Friday, November 28, 2014

It's That Time Again! Gingerbread Village

As per our annual tradition at Thanksgiving, Megan and I embarked on making some form of gingerbread.. something again this year. As you may recall, last year we made the gingerbread train which ended up being a train wreck. (Ha! See what I did there?)  This year we made a tiny gingerbread village.

First, the cutting up/breaking apart of the various house pieces!

This year I got smart and scored the breaks *before* trying to break them apart, and there were no broken pieces. Woot! Next came the assembly:

Yes, those are the house walls on top of the roof. What.. did you think this was a totally NORMAL gingerbread village? You obviously don't know us very well.

We let them set up for about an hour, and came back to decorate:

Megan: That looks like...  Me: It's a FACE  Megan: suuuure it is
Happy Portal to Hell
Why does the back always look better?

The radiation made this roof all wonky
The only "normal" house. Be afraid.

Poptart! Megan smoothed the frosting out by licking it.
Other side, it looks like a poptart too. 

"It's a vagina. With Teeth. You know, like the movie.
Me: umm.. I guess that's a way to pick it up. 

No, really, totally twelve.

NO, it's not "Walfy". Meg's nickname online. 
It's a

The village! 
The village now with more flash. 

Random comments you may have overheard if watching us make these:

-"You put your finger in the penis!" "Crap! Quick hand me that pen!"

-"Don't put your fingers in the vagina! I'm going to tell everyone my mom put her fingers in my gingerbread vagina. Call Child Protective Services!"

-"This is a FACE." "It looks like testicles."  "If I was trying to make testicles, I'd have moved the gumdrop down closer to the purple balls! They're not even close!"  "It's an old guy."

-"We are so weird." "I know, isn't it great?"

Thus wraps another wonderful Thanksgiving tradition! Just remember.. normal is boring.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

phoning it in, literally

So tonight's post will be brief, and pointless. I'm currently unable to get to my computer and I in no way want to move. Instead I shall watch tv, and use my phone to post this quick snippet, and be utterly content.

Friday, November 7, 2014


I've been rather unlucky with my home appliances lately. First, my washing machine decided to break, the sensor that told it when it was full broke, so it didn't stop filling, and overflowed all over my kitchen floor (and flooded my landlord downstairs.. oops). My landlords are totally awesome and not only called and setup a service appointment to get it fixed, they also took the load that was in it and spun it out in their washer so I could then throw it in my dryer!

Less than a month later, the heating element in my dryer seems to have fried. In doing laundry the last couple of weeks, it has just seemed to take forever for each load to dry. Things came to a culmination a few days ago when I realized a single load was taking over 3 hours to dry, and even then, it wasn't *really* dry. Another service call is in the works to get it fixed.

In the meantime, I think I'll hit up the local laundromat to do a couple loads of laundry to catch up til the dryer is fixed. I guess I can wash the loads at home, then haul them over and just use the dryers there. A temporary fix til things get resolved. I *could* take them to a friend's house, but.. then I wouldn't get to go to the laundromat.

I have always loved the laundromat. I know we used to go sometimes when I was a kid, because I remember getting pushed around in the clothes carts they have by either siblings or parent. I love everything about the laundromat. I love the weird plastic chairs that all laundromats seem to have bought from the same store. I love the smell; that hot, dry clothes smell the dryers generate. I love the variety of machines, and figuring out how to use each type. I love fitting the quarters into the slots and jamming the mechanism in so that it eats the quarters with a satisfying KACHUNK! If you wait long enough, and have enough dirty clothes, you can become the Laundromat Czar by taking up ALL the washing machines with your running loads, and sit back and smugly watch people come in only to have their hopes dashed in searching for an empty machine. Then it's the transferring of loads from washers to dryers, trying to snag sequential ones so your loads are all grouped. And then it's fun to watch all the dryers going, and try to desperately keep up as they stop one by one, in folding as fast as you can on the handy table, and emptying out enough carts to hold all the loads ready to fold. It's also fun to watch the other people in the laundromat.. see what they're folding, help an overloaded mother with kids bring stuff in or out. There's also the joy of just having EVERYTHING washed and done all at once, and it will be folded when you get home (no, I don't bag up dried clothes, they get folded and put in baskets to bring home) so they're easy to put away and then you're just DONE with laundry and caught up.

