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IJ: Orvan Ox


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November 7th, 2015

10:25 am - So Orvan commented about minotaur good guys, lack thereof...

Orvan and I have been following the According to Hoyt blog of Sarah Hoyt. A few days ago a guest entry was about "The rise of the Self-Insertion fic[tion]" where the reader of this or that group had to have a protaganist of the same group or else things were too conservative, traditional, triggering, whatever. And Orvan made a comment that he could go on about the lack of minotaur "good guys" but "Why waste the effort? There are plenty of good guys (and gals, of various species) out there – why limit myself?" And that had precisely the effect it was not actually asking for. A demonstration point sort of backfired. No less than three different replies mentioned a minotaur character now trying to get into a work, or story ideas involving a minotaur or minotaurs.

One of those replies went thus: What Sarah said, Orvan. I’ve got this mental image of Rada and Zabet trying to negotiate a minor social problem while making a delivery to a minotaur – something about two predators and . . . aw, chuck it. *pulls up blank Word document* ‘Scuze me. It's been a few days and one of the pieces of, fallout, from that comment is Story Bit: Sharp Dealings. It's only few paragraphs, so far, but is a nice little diversion. And the minotaur-ish character isn't a villain - or a hero. He just is this guy... with horns.

The "Old News" section of TXRed's (Alma T.C. Boykin) blog, Cat Rotator's Quarterly has other snippets with Rada and Zabet, so if you want to get some background, you can. And then perhaps you might like to buy a book or a few. See the 'A Cat Among Dragons' link if you are so inclined.

And Orvan points out that he is technically not a minotaur, as the Minotaur had a human body, and he (Orvan) has a tail and stands on hooves - he's moo all the way down. Also, he has never been to Crete. That said, he understands that given his form, he might get called a minotaur and isn't offended by that. Or at least he tries not to show it, if he is.

Current Mood: amusedamused

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October 9th, 2015

08:04 am - Aunt Brenda (08 Dec 1964 - 04 Jul 2015)

On the night of July 4, I was at work and quite busy. When I finally got a break, I noticed a missed call (my cell is set to be silent, and have all non-telephone systems off or as power-conserving as I can set them when working) from earlier, but still late in the evening. My mother and a friend who is, shall we say, no spring chicken (or rooster) were in town or had been planning on it. I feared something had happened to him. Naturally, things ran late and the planned breakfast gathering on the morning of the 5th was far later than hoped. When I got home, jmaynard said something like, "I assume you know about your aunt..." and I cut him off, "I do not know what you are talking about." And then I got the first indication things were Not Good as the reply was of the order, "I'll let your mother tell the story." or such.

Aunt Brenda, the youngest of five children of my maternal grandparents was about two and a half years older than me. So we were close in age, which meant I had more opportunity (and perhaps she more tolerance) to talk with her as I was growing up. I won't say we were terribly close, but she was perhaps closer than my other aunts and my uncle. When I found she was doing some work as a clown (kids parties, etc.) I wanted to talk to her about how some people are creeped out by clowns/mimes/mascots/fursuiters. I don't recall if she agreed with my suspicion that such people were heavily reliant on facial expression and nonverbal cues and when denied that channel, panicked - and were perhaps more likely to be taken in by pathological liars. But she did relate how she'd have fun with them, slowly and quietly maneuvering to be nearby and then doing some sort of reveal. It was only much later that I found (I think, else I really did forget) that she used the name Picadilly, as a clown.

As a child, there was a problem. Her childhood started as normally as any, I suppose, but sometime in the 1970's something went wrong. There was problem with her hip. I am unsure if it was a matter of growth too fast, too slow, or an infection (it was a while ago and I was quite young then). Perhaps it was more correlation than causation, but the only physical incident before this was a cat scratch - and I recall it being dismissed as being relevant, and my father not really believing that. The upshot was that Brenda spent a serious chunk of time in a hospital bed - and then more time not being as active as kid wants to be even at home. There was a lot of reading. And, eventually, swimming as that was something she could do without issues, real or imagined by others.

She eventually became a swim coach, for competitive swimming. She was a coach for "Team Foxjet" in Eden Prairie, MN. And that made the story odd as first relayed, and even stranger later on. Her family went boating every year on the 4th of July holiday. This year was no exception. She and her husband were, for whatever reason, on different boats when Something Happened. There was a wake and a wave or something that resulted in an unusually large wave and the boat she was on rolled enough to throw three of the four people on it into the water. Witness say they saw Brenda swimming - or so was initially relayed. The person operating the boat was in the water, making noise (yelling?) and a kid was floating thanks to the wearing of a life vest. The person not thrown from the boat managed to get control enough to shut things down and call for help. People being attracted to noise, went for the operator first, then the kid when they saw him. And then Brenda was by then not swimming, if she ever had been. I was told that the initial presumption was a heart attack or such from the sudden shock and exertion. After all, she was perhaps the least likely person to drown, unless something else interfered with her ability to swim.

It took a while, and there was a visitation and funeral before the autopsy report was released. And that indicated that there was no heart attack, or any other sign of trauma that might have knocked Brenda out. And that despite what was expected, a capable swimmer did indeed drown in a boating accident. None of the family blames the person operating the boat.

Perhaps the operator got lucky in being able to make sound. The kid was the only one wearing a life preserver[1] - which did its job. I don't know if Brenda would have had a chance if the rescuers had gotten to her earlier or not. I do know I miss her, even if we only saw each rarely of late.

[1] My paternal grandfather had a small boat and nobody got into it without wearing a life preserver. I recall my paternal grandmother seeming to be cautious if not paranoid about many things, but this was his say. His boat, his rules - and safety devices were to be used, period.

Current Mood: sadsad

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September 9th, 2015

12:04 pm - Egad, I'm a gin snob now?

Whilst on vacation I ordered a gin & tonic. It was off. I couldn't say exactly what was amiss about it, but it was Not Right. When I asked the bartender what gin had been used, I was informed it was Fleischmann's. The next G&T had Hendrick's, and it was much, much better. Interestingly, the night before I had also had a gin & tonic, at a different establishment, and I saw that the gin used was Barton's - a brand I'd not encountered before. The result was acceptable.

Later, I checked out a couple stores and saw that while Hendrick's was, as expected, top shelf gin, both Fleischmann's and Barton's were bottom shelf. And I mean that quite literally - they were on the very bottom shelf. There was a slight cost difference, and that difference mattered. The buck or two more for Barton's was clearly worth it. Barton's is inexpensive. Fleischmann's is cheap. And I can taste the difference, even with the quinine of tonic present.

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September 1st, 2015

02:50 pm - It's Over 9...years.

I tend to expect a car battery to last about five years. Maybe a bit more, possibly a bit less. This Monday (31 August 2015) I bought a new car battery. The one it replaced was installed 5 June 2006, so it served for over nine years. I am impressed, and I hope the new one lasts as long.

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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August 12th, 2015

03:33 am - It Happened One Night...

