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If any non-snorers out there happen to need a room at the Steampunk World's Fair, let me know. I have a room at the Radisson (the main primary hotel) with only two people in it, and I'd love to further divvy up the costs. :)

Fair warning: We stay out pretty late.

What to do with my old car?

So I will be getting a new car soon. My old '99 Nissan Altima runs pretty well, but it has some problems and isn't worth spending money for the inspection. Here's the list, in order of decreasing severity:

P0304 code error causing a check engine light. Last year, this code apparently meant that the car had a busted intake manifold gasket. This problem was fixed at great cost, and the actual symptoms of the problem (a bumpy idle) never returned, but the light did.

Mended leak at the top of the radiator where there's a hairline crack. This could recrack but looks pretty good. We used epoxy to keep it on. Granted, radiators aren't horribly expensive to replace. Anyway, when it's leaking, it basically prevents coolant from being sucked from the reservoir, so you'd have to fill the radiator directly. But that's not actually an issue right now.

Hand brake light on when hand brake not on. I'm pretty sure it's a finicky sensor and not that the brake is actually on all the time, because it's been doing this for a [i]long[/i] time.

Car's been loud for the last month or two.

Radio antenna does not properly extend or retract.

On rare occasions -- generally during cold spells -- the car lock gets confused. When the car is on, and you lock the door, it immediately unlocks itself. This has always mended itself after a while, and it's not a problem when the car is off.


Anyway, I'll probably donate it or get a few hundred dollars from a junkyard for the metal or something. But if anybody I know is good enough with cars to fix it up, let me know. I don't know if I'll just give it away -- I might want the equivalent of whatever the junkie would offer me -- but I feel it could still work for years plural if patched up, so it'd be a shame to totally destroy it.

Then again, I likely have an emotional attachment and simply do not wish for it to die.
my mommy made me cry
I'm in danger of causing family problems, I guess.

My mom sent me a politically charged assertion via chain mail, saying that I should be incredibly angry about a political action. The action was indescribably false, not from a political standpoint, but from a "what's being described didn't actually happen" standpoint. But the message had giant capitalized letters screaming about how important it is to stop one of the political teams from destroying everything.

This affects me in a profound way. It upsets me. It hurts me. I don't like it when people try to push their political opinions on me. I am enraged when somebody uses blatant untruths to do so.

I posted on Facebook that people should do this, and that I am angry because of it. My sister responded, essentially saying that my mom is too dumb to know better, and if I complain, it will make her cry.

I find this unacceptable.

If you are passionate enough about something to try to spread word about it it big honking capital letters to everyone on your email list in an attempt to change or solidify the opinions of others, you should be passionate enough to know that it is truthful. I'm sure if I found some opposite political opinions and started sending it to the list, even if they were based on facts, then I would piss people off.

I don't do this, because I don't like pissing people off.

Somehow, I am pissed off despite my eternal an ongoing efforts to not piss people off.

I really wish I could just auto-blacklist people from my life for pushing political agendas. But I like people, and people whom I specifically like tend to do these things.



tl;dr: I'm profoundly sad right now.

Heating bills

Wow, I finally got my natural gas meter read! See, I'm excessively frugal in some ways. I like to keep my personal cost of living down so that I can occasionally spend into a hobby or some fun excursion that I don't often get to do. One of the things that I skimp on is home heating. When the low temperature for the day is forecast to stay above freezing, my heat is completely off. There are exceptions to this, like during the short period when I take a shower (although most of my showers this year have been at my local community center) or when I have guests over, but generally I stick to it. When the air outside goes below that mark, I turn on the heat but set the thermostat in the basement to the minimum and the one on the first floor to 50 or 55°F, depending on the time of day. And I wear a coat while inside.

The only previous read was in January, and that was just good fortune -- I happened to be off work and present at the house, which I was just moving into. Since there was no followup read, they estimated my usage based on the usage before me.

Their estimate to early November is that I had used a little over 1000CCF*. In reality, however, the reading now, in mid-late December, is only up 434CCF. In fact, I haven't yet used as much as they thought I'd burned way back in mid-March!

As a result of this, it seems likely that I am paid up in advance for months, perhaps past even the end of 2012!


As a bonus, I am focusing more on insulation this time around. I have taped most of my windows so far. It's not thermal resistant tape, I'm just using the regular kind to block the inflow of cold air. The step after this? My father tossed six of those plastic films that you put over windows in my direction. They're thermal resistant and should add yet another layer of insulating factor. I will have to do something quickly about the doors to my attic, though, as they're as of yet permanently ajar (simply taping dropcloths around the portal would probably work wonders here).

So, yeah, I'm no fan of the cold, but I like money. :)

Fun weekend

After the things I did on last Friday, detailed in a prior post, the weekend continued to treat me well.

