I want

When we were in California, Erik took us and the kids to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.  Cool museum, lots of stuff to play with, good for kids, but I’m mentioning it mostly because I tried a virtual reality painting program and OH MY GOD I WANT IT SO MUCH.  Why I want it has NOTHING to do with the painting part – I am as bad a virtual artist as I am in the real world – although that part was pretty fun.  You can paint AROUND you, like you’re standing in the middle of the room and painting on the air, and then you can move through it or change your perspective and see if from a completely different angle without moving yourself.  Very cool.  I’m not sure of the point of it the 3D aspect of it once it’s finished, though.  It’s not really 3D unless you have a floor or ceiling projector, and there’s no way it looks as cool in 2D.  Anyway, again, the art part is not what I got excited about.

You can choose from a variety of built-in backgrounds or landscapes or environments or whatever.  The one I spent the majority of my time in was the default one, sort of a reddish flat area with mountains in the distance, dark and dusky.  The girl running the demo suggested I try the space environment and how I wish I’d done that sooner.  As soon as I switched over, it was like I was standing on a clear platform in space, stars and blackness above and below and all around me.  I think there was a planet – I can’t tell you for sure now.  I can tell you that I didn’t want to leave it.  It was incredible.  Like, emotionally incredible and I’m getting a little choked up remembering it.  I have no idea if it was remotely realistic, but now I have something I want.  Not necessarily the painting program, although I’ll take it.  I want space.  I want space in virtual reality.  I don’t need the zero gravity part (although I think it would be cool).  I want to sit on the floor and be able to look in any direction and see stars and planets and galaxies and comets and asteroid belts.  I want to be immersed in it, in the comfort of my own home.

In real terms, I can have it.  VR gear is between $600 and $800.  Not easy, but attainable if I really want it.  (I don’t need a new laptop for a while, right?)  That paint program?  $20.  But the gear is necessary.  I googled a bit to see what space VR programs might be out there already, realistic ones, and I found SpaceVR, a company that is about to launch 360-degree cameras into orbit around earth to provide real images of space to anyone who subscribes to their feed.  The subscription is reasonable, but again, you need the gear.

Here’s my quandary: is it good enough now?  Is it too early in the VR technology cycle to be worth it?  I’ve never been an early adopter.  I’m happy to let other people iron out the kinks before I spend a lot of money on something.  VR has been around for a long time, and it used to really suck.  I’m sure it sucks less now, but how much less?  I don’t say “I must have this” about things very often, so this feels odd.  Comforting that I still feel as strongly about it three weeks later, but three weeks isn’t that long.  I’ll probably wait.

But I really want this.

Must start earlier

It’s night #2 of not feeling the blog thing, and I think I can safely say that waiting until after dinner to write is not a great strategy.  Whatever energy I had during the day is gone, completely, and all I want to do is read and go to bed.

This is the summer of binge-watching, so after we watched the entire season of The Crown (loved), we watched the entire season of The OA (disappointing), then all of Doctor Who season 9 (yay), and now we’ve moved on to Iron Fist, the next Netflix Marvel Comics show.  It’s…okay.  The main character is annoying in his naivete, and overall, it’s definitely the weakest of the Netflix Marvel shows.  Still entertaining, though.  I like how all of the shows are connected.

Oh, hey, we saw Wonder Woman last weekend.  The movie wasn’t great (although it’s the most I’ve ever liked Chris Pine in anything, and it was miles better than the other DC movies), but I felt this visceral enjoyment seeing Wonder Woman kick ass during the fight scenes.  I’d watch it again.

Hey, look, even tired I can babble about TV and movies.  Good for me.  Bed for me.  See ya.

Mystery solved

I figured it out!  No, I don’t have a baby chest-burster lost in my skull (thanks, Michelle, for the image – that’ll linger).  I rode today, and when I ride, I wear a helmet.  When I wear a helmet, I put my hair in a ponytail, and the helmet goes on over the base of the ponytail.  Some days I don’t get the placement just right, and midway through my lesson I become aware of this painful pressure in one spot near the base of my skull.  I forget about it as soon as I take the helmet off, relieving the pressure, but apparently that 45 minutes or so of pressure leaves a lasting sensitive spot.  That must have happened last Friday.  I don’t remember that specifically, but I definitely remember that pain from other lessons, so I’m willing to go with this theory.  My odds of survival are better with this theory.

