drwex: (Troll)
Took Amtrak to/from Harrisburg and met up with the g/f to do a couple days of touristing in Gettysburg. Rode down Thursday, back Sunday. Overall good, but I am glad to be in my own bed again. If I'd had more knowledge I would have planned better, but given the knowledge I had at the start I think we planned very well.

Friday we took two pre-planned tours. A "History Nerds" tour that was mostly riding around in an air conditioned bus (quite useful when the temp AND humidity topped 85) and looking at sites with a guy who could firehose details about pretty much everything. We got a fairly complete set of visits and lots of facts. I would have liked it if the bus stopped more often, but it did provide info we used later.

That evening (once it had cooled off from "utterly beastly" to "merely summer sticky") we had a walking tour of the city itself with a hobbyist guide. That was interesting because most of the National Park-level focus is on the battlefield and kind of glosses over the fact that the battle swept through the town multiple times. Our guide had lots of interesting stories and trivia to help contextualize the facts and sites and since it was just the two of us on this walk we got extra time and it was much more conversational.

It was interesting to be reminded throughout just how much of a cultural bubble I live in; for example, the evening guide was explaining how the local Lutheran congregation continues to struggle with whether to do services in (traditional) German or (modern) English, how they vary some week-by-week and how they print variations on the prayer book in one or the other or both languages. I commented, "Yeah, sounds like every synagogue I've ever been to" and the guide admitted she had no idea Jews did that. I get the sense that she likely doesn't know any actual Jewish people.

Saturday we decided to revisit the battlefield in the morning, predicted to be the coolest and least humid hours of the day. Despite some navigation snafus we made it to several of the sites we'd wanted more time at and spent a lot of time wandering around getting a sense for things that's hard to achieve while in a bus.

After a few hours of that we declared a break for lunch at a period recreation inn in town that was OK and fortuitously was across the street from the local cidery that I'd been wanting to try. Between heat, exercise, post-food coma, and a flight of very tasty ciders we decided to ditch the previous plan of going back to the battlefield in favor of nappage. By the time we got up from that it was late and GF wanted to visit the official Gettysburg visitor center and cyclorama.

The visitor center was OK - we saw a short film narrated by Morgan Freeman that talked about some of the impact of the Civil War on slavery and economics. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is one of the last few surviving cycloramas anywhere. This version was originally displayed in the Boston Cyclorama building (who knew?) and moved to the park's visitor center in 2008 after restoration work. It's quite impressive; unfortunately we were the last group of the day and the museum needed to close promptly because there was a wedding using the site right after closing. I would have liked more time to soak it in but such is the nature of things.

After dinner and ice cream we detoured into what is locally marked as the "Soldier's National Cemetery" but Wikipedia calls Gettysburg National Cemetery. The place is a little eerie, particularly the rows of "unknown" markers for soldiers interred there who could not be identified. There's a commemorative marker for Abraham Lincoln as well, which people have placed numerous Lincoln pennies onto. Being my own contrarian self I found a pebble.

It was interesting to me to have a memorial marker there since it's not where he's buried (that's his hometown of Springfield at the Oak Ridge cemetery) nor is it where he gave(*) the Gettysburg Address - that spot is marked by a separate memorial stone. Humans are weird, what can I say.

We skipped doing one of the many "ghost" tours that take place in the evenings and I felt good about that in retrospect. They all seem to be popular but kind of commercial and largely beside the point. My interest is in authentic history, at least to the degree we can understand and experience it. I would have liked another half day on the battlefield - we got to see almost all of Cemetery Ridge (the Union side) and about 3/4 of Seminary Ridge (the Confederate side) but not really view Little Round Top or see the cemetery in detail.

(*) Actually there's some debate about where Lincoln actually stood. He was not the featured speaker of the day - that was the popular orator Edward Everett of MA - and in fact had not been expected to attend. His remarks were so brief that the photographers didn't even have time to set up properly; there is only one popular photo of the address and Lincoln isn't even easy to distinguish in the shot. The location is in dispute as contemporaneous accounts differ and really nobody paid much attention to his speech at the time. The New York Times printed Everertt's address in full but declined to reproduce Lincoln's remarks.

To make matters more confusing, at least five different versions of the Address were printed in other newspapers of the time and all differ in some details from written versions that have been authenticated as being in Lincoln's handwriting. Post-hoc analysis of Lincoln's condition ("ghastly color" and "haggard" were reported) indicate that he was likely feverish at the time of the speech and so may have said things different from what he had written.
drwex: (Troll)
I realized that "what's up with me" has largely been "the kids." They and their needs occupy almost all of my brain space. They've been away at camp and will be intermittently gone this summer - all the away time doesn't quite line up the way we hoped but it's still a fair set of days of nobody but us and the dog in the house. Very mixed feelings about all that.

