mellificent: (Xmas - purple star)
Today's Holidailies prompt is "Share your favorite winter memories." Mostly I've been ignoring the prompts, but I might possibly have some things to say about the topic of winter. The first thing I thought of was snow, but really I don't have much experience with snow.

The thing is (for those of you who don't already know this), I live on the Gulf Coast - currently in the south suburbs of Houston, and before that I lived in Galveston, right on the water, for many years. So my experience of winter is a bit different than many of yours. But we do have different weather in the winter - you can still tell it's winter, if you know what to look for. Today, on the first day of winter, it's chilly, but not terribly cold - my phone tells me that it's 46F. That's pretty cold for us by daytime standards, but the wind's not blowing and it didn't feel especially cold to me.

I noticed last night that some of my neighbors had their plants covered, but they have tended to be conservative about that in the past. I don't think the temp was below freezing last night. (I hope not, because I have a Norfolk pine that I have had for years and would like to keep!) We normally only get a handful of days where there's a hard freeze, even here 20 miles inland, and Galveston gets even fewer. In fact, my doctor told me when I went in about my sinuses the other day that this was a particularly bad year for allergy-sufferers because we never had a hard freeze last year - although I'm pretty sure I remember several light ones.

Some trees have lost their leaves now; others still have quite a lot. We've had a relatively colorful fall, by our standards; the tallow trees in particular (which grow like weeds anywhere they're allowed to) have been very bright. Whatever fall color we get doesn't come until November or December, but this year we had a pretty substantial cold spell in early November that was enough to get us a good bit of color.

Any time after, say, the middle of October, it's not unusual to get some cold weather - in fact, some year we'll have more really cold weather in the fall than we do in the real winter. We get "blue northers" (and the sky really does turn blue) where a cold front comes pretty much out of nowhere, if you haven't been watching the weather reports, and the temperature drops about 20 degrees in just a few minutes. Surely that's not really only a Texas thing, but maybe it's more noticeable down here because it's usually warmer to begin with. Really, we can have shirt-sleeve weather off and on throughout the winter, although it's only towards the end of the winter (meaning, y'know, March) that it becomes common. I'm looking at the phone again, and it says it's supposed to be 79 on Sunday and 70 on Christmas Day, but Christmas night it's supposed to get down to 34. That sounds like we might be getting a norther for Christmas, actually.
mellificent: (Xmas excess)
I wasn't always all, "Bah, Humbug!" although I know I've sounded like it the last few days. I used to be terribly into Christmas. (I suspect that I'm partly having backlash from years of holiday overload.)

I was nosing around my Flickr pictures again, and here's our tree in 2002:
our tree, Christmas 2002
I had so many ornaments that they didn't even all fit on the tree.

I had a fairly substantial collection of holiday doo-dads, too. I still have some of this stuff.
More candles

Ha, here's my nephew, from some Christmas past:
Santa Claus is Coming to Town 
I had forgotten this picture completely. I don't know what year it was, but that child is 21 now, so it must've been sometime in the mid-to-late 90s!more pictures... )

Ugh.

Dec. 19th, 2012 01:49 am
mellificent: (Xmas - purple star)
Well, I have given in and I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. If nothing else, I figure they can give me a referral to an allergist, and I think it's time to try that. I last went to an ENT doc nearly 10 years ago, and she wasn't even an allergy specialist - somebody may have some ideas they didn't then. Plus, I've had sore throats off and on for weeks now, and while I do think it's likely that it's just allergies, it's time (probably past time) to rule out the other stuff, too. Obviously I've been avoiding it, but man, I'm tired of being sick.

I have not gotten far on my little to-do list from yesterday, except that I did make progress on the making and sending of cards. Some I've done are actually mostly handmade and others less so, but so far I haven't resorted to my leftover bought cards from past years at all. I've been taking scans of the more original ones and I'll post those later, after the recipients have had time to see them. But I'm a little bit happier with myself on that score. Just getting off my butt and doing anything is a triumph these days. I even have a war-wound - I sliced my finger open a little bit with the paper-trimmer - nothing too bad, though.

The fact is, I am not feeling much holiday spirit this year. It comes and it goes so fast now that it doesn't seem like there's time to enjoy it. I guess that's just a part of getting older. (And I think maybe you adjust to the whoosh of time as it goes by. At least, sometimes I think I'm starting to.)
mellificent: (Xmas light gif)
I seem to be somewhat in denial about the onset of Christmas. I have done some things - for example, I dragged out the wreaths a couple of weeks ago, and put them on both the front door and the balcony door. (I like both my wreaths - the balcony one is battery-operated and twinkles merrily every night. I like to watch it, and this is its fifth December on our balcony, so I think you have to say we got our $30 worth out of that purchase.) And I put the big long string of LED lights across the balcony railing, as well. My apartment complex is way into the holiday decorating, and since our balcony is the ONLY one visible from the street, I feel compelled to do my bit there. And I have done part of my cards and have been gradually working on the rest. And I bought Rob some gifts.

But... there are a number of things I haven't done, either. We discussed putting up the tree and sort of abandoned the idea, because it's a pain and we don't have a really good spot for it. I did put out a couple of decor things, so I made a token effort there. I haven't called my aunt and asked about what I should bring - or (hell!) even told her that we're definitely coming, now that I think about it. (I really, really need to do that one, now that I think about it.) I haven't done anything about a gift for Rob's parents. They're at the point where it's really difficult to get them anything they actually want, but I do try to at least make an effort. I'm going to have to think up some last-minute something, there. Although, man, with mailing issues I'm cutting that one close, aren't I? I haven't wrapped presents or gotten any kind of token presents for my aunt and my cousins or any of that, although all of that is stuff I usually do at the last minute, too. But I'm working this weekend so even getting out the door on Monday is going to be a bit problematic. I really do have to do some of this stuff, and some of it had best be TODAY or at least tomorrow, while I still have a week to go.

