awfulhorrid: (Default)
We've been sharing some variation of the current flu bug around a bit. Last weekend Tara and I had planned some time out for our anniversary, but she came down sick on Saturday. We basically ended up just hanging out together at the hotel for the rest of Saturday, relaxing a bit and watching a few episodes of Twin Peaks. When I got home on Sunday, I managed to get into the house and "woof" weakly up at Fran before I had to make a dash to the bathroom.

first better then worse )

--
This entry originally posted to my dreamwidth account. (Not sure how this is going to work, but you should be able to reply in LJ or DW and I'll see it!)
awfulhorrid: (Over the Shoulder Bella)
My Bella passed away this morning. She had three of her humans - [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm, [livejournal.com profile] tarrestrial and me - petting her and hopefully comforting her. I don't think she suffered and I'm glad she was here with us instead of the emergency animal hospital, surrounded by strangers. (We'd considered that as an option, but finally decided that it would probably not help much and we'd rather she be at home with us.) I don't wish to dwell more on her death, so I'll focus instead on her life.

As anyone who ever met her could tell you, she was an opinionated little cat and she never hesitated to tell you how she felt about a situation. She was our little furry supervisor in the kitchen or in the office. She sat here with me at my desk and 'helped' me with uncountable school and programming projects, papers, and games. She spent a great deal of time laying on top of Fran's computer - we're pretty sure she liked the warmth and vibration, but also just the hanging out with her humans. She was the smallest cat in the house - her "brothers" outweighed her by around 2x for one and 3x for the other, but it was very clear just who was in charge. She loved her morning half-and-half when I had my coffee and her weekend serving of cream cheese when we had bagels. She understood English better than most any other cat I've ever known and would often demonstrate that she knew entirely more words than she really should have. I don't think I could have spoiled her any more than she was and I honestly don't regret a second of it.

Bella on Fridge

When she first came to us, she wasn't really used to dealing with more than one or two humans at once, but it wasn't long before she became our little social director kitty. I know I'll never forget that Yuletide celebration where she was falling asleep sitting up on the futon in the living room because she didn't want to miss out on all the people who were visiting.

(Edit to add this paragraph): She loved to take naps with me and almost always slept with her humans. When we'd go to bed at night, she'd usually go under the covers and curl up between my ankles while I read until I turned out the light. At that point, she'd come back up and snuggle up against my side as close as she could possibly get. In warmer weather, she'd settle for on top of the covers, often between me and my partner. I think when I started having to keep my left arm wrapped around a pillow for support, she was more than a bit upset that she couldn't get as close to me when we slept.

Goodbye my sweet little Bella girl. Words cannot begin to say how much I'm going to miss you.
awfulhorrid: (College Dog)
(Similiar to the post on my Google+ ...please do share and enjoy!)

I've been doing a bit of blogging on WordPress: I should probably spread these sites around a bit more.

College in my Forties - is about my experiences in going to college for the first time as a middle aged adult.

KinkAbility is about "the intersection of kink and disability." It's my writings and musing about dealing with various disabilities (mostly my own or those of my partners) in the context of non-standard sexuality and sexual behaviors.

Also: I'm trying to raise money for college expenses beyond tuition. I've set up a gofundme donation fund to this purpose. Unfortunately, while they'll allow an account without a "Facebook" linked account, they won't list me in their public search listing without one. (With this limitation, I'm kind of wondering why I'm bothering with them instead of just setting up something with donations via PayPal, but I'll leave it in place for now.)
awfulhorrid: (Love my coffee)
Why not?

Grabbed from [livejournal.com profile] the_other_sandy.

Type these words into the search bar on your iTunes MP3 player of choice (which should be Media Monkey) and list the first song that appears in the results.

NotesMy default sort is by title, so this isn't nearly as random as it could have been. (Or perhaps more so: say if default sort was 'genre' ... that could skew the results quite a bit. I also specified 'title' as the search field, least we get results by The Happy Schnaps Combo and other other artist word matches. I've also noted the number of tracks returned by each term.

Billy Cutlass -- The Scurvy Pirates )
awfulhorrid: (Archaeopteryx)
If anyone needs a gift for [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm, I point you towards today's* Shirt.Woot. (Size: Men's L)

They say it's a dinosaur, but I mean really ... what do they know from dragons?