I'm not particularly happy that my dryer isn't working right now. I'd much rather be able to just throw a load in and do other stuff around the house and just keep cycling laundry through. It's a lot cheaper than pumping quarters into laundromat machines, and hauling stuff in and out of the house and up/down stairs. But I can't deny a part of me is looking forward to going to the laundromat.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


So we've been planning this get together, my friends and I, for a year now. Since the last time we all converged, actually. We're going to hang out, watch movies, play board & card games, go sight-seeing, and hopefully go to PAX East, which is a game convention here locally. I've been checking various places every day to see when ticket sales are announced. These tickets are in high demand, and they sell out very quickly. Also, you have to call in or be online and be in queue almost immediately to even be able to have a chance to buy them. Needless to say it's a bit nerve-wracking not knowing when they are going on sale. When we went to PAX Prime in Seattle, I was in the queue the minute they went on sale, and it took probably 40 minutes to get to my turn to buy tickets, and by then the 4-day passes were all sold out and I had to buy individual days (which is more expensive). Still totally worth it, but I'd like to try to get 3-day passes this time around if we can.

A couple days ago, the PAX Boston website updated, so instead of showing last year's information, it changed to "SOON". AAH! What if I'm at work when they go on sale? What if I'm busy playing the new World of Warcraft expansion that comes out next week, and I miss it?? I absolutely cannot wait to see my friends with all of us together again, it's going to be so awesome. Make time go faster!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Leaves

Fall is my favorite time of year, it gets chilly enough for sweaters and snuggling, the changing leaf colors, the smell of wood smoke as people start using their fireplaces and OMG PUMPKIN SPICE!!!1!!!11   (ok, that was scarcastic. pumpkin spice.. ew.)

All of the leaves changing this Fall have been absolutely glorious to behold, both in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I've never been a fan of being stuck in traffic, but all the trees on both sides along the way with their fiery reds and oranges have made it so I didn't mind in the least. I love walking through a forest in the Fall, the crackle of the crunchy leaves that have already fallen, the occasional thunk! of acorns falling, and oh my God the SMELL. Fall leaves smell heavenly. The house I live in is surrounded by large maples, honey locusts and crab apple trees. Every day when I get home now I walk through swirling brightly colored leaves, I was SO bummed when my landlord raked them up the other day (luckily the trees thwarted his efforts by dumping a whole bunch more everywhere again).

Where I work is a big office building, with lots of towering maple and oak trees in the parking area. During the summer months, I enjoyed snagging a parking spot underneath a large oak tree, since when I'd come out of work in late afternoon, my van would be in shade and therefore cooler. I quickly realized when Fall arrived that I needed to start parking away from the trees, to avoid the pelt of falling acorns on my car. The leaves have changed to spectacular yellow and oranges, and quite a few have fallen and are all over the center grassy area around which the parking spaces are situated. I always park on the far side of this area, so I always cut through it to get to the front doors (not because I'm trying to save time, but because I like walking through grass). Today when I got to work, they had a team of yardwork guys out there with handheld leafblowers, larger push leave blowers, and an even bigger aparatus that looks like a weird cage on wheels. They lined up starting at the far edge of the grassy (now covered with fallen leaves) area, and between them all systematically blew almost every single leaf into one big pile. It was awesome to watch. There was something absolutely satisfying to see them being so thorough, carefully backtracking and getting every possible leaf so that the green grass once again emerged as the pile of leaves grew on one side. Midway through the process, I had to get out of my car and walk into the building. They were working on the other side of the oval, which meant I got to happily crunch through a fairly good sized pile of leaves they had started to gather on my side. *GLEE*  As I walked into my building, I saw them start to use the cage machine, which was used as I suspected to gather up the pile of leaves for removal.

