delphi: (Default)
([personal profile] delphi Jan. 25th, 2015 04:45 pm)
Taken from [personal profile] perverse_idyll and [personal profile] toft:

When you see this, share 3 random lines from 3 WIPs. (Because my entire life is nothing but works-in-progress at the moment, I went with the stories that will probably at least be among the next five I finish.)

1. The mercenaries were, she had naively reasoned, all grown men; some of them were old enough to be her father, and a few had even fought in the war. She was only six months out of the Louise S. Scherzheimer Secretarial School and two weeks past replying on a whim to an advertisement in the newspaper that had promised excitement, adventure, and dental insurance in the New Mexico Badlands. Sure, she had aced three interviews and a practical exam that had involved a fresh corpse being dumped in her apartment with a note pinned to its chest stating that the police would be arriving in thirty minutes, but these men were professionals.

2. On principle, Severus felt he ought to be an atheist. The title had a certain ring to it: provocative, but respectably so. Like being a Marxist, only without the off-putting social requirement.

3. Signs flew past for little towns with names like Applebaum (Home of the Applebaum Brawlers!), New Hodunk (Three-Year County Cornhole Champions!), and Freedom Springs (Suck It, New Hodunk!). Their target was announced with much less fanfare: just faded paint on a wooden arrow (Gladys, pop. 167 1/2). Jane was leaning forward seriously as they turned onto a track so narrow that weeds brushed the sides of the car.

As ever, I use way too many semi-colons and colons in first drafts.
Last week was just a zoo, y'all, but maybe this one won't be quite as bonkers. Going back to the rest of the December posting meme topics, this next one is:

How did I first happen upon fandom life and do I remember my first impression of it? (for [ profile] verdande_mi)

okay, I... think I have to blame the fandom stuff on [ profile] rogoblue. Not the part about being fannish, mind. That I did all on my own, watching Han Solo blast Darth Vader into deep space in the summer of 1977, when I was 14, and then going and finding the sci-fi magazines that were out there back in the day so I could find out as much as I could about the movie and the characters. I already was hopelessly addicted to the X-Men, too, but I could just go read the next issue there. So I had the part where something was taking up residence in my brain, but no greater group to share it with, at least not until ro somehow got her hands on 'zines, actual paper, stapled-together, mailed-through-the-post-office 'zines, full of fic and artwork, and voila: a lifetime hobby was born.

And then I was working in software when the internet blew up (oh, people, I remember Mosaic like it was yesterday) so I had reliably fast internet (though, god, how slow was it, really?) and could follow along as got started, and tracked all the details and rumors from New Zealand and the LOTR movies as they were filming. gossamer started archiving thousands of XF fics and the Bronze kept me fit for public interaction (because 30-something mothers were not supposed to be dying to talk about Tuesday's episode of Buffy, but how could I not, especially through the second half of the second season. I could at least to online and read and post and gasp and squee and get it out of my system so I could at least carry on normal conversations in public.)

LOTR rpf led me to lj and popslash, and then the Winchesters moved into my brain and I started writing more and longer fic, which made me super-happy when AO3 came around, because wow, so much easier than coding HTML by hand (and I don't want to talk about the posting interface at, because that thing was a horror, though I hear it's gotten better now.)

I don't really remember what I thought originally, except that it was something along the lines of omg, MY PEOPLE, which I still feel every year when DragonCon gets going and I'm drifting along with the fannish energy. Plus, my icon. :D

...and y'know, so it goes: 'zines to yahoo groups and assorted posting boards to livejournal and twitter and tumblr and whatever comes next, because I don't think the fandom thing is going anywhere.
Tonight's dinner was a definite win. Two lamb shanks, browned in oil. Two small onions, chopped large and sweated in oil + rendered dripping, with large quantities of cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and smoked paprika, and smaller quantities of white pepper, cinnamon, and saffron (bloomed in water). Braised with a baby red kabocha squash, peeled and chopped; a handful of baby turnips, halved or quartered; a can of chickpeas, a can of tomatoes, juice and zest of one lemon, two Turkish bay leaves, and two handfuls of prunes. (One would probably suffice, if you're less fond of prunes or want a less sweet stew.)

Add water, if necessary, to almost cover shanks. Braise in a covered pot at 300F or less-- my oven was at about 275 most of the afternoon-- until the meat is falling off the bone and the shanks are coming apart at the joint. Let sit, off heat, still covered, until cool enough to shred the meat back into the stew. It should get quite thick.

