There's Always Something

It's been slightly over a year since the heart surgery, and I'm still here. I still need to lose weight, though, and I probably need to be considerably more social than I am. There's a lot of things that need to be done, such as cleaning the apartment, moving things around, keeping up with my reading, and maybe watching some of the video backlog (which is not helped by such things as streaming the abysmal I, Frankenstein, which should be subtitled Aaron Eckhart Wants To Know What The Fuck He's Doing In This Movie -- a movie that also demonstrates aptly that Jai Courtney is never going to be The Next Big Thing.)

I'm still plowing forward on Mount TBR, although it's now coming down to the wire -- today and tomorrow left to make it to 150 books out of my pre-2014 accumulation. I can do it (I usually have several going at a time) but it's going to be a squeak. This time last year I was not only done (finished just before I went into surgery) but adding to the total.

Part of the problem, of course, is that I keep acquiring new books, and I insist on making use of the library that's only a block away. Also, at the end of last year, when I got my first tablet, I also bought several of the Civitas Weird Tales anthologies -- each with 101 stories in them. Given that many of these stories are quite hefty, these things clock in at an average of 2500 pages apiece. Not, I note, books one reads quickly. I also bought The Cthulhu Megapack at the end of last year. This is a mere 40 stories! I'm happy to say that I polished that off during the course of the year.

On a less cheering note, the leg issues have returned, with slightly less virulence. I'm nor sure is MRSA is involved this time, but pseudomonas certainly is. I expect I will be making a return to the wound clinic to get this dealt with. Not the way I wanted to be reacquainted with Gina, but oh well.
Bear rock


My new glasses arrived today, which makes me very happy. As it doubtless should, given that this is my first pairs of glasses I've had in over a decade, thanks to the storied history of my eyes.

One pair for reading, one pair for distance, and both have prisms to deal with the misalignment of my left eye due to the retinal detachment. This of course means my brain's having conniptions because it just finished writing software to accommodate that, and here I come with corrective lenses that will force a rewrite. Ah well. Also, the prism solution isn't perfect, and it doesn't deal with the distortion.

Anyway, I was so happy as a result of this delivery that I sat down and read a book. Because that's what it's all about.

The Art Of The Patron

I've signed on to Patreon, experimentally, and with great uncertainty. Some few seem to do extremely well with it, but others...well, others seem to sputter on launch, no matter how much prior groundwork they've laid. Indeed, some seem never to launch at all, their pitches lying moribund and nary a dollar's support in sight.

When sex fails to sell, there's something up (or perhaps not, as it were.)
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Armchair of death

"Alright, which of you idiots got the telekinetic drunk again?"

I was supposed to be getting something of an early night so I could be up and ready to womble my way down to Rita Ranch to provide a little bit of help to friends who are moving to California. Best laid plans gang aft agley, as the poet mused, and my plans ganged agley with enthusiasm, or, as they tell you, life is what happens when you're busy making other plans (that, and "Want to make God laugh? Tell Her your plans." And also, "No plan survives contact with the enemy.")

The building that I moved into seems decent on the surface, and fsm knows my apartment is pretty roomy (as the last bits and pieces get moved into their spots, it's becoming very evident how much room I have.) the stairs are a bit steep, but I'll get used to them the more I use them.

However, the tenants here are...colorful. Which is why, at the time of turning in for sleep (as I'd intended to go to Rita Ranch to help friends with moving), I was suddenly greeted with a lot of crashing, banging, and general mayhem-like sounds. Wondering if someone had tried to climb onto my patio, I grabbed my minibat and looked outside. Nothing obvious. The chaos continued, grew much louder, and suddenly...CRASH! Also, the sound of a woman screaming profanities.

So, I stepped outside onto the patio, minibat in hand, just in time for another ear-piercing crash as the one unshattered window in the apartment diagonally across the breezeway from me exploded outward, showering broken glass everywhere. Looking down, I could see what I took originally to be the shattered remains of the larger kitchen window, although in the light of day it turned out to be a tempered glass table. Apparently the big crash I'd heard was her propelling that through the glass. Amazingly, it was level with my patio. Looking over at the apartment, through the broken kitchen window, I could see her wrestling with her refrigerator. She gave up on this and went back to smashing things, screaming at the top of her lungs, and wreaking havoc -- she apparently smashed all of the windows in the place, along with the patio doors.

