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I'm always the last to know

I have things to say about productivity and cooking and grocery shopping and money management (oy, do I have things to say about money management), but this week I will give it a rest in order to make sure my f'list has seen this post on Reddit about a Civilization II game that has been going on for 10 years. I would say for 3990 game years, but I've never played CivII, so I don't know when the calendar starts.

I seriously wonder if some Hollywood type is going to option the concept from the guy playing the game. Not the story of playing a game for 10 years, but the "world" his game has become. The current game state is stalemate and despair, and it's incredibly evocative. Some of my favorite quotes (from the OP and the thread):

OP: "the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons."
OP: "I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire."

comment: "Today I saw hundreds thousands of people on Reddit claim the best course of action was a fundamentalist dictatorship"
comment: "Maybe before this thread 1984 was a failure of a novel about parachute pants and the Thriller video."
comment: "Whenever 'nuke the piss out of it' fails as a strategy, I don't have a plan B."

this is not going to help my OCD

So this morning? I nearly burned down my apartment.

I woke up extremely early (5am) and decided to make cheesy potato casserole for breakfast. The first frying pan I selected to brown the potatoes was too small, so I transferred the potatoes to a larger pan and placed the inadequate pan on the back of the stove, amid a ramshackle barricade of pans that need washing. When the potatoes were ready to go into the oven, I pulled a cookie sheet from beneath the pile o' pans to put the casserole dish on.

Then I went into the living room to watch cartoons and play a video game for 15 minutes. I heard a crackle in the kitchen but didn't investigate, assuming something plasticky was resettling in the trash. I noted that I was sweating (erm...glowing damply) and disparaged myself for being so out of shape that cubing and frying potatoes was apparently an athletic endeavor. Then, a couple of minutes later, I noticed a kind of haze in the air. Not smoke, per se, but there was a definite change in the environment. I walked to the kitchen to discover that when I had pulled out the cookie sheet, I had toggled one of the back burners from Off to High. This burner supported a ceramic warming plate that had cracked under the heat and was now turning black.

In my panic to remove the pieces of ceramic and clear the back of the stove, I didn't notice that I jarred the oven's dial from 350° to its highest setting (if there weren't some resistance before broil, it would undoubtedly have switched on the broiler element). Fortunately, the casserole had only 5 minutes left to bake, so not too much damage had been done when I went back to fetch it and discovered the change.

And this is why I'm not a morning person. Too much excitement. I wanted to go straight back to bed, not to work.

minor update

...so my DSL went down at noon yesterday. I assumed that meant they were working on/testing the phone line, so I waited it out until 3pm, when I finally walked into work. Where I discovered a phone message from the technician assigned to my trouble ticket. I called him back to find out why I now had neither phone nor internet service, only to discover that

• he claimed to have come to my building and knocked on my apartment door. (Impossible. I was in the living room the entire day. Even a tap on my door would have been heard.)
• he claimed to have fixed the problem. (WRONG)
• he claimed to have asked the building manager to let him into a "phone closet" in the building's "basement." When I repeatedly noted that my building didn't have a basement, he brushed that off, as if the open-space garage = basement. Later, I called my apartment manager who had no recollection of these events and who declared that the circuit board I identified next to the garage door was indeed the only phone panel for the building. (Which is kind of crazy and vulnerable; I think I would prefer it to be in a locked area. It's a miracle vandals haven't taken out phone service for the entire building.)

But the point is, this guy either has me confused with someone else or he never came to my building at all...or both. So when I got to work today, I called AT&T to try to express my dissatisfaction with the ticket being closed when the problem was not resolved (they didn't care), to discuss the problem of me being unavailable to contact yet available to let a technician in my home (they had no solution or suggestion), and to arrange a "service window" where I could at least try to have heightened alertness re: visitors to my building. The service window is 4-8pm today. 'cause I want to spend those 4 hours loitering around outside my apartment building.

