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Geeky music

I posted this on Facebook, but status updates there seem to fly away before too many people can read it.

I'm having a party at the Geeky Kink Event. It's my birthday weekend, so I figured that I needed to do something special. Jeff is stealing my ball pit, so I have to figure other entertainments to have at the party. So I'm going to buy an ice shaver to make snowcones (or, well, probably snowcups), I'm printing out another copy of a creative commons racier version of an extremely popular card game, and I'm assembling an epic selection of songs that speak to geek culture.

I have around one hundred songs ranging from nerdcore (it's way too easy to rap, so there's too much of this stuff crowding the field, just sayin') to geeky folk to parody to theme remixes to rock operas set in Middle Earth.

So do you have any particular title in mind that really speaks to you as a geek? I have seven or eight hours of audio, which is far more than enough, but I wouldn't mind pruning out the less great songs I've collected.
So I did something pretty dumb. I gave blood yesterday afternoon and then, that evening, went to the sauna. I make no excuses for this and have learned my lesson.

As you might suspect, I had a bit of a fainting spell. This was in the shower afterward. I slumped a little, and a friend escorted me to somewhere I could sit. I fuzzed out for about a minute, and I was a little out of it for a couple minutes afterward. The lifeguards there had some oxygen that they insisted I use for a while. After that, I was pretty much okay, though I was taking things slowly just in case.

But an ambulance had been called. The EMTs (or whatever they were) strongly recommended that I go to the hospital. My plan had been to get some water from the fountain, five feet away, and then go and get something calorie-high, salty and sugary from the vending machine so that I could safely get home and have a proper meal. Because of the certainty of the EMT's recommendation, I figured that I could not properly judge my own condition well enough and that I should bow to the concerns of a professional.

They did not allow me to get any water, even though I was probably dehydrated. They did not allow me to have anything to eat, even though I was probably dangerously low on calories. They brought me to a nearby hospital. I was dumped into a room and spent about an hour doing pretty much nothing, probably in need of water or sustenance, getting none of it. I really at this point was figuring that I should just leave and get something at the vending machine. Finally, after this quite unacceptable wait, they gave me water -- but they decided that it would have to be given intravenously. I told them that this seemed like overkill, but the person I spoke with literally had never heard the word "overkill".

So I had to wait for three hours while a slowly dripping IV dripped into my veins. It was agonizing and totally unnecessary. And it hurt more than the needle from the blood donating earlier that day. After this was done, they finally let me out, so I grabbed a small bag of sun chips and walked the two and a half miles back to the community center, drove home, and got the sustenance which I had needed but was functionally kept from for four hours.

[edit: And I got to hear how they had a good laugh at my expense -- normally, I wouldn't care about this, but next paragraph]

This was just an annoyance, but I learned this morning that apparently costs after figuring in insurance will run in the triple digits. This seems like it should be a more appropriate amount for the total charge, but I guess that's not how the system works here. Still, knowing that it will cost me quite that much turns my annoyance into light anger, because I feel that although I felt okay, I was not qualified at the time to refuse treatment.


Meh, we live and learn, I guess. I have two important life lessons that came out of this:

1) Don't overstress my body stupidly (this is the obvious one)

2) Never, ever listen to an EMT, because self-interest can be involved (if not the profit motive then at least a certain "oh shit, even though the situation looks totally normal, I'll be in trouble if it's really all fucked up, so I'll just always recommend the worst case scenario option" motive).

Doctor Prego, you're lucky you stopped EMTing. :P

more vacation ruminations, new PDA

I just blew a hundred bucks on a fancy-schmancy Android phone. Turns out I could have gotten it from Amazon for thirty bucks less, but my laziness is overriding my urge to return it and get it again for the lower price. So far, it's much better than the terrible phones I've been recently using. The interface isn't quite as good as the Palm OS PDAs from a decade and change ago, but it's definitely an improvement over everything else I've used. The touch screen isn't as precise as the old, pen-based kind, but it is more convenient for most things that don't involve games or web browsing (seriously, I have to zoom in every time I want to click a link now!). Keyboard input is decent, though I still would prefer hard keys or something like graffiti.

I like that they have very elegant package repositories -- ten years ago, it took hacks to be able to install applications over the web, and there wasn't a unified interface involved. And that capability generally got worse in the intervening years until Apple jumpstarted the modern phone revolution.

So, anyway, I now have a gps and a compass and a web browser and a barcode scanner and a flash video player and a decent ebook reader (last good one I had was -- again -- on Palm OS, circa y2k) and an audiobook player and a tilty planetarium. Also, it can display 3D images and movies and games without requiring 3D glasses, and it has a 3D camera.

