this particular line, one for each season. I'm watching the summer one. So much heather. And mountains, coast, forest, tunnels, rocks. But mainly it's just very soothing.

The Frozen soundtrack.

Listened to the radio drama episode of This American Life, which is an operatic and musical spectacular . I feel like my whole life to date has prepared me to listen to the first act of this. "Hallo, ich bin in einem Schrank gefangen!" *falls about laughing*

Needed a hug, so dabbed on some Gris Claire.

Made a birthday card and envelope for [personal profile] fasangel. For a value of 'made' that just means I took a page from an old calendar, trimmed it, and pasted it onto a piece of card, and took another old calendar page for the envelope and traced around an unfolded envelope, cut it out, and pasted it.

pics )


Jun. 26th, 2014 12:09 am
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
On Monday night, I had some internet problems. After a lot of troubleshooting, I called my ISP's tech support, and the guy I spoke to did a line test and determined that there was some interference inside and out (you have how many powerpoints on that wall where the phone jack is? in that room? in the whole house? ...yeah, whoever owned this apartment before I rented it had some very... interesting ideas about plumbing, electricity, and interior decor) but even once we'd improved the signal by unplugging everything from that wall including the landline and splitter/filter, I still wasn't actually getting internet. The guy said "you could try resetting the modem..." and I said "yeah, I've had to do that so many times in the last few months for unrelated problems, I think it's time for a new modem." He said "Okay, call us if you need help setting it up, but I think you've got this." (He was a GOOD tech support guy.)

Posted on Twitter that night (using my phone's data plan):

@vassl: I am getting a new modem. Then disassembling the old one. With a hammer. In front of the new one. To set an example.

On Tuesday I took a trip to my friendly local computer hardware store to buy a new modem.
And then I fulfilled Monday night's plan.

pics or it didn't happen )

After hammer time, I hooked up the new modem and it's working just fine.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
I tend to go through bootlaces very rapidly - they fray and then break at the top of the boot, from the force of pulling them tight. This is okay, bootlaces are cheap enough that I can just keep replacing them. But I didn't know what to use the broken laces for. I mean yeah, duh, throw them out, but I felt like there must be a use.

There is. Tie the broken bootlace in a great big knot, with a couple of little tails coming out, not long enough for the cat to break off and eat. Throw it to the cat. She loves them. Throws them around with her paws, chases them, sits up on the top of her cat tree with one in her mouth, looking smug.

BTW, cat behaviour people: does anyone know what it means when we're playing, and she dashes out of the room and doesn't come back for a while?

It goes like this: she's wandering around doing the "I'm bored" meow. I get up, walk around the house and collect all the pompoms and shoelace mice and boughten cat toys and bring them back to the living room. I call her name and hold up a toy. She looks at it and and puts her ears up. I throw it. She dashes to it and maybe bats it with her own paws. Then she sits up and looks at me and meows again. I throw another toy. She'll run at it again, or if it's too far away or not aerodynamic enough, she just looks at it. I throw another one. She meows and races towards it and dashes right past it and into my bedroom or the guest room and won't come out for five minutes or so. And then comes out and starts bored-meowing again.

I would think she was scared, like she suddenly forgot it was playtime and started thinking I was throwing things at her, except that I've seen her scared, like at the vet or in the car, or of the Vacuum Monster or the Can of Angry (spray deodorant) and she doesn't look like that. But she is running away, and if I go check on her, I'll find she's taken cover.

She will also sometimes do the same thing when she's playing solo - I'll see her bat a pompom a metre away, race after it, race past it, and run into another room.


vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)

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