"If you make an accident after midnight and don't find a drunk, keep looking - you've missed somebody." -- Riley's Rules of EMS

Not the movie. That was fiction. This was real. I have a number of friends and relatives who work or have worked in medical/hospital sorts of fields. I've heard stories - too many. And had one experience where I was up close, though not really all that close. I was close enough or too close as it was. There is damned good reason I wear a seatbelt, automatically - and it's not because of the state laws or federal pressures about them. There is also (the same?) reason that if I expect to be driving, I do not drink and if I do drink, I do not drive. This happened some years ago, but I've just fairly recently had a reason to post this story.

As some may know, jmaynard used to be a volunteer paramedic in League City, TX. He did that for 17 years (and unbuckled three people. Two just too scared to move. One just barely alive, but alive! Wear your seatbelt, damnit.)

One night, I rode along. Most of the night was dull - and that's good. Boredom is the ideal. The best wish you can give to a person in any sort of emergency response position is to wish them an uneventful shift. There were two calls. One was a truly minor thing, a mere 'fender-bender' if even that. An older gentleman was taken by ambulance to a hospital just to be absolutely sure nothing was really wrong. The other call, was sadly more memorable.

If you've ever been in League City, TX (near Houston) you likely know that the idea of going through it, even with lights and siren going, at 70 to 90 mph means things are well-nigh desolate - thus early AM. We arrived to find no patient. What we saw was an overturned, flaming pick-up truck - with no driver. And some ways away, after some curious tracks in the turf, a car with a driver who wouldn't come out or roll the window down. That was a police problem, not ours.

Where's the patient? "People don't look up" isn't just a line from Second Life (scavenger type) hunts. Reality is like that too. We spent time looking up in trees, down in ditches, etc. Only to come to a very unfortunate conclusion: the pickup driver was probably under the truck. Eventually the fire crew had the fire out and the truck was turned over. And I was given instruction to stay back, for which I am grateful. Yes, that's where he was.

The truck driver's one mistake was not wearing a seatbelt. I don't know that it would have saved him here, but I know that without it he didn't even have a chance. What happened? The car driver was not sober. The guy in the truck was simply on his way to work. The car nosed under the bed of the pickup. They both went off the road. Somehow the truck wound up flipping end-over-end (was the assumption). Somewhere in that, the windshield popped out. And the unbelted driver popped out. And the truck landed on him. When did the fire start? Who knows? But result is one dead pickup driver, no matter the order of things. Somehow the car had made it back to the road. And that's all I really know of the events of that night, as that's all I saw or heard about.

The car driver? No idea what happened to that person, but I suspect an up-close experience with the legal system.

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August 11th, 2015

05:33 am - Poll: Going nuclear

As you've likely seen on the news or news sites, 70 years ago this month two nuclear weapons were used in warfare. There have been nuclear shots since - all tests. And wars since, too. But since August 1945 no war has gone nuclear. It would be nice to be able to say that that will remain the case with certainty. That certainty does not exist and a nuclear strike is not outside the realm of possibility. Thus, once again, this poll.

Poll #2019296 Not the tiny toy from World War One

Who will break the nuclear peace, such as it is? That is, who will fire the *first* nuclear shot?

United States
United Kingdom
North Korea
Saudi Arabia
Another country
A terrorist organization

The delivery system will be:

a ballistic missile.
a cruise missile.
a manned aircraft.
a drone aircraft.
a ship or submarine leaving a bomb in or near a port.
a truck parked and left.
a suicide bomber.
something else.

The result will be:

A rapid nuclear escalation to the end of the world.
A rather large, but still limited, nuclear exchange.
A dozen or so nukes will be popped.
A nuke for a nuke, and it will end with 6 or fewer.
Just one nuke will be popped.
Just one nuke, and it will be a fizzle (still several tons yield).
Just one nuke, but it will be a very embarrassing complete dud.
Nothing, as nobody will start popping nukes.

Continent on which the first big mushroom will grow:

North America
South America
Ocean burst - above, on, or in
Not gonna happen.

The nuclear shot(s) will be...

The FIRST shot(s) fired in a conflict.
The LAST shot(s) fired in a conflict.
Both FIRST and LAST shots.
An escalation.
An escalation followed by a de-escalation, but still a hot conflict.
Crazy Harry playing the Bass Explodaphone.
Vakkotaur mucking about with Hell knows what.

Vakkotaur will be mixed up in all this...

exactly not all.
as a downwinder sheltering from fallout.
close enough to hear a rumble or see a mushroom cloud.
as part of the fallout.
accidentally gave away the key to making the nuke work.
...that was no accident.
as the one who didn't tell them how to make it "much bigger."
He's got this huge marshmallow and a really big stick...
He will check his stockpile to make sure nothing is missing.
Build spaceships faster! I hear Dueling Bass Explodaphones!

Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Love That Bomb - D. Strangelove and the Fallouts

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August 1st, 2015

10:23 am - Fixing LJ Breakage

My last post was about my main page, which was contaminated with a stupid NavBar (or something carefully not called that despite being exactly that). Looking through recent LJ news posts, there was a link to the option to be rid of the thing - at least while logged it. Evidently it still looks stupid when someone else looks at. Great going, LJ. You're NOT HELPING. All you are doing is either looking stupid or making me look stupid. I do not appreciate that. Cut that out.

While I was looking for a way to be rid of the craptacular NavBar that was wasting space and covering useful links, I wound up tripping the new 'feed' option. Did I mention craptacular? The feed option sure is! It defaults to a style I loathe - and can't change except in insignificant ways. Is LJ taking lessons from OS X in horrid UI design inflexibility? Sure feels like it.

Fortunately the problem has a work-around. The 'feed' (more like the stuff that comes out of the G-I tract than what goes in, I say) messes up the Friends link and instead of the link going to /friends, it now goes to /feed - and there's no way I can see to switch it back. But there is the personal links list, and one can duplicate the provided links list and make corrections. I have now done that, so the list of link might look silly as it appears to duplicate standard, provided links. But the Friends link I set up myself goes to /friends (which displays the way I desire, at least to me, rather than the horrid /feed URL. I've duplicated other links that are seemingly not affected as a preemptive measure against future LJ idiocies of trying to fix what ain't broke.

Sadly, I might need to duplicate this on IJ, not because of anything IJ does (squeaky is too smart to do the stupid stuff LJ does) so that I get in the habit of only ever using my links and thus avoid further LJ idiocies.

Current Mood: still annoyed

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July 27th, 2015

08:02 am - Why do web sites keep reinventing Crap ideas?

Behold a nice, clean design, a journal site set up to *my* liking: http://vakkotaur.insanejournal.com/

LiveJournal used to have a similar look, but some bright spark (ha!) had to go and "improve" it so there's that stupid top-bar covering up *my* links and wasting valuable screen-space. And is there is a clear, obvious way to be rid of the useless thing? Seemingly not. Is LJ trying to drive users away?

It seems this bad idea of a top extra navbar of crap one can't change gets resurrected. It's the Bad Idea that refuses to die. Enough! I had this set up to MY liking for years - don't mess it up. Or at the very least, give me a simple way to get what I want back.

Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

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July 19th, 2015

12:17 pm - Important PSA. Yes, read the link.

This might have become sadly relevant to me & my relatives this month. Read it. And then read it again, just to be sure. Any more detailed explanation WILL wait. But for now: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.

Current Mood: sadsad

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June 20th, 2015

10:44 am - The Jasmine: Grapefruit flavor, without the nastiness of it.

For some time I've been trying various cocktails. Some time ago it was at bars, but that is generally expensive and means a certain loss of control of the ingredients. It also means being limited to what the bar has in stock and what the bartender knows or is willing to look up (or deal with). So I started acquiring spirits and liqueurs so I could mix things myself. This has grown to the point I suspect I can mix a good many things not to be found anywhere else in (this rather small) town. Granted, that's easy when the local VFW lacks Galliano and thus can't even make a simple Harvey Wallbanger.

For a while, I've been a bit hesitant about the Jasmine. Supposedly it tastes "just like" grapefruit. I held off, as I can't stand grapefruit. There's some chemical in it that I can taste (and evidently jmaynard cannot) that is irredeemably nasty. It's bitter to the point of evil.

But today I decided to risk it, if only to clear the recipe page off of my browser's open tabs.
So I mixed this thing:

• 1 1/2 ounces gin (I used Broker's. I suspect most any decent gin will do.[1])
• 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice (I went with store-bought bottled. I had it.)
• 1/4 ounce Campari
• 1/4 ounce Cointreau

And I omitted the garnish. And, to me... it tasted sort of like grapefruit, only without the nasty bitter note. I had Jay try it. He pronounced it identical in flavor to grapefruit. So now I know what people who don't taste the nasty bitter note taste: something that actually isn't bad.

[1] The exception is that this is probably NOT a good drink for Hendrick's gin. The cucumber of Hendrick's would be rather out of place here.

Current Mood: surprisedsurprised

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June 18th, 2015

11:26 am - Over the sink and through the... What IMBECILE did THAT?!

The main light in the kitchen is in the center of the ceiling and if you are at the sink and there is no light from the window, such as at night, you cast a shadow right on the area you are using. Thus there is a light over the sink. This was a fluorescent tube, which was nice as it was lower power and lower maintenance than the incandescent that was originally the central light source. That central incandescent bulb was replaced some time ago, first by CFL, then by LED.

The light over the sink would sometimes start almost as soon as the switch for it was flipped. More often there was a noticeable lag. And increasingly it was enough to make me wonder "Did I flip that switch or not? If I did, shouldn't the light be on by now?" A while ago I had finally had enough and ordered a replacement tube. This tube was LED and not of the new 'direct replacement' variety, so I had to redo the fixture wiring to eliminate the ballast and starter. A simple matter of wiring...

Except whoever committed the installation was, how shall we say... oh yes, an imbecile. There were already several junctions and patches, it seemed. The mounting to the ceiling was (and alas, remains rather) dubious. And to add the cherry to dubious cake, he put the switch on the neutral wire. For those unfamiliar with US household wiring: That's bad. It means even when 'off' the light was 'live'. This might not seem important for a light up in or near the ceiling, but it's bad practice and shoddy workmanship. It also has me wondering what else is screwed up in this place.

It took longer than I cared for, but the fixture has been rewired, with the 'live' or 'hot' line switched (so when the lamp is off, it should all be effectively at ground level voltage: 0). and the LED 'tube' installed. I like that it seems to be easier to specify color temperature for fluorescent tubes and their replacements. I didn't have to hunt through seemingly endless 2700K (yellow) and 5000K (blue) and 6500K (very blue) options to find the 4000K (white) option I actually wanted. There is still a slight delay between flipping the switch and getting light, but it's reliably under a second.

Current Mood: illuminated
Current Music: Johny Mercer - Sweet Georgia Brown

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June 13th, 2015

10:21 am - Photo-obsolescence

On my desk are were four light bulbs. They are not classic incandescents, nor the slightly more efficient (less inefficient) halogen bulbs. These are compact fluorescent bulbs, and there is nothing actually wrong with them. They work. They do have the issue of slow-start and taking a bit of time to come up to full brightness, indicating they are now some rather early models. The fixture they were in now has LED bulbs which if they do not turn on instantly, the delay is so minor as to be readily ignored.

A local hardware store had a good sale on LED bulbs in a tolerable color temperature (3000K, not ideal but certainly better than the ugly yellow of 2700K) so I got a few of those and with various swappings, wound up with a few 'spares'. Eventually the CFL start delay of the dining room fixture bothered jmaynard and I replaced the CFLs there with the LEDs.

Now there are, I think, no actual incandescent bulbs in use in the house, aside from small appliance and indicator lamps. Even closets have CFL or LED. There are some incandescent bulbs outside the house, but they see minutes of use per year so there is no urgency in swapping them out. Even a straight tube fluorescent lamp above the sink has been replaced by LED. There is a torcherie halogen lamp - which I would love to change to LED, but the replacements for that aren't quite ready yet, as it's a 300W version and last I checked, LEDs weren't up to that. But I suspect it won't be long before replacements are affordably available.

We now have quite a number of spare CFLs - and not just the four that had been on my desk. They work. They're reasonably efficient. They give a good light. But LEDs are better, thus these join the collection of incandescents (we also have a box or two of those) as obsolete. It's a bit of a weird feeling, as these are not actually defective - they work. But, there is no useful place for them now. And these are the 'fancy' CFLs with the external A19 envelope to mask the spiral and look 'right' in exposed fixtures, too.

Current Mood: blahblah

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June 12th, 2015

10:06 am - Siouxland Renaissance Festival 2015

This year things went better from before the beginning as I had Friday night off and so jmaynard and I could go to Sioux Falls on Friday evening, I could get some sleep, and have a chance of being truly awake for things. After checking into the motel (great location, not so great design) we had supper at HuHot and then visited a comic & games shop I used to deal with much more. This time it was surgical strike shopping for an upcoming ACME delivery.

We also stopped in at a Hy-Vee liquor store to see what they had. I wasn't really expecting much but I wound up getting a few things. The most interesting was a bottle of Chartreuse. We were clearly "not in Minnesota anymore" as behind the checkout counter were taps - you could get a growler filled beer if you wanted. I asked about one brew and was given a tiny sample.

Saturday I had hoped to set up a bit with the mead vendor, but they were doing things different and a key bit wouldn't be available, so I bailed on that idea - and though I had had a fairly large breakfast, did not partake. I found Minos and company and confirmed the centaur bit. It went better this year, though I wound up laying down again, this time I made it to the prep. tent first. I had a water bottle (which looks like a wine bottle) which helped, but not quite enough. To my disappointment the soft drink folks did not have Gatorade there this year. I had been planning to fill the bottle with that, rather than plain water. I do think it would have helped.

There were a few folks that were there not as mythical creatures (though one might have been, but he was simply too big to be the 'baby' dragon). One was a fellow in 'pirate' dress that... well, seemed to me to be from The Department of Not Getting It. He had some great costume ideas - for a convention, not a faire, not even the extension that is the Mythical Garden. But he saw them as faire ideas. Zilch might speak of him someday should any come to pass.

