If we go by my actual blog posts, I'm "silenter" than Silent Bob -- he talks at least once in every movie, right?
Depending on how religiously you check here in the hope for new content, you may have seen the blog go down for a week or two. Yeah.... I think some of the posts are broken/missing and this annoys me. I had a problem a couple months back and Randy swooped in to save the day -- the database had corruption issues -- and I think that's where the missing posts went. sigh
Because of that problem, I've been even more lax at doing any kind of managing of the site. This includes figuring out why my comments are being spammed so ridiculously -- I think there have been no legitimate comments in over a year, while the spammers are just drowning my blog with spammy comments. Meanwhile, I really do want to clean it up and maybe find a better theme. The blue is just too.... bright. Too "cheery". Like a flight attendant with too much caffeine. Ugh.
So, what's new with me? Hmmm.... Well, we've been looking for a house since before the house we fled from in June. You might recall we were putting a bid in on this house, before we left town for our 20th Anniversary Roadtrip. While we were out of town, the bank who was permitting the short-sale got back to us. Apparently, their comps (comparable houses in the area) were $20k higher than our bid (which placed the price very conveniently at their list price). So, they decided to go to foreclosure instead. Meanwhile, we learned that both A/C units had been vandalized and would need replacing. We already knew that due to such a long vacancy, the pool needed some surface repairs and we were likely to lose the orange trees from lack of watering. So, we passed on that house.
Once we returned home from the roadtrip (I'll cover that in a bit), I got right back to checking out ZIP Realty for price drops, new listings and such. One of our days of looking resulted in a fall -- I didn't see a "step down", twisted my ankle and landed on my left knee, directly on tile. I didn't realize until later, I'd braced myself with my hands as well, so I've done some kind of minor (?) damage to my right hand, along the pinky side. The right ankle is the same one I broke in the car accident.
Anyway, we kept looking for houses. (The one I fell in was not good -- the pool was so beautiful, but the house itself was just not workable.) Just before I left for New York for almost 3 weeks, we toured a house in Mesa, only .3 miles from the light rail! We put together an offer and began the process. It was made much easier by a product called DocuSign. We're currently waiting on a document to show up and for the loan to come back from underwriting. Close is supposed to be on the 17th of this month -- this Wednesday!
I really hate living in this tiny apartment -- and very soon, we're going to have one more person living with us! This is a good thing, but if the house falls through, it's definitely going to be an interesting start to the new year!
So, let me back up a little bit. The Roadtrip was good, until it wasn't. We visited Randy's parents, then headed in to Canton, Ohio for my sister's wedding on the 28th. It turns out she had a cold. I caught it. It dropped straight into my chest and I was extremely worried Randy would come down with it next. We cancelled all our other planned stops and made a bee-line for home. Poor Randy had to drive the entire trip by himself. For at least the first 75% of the trip, I was knocked out with all the cold medications. I think Sirius Radio saved the day! One of the plans cancelled was a meet-up with DrunkenMonkeyKnits herself. sigh
Many blogs are personal in nature, not business-oriented. For that reason, we all choose what we are comfortable sharing about our lives, online and in the clear. Maybe it's not super-obvious, unless you've tried to leave a comment (another reason I debated dropping the whole blog is because of the spammers), but I'm running my blog on Drupal. So far, I haven't really bothered with settings like "you must have an approved account and be logged in to read posts" because I feel that's sorta contrary to the concept of a blog. Couldn't I just send emails to the people I'm willing to let read the things I don't want public?
I've been struggling with how to handle some of the private stuff I'm not sure I want "in the clear". Those who know me in person are pretty likely to know some of this stuff already. Those who don't may or may not know it. And I'm hedging my bets on waiting, rather than having stuff "out there" I can't take back (at least, not easily!).
Something I can talk about is our Intentional Community, or IC (pronouned eye-see) as we call it. We've been debating whether to keep the name of the IC independent of the dome we hope to build (yes, it seems that most if not all of the domes have names!). So we tend to refer to it in the abstract as "the IC". We're adding another member to the IC at the end of the year, which I'm really excited about. We're hoping, if the house ends up being ours, to develop a garden and perhaps, eventually, a tilapia pond!
I've been actively planning to return to school in the Summer of 2011, to get my Master's in Architecture. With everything else on my plate right now, I'm feeling a little crammed just trying to study for the GRE. I'm also not 100% positive of my reasons for going back to school. I'll be the first to admit, I feel a little "worthless" at times -- worth very little and a drain on the household economy. So, I think the idea of going back for a degree in something I really do want to do and being willing to go back to work and "bring home the bacon" is appealing to me. More importantly, I don't want to be one of those people who just sit around and let life slide right past them, while they whine about life not being great and feeling depressed.