The police duly put in an appearance, and I went down to talk to them and see if anyone had any idea why this was happening (aside from "She's mentally ill and needs her meds adjusting, probably" no-one did, but I was told a bit later that her brother committed suicide in April.) To my surprise she wasn't involuntarily committed -- she probably should be, to adjust her meds and to prevent her harming herself (at any time before the cops went to talk to her she could have hurt herself on the broken windows, or any number of other things. Accidents happen.)

Anyway, by the time I finally did get to bed (to lie awake for a while) dawn had well and truly broken. I was awake by 8am, but frankly shattered, and then other plans shifted down south, and the apartment manager wanted to talk about what here I still am. There's been further verbal explosions from her during the day, but the fridge never exited through the window.
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The Doctor Is In

The true test is when you get to cook with 'roo

Last year my then-girlfriend and I got into watching Masterchef Australia...which was entirely my fault, as she was watching the US version, and didn't really like it -- and I can't stand it. If I recall correctly, I'd actually started withing Masterchef Australia by this point, not realizing the haul I was in for -- unlike every other Masterchef series, this one does episodes five days a week (Thursdays are usually Masterclass sessions), with seasons occasionally getting up to 84 episodes.

Unlike the other Masterchef series that I've seen (US, UK, Ireland,. New Zealand), the Australian version never actually becomes a chore to watch, even when it goes sailing off the rails the way it tended to in series 5 -- the winner, Emma Dean, was widely reviled, and the show pilloried for the way the contests were handled during the course of series 5. For our part, we were amongst those rooting for Kelty (or Kelty Goat-Boy as we kept calling him, which was the result of an incident in an early episode.) Some of those selected for the top 24 at the start of the season were hopeless, and frankly annoying.

Part of the fun of the Aussie show is spotting the relationships -- things tend to get very free-wheeling at times, although often ambiguous as well (there was a male pair early in the season who were bringing the bro-yay so hard, with tears and all, that we were dead certain there was something major going on there. Who knows?) This isn't something you see in the other iterations, at least the English-language ones. The Irish and English editions generally have contestants being aloof from each other, the US version encourages everyone to engage in a battle with each other, and everyone in the New Zealand edition seems faintly bored, if thoroughly on-task.

Masterchef Australia, meanwhile, is big old friendly shaggy dog of a thing, and notable for how friendly everybody is to each other -- there are times when a contestant is eliminated that almost everyone else is absolutely gutted by the event, including the three judges. In my opinion (and that of many others) it's not just down to the producers, but to the choice of judges -- George, Gary, and Matt are very different from each other, and play that to the hilt -- while not being afraid to play the room as a trio of comedians. Matt, in particular, is a big ol' puppy. They try to play George as the designated scary guy, but it never works. Gary is the one who heaves the sighs and shakes his head at the other two.

There's also the appeal for me because I like to cook -- and I wish I had the money to do some serious work in the kitchen, but I lack the tools for it. I learned to cook in self-defense when I was a kid (the joys of English cooking drove me to it.) Still every now and then I do get a bit adventurous. This series is full of mad ideas, and I'd love to try a few of them myself.

Anyway, the series is back for a sixth season, and it's already off to a much better start. There was word that the show would be seriously overhauled, but it hasn't been. It *has* been focused -- the top 24 this year are an amazing lot -- even Georgia, who was subbed in overnight to replace a contestant who had to leave for medical reasons. There's several people who didn't make th cut who may well be back again next year.

I don't usually go for reality shows, or for contest shows, but this is really the exception, possibly because I love food. I'm glad to see it's back again.

But if Tony Stark is Moose, who is Squirrel?

I'm in the process of reading Marvel Essential Iron Man Vol.1, which collects the first years of Iron Man appearances in Tales Of Suspense. While I've been amusing myself with the earnest lunacy of Stan Lee and company's first stumbling steps in spy-fi, something came up that I had forgotten in the intervening years since I first read these stories as a kid -- when The Black Widow is introduced, she comes with a squat doofus as her partner in assassination.

He's named Boris.

Boris and Natasha.

So. As the title says, if Tony Stark is Moose, who is Squirrel?


I got hold of the six episodes of this Australian tv series last year, and never got around to watching them before the fire. I just did, and aside from finding parts hilarious (I don't usually laugh out loud to any great extent, and did here.)

