Holiday wishlist

For anyone who is interested, things that I would like:

1. Tips for online entertainment and enlightenment. Web shows, entertaining podcasts, serialized novels, instructional sites. Basically I just want to never have to leave my computer.
2. Recommendations for programs or apps I shouldn't live without, for iphone or Chrome.
3. New lj icons, especially ones made for me personally. Especially one with a drawing of myself.
4. Handmade things. I like pretties. Especially jewelry or things I can hang on my walls.
5. Books. I'll read almost anything, and I like used/unwanted books.
6. Yarn! Especially novelty yarns and things that are soft.
7. Resources or tips for things on my 101 in 1001 list.
8. Anything edible. I especially like chocolate and baked goods, but I am a fan of most foods.
9. If you can, get a flu shot. Because I like all of you better when you're not sick, and herd immunity is like a present for everyone.
10. Donations to The St. Bernard Project. They're an organization that started off rebuilding homes after Katrina, and they're still doing that. They also have programs to support affordable homeownership, train veterans for construction jobs, and run the only free mental health clinic in the area.

If you have a list, link me to it! And for those who missed it, my card sign-up is here.

lj idol, dispatches from the beanie baby wars.

I was 12 the first time I realized the Beanie Babies would be a problem. My mother had confronted me, brandishing one of my sister's toys. "The tag is off," she said, accusingly. "Did you let her take the tag off? Did you let her play with it?"

I couldn't actually recognize the small frog as anything more then one of the many stuffed animals cluttering up our house, but my mother set me straight. "They're collectors items," she informed me. "It was online. Did you save the tag? Do we have any more?"

Before long I had to clean off most of shelves in my room for the growing army of bean-bag animals. Not the 'retired' ones, of course - my mother put those in some hiding place, not trusting them to my care. But there were still hundreds from the active line, plus five or ten backups of each 'rare' one, all needing little plastic cases and notecards. My room was the one area of the house relatively undamaged by the chaos of small children and pets, so converting it to Beanie Baby storage seemed logical - even when the shelves weren't enough and the stacked boxes made it hard to get into my closet. I didn't need to keep clothes in my closet anyway, as my mother pointed out. I hardly wore most of those things anyway, and then we could use the shelves in there too.

It was only fair, since she was doing this for me. These toys would make me and my sisters rich someday.

One morning we got to the mall at 4am, after someone who worked at a shop there had told my mother there would be a shipment of a limited release beanie we were hunting down. My mother and I took turns dozing in the car, since one of us had to keep watch in case other hopefuls started lining up. By this time our store checks are on a regimented weekly schedule, and mother knows when every seller in the area gets their regular deliveries. I'd have stayed home if I could, but most places set a per-person limit. And if just getting the allowed 1 or 2 or 5 beanies was good, getting twice that many had to be better.

The yearly McDonald's tie-in meant two weeks of eating nothing but kiddie sized hamburgers. "You're wasting food," my mother complaind, when I wouldn't attempt to re-heat the day-old fries for breakfast. We had to go every day, of course - each of the mini happy-meal toys was only available for one or two days - but that wan't enough, because there were hints that the release schedule might not be the same at every restaurant. We drove for hours to hit every McDonald's in the area, each with a seemingly endless line.

I can't remember ever not being a skeptic. I've never wanted to get in on the ground-floor of a trend - I'd rather let other people go first and look for flaws in their logic. I saw the crowds of collectors swarming the fast food chain and did rough mental calculations, estimating how many desperate buyers - just like us - there were nationwide, and couldn't believe anything being sold by the millions would really keep increasing in value.

But I knew better then to tell that to my mother. When the next guidebook came out we had to re-evaluate the collection, and she was outraged to find the one happy-meal toy we somehow missed was listed as being worth $50.

The last time I visited my old home, I saw the beanie babies piled in trash-bags, taking up most of the spare room. I offered to get rid of them for my mother, but she wouldn't let me.

Maybe she still thinks they'll make her rich. Someday.
sushi by iconoclast

lj idol week 6

I love food when I don't need it.

A list of symptoms for dangerously low blood sugar notes that "In moderate hypoglycemia, your ability to communicate, pick an appropriate food, or realize that you should do something to raise your blood glucose level may be impaired." What this means is that I'll tell a friend "I'm hungry," but I really mean that I have a headache and I'm starting to get nauseous and I went a bit dizzy when I stood up, and I should have had a meal four hours ago. But I don't say that.