I've also realized that I'm not updating the way I'd like to. It's the usual cycle of not-writing that leads to there being so much stuff to write that it's overwhelming and so more not-writing happens. So let's talk first about the 4th because I felt good about it.

Project Social has been one of my ongoing goals since November. Feeling crushed and attacked on a daily basis - if not me then people I know and care about - is a real and disheartening thing. Seeing friends and doing relaxing things with them is a good antidote.

The Fourth there's one friend's party we traditionally go to, and we try to catch some fireworks somewhere. This year we were trying to figure out how to fit in another party with no kids home to do dog care when we got a message from [personal profile] mizarchivist saying she was in the midst of a packing marathon and could use company.

So we adjusted plans to stop by, bring packing supplies over, pack a handful of boxes while we were there, and then take her away to the party, a few blocks from her place. Feed, give tasty drinks, and hopefully provide a useful and refreshing interlude. We all agreed that moving (especially one's own stuff) is a horrid and horrible experience and if things can be done to make lives easier then that's a blessing.

The party was nice, tasty foods and some conversation with people I don't see that often. The attendance has shifted over the years to where I see fewer of my acquaintances there, and so spend less time there. We got home in time to feed the dog and chill a bit before going to see fireworks with Pygment's GF and fiancee (I keep wanting to type "husband" but they haven't quite yet formalized it - soon!) I think they are both excellent people but due to a combination of natural introversion and tiring work travel we don't see them much.

The fireworks show was good and the GF drove, meaning I didn't have to stress out about the traffic - if you've never driven with me in a traffic jam just accept that such things activate my aggression and anxiety a lot more than they ought. But if I'm not driving I can mostly ignore it.

So that was a holiday. Unlike many of my cow orkers I was in the office the 3rd and the 5th and did actual work. It was kind of empty in the building but not horribly so. One-day weekends aren't nearly as good as four-day but that's coming.
drwex: (Default)
I originally wanted to do another bullet-point list to cover a bunch of things but the first thing about kids turned out to be a full entry on its own, so let's try this again...

- Politics. I've been on the phone a fair bit. Living in MA means I mostly call my Congresscritters to thank them and encourage them to keep #resist -ing. Still, I called the Governor about the Paris accords (yay, let's get this sh*t done and maybe have a planet to leave to our children because fuck DJT).

I called three state Senators and three Reps who are on the committee trying to pass marijuana legislation because the Senate version is a lot closer to what I and the majority of others voted for last time around. The House version seems to be a repeal-by-legislation effort that I think is BS. I also want the Lege to tackle some of the crucial issues that weren't defined in the referendum, such as establishing a uniform standard for intoxication, drafting rules for part-time residents or people who live outside MA but commute here for work or entertainment, and so on.

I'm still nominally involved with the local ACLU "People Power" group, which seems to be about 4-5 of us. We did meet with the Burlington Chief of Police, who's an interesting fellow, and found him much more receptive than I expected. We already had a good reception from the Middlesex County Sheriff so this is more heartening. We're unlikely to go on a full sanctuary city route like, say, Somerville. But we seem to have more law enforcement support than not. I'm all for tackling our Town Meeting in the fall when it reconvenes but getting the other people in the group motivated is proving challenging. Sadly, the ACLU doesn't seem to have a lot of skill or organization behind this so a lot of people are sort of floundering.

- Work. It sort of is. We're starting the annual review cycle which is always stressful for me and is going to be more stressful for my minions if only due to them being junior and not used to this kind of thing the way I am. I'll have more to say about work in a locked entry at some point.

- Car, house, big stuff. We're on the verge of finally getting the house painted. You'd think finding contractors to do this stuff would be easier but I find myself wandering the virtual hallways saying "someone please take my money to do this work" a lot. People are busy, just don't show up, or turn out to be incompetent. On the other hand, sometimes it's really nice to have a professional on the job, as when we called a plumber to deal with a backed-up sink and it turned into $1300 worth of work. Yay project creep; yay having people with the right skills and tools on hand to get it done in a few hours.

I continue to find my car "OK" six months in. I doubt I'll ever be bowled-over excited about it, but it's functional and it gets the mileage I want. As noted in the earlier entry, we're going to have to replace Pygment's car soon so shopping for that has commenced.

- Project Social continues to be a dismal near-failure. I am just not able to arrange time with as many people as often as I'd like. People be busy, y'know? It sounds silly to write this just before I head out the door to a social evening with one of my favorite people but over the long arc of weeks and months it's clear I'm not doing enough right things in this space.

- Arisia is moving along at the slow pace you'd expect from summer. I'm working hard to fill all the important jobs in my half of the division. Once I have those in place I'll feel better and may be able to relax a bit more. Yah, right.