I'd intended to watch an episode and then go do laundry, but instead found myself marathoning all six. I think this is because the protagonist, Denny, resonated with me in many ways -- he's got all kinds of problems; good natured, helpful, and occasionally on point with the right thing to say (often at his own expense), he's a man who's never been sure of his direction, and has always been shy of the danger of decisions, which cost him his marriage. To be fair, when he *does* act decisive, albeit in minor ways, he usually ends up either rebuffed, or tripping over himself. Chris Gibson plays Denny as an affable schlub, wearily accepting either being talked into things, or having tasks dumped on him by people to full of themselves to hear his lack of assent.

The rest of the cast are most a bunch of quirky Australians. As we find out, they're a family with issues, and occasionally the vocal power to express those issues -- usually wrongly. And all of their relationships, familial and romantic, are a mess. Added to that, there's the slightly mysterious Mazzy, a frenemy of the bride to be, who starts to form a bond with Denny. In some ways, Mazzy is the most conventional of the characters, but even she has her quirky aspect -- her mystery, plus the fact that she's several inches taller than Denny (amusingly, Sally The Celebrant, who links to Denny's Dad, is also several inches taller than her counterpart.)

The series was produced for Australian community television, and has a shoestring budget, but they do more with it, storywise, than might be expected. The majority of the story is set on or around the minibus, with a few exceptions (always stay after the credits, by the way), and there's little or no call for visual effects. Hilariously enough the lack of budget means that we meet a small-town Victoria police constable who has no actually police vehicle and so turns up idly ambling in the boonies.

Be warned, though -- it's an Australian series, so there's some points at which the humour gets downright demented and horrible, although the payoff to the blackest bits is relatively benign.

The best part? It's all available on YouTube, put up by the executive producer/director. Have fun.
Cat incivility

"It was a huge election. I was shocked."

I am reliably informed (for some values of reliably, as this is via a friend in Florida who is getting her reports from The Guardian site) that the Tories are taking a drubbing in the current council elections across England. She opines that the Tories will be sad come morning. I am quite alright with this (also, in the UK it's already morning) as it's well known that I would rather like to punch David Cameron right i the feels.

It's also notable that the Liberal Democrats are taking the pounding that I've been expecting. If you're going to so devastatingly betray your electorate in the manner that the LibDems did, then expect a good deal of revenge voting from the populace. I just wish the voting population in the USA would do this with the Republicans (although there's a good point to be made that Obama's second term was, indeed, a national voting population's kick in the slats for the Rethugs.)
Blog in hell!

Mad Bugger On The Mountain!

I actually pulled off Mount TBR last year (as documented on Goodreads), and even got beyond my stated goal of summiting Everest at one hundred books. The irony of this particular moment was that I celebrated it by promptly announced that, damn it all, I'd go for the Olympus level, which is 150+. With great cheer, I announced the next two books in progress, pottered off for a 4.30am cup of tea, and promptly discovered that the back of the house was going up in an inferno, and that the blaze was heading for my kitchen.

This was promptly followed by much excitement, and my delivery to friends in Rita Ranch. As far as the books went, things were chaotic, to say the least, but gradually I got equipped (and even acquired a cheap tablet.) Whereupon I was diagnosed with a severe cardiac condition. I can't say that my life isn't enthralling.

Even so, I managed to blast through the 150 mark before I went under the knife -- it helps to choose the right books from the stacks -- and even clocked a few more once I was in a mental space for it (as in not stoned out of my gourd on morphine.) After that I slowed down a bit, although shuttling into town from Rita Ranch did help me polish off some of the audiobooks (it's ninety minutes to two and a half hours, depending on where I was going to. One way.)

I'm once again signed up for Mount TBR, which should reduce this ungodly numbers a bit all over again -- with less likelihood of new acquisitions for a while, given that the bag sales are, with the exception of Memorial Day, done until the fall. I did make it to the last one, mind you, although going in I dropped off a considerable amount of stuff (one of the benefits of the fire and the move is that I got somewhat decluttered) and I restricted myself to one bag. I dare say it was unwise, but, you know...books.