It felt slow, but much was that there were genuine acts going on (I saw Topsy Turvy from 'behind' due to layout). It did pick up with time. When our 'crier' tossed his bell down as we finished and changed back to (renfest) normal I said, "One ringy-dingy" and Minos had some reply I forgot. Later as we were about done with the costume change(s) the crier asked, "Tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-channel?" to which Minos replied, "You bet your bippy" and I commented, "How 1960s can we get?" "Yeah, I think we pegged the needle on the geek-o-meter."

Afterwards, I went looking for food. Breakfast was big, but it had been some time ago, and I had expended some effort in those hoof-shoes. Despite arrangements Minos had made, I could not actually sit, nor even lean back a bit, so it was quite tiring. W

To my (and Jay's, I found out later) disappointment, Rowdy Hog was not there. We found out later that they had planned to be, but wound up too short on help. They were missed.

Wandering the site, I found a few shops of interest and made a couple small purchases, and mental notes for Sunday. I think the only act I truly sat down and watched was Zilch, and considering what all I got, I started wondering how many references I might be missing.

We bailed a bit early and made our way to a (the?) Indian restaurant, where Jay mused it had been some time since we were there without having to explain things to someone in our party. Since jay was driving, I went and had the Flying Horse Royal Lager which I was very glad to find was only 4.7 ABV since it was a 655 mL bottle. Not my usual style, but works well with the medium spicy (for the restaurant...) dishes. While one person can have that lager all to oneself, with a meal, there is quite enough that sharing it is not at all unreasonable. Somewhere in there was a quick stop at a store for naproxen and sports-drink powder.

Sleep came quickly, but between the hoof-shoe time and the motel mattress (way too soft, I think) I was sore enough I tried sleeping on the floor for a while once when I woke up in the night. That didn't work much better, alas.

After getting ready for the day and final packing, we checked out of the motel and headed out to Cracker Barrel for breakfast again (the motel offering left much to be desired). I wandered a bit and did a bit of preparation, acquiring a bottle of Gatorade from a source I shall not mention here, and filling my 'wine' bottle with a double dose of drink powder and then water. I purposely delayed my appearance at the Mythical Garden some as I didn't want to be standing longer than I really had to.

That, and a delay in setup, helped. I made to the end of the allotted time, but just barely. I need to be in better shape for this and prepare even more with the water and electrolytes. The pirate was there again, now with a newly acquired eyepatch. A couple that had visited the day before asked how he lost his eye and were told, "Taking a ship." "What was the name of the ship?" asked the man. The pirate didn't have a ready answer and I quietly said to the lady, "I believe it was the Lollipop. It was a Good Ship." and she got it. The pirate... did not. To my amusement, when someone else asked about the eyepatch, the lady said it was the Lollipop. The next thing that came up was, why was a pirate ("Pirates are not mythical.") at the Mythical Garden. Our pirate no explanation for that, so I invented a bit more backstory: He was there to assist us, and if he did well enough, we'd see about recovering his eye. It seems I can readily invent backstory - as long as it's not my own.

Once again, part of post-Mythical recovery was a meal. One of the women from the mead vendor asked if or why I wasn't drinking. "You saw where and what I was. Drinking before that is a Bad Idea. After that, I have not eaten for some time, and it is bad to drink on an empty stomach. However, I have now just finished lunch. So..." and I made my selection and paid for it. She poured - into the standard plastic cup for measurement. I was about to pour that into my mug when she grabbed the cup and mug away from me, poured the cup into the mug herself, and then took my mug back to the taps and added a bit more. "You did not have to do that." Reply: *wink*. Well, I wasn't arguing with it.

One bit of street performance was a couple gals as Pose-A-Peasant. This is a risky bit as holding a pose for any time can get tiring. They had been left in crouching positions and one had all but begged to be shifted to releive her back (something I quite understood!). Someone set them up with a prop to recreate the scene of American Gothic (Gothic Gothic?). While that was going on, I had An Idea... and borrowed the colorful sidewalk chalk nearby and drew a few sets of colored circles on the ground. "I am worried about what is going on behind us. Oh no. I think I know what this is." Yes, I left them with a crudely drawn version of Twister.

The last memorable event at the faire was at a soap vendor I (or we) saw last year, not only at Siouxland, but also at Sioux City Riverssance. The gal there was utterly stunned that there was a soap scent we agreed on in a positive way. Generally we do agree, or at least tolerate most selections. We both reject a few (especially patchouli.. eww) but there are some more floral scents that I rather like (honeysuckle, lilac) that Jay considers too flowery. However we both really liked the new 'butter rum' soap they had.

I told the story of very stimulating peppermint glycerin soap a different vendor had and how it could be a bit much. It was fine if lathered up and fairly quickly rinsed off. Let it linger and it could have noticeable effect. And some parts of the anatomy are more sensitive than others. A line from a certain Rock'n'Roll tune could sum up the initial discovery, "Goodness, gracious, great..." "I knew that was where that was going." And I had mentioned this to the other vendor (years ago now) was told, "That's why we don't have cinnamon. It'd be more potent yet." I ventured how a cinnamon-peppermint combination might be excessive. "I could make that." "What, and sell it to the BDSM crowd as..." and suggested a name for it. "I might have to make that now, just to use that name!"

We were told that they would not be at Riverssance this year as they managed to get into the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. Asked if we'd been there, we replied that we had not and with the same owner as the Minnesota Renaissance Festival the idea wasn't that appealing to us. We gave up on MNRF years ago, as we had more fun, overall, just about anywhere else. The acts are good, but the feel is.. off. We were then told that while the ownership was the same, the direct management was very different - and that if we decided to go, they would see we got tickets. While the tickets would be a minor expense of a KCRF visit, it is very kind offer and one which we are at least considering.

It was another very good day, and I truly zonked out on the way home. I barely recall us merging onto I-90 from I-29 if I made it that far awake, and didn't wake up until the exit for Fairmont. Only once we were home was it discovered or remembered that one item had been left behind. A phone call or two and that was sorted out, and Tuesday's mail had the item back where it belonged.

Did I see everything? No. I doubt anyone really can see it all in a weekend, even having free time to roam or see acts from open to close both days. Did I miss something? Almost certainly. But I had a very good time, and that's what really matters.

For a while I thought I might have been missing out on things by participating in the Garden, but the past several years I spent most of the same time visiting the Garden so it really wasn't much different. I just had a very different perspective. This year's lessons are not for the faire, but more for me. I need to be in better shape (less weight, more endurance) for this. I need to apply sunscreen anywhere that might get exposed, even my own garb normally covers that area - I have a bit of mild sunburn on my right arm where I missed a bit.

Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Current Music: Shirley Temple - On The Good Ship Lollipop

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February 5th, 2015

04:50 am - Vivaldi and Opera

Way back, in the days of Windows 3.x and Windows 95 when Netscape ruled the web and there was an upstart called Internet Explorer that was dubious at best (and has been dubious ever since....), I saw someone somewhere recommend a small, new web browser called Opera. It was so small the installer fit on a (3.5 inch) floppy and it had a great feature: You could tell it to NOT play those annoying animated GIFs. That was enough that I installed it, and since it wasn't free[1] and I liked it that much, I paid for it so I could keep using beyond the trial period. I kept up with updates and paid for them, too, as more features (offering ever greater user control) were added. Eventually Opera changed its scheme to allow the browser to be free. Opera also had a neat community setup and actually listened to its users. There were a couple times I submitted bug reports and got email in reply beyond the "submitted successfully" notice. At least once it even offered a fix or at least a tolerable work-around.

And then it seemed it all fell apart. The original team, or enough of it, left or were pushed out and it felt like the marketing department took over and drove the engineering types out. This a Bad Thing.[2] A complete rebuild was decided upon - but not just the core, the user interface as well, and away went the features that made Opera so great and, well, Opera. Support for Linux vaporized as well, but this was no big deal as the new versions weren't worth running anyway. So I've been running an older version as it's the newest thing available. Yes, I tried other browsers. Despite being newer (and often copying the good Opera's features, right Firefox?) or having a similar look but not the stability (SlimBoat...) they all seemed terrible clunky and didn't offer the fine control I'd become used to having.

But there is now hope. It's not a new version of Opera. I have that on my phone, and I can see while it's not as bad as it had been, it's not the real inheritor of the Opera experience. No, it's that the group that for whatever reason left Opera has come out with a new browser, Vivaldi. It also isn't "ready for prime time" but they are admitting it isn't and calling the first big announcement a Technical Preview (which is NOT a stable release) and offering weekly snapshot builds - with warnings that those snapshots are apt to have regressions ("We thought we fixed that..."). This is the blatant honesty of the old, original, good, Opera.

Vivaldi currently lacks many features. One is that I have no control to disable animations, or plugins, or allow them to run on some pages but not on others so the web looks weirdly spammy to me with Vivaldi - for now. The truly fine user-control isn't there... yet. There is no mail client (something many have come to expect). Of course there also isn't nonsense like an IRC client (what the heck is that doing in any browser?) The 'Speed Dial' size (screen layout, not number of links) isn't adjustable - I find it too big and nesting things in folders, while a neat idea, defeats the point of having a Speed Dial setup - speed!

I am still using the old version of Opera, but I am keeping Vivaldi around and keeping an eye on it. One thing the Vivaldi team is getting right is that much of the user interface acts as I expect it should (e.g. middle-clicking a link opens it in a new tab - in the background). Another is that they are starting out making Vivaldi multi-platform. I'm not on Linux waiting them to get around to making a Linux version. There's no Windows-only BS from these guys.

I suspect the marketroids that took over Opera are in for one HELL of nasty - and damned well deserved - surprise when Vivaldi approaches the old Opera's abilities and the new Opera's market share and mindshare vaporizes faster than a criticality event. I suspect I'll be wishing for Vivaldi for Android within a year's time.

[1] In the monetary sense, which is what people think when they hear/see 'free' despite silly GNU/ista nonsense.
[2] Dilbert is a documentary. It's not funny in the "Ha-ha!" sense so much as the "Yeah, been there." sense.

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Val Doonican - Delanie's Donkey

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February 4th, 2015

05:18 am - Xfce is nice, but how do I disable a misfeature?

I've been using Xfce for several years now. First as it was light enough to allow an even-then ancient laptop to be if not speedy, at least not overly sluggish. Then as it got out of my way, exactly the that GNOME and KDE didn't. Alas, something about is now getting in my way and I haven't yet found a way to turn it off - and I have looked. Perhaps just not with the search terms that someone else believes are obvious.

Due to switch bounce or accidental double-clicks I have discovered that a double-click on the right (or left) edge of a window will cause that window to be horizontally maximized. This is NOT the 'drag to the top to horizontally maximize' option which is readily disabled. All too often I will be scrolling down a web page and *BOING* I suddenly have a browser covering the monitor screen from left edge to right (but, thankfully, not top to bottom as well). This is annoying. I don't want this. And I have yet to find any setting or control to disable this annoying misfeature.

I am not quite to the point of bailing on Xfce. Otherwise, I find Xfce to be if not ideal, certainly more than merely good enough. However, if this irksome misfeature can't be disabled, I fear I must start the likewise irksome process of seeking a replacement Desktop Environment/Window Manager.

Current Mood: irked
Current Music: Andrews Sisters - Carmen's Boogie

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February 2nd, 2015

05:12 am - Belated: Ren in the Glen 2014

Having had a very good time at the Siouxland Renaissance Festival this past year, even with the tiredness from working Friday night and possible dehydration issues while trying to be an upstanding centaur, I decided to see if there were other faires or festivals that would be workable in terms of calendar timing and driving distance - and appeal. Most were too far away, a few were timed awkwardly, one was simply not of interest. Two stood out. One was Sioux City Riverssance and the other was one I'd not heard of before: Ren in the Glen near Glenwood, WI. This was relatively close and in late July. That's almost ideal. Really, only Siouxland is more convenient. And it was also close enough for my mother and a friend of hers to make a trip for the faire. What got their attention, and mine, was that one featured act was Pizpor the Magician, who is talented enough to make a great show out of "bad" tricks.

The faire, we eventually discovered, was formed as sort of byproduct of the collapse of the Chippewa Falls faire. "We have a much better idea of who not to deal with now." was said. This was not the first year, for Glenwood, but the third. We were told it has grown considerably, but it's taking a slow and steady approach to growth rather than overambitiously burning out as so many events do. It has a very "small Iowa faire" feel to it, which is a Good Thing. While one isn't likely to see many Iowa folks there, the feel is similar - and there were some Iowa/Sioux Falls people, such as Thread Bear (woven stuff). A "Nishna" feel was mentioned - Nishna being a faire that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but was a lot of fun.

A couple of the more memorable vendors were a candy vendor with a good variety of fudge and "old time" flavors like sassafras and clove, and a beer vendor who had some good stuff - this was not a place to get Budweiser or Miller or Coors. The main food was of a reasonable selection for the size and location of the event. I doubt even a picky eater would have been left hungry. If that wasn't enough, a few vendors had a snack or drink sideline.

We really only saw a couple shows. I had to work Friday night again and napped (or tried to) while underway on Saturday morning, so I had only a few hours of real consciousness before pretty much collapsing at or after supper (which wasn't at the faire, but at a place - the Norske Nook - famous for its pies, and whose location I misremembered). After a good night's sleep, I was more awake for Sunday and the weather was a bit better, sunny rather than occasional drizzle. And that's when Pizpor had a show where things really, really clicked.

