31 August 2009

Column 2 is kicking my ass, therefore break time

column 1
(Column 1)

Just occurred to me that it should be groovecube, not dancecube. Repeated oo sounds! Don't know why that name revision was so long in coming.

Anyway, a work in progress. One that's not likely to be terribly cube-like, but whatever.

A year ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 15: Going back to Cali...

29 August 2009

Free $5 credit for mp3s from Amazon-deal expires 8/31

If you order Big Kahuna Reef, a free video game download on Amazon:
Big Kahuna Reef *

you get a $5 credit for MP3 downloads from Amazon MP3. Offer expires 8/31.

Just did it and it works!

Notes: It'll ask for your credit card info when you try to order but it won't charge you anything.
Not sure if it will download to Macs since you have to download a PC installer. (In any case, the game is for PCs.) I borrowed my Dad's PC to avoid the hassle of finding out.


*I first saw this on Whedonesque, so I'm using their affiliate link.

A year ago on TTaT: A good day for Muppets

23 August 2009

Floppies: a handful out of many

(Click to embiggen.)

Why didn't I throw away the floppies whose files I transferred to zip disks and/or CDs? Good question. No doubt redundancy seemed like a good backup plan at the time. Of course, redundancy comes with its own problems when all your copies aren't synced.

For many of these old floppies, I recognize the labels and can check to see if I have the files on my computer. Others may be on CDs, but it's not easy to say. I'm pretty sure my homework from college didn't make the transition. And why would I want my Pascal programs from Computer Science 122 anyway? I don't know, but I kind of do want them. Others are more vague: "Homework etc. 92-93," "Writing 1998," "Work Backups (DP)." I know I have all my resumes, so what are the work backups? Submission lists, notes on jobs, equipment lists? Yet another disk has several programs or plugins listed at the end of which is "Sleeping Visions." I have a feeling that's writing, but I have no way to check. Off to the right by itself on the same disk is "Bleck!" adjacent to "(HW 93 fall)" in small print. What's that, topological proofs? Or maybe I was taking Real Analysis that semester.

My favorite has to be the "PANIC BACKUPS." No idea what's on that disk except that in knowing myself, I feel confident that information is saved and better labeled elsewhere.

Though I have no way to read floppies, I think I'll end up saving about 10 which isn't so bad as I'm getting rid of 50 and a couple of floppy holders. That's a decent percentage of progress. Who knows, once I dismantle the last 26 floppies, I may be ready to part with my old homework as well.

UPDATE 8/24: I did ditch my Comp. Sci. disk and a few others, so I'm down to five. If my brother doesn't have anything that will read them, I'm going to let that information go too. It's like I'm growing as a person.

Or not... because I realized: My writing mostly sucked when I was in college anyway. Besides, packrat that I am, I know I've got hard copies of anything worthwhile somewhere.

"A high tale of adventure"

34. The African Queen by C. S. Forester (4/5)

The small hardcover edition, this particular one republished in 1940, has been sitting on my shelf for years. I've seen the movie numerous times and didn't give much thought to the book.

It's really good though, and is as the cover proclaims "a high tale of adventure." Which I admit doesn't seem likely when the bulk of the story involves only two characters: Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut. Forester's characters are well-drawn with depth and history that doesn't always come across in the film. The transformations that occur to them during their journey are a pleasure to read. I was impressed with his depiction of Rose, her strength and determination and fearlessness, which seemed to me both authentic and unusual in a story from that period.

Though the story takes place in 1914 and the book was first published in 1935, the writing didn't seem all that dated to me. However, storytelling-wise Rose is a washed up spinster at 33 (a couple years younger than I am) which got to me a bit. Nonetheless, Forester's descriptions of Africa make up for it as they really put you there with his characters and the perils they face.

The ending and some other details differ from the film's narrative, but I still enjoyed it.

A year ago on TTaT: Inspired, PIP...

22 August 2009

The afternoon storm

There was no rain, but the thunder rumbled almost continuously for two hours, the kabooms getting louder and more frequent. The sky was a light gray and finally the drops fell. A deluge soon followed.