I think they advertised something about being able to make phone calls or something, but I have not delved into this obscure feature of the device.

Addendum: It seems to get roughly twenty minutes of battery life. I understand this is just a natural part of life these days, so I do not complain.

Here's a bit more on my vacation:

a bit more on my vacationCollapse )
I was away from the Internet for the past two and a half weeks. Apparently, a lot of stuff happened. Earthquake, Hurricane, Wildfires, continued riots overseas. Truly, it is the End of Times.

But anyway, I went nerding!

...wherein I drink, listen to brains ejaculate wisdom, and fistbump George R. R. MartinCollapse )

So, yeah, that's Renovation, the Worldcon in Reno. Good times, good roommates, good injection of intellectualism. The only downside is that I lost one of my shoulder bags, a bag which contained a cool collar that I [i]just bought[/i] and one of my mesh shirts, a shirt which will be difficult at best to replace.


More on the vacation later on. I have thousands of photographs to sift through for now!

Aug. 13th, 2011

Wow, I spent eight hours hammering nails and the like yesterday, and I finally have a roof (well, the rafters and such) on my shed. The whole thing's covered poorly in plastic tarp at the moment, as I won't be able to continue the work until about a month from now. Hopefully, it doesn't rain too badly. Under the tarp is exposed particle board, and it doesn't like getting drenched at all.

I'm hosting a party today at my place. Each new party tries to have gimmicks -- little things which help clearly define why that particular get together isn't just a generic hangout with beer. The gimmicks this time are ice pop molds to make alcoholic popsicles (as well as the regular kind) and a pizza stone to make homemade pizza (assuming people picked up on my suggestion of bringing ingredients), and my cool new footwear, which I'm keeping vague for my own amusement. I have all my other stuff -- the grill, fire pit, ball pit, slip 'n slide, networked on demand cartoons, and so forth -- on call in case they're needed. This is a Going Away party to celebrate a recent swath of friends who've suddenly moved to other states and people who are taking are are planning to take extended vacations in distant lands.

Over the next three weeks and change, I will be going to the 69*th Annual Worldcon, San Francisco**, Yosemite, and Burning Man. It should be fun, and I have it pretty well planned out (save for camping in Yosemite -- those plans are sort of flatlining at the moment). The only downside is that I think I just started having a cold. It's a bit difficult to say, as I've done some heavy labour over the last few days (wrt the shed), and my body might just be extremely run down. Either way, I hope it passes quickly, as much of this coming vacation will require me to be at the top of my game. Well, at least it's paced so that the easier parts are at the beginning and it gets progressively harder† as I go along. Worldcon is all fluffy beds and indoors, while the midpoint involves hanging around a city, then camping for a night in the forest, then hard partying on a Saturday night likely with little sleep, then a full week of surviving in a desert. Here's hoping that I'm at 100% come desert time.




* ", dudes!"
** I will be passing by or through Alameda, and it will take all that I have to resist the urge to ask local cops for the "Nuclear Wessels"
† like a well-designed video game!

More chillin' in the shadow of the '80s

This week's Torchwood was probably the first episode on the quality level of 2009's "Children of Earth" miniseries. In the three previous episodes of 2011, I really liked all the philosophical questions raised by the show's main plotline but didn't care much for the actual Torchwood folk and the events transpiring around them. Tonight, though, I was interested in everything that happened. They kept the cool scenario hacking, but they added some powerful dose of excellence to the principle characters.

Speaking of excellence.... Thundercats. Watch it. It's probably the best execution of a reboot of an '80s cartoon since ... wow, I can't think of a truly amazing example. G. I. Joe Renegades was really good, and the Masters of the Universe do-over in '03 was arguably quite superior to its source material, but the new Thundercats just took the ball and ran with it ... and kept running until they hit the touchdown.

musings on the other rebootsCollapse )

So anyway, to recap: Transformers: Prime, no interest. Voltron Force, needs some overhauling but has the core of something interesting going. G.I. Joe: Renegades, excellent reboot of The A-Team. Thundercats, epic beginner that fixes the problems of the original series (Snarf talking), makes characters a bit more three dimensional (the good guys are largely racist imperial assholes, the villains probably the same but also partly composed of oppressed peoples, some characters have developing tension, Cheetara has bigger tits and a bare midriff) and only really falls flat by including the ThunderKittens and ending the pilot with a fetch quest.

But I'll probably watch the opener again before seeing next week's episode.

