. . . . .
Today was National Puzzle Day. I hope you celebrated appropriately. Me? I was at the doctor's office getting a tetanus shot
. Yesterday I got a huge gash underneath my little toe from scuffing my foot against a raised metal cold-air return vent in the floor. It bled like crazy but I cleaned and taped it and figured it was okay. Today I called the docs to see if my tetanus shots
were current. They explained to me that my medical records were archived [I thought I had maybe gotten immunized in 1994] and that since there is generally a 72 hour window for getting a booster shot if you get what they call "a dirty wound" then I could probably get in to the office faster than they could track down my records. So I showed up, showed off my wound, got my shot and had to ask for tape to rebandage my own injury. Total face time with the doc: five minutes, tops. Total time spent getting there, parking, waiting in the waiting room, getting shuttled around from room to room, and reading bad magazines: over two hours. As I was putting my shirt on, the nurse told me "We require you to stay in the office for another twenty minutes in case you have a reaction." Sensing that this was one of those times that the word "require" didn't really mean what it seemed to mean -- so often the case in the medical world -- I said "Not bloody likely" and skipped on out of there. Cavalier? Perhaps. I can't imagine a worse hell on earth than having lockjaw
I can remember getting a tetanus shot when I was eleven. I had a broken arm and had to choose between getting the -- much more painful-seeming at the time -- shot either in my broken arm or in my writing arm. I chose the busted arm and cried all the way through it. My mom, who was always sane at times like these, told me "The next time you need one of these you will be 21. At that point, you can assess the risks yourself and if you don't want a tetanus shot, you don't have to get one." I strengthened my resolve then and there to never have to get a tetanus shot again, ever. I was so happy thinking about the mere decade that separated me from imagined future horrors and my refusal to accept same, that I actually forgot about my arm hurting a little.
. . . . .
unclear on the concept
We have a new mailman
. We often have new mailmen
and I'm not sure why. I live on a dead end street where there would be an intersection if the hill weren't too steep to not be a street at all. So it's an odd address and I guess that makes us go through mailmen
. At first I was sort of concerned because I'd leave packages out, raise the little red flag
on our mailbox
, and when I'd come home, the package would be gone, but the flag would still be up. Huh. Then I noticed that this was happening to my other neighbors and I started to get rankled [I know, me, get annoyed at the postal system?! outrageous.] thinking "doesn't that guy know what he's doing?"
Today I went out walking the dog and came back to see the mailman driving down my street. I got to our bank of mailboxes -- the dead-endedness of our road means we have one of those rows of seven mailboxes, just like in the country -- to find that all the flags were up, it was our mailman's way of letting us know the mail was there. Of course, his way is the exact opposite of the way of every other mailman, but in some ways it's charming.
. . . . .
it's not just all walking the dog around here
I've had the mouse to this computer so long that it squeaks. Squeaks like it's old, not squeaks like a mouse... unless it was this mouse. Hell.
I got over a two-day flu and I swear it will take me a week until I'm completely right in the head. In normal weather, this would be a day or two max, but in non-stop drizzle, a week. Getting the flu and accompanying fever the day after a 48 hour puzzle marathon is horrific. All you can dream about, when you can sleep, are bizarre undulating mattresses of tesselating forms that need to be configured into one perfect shape before you can rest easy.
There have been technical advancements here, over the past few weeks. The recalcitrant server has been wrassled to the ground, new motherboard inserted and Linux installed. The machine already had another version of Linux on it, and we didn't know the root password, so we had to go in and blow out the password file and reset it. So cool. I have a hosts file on my main machine now that filters out a really large percentage of those craptastic banner ads that are everywhere. Procmail still works like a charm to filter out nearly all my spam [email me if you want my procmail recipe]. This week I'm learning CVS as part of a web site project I'm working on. Last week I used IRC and a Wiki for the first time [no joke].I learned scp to transfer files into the local colocated box here that is hosting my roomate's website. I'm even making some progress with stylesheets. So, even though I sit in one place a lot, there is the illusion of forward motion.