I got the placement of my ponytail right today – no pain, no fear of aliens.  Well, no pain.

When WebMD just doesn’t cut it

The back of my head, at the base, has been sensitive to the touch in one spot for a few days.  I haven’t fallen or smacked my head on the wall or a low ceiling or a car recently (I have to say “recently” – those are all things I have done in the last year).  Not that I remember, anyway.

I guess this is the beginning of the end.  The aliens that burrowed into my brain and have been hiding for years are close to breaking out.  Although why they’d choose to come out the back of my head instead of through my ears or nose like any self-respecting gross killer parasite, I don’t know.  I’m expecting an explosion of bone and brain so, you know, keep your distance if you want to remain unspattered.  I wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining your favorite outfit.

Customers think they can get away with anything

THREE-DAY WEEKEND IS HERE and I am very happy about it.  I got yelled at by two different clients on Friday, like with actual yelling, and I need a good long break.  The first time was around 7am my time, and with a client I’ve never talked to before.  Apparently, this is how she communicates.  I think she’s from New Jersey.  She wasn’t actually mad, or least wasn’t really yelling AT us – it wasn’t personal.  It was still unpleasant.  The second time was just before noon my time, and it was somewhat personal and it was totally uncalled for and thank everything that is good in the world that Harry (one of our VPs) was on the phone and did not take ANY of that crap from the customer.  It was wonderful, and he’s my hero.  And later, he congratulated me on remaining calm and reasonable throughout the call.  I would like to have him in every client meeting forever and ever, amen.

So. Work is done, I get three days off, AND Monday is my birthday, AND we’re in Portland today for a comic con, and I plan to enjoy every minute of this weekend.

Nerdsgiving

My new book (Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal) is like Pride and Prejudice with a little of magic, and guys, that makes me SO VERY HAPPY.  I’m only 20 pages in, but that’s enough to hook me completely.

John and I are making too much food for two people this Thanksgiving.  Certainly too much food for two people who don’t own a microwave.  We’ll have to use the oven to reheat the leftovers, like savages.  Somehow we’ll manage.

Oh, also, we’re calling it Nerdsgiving (or I am – I don’t think John really cares).  We’re reading, watching Doctor Who, and then after dinner (and after Doctor Who), GAMES.  Probably Lords of Waterdeep, possibly followed by…hm.  Something else we can play with just two people.  Or more TV!  We’ve got comic book movies to watch (re-watch) or maybe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  (We’re feeling British-y today, which is weird on Thanksgiving, I know, but not weird for nerds!)

Winning the book lottery

I’ve been on a roll lately, book-wise.  I have liked every book I’ve read in the past three weeks (ever since giving up on The Lake House).  Some of that was planned: two of the seven books were sequels, so it was pretty much a given that I would like them.  One (Word Puppets) is a collection of short stories by an author I’ve heard a lot about but had never tried.  Her short stories were really good (yay!), so I’ll be reading more of her.  The next book (Serpentine) was recommended by a couple of the authors I follow on Twitter – young adult, fantasy/Chinese mythology – very good.  I found the other three just browsing in Powell’s.  It’s riskier than going on recommendations, but one of those turned out to be pretty good (The Girl With All The Gifts), and the other two are why I’m writing this post because they were SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.

Illuminae is told through documentation found by a researcher trying to piece together what actually happened out in space after a planet was attacked, so the format is all letters, emails, chats, transcripts of videos, interviews, etc.  It was funny and it totally captured my imagination.  I didn’t want to put it down, and when I had to, I was thinking about it.

