Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I keep meaning to do an extended post or two, to show that I'm back and taking this whole blogging thing seriously. But time keeps getting in the way. Well, fine. Here's a list of nonsequitors that I hope to develop into posts some time soon:
--I put effort into making a Halloween costume for basically the first time ever. Lesson: creativity is expensive. We'll see how it pans out tomorrow.
--I joined a tabletop RPG group. We're playing Old School Hack, which seems to be loosely based on D&D, but with more emphasis on roleplay over character maximization. I play the cleric Meh, who worships the God of Pessimism. So far, I've tried to convert three different people to my faith. The starting pitch: "Have you heard the bad news?" (Which I still say is funny, despite what everyone else seems to think.)
--Ramping up the dissertation research again. Here there be dragons.
--I finished Tales of Maj'Eyal. And by finished, I mean accidentally stumbled into an exploit. So maybe a post on the appeal of rougelike games some day?
--In comics, Battle of the Atom wrapped up. It was one of Bendis' better crossovers, but in the last chapter it suffers from his usual faults, that the resolution seems more about setting up the next storyline than being a natural conclusion of what's come so far.
--Researching crowdsourcing. The general consensus seems to be only slightly more sophisticated than "build it and they will come."
--Currently, the dissertation work has been ferrying together everything I know about DOOM. It's led to some ruminations on stories in games, which we may get to at some point.
--Speaking of stories and games, the visual novel Cinders that I just played through has interesting ideas about destiny and choice, always interesting issues in the visual novel genre, which is essentially a sophisticated Choose Your Own Adventure book.
--Trying to set up a more faithful running schedule. These efforts have run afoul of the dissertation goal. But it's run much more afoul of the weather (pre-winter) and my own laziness.
--Right, the stolen bike thing. Yes, my bike was stolen. But against all odds, the police recovered it two days later. This could be expanded.
--Something's still off, all in all. Has been since I came back from my bro's wedding at the beginning of the month. Person of Consequence still needs to get his groove back. I'll probably watch Stella Gets Her Groove Back for inspiration, because I think my life and the protagonist's are basically the same.
--Read through all seven (so far) of the October Daye urban fantasy series. Want to write something larger about the appeal of urban fantasy.
--Finished a book on kink while I was at the wedding. The sexy kind, not the hair kind. ...And I'm referring to the kink type, not the wedding type. Not that it was an unsexy wedding, it's more that... I think I'll stop there.
--Still haven't come up with a great way to take notes while playing games. My method for books is too time-consuming to apply to a game. Maybe some sort of dictaphone thing?

All right, with much typing, I could've just done one regular post. Live and learn, I guess.

Later Days.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pet Peeves and burying the lede

Pet Peeve: It annoys me when people don't commit to an event, or back out with less than 24 hour notice. The first happens mostly with Facebook events, and the often-useless "Maybe" category. If you're trying to book space as a restaurant, and you have a half dozen "maybes," that's pretty useless information. And if you're trying to plan a party, and the maybes number in the dozens, getting the right number of refreshments is impossible. Generally, the only thing you can do is assume the maybes aren't coming, in which case they should have had the decency to decline in the first place. As for the other case, it crops up in the case where you send out a general "is everyone still in?" the day-of an event, and there's people who remember suddenly that, oh, there's something we're planning on doing that day of the event we've been talking about for weeks, so know we can't go. Sorry.

I know this is a subject that a) qualifies rather absolutely as "first world problems," since it requires people to have a large amount of free time to begin with; and b) is nearly impossible to discuss without coming off as passive aggressive, or defensive, or both. And Lord knows I've done my fair share of refusing to commit. Sometimes I do it because I don't want to hurt the feelings of the people involved, or I'm generally worried about the resulting social implications of rejecting an invitation without an excuse. But honestly, I'm not doing anyone any favors but myself. I'm avoiding commitment and holding up other people's plans for my own benefit. There are also, of course, genuine exceptions. Maybe the time comes around, and you're not feeling up to a night spent in the company of others; maybe there's a genuine emergency that came up; or maybe there's another event in the near future and you don't honestly know if you can make it or not. Again, these are all things I've done myself, on numerous occasions.But I try and make an effort to indicate exactly what my issues are when I can, so those that do want the event to go forward can work around me. Granted, it's a hard balance--there's a fine line between explaining why you can't attend and oversharing, and sometimes it genuinely IS better to just keep a question mark on the whole thing till you can get sorted out. But I like to think those that organize a given event appreciate knowing who they can count on to be there, and, (sometimes) why a person couldn't make it.

