the_andy: (Default)
Anyone who follows wrdnrd or me pretty much anywhere online probably already already knows what's been going on, but maybe you're only seen bits of it, so here's the whole deal.

1) On Friday we finally got a cancer diagnosis on Ella, the cat who was losing weight and vomiting over the past month. Surgery scheduled for Monday
2) Sunday evening I ruptured my Achilles and we get to spend the evening in the ER. I cannot use my left foot and am looking at surgery and 6 months recovery.
3) Ella goes in for surgery. It costs literally all the monies. It's kind of a good thing I was left at home so I could shuffle things around between accounts while wrdnrd was at the vet.
4) We get Ella back today (finger's crossed for no additional charges we can't pay). She can eat on her own, but also has a tube for us to help. And there will probably be some chemo we'll be administering too at some later point?
5) I have a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon Thursday. Mostly I just hope they give me a smaller splint (I have been hopping around with this big plaster not quite a cast, which of course is not load bearing. Getting good with the crutches).

So, how was your weekend?
the_andy: Guitar Wolf explains it to Ace (Wild Zero)
Here's the deal: I list well regarded authors I have not been able to get into. You recommend a starting place (or you can tell me not to bother) and I'll try it. I will give each author two attempts to catch my interest. If after two books*, which I have not already read**, I remain unsold, then they are off my list forever.

I'll add to this list as I recall more names.


My initial list for recs:
Gene Wolfe
Mary Gentle
Catherynne M. Valente
Iain M. Banks
Guy Gavriel Kay


* I will not promise to read any book beyond 25 pages if it's not grabbing me. You may want to keep that in mind and not recommend things that get good around 100 pages in.

** If it's been a long time since I've read a book I might be convinced to give it another try.

Gone Home

Aug. 24th, 2013 11:12 pm
the_andy: Guitar Wolf explains it to Ace (Love)
So, I bought and finished Gone Home. No spoilers here, I promise.

The closest description I have for the game is like Myst (remember Myst?), but without all the annoying puzzles. The closest thing to a puzzle if finding a couple keys and locker combinations, which are really just there to force you through the story in a roughly linear fashion, not to be challenging. None of it is that difficult to figure out (I recommend looking at the map for rooms you've missed if you're having problems unlocking an area).

For most of the game you just wander around and look at stuff and piece together what happened. I enjoyed it a lot, but your mileage my vary depending on how interesting you find the story and if you find poking around behind things looking for scraps of paper you might have missed to be interesting.

Over all I think it took me about four hours to finish and I'm pretty sure I found 95% of the stuff there is to find. There are some bits of the tertiary story that I might be missing, but that's it. (My own terms: #1 story is your sister, Sam. #2 is your parents, though they each have their own things going on. #3 is the uncle who used to own the house).

Anyway, I enjoyed it and hope to see more games like it.
the_andy: (Default)
Cause I totally did.

I usually spend a couple days after class pretty sore, but it fills my workout needs of 1) not being boring and 2) having someone encouraging/yelling at me to do stuff. Mostly the basic class consists of balancing, different kinds of rolling, and different vaults over small obstacles, with some intermittent strength training (pushups, squats, and pullups being the default). Though occasionally we get to run courses and swing on ropes.

Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun and actually enjoying exercising again, though it can be frustrating watching 12 year old kids (man, the kids class would have been awesome when I was little) effortlessly backflip off walls.

Purchases

Jun. 3rd, 2013 11:06 pm
the_andy: (Default)
So, a couple months ago we tossed a chunk of change at some anime box sets. wrdnrd bought all of Honey & Clover and I bought Utena. Partially that was so at some point we can live the dream of making the ultimate Total Eclipse of the Heart vid using it, but also it's because I really like the packaging (I am a sucker for nice packaging).
Cut for pics and blathering. )
the_andy: (Default)
Assuming you aren't also following me on twitter/facebook, here's the first look at my new octopus tattoo.

Octotat

If you remember my post about commissioning the tattoo you'll notice a couple minor changes that the tattoo artist suggested: flipping it to face forward on my arm and some simplification/elimination of the suckers on some of the tentacle tips. But overall he did a great job matching the original and did a very nice job with the colors too.

I'll put up some more pictures after it heals, but I'm super happy with this and I'm glad I decided to commission a custom piece for my first time.