Then I read His Majesty’s Dragon, and – THANK EVERYTHING – it is the first in a nine-book series.  It’s set in pseudo-1800s Britain, with the British Navy and a war with Napoleon and DRAGONS.  The dragons and their riders (!) make up the air force, basically, and it’s like a mash-up of the Patrick O’Brien novels and the Pern novels (!!), and it makes me very happy.  Like, the-world-is-a-better-place-with-these-books-in-it kind of happy.

I started the second book in the series last night.  I’m so happy.

All decked out

During my run the other day, I tried to take a picture of trees in fall colors over a still lake with weeping willow in the foreground, but the camera on my phone decided to quit on me and I couldn’t.  You’ll just have to imagine it.  It’s the camera on my old phone, that I pretty much only use for podcasts during workouts, so I can’t really get mad at it.

In other news, it’s John’s birthday today.  He’s wearing the new TARDIS slippers I bought him and they FIT (well enough – they may not be bigger on the inside, but they’re big enough).

tardis-slippers

This house isn’t well-insulated, so his feet get cold.  We can match now – my hands get cold, so I bought these:

tardis-gloves

(They’re fingerless gloves.  I realize that might be hard to tell from this picture.  The little bump by the windows at the bottom is the thumb hole.)

Podcasts are a wonderful thing

Lately (and by lately, I mean all summer long), my workouts have been much more enjoyable because I’ve been listening to podcasts.  I caught up on Welcome to Night Vale in mid-July, right before the live show, and then they went on hiatus, so I had to find something else.  I like the Thrilling Adventure Hour very much (that’s their website, but I download them from here), but I’m not always in the mood for it, and John and I listen to Hello from the Magic Tavern together in the car, so I couldn’t use that.  Someone I follow on Twitter was raving about The Bright Sessions, and it looked interesting, so I gave it a try.  SO GOOD.  The Bright Sessions is about a psychiatrist who only treats “unusual” patients.  Her definition of “unusual” is right up my alley.  I raced through both seasons, and I’m eagerly awaiting the beginning of the next season.  Once I finished The Bright Sessions, to avoid withdrawal before the next season starts, I started another podcast called Ars Paradoxica, about a scientist who accidentally time travels to 1943 while she’s conducting an experiment to do something else.  That one is ALSO great, and the only reason I’m not caught up is that I’m having trouble downloading episodes 12 through 16.  Not everyone streams all the time, podcasters.  So while I figure THAT out, I started a new one called The Black Tapes.  It’s also a fictional podcast (all of my favorite podcasts are fiction ones), but it sounds the most like a real radio show.  A journalist from a fictional NPR-type station starts a series about people with interesting jobs and gets pulled into investigating supernatural events.  The person she works with debunks those events.  It’s a little eerie, but it was the fourth one that really creeped me out (just yesterday), so I might limit myself to listening to those outside on sunny days only.  I’ve heard those will be in short supply in another month.

There’s good stuff out there!

Owning it

IMG_20160818_205404

The other night, John and I went to Will and Christina’s house (new house – they live in Eugene now YAY!) for a friendly game of DUN DUN DUN….Dungeons and Dragons.  Yes, we are great big grown-up nerds, and we had a really good time.  John DM’d it, and Christina did her best to save our butts.

I chipped in by buying themed wine.  We drank this one, and I will be buying it again.  Good stuff.

IMG_20160818_191027

We didn’t get to this one, but it looks promising.  I’ll let you know.

IMG_20160818_210542

You know, I just took a closer look at the actual bottle, and there’s a picture of a squid on it.  That makes it decidedly less appetizing.  I’ll take the hit, though.  I’ll do that for you.

Good night, Night Vale. Good night.

We saw a Night Vale live show in Portland last night (Thursday night), and it was GREAT.  There were a ton of people (the show was sold out), some dressed up (I saw Carlos the Scientist a couple of times, at least four glow clouds, and a ton of Night Vale t-shirts), most not, almost all fans of the show.  John’s not crazy about it – he listened to a couple of episodes and didn’t like the narrator’s voice, which I think was also Corey’s problem with it – and the couple sitting next to it were walking in blind, too.  It seems like a strange show to go to cold, but whatever.  It was a lot of fun to see live.  I’d go again if the opportunity arose.

