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Monday, December 17, 2007

Parsifal: my first BPAL fragrance

I had looked at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs before. I love the wonderful descriptions and art for the fragrances…but I wasn’t sure if I would like it!

But BPAL.org has such great reviews (though you have to register to see them) that I quickly found a couple of limited edition Yule scents I just had to get. Plus, I was able to pick a set of six Mad Tea Party (Alice in Wonderland) fragrances to buy as 1 mL samples for my sister. (She has a Wonderland addiction…)

But then I discovered there was a retail outlet in Atlanta for BPAL! (Amazing: there are only four, total!) I went right over to the Whole Foods in Roswell, and now I’m the proud owner of a 5 mL bottle of Parsifal, a retail-only exclusive fragrance! Yay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Guild Wars Goodness!

Okay, if you aren't a gamer like me, you've probably read my raves about Guild Wars and thought, "Guild what?"

Guild Wars is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG. "Massively multiplayer" means that lots and lots and LOTS of people are all playing it together. "Online" is pretty straightforward: it's played, well, online. And you probably know what a role-playing game is; think "Dungeons and Dragons," the most famous role-playing game around. (And no, D&D is not Satanic. And no, it does NOT drive people to suicide.)

Guild Wars is a fantasy RPG; it's not set in our normal world. Instead, it's set in a world where magic is real and a human can get in a fight with a huge troll and win. (Hey, it's a game, remember?) You fight on the side of good, campaigning against evil. This usually involves killing lots of bad things and traveling lots of places.

So, let's say you have a mission to clear out all the bad guys from an area. You have two professions; your professions determine what type of stuff you do. If you're a warrior, you run up to the bad guys, choose someone to attack, and start whacking it with your sword or axe or hammer, until one of you is dead. If you're a ranger, you may turn it into a pincushion with your bow or send your pet in to fight it.

Elementalists have lots of fun: throwing fireballs, hurling ice shards, shooting lightning, or knocking down enemies with hurricane-force winds. In general, you make them miserable through the wonderful world of the elements.

Perhaps you play a necromancer; then you would curse them to steal their strength. And if you are a necro, you can make nifty little minions out of their corpses, which you can use to fight the other bad guys! Isn't that nice?

Of course there are healers: monks, in this case. But monks can also smite. I guess Balth doesn't much like the enemies...

But if you're me, you're probably playing a mesmer. I love mesmers! They have highly trained minds, and use them to do most of the work. They may hex their enemies and give them migraines, so they can't cast spells or even move very fast. A mesmer may follow that up by interrupting their actions, stealing their health or energy, or turning them into pacifists. It's fun, but it's also one of the hardest choices.

Anyway, those are the core professions. The other campaigns add other professions, but those six make up the bulk of every party. Try it sometime; just don't start as a mesmer like I did...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So sick of being sick

Every year, I catch a cold and end up with a cough that lasts for months. Literally: I caught a cold about a week after Dragon*Con, and my cough has never gone away. That was early September!

Last week I had a cold, and it lasted a couple of days. But last Wednesday night I lost my voice, and my cough started getting really bad. And that was after the worst of my cold was gone!

At the time, what I really wanted was to get my voice back by tonight. Our church Christmas concert, A Midnight Clear, is Sunday. Tonight is our tech rehearsal; tomorrow is our dress. I really, really wanted to sing.

Now I just want my cough to go away. Forget singing; my cough was so bad yesterday I was sitting on the floor, doubled over. I was coughing too hard to actually do anything.

I can't wait for this medicine to work. At least if I can't sing in the concert I won't have to wear my hideous choir outfit, more commonly known as the "total sparkly mistake."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Step One: Post More...Step Three: Profit!

Did you know last month was National Blog Post Month, or NaBloPoMo? Me neither. I knew about NaNoWriMo, but NaBloPoMo?

Anyway, I missed it. And just when I was thinking I should post more! But no matter. It's always the right time to be loquacious, right?

I actually have two other blogs, so I'm going to go back and forth between them. Let's see how well I can communicate this month. :) I'm talkative enough in real life; this should be a cinch!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What's your fandom?

"Fandom" seems to be the big buzzword right now. Everywhere I turn I see it on a shirt or a sig or a blog… It's so ubiquitous that it ubiquitousness was the topic of a Dork Tower comic; you can even buy Igor's "My Fandom is Random" shirt!

So I got to thinking: what's my fandom? I could cheat and say "scifi and fantasy", but isn't that rather vague? But if I list them all, that would be pretty long. I need a top five list (because top ten would make it too easy).

So without further ado, here's my Fandom Top Five! It's unranked, because ranking it would be like choosing a favorite child. And that's just wrong!

  • The Lord of the Rings
    How could I not love it? It was awesome as a book (and Tolkien saw it as one book, not three). Add in Peter Jackson's movie, and its awesomeness is beyond measure. Wonderful story, incredible visuals, utterly fascinating characters.

