Life update

Nov. 9th, 2011 09:11 am
rax: (N hearts you! This is dangerous.)
I am not just a machine that does tasklists, I promise. Of course this post is also a list, but it's not a tasklist, so at least it's something?
  • School: Is going better, overall, at least for me. I'm excited about my final projects even if they weren't what I initially hoped to be doing, and I'm seeing people on campus I can build alliances with. I'm also getting excited about theory again, which is never a bad thing. Occasionally I say things that make me sound a little crazy: "Yes, but I want to be interpellated as an animal by the state," but I'm actually being challeged in really productive ways by one professor and I appreciate that a lot.
  • Work: Remains... workly? Distance is beting harder these past couple of weeks than normal but after this weekend I will be less of a stressball and have some plans for trying to work on that. I'm getting some longer-term stuff done and that always feels a little more distancing because I am not talking to people about it every day. That doesn't mean it's not important.
  • Pokémon: I'll be in Providence playing competitive Pokémon this weekend. A: This is awesome. B: How is this my life. I don't actually think I'll do very well, because I've been putting my free time into school, work, and relationships rather than obsessively testing things in a card game. I am OK with this. It should still be fun.
  • Relationships: I got to see Ruth recently, which was great and amazingly stress-reducing and involved a lot of exciting cookery. (Getting together with people I am involved with or attracted to almost always results in our producing lots of food. I ... do not know what to make of this? Except mmmmm, seitan.) It looks like I will get to see her more often in a few months, which is even more exciting! Also, we're coming up on three years. Holy crap. Also, I got to have Rik over for like eleven days which just... wow. At first having both Rik and Krinn here was super confusing, but once I figured it out, that was really nice. It's amazing to feel so supported and to spend time with people who I love dearly. Also Rik made me a cake when I turned 27 again. <3 Clearly I need to trick everyone into moving to the same city in five years. The distance is hard, and having Rik leave Monday and then tomorrow leaving Krinn (who is amazing and wonderful to live with and I am sad when she leaves for work in the morning which is not to say that I'm unhappy that she has a job but that I would like to be sufficiently spoiled as to have someone to lean on at all times) to go to Boston is currently feeling way harder than I expected it to. It's kind of a crash. But Boston is Boston, so I think I will be OK.
  • Real estate: Pending extreme fuckery, the house in Bloomington will be sold as of tomorrow. That was an expensive mistake. Live and learn? Or maybe "make sure your advisor is happy somewhere before you buy real estate there?" I don't know. I'm not sure what the moral of this story was other than "ha ha sometimes you get fucked over by things that have nothing to do with you." I already knew that lesson, life. Why the repeats? Lucky for me, I am in a good enough state that getting fucked over only makes me sad, not in any sort of serious danger. Go team Nokia bought my startup I guess. When it's all over and done with, I am ritually washing my hands of Indiana.
  • Pronouns: I'll be writing another post about this soon, but my preferred pronoun is now "they." I'd appreciate it if you used that pronoun when referring to me. If you could hold your questions until the pronoun post, which I hope to write right after this one if work stays quiet, I'd appreciate it.
  • Overall: I am happier in Tucson than I was in Bloomington; I feel safer in Tuscon than I did in Bloomington; I am glad that I moved here. I still need to develop more of a local social group, but I feel better equipped to do that here and I've made some progress. I have friends. Who are not students. This rocks. Living in multiple time zones is still weird --- half of my clocks are set to Eastern time for work and half are set to local --- but it's producing interesting shifts in my thinking that I don't know how to express yet. I'm a huge stressball right now but I foresee things getting better; I have all of my hard assignments done except final papers and those are fun because I get to pick the topic and write about the stuff I've been thinking all semester, and I have some vacation days to actually use and have my time in California in December be calming. And some projects for fun that I am working on that are silly but fulfilling. So: Yay!

Adventure!