* Today being Saturday, 24-November-2012. If this isn't the current date, the above link won't help you.
awfulhorrid: (Love my coffee)
OK, so this will only really make sense to four to six people, depending upon who was sitting at the table with me when I was babbling about the music: the song was "Midnight Stroll" by the Revels. It just came up in my MP3 player, set for Halloween selections.

So there you go.
awfulhorrid: (Bacon!)
Crossposted from an entry in my Google+ Feed last week. (Edited)

--

I currently have two invitations for Glitch. I've already sent out invites to my two sweeties - even if one has yet to join - who I think most likely to get into this odd little world. (Fran says she'll pass no matter how much I try to entice her with massaging butterflies or squeezing chickens.) Would anyone like an invite?

(Honestly I'll probably get more later and it won't stay in Beta forever. From what I'm reading, they actually reverted to Beta after they opened up to the public!)
awfulhorrid: (Bella on Computer)


This is an expansion on a post I made in my Google+ account. This post includes links to all site listed in my original post, but another one I'm considering.



I'm searching for a better online MP3 purchase experience. Amazon has been rubbing me the wrong way with their restriction on downloads for sometime now (short version: install their download manager or be forced to download your tracks one at a time), but now they've set it up such that all of your purchases go to your 'cloud player.' This means you not only have to download one song at a time if you don't want to install their software, but you have to say each and every time that you don't want to install their software.

Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks.

I've already been trying to purchase directly from the artists when possible, or from other sources if not, but I guess I'm going to need more sources. I'm already using CDBaby and sometimes BandCamp, but what other sites out there do people use? (Please note that I wish to own my music, so while sites like Rhapsody are interesting, they don't really meet my needs. Also: no &$#*ing iTunes.)

Added: I'm also considering using eMusic. There's a monthly membership fee, but your fee grants you equal credit for purchases from their collection. (The trick, of course, is that the fee does not roll over. If you forget to buy anything for a month, you've lost that credit.) The prices seem pretty decent and they've got a lot of music I like, and the fee structure isn't bad. At an average cost of $6 per album, the $12 basic membership gives me two new albums a month ... which currently costs me around $20. Still, I'm wary for problems: If anyone has any experience with them, I'd love to hear about it.
awfulhorrid: (Grinning Skull)
I've been trying out DC Universe Online for the past week. I've been having a lot of fun with the heroes, but decided to play a villain. (I even sprung for the points to buy the 'light power' set so I could be a member of the Sinestro Corp -- the major foes of the Green Lanterns.) I think my normal day to day operation is probably much closer to the hero side; help people out when I can, don't cause problems without a reason, etc., but there's something very amusing about playing a bad guy, especially when I'm playing as an alien with a bent for chaos.

I've been purposefully taking time out of my missions to cause traffic accidents. This has absolutely no in-game benefit, but I've gotten to where I know how to cascade about eight cars into a huge string of crashes, fires, explosions, and even running over pedestrians. (Although the cars do not actually harm the peds, even when said car explodes while it's intersecting them.)

Some of the missions are the same ones as the ones you come across when you're a hero, but with different stated goals. (Save the things that those invaders are stealing, but as resources for Lex Luthor instead of as medical supplies, etc.) I had a particular laugh, and an acknowledgment to myself that I do role play even these kinds of games with one of these missions. I was supposed to be 'rescuing' people trapped by Braniac's robot invaders - the goal as a hero was to save the people, the goal as a villain is to save the 'Exobites' - a game world concept / resource that happened to be in the people. The people are trapped in an orange force-bubble; you pick them up and transport them to the rescue spot. I'd just picked up one when I was attacked by a robot. When this happened as a hero, I immediately rushed the person to safety, thinking to keep them out of harm's way. As a villain, I instead turned and threw the force-field encased human at the attacking robot, resulting in a robot almost completely destroyed and the bubble person bouncing away like a super-ball (no pun intended.)