Also, shout out to Josh W at Slave to the Needle. He did a great job on the tat and did it super fast: I was out in under 2 hours. Also it appears to be healing nicely, not too much swelling or welting, but I'll take credit for some of that.
the_andy: (Sexy Elves!)
Last night I tweeted "As much as I enjoy shooting dudes, are there any good action games that don't involve massive homicide?"

I got a bunch of responses, but not much that was helpful. I think the 140 limit was keeping me from going into too much detail. So here is too much detail.
Read more... )

ETA platform requirements
the_andy: (Crossiant Crab)
Maki of Just Bento & Just Hungry has a bunch of articles on onigiri, but the best place to start is her onigiri FAQ (http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/onigiri-omusubi-faq).

One of the links is to the Cooking Cute blog’s instructions on using a mold like the one we sent you (http://www.cookingcute.com/onigiri_with_filling.htm). My instructions are pretty much the same as theirs.


Andy’s instructions:

Make some rice. You need to be using Japanese style short grain rice, sometimes labeled as sushi rice, otherwise it won’t stick right.

Make the onigiri as soon as the rice is done. It will be hot, but since you’re using a mold it should be ok (I’ve made them the traditional way by hand and it’s kinda painful with hot rice).

Wet the mold and fill about half way with rice. Do not pack the rice in.

Make a little divot in the center for filling and put something in it. I’m a traditionalist and use umiboshi or umiboshi paste. If you’re using umiboshi you’ll probably want to remove the pit first: not only is it large, but sometimes it has a little point on top that likes to jab into lips.

If you buy umiboshi paste in a squeeze bottle you can cheat and inject it in after making a plain onigiri.

Fill the mold the rest of the way with rice, then press down the lid.

Remove the lid, turn the mold over, and give it a good shake to release the onigiri. I think the style of mold we gave you has a flap on the back you can push on to help release the onigiri if necessary.

Re-wet the mold and lid before making the next one.

Sprinkle a little salt on the onigiri and, if you’re going to eat it immediately, put a strip of nori on it. I don’t recommend putting nori on the onigiri until you’re about to eat it, otherwise I find it gets mushy, so if you’re packing for a snack later I keep the seaweed in a separate bag until eating time.

That’s pretty much it.
the_andy: (Default)
So, after talking about how my tattoo art commissioning went, and how reassured I was that it followed a structure I was familiar with from the experience I have with artists and designers at work, wrdnrd asked that I talk a little bit about dealing with an art commission.

So, in my particular case I didn't have to do much because Erika Moen has her shit together. Here's the information I got after contacting her about the commission:

Based on my description she estimated 5 hours of work at $50/hour. Half paid upfront, half on completion.

She'd send me thumbnail sketches on Day X. I would have 3 days to send feedback. Feedback would all have to be in one e-mail. One week later I would get pencils, then the same feedback window, then one week later inks, again with the same feedback timeline. Any changes not in one of those feedback loops would be billed as additional work at the $50/hr rate.

If the artist you talk to does not offer that level of detail, then you need to provide it. Maybe not so many steps, but if money is changing hands you need to structure this if you want good results. You should at least get something like this:

You talk about what you want to see. If you don't speak artist talk (and even if you do) provide links to references.

The artist then provides you several rough concepts to choose from within an agreed upon time frame. You have X amount of time (agree to all Xs before work starts) to comment. As in my case all comments should be delivered in one go, not six separate e-mails over a week.

Next you should get an initial design/rough sketch/pencils (terms vary) which you can again make comments on. After that you'll get the final design, which you can comment on (but for the love of whatever these had better be minor things at this point!).

You can do this with more or less rounds of feedback and revision. If you know exactly what you want then maybe just sketch and final. If you only have a vague idea or want the artist to explore a couple avenues then you'll need more.

Try to be very clear about timelines and expected turnaround times for both parties from the beginning. If you think it might take many rounds of revisions be up front about that.

This is what is, in my opinion, standard operating procedure. Any freelance artist should have their own personal version of this kind of workflow. You should not feel overbearing if you implement this if they don't offer it as you really don't want to be working without a schedule and clear expectations for feedback and revision.
the_andy: (Haydee)
I finally decided to stop talking about getting a tattoo and actually figure out what I wanted. Eventually I settled on a octopus. And if you need to ask why I would get an octopus I will question how well you know me.