Saturday, the Science Fiction Forum observed Festivus, as they do annually. This is a holiday which started in 1966 but was popularized in the last fifteen years by an episode of Seinfeld. In it, there are contests involving feats of strength (which I somehow have always missed), copious amounts of food, watching of holiday-themed TV shows and movies, and a very long tradition wherein a large stick (or, in this case, a pole) is handed from person to person. Whoever holds the stick gets to air their grievances with the group, and (hypothetically) nobody is allowed to talk back until they have the stick, and (hypothetically) the grievances are not allowed to to leave the room. It went pretty well, with much less drama than I'd heard about from prior years. A couple people were dug into pretty harshly by multiple folk, but they seemed to keep it in stride. One person seemed to have attained a likely hookup as a result of her rant. I complained about stuff in a manner that hopefully will shame people into coming to parties and conventions and such. :D

All in all, Saturday was a great day. The Forum also now has a member with the same name as a character from Futurama.

Sunday, my local weather station was broken, and it said that it was 31°F out. This made it exceptionally hard for me to want to go outside and do stuff until I realized that it was actually more than twenty degrees warmer than this. I had two things to go to. One was "The Anachronism", which is a periodic Steampunk event. This time around was their one year anniversary, and they had a dinosaur theme. I wanted to go, but there were a few strikes against it that held me back (I couldn't get my costume done on time,and it seemed silly to go otherwise; there was a charge, however light, and I'd just made a big purchase online the prior night; the content feels like it's mainly just performances and vending, which I only like as a sort of side thing but not as the main course of an event; and it has a group that I really prefer to interact with over a longer term). I may go to a future one, though, since they're good people. Instead, I went to the Flow Market, which was a general circussy hangout thing. It had a group workout, a big block of time wherein beginners could, with proper instruction, try out whips and even stuff like fire poi. There were a few really great displays of fiery prowess, and three of us (me included) randomly happened to have "fireworks" (prismatic) glasses on us, so we got to watch the fire spectrumming all over the place! Also, btw, the girls at this sort of event are really pretty. I hung out with a Coney Island performer for a few hours (we bonded, naturally, over both of us having the aforementioned glasses). She showed me how she could crush a can of beer between her scapulae. I made her feel bad by telling her all the cool events she's been missing (she's three weeks away from moving to the other side of the continent). She seemed particularly distraught to have never heard of the Maker Faire, with its human sized mousetrap game and its mentos and coke zero stage show. I told her they have a Maker Faire where she'll be, but it seems that I got my San cities confused. :/

Very good weekend, altogether. Now I must reserve my strength for next weekend's Santacon.
I went to a dinner at the Ikea in Brooklyn. It happens annually, and this is the fourth one. Every year, we meet at the docks near the parking lot, as the bulk of the group comes in via the water taxi from Manhattan, and we go up to the cafeteria at the top floor. They have some interesting and unusual imbibables, such as soda made with fermented apples and pears, or lingonberry sauce. Most everyone at this event comes in wearing a Santa hat or something similar. It's not an ironclad rule, but it makes it easier for us to all congregate.

After the eating is done, half an hour before the place closes, we slowly make our way towards the exit. Ikea is designed like a giant maze, so you walk for a very long time, in a very convoluted, very winding path to the exit. As we go, we try out all the chairs and sofas and beds, we try to cram as many people as we can in small spaces (like shower stalls), and we generally good off in interesting ways. This year, some of us discovered that the sinks that they are now selling are conveniently butt-sized. At the end of it all, most of the group goes to a nearby bar to hang out. Theres an outside area in back where you can actually hear people talk, so it's not as bad as a typical bar.

It's a nice tradition, and it's very social and fun. It usually takes place the night before Santacon, but this year there's a week of separation between the two events. The guy who hosts the event, as well as several others of note, is kind of getting burned out from the years of effort and the dramatic decrease in people interested in doing cool things. He's sort of like a Jeff Mach after the peak of the mountain passes. I hope that this is just a temporary thing, as I like the get-togethers he puts together.

Philcon

So I had two nightmares during Philcon, both on Saturday night.

In the first one, I was asking a fellow whom I don't know very well but whom I guess I associate with this particular skill how to approach women. He laughed at me and was under the assumption that I was a virgin, and it made me feel very bad. I suppose this dream was caused by my most recent lady drought, which is now getting dangerously close to the quarter year mark despite all efforts.

In the second one, I was living at my parents' house, and my room was a mess. My parents were very disappointed in how I had left it in such a state. I was incredibly embarrassed. This is likely because I've been cleaning up lately, and I've been moving around a lot of stuff to and from conventions and similar events, so both my car and living room has a bunch of stuff in it that should be moved elsewhere. I should have this resolved pretty soon, and I'm actually doing some medium-class overhauling of my storage room.

Being embarrassed is the most terrifying thing that can realistically happen to me short of perhaps becoming paralyzed for life in a tragic stilt-related accident.