With the chickpeas and squash, it doesn't need a lot of additional starch-- just something to sop up the extra sauce.
oceansedge: (Man of La Mancha)
([personal profile] oceansedge Jan. 25th, 2015 06:19 pm)
I know I know.. I already did a 'Polar Bear Season' post, and a 'New Year's' post another navel gazing post is just too much!

Too bad.

Gonna do it anyway.

I was trying to explain to someone recently how 'The Plan®' evolves. In the process scared her silly when I said, "James and I decided to take a bit of a break over the holidays" and she thought that was a polite euphemism for, "the relationship is on the rocks and we're having a trial separation". While we do have our moments, mostly related to stress and my depression, we are, fear not intrepid fellow traveller, still deeply in love. What I meant was "we are taking a little break from life and outside commitments and giving ourselves a couple days off - which I admit might be hard to follow when - we're 'retired' already.

However, that really is part of the process of how 'The Plan®' evolves. There is rarely that moment of epiphany when you suddenly wake up and decide to do something completely different. Rather it's more of an ongoing inner process of little things and little influences and subtle tweaks, over a period of time that ends in something that might seem surprising to those outside your own head. Yeah I know, I'm still explaining it badly.

There were a lot of influences that went into the whole decision four and a half years ago that we would up-stakes and move to Nova Scotia. We had a 5 year plan, but then we've always had a plan, we've always had 'The Plan®', and that came out of talking about the things we love, the things we wanted, how we saw our lives, but as they say, 'Life is what happens when you're busy making plans'. The place in our lives we're at now isn't where we envisioned five years ago, it isn't where we envisioned when we made that left hand turn decision in the summer of 2010. Recently a combination of subtle things, the sense of a possible turn in fortunes (alluded to in my previous post), the happenstance of a couple new diy documentary serieses from Britain (the £100,000 House and it's sequel "Tricks of the Trade' and it's prequel Restoration Home) and just taking a bit of time to relax and reconnect over the holidays. Even when you're retired and share each others' company 24/7 you can find yourself getting caught up in the mundanities of life.... meals and pets and cleaning and bills and chores. With the struggles of the past two years here, especially financially, we got bogged down in getting by. Life became about surviving, not building. So it is that this little combination of events didn't really change 'The Plan®', but rather brought us back to it. Reminded us what we set out to do in the first place, what it was we were dreaming of out of our new life in Nova Scotia, and rediscovered that what we want out of our lives together, here, hasn't really changed, it just got back burnered for a while. So, no, no great epiphany moments, but yes, a bit of an 'ah ha!', a feeling and moment of clarity of purpose.

We still want our little farm by the sea (and a lack of swamps would be really good), I still want my dog aquatic centre, we still want our workshops, we still want to be doing and learning and teaching and sharing. Taking all those eclectic things we love, from the art of food, to the art of technology, to the art of writing, to the art of painting, to the art of photography, to the art of music, to the art of building, to the art of teaching, to the art of hospitality. In short we want to be creating. That is what inspires us, but we also want to be sharing that creating, with like minded folks. The goal is a retreat and learning centre. A place of workshops and learning and creative spaces. To invite the friends and people we know and admire to teach the things that they do so well, and that we want to learn, and to make new friends and family along the way sharing the things we do and know. He is in his core a teacher, I am in my core a planner and organizer. I am the artist with the soul of a scientist, he's the scientist with the soul of an artist. It's a vision that FITS us, and we want to take our friends and community along for the ride.

It's a grand dream, honestly I don't know if we'll ever get there, but that's where we decided we were headed back in July 2010, that's where we confirmed we were still headed in January 2015, maybe we'll be a bit closer there in 2020, or maybe 'The Plan®' will evolve, morph, and become something different again.

Originally posted to: The Plan® comment there or here
[personal profile] thebonesofferalletters said, "Tell me about a story you want to tell but don't feel like you have the tools/time/whatever to do so yet."

I actually have two very specific answers for this, and in both cases I'm totally ignoring the "yet" there, because I'm not sure what the odds are I'll ever take a stab at either. Both are Newsflesh things, and that's pretty much where the similarity ends.