You can guess what I spent the rest of the fight there doing, although I did rescue my quota!
awfulhorrid: (Caffeine Molecule)
Sometimes I see 'rural ruin' pictures where the poster can only guess at the history. I know the history of this set rather well, at least up to a point. This is the junkyard my dad had next to his garage in rural North Carolina. Dad used that junkyard for spare parts from at least 1975 until he died in fall of 2011. We built race cars, off-road vehicles, and sometimes even cars for the highway. (At least one of the cars from my high school days is there.) It's no exaggeration to say that I didn't have a vehicle of my own that was all one year model until I was in my late 20s.

These are from March 2012 when I visited some of my family there and took some time to just wander around the property. We're still dealing with estate issues and don't know what the final status of the house, garage, and property will be, but I took these while wandering around for a bit. Honestly the trailer house where dad lived probably could qualify for 'rural ruin' pictures, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that. (It did occur to me how many houses in the area that were currently occupied look like many of the ones I've seen in this group!)

Approximate location: N 35.354, W 78.919.



More behind the cut )
awfulhorrid: (Caffeine Molecule)
I just returned home from a trip to North Carolina to visit family. This is the first time I've done that by myself in more than ten years and I promise it will be the last. Frankly I just can't take visiting there anymore without someone from the civilized world to ground me. I understand that NC isn't the worst of the Southern states, but visiting there is very much like stepping back in time several decades. More aptly, it's like visiting another country.

This is more or less how I survived the trip without screaming at people or just saying "fuck this" and packing up and leaving. After a few days, I finally decided that the best way to handle the situation is to think of the South as if they'd managed to secede back in 1861. I wasn't visiting the Southern states of the United States of America, I was visiting the Confederate States of America! That made things so much more understandable. The cultural differences suddenly made a lot more sense, as does the language differences, the shoddy education standards, the failure to understand some common facts about the United States ... even the relative technological failings, differences in laws(*) and customs. If we figure the CSA as teetering on the brink of being a third world country (as evidenced by the poverty and unemployment rate) much of the rampant social injustice and backwards social norms which often accompanies this state is explained quite nicely.

This view isn't perfect, of course. Many of the things associated with travel to an actual foreign nation aren't there - currency differences, passports, an actual separate government, and other things. Of course there are plenty of countries where you can freely spend US dollars without conversion and you didn't need a passport when visiting Canada until fairly recently. The most glaring problem with this idea is, unfortunately, that the CSA gets to vote in our elections and has many painful candidates running for office at this very moment. I guess I should just be thankful that it was so easy to immigrate out of there when I did!

--

OK look, I love my family there; I really do. I am just very much aware of the fact that NC is no longer my home and hasn't been in many decades. My mother simply cannot grasp this and therefore I cringed every time she said something about me being 'home.' Of course I also cringed every time she spouted forth with her increasingly racist language, something else she seemed incapable of grasping.



(* - Apparently there is a state law that televisions much be turned on anytime someone is in the same room with one.)
awfulhorrid: (Bajoran Communicator Pin)
I'm investigating alternatives to cable television.

I've already re-activated my NetFlix account (on a free trial for the next month) and I'm pretty happy with what I'm finding there in the streaming video selections. Unfortunately, it's not everything I want to see -- for one thing, I'm not really seeing current seasons of shows in the streaming offerings.

Enter Hulu - Plus. I see it *does* offer many of the current season shows for which I'm looking, so that's a bonus. There are still a few things missing, but nothing that I can't wait until it's offered on DVD (and thus available on NetFlix.) I've only used Hulu a little bit, and even then only the basic model. I'd love to hear from anyone who's used it to any great extent.

My prime motivation is simple economics. Our current cable package just went up to $139.04 per month. Dumping the cable television portion drops that back down to $46.43. NetFlix and Hulu Plus each run about $8. If we add in the DVD option to NetFlix to cover the missing few items, that's another $8. Total: ~ $70. Heck, for that price difference, I might even be convinced to upgrade my cable speed!

Still, I'm looking for feedback on this. Has anyone had experience with these options? The only thing I watch semi-regularly that I know I'd be missing would be Countdown with Keith Olberman, but I know that there are other shows that come up at random that I'd likely miss.
awfulhorrid: (WoW Mailbox)
I was having trouble getting an online game to connect to its server tonight. I asked [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm if she was having any speed issues and she confirmed that there did seem to be some lag time in loading pages. I pulled up some Internet tools, did a speed and ping test off a server about 60 miles away and got great results. Swapping to other servers in the US got slightly slower, but still good results. I switched for a server in Nuremberg, Germany and finally got a download speed of 3.2 Mbps and a ping of 128 seconds. (By this point I had very clearly lost interest in connecting to the game and was having a great time speed testing ...)

