This is always a stressful time for me because of my PTSD and Anxiety disorder. Partially it's the distinct feeling of being judged. And partly its the fact that they *could* start eviction proceedings if they don't like what they find.
Never mind that that is actually unlikely, and that I'd have at least one chance (if not more) to correct things. The fact that it is *possible* is enough to be triggery.
That's a fact that our previous manager didn't understand. she actually told me there was no reason to be stressed. Sorry, but that's like telling someone with depression to "cheer up". Or someone with a food allergy to justy get over it.
But the current manager and the maintenance guy came in (and she actually *asked* "May I come in?") they checked some stuff and made notes. But she was pleasant. The only thing close top a negative comment was that I had a lot of stuff. But it wasn't said in a judgmental way, and she noted that I had paths, so it was ok.
She even apologized that I had to move the stuff in front of the closet that has the water heater (it's in a dead end in the hall, so I store stuff like Christmas and Halloween things in it, and store some other stuff in front of the door).
Least stressful inspection *ever*.
I'm still gonna veg out for a while because the anticipation took a lot out of me.
And, of course, we still likely have the inspection by HUD this fall. That's a "random" apartment thing. I'm gonna try writing up something to give to the manager explaining how and why inspections are stressful. And one suggestion in it, will be that for the random inspections, it'd really help some of us if they could let us know that we *aren't* going to be inspected as soon as possible. Otherwise we are stressed out until the time limit runs out.
Jordin Kare died yesterday, from complications of aortic valve replacement surgery. I am still somewhat in shock. He was younger than Colleen.
There is not much to be grateful for on this Thursday, but I am profoundly
grateful for Jordin's music, which has been part of my life's soundtrack
since at least the early 1980s. He was one of the founders of Off Centaur
Publications, publishers of the Westerfilk songbooks and many fine filk
tapes. (Jordin did the typesetting for Westerfilk I using
troff, which led to a number of typos involving single
quotes, which troff treats specially if they're the first character in a
Last night Naomi and I sang a few of his songs -- "Fire In the Sky", "The Designer" and "The Engineer", "Waverider", and all I could remember of "Kantrowitz 1972". It wasn't until this morning that I found the lyrics for that and "Sail for Amber", Colleen's favorite.
I just ...
But it was a quarter mile from the bus stop to ENU and (of course) another quarter mile back. And I'd not grabbed a water bottle before leaving because I didn't want to wait for the next bus. Silly me.
So I was moderately wiped out by the time I got home. Took a while to recover (probably longer than I should have) and took a shower and changed clothes.
That meant I was running late for my meetup with alatefeline. On top of that the second bus was running way late. So I got to Powell's ten minutes after that already late time I'd have gotten there.
Went in and grabbed a book I wanted to buy (actually there were a *lot* I wanted to buy, but my budget's kinda tight for the rest of the month)
Then I went looking for alatefeline. We'd agreed to meet up in the coffee shop, and I knew from the texts we'd been exchanging that they were already there. They'd told me they be wearing a blue hat. Finally spotted them. (You can tell that we are both somewhat misgendered because they said it was blue, but I'df have described it as sky blue though it was actually a bit paler. :-)
The coffee shop is often a maze because of how close the tables are and the way chairs are often left out. It was worse than usual, but I only had to go about three times as far as the "direct" route would have been.
We had a nice chat. Gaming, SCA, SF&fantasy, and various other things. after quite some time, we got up and I went to show them where the pocket "survival" thingie I'd gotten there was. Of course, they'd rearranged things. And they didn't have it. But there were several other neat things.
We could have hung out longer, but my legs were starting to tell me I'd been a bad girl. So I regretfully, bid them farewell and went to buy my book. I knew I had some credit on my Powells card from selling some books a year or so back.
Turned out I had a lot more than I thought. After buying my book, I still had $11 left. I could have bought the entire trilogy instead of just the first book. Oh well, I need to make another Powells run one of these days anyway.
