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A Picture A Day(ish): October 1 [Oct. 1st, 2012|08:51 pm]


On the way to meet Ken after work.
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[Oct. 1st, 2012|08:26 am]

It's October 1st!

You know what that means...

That's right! I will try to take a picture and post it every day for the entire month. I will fail, but I will try.

You are welcome to join me. I don't care if you end up posting a picture a week, or doing it for only the first (or last) three days of the month, or even if you kick my ass by actually managing to post a picture every single day when I don't. It's A Picture A Dayish, so it's impossible to do it wrong.

I'm sure I will be cursing my stupidity for committing to this within the week, but that's part of the fun. With an invitation like this, how can you possibly resist?
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[Sep. 13th, 2012|08:55 am]

Good morning. Have a hummingbird.


More!Collapse )
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Critters I Have Seen [Sep. 10th, 2012|09:17 am]

A toad, an alligator lizard and a snake. These are way cool, but you don't have to click if you'll be grossed out. I promise the snake isn't eating anything this time.Collapse )
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Let's play "Where's the geocache?" [Jul. 31st, 2012|08:26 am]

A lot of geocaches have really nice camouflage, to the point where they can be sitting in plain sight and most non-cachers wouldn't look twice at them. Here's a few we've seen lately.

(I used LJ-spoiler coding for this -- you just click to expand it. If you right-click and open in a new window, it won't work.)

I didn't upload a picture of this one in its native habitat, so it can be my example.
It's a rock!

No, it's a geocache! (That's a "nano" cache glued to the bottom of the rock.)

Now you try! First one:

[Where's the geocache?]

This one was particularly good. Yes, I overlooked it the first time I checked.



[Where's the geocache?]
(Actually, this one sort of stands out, if you pay attention. In a different environment, it would be invisible.)



One more!

[Where's the geocache?]

I wasn't sure about this one until I actually lifted the corner. It's a magnet.


Here's another magnet cache – this one was called "a scrambled vow."

Congratulations -- you are now qualified to find caches that stump many newbies :).
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Comic-Con 2012: Sunday [Jul. 23rd, 2012|09:29 pm]

So, where was I?

Oh, yes. Sleeping on the lawn outside Hall H on Saturday night.


I slept pretty solidly for a good five hours, which was the most sleep I'd had for the whole convention. Maybe I was getting comfortable with camping out, since I'd already done it once. Maybe I was more relaxed than the previous night because I was with people I knew. Maybe I was just exhausted.

In any case, I was surprised to find it light out when I woke up; I thought I'd be up before dawn and have time to wash up before the bathroom got busy. (And, NO, it did not rain a drop. There wasn't even any dew.) I woke up very, very stiff and sore, but all considered, I felt pretty good.

karenor, who had slept not a wink, commented that I'd slept through a lot, and I agreed that I probably had (my only memories were of being cold and wrapping up more tightly once or twice, and a little commotion when a loud vehicle passed).

I thought she was kidding when she said Nathan Fillion had visited at 3am, and I'd slept through that.

So, yeah. I wasn't too happy about that.

I admit, I am far too shy to be any good at meeting celebrities; what could I possibly say to them? And after two days of sleeping on the ground, it's not like I would've wanted to have my picture taken with him. I probably would have settled for a blurry photograph or two taken from a distance, and the ability to say "I was there for that." (Then again, it was Nathan Fillion. I might've made an exception and asked him to sign my badge or something.)

(Also, I would actually have recognized him on sight, which would make this a better story than Ian McKellen. But anything makes a better story than I slept through it.)

I don't mind having missed some of this year's serendipitous SDCC moments; you can't see everything, and there's no helping it. I was occupied, I was elsewhere, I just wasn't lucky. It happens. But this one... I was as close as I possibly could have gotten while still missing out. That was hard to take. It's the one thing that made this year's SDCC less than perfectly awesome. (But Starship Smackdown, later on, went a good way toward restoring the awesomeness. Read on!)

Return of the revenge of Hall H, et ceteraCollapse )

The Neil deGrasse Tyson bitCollapse )
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Comic-Con 2012: Saturday [Jul. 19th, 2012|10:53 pm]

Ian McKellen's visit was at midnight. This picks up shortly afterward.