The question has been raised: did I quit writing for the right reasons? Did I quit because I wanted to? Or because I lost faith in myself? Did I allow Clarion West's rejection to dictate my future direction? Do I still really want to be a writer?
Which brings me to the GRE exam. It's $160 -- a lot to spend on just an exam, if I'm not fully committed. And right now, I don't think I am. With the possible move and settling into a new home, the addition of an IC member, the stuff I really don't want to talk about here, "in the clear".... plus some of my other personal projects, I just don't think my focus is on taking the exam this month or even next month -- only to have to turn around and put together an application package.
To this end, I'm going to focus on
Once I've dealt with some of these things and "cleared my deck", so to speak, maybe I'll focus on my first novel and the rat's nest I made of the ending, so I can finally get it onto a publisher's desk!
But for now, I'm not making any more claims. I've made too many and I'm starting to feel buffeted by my own winds of change.
I'm a little excited about discovering Epic Words and Obsidian Portal as some of our games are getting very multi-media in nature. Plus, I've become the de facto chronicler of our games (someone buy me an EeeePC!), so I've got journal entries and roleplay votes, loot records... that's a lot of data to be sharing by Wave or email.
Randy's already checking out some of the cool products I've discovered just by voting!
For an actual product, I really liked Battlegraph Dry Erase Boards. I like the grooves in the boards, facilitating straight lines. I like the modular nature of the boards. I dislike the price -- $24 (plus shipping) for 4 boards is a little steep... I'll be watching to see if the market price comes down a little. Maybe when it drops down to $20 / 4 boards, we'll check them out.
Lady Blackbird looks kinda fun. I've only ever played in "high fantasy" settings -- well, Rowan and Randy's new co-DM'd game started as Sci-fi and is bleeding towards high fantasy, but we've only used the fantasy mechanics. So, I'd love to check out Lady Blackbird from a mechanics perspective.
I've also signed up on Pen and Paper Games, despite my desire to bring more tech into how I save my game information. There's still a very strong pencil-and-paper element to the games for me. Especially with my efforts to publish my own set of character sheets for 3.5e and Pathfinder. (One day, I'll finally name them and get that whole ball rolling!)
Totally unrelated to the ENnies, but still gaming related, if anyone out there wants to gift me with something truly impressive, I'll take one of these Sultan Gaming table please. *grin* Doesn't that look cool? Randy disagrees, since it's not everything he wants it to be, for that price. I think he's got more geek-based ideas involving a screen projector underneath with an integrated PC to serve maps and the like. *shakes head* He hasn't managed to complete several other less elaborate geek-based plans, so I'd be glad to "settle" for the Sultan.
If you're a gamer, please feel free to point me to other cool products I may have missed -- just 'cause they didn't make this year's ENnies doesn't mean they aren't cool. I mean, I <3 Skeleton Key Games tile PDFs... and they aren't in this year's nominations.
I love to knit. If you read here, you probably figured that out already. But I also love jigsaw puzzles. And... in my humble opinion, there is no finer manufacturer of them than Springbok. I was browsing their site and I thought I'd share some of my favorites -- many of which are knitting-themed!
I've noted that Wists is down -- I don't know why or for how long. If it's permanent, I'll remove the footer from the blog. *sigh*
Fancy that. I'm going to write a post, on a knitting blog, about actual knitting. No way!
I finished the shawl I'm planning on wearing at Marcey's wedding -- in just 62 days! Wanna see it?
|This is the yarn: Yarntopia Treasures 10/2 Tencel in "Moccasin" colorway.|
|Here it is, wound into a center-pull ball. I like to use a coin (when I remember) to give a sense of "scale" to the weight of the yarn. This one is "laceweight".|
|This is the general pattern of the shawl. It called for the borders to be beaded, as well, but that would have called for another $15 worth of beads -- and made it much heavier. I'm glad I only beaded the squares.|
|A close-up of the beads. These are clear Czech glass 6/0 copper-lined seed beads, purchases from Beadaholique.|
|This isn't the finished product -- that's much longer -- but from this, you get the idea.|
Overall, the pattern wasn't difficult, just tedious. I didn't find it to be an easily memorizable pattern (and I'll memorize 12-row repeats of lace edging!). The repetition was boring though. I'm used to doing large lace charts that, once you've finished them, you move on to another large chart and so on. This one however, you do the chart again and again. And again. Ad nauseum. I stopped at about half way on the 14th repeat, so 13.5 repeats. Any more and it would have been just too huge.
