Category: holidailies

Black & White 4: Chairs

Black & White 4: Chairs

I spend way too much time in this room, mostly in the chair at the far end of the room facing the camera. It’s long and narrow, and when it’s a day when the room is full, it can get a bit claustrophobic. The weirdness of the room is because it used to be the waiting room and reception area of a doctor’s office.

But in black and white, it looks artsy.

(LJ/Dreamwidth readers: The crossposter I use for both these services does not attach the featured image, so you will have to click through the link at the bottom of the post to see the image.)

On Patriotism

On Patriotism

I don’t like to talk much about politics in public places, and none is more public than my blog. Even though I have a disclaimer, I’m searching for a job and there’s some worries that if I disclose my political beliefs, it might cost me a job. But I can’t write about this subject without saying it. I’m left of center and a Democrat. There are reasons for these stances, but I don’t want to get too deep in those weeds right now.

Anyway. I want to say that I’m tired of the insinuation that because I’m on the left side of the political system, I cannot be a patriot. Even more offensive are the ones that say that I’m not a “real American”, when I can trace my roots to the Mayflower or, in another direction, the Bering Land Bridge. I’ve had ancestors on this soil long before this country existed. Telling me I’m not a “real American” because of my political stance simply ticks me off.

I am a patriot. I love this country. I’m proud to be an American, just as I’m proud to be a Californian. I still attempt to hit the high notes in the Star Spangled Banner. I’ll admit I loved poking through the airplanes the Air Force and the Navy would bring to the airshow, and cheer as the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds went through their paces.

From the beginning, we were a beacon of new ideas. The French Revolution — the call of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité — has its roots in the American revolution. A fledgling nation, trying an entirely new way of governing, became an inspiration for people around the world.

Where I depart from those who say that they are patriots is that I am capable of understanding that (gasp) America isn’t perfect. For all the good this country has brought into the world, there are ways in which we have completely failed. The stain of slavery is woven into our founding documents, and the resulting treatment of African-Americans to this day perpetuates that great sin. There’s the internment camps of World War II, taking American citizens and putting them behind barbed wire for no other reason than that they were ethnically Japanese, assuming that none of them were actually American. There is the way we’ve treated Native Americans, the ones that were here first. And last, don’t forget the numerous governments around the world that we’ve destabilized or outright overthrew. We have brought light to the world, but we have also brought hideous darkness.

No nation — no person — stands at the pinnacle of perfection. Even heroes have feet of clay. The United States is no exception in this matter. We’ve done amazing good across the world; we’ve perpetuated some dark deeds. How can I be a patriot and think this way? Very simple:

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Senator Carl Schurz ended a speech on the Senate floor in response to Senator Matthew Carpenter’s use of the first half of the phrase. But the phrase has a kernel of truth that connects to something I was taught in therapy. I learned about the juxtaposition of two important thoughts: “I am good enough.” and “I can be better”. While those thoughts seem to be contradictory, there is truth. I am good enough, but I can always strive to be better.

I feel the same about my country. The United States is good enough, even great. But she can strive to be better — we can strive to be better, because the United States is the sum of all of us. Such is the nature of a republic.

I prefer to think of it as a thoughtful and nuanced patriotism, as opposed to simple “Love it or leave it!” rhetoric. But I am just as much a patriot as any right-winger, and I am not going to give ground simply because I happen to be on the lefty side of politics.

Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner

Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner

I can cook a few things. One of the things I can cook is stew, and that’s what I made for dinner tonight. I promise it actually was more appetizing than it looks in a black and white picture. I experimented with potato sizing on this batch and ended up with a thick potato sludge, which means that I cut them too small. I’m still trying to hunt down a happy medium.

However, I hate stew in the very end stages, when it’s boiling through all that thickness. At that point, it turns into a mudpot of the sort they have in Yellowstone or Lassen. The nasty thing about it is that it spits boiling hot stew goop onto the unfortunate hand stirring the pot. I have to wear an oven mitt to stir. It’s crazy.

But it was good. We have leftovers!

Prior posts in this series:

(Note to LJ and Dreamwidth users: The crossposter I’m using does not allow featured images to come through. If you would like to see the post, you will need to click through to the blog post.)

Black & White 1: My buddy

Black & White 1: My buddy

There’s a challenge going around on Facebook to spend a week taking a black and white photo of your life. The catch (besides that it must be in black and white) is that it must have no people in it. I figured it gives me something to blog about.