"That's pretty slow," I said, as I started to say something about the ping taking nearly four times as long. That's when I trailed off as I realized that it's still barely 1/100th of a second for a round-trip communication with Germany. I think I muttered something about packet loss, but actually that was measuring at 0 out of 250 data packets lost.

The worst part is that I actually did start my time on the net with dial up and a 2400 baud modem. (Which was just coming out as the top of the line standard when I got it ...)

Tools:
awfulhorrid: (College Dog)
I'm doing my homework for my CS240 - Software Development Lifecycle class. The unit is essentially project management lite, including topics such as risk management. I stick by my answers, but I may be bringing a bit too much real world experience into this!

(Game2D is a case study example we've been using in the book. It's an extremely simple two-player game.)

---

Names sources of human risk for Game2D.

Development Team

  • Productivity—team members may spend too much time playing “City of Heroes” instead of coding the project modules.

  • Experience—the vast complexity of Game2D may simply overwhelm the poor young developers.

  • Dedication—the development team may decide they’re wasting their coding talents on this game and go off to form their own software company.



End Users

  • Technical knowledge—the overwhelmingly complex game play may cause some users to disconnect their computers completely and take refuge in their basement bunkers.

  • Support for project—conversely, the potential users may just not care one whit for the game and it may languish unplayed until “Bob’s Farmville Clone” needs more server space.

awfulhorrid: (Celtic Knot)
My Dad died this morning. I don't really want to write about his death, so much as I want to say a few positives about his life, but I guess I have to write about both. It wasn't entirely unexpected - this was his forth fight with cancer. (Possibly 3rd, since this could have been what they didn't catch the last time. I guess it really doesn't matter all that much either way.) Still, he wasn't showing signs of getting worse or anything, so this was a bit of a shock. I'm really glad that we got to visit with him a few weeks ago, even if it was a pretty short visit.

My childhood and teenage memories of him are ... well, let's call them patchy. Some are good and amusing while others are pretty depressing and difficult. He was an alcoholic and a Vietnam vet who most definitely suffered from PTSD. He physically, mentally, and verbally abused both me and my Mother, especially when he was drunk - a state he was in quite a lot at the time. With all this, I guess it's not too surprising that once I left his home, I didn't really speak with him for a bit over a decade.

At some point, once he'd driven away two wives, several girlfriends, most of his friends, and me plus the rest of his family, he finally decided to get help. He got into Alcoholics Anonymous and sought help from the VA. He really cleaned himself up, became a spokesman for AA causes, and helped others. I'm more glad than ever that he did this and that I was able to reconnect with him as an adult. My only regret about that is that I wish he'd done it about 30 years earlier: it would have made for a much better childhood for me and my mother.

I'm still learning how much we actually had in common. Some things are a bit more obvious, of course. I can absolutely credit him (and my mother too, actually) for instilling in me a love of history and reading. I was somewhat amused a few years ago when he figured out the exact nature of my polyamorous relationship to learn that he had been part of a similar relationship, although perhaps not quite as open about it. I can credit a lot of my love of pirates to him. I learned a lot more mechanic skill from him that I actually remember, and while I can't remember how to repair a transmission, at least I know how to use the tools safely and I'm not afraid to get dirty. While mine was not exactly an ideal childhood, I still fondly recall making things with him: model rockets, various automotive projects, and a black powder rifle are the ones that immediately come to mind.

He had a strong artistic side, too. I think I'd actually mostly forgotten that until our last visit. I saw some of the large cartoon drawings on the back wall of the garage and remembered him making those about 25 years ago. Though they were cartoons and not caricatures, I could very clearly identify the subjects on which they were based even all these years later. I remember some of the wood carvings he'd do with a knife or sometimes with a chainsaw. Although I'm not quite ready to try anything with a chainsaw, I think some of the things I've tried to make with my Dremel tool might have their origins in those carvings. (I also wonder if he might have been continuing something he saw his father do, but I guess I'll never know now.)