- Looking forward to vacations in July, one to see the g/f and Gettysburg and then a getaway with Pygment. Lots of my cow orkers are taking at least July 3rd off and many are taking the whole week but it doesn't hook me that way. I hope we can make it to some good fireworks on the 4th and maybe one or two of the parties that traditionally happen that day and that will be enough for me.

How about you guys? What's your top bullet point (or two) right now?
drwex: (Troll)
So much has happened since last update it's not even vaguely possible to try journaling it.

I'm just going to talk about the kids here for a bit )
So that's my kids - how about yours?
drwex: (Default)
Another numbered list, all vaguely related.

1. In a few days it will be my birthday and I'm asking people to help me make that meaningful by helping others. Yes, I'm asking for money (for Oxfam) and that's not a reasonable thing for lots of people. If it's not on your list please help me spread the word.

2. Soon it will be the Jewish holiday of Shavuot - for most Jews who observe, it will start at sundown tonight. It marks the anniversary of the giving of the Torah (the laws, commandments, and history) by G-d on Mt. Sinai. Traditionally, Jews read the Ten Commandments in synagogue on this holiday, as they were read in the desert originally. It's also associated with eating dairy foods, because all Jewish holidays are about food in some way. HIAS, the Jewish-focused refugee support organization I'm looking to work with, sent out a reminder wishing people a "meaningful" Shavuot.

It's not the first time I've heard this phrase but it's one I like, as a mostly non-observant Jew. I recognize that people perform a wide variety of religious rituals for various reasons and I hope that anyone who does that is able to find meaning in those observances.

3. This morning I avoided serious injury or perhaps death through fate or fortune or random chance - take your pick. I was walking the dog, as I do, on the sidewalk. A landscaping truck coming from behind me was well over the median line, which forced an oncoming truck to swerve quite wide to avoid colliding. In swerving, the avoiding truck went well up onto the sidewalk, a few meters in front of me. Had I been those few meters farther forward I would have been struck by this truck.

As it was I just got my hair mussed by the wind and my day's worth of adrenaline in a few seconds. It was literally over and gone before I could even start shaking.
drwex: (Default)
I've caught up on reading now, so let me try to catch up on writing, some. The previous April post only covered the first few days of the month

In between there was the saga of the disappearing child, which is long and gets its own cut tag:
Read more... )

Then there was Passover, which got its own post eventually.

That brings us to mid-April, when we took a family trip to eastern PA.
Read more... )

The next weekend was intended to be the Boston version of the March for Science, but that seemed to be the "stand around for science" and there were other things and I ended up not going. I still feel ambivalent about that. I'm really failing to find a resistance group or activity that holds my attention and interest and lets me feel like I'm DOING something. I call my Rep now and then to congratulate and encourage him; most recently for continuing to try and get some measure of truth around the Trump team's involvement with Russia. There's so much going on (wrong) that it's easy to lose sight of the things I think are important. Like, is anyone else in the current Administration subject to blackmail or actively suborned by the Russians? Like, how the hell do we stop them upgefukking the next election?

More to come...
drwex: (VNV)
So, April was indeed the smoldering crater I figured it would be. I'm back and hoping May will be slightly more sane. I'm still going to try to get the other two April posts written and done. They'll be about family and work mostly so will be f-locked. I think I've caught up on all the posts I didn't read last month but if you put out something you'd like me to see and I didn't comment on it please do leave me a link.

I'm stalled out on finishing my move to DW by the tag limit. Even their premium paid service is maxed at 2000 tags, which my music blogging has already exceeded. This means I can't put tags on any new posts I originate here. That's the last thing I need in order to shut down my LJ. I've written to DW support asking about this and we'll see what they say.

Project Social continues. We made it to a party this past weekend, despite both of us having a lot of inertia and household stress. Then we had people over for game on Sunday. This week will see a dinner with another couple who also need Adult Time and whom we only manage to see a few times a year. Then a date I've been looking forward to for several weeks and maybe a social gathering before SoS.

Next week has an Arisia Divheads meeting but nothing fun social. Likewise the week after that has Thing 1's birthday but no adult social. If you'd like to help alleviate some of this please let me know.

Political things continue to occupy a lot of my brain but not as much as to overwhelm other things. I'm awaiting delivery of a bumper sticker I designed for HIAS. If it comes out well I'll be submitting it to be included in their official line of merch, which is kind of neat. I continue to be concerned about the upsurge in hate and am still looking for a good political organization that I can volunteer with.

Porter Square Books is hosting a "how to get involved, how to volunteer" workshop at the end of this month that I plan to attend, assuming nothing more concrete to do has materialized before then. I'm trying to be mindful that this is a long-term effort but I still want to be doing more.

What are you guys doing to keep sane these days?
drwex: (Troll)
April's going to be a crazy month and if I put off updating it'll be Too Much and I won't write it. So here's a bit of an update on what's been happening.

