It's been ages since my last proper update. Highlights!
I got a camera for my birthday back in March...
( obligatory kitty pics )
( obligatory I-can't-stand-my-face selfies )
Then the current round of Holmestice began, PRECISELY when the Livejournal TOS fuckery hit the fan. I will not say that this round has been a clusterfuck, because I think it mostly hasn't been? But gdi, pulling off this round has been more effort and cursing than any of us planned for. Happily, I have great co-mods, and there is wonderful satisfaction in looking at ALL THE THINGS and knowing we helped facilitate that happening. Even if we're still trying to finish backing up the damn comm.
In early May we went to Colorado and Wyoming for a week to visit grrlpup's family. Not half an hour out of the airport, we got caught in an impressive hailstorm; Grrlpup is still wrangling with the rental car and insurance companies over how many thousands of dollars that storm is or isn't going to cost us. The rest of the trip was pretty good, but socially taxing. As always, it was wonderful to see her friends and family; as always, I was very happy to get back home again.
In June, grrlpup had her birthday. We have become my parents' generation: when I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, she asked that I actually do that one home-improvement task I'd been promising to do for two years. So I spent a few days bolting and screwing bookshelves to the wall, while pretending I wasn't doing any such thing.
Her: What are you doing? Are you painting boards? Why are you painting boards?
Me: [flagrantly painting boards] Boards? What boards?
( front room shelves )
Later today, crazy_marcia, for whom we crewed the Badwater Ultra and with whom I used to climb mountains, is coming to visit.
(For those who didn't know me back then, the Badwater Ultra is a 135/143-mile footrace through Death Valley and up to the top of Mt. Whitney, always held during the height of summer. And by "height of summer," I mean 120-degree heat, woot! The two mountains I've climbed with her are both non-trivial: Mt. Whitney by the Mountaineer's Route, and Mt. Rainier, which involves glacier travel, and thus is a technical climb. Both mountains are near-abouts 14,500 feet high and Exciting Shit Went Wrong on both peaks.)
Anyway, I'm weirdly nervous about seeing Marcia -- it's been an age since we last spoke, and I got lazy and fat and don't have adventures anymore, and what if she doesn't like me now??? -- but scanning back over these old trip reports, I feel very silly. We're going to sit around and gossip, not pull one of our what-were-you-even-thinking-people-die-
(Actually, given that Marcia will be in attendance, I would not be the least bit surprised if we save someone from a close brush with death later today. FURTHER BULLETINS AS EVENTS WARRANT.)
I never really expected to use my import New 3DS again. There just hasn’t been much released for 3DS in Japan during its lifetime that hasn’t also appeared in the U.S. — I mean, geez, we got Sayonara Umihara Kawase. That was practically unimaginable. The few games of interest that do show up over there exclusively tend to be pretty heavy on Japanese text, and I no longer have the free time (not to mention a compelling need) to fuss with them. I do miss my days of covering import games at 1UP, but the little niche I carved out for myself has grown a lot smaller over the past decade and change, and it’s been filled by people in a far better position to relay information about games in another language.
And yet, here we are. The import 3DS has been retrieved from storage, dusted off, and charged up in anticipation of one final mission.
Excellent, Isabelle. Age hasn’t slowed you down one bit.
In five weeks, Dragon Quest XI will be arriving on PlayStation 4 and 3DS. Will Dragon Quest XI be making its way to the U.S.? Yeah, probably. Eventually. But given that it took about four years for the Dragon Quest VII remake to make its way overseas, I’m not holding out for a timely conversion. The last import game I truly let myself fall for was Dragon Quest IX… and while I realize that this will be a very different game experience (more focused on the DQVI through DQVIII model of a set party of predefined characters rather than rolling generics for a more free-form adventure as in DQIX), I really miss the experience of playing a game in a language I only sort of understand and letting myself become lost in it.
I suppose I could have saved myself the trouble of dusting off the Japanese 3DS and picked up the PlayStation 4 version, which of course doesn’t suffer from the troubling region-lock of 3DS games. But, I don’t know… there’s something about the 3DS version that appeals to me. OK, I do know. I love that it’s going to be portable, and I love the fact that the bottom screen will mirror the 3D graphical action of the events on the top screen with 16-bit-style sprites. It’s a goofy and unnecessary addition, and I love it.