He was quite clearly a Dog totem too, although in his case I suspect closer to a hound dog than a Newfoundland like myself. I've already made sure to ask if his dogs were going to be cared for now. They're going to stay with Grandma, both for her to look after and to look after her.

Today has been mostly scheduling things, making lists of what needs to be done, answering the phone, and just dealing with one thing at a time. Tomorrow we fly to North Carolina for a few days. Dad chose cremation, something else we have in common, although I'm a total organ donor so that'll come before the cremation. Therefore there won't be a funeral, but there will still be a memorial service. I'm not quite sure what I'll say, although writing this has certainly given me a few thoughts.

Dad, I can't say we always got along, but I'm glad we were able to reconnect when we did. I do love you and I'm glad you were part of my life. I'll miss you.
awfulhorrid: (Wood Spirit)
After this quarter's finals next week, I've got a break of two weeks. My dad has been in pretty bad shape the last year or so and [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm and I had been going back and forth on driving down to NC to visit him, my mother, and my grandmother for a few days. After a lot of consideration I'd finally come to the conclusion that this was a trip we probably shouldn't take since we're pretty stressed financially right now. Then I talked to dad on the phone ... The short version is that the cancer that resulted in the operation to remove 2/3 of a lung has now turned up in his lymph nodes. We decided that perhaps we'd better go to visit this break after all.

Of course this doesn't mean our financial situation has magically cleared up. I'm looking for a way to raise some money for the trip (or to cover things after we return.) To this end, I'm putting up an offer of custom walking stick / staff making. I've got a good pile of material that's been drying for several years now ready to be turned into staffs or walking sticks. I have a few stain colors available, mostly brown to black, and I can do some carving - although my skills are mostly characters or line work. (Sorry, I'm not quite up to figures yet!) I can even mount a marble in the tip for that classic Wizard look.

My starting price for a staff is $40. For a higher donation, I'll do much more customization. Heck, even for $40 I'll try to give you what you want! I make no promise for speed, though, but I'll try my best. I also do other woodwork and toy making - some people seem to enjoy my floggers and impact toys! My prices there vary quite a bit, but if you ask me about it, I might be able to do it.

My paypal account is (barbarian)(at)(ripco)(dot)(com).

Example of my work - a shillelagh: http://pics.livejournal.com/awfulhorrid/gallery/0001dr08
awfulhorrid: (Spore Clown Building)
I've had a Steam account for some time now. I'm sure you can guess my user name. (Or you could just click the link, I suppose.) I first signed up last year to take advantage of the free Portal offer, now long defunct, of course. For several months, I downloaded the occasional free game or demo, so I was unable to add friends directly and didn't really bother. About two months ago, I sprang for the $10 offer on Plants vs. Zombies. A month later, I handed over another $10 for Bejeweled Twist. These purchases make me a paid member, so I can add friends now. If anyone else is on Steam, please feel free to add me, although I rarely play competitive games.

Today, I bought another game. I dug deep and coughed up $1.75 for Tropico Reloaded. Oooo! Maybe I'll go as high as $12 for my next game.
awfulhorrid: (Love my coffee)
[livejournal.com profile] rmjwell alerted us to an upcoming Milwaukee area burlesque show on the 21st of May. It's at the Stonefly Brewing Company and the admission is only $10. It does start at 9 PM, so I quite understand that'll keep some people away, but currently [livejournal.com profile] bookwurm, [livejournal.com profile] tarrestrial, and I are planning to go and it would be great to get something of a group together.

Hmm. I note that the splash page for Stonefly's Web page is having problems. However their menu seems to be working correctly and looks pretty tasty.

21 May 11 - 9 PM10 PM.
Stonefly Brewing Company
Milwaukee, WI -- map
Admission: $10!
awfulhorrid: (College Dog)
[livejournal.com profile] bookwurm says I shouldn't use the term "cubical monkeys" in my PowerPoint presentation for my "Business Concepts for Application Developers" class. She suggested the alternate term "office workers." Can I compromise and say "Office drones?" I know the instructor is a fan of "The Office." (OK, so I'm going to use 'office workers ...')

Additional: Happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!
awfulhorrid: (Default)
It followed me home. We're still determining if we can keep it or not.

Open the garage bay door, Fred )

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