Hell, now I've worked myself into a bit of a panic. I'm not sure that's helpful. But knowing me, I'll have pushed all this to the back of my mind again in 15 minutes, anyway.
mellificent: (TB - tiny humans)
I'm watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - we saw it in the theater last year, but it's worth seeing again. As I write this, Gary Oldman is doing that long speech about Karla - almost a monologue, although Mr. Cumberbatch does throw in a line or two - that's probably the best thing in the movie, and it's a good movie. I remember thinking later that that speech was probably the Oscar nomination right there. IMDb's trivia page (here) has some interesting stuff about how they assembled that amazing cast - half of it by accident when other people weren't available, it sounds like.

Also, I watched a "making of" thing beforehand, and it was generally pretty interesting, but the thing that struck me about it was that Mark Strong was bald - which suggested to my mind that it was probably made while they were filming John Carter - although it took me a minute to remember where I had seen Mark Strong with no hair. Actually I think at John Carter, I spent half of the movie wondering who that bald guy was and what else I'd seen him in lately. Apparently Mark Strong interests me. (I liked John Carter. It's another movie I would like to see again.)

The Hobbit made $85m or so over the weekend, which is apparently thought to be disappointing. Like I said yesterday, the showing we went to wasn't full, for what that's worth. I didn't expect to hear that it had made Avengers-type money, anyway. But on the other hand, $85 million is nothing to sneeze at, either.

The other movie I watched this weekend was the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice, another movie I hadn't seen since I saw it at the theater at the time. Something reminded me of it, and I rented it on iTunes (which I have started doing for movies I want to see on a whim like that - it's certainly cheaper than OnDemand, most of the time, and the selection is much better). I had forgotten a lot of things - for one, that Judi Dench was in it at all. I'm kind of a P&P snob, but it's not a bad adaptation, really - except for that scene at the end, which is so anti-Austen that it makes me roll my eyes. That part I hadn't forgotten.


(It's nearly 4 in the morning. I have no business being up, although I feel like crap and I suspect I'm not going to make it to Galveston tomorrow, anyway. I'll end up working at home again.)
mellificent: (SLoD - keeble)
I have been using the #hobbitses tag ever since I got home. I am easily amused. (It is not exactly highly original, there are a ton of people using it.)

So really the plan was to do normal Saturday things today, and go to see The Hobbit tomorrow, because going to movies is more of our Sunday thing. But there's also a football game tomorrow that I want to watch, and I started thinking that a three-hour football game followed by a (almost) three-hour movie would be a bit much. So I suggested to Rob that maybe we could go to the movie tonight instead, always assuming we could get in. (The funny thing is that Rob was apparently not listening to me too closely and thought I was just saying that we should go buy the tickets for tomorrrow while we were out tonight. Luckily we cleared this up before actually buying the tickets, and he seemed to go along with the change in program pretty happily once we got it straight.)

Now our normal Saturday routine (now confined to Saturdays-when-I'm-not working) goes something like this: Rob goes to the gym, I play video games, we do laundry, we go out to eat rather early to beat the crowds, we go to the grocery store after that and usually get home in time to watch Dr Who when there is one. So mostly what changed is the latter part of that. I started on a new zone in GW2 (Timberline Falls, if you want to know) and went on my usual exploring binge and forgot about the time. But around four I came to enough to start thinking about the whole 48fps thing and 3D vs 2D and all that, even though we still theoretically weren't going until tomorrow, and I got as far as looking it up at the huge Cinemark which is the closest theater to us. That was when I started reflecting on the timetable for tomorrow and that moviegoing might well fit in as well or better tonight, if I could get Rob to agree.

Before we could leave for all of this, we had to run the gauntlet of neighbors downstairs having a cookie party. We really should have gone downstairs and made an appearance earlier when it was in full swing, but the aforesaid fever of game exploration hit, and I kind of didn't get around to it. And Rob didn't push it either. But we did stop and talk to everybody for a few minutes (without actually taking any cookies, I want you to know) and then we went off to the Cinemark to buy the tickets and then went to Texas Roadhouse to eat - not really where I would've picked, but Rob likes it, so eh - and then the movie. We had plenty of time and in fact got seated in time for all the pre-movie stuff that we normally avoid by running in at the last minute. We saw a thing about that Vegas series on CBS and some Canon/Ron Howard thing that sort of mystified me, and... I forget what else. And then eventually a ton of previews, mostly for post-apocalyptic science-fictiony things that I will probably go see all of unless they seem to totally suck - let's see, one was AfterEarth with Will Smith, and then there was one with Tom Cruise that I forget the name of (Oblivion, maybe?) and then Pacific Rim. Stuck in there were a couple of non-SF things that completely failed to register. And of course there were the numerous pleas to TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE PLEASE and by the time the movie started, I was like, "Oh, really, this is the movie finally? Oh look, there's the New Line logo, I guess it really is."

