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09 October 2014 @ 10:18 am
It's Columbus Day weekend, so I'm taking friday so I can have a four day weekend. The Taylor-Bray Farm pumpking festival or whatever they call it is Saturday, so we'll be going to that with Nora. It's pretty cool. They have hay rides and they raise money by selling pumpkins and gourds. Nora loves her "little pumpkins." Not sure if we'll do the hay ride or not. It's behind a kind of noisy belchy tractor and I think she'll probably be afraid of that.

Other than that, not a lot up outside of work. It's been a tiring week, not sure exactly why. I'm still getting over that horrible cold I had and the days are getting shorter (ugh getting up in the dark!), but I've had no energy when I've gotten home from work so my writing and other things are slipping. I'm trying to keep up on taking a walk during my "lunch" hour (I never eat lunch or anything else at work) to try to get in better shape and lose some weight. It's nice two mile loop down to the beach and I listen to music or podcasts or something.

Nora continues to do great at school and seems to have made a friend, though she denies it when asked. The school has done amazing things for her and we're very very pleased. We're even talking about expanding her week to cover monday and friday. If she wants, of course.

I barely have gamed at all. The whole "gamer gate" thing with misogynist assholes attacking women who game has been very trying on me. I've dropped off of a board I'd been a member of for over ten years because they turned into shits over it and wallowed in the leaked nudes. It's sad to see people who are usually quite reasonable people about other things be unable to acknowledge that they may not know how other people experience things. I'm not the only one to leave over it at least.
01 October 2014 @ 02:17 pm
Last week was a total loss. I got home from work monday and I didn't really move off the couch until the following Sunday. Really bad head cold that just got in everywhere. I was only really Sunday that I started feeling any better. Still not 100%, but I'm at least functional.

Getting better on Sunday was good as Janna made a big equinox meal. We had these interesting squash/potato pancakes, an ungodly good beet salad with capers and feta, and some beef sausage from one of the local farms, then for afters these amazing Apple hand pies with the most perfect crust I could imagine. Oh, she picked up a quite nice shiraz as well.

Mostly what I did during the lost week was read. I have only a vague notion of how many lesbian romance novels I read, but Amazon will not be making any profit on my $9.95/month Kindle Unlimited subscription. I think of the funniest experiences I had was with a "rock star" romance that I quite enjoyed, then I got to the end and discovered she'd written a few stories for the "new" (now over ten year old) Thieves World books.

I'm sort of slogging through this week. To return to the 90s: I'm not sick, but I'm not well. 
04 September 2014 @ 03:15 pm

Well, when we were visiting Joy and Lona and Henry and Peter, a couple of things happened that made me reevaluate my camera situation. The first was that when we went for a walk, there was no way I could deal with stringing my DSLR around my neck. Too big. Too heavy. Too dorky. Too hot.

The second was the of all the pictures I did take, the best one by far was done with the Fuji XF1 compact and that made me think of some of the better pictures I've taken and quite a few are from the Fuji not the Pentax and I realized that it ain't the camera capabilities, it's that the XF1 is always with us and the Pentax is kind of a hassle. I just plain end up taking more pictures. It also doesn't hurt that the minute she sees the DSLR, Nora just starts mugging for the camera so it's not very natural.

I've always liked Fuji and I've noticed that a lot of the people who were posting photos I thought were really well done were using Fuji mirrorless equipment. The cameras also have a nice retro look. I'd been eyeing them for a while.

Then Fuji had a sale. It wasn't the most amazing sale, but it was a sale sufficient that I could upgrade to a camera that would fit our lifestyle better and with sales of my used equipment, come out only a little worse than even. So I'm now the happy owner of a Fuji X-E1 mirrorless camera with the 18-55 kit lens and the 27mm pancake. The latter was the real key. The thing is tiny, it's a good focal length for general use, and together that means I can carry it in my purse. In fact, if I can find a decent case that hugs the contours of the camera (and I have), it can live in my purse full time and I can drag out the 18-55 when I want to do more serious shooting.