Caught the 20 with no problems. Just missed the 71. So I had to sit out in the hot sun for another 15 minutes.
Finally got home and made myself a sandwich so I could take my meds. Tried to do some stuff on the computer but gave up. Wound up taking a 4 hr nap.
After that I felt better (though my thighs are still mad at me for some reason). I dug out the stuff from ENU and started messing with things.
Cards are installed and working fine. The cable seems to work, but the cable box won't send at a resolution the computer monitors I tried would accept. I'll try it with the Bluray player after the inspection is over.
Have to discuss getting together another time with alatefeline.. It was fun.
Turned out they lived less than a mile away, and on the bus route that goes past here. When I headed out last evening I had to wait about 7 min for the bus. Got off about a block and a half from their place. I scooted in, got the two bag s of stuff and loaded in in my folding cart.
As I got to the street I could see the bus coming about six blocks away. I didn't make it to the stop but the driver had seen my alternate waving and running and pulled over to let me get on.
So that was about as short as a run could be.
What did I get? A grocery bag full of blank CD-Rs *in cases*. That'll come handy come Christmas.
I also got another grocery bag full of old software they'd cleaned of their shelves. Various old games a lot of home office stuff, and lots and lots of driver disks. Got several copies of some things. Like 7th Guest.
I'll paw thru them some more and eventually pass on the stuff I have no use for.
Gotta pay special attention with the driver disks. A lot of ones for vid cards have games to install to demo that graphics quality. So I'll be doing a lot of digging for those.
And tomorrow I need to head out to the computer parts place I've been using for years. They're going out of business, and I want to get a few things while they are in stock. A couple of PCI gigabit ethernet cards for a couple of boxes that don't have it built in, and an HDMI to DVI cable, so I can use one of the monitors with a DVI connector as a backup if the TV dies.
May also be meeting someone at Powell's later in the day. Haven't heard back from them yet.
Somehow I appear to have missed posting last week. We've moved. (Looking at the notes for last Sunday, I'm guessing that the reason I missed posting was sheer exhaustion -- that was a busy day, and I'd done more lifting than is good for me.)
We moved into the new house on Wednesday. The movers, from Two Men And a Truck, were fast and efficient - we were out of the apartment in an hour and a half. Highly recommended.
My new phone, on the other hand, is not highly recommended. It's a great phone, except that because it was factory unlocked it doesn't support HD Voice and, hence, WiFi Calling. That's bad, because the cell signal here is rather spotty. It could be worse, except that I actually have a signal in the house, albeit a weak one at times.
I spent hours on chat with AT&T's tech support, and hours in their store, and a little while in the T-Mobile store, trying to get the damned thing recognized by the network. No dice. Now it won't even work as a WiFi hotspot, which sucks. I'll have to swap it again. I hate phones. I hate phone companies. H8 H8 H8. (Basingstoke.)
We are mostly moved in, except that our beds are in the second pod, which isn't arriving until next week. Oops. So we're still on the sofabed, which is in the living room because we didn't want to try to deal with moving it out of the bedroom. It's not merely heavy, it's huge, and won't fit vertically through a doorway.
The house is going to take some getting used to. The kitchen is lovely and open, but doesn't have as much storage as we expected -- in particular, there's only one rather narrow set of drawers. So that will take some refactoring.
The biggest problem, though, is the cats. Ticia is no longer being aggressive toward Cricket, but she's curious. Cricket, however, is terrified, and just hides. That's going to take some work -- it's not the usual case where one cat is being aggressive, so the usual procedures for reintroducing cats don't really apply.
Other than that, though, I like it here. There are a few other assorted inconveniences, but the place itself is lovely -- calm and quiet.
It's 1280 watt. That's 1.28 kW. So running it for an hour uses 1.28 kW/hr. And it looks like I'm paying more than $0.10 per kW/hr. Which means that it'd gonna cost me more than $3/day. Ouch.