Oh, also, there was a GW2 promo in there (along with several other video games) and something about it made a little wave of laughter go through the crowd. I totally did not get why, though. I'm not sure if it was a GW2-is-already-over laugh - because this is The Hobbit, after all, it's bound to be a geekier-than-average crowd - or what that was about. (If GW2 is already over, then they should have laughed even harder at the Mists of Pandaria one, you'd think!)

Anyway. The movie. I went in with fairly low expectations, and I'm sure that helped, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was certainly all over the place tonally, with the whipsawing back and forth between low comedy and I'm-Thorin-and-I'm-hot dramatic slo-mo and bits of The Silmarillion, for god's sake, but mostly I didn't even mind. Rob liked it too. (We sat through a good hunk of credits before we got up, and then went to the restroom and got out to the car, and Rob said, "I bet the credits are still running." And this being a Peter Jackson movie, he might well have been right.)

Oh, also I should note for the record that we went to see plain-vanilla Digital 2D, although I had to explain the whole framerate thing to Rob before we could buy the tickets. I think there were at least 4 different format choices, and the showing we went to was not even sold out, although it was one of the larger theaters and it was hardly empty. I did not even notice where the 3D was supposed to be like I usually do, for what that's worth.
mellificent: (Xmas bow)
Well, I'm not talking about the news. No way no how. So instead, let's talk about Wintersday, which is the GuildWars version of the holidays. GW2's Wintersday just started today, but I have a million screenshots (ok, maybe not quite a million) from old GuildWars and I loved Wintersday there, so I thought I'd post some of those.

This is Old Ascalon, I believe, and this is my dervish, Sharzad:
Sharzad finds the candy canes 

Here's my ranger Mila in Lion's Arch (note the carolers in the background):
Mila in Lion's Arch
(I don't know how well you can read that text, but Dwayna is the lightbringer, see, thus the carols are about her.)

More screenshots.. )
mellificent: (Xmas - pink aluminum)
I'm not saying you're actually going to get 7 kinds of random here, but I'm pretty sure that the only way I'm going to get an entry out tonight is to loose the random.

Well, ok, let's start with some updates on things I've talked about previously: first of all, the Texans lost rather ignominiously on Monday Night Football. But hell, they had those injury problems that we had talked about, and it was New England in Foxboro in December and if you read between the lines when I was talking about it before, I wasn't really holding my breath for a victory there. But hey, we're still 11-2. Most teams would give their eyeteeth to be in the Texans' size 14 shoes. We'll see what happens with Indianapolis this weekend.

Also, regarding the cruise ships, this was big news in Galveston this past week: Disney has decided to leave earlier than anticipated. (It looks like the rest of that article is behind a pay wall now, darnit.) Anyway, they're still staying through 2013, they're just not going into 2014 as they had previously hinted they might. And apparently the other suitor for those berths was going to be Princess Cruises, but they have decided to go further inshore and go out of LaPorte. (It's always possible that that will not work out, anyway; LaPorte has had a couple of flings in the past at being a cruise ship departure city and it never seems to work out too well. We'll see.)

I stayed home from work today because I had a sore throat. (I say I stayed home; I didn't drive to Galveston, is what I mean, but I ended up doing several hours of work anyway.) What I really was leading to here, though, was that I have been sick for pretty much the last month now. I'm pretty sure I caught a cold on top of my normal fall allergies, and I was sick for the 10 days or so immediately before Thanksgiving, and since then I've had trouble shaking it. I've been through bags and bags of cough drops. I am getting better, but really slowly. And every few days I get these sore throats, which are usually bad in the morning but then go away again. It's very annoying. I'm pretty sure it's just allergies, but with the way it keeps dragging on, you gotta wonder. (But then what is it? Strep throat? I dunno. I suppose I might should go to the doctor and see what they say. But I hate to.)

I started sending out Christmas cards, finally - I had 5 people on the TUS list who were out of the country, so I did them first, and they're all mailed, and today I started working on the rest of the list. TUS people (until I run out, anyway) are getting some of my precious hoarded cards that I made myself. I've been footling around with more homemade cards this year but haven't gotten far. Anyway, I'm going to use up last year's stash first, some of which are very cute. (I also have Grinch cards and... something else that was on the morbid side... that I'm really tempted to give to my elderly neighbors just to wake them up a bit. But I probably won't.)
mellificent: (Xmas bow)
Bladder Botox
Refers to the procedure described in the code below, in which botulinum toxin (Botox) is injected to paralyze overactive bladder muscles.
New CPT code for 2013:
52287 Cystourethroscopy, with injection(s) for chemodenervation of the bladder
=====================

The presenter also threw around some jargon I hadn't heard before, which I present here for your edification:
  • GEMs - general equivalence mappings (refers to ICD-9-to-ICD-10 mapping - "general equivalence" seems to be a way of waffling around the fact that it doesn't always work out quite right)
  • Provider neutrality - refers to rewording that the AMA is doing to clarify that not all work must be done by a physician - this has led to the use of the term "qualified healthcare professional" (abbreviated QHCP or QHP), mostly meaning those people that you sometimes see in lieu of a physician, like physician assistants & nurse-practitioners

And, since this is not everyday jargon for most people, a quick guide to the acronyms:
AMA - American Medical Association
CPT - Current Procedural Terminology (aka procedure codes) - published by the AMA
ICD-9 - International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition (aka diagnosis codes) - to be replaced by ICD-10, the 10th edition, somewhere in the near future (currently scheduled for 10/1/2014, but it's already been changed several times)

Added I would like to note that I got the quiz afterwards (which earns you an extra CEU credit if you pass) 100% right on the first try, and all three of those items (i.e., "bladder botox" and the two bullet-point items) were on it. So I owe my stellar grade partly to the time I spent typing all that out!
mellificent: (Xmas - purple star)
Well, I was sort of saving this until closer to Christmas, but I don't seem to feel like writing anything else right now, so here you go! Some variation of this seems to float around every year, but I ganked this one from azurekitty, I think. (My way of doing this kind of thing is to copy it, delete the other person's answers and then let it sit for a day or two so I'm not just regurgitating their answers, hopefully! Which is why I also sometimes forget where I got them...)