I wasn't horribly uncomfortable trying to sleep on the grass in the Hall H line, but that didn't mean I slept well. I'd sleep for an hour, then wake up because there was loud music at some event nearby, or because a train rattled by (it sounded like a series of explosions, crashing down the track), or just because I was sleeping outside among a bunch of strangers.

The view at 2:30am.

A looooong day of panels.Collapse )
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Comic-Con 2012: Friday [Jul. 18th, 2012|06:03 pm]

On Friday, our main goal was to see the 12:30 Firefly panel. We weren't sure we would be able to get in; more than 5,000 people had indicated interest in the panel online, and the room only holds 4,000 people. It was the most popular panel on the website (and not everybody even uses the website). And it was in the second-biggest room at the convention center.

For extremely popular panels, no matter when they fall during the day, dawn seems to be the best arrival time. Some people camp out overnight, sure, but they don't fill the rooms. But the earliest we could get downtown with public transit was 6:15, and I really wasn't sure that would be good enough. If we didn't get in, though, I figured we could always go to the Venture Bros panel that morning. (I've been to the Venture Bros panel three times, and it's always been great – I regretted having to choose between it and Firefly. But Firefly was a one-time event, and it was Firefly. So it won.)

We'd gotten home from Patton Oswalt around midnight the night before, so we were not going to get much sleep. I planned to check the #b20 hashtag on twitter as soon as I woke up so I could decide whether Firefly was a lost cause. We were half hoping it would be (sorta, kinda) because we really needed more sleep. (We'd still have had to go down earlyish for Venture Bros, of course, but not that early.)

But the line status didn't sound totally hopeless at mumblesomethingbefore5am, so off we went. We just missed a trolley, but a hastily devised alternate plan with a bus still got us there around 6:15, at which point the line was impressively huge but not mind-boggling. It swiftly became mind-boggling; they wove it through a couple of the spare tents for the nearby Hall H line, went down the sidewalk, ran out of room and started switching it back in the street. I guess the lane they were using was closed, but still, packing people INTO THE STREET FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE just seems like a bad idea.

The first panel in Ballroom 20, Community, wasn't until 10:00, but they did make things exciting by moving the line at 7am. Before that, when the line is outside the convention center grounds, it's really the everything-besides-Hall-H line. Once the building doors open, the people redistribute themselves into lines for the exhibit hall, the Hasbro tickets, autograph tickets, Ballroom 20, and whatever other things people find worth lining up for. Problem is, that redistribution is kind of chaotic. Instead of people walking calmly down the hall in the order in which they arrived, it's a free-for-all. You can't run, but when the line spreads out into a great big hallway, people start sneaking ahead of each other and that just sucks. (If everyone were like me, I suppose the convention would be dull, because everyone would show their appreciation by sitting quietly and listening. But by God we would have fair and orderly lines.)

So we ended up somewhat grumpily in the Ballroom 20 line, in a half-assed rough approximation of where we should have been. And then we settled down to wait. We were... something like 3500th in line, I think. The "approximate wait from here is n people" signs were hard to interpret. All I know is that the line went through a bunch of tents and down the steps and THEN there was us. But we weren't all the way out in the marina, so there was that.

THIS GUY HAD A 10TH DOCTOR BACKPACK. I mean, I know it isn't, but it is.

This is the view from the terrace behind the convention center. I think some of that line may be for the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton; it got very confusing at times, with all the lines converging. But it kind of blows my mind. EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE IS A LINE. (It's most effective at the Large 1600 size, I think.)

You see those tiny people in the distance? That's the end of the Ballroom 20 line. Seriously. I don't know how much of the foreground is really for B20 – and there was plenty of B20 line you can't see here – but that's the end of it. Someone estimated 10,000 people in line. They might have been full of shit, but it's not totally implausible either.

Those people were not getting in for Firefly.

But we were.Collapse )

You can skip straight to the Ian McKellen story, but I have to tell you, it's not THAT exciting.Collapse )
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Comic-Con 2012: Thursday [Jul. 17th, 2012|05:49 pm]


So, I had the best time I've ever had at SDCC. In my fifth year of attendance I (mostly) knew what I was doing, I embraced the madness, and I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish. Only one thing went off less than perfectly. (I suppose there's always got to be one thing. It's a rule of life. Perfection would cause the universe to end. Right?)