So my friend will ask me how I feel about chicken for dinner, and I'll look at them like they've demanded I both invent cold fusion and solve world peace before they'll allow me to eat. I don't know how I feel about chicken. I can remember eating it, I can remember liking it, but at the moment, the reason why is beyond me. I don't like chicken. I don't like food. Why should I have to eat, anyway?

I am actually, on a day to day basis, pretty good at taking care of myself. The problem comes when my schedule gets thrown off, for whatever reason, when I am stressed or tired or distracted. If I go past the hungry stage and into the grumpy-with-bad-judgment stage, I can function if I'm pointed at clearly defined tasks but have no ability to make decisions.

I know, of course, the whole time, that the sooner I stop dithering and actually eat something, the sooner I can start to feel better. But it's a distant and unimportant sort of knowledge, compared to the fact that I'm not really hungry and I don't want to have to go anywhere and it's not like sitting still for ten more minutes will really hurt, right?

I can walk in circles around a grocery store and not find anything that looks appetizing. That pizza looks like too much food, the candy bar isn't healthy - and god forbid I not eat healthy - cooking pasta is too much work. I could get the frozen waffles. I've never had frozen waffles, but they somehow look soothing. They're supposed to go in a toaster - I could buy a toaster - but then I'd need to take them home, and I'm not sure I can manage that. It's a warm day. If I sat outside with them for a while, would they defrost enough to eat?

I've seen recordings of tests they do on mountain climbers suffering from oxygen deprivation, where the climbers stumble over simple tasks and mix up words, all the while insisting they're fine. They don't need help, their judgement isn't impaired, they don't need oxygen, everything is perfect.

I've never climbed a mountain. But I'm pretty sure I know what it feels like.

Many things.

I spent most of Thanksgiving week at teaberryblue's farmhouse, petting the cats and occasionally chopping things while she cooked. Then we had Thanksgiving in sunny Delaware. It was, as usual, delicious.

I love Thanksgiving. And considering that a few years ago the most I would have felt for any holiday was begrudging tolerance, realizing that one can actually make me happy is pretty nice.

I am about 3/4 done with my 101 in 1001 list! I still have space for more, and I need to figure out specifics for some.

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Also, if you missed it, my card post is here and I want to send you cards so fill it out. Even if you think I have your address.
hufflepuff friends


I have a lot of actual life updates to post about, but the way I've been for the past few weeks every entry I might have made would have ended in incoherent keysmashing. Like, 'I need 40 more hours of doccumented training in this subject by next tuesday, sauhriewunkj.l;mn,' or "The prt of this project we just spent two weeks on turned out to be completely unnecessary aosiudbmabs;a/ld.' So you were probably better off without that.

Anyway. Cards? It seems like holiday cards time. If you would like a card, give me your address! The more the better. And if you have a card sign-up posted please point me at it, since I have not been keeping up with my friendslist very well lately.

Comments screened!

lj idol, week 4

Romance was a lot more dangerous back when the goddess of vengeance would get involved.

Nemesis wasn't about revenge, not in the petty sense. She was, essentially, a personification of the desire for people to get what was coming to them. She was righteous indignation and avenging fairness, counterbalancing undeserved good fortune and arrogance.

So if you met someone really, incredibly good looking and they were too self-absorbed to pay you any attention, you could appeal to Nemesis. "Oh One Who Cannot Be Escaped," you would say, "this guy thinks he's too good for me. He must be punished."

And she wouldn't tell you 'Maybe he's just not that into you,' or 'He's not looking for a relationship right now,' or 'Let's discuss your pattern of being attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable,' because she wasn't the goddess of talk-therapy. No, she was the goddess of retribution, and she would agree that yes, indeed, he must be punished. If Mr. Handsome is inspiring unrequited love, he should know what it feels like. And no one really deserves to be that good looking, anyway.

So then she'd send prettyboy off to fall hopelessly in love with his own reflection, until he starved to death or killed himself or got turned into a daffodil. And so balance would be restored to the universe.

But you still wouldn't have a date.

(no subject)

I've decided to do the '101 in 1001' thing. I'd been thinking about it for a while, but I figure I might as well start now, since most of that time frame also overlaps with my last 2 1/2 years as a 20-something.