The first, quoted with permission, is a suggestion [ profile] noor_us_sabah has offered as a possibility in both of her last two Dear Yulegoat letters. I wrote a Treat for her in 2013, and was very pleased with what I did write, but this prompt keep sneaking into my head and saying "But what about MEEEEE?!" Behold:
Or, if you are feeling super ambitious, what about an AU where Shaun and George are underground reporters and freedom fighters under an oppressive military regime? Imagine the Rising was a military coup, but there's a resistance network that's been gaining strength over the past couple decades. Stacy and Michael are ruthlessly successful propaganda agents for the government. Years ago they adopted two war orphans to help their image, but the kids came of age on both sides of the cameras and they know what's up. Now Georgia's got this thing for truth and Shaun's got this thing for Georgia, so they hack the government firewalls and take a different path.
To which I say "OH MY GOSH, SOMEBODY PLEASE WRITE THAT!" Somebody who will probably never be me. I turned that idea around in my head, and I even talked a little bit to [personal profile] scruloose and Kas about dragging them on board getting them to help with the worldbuilding (we could've had a wiki and everything! By which I mean we would've needed one), because that type of worldbuilding isn't something I've had a lot of experience with and I'd want it to be rock-solid because it'd be a long, long fic. (And yeah, practicing that sort of thing would be a fun challenge, but I just plain have too many other WsIP on the go.) And it really sounds/sounded right up their alleys. But nothing came of it.

(I want so badly to read that story.)

The other Story I Am Not Writing is very, very spoilery for the entire Newsflesh trilogy (specifically, extremely plot-spoilery through the end of Deadline and more thematically-spoilery for Blackout) and thus goes behind a cut. this cut right here! )
calliopes_pen: (sinister_morgue vampire Amy awake)
([personal profile] calliopes_pen Jan. 25th, 2015 02:25 pm)
Give me one of my stories, and a timestamp sometime in the future (after the end of the story), or sometime in the past (before the story started), and I'll write you at least a hundred words of what happened then, whether it's five minutes before the story started or ten years in the future.
post-tags: instagram, crosspost The pile of crêpes, waiting to be turned into a cake. #cookbookclub
queen_ypolita: A section of a film reel (Film)
([personal profile] queen_ypolita Jan. 25th, 2015 06:12 pm)
I went to see Whiplash yesterday. It was pretty good, but on the whole, I felt I was watching something of a cross between Here under the Northern Star (part 1) and Oz. Despite JK Simmons having a rather long list of credits on IMDB, it's Schillinger in Oz that I immediately saw once he appeared on screen, and the fact he was playing someone pretty vicious and manipulative here too didn't really help. As for the other more random association, the practising until you pretty much break yourself in the course of trying to achieve your dreams as a musician isn't that far removed from pushing yourself until you're almost broken working to clear a forest for fields in the course of trying to achieve your dreams as a tenant farmer. I suppose all this shows the film didn't completely hold my interest.

Anyway, whole thing about trying to push the talented people really hard to find out who's the really exceptional ones are—as in they will keep going even when they have been humiliated and had stuff thrown at them and eventually succeed, whereas just ordinarily talented ones will eventually give up and go away to pursue something else. It just seemed cruel and counterproductive, as well as flying in the face of another piece of advice given earlier in the film (something about just relaxing and not stressing out about everything—that made a lot of sense to me, not relaxing as in not taking practising seriously, but in the sense that no one feeling super tense about stuff is likely to perform at their best, and enjoying what you do makes it easier to put all the hours in). So all in all, I have very mixed feelings about what the film seemed to be suggesting: the protagonist appears to pull through, but there's an immense cost.
xnera: Icon of Kyo from Fruits Basket, captioned "Grumpypants-chan".  (Grumpypants-chan)
([personal profile] xnera Jan. 25th, 2015 12:36 pm)
Looks like I won't be able to buy FFIX. Sony is not accepting my Vanilla Visa gift card as a valid payment option. Boo.
post-tags: instagram, crosspost Sunday morning baking: @thewhalewins' gâteau de crêpes for @farmandfable #cookbookclub.
calliopes_pen: (jinxed_icons Legend Lily Runs)
([personal profile] calliopes_pen Jan. 25th, 2015 08:59 am)
Edgar Froese has passed away at the age of 70, due to a pulmonary embolism. May he rest in peace. He was the founder of Tangerine Dream—I’ve heard their music in Legend (1985), Near Dark (1987), Firestarter (1984), and The Keep (1983). I listened to enough of the Tangerine Dream bit of Legend’s music for a particular scene when I was writing the Yuletide story Blood Begets A Curse Anew a couple years back. He will be missed.

