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Date:2010-10-03 20:49
Subject:the tree fort

The kids decided that they wanted a tree fort in the back yard. Despite not having a lot of experience constructing things, I decided to help.

We scouted the back yard for a good location. After deciding that I didn't want to attempt the kind of tree fort that is built around a single tree, we selected four trees in a roughly rhomboid distribution. I took measurements, drew up plans, ran kite string where the beams would go so that I could get things level and squared off, and then measured again. We bought lumber and other supplies.

It was planned to be a platform of approximately 12 feet by 6 feet, 7 feet off of the ground on the low side and 16 feet off of the ground on the hide side, due to the slope of the hill.

Large photos showing progress over time within.Collapse )

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Date:2009-08-01 22:57
Subject:Notes for Next Weekend


My plan is to cut a hole in the wall of the basement, install a door, and then start digging steps (with a side ramp) down into the Earth. I figure I'll go down forty feet or so, then level off and start digging tunnels and chambers. I want to have a whole network down there. It'll take years, I'm sure. I need to do more research into how to brace the walls and ceiling -- I'd like to cement things rather than using lumber -- and ventilation. I'm going to need to buy a jackhammer, and possibly a winch. Planning ahead with respect to how the dirt will be removed is crucial. Max wants to get a mining car, lay tracks, and use the winch to pull it up and out; while that sounds like the most efficient method, it also sounds a little pricey. It sounds like the most fun, though, so maybe it's worth it. I need to find out if there's something I could rent to probe the ground, like sonar, for existing caverns; Virginia has a lot, but they're mostly to the West. I know nothing about earth/soil/rock dynamics -- I should probably do a little more research there, too. And I'll have to clean the basement first. I should probably clean out the garage while I'm at it, too.

3 comments | post a comment

Date:2009-04-19 22:04
Subject:Numbered comments in Blogger with pagination

(I'm putting this here just so I can link others to it easily.)

If you google "blogger numbering comments" you soon end up on this page, or one linking to it (or one ripping it off).

It's simple and it works -- mostly. For threads of greater than 200 comments Blogger paginates, at which point the comment numbers start over from 1. But this is easily fixed.

Just replace:

<script type='text/javascript'>var CommentsCounter=0;</script>

<script type='text/javascript'>
  var regexS = '[\\?&]commentPage=([^&#]*)';
  var regex = new RegExp( regexS );
  var results = regex.exec( window.location.href );
  if( results == null )
    var CommentsCounter = 0;
    var CommentsCounter = (results[1] - 1) * 200;

Example of it in action.

UPDATE: If you're going to leave a comment complaining that this doesn't work for you, you might at least give the URL of your blog so that I can drop by and help you to fix it. Without proof to the contrary, I'm just going to assume that all of you anonymous commenters are incapable of simple cutting-n-pasting.

19 comments | post a comment

Date:2009-03-08 18:19
Subject:Another plea.

I am the Guest of Honor Coordinator for Balticon, which takes place in Baltimore, Maryland over Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, 2009).

Item, the first :: Those of you who are able should totally come. Among the many excellent guests, Charlie Stross, Scott Sigler, Lisa Snellings, and Gene Wolfe will be there.

Item, the second :: I need Guest of Honor Liaisons for two of the following: Charlie Stross, author Mark L. Van Name, the currently unannounced 2009 Compton Crook Winner, and artist Kurt Miller. Liaisons get free admission to the con and, for the very brave, the option to eat and sleep in the Berzerker's Lounge (a suite where volunteers are fed and, if they can find an available spot on the floor, sleep).

It's a lot of fun. Don't make me beg.

3 comments | post a comment

Date:2009-01-13 18:23
Subject:time to start thinking about liaisons...

I need liaisons for Guests of Honor at Balticon this summer.

Balticon is an SF convention in Baltimore, MD over Memorial Day weekend. This year that's May 22-25, 2009.

(Apparently, I am Balticon's Guest of Honor Coordinator by default now.)

The Author Guest of Honor is Charlie Stross.
The Musical Guest of Honor is Mary Crowe.
The Artist Guest of Honor has not yet been announced.
The 2009 Compton Crook Award winner has not yet been announced.
The returning 2008 Compton Crook winner is Mark Van Name.

I need liaisons for all of them. If you want to get in free and be involved, being a liaison is the way to go. You're only "working" when your guest has a commitment, which is usually only a few hours a day. You get to come to the GOH Dinner with the Guests of Honor. It's a lot of fun.