I've also found myself with a bit more to watch than I expected, as I picked up a video cabinet from someone on Craigslist...and she included her entire DVD collection. Mind you, said collection includes five seasons of Grays Anatomy. I suspect Bookmans will be getting a visit soon....
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Typewriter Obama Stylee

Hope For The Heartbeat

It's been a while since I was here, and I'm honestly not sure I have the words for anything at great length. My life since 2010 has been a series of roller, love, lunacy, ll of that. I've lost a partner, had friends die, had my dog drop dead in the doorway, fallen in love several times to no really good end, underwent a retinal detachment (and subsequent surgery, which reattached the retina but left me with distorted vision in my left eye), had my house firebombed, spent seven months living with friends well south of Tucson proper, and undergone heart surgery for a double bypass and clean up work. My mother is in end of life care in Australia. I'm now in a new apartment, trying to make the budget work as best I can, and trying to cop out of running an organization I started...which is made difficult by the way the lives of my deputies tend to go.

As it stands, these days I'm spending m time sorting out the apartment...things are moving slowly, but surely. I've got to finish reloading way too much music onto hard drives, too. Given the sheer tonnage of music around here, I wonder sometimes if I should even bother -- I'm occasionally tempted to reduce it all to a bunch of favourites, and ignore the rest...the trouble is that there are too many odd little treasures, too many weird little productions.

With my somewhat impaired vision and present lack of funds for new glasses that will handle the added vision issues (which stem from going in to get my eyes checked to make sure that the replacement lenses from the cataract surgery were doing alright, with an eye to getting new glasses; this resulted in one lens going adrift, and being replaced; that went wrong three fays after surgery, and ended in the retina tearing and then detaching, requiring emergency eye surgery) I'm listening to audiobooks a lot once again, and not just while out on the road or on the treadmill at rehab. It's a bit frustrating as it's a far slower way for me to read a book than the old-fashioned dead tree method. I'm also trying to use ebooks where I can, but the issue there is twofold: cost is one, although here's always deals to be had, and there's always the library. The second is that as much as I like my tablet, and reading on the computer, a good old fashioned chunk of dead tree just feels so much better.

One of the things that probably led to me ending up under the heart surgeon's knife was the time spent essentially crippled by the stasis dermatitis in my lower legs going out of control. I sprang wounds that wouldn't heal, and ended up with a pretty wretched case of MRSA in both lower legs, along with a pseudomonas infestation. I came extremely close to losing both legs, but was sent to the St. Josephs Wound Clinic as a last-ditch attempt to salvage things. While I'd been using high-grade honey to beat back the MRSA (eighteen months of nuclear-grade antibiotics hadn't done the trick, after all) with great success (as far as doctors can tell, the MRSA is completely gone from my system) th wounds weren't healing. I give a tremendous amount of credit to my wound therapist, Gina, who to this day I *adore*. She, in turn, was amazed at how fast I started to heal -- one of the actual joys of an immune system that's in overdrive.

All the same, I was slowing down over a period of years, a decline I attributed mainly to age, although some odd pains and warning signs did prompt me to bring up the question of possible cardiac issues with my doctor. Curiously enough, none of the tests revealed *anything* aside from a slight heart enlargement. Even the cardiologist was baffled -- especially as I had my weight and my family history as primary factors in a potential crisis. It was only when the cardiologist threw up his hands and ordered an angiogram that the truth was revealed -- I was hovering on the brink of a massive heart attack. The true madness of the moment, though, was that this had come after my home had been firebombed (the firebug who did it was trying to burn the tenant in the rear section; fire, though, respects no property boundaries.) It was determined eventually that to effect repairs, I needed to get the rest of my stuff out and into storage -- I'm told by those who were present for the entire packing and transporting process that I visibly declined at an alarming rate. On December 17th I walked into Carondelet St. Marys and signed in...and remember nothing between that and waking up for the *second* time. There's lots of story packed in around that, but I'll leave it until later.

I finally ended up convinced that the old place was not the place I'd end up going back to. The new place is a bit noisier, but it's less than a block south of a library. It's also somewhat larger, with a big bedroom, a large balcony with storage, a huge closet, and room for lots of bookcases, as well as the giant (used) TV my friends got for me as a get-well present...which is another story entirely.

Enough of this, anyway. I have to be getting on with things. I will try not to be gone for such a long time again, however...although I'm not sure anyone actually reads LiveJournal any more...!
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