The picture on this post is Winter, our grey and white kitten (he’s seven months old), who came into our life at the beginning of July and brought joy to a house that had none. He’s part, if not full, Maine Coon, and we know he’s going to be a big boy if he looks like a full-grown cat at seven months. (He looked full-grown at six months, but we know he’s got a bit more to go because his paws are still a little big for the rest of him.)

But he’s my buddy and my fuzzy boy. Okay, technically, he’s my sister’s cat, but I love him and call him mine.

Unravelled

Unravelled

No, that’s not a statement on my life at the moment, or a statement of my interest in the fabric arts.

It’s actually about a neat little game I’ve been playing called Unravel. It’s available for Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. This has been a game I’ve wanted to get since it first came out in 2015, but I caught it on sale for five dollars and pulled the trigger.

I’m glad I did. The premise of the game is about memories — in the opening cut scene, you’re introduced to a grandmother who is straightening pictures of her grandkids and sighing. It’s obvious they don’t come around much anymore. I’m not entirely sure why — if they’re grown up, or if it’s something sadder. But a red ball of yarn rolls out and from that we meet the character we play.

It’s amazing how simple the mechanic of a little yarn guy (called Yarnie) unravelling himself to get through the various worlds. He can use his yarn as a lasso, or as a way to climb back up into spots. He can tie knots to various posts, and can use them to make a bridge so he can jump higher or transport objects. To get more yarn, he crosses through spools, which serve as the checkpoints of the game.

But I think what amazes me most is simply the background and interactive graphics. Here, let me show you some of the screenshots I’ve collected.

Read More Read More

gamer geek…

gamer geek…

Oe of the things I like to do for fun is to play video games. I’m not very good at them, but I like playing them. I go in fits and starts where I’m playing obsessively for a while, and then lag off for a while, and then pick it up again. My favorites are generally puzzlers, two dimensional side scrollers, and large sandbox worlds.

I cut my teeth on the original NES, which probably gives you a rough idea of how old I am, and I’ve still got a lot of love for those old eight bit games. My system of choice right now is an Xbox One, but I keep looking at the Switch.

I don’t generally play button mashers, which a lot of fighting and first person shooters involve, and I rarely do online gaming — partially because I’m not that good at them, and partially because I don’t need the aggravation. That said, if you give me a first person shooter with a giant sandbox world and don’t railroad me to stay on course, I may end up enjoying it.

I could be here all night telling you about my favorite games and why, but I think I’ll go with this short list.

  • Legend of Zelda series — have to go with Windwaker as my favorite, although I haven’t gotten to play Breath of the Wild yet. No spoilers!
  • Grand Theft Auto — it has that sandbox feel of “let’s see where this goes” along with the fact there’s a cheat code for a rocket launcher and a police helicopter to shoot out of the sky…look, I know, in real life,
    it’s not a good idea to shoot police helicopters with rocket launchers. Or green laser pointers for that matter.
  • Mario Kart — racing with your friends in cars driven by Nintendo characters. Plus, the controls aren’t overly detailed, so it’s easy even for a newbie to get the hang of.
  • Amimal Crossing — There’s so much to do, and some sharp humor. Also, I love Blathers.
  • Portal — A first person shooter after my own Companion Cube. There’s a gun. It shoots orange portals and blue portals. Things go in the blue portal and out the orange portal (or vice versa). It’s surprising how this game with such simple dynamics stole my heart, but it’s witty, touching, and puzzling all at the same time. The second game is more of the same, with a few new dynamics to puzzle through.

In my next post, I’ll talk about a new game I’ve encountered that’s won my heart. In the meantime, what’s your favorite game, if you’re into video games?

(Picture by David Mulder (davidmulder61) on Flickr (original link) CC BY-ND 2.0

It’s a bit dusty in here.

It’s a bit dusty in here.

blow

cough cough

Yuck, didn’t realize there was so much dust in here. I also seem to have acquired a nice colony of web spiders…

Anyway, I’m trying to blog every day this month for a project called Holidalies, ran by my good friends Richard and Jennifer. So far, it’s going about as well as NaNoWriMo did, which is to say not very well.

So I’m going to need some help here. Is there anything anybody wants to hear about from me? I’m willing to give any subject a go.