Preference will be given to returning liaisons, because my crew last year was so, so wonderful.

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Date:2009-01-01 09:11

This was the last time, for another 990 years, that they were able to sell those New Years Eve glasses with the year across the eyes, balanced around the double 00s. Of course, last millenia they didn't have plastic novelty glasses and in the next one they probably won't either.

Life just gets better as it goes on, in my experience. It's all a matter of perspective.

I hope all of us have a fantastic 364 days and change ahead of us.

8 comments | post a comment

Date:2008-12-31 20:01
Subject:2008 in Review

subtitled: posts that probably only randimason will get

Umbrella, Passenger
Umbrella, Mechanical Bride
Umbrella, Amanda Palmer
Umbrella, Tegan and Sara
Disturbia, Sharif
Disturbia, The Vox Collective

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Date:2008-07-25 05:28
Subject:I inscribe this in the card with every wedding gift...

...and pray that they never get it backwards.

"Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal -- it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

It is not your love that sustains marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

3 comments | post a comment

Date:2008-06-04 19:36
Subject:Attention residents of the Minneapolis metro region!

I will be visiting Minneapolis beginning Sunday June 15th.

I will be available for social calls the evenings of Monday June 16th through Wednesday June 18th, and then can be found at Charlie's the nights of Friday June 20th and Saturday June 21st, attending the performances of Paul and Lorraine. (They will be taping both shows for a live CD -- I encourage all who can to attend!)

I believe that there are a number of people on my flist who currently reside in and around Minneapolis. I'd love to do dinner, if you're amenable. Please reply via comment.

If left to my own devices, I will likely endeavor to spend a lot of time sitting in Borders reading and/or catch up on the various recent movies that I haven't managed to see yet, namely Iron Man and Indy IV. (Come to think of it, if anyone wants to do dinner *and* a movie that's cool too.)

UPDATE: it has been pointed out that I will be in town for Fourth Street. I will see what I can do about making it there, because it sounds incredible.

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Date:2008-05-27 21:13
Subject:Balticon 42

This year, it was a lot easier to be the Guest of Honor Coordinator. This year I brought in people from outside that I could trust. randimason liaised Connie Willis. wilhelmina_d liaised naominovik (and, by extension, her friend claudiagray). tesla_aldrich liaised John Jude Palencar. notshakespeare liaised Mark L. Van Name. gorgeousgary (the lone BSFS member) liaised Urban Tapestry (allisona, jodimuse, and ohiblather). And last but not least, Adrienne Reynolds liaised the Ghost of Honor, Douglas Adams. (If you think that was the easiest job, you're wrong.) They were all amazing: able, organized, and entertaining. They took such good care of their guests, in fact, that, unbeknownst to them, I snuck back to bed Sunday afternoon and took a nice nap.

The con was marked by serendipitous occasions all around, from running into Collette exactly when I needed to see her to Tesla turning out to be the best suited of all of us to liaise John. (I just received a gushing email from him; he had a great time.) Of course, all of that serenditpity would have meant nothing if not for the hard work and planning of Sue and daecabhir.

I got to pick Connie Willis up at the airport, hang out with her at the library, take her to dinner, take her to lunch, sit in on several excellent panels and talks including/by her, and finally take her back to the airport. She's really fun and nice and cool. The other guests were awesome too, but I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with them. As far as I know they all left happy.

I think that, had I discovered cons and fandom some time around middle school, I would have found my confidence and my sense of self a lot sooner. I also wonder if I wouldn't have grown into a very different person, though, so it may be for the best that I did not. Some of these people (guests and attendees both) are my tribe. Others of them are why, next year, I will implement a new policy whereby GoH liaisons will carry Nerf guns with which to thwack "enthousiastic" attendees who forget that we are there to hear the GoH and not to hear them ramble at length about unrelated matters or hear them ask a twelve part "question" that is really a string of assertions and the insistence that the GoH agree.

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Date:2008-05-11 13:48
Subject:accessories, history, and asimov

I've been writing LJ posts in my mind daily, but never seem to remember to type them out, or if I do it's too late and I've forgotten what I wanted to say.

I've started wearing a pair of Vivo Barefoot shoes, which I read about in NY Magazine. They're basically a rubber/pleather moccasin that looks like a normal shoe, and they're amazingly comfortable. It's almost like having to learn to walk again, though, retraining myself to walk naturally rather than the way shoes have trained me to tread.