I've got another teddy bear on the needles, but no pictures up until the recipient has it as she reads here. *grin* I've also got a semi-scary project on the needles. I'm trying to make lace stockings. Eek. Stay tuned to see how that goes.
...that made me stop and write a post.
The irony is that just the other day I commented, "I should write a blog post soon, so Gabriel's face isn't the first thing I always see." (It makes me cry when I see him...) I don't know that seeing this is much better.
In the face of large corporations' greed, governments' minimal ability to discipline the very corporations they created, and the vast, mind-numbing hugeness of this ecological disaster, I bow my head and wonder what one person can do. I've watched several videos available online, revealing the plight of the animals in the heart of the mess created by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Please, do not get me wrong; I'm saddened for the families who lost loved ones. But I recognize the choice all humans make in their chosen profession: I will accept the dangers and work on this job.
Who asked the wildlife? I sometimes wonder if mankind has become so embroiled in the hubris of its own accomplishment that we have forgotten we are the stewards of this tiny blue marble. Look around people -- you cry every time NASA is given any money at all, so clean up after yourselves! This is the only damn marble you've got!
BP may be the most visible culprit -- and they certainly have their people out there making it look like they are trying really hard -- but why aren't we seeing or hearing about Halliburton and Transocean making any efforts? Is the media simply focusing on BP's lame efforts? The closest I've come to seeing an equal share of the blame being apportioned to Transocean and Halliburton is the CBS 60 Minutes interview, conducted by Scott Pelley.
If the Kemp's Ridley turtles (see video with Captain Mike Ellis below) become exinct due to this fiasco, how does one go about sueing a company for the willful extinction of an already endangered species? What is the US government going to do -- shut them down in the US? How can they, when we are sucking so much oil every day? Cutting supply like that will simply jack the prices we see at the pump -- punishing each and every one of us (perhaps as we should be?) for the disaster created by Transocean, Halliburton and BP.
I won't pretend the United States is solely to blame in the creation of these mega-corporations -- other countries have chosen to recognize them and even snuggle up to them for their own reasons. So, when I say "government" throughout this post, I'm not just referring to the United States government.
Keep in mind -- if it hasn't already been hammered in by other sources -- that this "spill" is an
Since "cutting costs" are at the heart of BP's actions (see the fisher's wife's speech linked below), we can bet they aren't looking to cap the source and require a new well to be drilled. I wonder if there's solutions BP has passed up because it would cost them more?
I've spent a lot of time gathering all this together. During the process, I came to a realization. Let me lay it out, one piece at a time.
1. It's tornado season for the Great Plains
2. It's hurricane season for the Gulf Coast and East Coast.
(I've not mentioned earthquakes because they have no season.)
What is going to happen to the average American who lives in any of the areas besieged by the disasters their area is prone to? When Hurricane Katrina happened, the nation turned and focused on New Orleans (and to a lesser extent, the other areas ravaged by the hurricane). When forest fires flare up, fire fighters come from all the areas that have personnel trained in fighting this type of fire. What's going to happen when all of these things hit the nation at the same time?
We're not ready. We're not prepared, each of us individually, or our States/Counties/local governments, to handle the kind of problems we'll be facing. Instead, we'll look to the Federal government to dig us out of yet another problem -- a problem there's no money to solve, a problem there's no common interest to fix, and a problem that's too distant for most of those suits to really care about fixing. When (ha!) there's a little more free money in my family's purse, I hope to donate to a wildlife clean-up crew -- hopefully a turtle rescue, if I can. But that seems so small in the face of all of this. And it doesn't address the problems brewing under the surface.
So, I will borrow from Queen Amidala:
She says, "It is clear to me now that the Republic no longer functions. I pray that you will bring humanity and compassion back to the Senate."
How much more will Americans endure -- or rather, how much longer will our bread (fast food joints with their 99 cent menus) and circuses (cable tv, professional sports) last/work -- before we snap? As an infrequent partaker of the "bread" and a non-subscriber of the circuses (but I will admit to burying my head in video games, so maybe I should have included that one?), I am amazed the nation hasn't snapped yet. It struggles under its own weight. Americans on the West Coast are obviously out of touch with Americans on the East Coast -- and Americans from less distant cities already are challenged to understand the variations of each other's English. What does it matter to a Montanan or an Idahoan (?) if New Orleans is underwater? What does it matter to a New Yorker that Arizona or California is burning?
Sometimes, I'm tempted to sit down with a map of the United States (just a B&W outlines map) and draw boundaries as I think things will break apart. I wonder if there's an online map thingamajig that'll let us share our predictions with each other. If not, why not just write a comment and tell me what you think the boundaries will be, when our Republic falls.