Jun. 11th, 2011 08:16 pm
rax: (Horo whiskers)
Rik and I went on an adventure today. The ostensible purpose for this adventure was to visit Smithville, IN, a town of maybe a thousand people around ten miles south of where I live in Bloomington. Why, you might ask, would I want to go to Smithville? Well, my favorite song by For Squirrels, one of my favorite bands, is called "Under Smithville" (link to song on YouTube with album cover as "video"), and I have no idea which Smithville it's about. [0] Since I started seeing signs for Smithville around where I lived I've been like "Oh my god I need to go under Smithville" but had never gotten around to it. Thus: To Smithville!

I looked it up online, and it's part of the Clear Creek Township, which has an amazing old but not old enough that it doesn't use javascript website with details about a commune in the township, the train that used to run there, and so on. I looked up a route to get to Smithville in general, confirmed there was a picture I could take a sign with, and then Rik and I purposefully got in the car without any directions and decided to see what we found. We first managed to get totally lost and find the end of a road to nowhere, and that was pretty fun, and then aftr some meandering through Bloomington's outskirts we made our way to Smithville and found a couple of churches labelled "Smithville" but no sign. We wandered around some more, and found the Baker's Junction Railroad Museum, [1] which seemed to be closed.

Then we found a school on the outskirts of Smithville, or possibly in it --- although the sign claimed it was Bloomington even though it was south of (thus, under) Smithville. It had a playground. So I laid down under it. (This is a reference to the lyrics from the song in question.) It turned out the playground also had a nature trail attached to it --- it was something like a mile or a mile and a half? Lots of really pretty vistas, butterflies that fluttered into the air with every step we took, fresh dew still on the grass... It was really nice, and not so long that the plant phobia really kicked in. Hooray! We also found the Smithville sign, and got pictures in front of it while people drove by and were like "Who in the hell does that?" Well, Rik and I do that, because we're awesome. Also I was staring into the sun so all of the pictures are terrible, but what can you do. [2]

Then we declared victory and went to the Owlery, a vegetarian restaurant in Bloomington, and had their coconut macadamia tofu, which is divine and nightshade free. There aren't a lot of things I can eat there, but the things I can eat are very tasty, and they're friendly and a reasonable price and almost everything on the menu is vegan or can be made vegan. Yaaaay!

In conclusion: An awesome adventure. And proof that I do actually do fun things sometimes!


[0] The band was from Florida, but most Google hits for "Smithville, FL" are either about some other state or examples that pick "Smithville, FL" as a fictional place. I'd like to imagine the latter is what they were thinking about in the song, but I really have no idea.

[1] Warning: Makes sounds if you don't disable JavaScript, and is incredibly baffling in a vaguely timecubey kind of way. I am simultaneously glad and sad that we did not get to see the museum; on the one hand oh my god this dude talks about shooting Communists and on the other hand he has bits of his website in favor of gender equity and marijuana legalization. All I can really tell is that he is intense and all of his opinions are turned up to 11. Or maybe 12.

[2] Also, this outfit is [livejournal.com profile] bossgoji 's fault. I am still figuring out if I like it or not! It's pretty awesome, but I can't decide if I'm comfortable looking quite this... feminine. Is that crazy? 