In other hipster geek news, I got myself this Tokyoflash watch for my birthday two months ago.

On the radio yesterday I heard someone quote, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." Teachers always trotted that out to justify the importance of learning history. And it occured to me that it's not really true anymore, not on an individual scale. I don't need to know anything about the Civil War or WWII or the Ming dynasty or the Enlightenment because each of those events has a large number of people that are completely obsessed with it's history and many of them have blogs. If something ever comes up with an important historical precedent, they will tell me within six degrees of seperation and with gratuitous footnotes. I don't need to remember history; I have the internet.

Along similar lines, I've been doing some reading lately about the history of the American educational system and had a bit of an epiphany. No offense to any education professionals on my flist -- who are surely frustrated, noble cogs struggling against an unstoppable machine that takes knowledge-hungry kids and turns them into undistinguished laborers -- but I think that when we achieve Hari Seldon's dream of psychohistory it will not be because we have taken a quantum leap forward in mathematics but rather that we have finally suceeded in making everything thoroughly average and therefore easily modeled.

What realizations have you had recently?

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Date:2008-03-14 15:17
Subject:various sundry matters

[1] Happy pi day. Embrace your inner radians, that your joy may be fully round.

[2] Given a Saturday mercifully free from the need to run errands or do yard work, I will quite happily spend the entire day in my pajamas. Lori dislikes this, feeling that regardless of whether you plan to leave the house you should shower and dress.
    During the week, I arise and leave for work before anyone else is awake. Upon returning home the first thing I do is go upstairs and change back into my pajamas, happy to get out of the constricting monkeysuit that I choose to wear professionally.
    It occured to me yesterday that during the regular week Lori barely sees me out of my pajamas. To all appearances, from her perspective, I may well wear them to work every day.

[3] I sent in a proposal this morning for an ARG promotional campaign for a book coming out this fall. I am extremely pleased with it. I hope the author greenlights it, and I hope the publisher will cooperate. That said, I'm terrified that they'll go for it and then I'll have to actually do it justice.

[4] Someone sent me the soundtrack to Once, presumably for my birthday. There was no note, nor receipt, nor any other way to identify the sender. If it was you, thank you.

[5] I still need someone to liase famous, fabulous artist John Jude Palencar at Balticon 42 at the end of May. I've spoken with him on the phone and he is very friendly.

6 comments | post a comment

Date:2008-02-24 19:10
Subject:Neighborhood Survival Tactics

Last weekend we did wilderness survival tactics. Xander, Molly, and I went for a hike out of the suburbs and into the surrounding wilderness. We met some horses and filled our pockets with found trinkets. When the kids began to complain of hunger, we go out our copies of "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and "The American Boy's Handy Book" and followed their advice on scavenging for food. It was exciting and a little risky and the kids loved it.

Tonight, when the kids asked what was for dinner, I really didn't feel like fixing anything. So I decided it was time for Neighborhood Survival Tactics. I told them they had to go find their own food in the surrounding neighborhood by getting someone to invite them over for dinner. The only rules were that they couldn't tell anyone their mission, couldn't invite themselves over, and couldn't go to the same house as another one of us. After dinner we would rendez-vous back at the house and compare notes on what we ate.

Molly made a bee-line for the house of her friend on the corner and had a turkey sandwich with chips and grape juice. Xander struck out at his first house across the street and then wised up and went to the old couple at the bottom of the hill, who fed him granola and lots of candy. I scored a chicken-bagel sandwich after following my nose to some people who were cooking out on their back porch.

Next time we have to do it one neighborhood over where we don't know anyone; that'll be a truer test of their abilities to survive deepest, darkest suburbia.

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Date:2008-02-06 05:39

Item, the first :: My six word memoir has been included in a newly-published book. It's not much, but it's a start. By some coincidence, they printed it in the very same font that I used when it was the splash page on my website in 1999. Something about potential death just screams "dirty Courier", apparently.

Item, the second :: I received my first rejection email the other day. I scanned it quickly and told Lori it was the good kind. "They say they liked your story but it's not right for them?", she asked. "No", I said, "they didn't even try to spare my feelings. They say it's a terrible story that doesn't work. Then they say why and invite me to submit something else."