SDCC 2012: Our Top Five Favorite Moments: I was there for every one of those, except Nerd HQ, and that's tied with something I did see. (I'd have loved to be at the Nerd HQ Doctor Who Q&A, of course, but it was announced and sold out in the space of fifteen minutes, during which I wasn't at my computer. I'd probably have blown off my other Saturday plans if I'd been able to get tickets. Probably.)

  • The already legendary Firefly panel.

  • Getting the one limited-edition-exclusive-random-giveaway thing I actually wanted.

  • Ian McKellen startling the crap out of me while I was sleeping.

  • Chris Hardwick's mad panel moderating skills. He was brilliant. He was so good in the Hobbit panel that the people sitting next to me were like, "Who's that? We should check out his other stuff." (He seemed a little subdued in the Doctor Who panel Sunday, but by then I think he was as strung out as the rest of us.)

  • Andy Serkis saying "For fuck's sake" in Gollum's voice.

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson standing up in Starship Smackdown to give an impassioned speech about the superiority of the original Enterprise.

  • Camping: I really hope this doesn't become an Essential Comic-Con Experience for too many people, but I have to admit, living at the con was sorta fun, and actually reduced my stress level considerably.

  • Although I had like twelve hours of sleep, total, for the WHOLE CONVENTION.

  • And I miss it already. I wish I could do it again and see all the other things I was interested in, because there were plenty of them. There's just so much going on at once, and so many things require major time investments.

Story and lots of pictures! Let's start with Wednesday/Thursday...Collapse )
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Toeffe + shoe = love [Jul. 11th, 2012|06:44 pm]


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[Jul. 2nd, 2012|09:13 am]

So, Comic-Con.
  • There's not a lot I care about Thursday. We have Patton Oswalt tickets for the evening (TICKETS! That guarantee SEATS! I approve of this technology), and I suppose it'll be a good day to hit the exhibit hall and buy things. There's a Wilfred panel at 4:00 that I could stand to see, but we haven't watched any of the new season yet (and I sort of suspect the panel will be less ~edgy~ in the larger Indigo Ballroom).

  • Friday... shit. The way people are talking about the Firefly panel, there's practically a line already. And I really want to see it. We're going to have to miss the Venture Bros panel, which is sad, because I've been to that one three years in a row (starting before I even watched the show – I caught it while waiting for something else, and they were funny enough that it made me want to watch), but I'm wondering just how early we have to be in line to have any hope at all. I can get downtown around 6:30. Sigh.

    But if we do get in, at least we'll be in the room for Breaking Bad, the only other thing of major interest that day.

    There's also a Chris Hardwick thing at the Balboa Theatre that evening; I'm still undecided, because it's not clear if it's him doing standup or the Nerdist Podcast, and if the latter, there's no word on who the guests will be. And it overlaps with Breaking Bad.

  • On Saturday, I am horribly tempted to try to see the Iron Man 3 panel. Except it is in Hall H, and it's going to be the BIGGEST DAMN THING EVER, and there is probably already a line for that too. (I am joking when I say that, but NOT BY MUCH.) It's at 6pm, which means a WHOLE DAY in Hall H, and missing both Being Human and Person of Interest (although I have my doubts about whether both of those would even be doable, being at 3pm and 5pm in different rooms. Especially since PoI leads into Mythbusters).

    What's the earliest I can get downtown on Saturday? Saturday buses suck. Probably 7:30.

  • And Sunday is Doctor Who, which has everybody of interest to the show INCLUDING ARTHUR DARVILL and I must see this. I don't know if arriving at 4:30am is going to be feasible this year. Hell, I am tempted to just camp out overnight, because really, I don't sleep anyway. And a decent seat would be nice.

    After that there's Alison Bechdel, maybe, if I run really fast and it's not full. And Starship Smackdown, which is a more fun way to end the convention than watching Once More With Feeling. And then there is probably eating something and falling over exhausted and sleeping for 24 hours.

But if I spend two days in Hall H, I may feel like I missed the convention. Once Hall H swallows you up, you can never leave. You can't take a break and go outside, or get food somewhere else, or grab a bathroom pass and visit the exhibit hall during a boring panel. You are in. There is no escape. And there's fun to be had just wandering the Gaslamp, seeing the seas of people, taking in the atmosphere.

And I'd be looking at THREE DAYS of all-day room-squatting. Good God. At least on Friday leaving Ballroom 20 occasionally and returning would be an option. And Ken and I would be totally apart for Saturday and most of Sunday (unless he could arrive before the Hall H line let in).