rax: (kotone/silver hug awwwwwwwwh)
  • I've listed my house for sale; I'm hoping to keep my losses under 10K. Ow. I'm very lucky to begin with to (a) own a house and (b) be able to soak a loss of 10K not happily but without serious suffering. I am totally in the first world problems zone here, maybe the 0.5th world problems zone. Nonetheless... Ow. Chances I will still be living here in three months? Vanishingly slim. I'm in touch with a realtor in Tucson; obviously I'm not picking a new place until I am For Sure Absolute Reals guaranteed a position there, but things look likely and I feel confident and so that's the plan I'm working with. I may even have a full house on arrival, but I don't want to jinx that too much, so I'll talk more about it later. 
  • You may be unsurprised to hear that despite no longer being in classes at all, I am only a bit less busy than I was a month ago, thanks to work eating more of my time and having to deal with the house and Arizona stuff and all manner of nonsense and froofery. I'm way less stressed, though if you hadn't seen me a month ago you probably wouldn't believe that given how stressed I still am, but if you did, you know. :)
  • As part of being less stressed, and also as part of having a houseguest, I've been making more interesting food recently! I've done vegan pizza a couple of times, seitan lentil curry, vegan chicken fried steak (inspired by though different from this recipe), pancakes... we're talking about doing some kind of seitan in cherry-currant sauce over couscous tonight, though we have a bunch of oil left over from last night and we might just see what's left in the house that we can fry. :) We were mumbling about onion rings...
  • In the last few weeks I've learned that, upon re-reading my prose, I can usually take a few words out of every paragraph and improve the paragraph by so doing. I think this is a fine thing, as long as I remember to go and do this all the time. I suspect that some of my older writing may be hella wordy, unless using crazy long clauses is something I've picked up recently by reading crazy long-winded philosophers. Either way oh my god I keep catching myself using five words to say things like "to" or "and." ^^;; This may have something to do with why I always find myself struggling against the top edge of wordcount limits and not the bottom one... (see also last semester's 12000 word final paper, which was just ridiculous)
  • Speaking of which, that paper's been in submission --- revised, down to 8000 words --- to a journal for almost two and a half months. I suspect I am at least going to get a peer review back... This is exciting and also terrifying. Oh, I have a talk proposal out to a conference, too. I need to submit more of those this summer; I have a couple of papers that are some revision away from a reasonable conference talk, I think. And one paper that... man, I like the theoretical moves I was making, but I dunno about the paper as a whole. I may take one section out of it and build it into something else and let the rest go. I'm gonna sit on it for a while and then come back to it and see what I think.
rax: (ADORAVUL[PIX])
Maybe I'll try to do one of these "things that aren't class notes or tasklists" posts a week.
  • So far, new housemate is awesome, and there's ample space in the house so I don't feel trod upon but there's someone else to talk to periodically. That's basically ideal. (Also, I think his alarm is going off at... 11 AM. Damn, crazy nightshifted people. (edited to add: I think he turned it off and went back to sleep. :P )) A mutual friend of ours is considering taking the remaining room --- I'm trying not to get too excited but it would basically be perfect. 
  • This weekend featured great conversations with people I hold dear, which is always excellent. It may even feature more, although I expect today to be mostly homework with a side of housework; I spent more time yesterday on social than I had initially budgeted.
  • I tried to run errands this morning, but stores aren't open at 9 AM on a Sunday. I guess everyone else is either hung over or at church. Well, I wanna buy some stuff! Come on, people! (In particular I am out of soy sauce and do not wish to pay Bloomingfoods prices when I could just go to the Asian grocery. I wil stop by on my way home from class in the next couple of days, I guess.)