Once I got into my office, I peeked out of our breakroom window on the 2nd floor at their progress. There was a massive pile of leaves on one side that they were slowly gathering. If I hadn't had to start work I would have run down and asked them to let me jump in it a couple times. It was still a great way to start the day.

Leaf blowers! Don't you just want to be the one doing this?!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jumping Through Hoops With Broken Legs

As a sign language interpreter, I use my hands, arms, and shoulders all day, every day that I work. I try to be smart; hold myself ergonomically, rest my hands down whenever possible, not do signs in an incorrect way that would hyper extend wrists or fingers. I was pretty smug that so many of my fellow interpreters had fallen prey to repetitive motion injuries in their shoulders, elbows, or wrists, but not me!

In October 2013, in the middle of my work day, my left shoulder into my neck started hurting. I hadn't done anything particularly straining at that moment, I wasn't throwing something or lifting something, I was just sitting interpreting as I do every day. I waited a week to report it to my work, thinking I had just strained it, and that time along with ibuprofen and ice would help. It helped a little, but not enough. Thus began my odyssey of trying to get worker's compensation to approve me going to physical therapy (and pay for it) before my shoulder got too bad to work. I had to go to my doctor multiple times, each time getting a note saying I could go back to work. If I had been put on "light duty", then I wouldn't have been able to maintain the stats I needed for on-the-phone time to keep my job. The doctor and I worked out an agreement that every 10 minutes per hour break I took, I'd ice my shoulder. 

I then had to go to ANOTHER doctor, this time someone the worker's comp people picked, who then grilled me and did a physical exam to determine if my claim was valid. Understand, I don't do ANY other side interpreting, nor do I use my arms/hands in a way that would cause this type of injury outside of my full-time job. By this time, the pain was enough that I started going to Physical Therapy, damned the paperwork. If it got approved then they could retroactively pay for the PT I'd already done. I frankly didn't really care at that point. PT was awesome. They would vary treatment, from deep tissue massage, to wrapping my entire upper torso and neck in heating pads and just letting me bake (BLISS), which doing electrode stimulation of the problem muscles (I was TOTALLY Bruce Lee). I did exercises stretching my arm/shoulder against the wall, using thick rubber bands to do resistance exercises, and basically just worked on rehabilitating my neck and shoulder, in which I had lost a significant amount of mobility. By the time I was done with my PT regime, I had regained significant use of my neck and shoulder/arm, with just barely a twinge of pain. Success, right! My WC claim was closed, and all was well.

Until recently.

In the last week or two, my shoulder and neck have started to hurt again. The same as before, but much moreso, including muscle spasms in my lower neck into my shoulder and upper back. I broke down and reported it to work yesterday, the constant 5 or 6 level pain, with spikes into the 7 or 8s just getting too much for me. Again, more hoops to jump through.. trying to figure out if I can still use the old claim, or open a new one. And the doc can't see me til end of November. Hopefully I can avoid surgery, we'll see.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Winter is Coming

I've been a bit spoiled in the last few years, I'll admit. Western Washington has the Cascade mountains to act as a barrier, and the ocean to bring in warm air. It's a very temperate climate, especially in the winter time. You don't get much snow, unless you live at high elevations, it mostly just rains.

In Boston, however.. ohh boy. It's starting to get very nippy at night, it actually got to freezing over the last couple of days. I'm hoping this winter is a little milder than last winter here, of which I read horror stories. All of our heat is electric, from the oil heat that warms the radiators (I feel positively Victorian), to the little plug-in space heaters and the coveted electric blanket. I do have a gas stove, though the little burner lighter is electric. I really need to invest in candles and more flashlights ASAP. Oh, and winter coats. I've heard those may come in handy.

Part of me is dreading slogging through ice and snow, and chipping my car out (it is not garaged), warming it up and having to leave probably 3 hours early for my normally 1 hour commute just to get to work on time. I'm perfectly comfortable driving in snow, it's all those other drivers I worry about. Part of me is really looking forward to SNOW. Real snow. Snow we can make snowmen with, and have snowball fights, and make snow angels, and yes, bring into the house in bowls and eat it like unflavored sno-cones.

