Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In Which I See Cthulhu

I spent a good part of yesterday hanging out at a parade.  It was fabulous.  There was the Feed and Seed Abominable Marching Band to open, of course, because this is Atlanta.  There was also Cthulhu.

Ia Cthulhu!

I didn't get a good photo of the Planned Parenthood car, but I was pleased to note that it received enthusiastic applause.  Huzzah affordable, accessible, and comprehensive healthcare for women. 

The yacht club (because why wouldn't a completely landlocked city without even a convenient lake around have a yacht club) had particularly imaginative costumes. 

A local theatre group stole the show with their elaborate Star Wars costumes.

 Local dance companies Awalim and Imperial Opa made appearances.

Then there were just some fun people.    Like Mario.  

It was a good time.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Poetry Tuesday: A Guide of Destroying Gods

Here lies a toppled god —
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,

A narrow and tall one.
~Frank Herbert

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Caturday Post: Dog Edition

I went to a parade last week.  People brought their dogs in the cutesiest of Halloween costumes.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

There is at least one good thing about Wyoming:

As of October 21, 2014, the state of Wyoming legally recognizes same-sex marriage.  Spouses are eligible for insurance coverage under State of Wyoming Group Insurance. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Computer Game: Jade Empire!

Three words: graphics, combat, storyline!


This is in a demon-sickened forest, with appropriately somber veils of mist, waterfalls, trees, and flowers.  Below is a tiny corner of the Celestial Realm where the spirit guardian of the above forest lives.  I think the mushrooms are a manifestation of the toad-like demon in the wood who is trying to muscle in, but it could just be that heaven is full of giant mushrooms.  You never know. 
My perennial demand that my games be beautiful is more than fulfilled here.  In fact, I'm drooling over the quality of the scenery and the animation, and if I'm not expecting a fight I'll slow my character to a walk and gawk at the scenery as we move around. 


A new style of combat for me to learn.  Rather than me controlling everyone in my party's tactics and strategy and strike/block/dodge being all handled by the computerized dice rolling, I have to worry about my own style/attack/block/dodge/run/move-move-MOVE!  I'm much better at dodging than I am at blocking, and I'm still adjusting the control sensitivity.  Also, large melee combat starts to get a bit laggy as my processor struggles to keep up.  My followers do their thing without my input (and I can only have one follower helping out at a time.  Sadness.)  Dawn Star (in pink in the heaven screenshot) is bad-ass with a Chinese-style broadsword.  I use primarily staff or metal claws, but I'm also studying several magical combat styles.  Also I died a lot in the first chapters of the storyline.  The black hooded things that look like No-Face gone beserk (middle-left side of above screenshot, and watch Spirited Away for No-Face) are the worst.  They fire some kind of magic seeker-weapon that can curve and follow you when you try to dodge.   


We're in a romanticized version of ancient China, with magic and spirits and restless ghosts and assassins and primitive rockets and flying machines.  Above is my little gang of outcasts and adventurers.  The guy at the back right with the hat is Kang the mad.  He lets me do the kicking, likes explosions, and gets ticked off if I scratch the paint on his precious Dragonfly flyer while dodging nasties.  The small child is Wild Flower, the spirit anchor for a large guardian demon who is allied to my Destiny (and yes, it is indeed Destiny with a capital D).  Dawn Star is my childhood companion with a Mysterious Past, which said past seems to be related to the pessimistic ex-assassin Sagacious Zu, who is standing next to Sky.  I met Sky while taking down a pirate stronghold: he was out for vengence on the pirates, and asked to join me after we kicked some pirate butt.  He likes to talk and has an eye for the ladies, Dawn Star in particular.  The burly giant and the skinny cook are recent additions.  Burly is a brawling, drunken mercenary who likes to fight, preferably while drunk.  The cook keeps burly supplied with wine.  I would actually have preferred to send them away, but it seems your core cast of characters is not as variable as in Baldur's Gate.  But hey, I don't ever have to take them along for a fight, and they are funny.      