Out my windows there was a bright flash and KAPOW! My heart stopped, the lightning was so close, the sound even louder coming through my window a/c. Flash, KAPOW! Again, there was not enough time to count between the lightning and the thunder. My light flickered, but I'd already stopped reading mid-page. Flash, KAPOW! The power went out, came back on briefly, and then went out for good after a fourth close lightning strike. I was impressed that it'd stayed on as long as it had.

Moving downstairs so that I could be a bit further away from windows seemed wise, so I did that. Through the sliding glass door across from me in the living room, I saw a thick piece of branch hurtle into the deck with a clink and thunk. Sounded like it hit some glass on the way down.

With distance, the kapows morphed into intermittent kabooms, and eventually it was quiet except for the rain. It was too dark to read, so I put my laundry away in the semi-darkness, and then waited for the power to return.

Over an hour later we supped by artificial candlelight on finger sandwiches: cucumber, tomato, and roast beef; and smoked oysters, chips, and fritos. A light from the living room flicked on behind us and the clock on the CD player started to blink. We finished eating in the romanticized gloom.

2 years ago on TTaT: Howdy, pardner

21 August 2009

A perfect post for Friday night

If it's wrong that Do You Wanna Date My Avatar makes me crush on Felicia Day, I don't want to be right.

Funny + Talented + Sexy = Awesome.

A year ago on TTaT: NBC, as much as your online schedule drives me crazy...; In motion

19 August 2009

Mind kinda blown

Via twitter, I discovered that a friend of mine knows a blogger I've been reading for a couple of years now. I'm not sure where I first came across Cheryl, no doubt in comments or a blogroll somewhere, but I know it wasn't through anyone I knew.

Six degrees of separation--that's easy. But ONE?! OK, having lived in LA myself years ago improves the odds in this case, but still... one degree of separation between a blogger I came across essentially randomly and me. The interwebs seem very small now. Right on!


Yesterday, I felt tremendously adrift. Just couldn't shake it, so I finally got around to opening a pack of 'artist trading cards' I'd picked up a couple weeks ago and drawing something. The Strathmore cards come in lots of paper and canvas types, but they are all 2.5"x3.5", a seemingly manageable little size.

Was tempted to stop after this phase:
skyline sketch 1
But I like how it turned out here:
skyline sketch 2Even though I was tempted to continue adding details.

The drawing itself was meditative and calming, no wonder I used to draw all the time as a kid. As an adult, I lost a lot of my patience for drawing, preferring the instant click of photography even when developing was required.

I think next I'll open my pack of linen canvas cards and bust out some paint.

A year ago on TTaT: Pole vaulting would be cool too

18 August 2009

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. vii)

...with lateral raises:

lateral raise 1lateral raise 2lateral raise 3lateral raise 4

By all means, do NOT use my photos for exercise advice. My lat raise form is bad in the above photos. (I've since switched to a variation of this exercise with less weight to achieve proper form.)

*A proper dumbbell lateral raise.*

(Previous grooves.)

A year ago on TTaT: A sport for every body type

14 August 2009

How to get perfect bacon

Ordering bacon is always a roll of the dice with not particularly good odds, but I thought I'd give it a shot tonight.

"I'd like the Chubby Checker," I said, locking my eyes with his and then enunciating very clearly, "with the bacon burnt."

He finished writing on his pad and said, "Got it."

When my grilled sandwich--turkey, cheese, barbecue sauce, tomato, and bacon on wheat--arrived, the bacon looked perfect: a dark, crispy brown. My pickle spear was crunchy and my fries were super hot for an additional bonus.

For all the floppy bacon I've been served over the years, maybe eye contact was the final missing step.

When I was little, I was shy and hated ordering; whenever possible, I didn't speak for myself. Now it irritates me when someone tries to order for me. This only comes up with my parents on occasion, the very people who were kind enough to indulge me a fair amount of the time as a kid.

The problem is more the manner in which they'll order for me: "Claire would like the..." or "Claire will have the..." They use my name, and it grates as though they are giving out my mystical essence to strangers, allowing them to have power over me. (I never said my frustration was rational.)

In any case, a vestige from my early non-ordering days is that I focus on my menu when speaking more than the server, rarely--if ever--holding eye contact with him or her. For me, this is a strange restaurant-specific aberration.

Time to change that, I think, at least when ordering bacon.

A year ago on TTaT: Cruise Night, round 1; Contraception is NOT abortion

13 August 2009

Done with Robert Frost, huzzah!