So far the results have been pretty good. The reviews say it has issues with focus and it does hunt a bit, but Pentax was all screw drive and not a whole lot faster. I love the fact that I can see the depth of field in the viewfinder. Generally, the lenses are far superior to anything I had with Pentax except for the old manual 50mm. The 18-55 is just amazing.

13 August 2014 @ 02:16 pm
It was another weekend and here we are already in the middle of a week. Nora was exposed to hand, foot, and mouth disease and came down with the massive spiking fever on Saturday. I've never seen her like that. She just sat there with her mouth open a little staring at the wall. We knew the fever was supposed to be really high and what it was from, so it wasn't as scary as it sounds, but still, rather disconcerting.

I came down with a somewhat lesser version of it which left me pretty much inert through the weekend. I took monday off as well, which was definitely a good idea, but by the end of the day I was pretty solid. Doctor says that we're not contagious, but I'm trying to be careful at work. None of us got any of the blistering thank goodness.

Other than that, not really a whole lot going on. I have a backlog of stuff I need to deal with, particularly getting my scooter fixed and my car looked at. The car (and that would be the Honda, finally, what is ours is ours again!) has an engine light, but once those go off they stay on until cleared and it dates back to a snowstorm. It's due for an oil change though.

We're also buying a new mattress, which I know nothing about. I've slept quite happily on a Japanese style futon (ie, not the crap ones you generally get in the US) since college, but Janna wants something with more support and that kind of thing. It's so complicated and the prices are insane. I have this vague feeling that we're going to end up at Ikea and just cough up for the shipping.

What else. More Marvel Heroes. I've started to think about writing again. I've been off it so long. Just fatigued with the whole thing. 
26 July 2014 @ 12:58 pm
That was by far one of the stupidest things I've done in a very long time. Nora was nagging to go to the beach and generally, we all go out somewhere as a family on weekends to walk in the woods or go to a playground or something. Here's the thing: I loathe the beach. Hate it with the intensity of a thousand suns. Nevertheless, I convince myself that this time it will be different, largely because Janna is asking me if I'll come in a way that sounds an awful lot like an offer that can't be refused. I figure I'll hunker down and hide with a kindle and a hat.

Within 2 minutes of arrival, I've had more than enough. My skin is crawling from the sand and sunblock. I'm hot. The wind keeps blowing the hat off. (Plus I hate hats in general.) I'm feeling completely emotionally overwhelmed because I hate being around so many sweaty strangers. And most of all, I am extremely sensitive to light and I'm blind as a bat from the sun reflecting off the sand. This is exactly how the last beach trip ended, with me staring at the ground with my eyes closed just waiting for it to end. Janna gave me a piteous look and I just asked if she could call me when they wanted to be picked up and beat a hasty retreat. Ran home and nearly leapt into the shower I felt so disgusting. My pulse is still racing because I'm so mad at myself for agreeing to this and feel terrible because it would be a whole lot easier for them if they had a vehicle there and I really did want to spend some time with my family.
25 July 2014 @ 11:42 am
First, I am totally and completely exhausted. It hasn't actually been a tiring week at all, but it has been a full five days and I could have used fewer. I even got enough sleep last night so I have no excuse, but wow am I zonked.

The new car remains wonderful. I don't particularly like driving it because while it's pleasant to drive, it's smooth and drives "large" where the Fit is torquey as hell and it's really hard to go between them. I absolutely love being a passenger on it though. The other note is that I think thanks to their new wave station, we're going to make an effort to keep SiriusXM, which was there mainly because it was there if you wanted a sun roof.

We still have the corpse of the Mazda sitting in the driveway. Because of the different ways that Maryland and Massachusetts handle loans and titles, we needed more paperwork from our old loan company to get a duplicate title so we can sign it over to someone. The stuff is in now, so Janna just needs to stand in line and then we wait.