  • My Pokédex is now at 441; if I have time this evening I will be making a list of everything I need, and how I can go about getting it. I'll probably post that here just in case any of you are curious. I guess when I hit 493, I... stop? Or I could do a Nuzlocke run (you can read the rules here since Nuzlocke.com is down right now) which for those of you unfamiliar with pokemon is basically like doing a NetHack conduct run, which as you may know I have some history with. I'm still proud of that NetHack game. Orrrrr... has anyone heard anything about whether the new Final Fantasy for the DS is any good? (Old-style RPGs seem to be really good for my sanity in small to middling doses. I don't ask questions, I do the things that make me not lose my shit.)
  • Spent last Thursday night and Friday in Ohio for work, and worked like 18 hours or something while I was there; have to do it again this week but with more hours (probably like 22-24). On the plus side that means anyone who calls me on Wednesday can kindly fuck off speak to another representative. And I should be able to get ahead on homework this week which will be awesome.
  • Leaves are starting to change, and I should probably buy a rake. Potentially dumb question: Do homeowners rake and dispose of all of their leaves, rather than letting them degrade into the soil, for appearance reasons? Or is there a good reason to make them go away? Also uh I should figure out how to go about being an adult who has a fireplace. This is not a skill I have ever learned. I can start a fire --- I did go to MIT after all --- but I'm not good at things like "keeping it contained in a fireplace" or "having it go out without the use of fire extinguishers. (I even managed "starting a charcoal grill without lighter fluid because furries are not prepared for things" a couple of months ago, although we didn't really get it to meat-cooking heat until someone brought lighter fluid. By that point I had eaten, go team vegan.)
  • I should also buy a snow shovel, so that I don't get caught without one when everyone else is trying to buy one. I do have an electric snowblower, but something that's not terribly effective.
  • I think for the time being "not drinking" has changed from "I don't seem to be doing this anymore" to a rule; I dunno if it will stick or not. I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of what one is supposed to do in grad school, but so is having a tech job, and so is owning a house, so whatever.
  • A coworker got me listening to Kate Miller-Heidke, who has less bass in her music than is usually my preference but an amazing voice and a great sense of timing. Here's a link to one of her songs I'm fond of --- sorry for the boring video but I couldn't find a non-live version. As a side benefit, having iTunes do the Genius thing with her is finding stuff I had forgotten about but really like (is "Little Boots" your fault, Rik?). I have no idea how said coworker can like Miller-Heidke so much and hate Kate Bush, though.
  • Speaking of music, have you all heard the new Of Montreal album? I found it much easier to get into than Skeletal Lamping (or even Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse) but a little more heavy-handed or less nuanced or something? The tracks with Janelle Monae are particularly enjoyable, and I should track down some of her stuff. I have not been listening to it non-stop to try to get it like I did with the two albums previously mentioned, but it was hardly a waste of $5.
rax: (Horo whiskers)
If you've been following Eredien's journal, you'll know that she spent a bunch of time in the last two days with medical service providers. The bad news is that last night, from 1 AM to around 6:30 AM, she spent a bunch more time with medical service providers, this time in the local hospital, being treated for a pretty serious ear infection. The good news is that she's hopefully on the road to recovery, on a number of powerful antibiotics, and at least as importantly, the infection has not spread to her mastoids. The mastoid, for those of you who didn't have five hours to google this on your cell phones last night, is this mostly-hollow space in the bones of your skull that is connected to your middle ear, and if it gets infected --- this is rare but happens in something like 1/50000 otitis media infections if I remember correctly --- it's bad with bad sauce. Like, bad bad bad. I was too nervous to really sleep while sitting up with her in the hotel waiting because that was all the doctors' going theory and was very happy when the CT scan results came back clear. It was still the right choice to go into the hospital, because I think the aggressive dosing of IV antibiotics yesterday afternoon and middle-of-night is a big part of why her mastoids remain uninfected --- the infection was definitely trying to spread and succeeding before aggressive intervention.