Item, the third :: I don't want to get political, but I have to express just how happy this political season is making me. There's a sentiment I never thought I would express; that in itself is miraculous. I'm taking off the heavy armor of cynicism and daring to hope. I am so happy to be rooting for someone -- despite some potentially serious differences of opinion -- rather than choosing the least disagreeable candidate. I am so sick of being told why others are evil; it's so nice to instead be told why we are all capable of greatness. I don't even care about the issues anymore; I want to be inspired to effect change, to greatness. I want someone I can trust to be principled, even if those principles differ from my own in many respects.
      This primary season, so far, has been a healing thing for me. There are people whom I love whose politics I've had to ignore, and it's always been a sore spot for me. And now they're all making these impassioned, eloquent posts about change and hope, and I realize just how much we have in common. And it's better that way. Other politicians have talked about being uniters, but for the first time I feel united. And that's a miracle. And even if it doesn't last for the next 4-8 years, my eyes have still be opened and change has been effected in me.

Item, the fourth :: There is no cake, no spoon, and no fourth item.

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Date:2008-01-31 17:25
Subject:We're Looking for a Few Good Liasons

I, the Guest of Honor Chair for Balticon 42, am looking for volunteers to liase Connie Willis, artist John Jude Palencar, Naomi Novik, filk group Urban Tapestry, a mystery first time author, and the ghost of Douglas Adams.

I tried not to go the open call route, but asking people personally and then having to wait for a reply that, in many cases, has never come is growing increasingly sub-optimal as the big weekend draws nearer.

It's in Baltimore, MD. It's way too much fun. You get free entry, a shirt, and a spot to sleep like a sardine in the Berkerker's Lounge. (I would recommend making your own arrangements.) Oh, and you get to hang out with me and various reknowned persons.

If you're willing and able, and I really hope some of you are, reply or email me!

12 comments | post a comment

Date:2007-12-31 20:04
Subject:year in review: 2007

Because everyone else seems to be doing it:

my 2007 year on reviewCollapse )

[1] Read as "viewing".
[2] No offense intended for those who have had terrible years and are unable to find a good angle. "There go I" and all that.

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Date:2007-12-24 08:19
Subject:forty-eight hours

Saturday morning Xander woke up complaining about his eye. He couldn't open it, he said. I pried it open and he said the light hurt it. It wasn't pink so I thought maybe he had a sinus headache. By 7pm it had puffed up all purple like a black eye. I tried to take him to urgent care but they were closed, and he fell asleep, so I decided to wait until morning.

picture 1Collapse )

Sunday he got me up at 2am crying about the pain. I took him to the ER. The doctor barely tried to pry the eye open to look at it, said it was pink eye that had migrated to the socket, wrote him a prescription for anti-biotics and Tylenol with Codeine, and sent us home.

He seemed fine in the morning, but by 2pm he was in agony again. I gave him the Tylenol and took him to the urgent care. The nurse and doctor were nice enough to come out and look at him without admitting him, took one look, and said to get him back to the ER ASAP. Something was said about infection and pressure and the damaging effects of it cutting off the blood supply to the eye.

Back to the ER we went. This time the doctors and nurses freaked out. They started him on IV antibiotics, drew blood, and did some CT scans.

pictures 2 and 3Collapse )

The phrase "orbital cellulitis" was bandied about. The possibility of surgery was raised. About six hours later they decided to have him transported to another hospital with pediatric specialists and much nicer rooms. Finding a spare ambulance took another few hours.

He and I arrived at the new hospital in the wee hours of Monday. Once here they installed him in his room, asked a lot of questions, and said he might have surgery later in the day. If so, he'll be here a few days. If not, he may still be here a few days. They're giving him a constant drip of IV antibiotics and I'm not seeing a change yet. I know oral antibiotics take about 72 hours to manifest change, but these are much stronger so I'm not sure how long they should take. He's only been on them 16 hours or so thus far, I suppose.

picture 4Collapse )

Today the two specialists are supposed to take a look at his test results and scans. Surgery seems likely, but maybe that's just me. Seems like you either wait a day to see if the antibiotics are working and then do surgery if they aren't, or play it safe and just go straight to surgery now. If there's pressure and it's not draining on its own, you need to drain it.

The TV in the room is one of those hospital network set-top boxes things. It was broken in several ways, and unusable, so I fixed it. Alas, no Cartoon Network. Apparently they have video game systems they can wheel in, though. (I wonder if this hospital is a Child's Play beneficiary?)

UPDATE: His optic nerve is fine. His brain is fine. His vision seems fine. The swelling is going down. They're giving him stuff to help his sinuses to drain. We're definitely not leaving before Wednesday, and chances are we'll be here a whole week.