I have been meaning to watch The Keep or Near Dark again, so this could be the time for it.
hairyears: (Woolly Monochrome sketch)
([personal profile] hairyears Jan. 25th, 2015 02:36 pm)
I've been following the news - or what little has been reported - on our government's six million pound contract for consultancy services to the Saudi Ministry of Justice.

There's a good summary here from the Jack of Kent legal blog and a rather pointed list of questions which, to date, remain unanswered.

Here's my take on it: A cynic might ask... )
Earlier in the week, there was a small layoff. The unofficial communications networks at work have consequently been getting a lot of use as people attempt to figure out where the missing nodes are, beyond the obvious. There is a tradition of people sending a farewell email to their team and other close contacts. And then there are the people who use not!Facebook to do the same, and @-mention every group and individual who they can think of. Thus it was that I learned that Mr. Noise-to-Signal was laid off. Of my friends, the only person I know of who was laid off was R. There were no layoffs on my team.

R has been sent the information on where to find #adventuresofstnono. So have Mr. Zune and radius. (Yes, guys, I use an alias for this as well, and now you know where to find it. I started the practice of aliasing obscure/semi-private venues after the Incident where someone showed up uninvited in a different channel which I had mentioned, then never fit in well, angsted in-channel about not fitting in, and I eventually asked them to leave because I dreaded their presence and they were after all uninvited.)

Also leaving this week was one of the newer people on my team, whose wife got a dream job in another country, and (also as announced on not!Facebook) the second-in-command of the helldesk software. No word as to whether she was part of the layoff, or voluntarily heading for a lawn that hadn't been pissed on greener grass.

It being Friday and that point in the gas tank, I had to get gas before work, which resulted in a later arrival than would have otherwise been. Lunch was pleasant. It was the Rollercoaster Tycoon's last day (he's heading to a startup). I gave him my card.

A conference call with the vendor for the proposed new software followed. Researcher Haystack appears to have taken point on this one. His queries of the vendor's salesdudes are shaped slightly differently than mine. He's coming to it quite naturally from the perspective of the research utility of the thing; I'm coming at it from the shoving-all-the-things-in-it direction. Some of the things I had questions about had not occurred to him. He looks at the data structure of the Excel export of their template and goes "whaaaaaaaa---!!!" and I look at it and I go "wow, I would not have thought to do it like that, but I can do the thing", and most importantly the current thing we are using does not do the thing.

I still have many questions about their alleged choice of primary keys, but I think I can work with the thing.

Haystack likes Salesforce.

I made a list of my favorite software, starting from worst favorite and improving:

[that helldesk software]
[the procurement and expense software]
Outlook Web Access
Kipper/Llama (fondness for the devs is coloring this)

Haystack was slightly surprised. I can't imagine why; it's not as if I haven't made my feelings fairly clear.

It was a beer bash day. I snagged a table. lb was not in, but Mr. Zune soon joined me, followed by Purple and large chunks of his team. radius also joined us. I waved hi to another friend, but the table was not quite large enough, so they sat elsewhere. Mr. Zune told college dorm tales. It turns out that when you freeze and then drop a pumpkin, shards get all over, and then they melt on your bike. This is not pleasant.

Joining #fishbrick is the fishdiscus, or fishbee -- first you #fishbrick the window, and then you throw the much more aerodynamic and prone to shattering fishdiscus through the hole. You can't really handle it barehanded, so you wear gloves. You keep the fishdiscus from sticking to the gloves with herring oil. In case they're gloves you might want to use again, you wear rubber gloves over them. A pair or two.

Shortly after Mr. Zune headed off, Lennon Glasses Guy wandered over.

radius regaled us with some of his OWA war stories. All he was trying to do was to move about 2,000 messages from one folder to another. Several months of swearing ensued. Presently, in the new folder, there are somewhere upwards of 40,000...

Lennon Glasses Guy observed that he's heard about an IRC channel driving some of this group's shenanigans from time to time, and he was curious about it. So he was issued a formal invitation to #cupcake. I think he will appreciate it, because he appreciates it when Purple and I bounce off each other at lunch, and has enjoyed the #cupcake table at beer bash.