In a hilarious comedy of errors, when we got back from the hospital, CVS had a database infrastructure program, so I had to stay up until 7:45, bike there, get her drugs, and bring them back, and wake her up for long enough to put in SUPER EARDROPS. I've finally woken up; she's still asleep and will probably spend much of the next day in bed. Tomorrow or Tuesday we'll be taking her to an ENT specialist for followup. Other than that, we'll be taking it easy; while it's unfortunate that this happened on a weekend that we had some social plans, it's fortunate that it happened on a weekend where I could actually just drop everything to help her without it affecting work. (Obviously I would have done it anyway, but if we'd spent three workdays on this instead of three weekend days, the work that would have piled up would have been ohmyzomg.) I'm not sure when she'll be awake and responding to things but I think it's making her really happy to be reminded that people care.

In the department of random, when we were driving to the hospital at 1 AM, a car drove past us with a bunch of college kids singing and dancing in it. I kinda waved, like "Hi oh my god I hate everything," and one of them put on cat ears and leaned out the window at us. I grabbed a pair of cat ears off of the dash [0] and put them on and waved again. They all started cheering. This gave me the energy I needed to deal with the ^&%(^%*&^%* hospital.



[0] Of course I have a pair of cat ears on the dashboard of my car. (I tagged this "cat hat" as my general tag for "ridiculous things that happen as a result of cat ears"; it was actually my snow leopard headband.)


rax: (Benten guitar case)
First of all, I have a skeletal summer schedule, so here goes:
  • June 24-27: Anthrocon, Pittsburgh, PA --- went last year, had fun, told Diane I'd go if she was going and she said yes, so. Anthrocon! We're going to spend at least a day costumed as pokemon trainers.
  • June/July borderline: Hopefully some houseguests? Nothing set in stone but we're holding the time open.
  • July sometime: My parents showing up, wheee.
  • Aug 6-15: In Boston for weddings and work. Eredien and I will both be there, and if anyone has crash space, that would be awesome.
  • Aug 30: Classes start. Zomg!
There may be some Eredien's family in there, and maaaaybe another visit from out of town or me saying "AAAAA I'M SURROUNDED BY NOTHING" and flying standby to San Francisco, but this might already be enough travel, really. :)

So!

Juvenile birds are awesome, there's a grackle feeding its child outside on the lawn right now. <3 Do you know what else is awesome? Four baby woodchucks. Oh. My. God. They are amazing and they travel in a little cluster of squee and they're tiny and they have black tails and and and and and. The sad part is this really means we're going to get rid of them, otherwise instead of a yard we will have Rachel's Woodchuck Sanctuary. ...which is still kind of tempting. But I don't think you can get AZA accreditation for "doesn't remove vermin from lawn." ;) Speaking of lawns, we really need to start mowing --- I don't care, the woodchucks are keeping the overall height down, but I'm sure the neighbors are grumbling about those lesbians and their ill-kempt lawns. [0] Personally I'd rather the whole thing were growing food, but it's a little late for this year, we'll figure something out next year.

The inside of the house has made the mad progress. With help from [personal profile] laura47  we put together scads of shelving and we're now distressingly close to "most boxes unpacked." We didn't quite finish books yesterday, but we may very well finish them tonight. That only leaves finishing up the media room (we still need to order a projector), finding a kitchen island or butcher block we like, Eredien setting up her office, and then doing some of the work on the house that we want to do before we get a housemate or two. Since some of you are curious and the rest of you have stopped reading by now, here's the list of things that we want to do or get done:
  • Replace the busted sliding door (we have a coupon for this but it expires soon, we need to make that happen before July 8th)
  • Remove the woodchucks ;.;
  • Get ceiling lights put into the dining room, bedrooms, and office
  • Get insulation blown into the attic, at least on the low half of the house, maybe some additional insulation on the high half as well depending on how much it costs and how disruptive it is
  • Clean the gutters, because they are an ecosystem unto themselves
  • Garage door stops
  • Bird mesh around the chimney
...aaaaand probably some other minor stuff. Fun times. I also need to get Indiana residency, get a license, get insurance, register my car, de-register-and-insure it in Massachusetts, figure out why they haven't sent me a gas bill yet... The logistics, man. I can't imagine having moved here a week or two before classes started and trying to figure everything out. That would have been insane. This is much, much, much nicer; we're still on track for "be basically done moving in in four weeks, and then work on the house," which was my original plan. Oh and I need to write a letter to my realtor asking for advice on "do you have an electrician you recommend?" and that kinda thing. Eep! Added to tasklist.
We had a couple of small dinners at the house last week, both of which were quite fun, and involved a bunch of cooking and then hosting and then just conversation. In another week or two we'd be set to host a 12-person dinner party but I don't know if we have twelve people to host. :) It won't be long, though, I've got communications open with a few more people and hopefully will have time to actually meet them soon. Lately we have not been doing that many for-fun things for extended periods of time --- we bought the new Race for the Galaxy expansion but haven't even opened it! When I have a few minutes here and there, I have been playing the newish version of crawl, 0.6, which I completely missed when it came out because I was so crazy with thesis and job and moving and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. [1] It's really weird, actually, playing a game that looks like I know it so well and having everything under the hood just be completely different. I think I like it, but sometimes it is super frustrating. I wonder if this is how I will feel if NetHack 4 ever comes out?