Hopefully this’ll mean that my blog gets used again.

A bit of excitement.

A bit of excitement.

Not the recommended kind, though.

I’ve been getting a lot of headaches, sometimes very migraine-like, lately. I’ve got a consult in with the neurologist for a week and a half from now, but for the moment, I’ve been taking Aleve at the first signs of a headache and resorting to the heavy guns (sumatriptan) if it doesn’t go away. If the headache wasn’t making me feel useless, the sumatriptan puts me out, or at least makes me very groggy. Hence, heavy guns.

So, I’m sitting there, scanning documents, when my head starts to hurt. Ah, I say, I have a headache, and reach for my backpack where I keep a bottle of naproxen sodium, which is generic Aleve. I count out two pills, put them in my mouth, and take a swig of my soda in order to swallow them.

First pill goes down fine. Second pill? Not so much. I immediately cough badly (I think it tried to go down the windpipe), but after a moment, I speak, so I’m obviously not choking on a stupid pill. Hell of a way to end a life, eh? “Here lies katster, choked on a pill.”

Unfortunately, it felt like it was still lodged in my throat in a rather uncomfortable way. Some water, some tea, and some food seemed to make the pain die down, but it reappears randomly, sometimes feeling like it’s moved and is touching where my gag reflex is, or that it’s in the tube where my ear connects to my throat, or just stuck.

Everything I’ve read on the Internet says that it’s probably not actually a pill stuck there, but that my throat is mighty irritated because it left a scratch or a bruise in the throat when it did momentarily get stuck. I guess the nerves in your throat are particularly sensitive. I’ll keep an eye on it, and if it gets worse, I’ll go see a doctor. If it stays the same, I have an appointment with my primary care doctor on Tuesday.

But trust me, it’s not much fun to feel like there’s something lodged in your throat that you can’t get out.

…yeah, that was my day. How was yours?

(PS: Tombstone courtesy of Tombstone Builder and my own demented mind. If you can’t laugh at things…)

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

So…I ponder weird things in the shower.

Today’s thoughts started with the saw I like to use about whether people from Roseville were Rosevillains. (It’s actually Rosevillians, with the i and a transposed, but that got me thinking.

Why is what we call people from a place so weird? For example, I’m a Californian. People that live in the biggest city in the metro area are Sacramentans, and over in the Bay Area, we have San Franciscans and Oaklanders and Berkelians/Berkeleyites. (And also whatever people from San Jose call themselves, which I haven’t figured out.)

People from New York are New Yorkers, people from LA…well, that’s one of the weird ones, as they’re Angelenos. Philadelphians and Washingtonians. Bostonians and Torontonians. Ohioans and Michiganders. (I think the later’s right…)

Expand out a bit more, and it gets really weird if you think about Europe. Europeans, yes, but you have French and Germans and English and Spaniards, Dutch and Danes and Norse and Swedes and Finns and Poles and Greeks. But you also have Italians and Russians and Hungarians and Romanians.

And Asia. Chinese and Japanese and Vietnamese, but also Indians and Laotians and Indonesians and Cambodians. Afghans and Filipinos, Mongolians and Koreans. Then you have Pakistanis and Iraqis and Israelis, but also Syrians and Lebanese and Egyptians, Kurds and Turks and Turkmen.

Even out a bit farther — Earthlings and Martians. Although I admit, I’m fond of Terran as an alternative to Earthlings.

I think we can work out a few rules from this.

Places that end in -ia, like California and Colombia and Russia get an n shoved on the end, thus Californians and Colombians and Russians.

Places that end in -o tend to end -an, and sometimes, but not always get the o chopped off. Sacramento and San Francisco are Sacramentans and San Franciscans, but Idaho and Ohio are Idahoans and Ohioans.

-ing will sometimes get -er tacked on the end. Same with k.

Places ending with the letter n often, but not always, have an -ian tacked on. (Berlin/Berliner is a notable exception, as is Japan/Japanese.)

And some places are just irregular. I’m looking at you, Europe.

Yeah. All this from a stupid thought in the shower.

What do they call people from where you’re from?

(Sign from this wonderful article celebrating Boring, Oregon’s sister city matchup with Dull, Scotland.)

Bacon Soda!

Bacon Soda!

I promised bacon soda and I will deliver!