Anyway, I got in touch with Erika Moen because I knew she did tattoo commissions, liked cephalopods, and had a style I liked. Here are the results.

Read more... )
the_andy: (Default)
Some rough thoughts on the realities of governance in the Mushroom Kingdom.


Princess Peach is just a figurehead. Mushroom Kingdom royalty hasn’t wielded real power in generations, executive decisions are carried out by a council of advisors lead by the chamberlain. This has been the norm all of Peach’s life, her bubbly airhead personality is an affectation for the public. As long as she doesn’t act out she is provided with an opulent lifestyle: castle, servants, travel to exotic locations, sexy racecars, etc.

Most citizens have some awareness of the current situation. In order to keep either a democratic revolution or a restoration of the monarchy from occurring a constant threat from outside is required. Normally this is Bowser, who’s nation is strong enough to occasionally invade and kidnap the (intentionally poorly guarded) Peach, but can still be defeated by a plumber with a decent vertical leap. Bowser is sadly unaware that he exists only at the Mushroom Kingdom’s whim and that should he ever not present a galvanizing threat (or conversely, ever attempt to offer a real one) the kingdom would suddenly find itself capable of marshalling a surprisingly proficient military and erasing him from the map.

Mario is the perfect hero. Working class. Rescues the princess he loves. Is mostly mute. I don’t think he’s in on the scheme exactly, but he and his brother have to make their way in the strange land they’ve ended up stuck in. They’re good at their jobs and as long as they keep stomping goombas and rescuing Peach they live in relative comfort and are treated like celebrities.
the_andy: (Default)
Well, I had only little bits of heartburn while off omeprazole, but kinda forgot how chest pain was also the first thing that would spiral out into anxiety. So after a big ol' anxiety attack in the kitchen I'm back on the PPI.

In addition to being off the reflux drugs work is really busy (in fact it's the start of the annual busy season when I first had my reflux/anxiety last year) and I had more soda than usual (caffeine being a huge anxiety trigger for me). Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better now. Given how much of my issues are psychosomatic I think the act of running to the store and buying more omeprazole took care of 75% of it.

In other news, we're trying to make kimchi. If we die next week I guess I did use too much pepper in the spice blend.
the_andy: (Default)
I did something painful to my thumb earlier in the week (pretty sure it's not broken), so I'm going to retroactively claim that's what's kept me from posting for months. Yes, that doesn't make sense, no I don't care.

Wrdnrd and I were strangely mopey yesterday, so we blew off all our cleaning and dinner plans and just sat upstairs watching ATLA and eating homemade salsa. Our moods were gradually fixed, now I just need to be sure I don't get down today because of everything I failed to accomplish yesterday.

Our scooters are in the shop again. Thankfully mine was fixable (parts aren't made for it anymore), but because of the aforementioned thumb I'm not going to pick it up until wrdnrd's is also ready. Also I'm stalling because i don't feel up to budgeting right now, so I'd rather put off paying for it.

We bought a proper carpet cleaner. I've only played with it a little (see mopey and thumb), but it worked way better than I expected. Our carpet is old, so it'll never look great, but it can be a couple shades lighter and without obvious cat vomit stains. And I'm anxious to hit the high traffic area by the kitchen and see if it can look like something other than a packed dirt trail.

I'm off omeprazole for right now. I give it a break when I run out, both to see how my reflux is doing and also because IIRC eventually my body will start overcompensating with more acid, so I'd like to give it a chance to reset. Things seem pretty good right now, but they're always good until they're not. At least since it's OTC if I decide i need to go back on I can pop by the store at any time.

Having a medical billing issue which is frustrating with its opaqueness. And because I paid and subsequently tried to get reimbursement I think no one is really motivated to try and resolve it. They have their money.

Really have been feeling the need to play video games again. But there's always so much to do at home. Maybe I should break out the DS and get my fix in on the bus in the mornings.

Caught up with the new season of Doctor Who. Some of the weakest damn writing I have ever seen. Current theory: they blew the budget on that snippet of "Alien in New York" that played during The Angels Take Manhattan, so they paid half rates for the scripts. But yeah, terrible, terrible scripts so far this season and everyone involved should be ashamed with themselves. On the other hand it has actually made me miss the convoluted "everything is about River always" season, so maybe that was Moffet's secret goal.