This week I drove in town three times in four night. Monday I went to a professional society talk at IBM Cambridge, which was OK. Good to know what people are doing.

Tuesday I met Pygment and I couple other folk at the hotel John Scalzi was staying at. We sipped Cokes and traded chit-chat with Scalzi and each other for about an hour before walking over to Brookline Booksmith for his reading and signing. I enjoy hanging with him - we swapped college-for-kids stories since our oldest is just a year behind Athena on that path, and how it is different for the kids from what he and we did when we applied.

Scalzi always reads something different than the book he's touring for and this was no exception. We were asked not to Internet-spoiler it so I'll just say it was an excerpt from a new work that I'm now quite looking forward to. Someone brought a ukulele so he played a song on that and told a story about himself and Krissy that was quite endearing, even if it did lead Pygment to poke me several times. I wanted to stay for the signing but as the line formed there was a press of more people getting more closer to me and I saw the claustrophobia about to set in so I bailed. Fortunately, Pygment and I had arrived in separate cars so she stood and got signatures and I went home after taking several deep breaths outside.

Then last night I headed back into Cambridge to meet up with my best cocktails buddy [personal profile] silentq. We had a plan to dine at Asgard and then head to a new place for cocktails. That was great right up until the heavens deluged the area just as we were finishing up food. Asgard was far too loud for catching-up conversations. We set out for what we thought was our intended target and ended up going the wrong way. Fortunately, Cambridge is chock full of interesting places and rather than try to backtrack in the downpour we adjusted plans to the new place, and took seats at their bar.

Sadly I forget the establishment's name, but the theme is very Spanish/Central American and on Mass Ave so easy to find again. Many of the staff spoke native Spanish (some with little or no English) and most of the drinks featured the bar's extensive collection of rums. I got something fruity, and silentq ended up with two drinks because the first one took forever to arrive and was made wrong. So they showed up with a free corrected drink unprompted. We passed on more food but did succumb to tasty desserts (flan and a dulce de leche thing that was entirely decadent).

Hanging with silentq is always fun, drinks or no. She's just back from her ski-and-Viking-death-metal vacation and... yeah, that's totally her and a thing that actually exists. My own stories pale by comparison and we have a good time catching each other up on life and relationships and families and houses and all the things.

The past weekend started Friday night with [personal profile] pygment(*) and I going out to dinner at Besito in the Burlington Mall. I was completely blown away by how good it was. I had a salmon with mole' and I cannot remember when I had a better-prepared piece of salmon. The entire meal was quite tasty - even the rice-and-beans were exceptional - and I ate too much. Definitely planning a return visit with anyone I can convince to come along.

Saturday I was wiped out so we stayed home and did house- and life-maintenance things and tried sleeping. You'd think after all these years I'd be better at it. But anyway. And on Sunday there was D&D and the party did not ALL die, but several bodies hit the floor in pretty rapid succession. We have yet to see the end of this fight but we're not going to be able to game for several weeks. So there's that.

(*) I've realized this is going to break for people whose names have changed between LJ and DW. Sorry about that.
drwex: (Troll)
I've been noticing the expected drop-off in content and then realized "hey, you're contributing to that, y'know." So I'm going to jot some notes about what's up in my life and I encourage you to do the same.

1. Pygment and I seem to be super-solid these days. She's having a lot of health challenges and we're trying to navigate those. She's listed the various plates she's got spinning and the stresses involved in that. But her-n-me? That's freakin' awesome.

2. Kids. I wrote a longer piece about this under lock because I'm still a private person but generally things are middling-OK to good. Thing 1 has one more college to tour and then we head into the summer. Thing 1 is continuing to bust ass doing schoolwork and grades seem good. There's a gap in extracurriculars but we've never pushed that on the kids and aren't going to start now. Thing 2 continues to have issues with the current school system, particularly one teacher who seems unwilling to play by anyone's rules but her own and Thing 2 is treating that situation pretty much exactly like you'd expect if you know Thing 2 or have been reading my past entries.

On the plus side the first meeting with the town high school went much better than expected. Thing 2 would still like to go to the tech HS that Thing 1 has been going to but that would require an actual G-d created miracle of Thing 2 getting up for an early bus every day. We can pray for miracles but plan for other options.

We went as a family to a bat mitzvah this Saturday and while I did not like the service(*) I liked doing this thing with the family. We have great kids and we're doing as much as we can to support and love them through this stage of their lives. We've made a couple adjustments to the support teams for both Thing 1 and Thing 2 to get folk with the right attitude, expertise, and approach on board.

3. Social. I keep thinking I'm not as social as I'd want to be then I have problems scheduling things when people say they're available. Ewps? I think it's a factor partly of April having large chunks carved out of it by Passover and a planned trip to Philly (Thing 1's final visit, celebrating my Dad's b-day, more below).