Jul. 29th, 2011

Saturday, I led a group of fools, eight strong, on a hike from McCarren Park in Greenpoint to Coney Island. We went through Dumbo and Prospect Park along the way, and somewhere on Fulton St we checked and found that it was exactly 100 degrees Fahrenheit out.

It went very well, and we were all very prepared. We didn't have pizza, as was part of the original plan, but we did stop at KFC and McDonald's (fatty foods are pretty helpful when you're burning).

Coney Island was pretty cool, and I did some climbing out on the rocks. We had planned to go on a couple rides, but the lines were too long, and we had been on our feet for several hours, so we went to one of the team's homes, which was nearby.

Good times. I'm not even hurting too much.

Monday, I got tested for Tuberculosis, as my job requires every year. Then I got the measurements on a window for my shed, and I shopped for some Game Boy games to entertain me during my trip to the West Coast. I no longer have a device that can reliably display e-books (or that can reliably play audio books), so I'm going to go the gaming route there. Tuesday night, I picked up my parents from the airport (they'd been at Yellowstone and nearby areas) and then went to an indy wrestling show with a couple of my home town friends. Professional wrestling sort of goes from facepalmy to staggeringly enjoyable when you make the move from the embarrassing television programmes to a bingo hall filled with a couple hundred people and twenty or so acrobats.

Anyway, my cousin and her two boys are here this week, so I'll be hanging out with them here and there. At the least, I got to see them last night, and I'll be popping over on Saturday, because this is my daddy's birthday week, and we're having a barbecue.
I'm preparing for a big vacation, starting from August 16th and going to September 6th. I'll be at Worldcon then vaguely hanging about San Fran and Yosemite and so forth, and then I get to spend a week at Burning Man. There's a ton of prep going on for this. Since I've been pretty good with my finances, I splurged a bit on some pricey stuff, some necessary (hiking backpack which'll double as a suitcase, a couple bota bags, a solar AA battery charger) and some for fun (a freezer pop maker and jumping stilts). Regarding the stilts, I actually am going to try to make a pair of the old fashioned type, since I have recent experience with woodworking as well as a circular saw that my father left here.

Here are my recent bursts of creative outputs:

Giant mustache: This was for the Steampunk World's Fair, and I keep it around for any non-rainy or indoor occasion where it might prove useful. It's basically just a couple cut pieces of cardboard with furry fabric and lots of glue -- some hanger wire keeps it attached to my head, a hat hides the wire, and a little bit of bubble wrap helps to prevent the wire from creating permanent valleys in my scalp. If I can make it there, I could certainly use the stache for September 10th's Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition.

Wearable boat: Two sets of double-layered cardboard rectangles glued together in brick formation and cut into boat shapes. I held them together with twine so that they bowed around me (the front and back were ~9" apart, but the middle sections were 12" apart, since that's about how wide I am). I also made a quickie spyglass out of different sizes of cardboard tubing. It all went well, but by the end of the day one of the sides developed a permabend.

Ball pit: This is ultimately for Playa del Fuego and the Geeky Kink Event. It's basically a framework of PVC piping and some plastic netting around and plastic balls inside. The basic design has approximately a 4'x4' footprint, and I so far have 1450 balls. This isn't even enough to halfway fill it. When I get back from the other side of the continent, I will have to get more. I beta tested the pit at my housewarming party, where we managed to fit seven people inside before it started losing structural integrity, and I was also given a few hundred balls as gifts for the ongoing project. At the GKE, about a thousand balls will be waiting to help the total. I'm figuring that once I hit 2000 balls total, I'll make sure to have extra PVC on hand (including additional vertical cross beams and more tees) to allow for a larger pit.

homemade slip'n'slide: This came to me suddenly a few days before my housewarming party. It was so easy that I'm surprised I've never seen it in practice. I got some plastic sheeting, put it on the ground, and sprayed it with water. Bam, instant fun! As an additional bonus, it makes for a serviceable tarp!

Bubble wrap flag: Castles in the Sky is a yearly parade (in previous years it held the much cooler "Kaleidoscope" name) in which people dress up in fancy colours and random things and going all around NYC with musical instruments, bubbles, hula hoops, and similar bits of funnery. It has fire shows and aerial silk performances and other interesting attractions. I had my bubble wrap shirt all prepped, but since people make flags for the event, I decided to temporarily grab some of my ball pit PVC, buy another roll of bubble wrap, and make a flag out of it. People liked it, and it doubled as entertainment at the afterparty when I laid it on the floor for people to stomp on between musical performances.
Okay, continuing on with my previous Update-After-Long-Time-Away post....