Anyone enjoying my tweeting during my Breaking Bad watch? Should I keep it up?

/ramble

Fanfic

Jul. 22nd, 2012 09:00 pm
the_andy: (fight)
So, um, maybe, just maybe, I finished one of the pieces of Doctor Who fic I was working on for wrdnrd.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/466573
the_andy: (Default)
To recap the last week, for those not following my twitter/getting complained to in person.

I had my worst case of anxiety ever at work on Wednesday. I had back to back to back meetings scheduled on the day I was trying to wrap things up and leave early to pack for WisCon. I almost ran out of the office when I was done (and then camped in the quiet lobby for 5 minutes to calm down a bit).

Fortunately we planned really well this time and weren't rushed at home and got to the airport with plenty of time. That didn't get rid of my trip anxiety (which was super sensitive due to all my earlier stress), but it helped keep it in check. I still had to pace around the airport to stay calm though.

I still had some chest pain and anxiety during my first panel, but a long weekend filled with nothing but drinking and hanging out with awesome people and just not giving a shit about work was wonderful. I had pretty much no reflux and absolutely no anxiety. Which on the one hand is great, on the other demonstrates how easy it is for my brain to fuck up my body.

My panels went ok, I think (since I'm not going to read any writeups of them). I did way less partying this year, both because beer can often bother my reflux and because Jess didn't need a wingman. And we had a pretty solid bar in our room, so it's not like I needed the parties to unwind at night.

Having a room to just me and wrdnrd was kind of nice (no pants! the toilet paper lasted all weekend! I didn't have to threaten anyone with a knife to get the AC set where I need it!), but also kind of lonely. I miss the planning to cover diverse panels and then report back to the team. Also, it's nice to sleep in, but without roommates stomping about it's easy for us to sleep in too much.

On Tuesday I woke with a little pain, either due to the single malt that ended the night or just the first stirrings of trip anxiety. Throughout the day the anxiety and associated pain ebbed and flowed, and mostly just made me uncomfortable (and a bit of an asshole to wrdnrd at the airport).

Felt better for a little while on the bus home, then just had a mental collapse as my body realized how worn out all the travel and anxiety had made me. Food and sake have made it better, though now I'm struggling with the memories of coming home from WisCon last year. I think I made enough posts about what we went through with Ed, so I'm not going to do it again here.

I think we're skipping WisCon, and most travel for that matter, next year. I've always had issues with anxiety when preparing for trips, but everything in my brain is way worse right now. This is a travel heavy year and I think I just need to spend more time relaxing.
the_andy: (Default)
I was going to make a post about how much better I was feeling after talking to my doctor on Wednesday. Note the past tense. :/
Thursday night I drank too much (the beer was free, it would have been rude note to. What? Shut up!)
As a result, today I had mild heartburn, which got worse, then better, then worse, and I had a horrible anxiety attack while washing the dishes.
Now hiding in bed and somewhat calmer.

Seriously though, what the fuck?
the_andy: (Default)
Ugh, my heartburn and anxiety came back this last week. The heartburn is way way way less painful than it was before, but my anxiety doesn't give a fuck about that. All my brain wants to do it convince me I have something wrong with my chest (not all that hard to do, given that some heart arrhythmia runs in my family and my mom is having valve replacement surgery this Thursday). So, like it or not, I end up fixating on the pain in my chest and worrying, which makes my stomach upset, which makes my reflux worse, which makes the chest pain worse. So around and around we go.

I was getting seriously “lets go to the ER” anxious at work today, with weird feelings in my chest and tingling in my hands. But almost as soon as I left the office the tingling went away and my chest dropped to it's “normal” level of ache. My emotions were still a bit out of sorts for the bus ride, but I was mostly back to normal (or what passes for it these days) by the time I got home. Wrdnrd is spoiling me back to health with rice and sake and I'm feeling ok now. Yeah, yeah, alcohol isn't great for my heartburn, but A) I can deal with normal heartburn that's not coupled with horrible anxiety worry and chest tightness, and B) fuck you, I needed a drink.

Notes: isn't it great that my heartburn triggers my anxiety and my anxiety triggers tightening in my chest and tingling in my extremities? We're 95% sure my heart is fine (had an EKG and everything), but it really sucks for self diagnosis that my symptoms mimic heart attack and stroke.