It's weird, I think I'm going to get more done once I get a little more busy. It's so easy right now to just look out the window, nod my head slowly, and pet the cat. That is probably what I needed for a couple of weeks, because I was really raw by the time we left. The itch to do more is starting to come back, though. It's familiar. I'm looking forward to it, and my tasklist is looking forward to it, but I hope I still have a little time for the birds.

[0] I swear to you, I did not notice the horrible "joke" here until after I wrote it. *sigh* I have shared the pain with you.

[1] This page alone redeems Uncyclopedia as far as I am concerned.

rax: (Benten guitar case)
Woke up this morning after having a dream that I had only brought phantom objects with me to Indiana and I had to fly back to Boston today as soon as possible, rent a new truck, load it up with my real possessions, and drive it to Indiana, since the lease at the old place expires today. I woke up ready to buy a last-minute flight, thought for thirty seconds, and realized that was astoundingly stupid. :) We had a couple of delays (as Eredien accidentally injured herself working on a bookshelf yesterday and we lost a few hours to urgent care and no longer have two people who can lift things) but my goal was "everything more or less in the place we will want it by June 1st and everything unpacked and mostly set up by June 15th," and I think we can still meet that. [personal profile] laura47  gets here tonight and can help me with the rest of the shelves, and Wednesday most of the new furniture shows up and we can build it and unpack board games, video game stuff, and kitchen dry goods into it. That will mostly leave us with books [0], art, and the occasional "oh god why do we even own this object." So that's pretty exciting.

I've pretty much settled into a rhythm with regard to work for my job, which is good; working from home all the time is a little weird, but I was already used to doing it in multiple-day stretches and I just need to be less nervous about randomly calling coworkers the way I would otherwise have randomly walked up to them at the office. This is especially true after the Nokia acquisition as for a variety of reasons that are both boring and probably secret it's much harder to catch people on the company messaging system than it used to be. But luckily everyone has this shiny new phone that I can call them on! So work is working, and I'm not sure how much of it I will keep doing once school starts, but definitely some, and I think I'll actually have fun with that most of the time. Having two major things to play off of each other, like jobwork/schoolwork, is a very good mechanism for getting more stuff done if you are me. Lucky for me, I am!

The presence of an actual yard continues to be amazing. Right now I can see a squirrel having a conniption, a rabbit eating my weeds, a blue jay who wants to be where the squirrel is having the conniption, a mourning dove, and there was a yellow-bellied woodpecker until just a minute ago. Selene is largely disinterested, but Oolong will sit by the window with me and just watch for an extended period of time, occasionally making "I want that!" noises. Oddly, she has no interest in the woodchuck, which I finally got a half-decent picture of with my cameraphone. Maybe it's too big? It may actually be bigger than her. It is probably unwilling to have me sit around and measure it, though, so I will have to content myself with the guess. [1]

We've made a couple of friends and a couple of acquaintances through themthose friends --- it was awesome to know one of them pretty well before we even got here --- and that's really cool. Once we're a little more set up, I think we're going to start branching out, meeting up with some of the other people we've talked to briefly or heard we should interact with, see the city a little bit more. It's a great 45-minute walk to the other edge of campus, maybe an hour if you walk slow, and I finally found the boxes of bike stuff, so I have a helmet and bike shoes again, so basically I have mega-mobility. Things are pretty quiet here in the summer, but that's OK, there seems to still be critical mass around.

We've been cooking pretty much all our meals which I am very excited about. Lots of rice cooker and bread machine usage --- yesterday I used some dough Eredien made to make a delicious vegan pizza,  which was quite fun. A bit of Craigslist searching may just have solved a couple of our remaining furniture problems --- I'll find out when Eredien's out of the shower and we can talk about them. Moving into a completely empty house and turning it into the house you want to be living in is expensive and time-consuming. I can't tell if I feel weirder about spending this much money or about having this much money to spend. I'm currently figuring that once I'm not full-time, I won't be buying much except food and airfare, so I should spend the money now.