Immediately turned it off and opened the window and turned on the fan in the bedroom window.
I'll save it for the really hoi days...
I recently caught up on one, and was quickly able to catch up on several others. In order
Spinnerette A different take on "getting spider powers. Very silly at times
Grrl Power Words fail. But I pointed Fay at it last night and she was reading and giggling for the rest of the time she was here.
Magical Girl Neil an interesting subversion of the Magical Girl trope
And I'm currently working my way thru Magical Transvestite Cherry So far a rather *different* subversion of the Magical Girl trope
Check my feeds for most of the comics I'm following. I also follow a bunch that don't have RSS feeds, but I'll get to those some other day
Now, the good news. I received mail today from my lender. The RM has been approved by the underwriter. There are a few details I should iron out on Monday. Including setting up an appointment for the closing.
Looking at my current financial situation, and adding up what I will save (mortgage payments & etc.) plus the SS check, my effective income will be just slightly more than doubled. That does not count the available cash, which I could take out as income, or see as an emergency fund that I can leave alone, accumulating interest.
And there's no reason I couldn't go back to work (if I want to), or make money from other sources.
I do expect my medical costs to go up on January 1, because I'll probably opt for insurance that doesn't have a gigantic deductible, partially funded by my retirement. That will probably last 3 years, until I'm eligible for Medicare, assuming the gop doesn't destroy the government completely. I plan to carefully use this money to (a) increase my enjoyment of life, (b) free my time by hiring people to do things like lawn care, and (c) to make more money. Because I have an MBA now.
Approximately 5 weeks to all of this happening.
It's kind of overwhelming.
The Craft Sequence, by Matt Gladstone, consists of five novels so far. We get all of them in the Hugo Voter Pack, and, due to time constraints, I have read only the first one.
By which I mean, I have read the third one, Three Parts Dead..
( Read more... )
On reflection, I think my ballot goes Vorkosigan, Craft Sequence, Temeraire, October Daye, Rivers of London, The Expanse. Temeraire might have been more fun than the Craft Sequence, but I think this was much cleverer.
Here ends the Hugo reading for 2017! I may read the zines for my own interest, but there's no way I'm going to have time to review them. And it would be nice to read something for enjoyment, rather than critically and with the intent to compare it with everything else on the ballot.
Okay, first thing you need is a source of heat. Without that you aren't getting anywhere.
Next you need some sort of tinder for the heat to ignite. If you are carrying it, rather than improvising with what you can find, you need it in a waterproof container.
Ok, sources of heat (more or less in order from primitive to modern):
Carrying coals or a flame with you: Doable, but tricky. The container needs to be well insulated, and there are other concerns.
friction: the classic rubbing two sticks together, firebows, etc. Doable, but takes a bit of skill and is *hard* work.
Compression: The fire piston. Doable, but hard to find/make.
Flint and steel (or flint and pyrite). Doable, but requires practice to avoid damaging yourself.
There are a lot of ways to do this. You can grab a properly shaped (sort of a wedge shape) piece of flint and try to strike sparks from a piece of iron pyrite.
Or you can hit a historical re-enactor group that does the traders/trappers type stuff and pick up a flint and a fire steel (piece of iron shape like the letter C) You hold the fire steel sort ofg like a pair of brass knuckles and strike the flint downward, at an angle to produce sparks. Watch out for your fingers!
You can take a chunk of a broken grindstone and a "worn out" file and make sparks by strike the stone against the file.
Or, you can buy a neat item available from a number of sources. It's a metal rod with a handle. The rod is made of the same weird alloy they use for lighter flints. They usually include a piece of steel suitable for striking agianst it to create sparks. You strike at an angle like you were trying to shave off bits of the rtod. *Huge* showers of sparks. and the piece of steel is usually attached to the handle by a thing.
lenses and mirrors: a large enough magnifying glass (at least 4" in my experience) will concentrate enough sunlight on a large enough area to ignite a piece of dry wood. And a "shaving mirror (or other concave mirror can do it as well. Both require a sunny day.