32*. The Poetry of Robert Frost: all eleven of his books--complete by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Lathem (2/5)

Overall not my thing but there were a number of poems I did quite like:
"The Mountain"
"The Code"
"The Road Not Taken"
"Christmas Trees"
"New Hampshire"
"Fragmentary Blue"
"Fire and Ice"
"Dust of Snow"
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
"For once, then something"
"Canis Major"
"The Door in the Dark"
"The Armful"
"On the Heart's Beginning to Cloud the Mind"
"Lost in Heaven"
"A Cliff Dwelling"
"It Bids Pretty Fair"
"Any Size We Please"
"One More Feeling"
"How Hard it is to Keep From Being King When it's in You and in the Situation"
So then, why read 500+ pages of Robert Frost if most of it isn't my taste? Well, I'm still working on the great read & weed. I've thinned my library quite a bit this summer, culling volumes for which I don't have some passion or connection.

I should've left the Frost on the shelf though because I knew going in that I wouldn't get rid of it. I received the book as an award in high school and it has a nice commemorative bookplate with my name in it. Therefore I will skip reading the other two books-cum-awards for now.

When I was in LA, a former grad school classmate staying with us wanted to leave behind his tome of Roger Ebert's movie reviews. I declined at first but then he wrote me an inscription and handed it over: Claire, may you have all the success of Roger Ebert without the weight gain. I ended up keeping that book longer than I would have solely because of his note. I'm a sucker for an inscription, especially one that makes me laugh.

*To help me endure all of Frost's poems, I did list his eleven books separately for my yearly count. Felt fair to me.

Latest fluorite

C and fluorite
Cheating a bit since I posted a version of this to twitter a few days ago. Decided that starting to work on a groove sequence now would lead to staying up excessively late.

Anyway, this is a piece of fluorite I picked up at a huge gem, mineral, & fossil show last week. Saw many spectacular, exorbitantly priced pieces and managed not to buy any of them. OK, I admit it was not hard to avoid spending $3500 on a chunk of fluorite that would just sit on a shelf. That large light blue piece--from England, I think--was amazing though.

A year ago on TTaT: Perseids, Rubber bands are evil, I need more sky

11 August 2009

In the dark of night

I flicked the switch by my door and then walked around my bed in the dark and climbed in. The red digital numbers across from me read 2:30. Really later than I'd meant to stay up. I settled in under the covers, first lying on my left side and then flipping over to my right, trying to relax into sleep. Then I heard a very faint buzzing. In straining to discern what it was I became really alert.

It sounded like a not too distant mosquito. Outside perhaps? With my window a/c off, sounds from outside come through fairly clearly. I waited and after a while the telltale buzz passed close by my ear and I went into seizure mode, flailing my arms rapidly overhead. The buzz faded with increased distance.

I can't sleep leaving my face and neck out as an open buffet.

I threw the covers back and haltingly retraced my steps back to the light switch and flipped it on. I tore off a piece of paper towel I had on my desk, sat on my bed, and scanned the walls for the mosquito. I saw a likely prospect and squashed the heck out of it, but couldn't seem to pull it off the wall afterwards. Then I realized it was just one of the many old holes in my walls.

I sat back down and kept looking. I couldn't hear it anymore. Started to wonder if my tinnitus had taken a cruel turn for the worse. Then I spotted something flying near the wall and went after it. A small bug with narrow powdery wings: definitely not a mosquito. I tried to squash it anyway, but it zig-zagged away, diving behind my chest of drawers.

After fifteen minutes of no mosquito sign, I gave up, turned the light out and got back into bed. It was 3:03.

The faint buzz returned. It was distinct from the faint ringing in my ears which I found vaguely encouraging. Hearing imaginary mosquitoes might actually be enough to trigger a final mental break.

The mosquito didn't sound like it was getting closer, so I tried to fall asleep thinking I'd smack it if it landed. Don't hesitate because you're bare-handed, I told myself. Don't miss your window because you're too squeamish and don't feel like getting out of bed to wash bug guts off your hands.

It never felt like I fell asleep but I must have eventually. I'm not covered with bites today, so that's good, but it also has me wondering if my brain is messing with me.