It's interesting to see what's missing (in a sad kind of way). No Burn Notice? No Castle? None of the authors I like? (Patricia Briggs was interesting when I saw her, and Tanya Huff did a really good panel and reading last year, even if I was one of the few in the room for her and not Zachary Quinto, who was up next.) The panels about urban fantasy and supernatural critters this year don't feature the authors of anything I've even read. I enjoyed the Walking Dead comic panel last year, but I think it'll be too tough to get into this year (and there's too much else going on). The Walking Dead TV panel will be hopeless, of course (and in Hall H). There's a TV Guide panel with Matt Smith, but the best thing about the TV Guide panel last year was that I was in the 4th row. This year, I think I've got other things to do during that time. There are always other things to do, unfortunately, especially with the logistics of trying to get into rooms. I can't believe what I'm writing off already.

Given all this commitment to lines, you can see why I want an iPad. But I think I'd kill the battery before I even made it into Hall H.

Hopefully nobody who didn't get a membership is jealous anymore. Those of you who did – think we will ever cross paths?
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[Jun. 28th, 2012|10:03 am]

Ken and I were looking for a geocache near Home Depot last week when we heard a loud rustling noise in the leaves along the sidewalk. Something tumbled onto the pavement, and we turned our flashlights on it:

A snake!

More snake pictures, plus snake dinner! On the gross-o-meter, I'd give this maybe a three, especially if you're okay with the snake to begin with.Collapse )
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and I would walk 500 more [Jun. 23rd, 2012|10:10 pm]


Hey, look, I made it.

I'm on track (more or less) to walk 2100 miles by the end of the year. I only need 2000; that is my story and I'm sticking to it. Being ahead is good, of course, because it gives me a nice amount of wiggle room; at some point I'm probably going to get sick, or stub my toe, or have a really low-mileage week for other reasons (Comic-Con's going to be a disaster in that department, I'm sure).

I'm never quite sure how to measure what I'm on track for. It'll be interesting to see to how many extra miles I have in by July 2nd, the midpoint of the year. I've been using average miles per day to estimate a total for the year, but averaging out six months of data isn't really that useful.

This whole thing is composed of estimates, guesses and approximations, of course. The fitbit is a reasonably accurate pedometer, but it's not perfect, and under some circumstances it over-counts steps. (I compensate for this somewhat by taking it off when I get home from work. And because I am not wearing a bra all damn night. My dedication does not go that far.) I never calibrated it for my stride, though I'm fairly sure it's accurate-to-slightly-undercounting mileage. That also helps balance out any over-counted steps, and in any case, I wouldn't want to switch calibration partway through the year. If there's an adjustment to be made (ie, if calibration indicates it was over-counting miles after all), I'll make it at the end of the year.

The details are not, ultimately, that important, but all this stuff makes me feel like I'm getting credit for the walking I do, which in turn makes me feel motivated to keep doing it (though it's such an ingrained habit now that I doubt I could stop).

So. I did that. Now I just have to do it again.
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AND SO IT BEGINS [Jun. 22nd, 2012|07:54 pm]

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[Jun. 2nd, 2012|11:14 am]

Hey, I finally figured out what Deborah Lippmann's "Swagga Like Us" polish reminded me of:

That's right, it's TARDIS nail polish!

Sadly, the blue/green duochrome doesn't work well on my toes. I guess they're too far away. It's fun to put on fingers, but I can't stand having nail polish on my fingers. I do the occasional thumb just to admire it.

Yes, I'm weird.
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Eclipse! [May. 22nd, 2012|03:00 pm]

This is the sun, taken through an eclipse filter. I was testing out settings on my camera, in preparation for the annular eclipse.

Ken rigged the binoculars to project the image, which was pretty cool. By the end, we could even see a sunspot. We'll probably use a setup like this for the transit of Venus in a couple of weeks.

But I got the biggest kick out of being able to look directly at the eclipse through the filter.

Projecting. We'll rig something to cast a better shadow next time.

Going, going...

I think this was about the maximum.

Even though the sun was getting low, you could still see a significant difference in the quality of the light when it was mostly eclipsed. Everything was strangely murky and dim.