The group split up. I went back to my desk and hammered on my inbox and the helldesk stuff a bit, although I was distracted by something terrible happening in Outlook when I tried to pick a conference room. It's always startling to watch the list of conference rooms populate and then vanish...

Presently, Purple pinged me. This time he had indeed parked in the same parking lot as I had, and we walked out. He had a banana and a tangerine; he held them both out and offered me some fruit. I picked the one that would not cause me woe. He suggested a frying pan and some rum. We chatted for a bit, and then he zipped off, as he had places to be. I chatted with Nora on the way home.
Thursday involved a conference meeting right after lunch, and then a team meeting right after that.

I headed to fetch lunch a little early, because I was hungry. This was a good choice. The only thing that looked remotely palatable at the moment was the chicken cheesesteak, even though that involved bell peppers. I put in the grill order form with a hopeful "Avoid peppers". The guy said they were integrated. I sighed that I could pick them out: I wasn't allergic, I just hated them. He said to not worry about it, and within a much shorter time than I thought, I was handed a takeout box with a pepperless cheesesteak. I took it back to my desk, just in time to see Purple's lunch ping. So I headed back out and had a pleasant lunch with the table.

The conference meeting was about coming up with a theme for the conference, and a bit slap-happy. We came up with a promising initial list. We had to wait a bit for the conference room. It holds about 20-30 people. 40-50 people came pouring out of it like the proverbial clown car. It had been a meeting for my admin buddy's team. He oversees Quite A Large Department.

Things we cannot have for swag: things that get our people arrested if they bring it with them on the airplane.

The team meeting involved meeting a new guy in a slot Substantially Up The Org Chart. He said many of the correct things. That was also a mildly punchy meeting.

I was walking back from that meeting and swung by Mr. Zune's office; there I saw lb. lb and I went in search of frozen treats, but at the near location rather than the far one. We then repaired out to the fire pit, as the past two hours of meetings had been nearly unbearably hot.

I often choose that spot to enjoy the outdoors, have my ice cream, and perhaps work-from-mobile. It's pleasant, I have a personal attachment to the fire pit, and Purple's window overlooks the fire pit.

This time, the implied extra feature of the location activated, and Purple emerged from his dev-cave to clear his brain and chat a bit.

I came back to my email to find that the desktop guy had got a bit of the wrong end of the stick with my Outlook bug (he was trying to troubleshoot my problem adding the RSS feed, not my problem with Outlook's silent failure when not adding the RSS feed) so I went upstairs with chocolate in hopes of finding him. I didn't find him, but I did find Mr. Zune, and introduced myself to his new* officemate with chocolate.

* A month or two new, at this point.

I saw Mr. Zune's Overlord on approach, so I extracted the third square of chocolate from my pocket for him, then wandered over the bridge into the adjacent building in search of my buddy the admin with the final bit of chocolate. He wasn't there, but the ducks were! So that was lovely. I left the chocolate on his desk, as a bit of a calling card. He will know.

It was eventually time to go home. Purple wasn't braining as well as he might, and neither was I. It was 7, so traffic was calming down. He had been in a hurry in the morning, though, so he'd parked in the most convenient parking lot (the one which fills up particularly quickly) for his building. Due to where his office is, the parking lot next to my building is almost as convenient, but not quite.

I contemplated. I was tired, but my step count was a little low. "I could walk you out for a change," I offered.

He went quiet on IM, but it was about that time, so I picked up, grabbed my things, and headed over. He was chatting with one of his teammates, so I went and refilled my water bottle, then came back and perched in the guest chair (now a proper office chair, not one of the chairs clearly filched from a meeting room) while he talked unit testing.

He hadn't seen the IM yet. He'd thought I was just dropping by to say goodnight. I explained that if I wanted 1,200-odd more steps, then walking him out to his car and then taking the long way back around to mine was a reasonably pleasant way of getting them. That was fair.

Somehow we started at the way I knock on doors and arrived (through secret knocks) at the utter fuckwit who, among other charming personal traits, blackmail, plus other related matters )

"Rebar" is an ominous name for a rooster.

My knees got cranky. Purple got cold. He offered to drive me back to my car, but I pointed out that folding my knees up after they were angry would not lead to good things, that walking it off was good after standing, that being friends with him had in fact increased my capacity for standing around chatting, I did need the steps, and my hands were much warmer than his.

I did get my steps in.

I had some slightly weird dreams.