Not visible around our campfire is a celestial bureaucrat, Zin Bu the Magic Abacus, who's in a snit because he got demoted because he couldn't keep up with  tracking my exploits (so my position on the Celestial Wheel can be properly judged.  This takes mountains of forms, in triplicate.  Heaven has a fearsome bureaucracy.)  He's now my personal buyer/seller and is hoping to get promoted again.

Most of the plot is classic adventure fantasy, done with excellent dialog and satisfying side quests.  My favorite so far was the two ghosts of drowned children who are lost and frightened and lonely and angry, and my character was able to give them peace.  We've also saved the village Dawn Star and I grew up in from pirates and then lost it to assassins, crashed a stolen flyer, saved a teahouse for its rightful owner, arranged a marriage, cleared the demons out of the forest and acquired the map we need to head for Imperial City.  Onward!      

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day After Caturday Post: The Kitten Finds Happiness

Happiness is an open window.  He has eschewed the blankie and table that is in front of the window specifically for sitting, and begun sitting on the sill itself.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Few More Roses for Oscar Wilde

Today is his birthday!  Dude could rock a cape.

Happy birthday, you fabulous gentleman.  Alas that you could not live so long as to not be persecuted for loving men.

We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Good Ideas and Weird Marketing in Makeup

After one too many preshow beglitterings spent scrabbling through my mess of makeup, I finally went to the effort of organizing my cosmetics.  The internet assured me that making a magnet board by gluing fabric or paper to a cookie sheet is totally doable.  It is, though hanging the cookie sheet from nails on the wall I'm not sure how to accomplish.  Since, however, I keep this stuff in a cabinet anyway, it's not really a big deal, and gluing magnets to all my cosmetics is oddly fun.

Cookie sheet + wrapping paper = magnet board

Armed with an easily visually organized display of what I have versus what I need to replace, I started shopping.  This is when I found gluten free lipstick. This seems generally the equivalent of advertising cereal as being asbestos free. Actually weirder, since I'm not planning to eat the lipstick.
Since gluten-free lipstick is not sufficient cosmetic weirdness, I also ascertained the existence of hd nail polish.  What it means for objects that aren't virtual images to have high definition is an exercise best left to the reader.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Score One for the Anti-Iconoclasts and the Pretty Pretty Icons of Greek Orthodoxy

I went to a Greek Festival, hosted by the local Greek Orthodox Cathedral, for some food, wine, and dancing.  It was a little disappointing.  The music was not extremely inspiring but far too loud for conversation with friends even far away, the dancers committed the one sin I cannot forgive--not ever smiling, and not even baklava can make up for complete failures of music and dance.  The public was, however, welcomed to tour and take pictures of the cathedral, which, like most cathedrals,was rather fabulously decorated.  I like icons, so I enjoyed this.

The altar

St Katherine.  Originally to be martyred in a large group throw to
the lions, got some special extra chances to deconvert because
those in power found her pretty, then was later martyred anyway.
Moral: Being pretty helps you procrastinate. 

The Ceiling. 

Harrowing of hell.  The weird things under his feet are the gates
of Hell. 
Another Harrowing of Hell.  A popular theme, apparently.  

Detail of the devil being squished under gates while Hell is being Harrowed. 

Winged lion (I think maybe?)
Sepulchre replica.  Not whited.  

Prettily carved stand.  

There was also a small display on Church history showing the major schisming and splintering leading to various sects within Christianity.  I learned that the tradition I was raised in came from the Dutch Reform church.  I mention this because I was realized that one diagram displayed more information (though whether right or wrong I don't actually know) than I ever learned from years of Sunday School. Given the quality of religious education in general from various traditions of Christianity, I am not totally surprised to find my own knowledge of historical schisming and evolving of sects was completely lacking. I would say that at least this one cathedral I was touring is invested in disseminating actual education about religion, with an emphasis on placing various sects within a broader context of history and international religious tradition, but then I overheard a docent failing to explain the difference between the choir and chanters and the docent's friend saying that she had a really hard time explaining to her friends what mass was about and what it meant, so maybe not.   Onward with the mindless followings of traditions!