Radio Shack used to sell a "solar cigarette lighter" which was a small concave mirror with a set of folding "prongs" that'd hold the tip of the cigarette at the focal point. Worked for other things as well.
A bit large, but quite suitable. Modern LCD TVs and monitors have a fresnel lens as part of the screen. Take apart (carefully) a dead monitor, and you can often salvage the lens. Be warned. These will concentrate *dangerous* amounts of sunlight. As in you can melt *metal* with the larger ones.
matches and lighters: matches need to be kept in a waterproof container. Lighters, may need to have the same.
Electricity: you can get sparks from a battery to start a fire. Probably takes at least a 9V. Not that practical in most cases. Though it works well if yoiur tinder is steel wool. Might work with magnesium shavings.
Ok, now for tinder. And remember, *all* varieties of tinder need to be kept dry, and an airtight container isn't out of line.
"punk" wood is an old standby. This is basically partially rotted (dry rot) wood.
Char cloth is another. This is squares of cotton or linen cloth (*not* wool or synthetics!) that have been heated (preferably in a container that restricts airflow) until they are "charred". Not black but beyond "golden brown. Either get it at a reenactor event or *carefully* experiment with making your own.
Steel wool. The kind *without* added detergents and crap. You want the fine grade. Tear off a *small* piece and put the rest back in the airtight container. This stuff ignites *very* readily. And since it burns white hot you *really* don't want to be holding it. Or having it sitting on anything you don't want to burn!
Magnesium. A lot of those high-tech flint rods have a second rod mounted in the handle. a magnesium rod. You can shave off tiny bits of magnesium with the same bit of steel you use for striking the sparks. And once this catches, it'll ignite even *wet* wood.
Some gun shows and the like will sell you containers of powdered magnesium to save you the trouble of shaving off bits. A warning hear, this *will* absorb water over time and turn into a sold chunk. And in the case of the one I bought split the plastic container in the process.
And, even moreso than with steel wool, you don't ignite this stuff when it's sitting on anything you *don't* want to burn.
I've seen folks do the friction method, never got anywhere with it myself. I've seen a demo of a fire piston in a chemistry class.
I've tried a fire steel and flint. Takes practice to strike sparks and *not* gash your fingers. Never tried the flint and pyrite trick, but I've read about it.
I own several of the high tech flints, a couple with the magnesium rods. I own several magnifying glasses that I *have* started fires with.
I've actually done the file and broken grindstone bit at a boy scout event. the tinder was steel wool, and we were burning dry pine needles. It was a race to see who could boil water first.
I hgave the solar cigarette lighter, as well as several magnifying glasses that I've lit fires with.
And I have strike anywhere matches in a pocket sized match safe, as well as a few butane lighters.
Grabbing the glucometer, and yep, 49. Blargh. Grabbing some juice, then some chocolate. 10 minutes later it was back in the normal range, but I was still feeling like crap. Had some other food and check it a few more times being going to bed.
Fortunately, they appear to be putting off the inspection til this afternoon (which explains the "coffee and donuts 10:00-11:30) thing they put up the other day.
I've just had some breakfast, and I'm gonna finish up the lasrt bits of rearranging things to look less cluttered.
I suspect it was the stress (inspections are *always* stressful) that did it this time.
The next Series in the Best Series category is The Expanse, by James Corey. The Voter Pack contains an excerpt from Leviathan.
I'll be honest here; I haven't really given this one a fair crack. One big reason for this is that for some reason the Epub version on my Kobo is missing two or three lines from the bottom of every second or third page, which makes it hard to read. But even in between that, it's not really holding my interest. So far, all the characters seem to be of a particular 'antihero' type - the hardened cop, the hardened ship captain whose career has stalled - that doesn't do a lot for me. I don't really care about the story. And every time I think that something slightly interesting might be happening, there are missing lines. This is not the fault of the book, but I really can't keep reading like this.