A year ago on TTaT: Handball is not what I thought it was

10 August 2009


Flipping through flyers from the Sunday paper with all their back-to-school deals, I suddenly remembered a recurring element that's been in many of my dreams for months. It doesn't stand on its own story wise, so until today it hasn't been something I've pondered during waking hours.

I'm taking a class, but I'm not in high school. (I've gotten past those recurring dreams.) The class itself doesn't seem to matter, it's all about the notebook. It's the first day and I've shown up with a notebook from a long past high school or college class that still has blank pages at the back.

Sometimes I'm concerned that the subjects of the old and new classes are unrelated, but mostly I worry about running out of space. Usually, I do, but then I'm not overly concerned about it. I just want to buy a new notebook so I can start fresh, and I wonder why I didn't do that in the first place. Never do manage to pay enough attention to the lecture to find out what course or courses I'm taking.

I'm not sure what it indicates other than the fact I have loads of not quite full notebooks and pads.

A year ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 12: Lion

06 August 2009

Detective work

So I've been having a bit of a library saga lately (which I've described in a few fitful spurts on twitter).

The library network I use is cool in that it sends you a reminder email two days before your item is due. What's not cool is there's no notification when an item is weeks overdue. So I didn't notice for two weeks that a Burn Notice DVD set that I'd returned hadn't been checked in.

I'm very good about returning stuff, particularly DVDs since the fines are high, so I knew I'd returned it. Or more specifically that it'd been returned. I gave it 90% that I returned it to one particular library. The other 10% was that I'd asked my mom to return it for me which still meant it was returned but at one of two possible libraries. Didn't feel like I could be more certain than that because it'd been two weeks.

The librarian I spoke with has known me for ages so she believed me, but she wasn't able to find it either at her library or at the DVDs home library when she called them. I gamely double-checked everywhere it might be on my end including vehicles to no avail.

Yesterday, I was happy for a few hours because the DVD been taken off my account and the fine was gone, but when I looked a bit further into it last night, I found that the DVD's home library just had a "Claims returned" note attached to it. I take this to mean they keep looking for some period of time and if they don't find it, then I get saddled with a bill.

This morning I recalled that I'd picked up some magazines for my mom and was able to confirm that they were checked out the day my DVD was due. So, now I'm 100% certain that I returned it to my local library. I even recall an exchange I had with the very librarian checking into all this for me. She was kind enough to check out the mags to my mom even though I didn't have her card with me (my mom used to work there); that's when she discovered there was another person with my mom's name in the network. Memorable right? Hope so, I left her a message.

Unfortunately, that doesn't make the DVD materialize. Figures that this would happen to Burn Notice which retails for $49.99. Amazon has it for ~$30 but they will slap me with processing fees. Which is bogus of course because they didn't do anything but put a few stickers on the box set you'd bet from the store and write the library name on the discs. I know because I used to process library materials back in the day. I also know that with the computer network they have, they don't have to catalog from scratch. Processing the DVD for circulation is something I could do in 15 minutes which includes the time for someone to explain their particular computer system to me. (Unless I got someone really long-winded and unclear I suppose.)

Argh. It's just really stressing me out that I'm going to be penalized financially for something that's not my fault. Gggrrr.

Also, I have a crick in my neck that won't quit and twitter won't let me update.

OK, hopefully that will get some grr out of my system.

A year ago on TTaT: One project complete

05 August 2009

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. v)

...while creating my latest beartoons:

(Click to embiggen.)

The Groove is not just dancing, it's a state of mind.

A year ago on TTaT: Bed, above and below

03 August 2009

"Nobody wears their hair like that."

So, it's been five and a half weeks since I got the haircut that triggered a depressive rage and a dose self-loathing. I hated that haircut so much by the time I got home that I really thought I would have to get it cut again the very next day. Of course, my brief meltdown had very little to do with the cut itself, the visual was just a time portal to an old version of myself for whom I have very little tolerance, particularly when I see some of her characteristics cropping up in the present.

Much like it rained all but seven days of July, I wore my hair pulled back all but two days since June 25th. With the temperature finally reaching summer levels in the past couple weeks, the feel of hair on my neck would incite short bursts of self-directed curses over its length. I had endured the hair as much as I could; I started hunting for pictures so I wouldn't have the same communication problems with a hairdresser as last time.