Anyway, Philcon was still highly enjoyable. Women slightly flirted with me, there were numerous panels, I was given many kudos for my costuming stuff (on Friday I was a pretend protester with signs like "More Sci in Sci-Fi!" and "Occupy My Lap", and on Saturday I went around all day on stilts, generally with my trademark giant mustache), and in general there were more smiles than in previous Philcons. The convention had three open drinking parties, which is up three from the past couple years. Also, Jeff Mach brought his entourage of cool people. And I had the rare occurrence of saying something to a rather saddened person that cheered him up immensely.

Philcon has now been upgraded from "I go out of habit and because it's cheap and has free junk food" to "I would like to go next year and maybe even help out a little, because these people are pretty cool".
This being Halloweekend, I went to a couple parties on Friday night. Proooobably missed out on an interested girl at the first party because I wanted to see some friends at the second party, but both were overall fun. There was this dude who kept aggressively trying to kiss me. Life would be easier if the girls acted like this. Nonetheless, I lived. Access to unlimited spicy nacho doritos and the occasional inebriative beverage helped.

Friday was a stilt night. I wore my 'stache and hat and walked around most of the time with the stilts on. This time around, I got a really good hold on hopping up and down on one foot, and when it came time to get to my car (which was parked quite a bit away from the train station), I was able to do a sort of staggering, lumbering run. I think running without stilts would have been a little faster at this stage, but it was still an accomplishment, especially after the wine and Unknown Punch. I did have my second fall, but it was on the dance floor, which I did not realize was covered with a light film of booze. I fell very slowly and gracefully and was not hurt in the slightest. I don't know how this seems to happen, since I never practiced falling in the first place!

I did get an almost-blister on the back of my heel from the one-legged hopping, though. Maybe I'll wear doubled socks in the future.

Saturday and Sunday I took off from fun. Well, I still had fun, but it was the introvert-preparing-for-extroversion kind of fun. I exercised, bought stuff that I'll be needing for the next week, caught up on some television, did a little bit of computer gaming and put some energy into crafting. I'm making a not too complex red hat out of cardboard and duct tape. Getting the math right is a bit of a pain, but I made a decent amount of progress, and after tonight's work I may have enough done to do the parts of the costume that involve buying things. I got a coffee maker and some coffee for the nerds next weekend, and I added a bit more to my geek music set (ye gods, how could I forget about Little Shop of Horrors!?).

Since the middle of the month, I've been working towards my health again. I've been doing anywhere vaguely between 150 and 450 pushups per day (the rate has been gradually trending upward as time progresses), which seems to be well within my comfort zone (*and it pretty much allows me to each unlimited quesadillas and maple/sugar oatmeal!!), and I think I'll be looking pretty good to hang out with all the pretty nerds next weekend. With luck, all the ones that I like will have sex with me all at the same time*, but hopefully not during the times when I need to serve people coffee and waffles.

There's more stuff, but I'm too sleepy to internally organize data right now.


* I still get the subconscious impression that people who go to fetish events are not actually interested in sex. This is why I'm trying to push more of the geek aspect, because it seems like geeks have more of that predisposition.

Oct. 24th, 2011

Ahhh, the bizarrity of it all -- this year and last, I've been diving into costume making, and I've set up this strange pattern where I exercise my creativity throughout the year then suddenly, come October, lose my drive and have to wait for the system to reset. Naturally, this is the time when I should most be making a costume, but I guess I'll have to work around this somehow. So far, I'm just recycling some of my costumes from the year. I do have an idea for a costume brewing now (with some reservations, I can easily buy or craft everything for it, now that I've done some reconnaissance), but I don't know if I can get it done this week, especially since I have a midterm.

I went to a party last night. It was an interesting "balancing act of terror and acceptance"*. I have this interesting problem where my reserves of small talk can usually be fit into a shot glass. I often mask this by wearing odd outfits to give people something obvious to chat about, though it can sometimes put me in the awkward situation where I'm just talking about myself the whole time. I also have difficulty where I recognize faces but cannot map them correctly to names. I had a very embarrassing situation where I met somebody, chatted with them briefly then realized that they were not the person I thought they were. I also had difficulty visually identifying the host of the party, even though he seems like a very recognizable fellow.

But, ah well. I had my first stilt-fall at the party, and it was an extremely light fall (because it was into a non-fiery part of a fire pit). I was helped up promptly, which was really cool. Besides that, I got to meet a few people I hadn't seen in several years, which was nice. One of them even came up to me and said that I (in a small but poignant way) made a difference for her back when we were in college in the SF Forum. At the end of the night, I got to see Keith Locke, who is just generally on my list of cool** people, and I did not embarrass myself in front of him like I did at the last of these particular parties. :D

So, yeah, not bad. Now I'm gonna go get some sleep so I can study for that midterm and maybe toss together plans for that costume. :)




* That's how William Shatner described his stance on mortality in a recent interview with readers of Slashdot.org.

** Generally you get on this list by seeming like an exceptionally nice person and/or by doing things that make people happy

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JC (John Cholewa)

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