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Date:2007-12-12 17:13

A few retractions, upon re-reading old emails from days long past:

I have the strength to recognize that I do, in fact, know how to let you go.

I didn't actually miss you; I missed me when you were into me.

At no point did I ever actually think that he could make you happier than me.

When I said I had finally forgiven him? Still hadn't.

I lied; I was cutting myself to hurt you. Most of what I was doing the week after you dumped me was geared towards causing you distress, turmoil, and guilt. I'm sorry.

All I really wanted to say was not, "Hold her and keep him strong / While I'm away from here".

History is not made to seem unfair.

I am not scared for this world or for me.

I have no plans to try not to breathe. These eyes are not the eyes of the old. I did try to burden you; I did not hold these things inside. I tried to worry you.

I struck that picture no more than a handful of times, nowhere near ninety.

Despite sweetly urging the original trespass, I didn't actually want you to give me my sin back; I just wanted to kiss you again.

There was no benefit of ill. I did not find that better was by evil still made better, nor that ruined love, when built anew, grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater. I was not rebuked to my content, nor gained by ills thrice more than I had spent. If anything it was more of a loss of five times the spending.

When you asked me what I'd do if you took off your shirt, I was just trying to give a unique answer in order to stand out from all the guys you randomly hooked up with.

Do you have anything to retract?

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Date:2007-11-08 20:25
Subject:what's Latin for "in celebration"?

My grandmother died last night.

In celebration, I present some of Grandma's Greatest Hits:

The Summer of Her German Soldier: One day, my grandmother told me that one summer when she was ten she and one of her friends caught a German spy. "That was _Summer of My German Soldier_, Grandma", I told her, "I had to read it in fourth grade." [She was a remedial English teacher. She was not senile at the time. She was just a terrible liar.]

Grandma Got Game: Next, Grandma told me the story of how, one year, she'd had an awkward student in her class with poor concentration. In order to get through to him, she taught him to pay basketball. That alleged student's alleged name? Michael Jordan. Yeah. Right.

After forcing my girlfriend to share her bed, Grandma exposes herself to her.

Antique Omlette Plan. Yeah. Right.

That's all I've got, actually.

Grandma was an unpleasant woman. I stopped visiting her with the rest of the family as soon as I could. (I took friends to her house only because it was on the waterfront and she was supposed to be out of the country -- she rained on that parade by coming home early.) Now she's dead, and I can stop worrying about her harrassing phone calls and anonymous letters.

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Date:2007-10-10 19:32
Subject:what we need here is a globe-spanning heliowebber

randimason: You heard that Sears is bringing back the Wish Book?
danguyf: Wish Book?
danguyf: Is that one of those pioneer era Sears-Roebuck things?
randimason: Yes.
randimason: If you were a kid in the 1970s, it was where you picked out your toys for Christmas
danguyf: That sounds very limiting. ^_^
randimason: 80s too, I though, but perhaps not
danguyf: I mean, if the horses have to cart these things all the way from NY to Utah, you know they can't make them *too* heavy.
danguyf: The Pony Express' prices have gone up a whole nickel!
danguyf: Better to deliver them by auto-gyro whirly-copter, or maybe that newfangled Western Union teletype ticker thing.
randimason: "The Sears Wishbook is a very popular Christmas-themed catalog that is released by Sears Holdings Corporation every September, and contains toys and other holiday–related merchandise. The wishbook began production in the 1970s, and was entitled Sears Christmas Wishbook from 1976 to 1987. It was then retitled to Sears Wishbook: Holiday 1987 and remained as such until 2006, when it is to be renamed Sears Christmas Wishbook. The wishbook is sent out free of charge to many American postal addresses. In Canada, a similar wishbook is sent to all Canadians for Christmas."
danguyf: If only someone would developed a distributed network capable of showing people pictograms of products, some sort of remote heliotype machine.
randimason: You....
randimason: argh.
randimason: *bangs head*
randimason: Whippersnapper
danguyf: In fact, you could link them all together in a sort of wide "web" that spanned the "world". They could call it "the heliowebber".
danguyf: And then people could even place their orders "on-webber" by ringing up the central operator, and inserting their money into pneumatic tubes.
danguyf: But, alas, such a thing does not yet exist in our time, so we'll just have to keep on logging and printing Wish Books, though they may also be used as kindling -- let's see your steam-powered heliowebber do THAT!

10 comments | post a comment

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