Meh, back to dancing.  Even bad dancing is better than the mindless followings of traditions.

A few of the dancers, my camera doesn't do well with dim light. 

Non performative, and purely social dancing away from the stage.  Even here, the
dancers had a lamentable tendency to stare at their feet.  

Caturday Post: McNulty is Leaving on a Jet Plane!

I babysat this adorable baby back in Tanzania, and after years of being passed around various Peace Corps volunteers, she's coming to the US to be a first world cat!  Her doting kitty mommy, my good friend Siobhan, plans to buy a pet store's worth of toys for her.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thought on the Information Technology of Star Wars

Sure, the giant space ships are flashy, but what is really amazing in Star Wars is the communications technology.  These people long ago and far far away talk to each other via life sized three dimensional images with no lag time FROM MOVING SPACESHIPS.  I can barely have a conversation with voice over IP protocols with a person on the other side of the same planet as I'm on.  Here on earth, our typical communication protocols become basically unusable at latencies of 1000ms.   For reference, it takes about 200ms on a good connection for a data packet to make it from one side of the continental U.S. to the other.  A problem with satellite connections is the non-negotiably higher latencies necessitated.  We know from instances in the extended universe in which ion blasts disable communication sets in snubfighters that the people of Star Wars, like us, are communicating by sending electric signals.  It takes time for an electron to travel. So how in the name of the Sith are images being transmitted in real time from one side of a galaxy to the other?  It boggles the mind.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Poetry Tuesday: Roses for Oscar Wilde

SEVEN stars in the still water,  
  And seven in the sky;  
Seven sins on the King’s daughter,  
  Deep in her soul to lie.  
Red roses are at her feet,         
  (Roses are red in her red-gold hair)  
And O where her bosom and girdle meet  
  Red roses are hidden there.  
Fair is the knight who lieth slain  
  Amid the rush and reed,   
See the lean fishes that are fain  
  Upon dead men to feed.  
Sweet is the page that lieth there,  
  (Cloth of gold is goodly prey,)  
See the black ravens in the air,   
  Black, O black as the night are they.  
What do they there so stark and dead?  
  (There is blood upon her hand)  
Why are the lilies flecked with red?  
  (There is blood on the river sand.)   
There are two that ride from the south and east,  
  And two from the north and west,  
For the black raven a goodly feast,  
  For the King’s daughter rest.  
There is one man who loves her true,   
  (Red, O red, is the stain of gore!)  
He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew,  
  (One grave will do for four.)  
No moon in the still heaven,  
  In the black water none,   
The sins on her soul are seven,  
  The sin upon his is one.
~Oscar Wilde, "The Dole of the King's Daughter"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On Ingredients and Mixes

Recently, one of my coworkers brought in cookies.  These were introduced as healthy cookies (which I normally don't like, because what's the point?), however, the reasoning behind the healthiness was that there was neither flour nor sugar in the cookies.  (Again, what's the point?) My colleague then went on to enumerate the ingredients as "oats, blueberries, and cake mix."


Just to make sure I haven't been completely confused for years, I looked up both some commercial cake mix ingredient lists and some homemade cake mix directions.  I am relieved to know that cake mix is not actually composed of magical ingredients that, while they perfectly mimic flour and sugar, aren't.  I will therefore continue to encourage the healthiness of my coworker's baking.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Caturday: In Which Help is Rendered

My mama sews. My old kitty Miriah would help.  For certain values of helping.  Because it was never safe to simply move her (she was both violent and short-tempered), the only good way to get her to stop helping was to take pictures until she got annoyed enough to leave.