Nora's doing ok. We're still struggling with potty training of the "I have full control but I am not going near that thing" variety which is getting really really old. She's getting much more comfortable with more social situations and Janna's been taking her out to lunch places, which is a really big advancement as she's always been quite shy and freaked out by new things and public spaces. Her birthday is coming up and we're getting her a flock of things, the big budget thing being those magnetic block thingies (ok checked Amazon and they're called Magna-Tiles), which she loved when she was at the STEM playgroup. She's also getting a stomp rocket to play with when we go to the pond, a plush Woodland Fairy House with little plush fairies, and her favorite book Planes Fly.

Speaking of toys and things that fly. I bought one. When I was ordering my Wonder Woman Tray Uglydoll, which is a collectable not a toy, I tossed in a little radio control helicopter. The cats are both terrified and intrigued and I suspect Nora will be fascinated with it as she loves anything that flies.

On that subject, we found a local airport that has a nice brunch restaurant overlooking the airfield. The only issue is it isn't a really busy one, so there's not a whole lot of traffic. We're hoping to find a good day when the flying weather is good and head there.

I continue to obsessively play Marvel Heroes. I absolutely love this game. I am finally feeling the twinges that I want to write again, though this may just be economic fear of having a car payment making me want to bring in some money.
07 July 2014 @ 09:39 pm
As our Mazda is officially dead (14 years, it's hard to complain), we got Janna's parents to babysit and when car shopping.
We test drove the Prius C and Prius. It's really hard for me to express what horrible cars they both were. The ride combined a squishy feel with a lot of jerky acceleration, particularly when the gasoline engine cut in and out. At one point, I depressed the accelerator and there was a noticeable lag before anything happened.

Despite my general "early adopter" mentality, I felt overwhelmed by the silly gadgetry. I particularly disliked the bizarre shifter. To move between reverse, neutral, and drive you jimmy it in one direction or another, but it returns to a neutral position and the only indication of gear is on the digital speedometer. To park, you don't even use the shifter. You hit a button next to it.
Mostly it was just uncomfortable being in the vehicles. They both felt like being jammed into a sardine can. I think it's the amount they tried to fit in. There's a huge console between driver and passenger that's just too large, it's more like a privacy wall than an arm rest. I think they were going for "fighter pilot cockpit," but what they got was spam in a can. If they went a bit more spartan, certainly the regular Prius is larger than I think any car I've owned. However did they make it feel so small? Also, while we're on the fighter pilot cockpit, the windshield is a bit tall and there's a lot of gadgets to look at on the dashboard and it reminded me a little of an airliner cockpit where looking out the windows takes a back seat to flying by instrument.

Of course, lagging performance and too small are common complaints by those who enjoy large powerful cars and all that, but given my automotive history, these particular gripes stand out. I own a Fit/Jazz and in the past I've owned a Renault LeCar/R5, a 3 cylinder Subaru Justy, and a 73 original VW Beetle. I think if you folded the rear seats down, the Renault would fit in the Prius' hatch, but I never felt cramped in it.

So back to the drawing board. Except not. By happenstance the Kia dealership was next to the Toyota and Janna had liked the Soul. We hadn't done much research and it's kind of pricey, but since we were literally 30 seconds away, we gave it a test drive and absolutely loved it. Drives like it should. Has a double moon roof the size of Nebraska. Feels roomy, but drives like its small. Gadgets where they belong on the huge satnav/stereo screen and not where they don't.

We took the time to get a price from the dealer and while we're going to look at the Mazda 2 and the new Fit, I'd be very surprised if we weren't driving an Alien Green Soul next week.
07 July 2014 @ 12:50 pm
It was all going to be so nice. I was going to take two days off and have a wonderful relaxing weekend over the Fourth of July.

That didn't happen. Instead we had a storm. The storm itself wasn't all that bad. It came in at night and was gone by noon the next day. No damage. We didn't even lose power.