I anticipate being without internet or phone all weekend. All THREE DAYS of the holiday weekend. I wish I could find room for a data plan in my budget: I would get an iPad w/3G for "emergencies" like this. (I do secretly think my weekend will be crazy productive for decluttering as a result. But it's still going to drive me crazy, I must have opened my browser 5 or 6 times last night to look something up before remembering that I don't have internet.)

infinite loop

I pick up the phone this morning to let my boss know I plan to work from home to complete a project. I have no dial tone. I move the phone to a different jack and still have no dial tone. I email my boss, explaining that I've shelved my original plan and now might be late in order to troubleshoot this telecommunications issue, oh, and can he call in to leave a message on my answering machine (so I can check if it's the phone or the line causing my problem...first time my embarrassment at still HAVING an answering machine has been balanced by its usefulness, since I don't have another phone to test). Boss emails back that he tried to call but can't get through to leave a message.

Okay, now we're cooking. I log into AT&T's site to report the problem, and the site first directs me to a troubleshooting guide. Because in the 21st century, we are ALL telecommunications experts, dammit. The first step is to access some kind of external jack (the "Telephone Network Interface" box) to determine if there's a dial tone there. I live in an apartment building and I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to mess with equipment outside my residence, so I skip this step. Then I have to shut down my modem to see if the DSL filter is interfering. No dial tone. Then they tell me to unplug ALL ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT to see if anything else is interfering with the line. Ummm...say what now? I have not plugged in anything new since the phone was last working, and since I am entirely sure I will not be unplugging my refrigerator, I decide to skip this step and proceed to request a repair.

The second required field in the repair request is a contact number. My phone doesn't work, so I provide my work number. Except the repair -- which doesn't offer any kind of appointment or service window -- requires that someone be on site to provide access if necessary, so I won't be going into the office today. And I don't have a phone, so I can't call my office voicemail to see if they have left a message there.

But it gets better.

Now that I might have a repairman in my home, I have to tidy up and hide the manga. So I take the garbage downstairs (and use the opportunity to check out the apartment's "Telephone Network Interface," which is not a box but a wide open circuit panel and seems to offer no jacks for testing, even if I could identify which wire was mine). While I'm down there, I also notice that this panel is located inside our locked garage. And the only way for a service technician to let me know that they're on site and need to be let into the garage would be...anyone? Bueller? That's right, by PHONE.

Edit: As of noon today, I have had no DSL access, either. I finally walked in to work to discover that AT&T had closed my trouble ticket, claiming the repair was complete. I called the technician who claimed to have come to my building to fix the phone line (he also claimed that he had knocked on the door to my apartment -- anyone who has seen my apartment knows there is nowhere I could be in that place without hearing a knock on my door). At any rate, I informed him that I had neither phone nor internet now, and pointed out that I could not be AT my contact number (office) and at my home (no phone) to let him in. So now he has asked me to provide him with the number for the building management...which is at home. So the earliest I can get that to him is tomorrow. Since this is a 3-day weekend, I suspect I'm going to be without internet or phone until Tuesday at the very earliest.

First we discuss, later we meme

So I passive-aggressively proposed a KBLY meme and W_10_00 pouted over my tsunderitude and then I said I would do it...eventually. First, I thought we should take a look at the categories and agree on some parameters for the lists. I would like to follow KBLY 2011 style as closely as possible, with the exception that our lists would be drawn from all available BL, rather than a single year. Blurbs -- the 1-2 sentence descriptions of the winners -- should be optional. Though usually, knowing WHY something was chosen is the most interesting part.

KBLY categories and # of results returned
• BLコミック ザ ベスト20 (The best 20 BL manga) (Please provide ranking, artist, and title.)
• 攻部門 ザ ベスト! (The best seme(s), 1-5) (Please provide ranking, name, artist, and title.)
• 受部門 ザ ベスト! (The best uke(s), 1-5)
• メガネ ザ ベスト! (The best bespectacled characters, 1-3)
• オヤジ ザ ベスト! (The best middle-aged male characters, 1-3)
• ヘタレ ザ ベスト! (The best hetare characters, 1-3)*
• ツンデレ ザ ベスト! (The best tsundere characters, 1-3)
• S ザ ベスト! (The best sadists, 1-3)**
• M ザ ベスト! (The best masochists, 1-3)
• 兄 ザ ベスト! (The best older brother, 1)***
• 弟 ザ ベスト! (The best little brother, 1)
• 脇役 ザ ベスト! (The best supporting character, 1)
• 輝いた女の子 ザ ベスト! (The best...shining girl, 1)****

* I think I have a pretty good grip on tsundere, but can someone define hetare for me? I've got Morinaga from Tyrant and Italy from Hetalia as examples...and Morinaga is not that incompetent...is he?