That said, I would like to spend more time with people I don't see often. We had a former D&D gamer/friend come by for a visit recently and that was quite nice. I have two friends whom I see regularly every 6-7 weeks and I really appreciate that both of them help keep up the connection. If you're interested in social, let me know.

4. Social+. The long-distance girlfriend will be returning to town in a couple weeks for what ought to be her final divorce court date. That's not the best way to get to see someone, and the timing is super-awkward so we aren't going to get the time together that we'd like but it is what it is. I'll probably try to arrange to visit her (or meet her somewhere).

There's also one possible + that would be crazy-awesome if it could actually happen but things are Complicated and I'm working on being a Reasonable Patient Adult. Sorry for the vaguebooking but that's all I'm willing to say at this point.

5. Arisia. I organized and ran a reasonably successful brainstorm to try and figure out what we're going to do about publications. I need to get that written up and distributed and I think people felt like we accomplished a lot in a fairly few hours. I have one key position filled and offers out to two people I would be very excited to work with in two other key positions.

I do need someone who is interested in doing marketing - basically, organizing the selling of ads in Arisia publications. If you or someone you know is interested in doing work pre-con (and getting a free membership) ping me and let's talk.

--- There's more but this is already long; go forth and write! ---

(*) The service was Reform and the prayers were accompanied by a LOUD piano that felt very distancing. I got the sense I was at a performance (the cantor had a good voice and was well-trained) rather than participating in a service. Also, the fact that seemingly every new melody seemed cribbed from a B'way musical rubbed me the wrong way.

To get into the synagogue we had to use a buzzer system, and the service was amplified. Now, I'm not a religious Jew by any means, but electric amplified sound system and electric devices you're required to use in a synagogue also rubbed me the wrong way. The woman who came to open the door made some remark about "security" which seriously set off my "do you have any idea how much privilege you have, lady? hackles.

I mean, I get that antisemitism is on the rise in the US, but you're a white congregation in a white town in a very liberal state with a significant Jewish population. If you're that concerned about security, hire a Shabbos goy to sit by the door. The only good thing about that was I found a table in the foyer covered with flyers for a Jewish-centric organization that assists refugees. I have already written to them and filled out their volunteer form; we'll see if something comes of that and I'll write more when Passover gets closer.
drwex: (pogo)
I contemplated using my "zero fucks" icon but that's not right either. There are a lot of things I care about a great deal and I cared a great deal about many things that happened this past weekend. I'm just worn out. This entry was started two days ago; now it's Thursday and I'm having trouble staying awake at work. I kind of spectacularly failed my 5-2-1 this year, mostly the 2.
I worked a lot this year )
I did have a Con and did some things )
Among the things I did were a couple panels )
Overall this Arisia gets a 6/10 from me. With better planning and foreknowledge on my part that would've been an 8/10. Live and learn.
drwex: (Default)
The last sort of update was all about the accident we stopped for along the way so let's pick up from there.

driving was OK )
Xmas and the following week )
drwex goes to a party and parties like a partying person )
Friends, of the girl variety )
Oh and I bought a car )
So now I'm back at work, trying hard to convince myself that I don't have whatever virus has knocked out Pygment and Thing 2 this week. There will be no smooching strangers until further notice.

How was your New Year's Eve? Do anything you want to share with me? Please share.
drwex: (VNV)
Yeah, I do have brain space for some things other than politics. I haven't updated since Thanksgiving, so here are a bunch of scattered points.

Arisia is eating lots of my brain space. We are responsible for publications this year, without the aid of a person in charge of the Souvenir Book nor a publications coordinator. So my DH and I are trying to do those jobs and I kind of screwed it up, a bit. But I did find us a printer who can work with our (tighter-than-usual this year) deadlines and won't cost us a lot more money to do so. Fortunately, my DH both has layout software available and has some experience at this because I would be utterly lost if I had to do this on my own.

Earlier this month I went to the housewarming for [livejournal.com profile] tamidon and [livejournal.com profile] feste_sylvain out in Notlob. Great gathering of people, neat space that's clearly still in development (because you know that kitchen is going to evolve) and apparently a great location for them to do what they want to be doing. As usual at these things I ate too much tasty food and my allergies eventually failed to deal with the fact that there's a cat in residence.

Speaking of allergies, this year has been another miserable one. Freeze came late and even now the leaf molds are still rampaging. I remember many years when I could stop taking my antihistamines after the first hard freeze killed the ragweed. Not so much anymore. I also had really bad nosebleeds this year when trying to supplement with nasal steroids. Had to lay off that pdq.

D&D has been happening with great irregularity and reasonable amounts of fun. I keep thinking that the party will overrun the stuff I've prepared and they always end up going more slowly than expected. Some of this is due to being higher level characters, which means having more spells and abilities they can select from and some of it is due to this party's ability to turn even the simplest trap into a clown circus.