1. Eggnog - Yay or Nay?
Nay - can't stand it. It's gross. (Don't worry, you're allowed to disagree with me. Just because I think it's gross doesn't mean you have to!)

2. Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays"?
Really, I didn't used to think twice about it one way or the other. But nowadays, well, this is what the "War on Christmas" has done for us - every time somebody says "Merry Christmas" I wonder whether it's a greeting or a political statement. (This is especially true if it's a business we're talking about.) It's funny, though, "Merry Christmas" still pops out of my mouth sometimes - it's what I was brought up with, I guess. In writing I'm much more likely to say "Happy holidays" without even thinking about it. Kind of strange, but there you are.

3. Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions? Share them, if you'd like.
We say "Christmas Eve Gift!" to one another, along with a hug and/or kiss. I guess that's the gift, see. Also my grandmother (who is gone now) used to always try to open a gift on Christmas Eve, even though we don't do that in my family. That was a tradition, too - everybody waited for her to do it (and I suspect she knew that perfectly well).

Other than that, the tradition is that the grown-ups sit around and drink and the kids play games and squabble. (That's just what everybody does, right?) And we have some sort of casserole or something for supper that isn't too much trouble to prepare - we save the big meal for the next day. But you're allowed to dip into the desserts so everybody still gets utterly stuffed anyway. Some years we have gone to the carol service in the past, but the last time we went it turned out to be contemporary and not real carols at all, which infurated me. So I am on strike there unless somebody guarantees me the real thing.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I think maybe I'd have to go with some of those real old-time Christmas carols on this - "Angels We Have Heard on High" maybe.

5. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My mother pretending she heard the reindeer bells, when we were little. We got so excited.

6. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas, I guess, even though I am not especially a Bing Crosby fan. (My sister and I particularly like to make jokes about the "Sisters" number.)

7. What's the best gift you've ever gotten? What about the worst?
We had a discussion on Twitter the other day about toothbrushes as a bad gift. (It began with talking about giving toothbrushes at Halloween, which is a whole different matter.) I think it was when I was 17 that we were on a trip and my mother wrapped up toothbrushes and gave them to my sister and me as gifts. We both thought that was very silly, although I suppose we should have been more gracious about it. (We were 17 and 16, it's not an age where one tends to be gracious about things like that.) I know we got some other gifts that year but that's the one I still remember. On the other hand, we were in TELLURIDE. SKIING. That was a damn good gift, right there. So maybe that year was the best and worst all wrapped up in one.

8. Do you leave cookies out for Santa?
Only if there are kids around, which in recent years there haven't been. The kids presumably go through this ritual at their own houses.

9. Do you believe in Santa? If not, who convinced you that he’s not real?
I'm a natural skeptic, I stopped believing when I was 7 or 8. I pretended I did for a couple more years, though - I was afraid if I admitted it I wouldn't get presents any more!

10. Do you go caroling?
Not in years. In high school I was in choir and we did actually go around and carol at people's doors in the old-fashioned kind of way. Even in the 70s this seemed pretty retro and a lot of people didn't seem to know how to respond.

11. Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Yes, but mostly not anybody terribly interesting. Seems like back in high school, a million years ago, some boy that I thought I liked did kiss me, but I don't even remember who it was any more. That's sort of sad, I wish I remembered!

12. Who would you most like to encounter under the mistletoe?
I dunno, Karl Urban, maybe. Sadly, I can't even think of a particular celebrity crush to mention right now.
mellificent: (Las Vegas sign)
Weetabix posted an entry a few days ago including a picture taken in a Las Vegas bathroom, and I thought, "Hey! I have a bunch of pictures of bathrooms in Las Vegas!" I know that sounds kind of weird, but at TUSCon in 2004 I got fascinated by the themed bathrooms, and I remember taking pictures in a number of them. Only it was so long ago, apparently - c'mon, 2004! forever ago in internet time! - that I can only find one of them now. This is Paris, which was my favorite one anyway.
Paris bathroom 
I mean, is that not terribly Parisian? (I've never even been to the real Paris, but, well, it seems very French!)

And I honestly can't even remember what the rest of them were now - I'm starting to think I dreamed the whole thing. But I had some computer issues in the intervening years (especially that whole little apartment-flooded-by-a-hurricane thing) and then there was the crash of Diary-X, too, so while I'm pretty sure they did in fact exist, I have no idea what became of them. One must've been the Luxor, because that's where we were staying, and I think maybe one was the Aladdin, which I seem to recall had a doorway shaped like a minaret. But I have no evidence of these things any more, apparently.

So I'll throw some more Vegas pictures at you just for fun. Here are some Vegas-at-Christmas pictures from 2007, that's appropriate for Holidailies!