I guess I see this as a right of passage, yet another thing that will become commonplace the longer we live here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Guilt and the Art of Learning To Forgive Yourself, And Others

I have done a lot of things in my life of which I'm not super proud. Granted, I've never killed someone, so logically speaking they could be worse. However when you're talking guilt, oftentimes logic just seems to go out the window. This is frustrating to me, being a fairly intelligent person. If I want to evaluate my life actions, and how they have impacted people and things (and myself), I damn well should be able to apply rational thinking to it.

But instead, I get to contend with things like Society Beliefs that are lodged into my brain. Role expectations. My own sense of self-worth, and how that affects how I internalize things or blame myself possibly unfairly. And I think worstly (yes, that's a word according to me who just typed it, shut up), when you hurt people you love, for whatever reasons.

I think part of guilt can be comparing yourselves to others, and how they have dealt with situations, perhaps similar to yours in some way. It's difficult to remember that everyone is different, and you don't always know their entire story, nor do you know what coping mechanisms they may have in place that you don't. It's easy to beat yourself up, for example, over the fact that you just don't seem to be able to quit smoking*, when all these people you know did it quite easily (it seemed). The fact that you're going through a divorce, and a long drawn-out custody battle, and having to move and dealing with all this stressful shit doesn't even seem to register in your brain as a "oh hey, maybe this is a contributing factor to why it's so difficult." You just compare, and find yourself coming up short and feel guilty about it. Bad brain! Sometimes the most important thing you can do is cut yourself some slack.. realize that you don't have to feel bad for not being able to handle a situation the way you envision you should be able to. Sometimes.. you're just doing the best you can to keep your head above water.

Other times, it's easy to feel guilty for taking actions that are for self-preservation, but at the cost of people you care about. I know for me, it's much easier to allow myself to be hurt, than to see others I care about hurt to spare myself. And so, you suffer, maybe for years, unhappy but hey at least this helps maintain the illusion that everything is alright. Of course, inevitably this just makes you miserable, which then makes everyone around you miserable. But so many times that voice in your head, the Society Says voice, says "You should be thankful! What's wrong with you! Stick it out like a good little trooper!" and you listen, and believe it, and things don't get better. Sometimes, taking action means hurting people in the short-term, but in the long-term they would be much worst hurt because of the cumulative shit that's piling up. You'll be more hurt too. It's so difficult not to entirely take the blame for things that happen, especially relationship-y things. The most difficult part of all this, is not taking action, it's forgiving yourself afterwards for not living up to the unreal expectations in your head, or in others' heads, and for the hurt you had to inflict. It's also learning to forgive others for putting you in that situation, requiring you to make this terrible choice.

The key to all of this, is realizing that this is a slow process, changing how you think and forming new habits of thought where you have more positive self-loops and don't just automatically beat yourself up over things that have happened, that you can't change now. That, and chocolate. Chocolate definitely helps.

*not autobiographical

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Value of Quiet

I've never been the kind of person that needs to have a constant source of noise around me. Of course, without realizing it, I always *do* have some kind of noise around me. At work, there is the constant hum of the white noise that all office buildings seem to generate. You don't really notice it until something catastrophic happens, like a power outage. Then it's suddenly so QUIET and kind of creepy, and your ears are left ringing from sudden absence of noise. At home, there is the sound of the wind moving the trees around the house, or the pitter-patter of the rain against the roof and siding, as it is doing now. There is the quiet ticking of the clock, or the church bells in the distance.

It can be quite jarring without these little life sounds that you don't really notice and take for granted, until they are missing. If you've ever tried on a really nice pair of noise cancelling headphones (like the kind you can get to take on flights), you'll know what I mean. It's like being in a vacuum chamber. Downright eerie. I guess what I mean when I say that I don't need a constant source of noise, is that I don't need to have a TV, or music *constantly* on in the same room with me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's nice to have some background music on when you're busy doing something. Or if you can't sleep to lay on the couch and just put the TV on at a low murmur that provides company, but not with enough volume to truly engage your interest (sidenote: I've always found it interesting and annoying that you can be literally falling asleep at your computer or while watching TV, and then the minute you get up and go to bed, BOOM! you're wide awake).