Work, however, did and it was down long enough for the UPSes to run dry and things didn't shut down correctly. Unfortunately, that ended up being the last straw for one of the drives in an older server and a disk dropped out of RAID. So I was in work on Saturday for a few hours getting it back up and running, then ran home to host a belated BBQ. Then Sunday I was back for more abuse and spent the better part of the day in the office migrating a Domain Controller to new hardware.

And as I was heading in for that Sunday in what was supposed to be a long weekend in the office, my car died. Battery light went on and I drove the last quarter mile and some kind of battery steam was coming out of the hood. So adding to the exhaust including catalytic converter, rust, air conditioning, brakes, and tires is an alternator and battery.

So we're test driving a Prius this afternoon, which I really could do without right now. I also have the carcass of the car parked at work, which isn't a big problem, but can't go on for more than a couple of days.
30 June 2014 @ 09:37 am
I took a long weekend, left early to watch the match on Thursday and then took friday off as well. That's all part of burning excess vacation before the new fiscal year July 1st. They had a few people who got crazy with carrying it and cracked down on carrying more than a week.

Overall, the weekend was good. I came down with some kind of cold, which gave me a really sore throat on friday, and then has me still feeling tired and achey. Sadly, I think Nora might have a touch of it as well. She was a pill for most of the weekend.

There were, however, bright spots. It's been beautiful out. Warm, sunny, low humidity, and just perfect. We went to Fort Hill on Saturday. They still haven't gotten the walkway through the cedar swamp fixed. It's been something like three years? Another sad result of America not funding its government properly. I hate it because it's a wonderful walk and a great place to take visitors. Nora told us all the way there she didn't want to go to Fort Hill and then had a great time. We went across the street afterwards and sat behind the house (there's the mansion of a whaling family on the site) and she had a little snack and ran around.

After that, however, I was down for the count tired and spent.

Other than that, I watched some world cup. I played a lot of Marvel Heroes. It's the last weekend of their first anniversary event and there were all kinds of bonuses. Still loving the game. The "speed run" plagues it like it plagues everything though. Have one person run like hell through the thing then teleport to them at the boss. Ugh. But I made best advantage and stacked up bonus potions with the anniversary loot drop bonus and got a lot of artifacts I've been looking for. My Ms. Marvel is in great shape and Squirrel Girl is getting there. Still not sure who I'm going to do next, probably storm as she's already 47 and it's just 13 levels.

And we finally pulled the trigger on the grill. This has been a long time coming. I tried not to look pale when I forked over That Much Money for a grill instead of buying another $100 or $200 "Benny's Special." I think it will be worth it though. We grill 12 months a year and it really fits more in the "major appliance" category than the "occasional outdoor thing." We got the Weber Genesis 330 with the sear burner for steaks and a side burner for when we have a hurricane that wipes Cape off the map and it's the only way we can cook when we want to fry something and not stink up the house. I'm looking forward to having a really nice grill that we can do things with like smoking and longer indirect cooking. The last one could do those sorts of things, but the parts started to wear heavily after a year and there were flameouts and all that. This one we'll make an effort to treat well, plus its a weber so we'll be able to get parts.

They deliver it Saturday. I'm looking forward.
16 June 2014 @ 12:27 pm
It was a miserable rainy weekend, which really just comes out just fine when there's a World Cup on TV.

I took friday off so that Janna could paint Nora's room. Thinking about it, I probably should have taken today off so I could catch a better set of matches, in particular because there's no way I'm not watching the US match live and unfortunately, this will mean I get spoiled on the earlier ones.

The color is a really nice robin's egg blue and Nora couldn't be more thrilled. Blue's her favorite color. However, with it rainy on friday and saturday and Janna's parents coming over for Father's Day, we didn't get out to the park or do much of anything else, which left Nora as a less than happy little bug overall. "I am NOT a bug!" -- I can just hear her. She's having issues with metaphor and we tend to use a lot of them in our speech.

Other than this, it was rather uneventful. Pleasant, but uneventful.