So I've read three chapters, and I think I'll call it quits. I don't think it would be going high on my ballot even if I read further, because everything else on the ballot so far had me hooked within a few pages and this one doesn't. So I think I'll leave it off the ballot entirely, unless The Craft Sequence annoys me so much that I need to put it below No Award, in which case I'll put this in fifth place, to distinguish it from the actively offensive stuff.
Incidentally, regarding The Craft Sequence, the voter pack consists of the first five novels in the series. I'm not going to be able to read five novels by Sunday, especially since we have to drive to a funeral in the La Trobe Valley on Saturday, which is going to eat our entire day. So I think I'll just see how far I get by tomorrow evening (and try to finish the first book, at least), and review based on that.
But let's get on with the book.
A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers, is a very sweet, kindly sort of book. It feels like an epilogue, and I believe it takes place after another book set in the same universe. There is not, now I think about it, a lot of obvious conflict. It still kept me reading until after 1am on a work night because I needed to know what happened to everyone.
The book tells two stories in parallel. The first story centres around Lovelace / Sidra, a ship's artificial intelligence system who is now trapped in a synthetic human body. And she does feel trapped by it - she no longer has unlimited memory and access to the Linkages, which seem to be a futuristic extrapolation of the world wide web. Her narrative arc is partly about coming to terms with her situation and figuring out how people who are not AIs (humans or aliens) work, and partly about her remaking her situation to a point where she can be content with it and have a purpose that appeals to her.
She is helped in this by Pepper, an engineer who was once a slave called Jane 23, and the second story is hers. This story starts when Jane 23 is ten, and, almost accidentally, escapes the factory which has been her entire world (quite literally - she does not know what the sky is, and is alarmed by this gigantic 'room' without walls). Running from feral dogs, Jane 23 is rescued by a stranded spaceship and its AI, Owl. Owl takes her in, and... basically teaches her how to be human. And, over time, how to repair the ship and get off this planet. This may sound unlikely, but Jane has been working to sort and repair broken machinery for her entire life as a slave, so while she has few other skills, she is very, very good with engineering. I must admit, while I liked Sidra a lot, and sympathised with her struggles, it was Jane's story that kept me up until 1am wondering if - and how - she would be OK.
Note that Jane's story is fairly disturbing - the treatment of the child slaves is chilling (we never do find out what happens when they turn twelve, but I suspect they are killed at that point), and she spends years scavenging for metal and for food, and mostly killing and eating feral dogs. Which is something you may have a visceral reaction to. (I just tried replacing feral dogs with feral cats in that sentence and was completely horrified and grossed out, so, yeah.)
With half the story being about an AI raised by humans and the other half about a human raised by an AI, Chambers is clearly saying a few things about what makes us human, but I'm not entirely sure what those things are. It's clear that humanity is not limited to humans; the AI, Owl, is clearly appalled by Jane 23's treatment, which, while it was at the hands of AIs called the Mothers, is clearly something that was decided and organised by the humans. Compassion, empathy and friendship, are clearly important things, and things that AIs can share with humans and aliens. Another important thread is the ability to lie, something that Sidra can't do at the start of the story due to programming limitations. Once she is able to do so, it seemed to me that her relationships with humans and aliens changed for the better. But it is clear that AIs have free will, at least to an extent. Sidra can choose what she wants to do and how to spend her time, provided it does not go against one of her programming restrictions.
I don't know where to put this book on the ballot. It was far and away the most enjoyable one to read of the novels in this category, but I don't think that it was as creative as Ninefox Gambit or The Obelisk Gate. I still want to put it at the top of the list, because I want to encourage books that I enjoy reading. But I'm not sure if it ought to be first or second. Then again, I suspect a LOT of people will put Ninefox Gambit first (I'm expecting that one to win, actually), so maybe it doesn't need my vote? I shall have to ponder this.