Many places were quite tasteful, particularly considering it's Vegas we're talking about. This is the Forum Shops:
Forum Shops

Outside at Caesar's:
holiday decor at Caesar's

This was the Tiffany store at the Bellagio:
Tiffany window display at the Bellagio

Venetian:
Venetian exterior (w/holiday decorations)

TI (I titled this one "Christmas at the casino"):
Christmas at the casino 

This one is the Conservatory at the Bellagio, which also had somewhat cracked-out decor when we were there in the summer of 2004. I don't know what's up with that, exactly. (I don't think it seems as overwhelming in the pictures as I remember it being in real life. It was a LOT of decorations stuffed into a very small space.)
Conservatory at the Bellagio

And we'll finish up with this picture, just because it's Vegas and I like it:
Bellagio fountains
mellificent: (KoL PrufRock)
I went into Glitch for a while, earlier, and there seemed to be a bit of a party going on at Cebarkul:

Last day of Glitch - at Cebarkul

(There were some things that have been added since I last really played, which was months ago - I guess floating cubimals was one of them!)

People in Glitch have always been fond of making arrangements of various items - I think I posted one last December that I found up in a tree. (Here.) The arrangements are necessarily temporary, because anything that you drop on the ground (or in a tree, it works the same) can be picked up by anybody else who comes along, and somebody always does. I bet even today, when hoarding stuff is not going to do you one bit of good, there's still people going around picking stuff up.

I did enjoy Glitch a lot, and I played it off and on for a long time. Keeping your animals alive is an art form. I think that was partly what kept me playing so long. And there was a lot of territory to explore, which I always enjoy. It's a shame Glitch never found a large-enough audience to keep it going. I think a lot of people don't know what to do without a ton of quests to grind!
mellificent: (GW - ele icon)
I never got around to doing an entry yesterday - I worked late in the afternoon, even though it was Friday, and then I got on a big GW2 tear last night and played right up until I went to bed. I was trying to finish up an area called Blazeridge Steppes, and I did get that finished. Next is what I think of as "the pirate zone" - I think its official name is Bloodtide Coast, although I have a terrible time with all these names in this game - they are almost all compound names like that and they're really easy to mix up.

So since I'm on the game tear and I can't actually play where I am right now, I might as well write about it. I always end up writing to a greater or lesser degree about whatever game I'm playing - I know it doesn't interest everybody but at least it's not another entry about parents and death! I'm not in the mood for anything serious today anyway.

Guild Wars 1 was my first MMO (I nosed around in my archives and here, apparently, is the first time I played it, in March 2006. I still had dial-up back then and the load times were horrendous, but I remember having a good time and thinking about how amazing the artwork was, once I finally got to where I could play.) I had been playing some sort of MMO-like things before that like KoL and Dofus (both of which are still around - I know KoL is not an MMO at all in most ways, being entirely web-based and single-player and with no graphics fancier than a gif, but still, it's clearly heavily MMO-influenced and it served for me as sort of a gateway thing). My friend Col got me interested in MMOs, and walked me through it and was mostly endlessly patient about it - and we're still playing together all this time later, at least when he's not writing novels (as he is now) and when we can agree on a game to play. We've been through, let's see, various editions of GW1 and now 2, various releases of WoW, Auto Assault (long-gone now, that one is), LOTRO, DDO, Rift, SWTOR, and a fling with The Secret World last summer. We've both played various other things alone but those are the ones we've played together, unless I'm forgetting something.

So I guess I'm more or less an MMO veteran nowadays, although I don't generally do dungeons or raids or PvP or all of those kind of things that a lot of people spend all their game-time doing. (I did a sort of dungeon-type thing with some of my new guildies a few weeks ago and man, do I suck at it. I hear other people talking about this particular one - it's called fractals or FotM - so I know it's hard for everybody, but still I'm pretty sure I was worse than most people. I felt sorry for the poor people who were stuck with me.) But I do pretty well at normal (PvE) gameplay most of the time. I tend not to pay much attention to things like builds and how you're "supposed" to do things in any given game, and that tends to bite you in the butt when you get into big groups and they expect you to have certain skills. (Also apparently FotM is apparently really meant for level 80s with fancy gear and I was about 60 at the time with no fancy gear whatsoever, but nobody told me about that at the time. The game does level you up to 80 stat-wise but it doesn't magically improve your gear. I guess it could, but it doesn't.)

My main solo character in GW2 is named Rina, and in the last few weeks since Col has been mostly absent and I've been playing her pretty much exclusively, she has gone from 55 to 80, which is the max in this game. I think this is especially a feat given that she's an elementalist, meaning she has light armor (although I play her as fire, mostly, and she can really do a ton of damage to everybody else), and given my generally-unorthodox play style.
Read more... )
(The icon is from old GW - it was one of the elementalist skill icons, as I recall. It might have been Phoenix.)
mellificent: (HP - Phoenix)
(The title is by way of a trigger warning, I guess. You can't say I didn't warn you.)

I was sitting in the bathtub earlier, thinking about what I was going to write an entry about - I was thinking about Livejournal keywords, to start with, but that will probably be a topic for another day, because my thoughts wandered then to my most-often-used keywords. I suspect that my actual most-often-used keyword might be "meme" although I haven't checked to see what LJ says (and the whole topic of memes might also be another topic for another day) - but certainly a couple of them, over the years, have been "family" and "mom." (My keywords are sort of partially broken, which was the original topic that I was thinking about - but that also means that the keywords you can see at the side of my page now are not necessarily reflective of what I was using back before they were broken.) I don't think I started using "mom" as a keyword until the last year or so of my mom's life, anyway, but if I had been using it every time I mentioned her over the years, it might be the top keyword hands down.