I have another doctor's appointment for Wednesday. Proof that most of it is anxiety is the fact that I reliably start feeling better after making an appointment. Still, I want to cross off the remaining major things it could be and start talking in more concrete terms how to deal with this anxiety. Other than drinking it away I mean, I have expensive tastes in sake.
the_andy: (Default)
Somehow I convinced myself to sign up for panels again. Even contacted programming when one disappeared (they brought it back for me).

Anime & Manga: What I Read & Watched Since WisCon 35
Fri, 4:00–5:15 pm Room 623
Moderator: Em Jiang. Em Jiang, Kelly Peterson, Andy Smith, Mely (coffeeandink)

What manga have you read or reread this year? Which anime have you watched or re-watched? Any re-releases have you excited? Come listen to panelists discuss their recently seen anime and manga, and maybe get some ideas for what you'll read and watch next.

Changing Reading Tastes Over One's Lifespan
Sat, 10:00–11:15 am Conference 5
Moderator: Liza Furr. Liza Furr, Courtney, Lesley Hall, Janet M. Lafler, Andy Smith

Let's talk about whether we read differently at different times of life. Have your tastes in reading changed over the years? Are there authors, topics, and techniques that used to thrill you but no longer do? Are there writers or works that you couldn't stand years ago but now enjoy? Have you become easier or harder to please? Do you find yourself disagreeing with older or younger friends about the quality of the books you read?

The Many Meta Elements of Avatar: The Last Airbender
Sat, 4:00–5:15 pm Capitol A
Moderator: Erin Elizabeth Kelly. Erin Elizabeth Kelly, Lisa Blauersouth, Sunny Chen, Jaymee Goh, Genevieve A. Lopez, Andy Smith

Avatar: The Last Airbender is popular in part due to the research that has gone into the Asian-inspired setting, which pays deep respect to the source material without seeming appropriative. Yet it remains at heart an American show, complete with certain troubling tropes. What do we love about its homage to Asia? What are the problems in its construction? What implications does this have for its young audiences?
the_andy: (Default)
  • Hilariously we appear to be the local sake experts now. We're taking people to the bar all the time and giving advice. I'm really hoping the bartender starts paying a finders fee though, this ain't cheap. Loaning me Japanese movies doesn't count.
  • The strangest things remind me of Ed and cause me to get all weepy. Today's culprit: the end of the Fellowship of the Ring (which we were rewatching with book group, cause why not?) where Boromir dies and Aragorn kisses his forehead.
  • On a somewhat related note, I've been wondering if my increased anxiety and heartburn is somehow related to Ed's passing. I was terribly depressed and drank quite a bit, maybe I fucked up my mind and stomach. Eh, it's more likely just the case with the heartburn that I'm just falling apart as I get older and I've always had bouts of anxiety over various things.
  • When we were at Kinokuniya yesterday I just broke down and bought Redline (you might remember me rambling about it two weeks ago). Like FLCL it falls into this category of thing that I must buy because it is stuck in my head. Also, I'm curious if I can correctly peg who will and won't like it.
  • Despite the fact I have several unplayed video games, now that I sent a bundle off to Laceblade all I want to do is play those ones again. Like I have any spare time right now.
  • Work continues to be super busy, but my anxiety about it isn't as bad any more. Though I am more likely to veg out when I get home, which has put me behind on budgeting, cleaning, and Japanese homework.
  • Wrdnrd and I watched all of Honey & Clover over the past two weeks. That left me a bit melancholy for my dorm life. Definitely should have watched it earlier in the day so we could have had an upbeat movie chaser.
  • Found out one of our book group hosts has a nicely stocked liquor cabinet. I expect I may be a bit more loquacious next time we're over.
  • Current identified heartburn triggers: drinking too much of too many things, the delicious saag paneer from the place around the corner, about 2/3rds of the pizzas I've had (usually meaty ones), thinking "oh hey, my heartburn isn't bugging me right now".
  • Oddly enough, the longer I have this heartburn the more normal the symptoms become. The type and location of the pain now seems much more like what most people describe. 
  • On my doctor's advice I'm working out a bit again, even if it's just a little bit at night. I have managed to go almost a week without hurting myself, a new record I think.
  • I flicked my fingers a couple nights ago to get some sake off and slammed them into the cup I was holding in the other hand hard enough to break the skin and draw a fair bit of blood. I'm an idiot.
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