[0] We have approximately 50 cubic feet of books. They still look small in the room where they're stacked. This is because that room is like 22x16 or something utterly ridiculous like that.

[1] We're probably going to have to remove it, because it's digging its home right up against our foundation and most of the research I've done suggests that's potentially very bad sauce. One of the things on the tasklist for the next two weeks is to find a removal person who will do a harmless trap and release; we could probably drive it out of our yard with things like chili pepper and mothballs but it would then go to a neighbor's yard and potentially meet a worse fate there. :\

rax: (Benten guitar case)
 Our stuff is still mostly in boxes, but I have my desk set up and the kitchen is usable for some basic cooking, so it's sort of like we live here? There's network (which means phone calls are OK now), so I've been able to get work done for my job the last few days more easily, and that's provided some comfortable normal-feeling for me. I'm still waking up and expecting to be in Somerville; I don't know how long that will last. I lived in the same place for a long time and was very happy with it. I'm crazy excited about this house, which is awesome; I've also met a couple of people already and they're really cool, and I have other contacts to follow up on once we're a little more combobulated and have the energy to go meet new people.

All of the people who helped us pack and load and unload are amazing and wonderful --- we were kind of embarrassingly not ready, and without all the help, we either would have had to wait another week or abandon a whole lot of stuff. It's good to be reminded that I'm privileged with a whole lot of amazing friends, some of whom I've known for a decade now, and some of whom I'm still getting to know. Also a few of you I think I might owe a blood debt to now or something, in particular Scot and Kim for driving. ;)

Other than unpacking, I've been spending a lot of time staring out the window and looking at birds, and it's helped me calm down a lot. (This arguably adds a lot of credence to the "Rachel as cat" theory.) At a friend's recommendation I've been using birds.cornell.edu and I think I'm going to go ahead and buy a birding book, because I'm really enjoying this. Here's what I've seen so far just in my front yard:

bulleted list of birds )

The day after I got here, my laptop died; I was eventually able to fix it with some bizarro /sbin/fsck_hfs incant, -pyr I think, and so far it seems OK but hoo boy did I run a backup as soon as I got that sorted out. My desk is now mostly set up, although I need a better light source --- this house has way too few ceiling-mounted lamps, even though there is a light switch in every room. I honestly thought there was a fixture in most of the rooms... oh well. A couple of them we'll solve with exciting lamps, a couple we'll probably call in an electrician to wire up. [livejournal.com profile] eredien's been having all sorts of trouble trying to hook up the gas dryer --- she's not awake yet, but I think we're at least in endgame on that project. Then get get to assemble beds and bookcases and dressers and unpack into them... then we have to figure out what to do with all the rest of this crap. :)

I miss people in Boston already, but I've already been missing people in Seattle and Minnesota and the SF Bay and LA and San Diego and DC and so on for ages. I think and hope this won't feel very different once we're settled in here --- and believe me I'll be traveling a lot to see as many of you as I can. In the meantime I have this huge tasklist and it's not getting any smaller. I hope you're all doing well and I hope I get to see you soon.
I am a giant ball of stress and what is more I am sick. This is unfortunate. But! Cool things are happening.

Sometime in the afternoon this Saturday, I'll be speaking at URI's "Carried Across: Translations, Temporalities, and Trajectories" conference. It's open to the public and the other presentations look cool too so I encourage you to attend if you weren't doing anything else this Saturday and feel like going to URI. (Contact me if you want to travel from Boston.) I'll be talking about the rhetorical techniques different authors have used to make different audiences comfortable with different kinds of passing, and briefly suggest things authors of contemporary passing narratives should consider. I'm focusing on race and gender but other things might come up? I'm still finishing the "condense giant paper into 15 minute talk" exercise so I'm not 100% sure which examples I'll be using yet...