Background, for those of you who don't know this stuff already: my mom and I were really close. We made quilts together. I went over to her house just about every Saturday for many years - usually we had lunch and went shopping a bit and then worked on quilts, that was the normal itinerary, anyway. And well before I started journaling online, in 2001, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then in 2004 she was diagnosed with a different cancer (which might or might not have metastasized from the first one - that's never been clear). The second one was a brain tumor - I wrote a whole entry about the tumor one year as my introduction to Holidailies, which is partly why I assume that a lot of people know this story already. (It was an attempt at dark humor. I'm not real sure how successful it was.) Anyway, the brain tumor worsened kind of abruptly in the last part of 2006 and she died in early 2007 - and then I spent most of that year and into the next dealing with her estate, so that's another year-plus of mom-related entries. It's probably only after Hurricane Ike late in 2008 that I stopped talking about my mom constantly, one way or another.

My dad actually had cancer, as well, and it eventually killed him too, or so we think - he died last May of what was probably complications of prostate cancer. If you are a cancer patient and you die, it's assumed that the cancer killed you, not surprisingly, and autopsies are not routine, so nobody is really sure. My dad and I were not particularly close - his appearances in LJ tend to be more of the venting variety - and besides, by the time he was diagnosed, my mom already had the brain tumor and mere prostate cancer just could not compare. Back years ago when he had multiple-bypass surgery, I rushed to his side and hung around the ICU for days and all that kind of thing, so it's not that I entirely didn't care. But when you have a job and are 100 miles away, it's hard to hang around the hospital for months and years of radiation treatment. Both my parents were more into "years" territory there, and I didn't actually hang around for my mom's either, although I did go up to M.D. Anderson with her a few times. Luckily both of them had spouses/partners who were willing to shoulder the burden of the daily stuff, or I don't know what I'd have done. (I do have a sister, who was in another city altogether and was no help there. That's another topic that came up often in those years.)

So actually this is my first Christmas as an "orphan" - a 50-year old orphan, but an orphan nevertheless. I haven't spent Christmas with my dad for many years, and my mom has been gone for a surprising number of Christmases now - this will be six, I guess - so it doesn't make all that much difference, in an immediate sense. But it's still weird, no matter how old you are.


Added: I mentioned writing about my father in order to vent, and there's certainly a lot of that, if you poke around (some of the venting entries are still friendslocked but others are not), but I feel like I have to point out that I did my fair share of venting about my mom, back in the day, too. I adored her, but she was still my mom and she sometimes drove me crazy, as moms tend to do.
mellificent: (lotus)
Presented without comment: A girl - young, but not a kid, maybe 18 or so - asked me in the store today where to find the onions. "Um, I imagine up front with the vegetables," I said (thinking that it's possible she might be talking about minced onions or something like that). "Oh ok - I've been all over the store," she said, and turned around and went toward the produce section.

(Note that I WOULD comment, but I can't really think of anything funny and/or clever, or even just particularly interesting, to say about it. So I'll let it stand on its own.)

But now I am looking at Wikipedia trying to decide if onions are actually a vegetable or not. I think not, but I don't see that that (long) article says so one way or the other. (Although it does mention "vegetables" at one point rather than "other vegetables" so I suppose that's a clue.) Genus Allium, I knew that part, and allium is a flowering plant, so I guess... not a vegetable? Feel free to weigh in!

Aaand... in that way that tends to happen with Wikipedia, I went from the onion article to the one about Asparagales. That's an order name I haven't heard before; I think back a few years ago when I got on my big plant-cultivating kick, they were still putting onions in Liliales. So that's interesting - to me at least!

By "the store" I mean Wal-Mart, as it happens - not where I usually buy my groceries or where I shop often at all, these days. But I needed paper and that was the closest place I could think of that was likely to sell it to me at a not-utterly-ridiculous price. And come to think of it, given that, I hope the poor girl didn't mean "all over the store" literally - I was just imagining her looking in, y'know, the bread aisle or something, not hardware. That would be very sad.

(Yeah, ok, so that may be a comment after all. Hush.)


(And come to think of it, why have I never considered the topic of onions/vegetables before? Whether tomatoes are a vegetable comes up all the time (no) - so why does nobody ever mention onions?)
mellificent: (Dr Who - giant robot)
This kind of thing just pisses me off, so I'm using Holidailies today to vent my anger. The Senate voted today to kill (that is, against ratifying) the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I mean, are the Republicans just trying to see how big of a grinch they can be, collectively?

(Added: apparently everybody's favorite failed presidential candidate/dirty word Rick Santorum had something to do with this whole thing.)


This list came from the official Senate website, but I edited it down to the naysayers, so any mistakes are likely to be mine.