This past Saturday I went to another friend's memorial. I was not as close to this friend as I was to the most recent other and yet this one hit me harder. I think because many more of the people eulogizing our departed comrade were more distraught and more heartfelt. I mentioned on a chat group having to bow out of a social activity for this memorial and discovered that the world really is a teeny tiny place because someone in that group knew our lost friend and turns out that gaming-friend-of-mine actually knows rather a LOT of people in my social circle and it's quite likely we'd bumped into each other at several interesting places about 10 or so years ago and just not noticed each other.

The memorial left me raw and stumbling despite its grace and despite seeing people there I don't often see. Such events bring a measure of closure and do allow for some forms of good-bye but each one also marks an accumulated weight on my spirit and 2016 has been a really heavy year in that respect. I'd be just fine with a chance to set those weights down, but there's also this time of year in general.

I have a form of SAD and it has been with me pretty constantly the last three weeks. Intermittently beforehand, as usual, but the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's are days I push through by force of will most of the time. But that's what I need to be doing, so I do it.

I'm currently driving a big-ass rental car because my VW is in the shop being repaired. I got pretty badly scraped by a random trailer full of yardwork equipment being towed behind some unmarked white Ford F150. On my own street, no less. I had just pulled out of my parking space when the guy came alongside me and in making a left turn his trailer kind of didn't turn and so ended up scraping up the side of my car. I pulled off the road like you're supposed to and got out to exchange info with the other guy, only to see him drive off. Since it was a hit-and-run I have to eat the deductible, which sucks. But in all other ways Liberty Mutual has been pretty good by me and nobody was hurt, so there's that.

The irony of getting lifetime-guaranteed repairs on a car I want to sell back to Volkswagen as soon as I can is amusing but it's part of the package. I have submitted my claim to VW and it's being processed; no idea when I'll hear anything but I was told they wouldn't start processing the claim until Dec 15 so there's that.

We did look at cars - after a bunch of online reading I've come to the realization that I'm never going to get the trifecta again (good mileage, good performance, good carry capacity). VW got it by cheating, so I'm not buying from them again. Surprisingly, I ended up liking the Prius V. It's roomy but way more performant than Prius vehicles were three years ago. And the mileage is good. I'd never take the think racing but it doesn't strain going up hills nor accelerating into highway traffic, and if it does it has a button for that. I'm not going to like giving up driving stick but it feels like this vehicle is probably the closest thing to what I want. I also test-drove the automatic-transmission Subaru Forester. I loved my Forester and wouldn't mind having another one except the mileage is utter shite. The salesman talked up their new CVT, which I'd always wanted as a prerequisite for giving up manual. However, driving it was uncomfortable. It's aggressive, loud, and it feels like it's constantly grabbing and jerking. On the highway it's OK, but any sort of stop-and-go traffic would be unpleasant. I am likely to test a manual Forester anyway but I am not impressed so far.

Despite my calendar seeming to be chock-full I've only managed one personal social thing lately: [livejournal.com profile] silentq continued our infrequent series of drinks at new places. This time we tried a new place in HSQ, The Hourly Oyster House. It was OK, but the drinks were not inspiring. I'm hankering to go back to some of the places we've been that had bigger and more interesting drink lists and try new things at familiar places so we'll likely do that. But after Arisia.

So that's what's up with me - what's up with you?
drwex: (VNV)
Done:

1. Now a monthly supporter of ACLU. There will likely be more organizations I need to kick up my donations to. I feel like those that take the fight to the courts (Lambda Legal and NRDC to name a couple I support) are going to have their hands full really soon.

2. Potential schools investigated, except BU. Basically, any school we'd consider sending our kids to is going to be way more progressive than the state or the nation.

3. Packed boxes (100) for troops overseas to receive during December holidays. It was easy work, and the best part was we got to write personal notes to include with the boxes. It was interesting to see the differences in styles. I wrote personal things and tried to keep in mind that the person reading my note might not celebrate Christmas, nor particularly want to be reminded that even if they did they were spending this Xmas away from their families. So I wrote about thanks and that they were not forgotten because they were far away. I wished them a safe return home. A couple of my coworkers (both younger females) had a great time decorating their notes with colorful depictions of Christmas themes and items like wreaths and reindeer. I can't help but see how much these differences say about us and I wonder what the reactions will be of people who get such different missives.

I'd like to find another organization or opportunity to do volunteer work. I'm not very good with "get involved with Organization X" but find it satisfying to "help Organization X do good thing Y".

Status:

Emotionally I'm not doing all that great. I feel worn down and very raw all the time - I said to [livejournal.com profile] mizarchivist that it feels like most of my nerves are on the outside these days and I realize my reactions are going all out of proportion.