Solutions to the MIT Puzzlehunt are up if you want to view the puzzles that were infecting my dreams.
. . . . .
I am now a complete 100% convert to puzzle hunting
. This weekend, a friend of mine invited me to be a part of his team at the annual MIT Mystery Hunt
. For approximately 48 hours we would do nothing but solve fiendishly difficult puzzles using our wits and as many reference sources as we were able to acquire. We would communicate via IRC and a Yahoo Group and used a Wiki
for all of our collaborative question answering.
I got hung up early on [in the wee hours of Friday night] on a paint by numbers type of puzzle you can see here. My roomate and I and Daniel and Rebecca got together for drinks and decided to tackle it. We cut paper up into strips and squares, annoyed the guy at the copy shop, xeroxed the puzzle a few times and agonized over it for the better part of a night, finally getting the picture figured out around 8 am. What was it...? Well, it sort of looked like an exploding parrot. Or maybe a fireworks display inside a circus. I did a Sharpie marker version which didn't make it much clearer though it did look a bit like a timepiece. Maybe? Keep in mind that the image was only the first part of the puzzle. Then we had to figure out three nine-letter words and put them in the grid to get a fourth word. Keep also in mind that this puzzle was one of about eighty that we had to solve. When the team HQ in Cambridge MA got tired of my lack of progress, they solved this one by computer, noting that once you got the image, you then needed to separate out all the individual RYB colors to get three separate images. The overall answer? VERMONT. Bizarre.
If you want to mess about with puzzles yourself, the list for this year is here [solutions coming soon], previous years are here. After all this, pub trivia tomorrow night will seem like a cakewalk.
. . . . .
"Dear jerk who left the fish head
in the Books to Prisoners
box outside the bookstore
, you stink. We had just finished re-staining our door so that it would be easier to clean off the frequent Nazi grafitti
that winds up there, and finding your present in with the twenty-five cents books was a real let-down. If you have an issue with the store, or our politics, come in and talk to us. If you're just some thoughtless asshole who decides to make your garbage other people's problems you can go get fucked. And, if you were saving that fish head and put it down accidentally and were really hoping to boil it up later for some soup, my humble apologies. I can tell you which dumpster we tossed it out in."
Pictures of my Alaska trip, a few anyhow, can be found at jessamyn.info/ak2001. You may notice that this is the same as the URL for Greg's Alaska pictures which are at pageswithin.com/greg/ak2001. Greg wrote the little php app that displays the pictures and I have been using it to showcase old photo serieses that were worth some web time but not worth twelve separate HTML pages. When I moved out of my house in the U District, I took some last looks at the place. I put them all together in a little storybook called "I Lived at the Fight Club House"
The German word from yesterday is actually three words: Der Schmaeh rennt. According to my friend, "Schmaeh is that word or sentence with wings that lifts itself above a
conversation sometime and then plagues you for the rest of the evening with attacks of associations and spurts of nonsense and laughter.
Rennen means running." Now you know.
. . . . .
domination and other large words
I wake up in the mornings lately to a cat licking the salt out of my eyes. I suppose it's as good a way as any.
So even before bar trivia began last night I had learned a new word: bildungsroman. I was noticing that the books I was looking up in the library catalog tended to have that as a subject heading. Then, at bar trivia I learned the word dactylology. The guy who does bar trivia finds a lot of the trivia online and doesn't even know a lot of it himself. He asked me to read that word out loud because he couldn't pronounce it. I think to be a truly ept triviamaster, you should be drawing from your own store of knowledge. Despite our winning the last of three rounds, I embarassed myself deeply by not knowing the original name for Scrabble. Then I got home, and my roomate's friend was up making tea. I told her about my night and she said there is a German word [which I have since forgotten] that evokes that feeling of being out with friends where one joke leads to another and you laugh all night. Loosely translated, it means "river of jokes."