We were with Ken's mom (we'd just had a belated Mother's Day dinner) and we set up in a parking lot just east of the coastal cloudy zone. While we were there, several people stopped by and had a look at our setup or tried out our viewing filters. It was pretty cool :).
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[May. 1st, 2012|02:26 pm]


This week's flowers.
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[Apr. 26th, 2012|01:24 pm]

This week's bouquet.

I really like the strawflowers. The petals are so crisp and brittle, but the middle is velvety soft. I keep petting the flower.

Also, I got a chocolate bee. I haven't eaten it yet; I'm getting more enjoyment out of looking at it than I would out of eating it. Because you can't have your bee and eat it too.
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[Apr. 25th, 2012|05:22 pm]

On Saturday, we geocached. And we (unexpectedly) got to do one of our favorite things: walk down drainage tunnels!

The cache description was very coy about what to expect, merely saying that we were looking for three "urban waterfalls."

Those would be the ones.

Read more...Collapse )

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I would walk 500 miles [Apr. 7th, 2012|10:23 am]


During a long day of shopping and walking yesterday, I officially hit 500 miles for the year. I've had a Fitbit (fancy digital pedometer) since October, but early this year I thought it would be interesting to track my mileage more closely. I've only forgotten to wear it one day this year, so the measurement is probably fairly accurate. I've never calibrated it to my stride, but a little casual spot-checking with known distances showed it slightly underestimating, which is acceptable to me. It sometimes over-counts steps, especially if I'm walking back and forth across a small room, and it will often log a couple hundred steps during a car or bus ride. I partially offset this by taking it off when I get home from work, so it doesn't record anything for the last few hours of my day (during which I'm probably up and down the steps a dozen times, among other things).

About 120 of those miles are from the two-mile walk I take every weekday at lunch. Quite a few of the rest are from geocaching and shopping on weekends. But a lot of them are just from going about my day. The last week has been higher than average because I've taken the bus to work every morning, and I have to walk around back to get in the building that early. I sometimes discount the value of walking I would've done anyway, like it only counts if I sectioned it off and declared it exercise. But that sort of general lifestyle walking is what they tell you to strive for. Park farther away at the mall, take the stairs instead of the elevator (I've taken the stairs in the parking garage to meet Ken every night after work since January 2011).

Of course, I also hear stuff like "walking is not exercise" and "walking won't make you lose weight." But the chance of me joining a gym is absolutely zero, and I'm pretty sure walking is better than not walking. I'm in better shape than I would be in if I didn't do it. Which enables me to walk more and farther. Which makes me happy.

My lowest day so far this year was 3588 steps/1.89 miles, the day we bought our new TV in January. All we did was stand around Best Buy and then come home and unpack electronics. My highest day was 21191 steps/9.45 miles, yesterday. (I did a lot of shopping.)

At the start of the year, I idly thought I might try to get 2000 miles, or 2012. Looking at my averages, that isn't likely. But I could strive for 1900, which I'm currently on track for (I usually run a little under, but it's been a busy week).

My lunch walk is probably the best habit I ever forcibly ingrained in myself. I started slowly, just looping around the back of the library on my way back from lunch. There's a pretty canyon back there. When that didn't feel like enough, I added a hill at the end (I was always out of breath at the top). Then I added a loop to make it a mile (and let myself cool down). Then I added another loop to make it 1.5 miles. Then I added another hill. Then I added a last loop to make it two miles. Then I changed one part of the route to make the hill steeper. I considered that the asskicking alternate version; now I do it every day. It's no longer challenging, but I only have two miles to play with because my lunch hour is not infinite. I could try to go faster, which would enable me to sneak in a little more distance, but I am reluctant for various reasons -- I don't really enjoy walking 4mph, for one thing, and I don't want to be sweaty when I get back to work, because I don't have time to shower. (I will not run; I've seen a lot of Couch to 5k injuries, and I'm sure my form is terrible. Running's a whole nother game. I will only run if a bear is chasing me or if I'm about to miss a bus.)

Anyway, my lunch walk has become something I enjoy a lot; it's my time to relax in the middle of the workday. The route has become so familiar that my feet just do it without me, and I spend the time thinking about stuff or listening to music. It's almost meditative. It's the farthest thing from a chore, and even if I feel a little sluggish at the beginning (which I do sometimes) it's fun by the time I hit the turnaround point. I'd miss it if I couldn't do it, but I always do it. It's a habit. And I really like it that way.
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