So I wandered into BevMo the other night because I know they have an amazing selection of root beers and sarsaparillas, and they’re also about the only place in town that sell birch beer, which I adore. (I want to try spruce beer, but I’m told that’s an East Coast thing and basically impossible to find in California.)

But besides the various root beers and sarsaparillas and birch beers and ginger beers, they have other kinds of soda. And some of them get very weird. Case in point: the featured image for this post. Yes. Bacon Soda. They also had peanut butter and jelly soda, but if I was going to get something I enjoyed (birch beer!), I had to choose between novelties.

So with much trepidation, I took it home. And now it has become yours. So let us take a look at this bottle of bacon soda. It’s made by a company called “Lester’s Fixins”, with a good fifties-era man, somewhat like Colonel Sanders — the original, not the weird thing that’s on TV now.

And look at that. It has bacon on the cover. Also, the slogan “Y’all get yer fixins!”

Let’s see. What’s the ingredients list? Do I get real bacon?

“Spring water, cane sugar, citric acid, caramel color, natural flavors, beet juice.”

Huh, that’s not looking promising. No bacon, and beet juice? Wow…

Maybe if we take a look at the nutritional facts:

Not nutritious, just like bacon.
Not nutritious, just like bacon.

Not nutritious in a different way than bacon, though. No cholesterol or fat, and lots of sugar. But hey, let’s have an advertising shot.

Dubious kat is dubious
Dubious kat is dubious

Yeah, that’s probably not going to be a good advertising campaign, but whatever. The important part. How’s it taste?

Chug a lug!
Chug a lug!
What in all God's creation was that?!?
What in all God’s creation was that?!?

Yeah. The verdict. I’ve had worse things, but those are generally trying to be gross. (Any flavor jelly beans, y’all?) This was nothing more that a sickeningly sweet cola with a very strange aftertaste that does not resemble bacon in any way, shape or form. In some ways, I’m disappointed I saved the bottle to drink for so long, but hey, I got an amusing blog post out of it.

I’m watching television

I’m watching television

For those who know me, this is a rather shocking move. But it’s something my mom likes to do, and I’ve been enjoying watching shows with her. I’m usually busy, so I got sidetracked into watching a couple shows with her tonight, and I’m slightly late by the clock for this post. But let me tell you what we’re watching.

Scorpion: My mom discovered this show, about a bunch of supergeniuses solving crimes and hard problems. She drug me into watching it with her because…wow, this is hard to write in a blog post, particularly when I’m not feeling it. But I’m pretty smart, probably a genius, and my mother is endeared by the show because, well, it’s pretty much me. I’m not a human calculator or an excellent hacker or somebody who knows everything there is to know about psychology and behavior or a mechanical genius, but I enjoy watching them use their skills to solve the problems. (And heck, even sometimes I manage to guess what the problem is, and understand their technobabble.) That’s why it’s fun, and I’ve rather come to care about these characters.

Supergirl: I said to Ben (he’s the guy that runs the comic book shop I frequent) the other day that I tend to enjoy superheros more on the screen than in the books. Part of this is simply because there’s so much frickin backstory in comics, and yes, I know comics go through retcons and reboots, but I’m one of those people who gets annoyed about not being able to start at the beginning. I remember my mom watching Lois and Clarke when I was a teenager, and I think she enjoys watching this. Besides, it’s about a girl kicking ass and taking names. There are three very strong woman characters, and each of them kicks ass in their own way. Besides, the owner of the big media company goes by Cat. How cool is that? (Okay, I spell my nick with a K, but it’s still cool.)

Limitless: What if you can take a pill and become the smartest person on the planet? What would you do with that power? What if it comes with bad side effects? I know it’s a spinoff of the movie with the same name, which I’ve not seen, but man, the science fiction in this one is awesome. Also, the main character is an unreliable narrator, but his narration is pretty witty. And well, I sorta feel like Brian Finch sometimes. Creative as hell, but floundering in a world that’s not made for that.

Blindspot: Also a crazy SFnal idea wrapped in an FBI procedural, although this show couldn’t be any less like Limited if it wanted to be. This is a very serious show, about a girl who has her memory wiped and tattoos all over her body, giving clues to crimes that haven’t been committed yet. I haven’t figured out how they did this yet, but it should be interesting. And it’s a very nifty well-crafted use of a simple SFnal idea placed in the modern world — what if we have drugs that can completely wipe a person’s memory?