Also, the old-school look of DQXI for 3DS means I could absolutely justify writing a play diary for Retronauts, if I want to. It looks old, so it’s fair game. You can’t stop me, you’re not my mom*.
* Exception: My actual mother, who has been known to read this blog
This photograph shows the area behind my televison, as of a couple of weeks ago. I must confess that it has become a bit hairier since, with the addition of some new toys I intend to write about in the near future. But I can also state that the depicted tangle has nothing on its prior state, before I applied those black, tube-shaped cable-bundlers you see snaking among the nest. I had purchased them last year, but didn’t figure out how to use them before this month. My key insight came when I realized I had to draw a map.
I will get back to the map! First I will tell you about the tubes. They did not even look like tubes, at first. I purchased these things many months ago on Amazon, clicking the one-clicker on the search result for “cable organizer” that had the most obviously apparent intersection of high rating and low price, crossing my eyes such that all the other words and pictures would not trouble me. So when I found myself the owner of four black neoprene squares with zipper-halves along the edges and no documentation, I found myself confused and adrift. I put the squares into my desk drawer and forgot about them until last week, when I found myself alone at home for a few days, expecting the imminent arrival of yet more HDMI-leeching black boxes, and a freshly rediscovered resentment for the rat-king squatting behind my television.
With fresh motivation, I poked around for some free-floating documentation, and found this video, which, though depicting a fancier accessory than that of my own purchase, makes clear the squares’ intended destiny of transformation into open-ended cylindrical sleeves. After grasping a fistful of cables into a sort of loose sheaf, one wraps one edge of the square around the bundle and then fastens it with the zipper, like a collar. This takes a modicum of manual dexterity, but I found it doable after a bit of practice. You then zip it shut, and find yourself with an overflowing cable-burrito. Then — and this is a subtle point I didn’t understand at first — you repeat the procedure on a different point along the sheaf you made, using another square.
I find that, for a typical household A/V cable, two such meta-claddings along the cables’ length suffice to transform an unruly tangle into a still-twisty yet significantly rulier bundle, with a hydra-spray of plugs at either end. And since I owned four squares, that implied that I could create two of these monsters. But I still didn’t know quite where to start, and this then led to the map.
On this map, each box represents a device in the vicinity of the television — including the TV itself — and each line a physical cable connecting two such devices. The special “⚡️” box, of couse, represents the overburdened and ungrounded power outlet found behind the TV, subject to both multi-tap power strips and three-to-two-prong adapters to allow electronics made within my lifetime to use this weatherbeaten New England home’s doddering sockets.
This map revealed that the power cords represented, far and away, the strongest one-to-many relationship among my media-nest. So it came to pass that — after disassembling the whole thing — I rebuilt the stack of boxes such that their power sockets practiced sufficient mutual vicinity to receive the plugs from one end of a single eight-headed cable-monster, whose tail end spread semi-neatly into a pair of power strips.
The second-most populated cable-destination, as shown on the map, was the HDMI switchbox (here labeled SWITCH), and so I repeated the procedure there. And in the end, I had reduced thirteen spaghetti-strands to two thick cable-sausages. While it still looks a bit of a terror back there — those sausages still resting in a bed of pasta, and all — I must once again assure you that the situation has proven so much easier to work with than before, enough so that I found myself quite able to wreck the whole new setup by adding a bunch more devices, threading their own cables into the newly opened lacunae. But at least I could!
Time to buy a few more squares.
Among other things, it would automatically register eligible voters via information they provide to various government offices, such as the DMV. A number of states have take this kind of legislation up, and a few have passed it, but it would be wonderful to have this on a federal level, for all states.
It's S. 1353 in the Senate and H.R. 2876 in the House. Call your reps and ask them to support this act by co-sponsoring it.
What we're seeing right now in Washington with the AHCA is what happens when the elected officials are not sensitive to the needs of their constituents. To force them to care, we have to make it easier for those constituents to make their voices heard in the voting booth.
Normally when there's morning chaos, I know which animal to blame (and this generally seems like Charlotte-style mischief), but I'm not sure all the animals didn't work together. Thankfully, it doesn't look like they ate a ton of the food in either case (I'm not sure Nicky even realized his treats had been opened).
Remember, folks: Having pets is good for your emotional health!