Cards from the latest Blank White Card game are available for browsing. Mine are the ones that start with jw. Also available for browsing [in all of its two-page glory] is jessamyn.info. That site is currently where I put php projects-- the booklist -- and other junk that can't go on eskimo for whatever reason. Hosted by Cornerhost and my pal Michal, they rule.
. . . . .
blank. white. cards.
Blank white cards
-- best game ever made. I went to El Diablo
and met up with a buncha smartypants
folks and we talked and drank coffee and drew [meaning illustrated] cards and drew [meaning picked from a deck] cards. In fact the pre-game drawing part pretty much turned into my second favorite game: Fact Party
. I would draw some weird symbol and Jim
would say "Oh, that's looks like the rune
for the letter thorn
...." and then we'd get into some big discussion about old alphabets and how those quaint Ye Old Mechanic Shoppes
you see all over New England are employing a banjaxed misspelling because back in the hippie [Puritan] days the proper way to spell The was Ye. With me? Then we'd scribble some more and someone would draw a hieronymus box
and we'd talk about junk science
for a while. All in all one of the most intellectually stimulating and
fun afternoons I've had in a while.
Last night I just went out drinking at the Canterbury where my beer was free because it took too long to get to me and my friend got kicked out for being completely naked.
And, I managed a blended soup with no facial burns. Twice-blended, in fact. Here's my secret: as you cook normally in your kitchen, keep squirelling away all the vegetable ends in a plastic bag in your freezer. When you want to make soup, boil them all down with some salt, thyme and a bay leaf, maybe add a carrot or two and a sauteed onion. Cook for an hour or two then drain out the vegetables and save them. Prepare your soup in this stock. If you're making a blended soup [I made potato leek], take out the big hunks and blend them down. Stir and cook some more. Take the veggies you set aside and put them through the blender as well. This will thicken your soup and get even more vegetabley goodness out of your former leftovers. My pal Ari sent me an article on the science of vegetable soup that has really helped me be a better soup lady.
. . . . .
that old grind
I just worked a full day out of my house for possibly the first time since last February
. I have a sometimes job doing
tech support for lawyers. Today a lot of folks in one building all wanted to see me, so I was there nearly all day. Sort of
like a job. Since I haven't done this kind of thing in a while, I needed to refresh my memory on the preparations you need
to make for a job that are different from what I like to call "normal life." Since so many folks are unemployed, this could soon be you. I thought I'd share.
So You're Back on the Job or Tips for the Newly Re-employed|
[or, how a day job is sort of like being a lady of the night only with worse outfits]
- make sure you have a complete set of clothes that are clean the night before while you technically can go to work in the dress you wore to your sister's wedding, it is not the best first impression.
- arriving in damp clothes because you didn't have enough time for the dryer is also not cool. sexy maybe, but not cool.
- remove all traces of personal art projects from your hair, face, and under your nails before you leave the house. last minute grooming on the bus is preferable to green spray paint in your nose.
- check your pockets before you leave the house. is that packet in there a screen cleaner, a handi-wipe or a condom? make sure you know in advance before you whip it out.
- saying "I've never done this before" not as intriguing as in some other situations.
- you may need to rummage in your bag in front of clients. make sure it is free of porn, pipes, other incriminating stuff.
- it is only ok to say "fuck" if they say "fuck" first, and even then it's maybe not such a good idea.
- when working with older men, do not ever look at a picture in their office and say "oh is this your mother?" or "oh is this your daughter?" it is often their wife and this gets the bad juju flying early.
- staying up until 2:30 am trying to install Linux on a variety of machines while drinking wine, talking crap, and smoking with techno-hippies the night before not advisable.
- asking "can I check my email?" on client's machine even tackier than doing it at your friend's house. avert your eyes if a glimpse at their browser history reveals untoward URLs
- practice saying "doing research" in place of "using Google" beforehand.