Quincy, ME: Yeah, I know, the old timers are going to go, wow that show, and the folks my age and younger are going to go WTF, but Mom and I have been on an interesting kick. We’ve been watching cop shows — all of Dragnet, all of Adam 12 (RIP Martin Milner!), and all of CHiPs. Now we’ve started in on Quincy. It’s a fun show to watch simply because you have to remember they didn’t have DNA to help them identify victims and murderers, and the way they go about doing it involves some pretty neat scientific trickery. It’s also neat to see a snapshot in time of the 70s, and Jack Klugman is always a joy to watch act.

A couple other shows that I’ve been watching on and off as interest (and time) waxes and wanes:

Walking Dead (No spoilers, please, I’ve only gotten through the season that ends with them locked in a boxcar): It’s not about the zombies. It’s about the human will to survive even when everything has changed overnight. And it’s about the monsters we become as we try to do that. Yeah, I’ll say it. The monsters in this show aren’t the zombies — it’s the living. And yet I love it. (I also love the comic book series it’s based on, for much the same reason.)

Agents of SHIELD: I am about halfway through the first season — I got diverted because there was an episode involving characters from the Thor movies, which I hadn’t seen at the time, and I haven’t managed to go back to it yet.

Clone Wars: My friends introduced me and it looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Murdoch Mysteries: A Canadian show about a detective in the Toronto Police Department at the turn of the century. No, the earlier one, the 19th to the 20th. It’s fun because mysteries are fun and the main character, William Murdoch, is smart, but a bit oblivious. And I <3 Constable Crabtree. Hard to find in the States, some of the early seasons are on Netflix. I may have to make a trip to Canukistan particularly for the point of buying this show.

Geez, I’ve prattled on. Anyway, that’s what I’m watching.

Tomorrow: bacon soda!

EDITED: Changed name of Blindsight to the correct name of Blindspot. There’s a Peter Watts novel with the former name that was intriguing, and I’m constantly calling the show that. Pardon the error.

Kicking the dust off the old blog…

Kicking the dust off the old blog…

So a couple very dear friends of mine, Richard and Jennifer Crawford, do this thing in December where they proceed to blog every day. (They already commit to writing a novel in November — and Richard is my co-herder of Wrimos in the Sacramento area.) They’ve done it the past few years, and I’ve always thought of trying, but December is hard — especially after November. It’s this little thing called Holidailies, and this year they got put in charge of the whole shebang.

Anyway. I signed up this year, and I’m damned well going to do it, even if I’ve been pretty sick this last week and I’m still fighting a three-day old headache, the residuals of a cold, and the shiny new CPAP machine. I’m late to the party, yes, but I’m going to make it up. I missed the first six days of December (and it turns out even if I had been sick, I wouldn’t have been able to blog, thanks to a minor configuration error), so…I figure I need to have six days where I write more than one post.

This is completely doable.

Anyway, to those who don’t know me, my name is Katrina and I live in the Sacramento metro region. For the longest time, I’ve had a signature line that, over the years, has included such things as “writer, dreamer, information herder, part-time philosopher, first baseman, wrangler of computers, Cal Bears fan, gamer, bookworm, science fiction junkie.” I’m currently an out of work system administrator/tech support/systems analyst. I am a diehard fan of the California Golden Bears, the sports teams of my alma mater (twice over), the University of California, Berkeley. My undergrad degree is in history and my master’s degree is in Information Management.

Oh, and I have always existed in a Heisenbergian state somewhere in Northern California — native of Redding, graduate of Berkeley, resident of Sactown. I’ve thought of moving, but I suspect that’s not a possibility now.

People say I’m nice, and I like to think so. My general philosophy in regards to retail employees is that their job is hard enough and they don’t need me to make it harder — so always ask nicely and say please and thank you, and if you’re angry, do your best not to take it out on the poor employee. That’s my general way of handling most things, which seems to surprise folks. I have a very long fuse, but I can get angry. I like the Unitarian Universalist philosophy of ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every person’ — even the bad ones, although that’s hard.

To wrap this up, this blog might gyrate wildly between deadly serious topics and frivolous light-hearted ones. I’m always thinking, and sometimes the thoughts are a bit weird.

If there’s anything you’re curious about, feel free to ask in comments. And sorry about the dust. One of my goals for 2016 is to use the blog more.

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