38 senators (all Republicans) voted no - enough to vote it down, since this is a treaty and takes a 2/3 majority:
Alexander (R-TN), Nay 
Blunt (R-MO), Nay 
Boozman (R-AR), Nay 
Burr (R-NC), Nay 
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay 
Coats (R-IN), Nay 
Coburn (R-OK), Nay 
Cochran (R-MS), Nay 
Corker (R-TN), Nay 
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay 
Crapo (R-ID), Nay 
DeMint (R-SC), Nay 
Enzi (R-WY), Nay 
Graham (R-SC), Nay 
Grassley (R-IA), Nay 
Hatch (R-UT), Nay 
Heller (R-NV), Nay 
Hoeven (R-ND), Nay 
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay 
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay 
Isakson (R-GA), Nay 
Johanns (R-NE), Nay 
Johnson (R-WI), Nay 
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay 
Lee (R-UT), Nay 
McConnell (R-KY), Nay 
Moran (R-KS), Nay 
Paul (R-KY), Nay 
Portman (R-OH), Nay 
Risch (R-ID), Nay 
Roberts (R-KS), Nay 
Rubio (R-FL), Nay 
Sessions (R-AL), Nay 
Shelby (R-AL), Nay 
Thune (R-SD), Nay 
Toomey (R-PA), Nay 
Vitter (R-LA), Nay 
Wicker (R-MS), Nay

These R's (and Lieberman) voted Yes (and I may have missed at least 1 R in there):
Ayotte (R-NH), Yea 
Barrasso (R-WY), Yea 
Brown (R-MA), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea 
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea 
Lugar (R-IN), Yea 
McCain (R-AZ), Yea 
Snowe (R-ME), Yea

(And I don't know what's up with this guy:
Kirk (R-IL), Not Voting)
(What I'm not sure about is what "not voting" means, exactly? Abstained? Absent?) (Note: see answer to this in the comments.)

Local again

Dec. 3rd, 2012 11:26 pm
mellificent: (Texans)
(Look! Texans icon! I made it myself!)

More Houston-Galveston stuff, some of which refers to yesterday's entry:
  • Aw man, I knew it was probably coming, but Jim Deshaies is leaving us for the Cubs. I adore that man. (But I'm not sure I adore him enough that I'll go watch Cubs games just for him. Of course, if the Astros are bad enough this next year, that may start to look like a more attractive option.)
  • In other (ex-)Astros news, Brad Lidge is probably retiring. Also, bonus footage there of the Astros clinching in 2005. (Rob and I were watching the faces and in some cases the jerseys during the scrum, and going, "Berkman! Biggio! Clemens!" Damn, that was a good team, even if they couldn't win a WS game.)
  • I had to go to Galveston today for a doctor's appointment, and the other Carnival ship was in today. I got out of my appointment right at 4:30, which I have learned over the past couple of years is about the time that the ships usually depart. You could tell that anyway, because when I got back downtown, half the passengers were lined up looking over the railings. To me this always brings to mind old black-and-white movies where the passengers line up to wave at their loved ones who are waving back from below. But nobody is going to stand around to watch you leave when you're just going sailing around the Gulf of Mexico for five days or whatever it is. Plus most of the passengers arrive on buses or park remotely, so there's nobody to watch, in any case. (I'm sure the passengers aren't really lining up for that at all, they're just watching the ship pull out. Still amuses me just the same.)
  • I said confidently yesterday that the Texans game was taping (by which I actually meant DV-R'ing, of course, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it) so of course when I got home it hadn't worked properly, and I only got the last hour or so. I didn't really care that much, anyway, but I really should probably investigate what happened there. It seems to have switched on at three o'clock or something, and our games are nearly always at noon. Honestly, U-verse, you're supposed to just read my mind! (And often it seems to. I'm terribly spoiled, really.)
  • Also, the Texans have serious injury problems. They coped with it pretty well, yesterday, but that was just the Titans. New England may be another story.
Note to self: 45 minutes is too long of a drive for a routine doctor appointment. (As the university knows full well, it's why they have about a zillion clinics scattered all over the north half of the county.)

(I was going to add a picture of the rather excessive holiday decorations around our apartment complex, but my phone isn't cooperating. Sorry.)
mellificent: (MST3K - mint flavor)

It's Sunday afternoon and the Texans are playing, and while I am generally fairly calm on the subject (most of the time), I am kind of into this whole Texans juggernaut thing. We've had a lot of bad years and it's about time we had a good one! And unfortunately I can't see any of the TVs from my desk and I can't really go wander around because sitting at this desk IS my job, basically, but luckily, I have my trusty iPhone and the NFL '12 app to inform me that the Texans just won 24-10 and they are now 11-1 for the year, so woot! (I watched a little bit of it at home and then listened to most of the 2nd quarter in the car, and it's taping so I'll probably watch the whole thing again when I get home. So you don't really need to feel bad for me on account of missing it.) So let's see... the math here is that there are four games left and worst case scenario if we lost the rest of them is we'd be 11-5. We certainly hope it won't come to that, although we have New England at Foxboro next week so that's sort of the acid test. We still have to play Indianapolis twice, that's all I know about the rest of the schedule off the top of my head. Actually that accounts for 3 of the 4 remaining weeks, doesn't it? (According to ESPN, the Texans did clinch a playoff spot today. I didn't think we could do that today, but I'm glad to find out I'm wrong! Now it becomes all about home field and such.)

Other Local Topics... )

mellificent: (Dr Who - giant robot)

As I have undoubtedly said before, I have never understood that "5 random things make an entry" meme. I find it unaccountably annoying, somehow. Why 5? What's wrong with three? or seven, for that matter? (Which isn't to say that I'll stop with three, anyway, I'm just sayin'.)

I've been reading back over my old Holidailies entries, and maybe I should resolve with Stef to talk LESS about the holidays, odd as that may seem. (Everybody needs to read Stef's entry, in any case, because it's awesome.) I can just refer you back to the last five-years-plus of old Holidailies entries for pretty much any particular holiday subject, anyway.