IMG_20160721_191540[1]

IMG_20160721_191445[1]

The show always travels with a musician (or a band), and for our show, they had Erin McKeown, who I had only heard of because she performed the weather on the most recent episode of the show.  I really liked that song, and I really liked the others she played.  She went on first, played 6-8 songs, then the show started, and then she played the song from that last podcast episode as the weather for the show.  During the show, she played alone (electric guitar only), but the recording I’ve heard it has a full band, and it’s awesome.  You know what?  You can hear it for yourself.

Inspiration, or lack of it

Some days I have ideas, some days I don’t.  Today I had something half-baked about feeling inspired by Neil deGrasse Tyson to read The Martian and Saturn Run, both realistic science in space stories, and something even less than half-baked about not caring much about Spiderman because I couldn’t think of the name of the editor who’s always demanding pictures of Spiderman.

None of that is really anything, and that probably means I should just keep quiet for a day, but hey – I have to live inside my head.  I might as well share some of it with you, even if it is less than thrilling.  Heh.  As if anything I write is thrilling.

John liked The Martian, I’m enjoying it right now, and Saturn Run was really good (thanks, Erik!).  And….that’s all I got.

A little disappointing

I love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.  I like the stories, I like the weirdness, and oh! We’re going to see one of their live shows next month in Portland!  So I’m excited about that.  But (there’s always a but) I have to admit I’m a little disappointed in the book.  They wrote a book, a novel set in Night Vale, about two characters not in the podcast, but surrounded by the usual Night Vale….denizens.  The story isn’t grabbing me, and I think the style (very much the style of the podcast) doesn’t really translate to the written word.  Sometimes I can hear it being read to me by Cecil (the voice of the podcast), and that helps, but not always and not enough.  Clearly, I should have gotten the audiobook instead, which IS narrated by Cecil.

I’ve been pretty quick to put down books I can’t get into lately, but I’m going to finish this one.  I am.  Because.  Then I can go back to enjoying the podcast.  I haven’t listened to it since I started the book.  I’m treating it like a reward.  I can listen when I finish the book!

Game night

Today was better than yesterday, that’s for sure.  Work was okay, I had a nice relaxing lunch with Christina (pho – delicious), and we’re going to spend the evening at Will and Christina’s for our first (hopefully weekly) Game Night!  It’ll be fun, it’ll be relaxing, and I will be doing my best not to be nervous about Saturday’s Big Event.  Tomorrow is the day I finally FINALLY cut my hair and color it.

If I like it, you can have pictures.  If I’m a crying mess because WHAT HAVE I DONE AND WHY WOULD I DO THIS TO MYSELF, there will be no pictures.  Wish me luck!

Queen of the nerds

I have reopened a nerdy obsession of mine, totally by accident.  I was looking for another blog or website or SOMEthing online to get completely immersed in, so I went to Tor.com to scan their recent posts and found out that Leigh Butler is doing ANOTHER re-read of the Wheel of Time series.  !!!!  Yay!

I’ll pause so you can collect yourselves.

Actually, I’ll pause so you can roll your eyes and say “Who cares?”* and “What’s a re-read?”** and “Oh, THAT series?***  You finished it?***^  You still like it?***^^  NERD!***^^^”

Are you done?

Thanks.  I care, a little.  Enough.  Okay, I care plenty.  I started reading the series in 1990, maybe 1991 because I remember waiting for the third one to come out (1991, paperback 1992), which is basically right at the beginning (the first two were published in 1990).  I have reread those first three of this 15-book series too many times to count.  This is the first series I did that with, where I’d go back to the beginning and read every book out so far to prep for the next book to come out.  It’s the first series I waited for, with years in between books.  It’s the first series that made me go searching online for people who might know something about it.  It’s where I discovered the WOTFAQ sometime in college, where SO many people more obsessed than me gathered to chat and share theories.  I never joined them (they’d been doing it for years – what could I add?), but I read the ENTIRE thing and then went back after each book was published.  (I’m a lurker.  I’m a lurker on reddit, too.)  They all seemed to know each other, and some really did – they went to conventions together, or met there.  (Stories about JordanCon (and DragonCon) may have sparked my interest in going to conventions myself.)