I normally dislike this (Xmas shopping-binge commercialism) time of year anyway. But the amount of sheer RAGE I felt on seeing an advertisement that equated "being thankful" with "here's a chance to spend more money" was pretty high. It makes all kinds of interpersonal interactions really hard.

Seriously, though, do not equate "giving thanks" with "spend money" around me, please? That's just Not OK with how the world is right now.
drwex: (Troll)
For background see this entry: http://drwex.livejournal.com/611980.html

After two weeks of wearing the surgical "shoe" - basically a board strapped to my foot - and showering with said foot in a plastic bag I went for my follow-up. 48 hours ahead I got x-rays. I'm now back in normal shoes that have inserts and I need to buy new sneakers.

The most lasting effects were from not being able to walk normally for two weeks, which left my hips and back in pretty bad shape. I've been slowly getting back to walking - on Saturday I did an unintentionally intense hike uphill through dense underbrush for about 2 miles and survived that OK (though I needed a nap and most of Sunday off from walking). Monday I walked about another 3 miles around WPI campus, about which more in another entry.

The foot is occasionally sore particularly when the dog stomps on the less-protected toe, but it's getting better. I really need new walking shoes, though. Details and longer-term stuff behind the cut (nothing gross)...
but what about that longer-term stuff )
drwex: (Troll)
This contains discussion of minor surgery and infection. It's a follow-up to my last entry about infection. Some people don't like reading that stuff...
nothing too gross, I promise )
drwex: (WWFD)
This entry discusses infection. I'm cut-tagging because [livejournal.com profile] taura_g reads my LJ and shouldn't get landmined.
Not particularly icky medical stuff )
drwex: (Troll)
And it keeps not happening. The latest update is that Thing 2 came home from camp on Saturday with some kind of aggressive illness, quite likely viral bronchitis. The odds that Pygment and I have now caught it are higher than I like.

OTOH, both of us felt better after napping, so maybe it's just accumulated stress and exhaustion. So here's a very small update from me...

Thing 1 is still at camp. He asked to stay another two weeks - he's apparently been doing well there. We told him he'd have to pay for it. He agreed. Then we told him how much it was. He blinked and continued to agree. This means, at a minimum, he's going to be missing his Friday night D&D, weekend classes, occasional Magic evenings, and other pay-as-you-go Guard Up activities. We'd normally pay for those - instead, we'll deduct them from his debt.

Later this school year he'll have some kind of paid internship, which I think he imagines will pay off this debt. I don't think he's going to be bringing home as much money as he thinks, and I think it's going to be a shock to him when he's in debt and has no money to spend at Arisia.

But I also think it's WAY better for him to get a first-hand idea of what it's like to be in debt now rather than later...

Last Saturday's Thing 2 pick-up took much longer than anticipated, plus there was nap fail so we ended up missing [livejournal.com profile] a_t_swampends's family BBQ. I'm writing this down now so hopefully I'll remember next time - it's OK to go over at 6PM for an event called for 4-6.

It's a little funny because we rarely put end times on our events. Usually it's "until the last guest leaves or we throw you out and go to bed." Some of our regular guests are perennial late-nighters, and for a while we pretended great shock when [livejournal.com profile] r_ness showed up at any of our events before midnight. But kids and age and tiredness and caution have gained the upper hand these days. What about you? If an event has an end time stated, how do you feel about showing up at or near that end time?
drwex: (Troll)
I want to do a calendar-based catch-up post at some point, but first a few other things-going-on-in-drwex-life:

Arisia 2017...
ADH )
New toy (oh way oh)...
I pad )
Girlfriend...
the J word )
I own a VW, and I have a kid who will be driving soon...
Read more... )

Generally, the summer chugs along. Kids will be headed off to camp soon and we might try to do adult things while they are away. They've both decided this is their summer to laze about and do as little as possible, which is generally irksome, but well, teenagers.
drwex: (Troll)
I was settling down to do a long LJ update because here it is the end of Tuesday and I'm kind of mostly caught up on things my friends have written and I want to write my own BIG update but I look at the clock and it's nearly five so I'm not going to start that now. Instead a small thing here and there will have to do. Forgive me if I turn into Posty McPostALot.

I'm leaving at (near) 5 today for the first time in who-knows-how long. Most of the working late has been due to taking on a project attempting to teach the developers at my place of work something about design - what it is that I do. Note I did not say I was going to teach them to be designers. That's a lot harder. But right now we have a recognized situation where I am a bottleneck and one way to relieve that is to have more people with some of my skills around. Since we're not hiring more of those, we'll try to grow them organically.

I wrote and delivered six lectures in three weeks. Doing these things is mentally and physically exhausting for me. When I teach this kind of a course it's usually three hours a week over a semester (15 weeks or so). It is, as I explained, a very lossy compression.