EDIT: I'm panel D, Session IV, 2:30-3:45. Whole schedule here.

Before then, I need to get a copy of my thesis dropped off at UMass Boston during working hours. Are any of my un[der]employed friends in the Boston area willing to bring this to a specific office at UMB at drop it off for me? This would involve taking the train to UMB, taking a shuttle bus from the JFK/UMB station to the campus, going to the second floor, and handing the envelope to someone behind a desk. I haven't actually seen the desk, because I didn't drop this off the first time it needed to be dropped off, either. Ideally you would pick up this envelope from me on Friday either at my house or near Central Square, though I am flexible on this and could also give it to you Thursday evening. I will give you $20 if you can do this for me. EDIT: I could now give it to you as early as tonight, although I am either going out to my previous social plans soon or punting and going to bed, depending, so that might be hard.

Also, is anyone out there enough of a LaTeX master to answer the question "How do I take a TOC that is otherwise perfect and indent each chapter record? Currently they look like "1. (some space) VACATION" flush left with the heading "CHAPTER" and I need them to look like "(some space) 1. (some space) VACATION" and my theory was if I kept coming back and trying this for thirty minutes every day I'd eventually get it but now I just hate the LaTeX TOC code more than I knew was possible. I'm currently looking at tocloft but it looks like that would make me largely have to start over and right now I am sick and just never want to think about this ever again.  EDIT: It turns out if I stop trying to do it Right and just manually add \hspace{} and then fix the indenting by tripling a value in em I only sort of understand, it looks perfect. Since I no longer care about doing it Right, just having it Done, I win. But oh my god this is one of the most abusive things I have done in LaTeX and that is saying something.

Also also just so you know it looks like I'll live in Indiana as of May 17th.
There were a bunch of little reasons, like getting to bed early and having a light workday, but here are the two big ones:
Yes, that's right. I finished my thesis late Thursday night after realizing I could make a push and get it done and not spend the whole weekend miserable. I handed it in early Friday morning --- they have the option of telling me to tweak it [0] and if they do I have a couple of weeks to fix it, and the final-final-final submission is actually May 15th but the extra month is for working on formatting and I'm already done with that because no one told me I shouldn't have the formatting perfect for this draft. *sigh* It's in the documentation, but the documentation contradicts itself, and I went with the earliest deadline since that's the sane thing to do... But it doesn't matter now, because it's done.
The house thing, oh my god. I worked with Zak Szymanski at Jeanne Walters real estate, and I would absolutely recommend him to any of you looking to buy a house in Bloomington --- he was amazing. We only had two days on the ground, and we looked at scads of houses, and I'm already working on the items on a closing checklist five days after touching down in Bloomington. It's a split-level house with an extra bonus basement under the theoretically single-level part; I've heard it called a quad-level. It's ginormous and gorgeous and in excellent condition and and and and. At some point I'm going to draw diagrams on graph paper and be like "My house! This is where I will put things!" Here's a brief list of the awesome features:
  • An induction stove, which I've heard good things about and want to give a try, but we can always install gas if it is terrible
  • Three extra rooms in the basement space, two of which would make excellent craft studios or something
  • Ample space for dinner parties
  • So much storage space, like oh my god.
  • Four bedrooms --- we're definitely going to have at least one guest bedroom (which will probably also be my home office, like now)
  • It takes longer to walk from the front door to the street than from the street to a bus stop, and it's a pleasant bike ride to the building I'll be spending much of my time in on campus
There's more, of course. I could go on and on and on about this house that I am very likely to soon own. And I do mean soon --- it looks like we're going to be taking possession, if all goes well, on May 17th. I don't know how long it will take to find housemates --- we'd like one or two other people, I really like cooperative living situations --- but I expect to get nice and settled in over the summer before school even starts, and that will make starting school much better, I think. So, cross your fingers for me that everything goes well with this, and expect me to be at least somewhat more present both online and at social events, starting soon.




[0] They could tell me they're failing me. But they won't.

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