Last night, I spent a ridiculously long stretch of time looking at over 1600 photos of Amanda Palmer online and then photoshopping the largest, best seven shots of her hair that I'd found for printing.

I didn't sleep well or much at all last night, but despite my exhaustion I was determined to get my hair cut today. With the potential for a brief post-cut meltdown (never at the shop and always self-directed), I knew the timing wasn't ideal, but I went armed with photos, attitude, and the willingness to say: STOP.

As I signed in at SuperCuts even though there was no one there but two hairdressers, the woman standing behind the counter asked me how I wanted my hair cut.

I handed her my printout and said, "Something like this."

She looked at it quizzically and handed it to the other hairdresser for a moment. Ooh, that's not promising. They discussed whether the photos were all of the same person or not as the first woman led me to a chair.

"They're all of the same person," I said. At least she has short hair, I thought to myself as she stood next to my chair. (At the last hair place I visited all the women had long straight hair, very much unlike mine.) She was also brunette and very pregnant, but I never mentioned the latter on the off chance I was mistaken.

"I can't really tell from these photos what's going on."

Disheartened, I said, "It's hard to find good photos."

The other hairdresser, an older dyed-blonde woman who looked a bit weathered, said, "It's stacked, isn't it?"

I said, "I think so. What do you mean by that exactly?"

"I'll get you a picture." The pregnant woman retrieved one of those haircut books salons have and started flipping through it.

The blonde said, "Like a Posh hair cut."

I looked towards her in the mirror nonplussed. Was fairly certain that wasn't what I was going for.

Nothing in the book looked quite like my pictures. The pregnant woman asked, "What is it about these photos that you like?"

Though I had written down "about chin length" and "shorter in the back," I couldn't really articulate what I liked beyond that. She was very patient but firm that she needed to see how I wanted the back to be cut. I can respect that.

"It's hard to tell how it'd look since they all have straight hair," I said, referring to the models in the hair styles book.

"She has straight hair," my hairdresser said, looking at my photos.

It's actually wavy and sometimes almost curly, crossed my mind but I didn't want to get into a debate over it. Ultimately, I pointed to a picture and said, "Let's try that."

"OK. It's going to be short."

"That's fine." Then to ameliorate the concern I sensed from her, I added, "I've had short hair before."

"So you're just like, 'Oh, it's short now.'"


She cut the back all to one length first and asked if I'd like it that way before proceeding to "stack it." Her "insurance policy" she said.

"Go ahead."

Two inch locks slid down the front of the black cape, falling to the floor when they reached the cliff of my knees. Then longer pieces. My head was tipped forward and she cut the back of my hair for what seemed like a long time.

I started to get nervous. How high up is she going? She knows I want the top to be longer right? I could say 'stop' but I'm in it now. It needs to be even. I looked up through the hair in front of my face to see her lift up a long section that would fall to the back. She didn't over-cut it, so I breathed easier as she moved to cutting the sides, her pregnant belly pressing up against my arms no matter how far I pulled them in.

"How's that?" she asked a few minutes later, holding a mirror behind me so I could also see the back.


"Is this going to drive you crazy?" she said pointing to a bit of hair curling outwards at my neck. "I could cut this back a bit more. It's just the way your hair curls. It's going to stick out."

I nodded and she trimmed an angle off the edges of the back. "You'll probably notice it again after a while."

I doubted it and said, "When the rest is all curly, it probably won't be that noticeable." My hair was still damp and quasi-straightened from being pulled back earlier in the day.

She looked at my pictures of Amanda Fucking Palmer's messy hair again and said, "I can make it like that for you," and gave my hair a vigorous tousle with both hands. For the first time, she gave me a playful grin.

All I could think to say was: "That's all right. I usually just let it air dry and do its own thing. The curls'll take care of that."

She smoothed it out again and then said, "Nobody wears their hair like that," which I found tremendously amusing given that the photos were right there on her counter.

C's new hair
About 45 minutes after the cut.
The curls will not be denied--although they'll look better tomorrow with less handling. Still ghoulish as ever from lack of sleep but so much happier with the cut. So much so that my shallowness is a little embarrassing. Oh, Vanity, you fickle mischief-maker.

A year ago on TTaT: Random Scan Sunday 11: Up a tree