Pizpor's show is quite good, but sometimes there isn't much of an audience due to weather or it's late in the day and the general energy is ebbing. But this was his second show of the day. The weather was ideal. The crowd was, for the location, large, and things just went right. At one point a troupe of belly dancers sat down to watch and I turned, facing away from the stage (knowing Pizpor would find a way to work with it) and told them, "The view is better this way." which they appreciated. Not much later, sure, enough, he asked about the situation. "He says the view is better this way!" and after a bit more of the show, something must have not gone quite right and he suggested, "Why don't we all look away from the stage?" Other bits went on as expected, or rather, as hoped. One bit involves the "infamous" rope trick ("There is no rope trick!")[1] with three bits of rope, which get handed out to audience members for a few moments and then reacquired. "I have long one!" "I have an average one." and for the short rope, "I drive a Corvette." but this guy had seen the show before, and was into it. Instead of the more usual sheepish hesitance, he belted out the line and the audience roared - and Pizpor was as shocked as I've ever seen him. We spoke a bit after that show and he was glowing with how amazingly well things gone. It seemed to more than make up for the morning show where weather had had a negative influence just when he would have passed the hat.

I think we all plan on returning to Ren in the Glen. It's a great way to spend an easygoing weekend in late July. The location works but isn't horribly far away from larger cities, the tickets are very inexpensive ($7 per person, with a discount for ordering ahead). This is smaller than Siouxland or Riverssance, but it has the right feel to it. It might be small, but it's not lacking. It has the "We're throwing a party..." (or having a picnic) "...and you're invited." feeling that good faires have.

[1] The afternoon before, in an off moment, Pizpor had just arrived and was relaxing on a then-unused stage. I got up and joined him, "Now I can say I've shared a stage with Pizpor!" He asked just what we were doing and I replied, "Here we are, both not doing the rope trick." He approved of this.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

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January 28th, 2015

02:45 am - The Canary in the Coal Mine

I am not mining coal, nor do I have a canary. What I do have is a house with electric wiring, some of which might charitably be called 'vintage' and a TRENDnet wireless access point. This combination gave us trouble (or at least me - since I do not have an unlimited data plan on my phone, so I go wifi or nothing unless I specifically turn on mobile networking). I found I would need to re-set the wireless access point often. It might be fine for a day or so, or it might fall over several times a day. This was, of course, quite annoying. What good is a network that doesn't network?

At first I blamed the TRENDnet device as it was the thing that was falling down constantly. Eventually I got so annoyed with it I looked at replacing it outright or even using a computer with a USB wifi gimmick as my own wireless access point. I didn't go that far, but did get sufficiently irked to move the thing into the office (from the living room) where at least I could more easily reset it. And then it worked. And worked. And kept on working - for a couple weeks solid. That indicates the canary, er, TRENDnet device itself isn't the problem, but something was causing it to fail.

There are only two cables going to the device: power and network. And then I recalled two things. One was that we had a lot of wifi failures when a tree branch was brushing up against a power line and when it finally caused a power outage and was dealt with, the wifi worked well again. That pointed to power quality problem. The other was that the problem might be in the house, as with a charred outlet that at least failed open and didn't start a fire. That had me concerned enough to consider rewiring, but first I would inspect everything on that living room circuit.

The inspection took a bit as there were more outlets and light switches on that circuit than we had recorded (or I read the notebook wrong...) and I found a couple things I wasn't entirely happy about. One was a simple re-doing of a workable, but sloppy, connection. The other was an outlet that felt like it was going come apart. That one got replaced. Only then did I feel it was safe to re-energize that circuit. Due to my work and sleep schedule and how wiped I've been feeling since an illness (bad cold?) this took a few days.

Yesterday I finally moved the access point back to the living room. The wireless setup has been working solid for over 14 hours as I write this. That's no guarantee off success - it's lasted a day or two there before. But it is a hopeful since failure within 12 hours had been the norm. I think I'll know in a week or two for sure. And even if that outlet wasn't the problem, I am glad to have replaced it.

Just to be sure, I've disconnected everything but lights from the suspect circuit. After the wifi has proven itself solid, I plan to re-connect things one at a time, over several days, just in case it was some other device causing trouble.

Current Mood: hopefulhopeful
Current Music: Groovie Goolies (Spirits of '76) - Be Kind to Monsters Week

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January 12th, 2015

09:16 am - Happy 1952? Or maybe 1953.

The first Saturday of the year was the $WORKPLACE Christmas party. As usual, there was a drawing for employees, and prizes handed out. Many were smaller items ("A t-shirt and a water bottle.") and there were various larger items, including a couple grills, a couple Keurig machines, a nice KitchenAid stand mixer, and a couple TVs. One TV was first (I suspect it was a 720p cheapie) and the other, a 40 inch Vizio 'Smart' TV was last.

Having been to a few of these and having gotten a (right, proper non-DRM-ed yay!) Keurig a couple years ago I didn't expect much and was mainly hoping not to get stuck with another shirt I'd likely never wear and a water bottle I'd likely never use. Despite not really having a space for it, I'd not have minded walking away with the KithenAid mixer one little bit. I was happy to see others get the grills. But (you're way ahead of me, aren't you?) but things went differently from that. The very last name pulled out for the drawing? For the big fancy TV? Was mine.

And then I had to go work, so it was just "Go home, unload, go to work." and then... well the living room has been cluttered for ages. It didn't make sense to even unpack the set until there was a place for it to go. And then there was dealing with the clothes washer and more work and things sat. And like with the Keurig the question came up if I was enjoying the new set yet and I've not learned to just lie and say "Yes, thank you." even yet.

A few days ago I had just enough energy to clean up things enough to have space for the set and assembled it and powered it up and... discovered that the set could deal with wifi, but didn't understand some people use long, secure passwords. And then I had this three-day weekend... which was unpleasant as I spent the majority of it Quite Ill Indeed. But this weekend I did finally move a network cable (need to re-arrange more, but that got the set going) and watched a couple short youtube bits on the big screen.

This morning I finally watched my first full TV show on the set. This is a 40 inch, HD, 1080p color, stereo, widescreen and all that. So my first full program? The Spike Jones Show, from New Year's Eve(?) 1952 in glorious B&W, 4:3 aspect ratio and monaural sound. I don't try to do this sort of thing, it just happens. So help me, I thought I'd posted about once setting up audio streaming on Linux and streaming mp3's of cylinder recordings, but I haven't found that post despite a couple hours and multiple search engines. Something is screwy and I hope it's not me this time.

Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: Spike Jones - Clink! Clink! Another Drink

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06:31 am - Then the other washer went, so I went to the truck stop...

The last few times I'd used the clothes washer the clothes seemed wetter than the spin-dry should have left them. Then the washer went *THUMP* *THUMP *THUMP* the last time. Uh oh. Called appliance dealer to see what a repair might involve. It would involve, at a minimum, about $700. The advice was to replace since it wouldn't be much more and then everything would be new.

We did that. A friend recommended a different dealer in town (one that I had pretty much forgotten existed) but I felt like the service was better or at least lower pressure on sales ("We don't need fancy. We just need clean." "OK.") and went with that. The dryer is fine, but of course this is a stacked setup that must be stacked due to location of fixture and such. There are stacking kits. But those only within brand and then often only within model. So now we have a new washer, with an older dryer, separated by a bit of old carpeting. The installers decided the best or at least easiest course of action after that was a real Red Green solution: duct tape. Yes, really.