Out today for Android is Strayed, an interactive fiction game by Adventure Cow. It includes writing by Gavin Inglis (known around here for Hana Feels, Eerie Estate Agent, several Fallen London stories):
You’re only fifteen miles from home; but those fifteen miles are a lonely road through woods drenched in mystery, that many locals dare not enter. Rain batters your windscreen; your radio reports an aggressive beast, lashing out against passers-by; and there is something — something — waiting on the road ahead. Your decisions will matter in this game; perhaps more than you think.
As this is currently an Android release, I haven’t had a chance to play it myself.
I don’t remember the last time I went four whole months without posting to this site. Maybe in about… 2001, when I moved around a lot and had almost no internet connection for ages. Well. Let’s not allow that to happen again, shall we?
I’ve recently been organizing a bunch of papers and artwork and other archival old stuff my parents offloaded from their storage space to mine last fall, and it’s remarkable what kind of flotsam has shown up. Like this notebook page containing the origins of ToastyFrog:
I think I may have posted this at some point, but (1) it’s been a long, long time since then, and (2) it’s been so long since ToastyFrog regularly appeared as this site’s mascot that I doubt many people are aware of the fact that there ever was a ToastyFrog.
This was created as part of some sort of school assignment for graphic design class, which involved groups of three or four students coming up with their own design firm and producing some products. This resulted from the brainstorming session for the company name. My doodles clearly went well off the rails, but on the plus side, I did draw a frog in a swank lamé smoking jacket. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about the imaginary ad firm we concocted, or the design project we turned in, but swank cocktail-swilling frogs are forever.
"The Game of Rat and Dragon" has stuck better in my memory, but at some point in college I was delighted to discover that there were more Instrumentality stories. The one that I remembered, years later, as being particularly interesting was "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal." Peculiarly, I remembered that it had an unusual narrative structure/format, but not anything useful about its plot. Cue yesterday when I actually reread it, having checked out the posthumous collection When the People Fell from the library, and being bemused to discover that this story was almost certainly, before I ever heard of fanfic on the internet, my introduction to mpreg.
A spoilery discussion of the story follows beneath the cut.
 My high school library's sf/f holdings were very eclectic. They had a couple decades' worth of Analog under Stanley Schmidt. I read every page of every issue available, and remain fond of the zine although I have not read it in over a decade. They also had old classics like John Wyndham's Re-Birth, amusing curiosities like a litcrit book on the best fantasy novels by Michael Moorcock (possibly with a co-author; I no longer remember) in which he immodestly listed his own Stormbringer, a number of old Nebula anthologies, and a copy of Harlan Ellison's (ed.) Dangerous Visions that I read two or three or four times before someone else stole it or, more charitably, checked it out and lost it. (Years later, I still think Philip José Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" was insufferably boring, and Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah" makes zero sense when you are barely aware of what sex is.) They had Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which is where I encountered them. On the other hand, the librarians were very friendly, and for a number of years, because my sister and I were the only ones who made use of the request box, we pretty much got them to buy whatever we wanted to read for the year.
( Read more... )
EMAD EL-DIN AYSHA is an academic, journalist and translator, currently stationed in Cairo, Egypt. While an Arab and Muslim he was born in the United Kingdom and is a native speaker of both English and Arabic. He completed his undergraduate and post-graduate education in England (BA, MA, PhD) and has taught topics ranging from international politics to Arab society at universities in Egypt. He’s a regular commentator on Mideast politics and a movie reviewing by natural predisposition. The two great loves of his life are history and science fiction. He’s finally moving into the literary realm, both as an original author and as a translator of short Arabic fiction.
Samples of Emad’s work fictional work to date:
- A Detour in Space by Emad El Din Aysha Reconnecting Arts
- Arabic Science Fiction – The Revolving Door by Emad El Din Aysha The Levant
Emad’s non-fictional work on fiction:
- Emad El Din at Cario Scene
Supreme Court sets higher bar for stripping citizenship (Reuters). The justices ruled 9-0 that a naturalized American citizen cannot be stripped of citizenship if a lie or omission on immigration forms was irrelevant to the government's original decision to grant entry into the United States.
[Seattle] Landlords Are Now Required to Provide Voter Registration Info (Seattle Met). Very cool look at how voting accessibility can be addressed on the city level.
Steyer to plow $7.5 million into voter mobilization efforts (Politico). Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer said Thursday he will put more than $7.5 million into an effort to register and turn out young voters in eight states ahead of the midterm elections.