I've been doing this for more than 5 years, actually, if not quite from the beginning, but the oldest ones were on Diary-X and are long-gone. There's lots of whining about that in the LJ archives, too, if you're interested. (Also some on my old Whys and Wherefores blog, which I had forgotten about until I went looking for the CW bit that I linked yesterday. There are also some resurrected entries from Diary-X over there - the link above is to one - that I had forgotten were there, and I can't say that I remember exactly where I resurrected them from, either. Maybe I had just saved some of them on Notebook or somewhere like I'm doing with this one now.)

I'm at work and it's slow, so this might be a long entry. Or if it gets really long, I might go ahead and post it and start another one! Hopefully it won't be THAT slow, though, or it's gonna be a long afternoon. Generally I am good at finding ways to fill my afternoons on slow days, though. I read Go Fug Yourself, or look at Pinterest, and I used to fool around with Glitch, a year or so ago when I was still all into that. I mention that because I was just over  there - although being there generally seems kind of useless now, since it's about to shut down. I had a bunch of credits, though, so I bought some wardrobe stuff, just the same (see below) - I think it's appropriate that I go out wearing a tiara! (Old joke which a few of you will get...)

In other game news, our current one is Guild Wars 2, which I am not going to talk about too much right now, because I'm sure there will be one or more entries about at a later date, assuming I follow past patterns. I will say, though, that my sylvari elementalist is up to level 75, now, since I've been playing her exclusively. And the reason for that is that Col, my normal game-playing partner, has been off writing a novel. (Not doing NaNoWriMo, or he'd be done now - theoretically, anyway. He's just writing a novel.) Anyway, sticking with one character is not something I normally do, much, and it does do wonders for leveling. 80 is the cap in this game, so I'm going to get there, and soon. I'm not anywhere near done with the story part of the game, though.


Really completely random thing: my dad got stung by jellyfish so many times that he became immune. (I think it was Guild Wars that reminded me of this, because there are jellyfish pets. They are much cooler than real jellyfish. Or cooler than the jellyfish that I have personally encountered, anyway.)


I am amused that half of the Holidailies entries I have read so far are something to the effect of, "Fuck, why did I sign up for this?" I've been doing this long enough that I have quit panicking about it. I always manage to think of something to say. It's never great art, but oh well. (That could be my motto in life, actually.)


My Glitch character:
glitch

mellificent: (seasons)
I'm "of a certain age," as they say - which is to say, middle-aged. I'm a little over 50, and what that means for this purpose is that I remember the Bond movies of the 60s, but not clearly. By the time I was old enough to have more than a vague idea of what the Bond movies were all about, Bond was into the Roger Moore era, and he just never really appealed to me. Plus I thought those over-the-top plots of that era were stupid. So to sum up, I've just never been a huge Bond fan, and Rob - who is a little younger than me, just under 50 - doesn't like the Bond movies at all, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. (I don't know if the age thing makes any difference whatsoever - but it might, a bit. The two-and-a-half year age difference between us is nothing when you're 50, but back when we were kids, it was a lot. I don't remember the Sean Connery movies well, from back then, but I imagine I remember them better than he does! Although actually I doubt that either one of us were allowed to see them in the theater, if it came right down to it.) But anyway, I was intrigued enough by the reactions I was seeing on Twitter that I basically dragged him in with me to see Skyfall, and the fact is, we both enjoyed it. It's well-made, and it's really not a "traditional" Bond movie at all in a lot of ways, which for us is more of an advantage than not.

I didn't really read the reviews before we went, because I figure it's better in most cases if you can manage not to be spoiled. I read reviews of movies I'm not sure if I want to see, not the ones that I do. Skyfall would normally have been one of "unsure" ones, except for the aforementioned Twitter mini-reviews, which mostly were entirely non-spoilery things like "AWESOME!!" It was the sheer volume of those that caught my eye - nearly everybody on my Twitter list had things like that to say about it. So I decided I wanted to go, and I told Rob that if he would go with me to Skyfall on Thanksgiving Day that I would go with him to Lincoln on Sunday. (Which was not exactly a compromise, quite honestly, since I wanted to see that too. But it was enough to get him to cooperate, anyway!) I didn't read reviews of Lincoln, either, and I didn't actually realize what it's about - I think I expected more of a general Lincoln biopic than it actually was. But I like politics, and that's really what it was about, so I enjoyed it.

Now I am a little bit of a Civil War buff. Back in the early 90s when the Ken Burns thing came out, and then the Gettysburg movie, I got interested enough to wade through all three of the Shelby Foote books - which I highly recommend, if you're interested, but you need to be really interested. (A far lesser bar, if you're interested but not interested enough to put yourself in for a couple of thousand pages, is Foote's Shiloh novel. Or even better, the Michael Shaara novel that Gettysburg was based on, The Killer Angels. They are both extremely readable, without requiring any particular knowledge of the subject.) Then after Foote, I read an awful lot of other Civil War books as well - I actually considered going back to school to study this stuff, at one point. The only real tangible evidence of all my acquired knowledge is this little mini-summary of the first part of the war, which I still think is pretty good for something I wrote off the top of my head one night. (The reason there's no part 2 was largely because the war in 1863 gets a lot more complicated and got beyond the scope of what I could write without doing research.) So all this is by way of saying that I know a lot about Lincoln, in general. But I honestly didn't know much about the fight to pass the 13th amendment, and I enjoyed it. (I know, I keep saying that. But I did.) I don't know how much you'll enjoy this movie if this is not a subject that interests you, but it's another well-made movie, and the packed house we saw it with seemed to really enjoy it, too. And they surely can't all be Civil War buffs.

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