Jay and I both decided that would simply Not Do. Even with alleged vibration sensing and damping, trusting things to six strips of duct tape seemed insane. So I went to the truck stop and bought a come-along strap setup and wrapped that around the washer-dryer combo. A few more carpet scraps as things were ratcheted tight and I feel a lot better about things.

Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Eddie Cantor - Cheer Up! Smile! Nertz!

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November 23rd, 2014

09:58 am - The Dishwasher is dead. Long live the Dishwasher.

Each big appliance
Treats you with defiance,
Until it finally falls apart.

-- Here's To The Crabgrass by Alan Sherman

When we moved into this house we bought several new appliances. In the first few years we replaced a couple more. The one thing that has lasted, perhaps beyond all reason, was the dishwasher that came with the place. It was the odd black appliance in a kitchen of white-painted cabinetry. Some considerable time ago it started making 'bearing is going' noises, and the advice was to be ready to replace it, but run it into the ground and get every wash cycle we could out of the thing. We did. Yesterday morning we were going let it run while we went out for breakfast, but it didn't run. It didn't make the sound(s) we've come to expect, nor did it operate. It made some sound, sure, but it was clearly no longer working.

As I had the night off, we went out to look at new dishwashers despite the late (for me) time of noon. The advice we were given regarding this was to look for a stainless steel interior, and pay the installation fee so others could deal with transport and install hassles - including the removal and disposal of the old machine. There is, really, only one appliance dealer in town we really consider (there is a micro-Sears in our mall-oid, and maybe something else, but not really worth bothering with) and so we started - and ended - there.

We looked over the lineup and settled on what seems to be a, and perhaps the, top of the line Maytag. It's still not as expensive as others (such as Whirlpool) and has all the features we wanted and likely more. We could get it in white to match the kitchen, it has a stainless steel interior, the controls are on the front (rather than the top of the door, where they're hidden - which might look nice, but means a lack of indicators and ready control accessibility), the top rack is height adjustable, and various rack bits can fold out of the way for things. There's even a near autoclave-like option for sterilization - something I doubt we'll be using much, if indeed at all, but it's there.

I have next Wednesday night off, too, which is good as the soonest they can deliver and install is Wednesday afternoon. That also gives us some time to clean up the kitchen so we can move the table out to give the installers room to move things out and in. In the meantime, it's back to hand washing everything. There have been some things that I've always hand washed, but it was so nice to let a machine deal with most things. Naturally, I am looking forward to Wednesday night when I can again let a machine deal with most things.

Current Mood: tiredtired

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03:22 am - Borosilicate update

A new borosilicate glass 8 x 8 pan arrived recently. It's not inexpensive, but it's also not cheap soda-lime junk either. It's French-made under the name 'Arcuisine' (evidently "European Pyrex" which is still proper borosilicate glass - good to 300 C which is 570 F, rather than only 425 F). I've now used it once and am so far happy with it.

I do not plan to abuse it like was done for these extreme tests but those do show that borosilicate will outlast soda-lime under extreme conditions.

It looks like right now if I want decent glass bakeware my choices are Arcuisine (French) or Simax (Czech). Both cost, but both are right proper borosilicate. So called "pyrex" (lower case) and Anchor are both now mere soda-lime and not worth bothering with unless I expect to never heat or chill them much. A "pyrex" mixing bowl is probably fine. A "pyrex" pan is wasted money.

I have two measuring cups. One is labeled PYREX (upper case) and is absolutely clear. It's older, and proper borosilicate. The other is newer and 'pyrex' (all lower case) and has the telltale green tinge of mere soda-lime glass. The answer is clear: I buy Arcuisine or Simax. World Kitchen (who bought the pyrex name from Corning) does not deserve my money - unless they start making things of proper borosilicate glass. Neither does Anchor Hocking, for the very same reason. Simple rule: Bakeware with a green tinge is crap - DO NOT BUY. Soda-lime won't always be given away by the green tinge, but if you see it, leave it on the shelf rather than waste your money on shatter-prone garbage.

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

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October 31st, 2014

07:02 am - Kill the spambar!

"Stan Lee is now on LiveJournal -- THEREALSTANLEE"
Alright, fine, good for him and his fans.
Now get that stupid freaking spambar OFF of my page you wankers.

Current Mood: pissed offpissed off
Current Music: Dr. Strangelove and the Fallouts - Love That Bomb

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October 30th, 2014

02:47 am - Pyrex Ain't Pyrex Anymore

I was unaware that Corning, or its inheritor World Kitchen switched from proper low-expansion borosilicate glass to ordinary (alright, tempered) soda-lime glass, which is not low-expansion. I just got to experience this cheapening. My 8x8 "Pyrex" pan went into the oven at room temperature and in one piece. It came out rather hotter (what's an oven for?) but in several pieces. Naturally, I am unhappy about this.

Pyrex had come to mean "can handle heat" and this utterly failed to. Now, borosilicate glass is not as low-expansion or change-in-heat tolerant as fused quartz, but I'm not going from boiling water to an ice bath (fused quartz can deal with that, borosilicate cannot). Soda-lime glass is very much not known for low-expansion or dealing well with changes in heat. The maker claims it's less prone to breakage when dropped. Also, it's cheaper to make. But that doesn't help it hold together when used for baking, which is rather the point of a thing called "bakeware."

Now, where do I get a right, proper borosilicate glass pan? After this, I am not sure I can trust any of this recent pseudo-Pyrex. I might end up preemptively replacing it all before I get a big mess. I was relatively lucky this time and only baking some fish - easy to recover for cleanup. Had it been a cake or brownies or something more fluid, I'd have had a much nastier mess to clean up.

Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: Groovie Goolies - Monster Cookbook

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October 7th, 2014

03:21 am - Sioux City Riverssance 2014

It's been several years since I was able to visit the Sioux City 'Riverssance' Renaissance festival. It's perhaps the last of the small Iowa faires not run by a certain organizer who, as soon as I see he involved, causes me to lose any interest. I think I have been there twice before - once driving and once jmaynard and I flew (if you think garb gets you odd looks at times, climb out of a private plane in garb and watch the jaws drop...) It's a fun little faire with more than a few familiar faces - some of which we'd not seen in far too long.

Things are finally, just barely, to the point where we have the time & money to be able to enjoy more than just one faire per year. Saturday did not have the best of starts due to not finding a little place for breakfast. It was there, but we didn't find it until after breakfast at an IHOP that had lacking service - I wondered if someone hadn't showed up for that shift.

Upon arrival at the faire, there was (overly) amplified music for a belly dance troupe. It was not the group I remembered or wished to see... and they could have dropped things at least 20 dB and been fine, though it still might have been too loud. I had to stand well away just to be able to tolerate the sound level. I felt ZERO guilt walking away from this bunch.

Wandering some, I found the right group, Danza Mystique, with more appropriate sound (live drummer, anything more now provided by a very unobtrusive tablet). It was near the end of their performance and Nasira pulled me onto the stage almost upon seeing me (the last bit is always an audience participation bit, usually mainly for kids). The stage was in three independent sections and the ground was uneven. I stepped aside after one go around as I was worried my weight on one the pieces acting as a lever might send a little kid flying. After the performance finished about the first thing said was on the order of "We're still using those chairs. Thank you." I had all but forgotten about them. This goes back to 2003: "You brat!"