Anyway, I care plenty.  In 2009, Leigh Butler (who was heavily involved in the WOTFAQ and the fandom and the conventions and met Robert Jordan and spent time with his widow after died) started a re-read of the entire series on Tor.com.

Re-read of a series online – she reads through the books and posts summaries and her thoughts and commentary on a chapter or two at a time, once or twice a week.  The commenters go nuts (in a fun way).

She thought she had 9 months before the last book of the series (written by Brandon Sanderson) was supposed to come out.  The last book was split into three, and what was supposed to be done by the end of 2009 took until May 2014.  I didn’t read along (my memory of these books is pretty good – I have read them many many times), and I didn’t start in 2009 when she did (I don’t remember when I found it), but I did read ALL of her posts and a lot of the comments, and it was a fun way to revisit the series and get a LOT out of it while waiting for the last books to be published.

ANYWAY.

I was poking along online yesterday, and I found that she’s doing it again.  Why?  Because when she did it the first time, the last books hadn’t been published, and the things that happened in those books shed a ton of light on things that happened in earlier books, and this fandom WANTS TO KNOW.  Including me.  So we’re all going back with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and I have another fun way to waste time online.

I love the internet.

*I do.

**I explained.  Be patient.

***Yes, THAT series.

***^Yes, more than once.

***^^Yes.

***^^^Yes. Stop yelling and JOIN US.

Get used to disappointment

Mild spoilers ahead.

We saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last night, and it was bad.  It was very not good, and we are very not happy.  On the one hand, we didn’t have great expectations for it, so it’s not like we were let down.  On the other hand, COME ON.  It was a Superman movie where Superman is the bad guy for no apparent reason.  It was a Batman movie where Batman didn’t act like Batman at all.  And Wonder Woman?  With as little introduction and explanation as she got, she should have been a cameo.  Instead, her scenes were inscrutable.

Boo.

I would work for a company like this

I got two emails back to back from ThinkGeek today.  The first one had this subject:

Crypton

The second email arrived 43 minutes later with this subject:

Krypton

That’s right you will.  Same email otherwise.  And that’s why I love ThinkGeek.  Someone realized that they screwed up big time (big time for marketing to geeks, and nowadays, that’s BIG time (yay!)), and they admitted their mistake in a way those of us who get these emails appreciate.

Their office is in Fairfax, but that is no longer local to me, and they don’t seem to do remote work.  I’ve checked.

Terrible timing

John and I found the best comic book shop with a whole separate games shop today.  TODAY.  Two weeks before we move.

It was busy, clearly doing well, holds game nights (right now they’re having a Break My Game demo event),they had a ton of enthusiastic helpful staff, lots of people we could probably be friends with….

Eugene will have places like this, right?  Of course it will.

Jess will just have to enjoy this place for us.  I will MAKE her enjoy this place for us, although the use of force will not be necessary.

Slow down, you move too fast

I’ve finished the books on my shelf, so I’m reading the graphic novels now, and I’m trying to read them slowly.  They have words AND art, and the art is important to the story.  I have this tendency to just read the words and move on, and if I do that, I’m devouring the books, but not getting the full effect.  I picked up a few Vol 2s of Vol 1s I read a while ago, so I’m re-reading the Vol 1s and trying to slow down.  Take my time.  Weirdly, it means I’m taking longer to read one normal size graphic novel than some of the books from my shelf, but that’s okay.

Right?

Right.

That’s okay.

Some people are artists, some people appreciate them

We went for a walk this morning and saw the BEST snow sculptures.

IMG_20160125_085005

Everybody run!  Preferably up some stairs!  Oh, wait – daleks fly now.  There’s no hope!

IMG_20160125_085021

I’m not sure why R2-D2 is hanging out with an Easter Island head (I’m assuming, from the tiki torch, that it’s an Easter Island head and not, say George Washington), but I like that they’re all buddy-buddy.

Just because I had no intention of playing in the snow and getting all cold doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate when others do.