** Of course, anyone could skip any categories they wanted to. I plan to do only one each for the S and M categories, even though I came to realize on our recent trip that the S & M designations are overused in BL manga these days. Also, why on earth would they have THREE of these and only one older brother/younger brother/supporting character? Huh?

*** I don't know either of the winners for these categories in KBLY 2011, but I assume they are still main characters, and not the best older/younger brother to a main character. (Older brother is from Sugar Code and also shows up in the best megane list. Is he really an older brother, or is this the yakuza use of the word?)

**** This is a category??

Also, I found the KBLY 2012 web questionnaire. I envy any of my friends who are bold enough to fill it out (YES! let's infiltrate the survey), but mostly I'm excited about their list of BL titles published between 10/2010 and 9/2011 (it's a time-traveling pdf). I can't tell if it's actually complete: many publishers include September pub dates in their list, but some abruptly end at July.

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I have luggage welts

...on my right hand and right shoulder.

This is a modest little post just to announce that I have returned home safely and have vacuumed my floor, since once the luggage is opened, I assume I won't see the floor again for a week.

wednesday_10_00 is the official trip chronicler (no matter what she might say to the contrary), so I don't intend to post a day-by-day account of our activities (hint: we shopped. a lot), but I'll try to return with highlights and fond memories of Japan2011 once the swelling subsides.

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I see there's going to be a learning curve

I am drinking tea. That I made. For myself.

Now, that would not be an astonishing series of statements if it weren't for the fact that I believe I hate tea and know I hate coffee. At home, I drink diet soda. When offered a beverage in a stranger's home, I always pass on tea and coffee and ask for water, because I know I hate tea and coffee. Except I don't. At least, when I drink green tea in a Japanese restaurant, I always find it pleasant enough and rather tummy-soothing. So, after my recent tea-infused outings with s_vamp, I decided to pick up some prepackaged tea at the market. (Don't get me started on s_vamp and her homemade blends of dried grown stuff. PLANTS ARE NOT FOOD, PEOPLE. And don't ask how I managed to make a selection at the market, where there are about one thousand different blends in boxes all promising me a zen-like beverage experience.)

So I bring my soothingly green zen box home and read the instructions for preparing the tea inside. Hot water, just under boiling, poured over tea bag in mug. Let steep for 2-3 minutes. Remove tea bag (which my box is calling an infuser, incidentally. I can only assume they are shying away from sexual innuendo, so I snicker like a 13-year-old boy). Enjoy.

Naturally, those instructions must be wrong. I would not pay 25¢ for something I am just going to place in hot water for two minutes and discard. So I pour hot water over my infuser and let it steep for two minutes. Then I start tormenting it with a spoon and let it steep for two more minutes before spooning it out of the mug and allowing all moisture remaining in the infuser to drain back into the cup.

Yeah, this may not be the best cup of tea I've ever consumed. But I'll get better.

I still hate coffee. I'm sure of it.

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This entry was supposed to be entitled "pedoigies" and be filled with nostalgia and whimsy as I pondered why my family bastardized the word "pierogi" for this dish and how long it has been since I made them and how productive making them made me feel (GIRAFFE!), but I poured a pot of boiling water on my right hand in the process and I'm kind of letting that define the week.

you can't say I didn't try to spare youCollapse )

Good news: There appears to have been no permanent damage, or even blistering. I am a first aid wunderkind! Sign me up for med school.
Bad news: The hand still wants nothing to do with heat. I am out of clean dishes. Washing my hair with my left hand has shown me that I am the opposite of ambidextrous. I don't just have a preferred hand: when it comes to strength and coordination, my right hand might as well be my only hand. Which may explain why my left hand decided to dump a pot of boiling water on it.