June 18th, they had the Mermaid Parade. It's a fun todo in Coney Island where everybody wears vaguely nautically themed outfits. I'd spent the prior week making a boat out of cardboard and string that I wore there. It was pretty cool, though I didn't actually walk in the parade itself (it's apparently really easy to get into, though). The boat lasted the day and then developed a permabend due to poor engineering acumen, but that's okay, as it was a super cheap design. That evening, this year's Bubble Battle went on at the same location. This is an event where hundreds of people blow bubbles at the same time in the same place. It's fun, but it felt more epic the last few years in Times Square, where the event more highly contrasted with the environment. At Coney Island, bubble blowing seems almost normal.

The next few weeks were filled with more general partying. I went to a work barbecue and had a going away party for one of my coworkers, I went mini golfing with my family for Father's Day, and I went to a pretty cool party with friends from Suffolk County.

Much of June was spent preparing for my own party. I advertised for it heavily in advance, and I put together a bunch of fun little perks to add to the fun. My Housewarming Party was on July 2nd. It had a grill, a firepit, a homemade ball pit, a homemade slip'n'slide, a blacklit liquor room and oodles of network shared classic cartoons. For most of the night, a season of the Critic was on infinite repeat. It went pretty well. The only downside was that people brought far too much beer and drank far too little beer. So I have a Re-party two days later. This was much smaller but still well populated for a lot of fun. Somebody brought a load of fireworks that were let loose for a while. A watermelon and sledgehammer were brought in, but sadly we did not have the chance to try them out.

This past weekend, I went to the Shore Leave science fiction convention. It's not normally my kind of con, as there aren't much in the way of public or easily accessible room parties. I rather shamelessly admit that I went largely because a pretty, young girl asked me to see her. A nice bonus, though, was that the third person in the room was a clever inventor type who made tasty beverages (including using liquid Nitrogen to make a sort of vodka whipped cream), and we got to host a semipublic party. I mostly spent my time volunteering to help out with the con. I ended up meeting a bunch of cool people, and there was a really great dance party on Saturday night.
Ahhh, so it's been two months:

The Forum picnic on May 14th was crazy fun. I think it might have been the best one yet. There was a decent turnout, good food, lots of geekery, and halfway through we took a trip into the wilderness to explore ancient ruins. We checked out an old, nigh abandoned cemetary behind a retirement home, climbed many tall, gnarled trees, and descended into a ten foot wide well. At the end of it, we went out into a swampy area near to the beach. It was at the end of a shallow waterfall and had a few little islands hanging about. We had to cut it short due to one of our people getting her foot severely slashed up.

Went to Jmax's for a Memorial Day Party at the end of May. I was originally planning to go to Playa del Fuego, a burn down in Delaware, but I was unable to procure tickets. The party was quite cool, though, and the turnout was well above usual. Many people wore my mustache, there was boffer fighting, swimming in the pool, a little bit of hookah, some roasting at the fire pit, and eventually a sit down inside to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

The week after, I went camping down in Maryland, on Assateague Island. This area is fairly famous for having a colony of wild horses interacting freely with campers. They get pretty close, though you have to be respectful and careful with them about. Our next door neighbors left all their food out and ended up with a heavily ransacked campsite! Aside from the horses, we made a big sand castle, threw glowsticks into a campfire to amuse ourselves and visited the nearby Ocean City, which is a local equivalent to Coney Island. The beers there are cheaper. The food is not. Overall, it was a nice time, and I might go again at some point. While down there, I had a chance to sample some of the local cuisine, such as grits and scrapple for the first time. That latter dish is made of, among other things, pig brains. It tasted squishy.

June 11th, I went on a spree in the city. I popped by Washington Square Park (by accident!) and briefly viewed some sort of Indian cultural festival, which was still under construction. I then went over to Madison Square Park to observe the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. It smelled quite good, though I didn't buy anything. While there, a gigantic Indian parade passed by, presumably heading towards the aforementioned festival. They had giant, mobile pagodas which were each pulled down the street by near to a hundred people holding ropes. After viewing this, I went down to Governor's Island to enjoy the FIGMENT festival. This is a sort of celebration of interactive arts for a weekend which strongly parallels the tastes of the Burning Man crowd. Lots of hooping and poi and tented dance parties among amusing and clever art installations. Afterwards, I went to a party which was going to be an attempt to build the world's tallest pyramid out of beer cans, but there was some sort of falling out between the organizers, so it was just a plain boring get together with bands (and, oddly enough, a cover charge and quite high fees for the BBQ food and beverage, even though this was just in a regular home and not some sort of clubby venue).

I'll write up more later on. :)

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jcholewa
JC (John Cholewa)

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