/Passive-aggressive rant over.

Oh wait. I'm also annoyed someone stole my bike yesterday. Probably should have talked about that instead. I may be projecting my upsetness on that front into other areas. Maybe.

Later Days.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Post About Nothing

Obviously, we've hit a bit of a blogging slump. I can't even claim it's because of the dissertation, because that's in a slump too. About two weeks ago now, I went back to Saskatchewan for my brother's wedding. And it was great--a very short trip, but I saw literally dozens of people I haven't seen in years. It's always nice to reconnect with family and friends, even if it's a moment or two.

Thing is, it was the mental touchpoint for my fall term. That is, every time I envisioned the future for the past few months leading up to it, it was the clear stopping point. What am I doing in this fall? I'm going home for the wedding. Home the wedding. Home for the wedding. And now that we're past that moment, I find myself a little adrift. The secret, I think, will be to design a series of mini-goals for the dissertation, to push me past that last little hump. Hopefully, that'll suffice to get me out of these duldrums.

The alternative is that I'm not unmotivated, I'm just lazy. Little less you can do with that. Maybe I could bribe myself to finish the dissertation with naps, and the promise of more naps to come.

Later Days.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Quotations: You can basically use this quotation to justify not addressing any point, ever

"I shall beg off saying anything about this problem. Such business is profound, and requires another, greater investigation." --Porphyry, Isagoge.

In other news, I either have a wicked cold, or my allergies and asthma are really kicking it up a notch.

Later Days.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sew What

In retrospect, I probably should have seen this coming. Over the past week, I've eaten my way through a wedding (with a cupcake bar! And a candy bar (that is, a bar serving candy, not a bar made of candy, though the latter was included in the former.)) and a potluck Thanksgiving (three kinds of stuffing! Salad made with tofu soaked in butter! Six pies--mostly pumpkin!). And my regular eating habits aren't exactly examples of dietary restraint. So, something had to give, and in this case, it was the button on my favorite pair of pants. And yes, for those who have been paying entirely too much attention to my life, it was the second pair of pants to suffer such a fate in as many weeks.

I'm trying to address the long-term pants problem by finally getting my running routine back up and, uh, running. I've done two six kilo trips since I got back on Monday, and while that's a far cry from the 10 k regulars I used to do, it's a step in the right direction. The more immediate problem, however, was how to repair the pants in the here and now. And that would require the basic skills delivered in any elementary home ec class. Too bad I never took one.

In my high school, students had to choose certain electives: Accounting or Math C30. Law or  French. Choral or Free Period. (Guess which most people took?) And Home Ec or Industrial Arts. In terms of which I'd be more proficient at.... well, that was never the question. If anything, the question should have been which I was less likely to injure myself or others. But it never came down to that either. Rather, the choice was decided for me. 1990s rural Saskatchewan decided to hold off on that "nontraditional gender differences" for as long as possible, and it was socially understood that boys took IA and girls took Home Ec. And so it was. My social standing was precarious enough that I didn't see any point in rocking the boat. Not that IA ever went very well either; from the first day, the teacher assumed that those going in had a certain level of background knowledge concerning things such as tool names and engine parts, and those lacking that knowledge were... well, let's just say being in IA didn't help my social standing either. It was with great relief all around that alternatives generally arose in the form of Information Processing and Computer Science.

At any rate, sewing a button onto a pair of pants is something that never really entered my oeuvre. But I figured it was mostly doable. Thus, I bought a needle case full of needles, a relatively inexpensive spool of black thread, found an appropriate how-to internet wiki, and went to town. Here's how it panned out, via a series of Facebook posts:
Sewing attempt #1: failure. However, we have established several important sewing principles. Such as, remembering to thread the eye of the needle. Also: that needles have eyes. Scaaaarrrryy. Will post future updates as they occur.

Sewing attempt #2: failure. Note to self: think through the order in which the thread goes through the button holes before the thread goes through the button holes, or it will "look weird."


 Sewing attempt #4: failure. Note: when the spool is dropped, do not attempt to pick it up by pulling on the thread. That principle doesn't work with toilet paper, and it doesn't work here.

 Sewing attempt #5: Button appears to be fastened. There's still the product testing to go through, but we'll save that for another day.

Okay, 3 didn't actually happen. But there was a point where I realized I'd sewn a bag to my pants, which was practically the same thing.

Anyway, the button appears to hold up under pressure. Thus, I am one tiny step further towards being useful. Next: I learn how to use a bandsaw. That's the next logical step, right?

Later Days.