At this point I don't so much have a list as an assortment of ideas. A lot of them are grandly ambitious, some need further research, and a few might be mutually contradictory. (If I get a serious professional-type job, I will probably not be able to take several months off to hike the appalachian trail.) For others, I need to figure out how to measure success. (I have a lot that say 'Do more. . . ' or 'Get good at. . . ')

Anyone have suggestions for things that should be on my list? Either tailored to me personally or just stuff you think everyone should do or learn.
Game of Hogsmeade by <lj user="erture">

Hogsmeade Poll

sushi by iconoclast

lj idol, coprolite

Archaeologists spend a lot of their time trying to discredit and one-up their rivals. The fact that these rivals might otherwise be their best friends is irrelevant, but understandable when you realize the only people who can stand archaeologists when they're feeling bitter are the people they're ranting about.

I figured this out at my first job, when we went to visit the labs at a nearby museum and watched the director and my boss have the academic equivalent of a knock-down brawl. The director pointed out that they needed more labspace then we would, since they covered a lot more area then us each season. My boss said that was to be expected, since the museum's people were practically turning over ground with a backhoe, but he'd rather see his staff be careful. The director tried to show off his intact dugout canoe, sitting in a temperature-controlled tank. Boss pointed out that they'd had that for six years, and still hadn't figured out how to take it out of the water without it crumbling into pieces. So then the director said yes, wasn't it great how he had a big enough budget to get a fifteen foot water tank when he wanted one? And the boss quietly fumed until he took us on a tour of the exhibits so he could point at the placecards and go "See there where it says 'discovered by archaeologists'? They mean me," which I think helped bring his ego back into balance.

And this is about things that no one outside the field will ever care about. It's much worse if you get into an area where the stakes are higher. And in North American archaeology, it doesn't get more-high stakes then finding undeniable evidence of the earliest human settlement. 'Undeniable' is the important part. Re-writing the chronology of North American settlement means fighting with political agendas and religions and international relations and, most of all, every archaeologist who has the slightest hope that one of their sites will prove to be older.

There are plenty of artifacts from the Clovis culture, starting a bit over 13,000 years ago, that have enough evidence to be scientifically unimpeachable. Earlier? Well. You can't prove those butchery marks weren't made by a rockfall. That bone might have been sitting around for a thousand years before someone made it into a tool. That's not a hearth, it's just a small, circular fire that started by itself in a cave. Those radiocarbon dates are inconclusive. As for what the scientific articles call coprolites - human feces, dated to 14,500 years ago, from a cave in Oregon. . . well we don't talk about that if we can help it. There's probably a flaw in their dating. You can't prove there isn't.

Maybe we shouldn't have been so harsh about those butchery marks.

lj idol, three little words.

I didn't start to seriously worry until it got dark.

"One more hour!" the driver had cheerfully told us after we stopped for lunch. I wasn't really sure if I trusted him - for one thing, evidence was accumulating that he was actually informing on us to the Chilean government. But I comforted myself with the thought that this probably wouldn't effect his performance as a tour guide. We were going from one coastal town to another, our sixth move in ten days. Our destination looked close enough on the map, but I'd long since given up trying to make sense of distance in Chile. The long, thin country had destroyed my sense of proportion.

Our schedule had said the drive would take three hours, with a stop for lunch, and we would have time to unpack before dinner. Instead it took three hours to get to our lunch. A minor setback, we assumed, as we set out again in mid-afternoon. The driver said one more hour. We had to be close.

Two hours later, we were in the mountains. "This makes no sense," I told my friend in the next seat. "See, we started off here, and were going north, to here. . . the mountains are east. We're getting farther from the coast."

The driver shrugged, when we attempted to get an adjusted time of arrival. "One more hour."

The drive was scenic, but not exactly calming. The two-lane highway had sharp curves, high cliffs, and no concept of guardrails. Trucks transporting cut wood wizzed passed us at alarming speeds, and we passed a never-ending succession of shrines marking the sites of fatal accidents.

Somehow, though, it was worse after dark, when all we could see was the headlights of the trucks. Dinner time had passed. We stopped at a strange, small convenience store, and then passed the same town we had two hours before. Some of us tried to find out why we'd gone so far out of the way, but by this time we weren't surprised when all we got was another shrug, and the promise we'd be there in an hour.

By midnight -- about 13 hours after we'd left on our three-hour-trip - we demanded a rest stop. The driver seemed surprised that we were so insistent, since we were only an hour away. Some people paced. Some broke out the liquor. Some tried to find maps. By then, though, I had settled into a strange, zenlike calm. I no longer believed our destination existed. I didn't expect to ever get there. I knew it was my fate to be some bus-bound flying dutchman, riding the highways of South America until I passed into legend.

So it was almost a surprise when we pulled into the hotel at 3am. Before struggling up to our rooms, we were told we had a bus tour of the city at 9am the next day.

I skipped it and slept in.