When I was a kid, the police in my town mostly kept the peace. Sure there were agressive jerks
, but in general they would help get the horses out of your backyard or direct traffic. I didn't grow up disliking cops. When I was in high school, I dated a guy who was black and my car got pulled over a lot for bullshit reasons -- claiming I had a taillight out when I didn't, etc. -- when we drove around together. And I started to form a different opinion. My run-ins with cops since I've been to the big city, even when they were protecting me and not hassling me
have frequently been unpleasant
In this past week, I have seen the cops on three occasions. New Year's Eve, where I saw people who were leaving the scene get pepper sprayed in the face for back-talking. This guy at the McDonalds doing who knows what [not getting my fries, that's for sure]. And last night at the Xmas Tree Burn where not only did they kick us out of the park for having a completely legal [so far] bonfire [in the burn barrels, no dangerous materials, extinguishing materials nearby] but they closed the entire park so that we couldn't get our cars and drag out the rest of our personal property [150 xmas trees that could have all been legally and safely burned].
I know it's easy to whine about The Man keeping you down. I am aware that it is tough to be a police officer. And I'm sure it's scary sometimes to be a police officer. However, I am also one of those hippie idealists who believes that we could solve a lot of civic problems if people would tell the truth more, and intimidate and cop attitude a bunch less. 2002 is a week old and already I have an itch to go cause trouble. But, you know me, I'll probably stay home and write about it instead....
This just in: me and Jane and Jordan won two rounds of bar trivia this evening! $24 worth of winnings for a total investment of $8. Want to join us next weekend? Monday nights, People's Pub, 8 pm.
. . . . .
cat's away etc.
Since I have been fighting with stylesheets
elsewhere lately, I have not been paying much attention to the
ugly table within a table mess that is this page. So, how about some catch up....?
Greg got back to Milwaukee to find that he had been laid off. My sister got back to Somerville and quit her job. My phone has been ringing off the hook with job-type offers, sort of, but no actual paychecks have crossed my desk lately. I am immune to irony, I just laugh. All my roomates are gone for a week, and the first thing I think is "oh good, more uninterrupted time to learn CSS"
I succeeded in making my first blended soup last week -- a potato beet number with these strange chiogga beets that came in our box from the CSA that keeps me alive through the winter. I called it blonde borscht since these beets aren't super red and the pink cooks completely out of them. Where does it go? I have no idea. Putting hot soup in the blender was ill advised, but aside from the first degree burns on my face, the experience was rather pleasant.
I used to be pretty afraid of straying from the recipe, and for years I didn't cook much at all, but living out of walking distance from most cheap restaurants, and trying to conserve limited monies means trying to make do with what's around. This, combined with my roomates who will eat nearly anything and the big jars of grains I inherited from my old house's previous occupant [and the short short days] make cooking my new hobby. At least until the sun comes out. I am sorry in advance if this website turns into one of those "what I had to eat today" sites.
. . . . .
un an nou fericit
Wow. I don't think I've been in a completely empty house or even an empty room in about ten days.
Last night's parade went kind of screwy and resulted in more pepper spray shot at people
minding their own business, go Seattle Police Department!
I just put Greg on a plane back to Milwaukee and my sister left a few days ago and except for the snoring of the dog, it's pretty quiet here. The trip to Alaska was great and pictures are forthcoming. There's a new project box at the house currently resisting Linux. Any local Seattle Linux jockeys need a new challenge, this may be your ticket.
Last year my new year's resolutions were mostly attainable. I now know where Germany is, some of my pants fit [my roomate says I still need to work on that, for some reason] and I have been getting rid of some stuff, just not computers. I did, however, move into a larger warmer house which means more room for expansion. So, this year I am opting for more of the same. More geography, more comfy clothes, more glasses of water, more long walks, more mail to more friends and more listening with less talking [this will be the tough part]. See how I do, stay tuned.
Oh yeah and today marks five years of Abada-ing. For those of you who don't know what Abada means, it's the sound I make when I start talking really quickly, at least according to others "...so then we went to this placeandtherewerealotofpeoplethereandabadaabadaabadaabada"