I don't really understand the NEED to have that constant noise, to the point that you end up having to talk over, or tap a person's shoulder to get their attention, and you feel guilty for interrupting their sensory experience even though it *never ends*, so how else are you supposed to interact with them? I can't understand how people can have music or a show piping into headphones, and still play a video game and have game sounds chiming in, as well as talk on a chat where people are also speaking into your ears. How do they not go crazy? It's obvious that dialogue is missed, from the request for repetition. Are we as a society becoming so used to being inundated constantly with sensory input that we must have it at all times, just to drown out our own thoughts? Perhaps you use this to drown out someone else, in which case I can't really fault you, you probably have your reasons.

I have a friend whose house has constant music playing, all day. It's what you would consider "mood music".. mellow, usually instrumental, at a low volume. It's not obtrusive, nor does it interfere with conversation. But still.. it's ALWAYS THERE. You don't get to hear the creaking of an old house as it settles and adjusts to the weather. You don't get to hear the quiet hum of appliances. You can't hear the bird songs outside, that would normally come in through glass windows, unless those windows are open, and it's a particularly loud and obnoxious blue jay. I know you can become used to it, but I find myself stepping outside as much as I can when I'm there, just to drink in the natural sounds that are all around, that are being drowned out by that constant artificial noise. For me, that little nothing, the quiet, helps restore my peace of mind far better than any monk chanting or new age music.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sakura Con, Part 2

More pics! Now of course, although this was an anime convention, you will see lots of other stuff, including Doctor Who cosplays!

Fourth Doctor Tom Baker brought the TARDIS with him


I swear, I only looked away a couple times..

Momma?  Kanti from FLCL

More Pokemon! Bidoof, which apparently, Megan says "everyone hates"
A bit blurry, but props for her prop

There were several Brave cosplays, this was the best

Loves me some Firefly cosplay!

she looks like a posterchild for Crayola
We coined her "dominatrixslut".. she had a little radio that she played and danced to, and those are little fake bills in her stocking top. 

DaftPunk in the house! Yes, the gold helmet had colored LED lights in it. Very cool.

Alan Walker and an Exorcist from D Grayman

Final Fantasy 7 

genderswapped Nicholas D Wolfwood from Trigun, she looked like a mafia guy

Sebastian and Undertaker from Black Butler

An AMAZING Motorized Patriot from Bioshock, George Washington. 

Little Sister from Bioshock

Wish this had come out clearer, the milky white eyes were freaky. Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat

Shepard from Mass Effect

And more cosplay from Mass Effect:

Geth from Mass Effect and Dead Pool with a Totoro hat. Because, of course.

TIMMY TURNER! I'LL GET YOU!!! - Jorgen Von Strangle from Fairly Odd Parents

wut. Cosplays from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. Um. 

I hope Walter brought enough for everyone

Dude had some seriously low-ridin' pants. They were making me worried.

Pyramid Head from the game Silent Hill

This kid was SO TALL. I think the shoes ruin it a bit, unless they're part of the character?

Assassin's Creed group

Pretty sure this is from Attack On Titan, along with the gals behind him. There were TONS of people cosplaying from that


Don't know what she's from but nice scythe. She said it took her 4 months to make

These guys told me what game this was from, but I honestly can't remember.. Island?? It was a Japanese game I think. They were total hamming it up for the cameras

Daughter dressed as Sakura from Naruto and her boyfriend as a Scout from Team Fortress 2

He and his Team Fortress 2 fellow cosplayers:

And my last cosplay pic is of this adorable little girl and her daddy:

A few other random pics I took, this was artwork I found really intriguing

This was artwork I found amusing:

This sign had a hole in it, with a little sign saying "glory" pointing to it. *snicker* I'M TWELVE

And lastly there were so many figurines on sale, this one was actually really cool:

Thus concludes my photo journey through Sakura Con. If you like anime, and cosplay of anime, then this is definitely a convention you may want to consider going to.  

Special Thanks to Megan, Adam and Walf for helping identify cosplays