Still, I think it has gone pretty well. Feedback is generally positive and I managed not to make an utter ass of myself more than twice. People reported being both informed and entertained, which is about as good a compliment as I'm likely to get. As to whether it'll have its intended effects of lightening my overall workload by having more people around here doing design things we shall see.

Now I just have to catch up on the backlog of work-things-that-were-not-on-fire I've semi-ignored for the last 2.5 weeks. I put out a couple of things this afternoon that had caught fire while I wasn't paying attention and now I'm going to LEAVE WORK after a mere eight hours.

I really appreciate the privilege I have in working this kind of job. I see so many people who don't have this kind of privilege, who have to work whatever hours their boss says, or who are working for themselves and "leave work" means "take home less money." I look back on the long road of privilege I've walked to get here and try to hold in my mind the idea that I couldn't do this without the privilege and yet I'm also busting my ass (my shirt is damp with sweat and I'm mentally drained). I think about this kind of stuff often as I'm pushing Thing 1 to try and get something like a realistic summer job this year.
drwex: (VNV)
The day started out with the ongoing insomnia. But I did manage a nap in the morning, so that could have been worse.

D&D was fun. And by "fun" I mean I (apparently) turned purple from laughing so hard. [livejournal.com profile] sweetmmeblue had to caution one of the players to "stop breaking the GM". We haven't had a session like that in a long time. I miss [livejournal.com profile] mrf_arch, [livejournal.com profile] woodwardiocom, and [livejournal.com profile] harlequinaide who used to play with us and brought regular sharp witty humor. But we still manage to have a lot of fun when we can get together.

I reminded people we needed to end on time because we had tickets to see Bob Mould that night, leading Pygment to say "What?" Apparently when Ticketbastard created the calendar event for the show it set the visibility to "Private" rather than "Calendar Default." So I'd been merrily assuming we both knew what the plan for the evening was and she didn't see anything on the calendar. Fortunately no other plans had been made and the kids could be left alone so THAT could have been worse.

Then as we were cleaning up and getting ready to head out, Thing 1 took a tumble on the stairs down to the basement. I will here elide the number of times his know-nothing old man has previously warned him not to goof around on the stairs, especially while carrying a laundry basket. Fortunately he seemed to land mostly on his ass and elbows, not smacking his head, nor breaking any actual bones. He was a little shaken and had to ice his ass but all in all THAT could have been worse.

We checked him repeatedly for signs of concussion and saw none. Still, we left him with strict instructions that if he fell again, felt too dizzy to do things, or threw up he was to call 911 first and us second. Then we went to the Paradise, where we discovered we had no cell reception. After the opening act Pygment called home to find things had settled down, so THAT could have been worse.

Then we got to see Bob Mould at the Paradise. Note I say "see" because "hear" was not so good. I really utterly loathe that venue. The sound is terrible, the floor didn't actually squelch this time, but was distinctly sticky, there was no AC to speak of, and I ended up being annoyed that I could not really hear him doing most of the songs I came to hear. OK, this is Bob Mould so you sort of expect you're going to need earplugs - this is the guy who anagramed his own name to "loudbomb" at one point - but this was just bad. About 1/4 of the way through they replaced the foam cover on Mould's mic and that helped some. I actually took out the plugs so I could hear a couple of my favorite tracks unfiltered but had to put them back in.

Mould was in fine form. I've been listening to his stuff since late Husker Du days in the early 1980s and never seen him live. He's a couple years older than I am and he just blasted his way through a 75-minute set with essentially no breaks. The other two musicians on stage with him had to be half his age and they were working to keep up. I'm really glad I got to see him after listening to his work for all these years but I don't think I'm going back to the Paradise anytime soon. So it wasn't a great concert experience, but it definitely could have been worse.

Then we headed home, Pygment driving. On Storrow we hit a slick patch under an overpass near the Hatch Shell and spun out. The car hit the concrete pretty hard and one tire/wheel is pretty trashed. We went over a curb that no doubt did some undercarriage damage but managed to get the car to side of the road. No property damage, nobody hurt, and no other cars involved in the collision. We were both a bit shaken (she worse than I) but not significantly harmed.

I will not enumerate the number of ways THAT could have been worse. Trufact: Storrow Drive is remarkably busy at 11PM on a Sunday night.

We called AAA and they eventually figured out how to get a tow truck to us. Pygment was particularly underdressed for standing on the roadside but it wasn't freezing and it wasn't pouring so THAT could have been worse. Car's at the body shop, she has a rental, insurance processing is underway. Some months ago Pygment had questioned whether we wanted to maintain our AAA membership - we've had some financial rough spots and done belt-tightening in a couple areas. I decided to keep it and had the card in my wallet (like I always do). So THAT could have been a lot worse, too.

Life lessons you can walk away from are usually the best kind.

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