While the Danzan's were talking to other folks, I gathered some sticks and twigs and shimmed the stage some. The end result was still far from perfect, but much, much less likely to send anyone flying - or stumbling. Sunday, their drummer made a point of thanking me for doing that. I was more surprised that nobody else had done anything of the sort.

Later we caught up with Robert of Orckes & Trolles (Or as Zski calls/called them, "Orckies & Trollies") and learned that they had a third CD out and we'd had a mention in the liner notes of their second. I hadn't realized I had that one and if I saw that, had forgotten. They had just recently sold out of the second CD and on Sunday I suggested a scan of the notes and that was agreed to. I've since sent an email to let Robert know that is not necessary as we do indeed have that CD.

There was a post-faire-day gathering (such things seem fairly common at the little Iowa faires I like & have missed since most of them disappeared) at Golden Corral where the rennies had a room mostly to themselves, but it wasn't enough. I know for sure I missed a few people. I suspect a waitress felt overwhelmed or at least bewildered - but she had more than a little help from some of the rennies gathering plates, and we made sure she got a very good tip.

Sunday started better, as we went to the right place for breakfast. For a hole in the wall known for hot dogs, they do omelets very, very well indeed. The day was also a bit warmer and a bit less windy, but I decided to start the day with woolen Inverness cloak just to be sure. I spent much of Saturday indulging in hot cocoa. The one downside was the not-Danza group had cranked their amp... to the point the Orckes & Trolles decided they wouldn't bother trying to sing over it - and they were half-way across the site. We later learned that they had generated more than a few complaints about that.

Much of Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, with the addition of seeing an Orckes & Trolles performance (without them having to compete with an amplifier), a bit of Shattock's (they're still around - though only Mercutio is left of the original cast) take on Romeo & Juliet. Until recently, I was expecting to see Foolscap and Lady Ampersand as well, perhaps as Concentio Agnorum, though a web site makes it look like things pretty much ended a couple years ago. Due to their recent move far from Iowa, this was not to be.

A few purchases were made. A local winery had some good stuff and we bought a few bottles, and sampled others. And after sampling their chokecherry wine, I made a point of buying a bottle of that, too. Just as we were about to decide on some soaps, there was a gust of wind. This was caught by the side of a tent, which transmitted the force to a open display case which tipped. I just barely caught the case, but the soap went flying all the same. After some reassembly, another gust of wind, and a change of layout so any more wind gusts wouldn't provide a game of 52-bar pick-up, the selections were settled upon and purchased. I also picked up a ceramic 'flask' that has some unicorn imagery - and got the lecture on what NOT to do with it (all inspired by others doing exactly those things, with disastrous result). Jay bought a teeny tiny little ceramic bowl (you could maybe dip *a* fingertip in it) for work, to demonstrate how much he cares about some things, as his caring would not even fill that bowl. We also stopped in at Thread Bear, who we saw at Ren in the Glen (which I evidently didn't post about... yet). I did not see Scots Dragon there, and only now do I find that they have ceased operations. I wonder if their successors were there.

I am unsure which day it was, but Nasira made a point of getting a photo of her with me, with me wearing my "Property of Danza Mystique" tag. This photo is to be sent to Tamalena who moved rather far west many years ago now. The back of the tag reads, "If lost, return to Tamalena." Someone else of the group remarked, "Wow, you have been around awhile. We haven't given those out in years." I am told that Tamalena will be greatly amused by the picture. I hope so.

All in all, it's good to be "back" some. I missed the little Iowa faires and the folks I met at them. This was very, very therapeutic.

Current Mood: refreshedrefreshed

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September 3rd, 2014

12:23 pm - New Old Hardware and Futher Adventures in Linux Mint & Gigabyte

I still have the bluetooth issue, but at least I have an idea it will be resolved. It's just a matter of how soon. Seems that once upon a time as things were changing Blueman (the bluetooth manager program recommended for Xubuntu 14 and Mint 17 Xfce) had some trouble with PulseAudio and so unloaded the PulseAudio bluetooth module and handled that itself. Or else PulseAudio had an issue, but the result was the same. Then whatever it was got fixed, the do-it-myself work-around in Blueman was removed, but the unloader was left in. Now I wait for a new stable version to reach the repositories so I can update it nicely and have a system without needing an incantation at every boot.

My vacation, which just ended, involved some time in Merrill visiting my mother and other family and friends. It was nice, relaxing week for me. And I brought home a few things, including a printer and flatbed scanner that had been sitting idle for some time. Also, a little USB-cassette gadget that I'd ordered a while back had arrived. All this stuff takes some room and my desk was a cluttered, jumbled mess. So the first order of business (after unloading the car, unpacking, and starting laundry...) was clearing and rearranging the desk. It's better now, but it still wouldn't appear in Better Homes & Gardens. I wouldn't want it to, anyway. It's to be used, not just for display.

The cassette gadget replaces a tape deck and I was amused that the software that was included was Audacity. Sure, the paper said it was Windows & Mac, but the device presents as a USB microphone and I've been using Audacity in Linux for years. But it only worked if I used a USB2 port, not a handier USB3 port. Port speed wasn't important, but that problem lead me to investigate. No USB3 ports were truly working. They had power, sure, but Mint 17 wasn't seeing them right. It was the IOMMU issue again. That took installing Grub Customizer so I could add 'iommu-soft' to the boot parameters and be done. And done it is. I have all the USB ports working again. And the USB-cassette gadget? Works fine, after a little fiddling with PulseAudio settings to get everything just so.

The printer install went very well indeed. I simply told Mint 17 to add a printer and it pretty much went, "Oh this one? Can I download this driver? Wanna print a test page?" and the biggest delay was finding paper. It went so fast that I was disappointed it didn't print, only to find out it had printed. It was just that fast about it. Now I wanted to print stuff, but realized I really only had a need to print a few times a year. At least now I can do that directly and be done.

The scanner took more doing. It's not exactly new. As in, it uses a USB 1.1 connection. And, alas, Linux scanning tools do not support it directly. The result was that while the system saw it fine, the scanning programs went, "What scanner?" The adventure began. Of all the various web pages, this one seemed to be the most useful, even if it was for a different scanner. It has its own problem, which is that Avasys no longer supports the scanner, Epson does. So instead of the Avasys page, I needed Epson's download page and then I goofed and wound up wasting too much time. There are two download pages needed, but three things to download. I kept missing the data file that everything else depended upon.

What's needed? These:

Once I realized that error and snagged the data file, Epson's scanning program installed. Annoyingly, it then went, "Scanner? What scanner?" but Simple Scan finally went, "Oh, look, a scanner!" and works. I seem to need to disconnect & reconnect it for each session, but it does work. And despite USB 1.1, doesn't seem terribly slow. Now, what do I need to scan?

Current Mood: accomplished

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