  • Star Wars
    I fell in love with it as a child and still find it just as captivating. I had the Underoos and shirts, and I was convinced I made a perfect Princess Leia. Nothing could capture the imagination like it; it revolutionized science fiction and fantasy.

  • Star Trek
    Ah, the other side of my childhood addiction! I wasn't as much of an instant addict, but my interest in it keeps growing. (But let's pretend Enterprise and Movie Five never happened, okay?)

  • The Wheel of Time
    I love, love, love to read, and Robert Jordan's masterful epic has everything I could want: a sweeping scope, intricate plot, well-developed characters that can hold your interest, and lots of hidden clues to the later stories! Woohoo!

  • Role-Playing Games
    Now, I don't love every role-playing game, but I adore several. Dungeons and Dragons tops the list: Third Edition finally made RPGs approachable for me. But I adore Paranoia, too; it's so off the wall and insane! How could you not love a game where your character comes in a six pack? And Guild Wars is my drug of choice: a wonderful, incredibly well done multi-player online RPG. I met a bunch of wonderful new people through my guild! I loved LARPing, too, but there's not a good group here. Maybe at Dragon*Con…

By the way, my Google search just turned up 6,660,000 results. 666…should I worry? Ah, never mind. But tell me, what's your fandom?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Well, I hope everyone is making the most of National "Yay! I get to wear a costume!" Day...

Can you tell I really enjoy costumes? Have fun, stay safe, and watch out for trick-or-treating kiddies!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Am I too old for that gadget?

So, today I was at Popgadget, and found a link to "Are You Too Old For That Gadget?", an article at Laptop Mag. It amazes me that someone would seriously write this thing...never mind the list of gadgets they object to!

From the intro:
"Just because it's shiny, costs a lot, and your grandmother can't use it, doesn't mean you should...there's a chance it was built for someone much younger."

Okay, why do I care who some ad agency thought should use it? If it works for me, it works. Period. I'm more concerned by the idiotic fashion designers, who are designing clothes for anorexic models or strippers, or for middle-aged women with no fashion sense. But I digress...let's look at their list of prohibited gadgets.

Here's the funny thing...they seem to like the Flip Video Ultra. They mention its ease of use and low price, as well as its portability. But you shouldn't buy it...because the bright colors "look like they should belong to a ten-year-old." And the quality? Well, it's only VGA, and it only holds sixty minutes. (But I'll bet thats about right for the price point...) So "don't expect to create any epic masterpieces." Well shoot. There go my plans to become a famous film maker, armed only with my Flip Video Ultra and my creative genius. Seriously, if you're considering buying this and you're this stuffy, the ten-year-old probably has a better chance at that masterpiece. At least they can use the video editing software.

Don't think regular cameras get a pass! If you buy the Fujifilm Z10fd, you should be totally mortified for using "a camera designed for Generation Z!" Never mind the host of features, including facial recognition, a bevy of modes, wireless sharing, and more. You can't have it...because the website's photos "all feature fresh-faced 15-year-olds."

What about smartphones? Those are sophisticated, right? Not if it's the T-Mobile Sidekick 3! Sure, it's "high-end enough to entertain 'tweens and adults alike," and it has "a feature package that includes full Web browsing, three messenger clients, an MP3 player, and a 1.3-megapixel camera." Still, its marketing rules it out, too; according to them, its owners are all ninth graders. Get a Blackberry, they declare. Then you'll look cooler in the airports; otherwise, you'll have to use it discreetly, so no one sees what you're using.

Next up on the taboo list is a truly drool-worthy laptop: the VooDoo Envy H201 Gaming Notebook. According to them, if you're old enough to have kids, you have no business taking your gaming seriously! If you do game, you must use laptops with screens 17" or smaller, and make sure the case is drab. Otherwise, company might see your boldly-colored, stylish laptop! ("Company" is coming? Who says that? No one I know with a journal-keeping little sister and a gadget-phobic grandmother, that's for sure! They can't seem to make up their mind about their target audience!)

On a side note, using "if you're old enough to have kids" as a standard seems pretty foolish. I mean really! I've know fourteen-year-olds with kids; many twenty-somethings have them, too. Does that mean you stop gaming as soon as someone your age you know has a baby?

And their last target is a pretty popular gadget: the PlayStation Portable, or PSP. Don't use this one on the subway, because you may "get a few bemused stares." I think young people are going to become surly, because you're using "their" gadget. The older people? Well, they may think it's an old Sega Game Gear, circa 1991! Horror of horrors! According to Laptop Mag, "If you can remember this toy, which was ubiquitous back in 1991, your days of public gaming should be over."

Over? I don't think so. I own a beautiful onyx Nintendo DS Lite, and I feel no qualms about pulling it out while waiting for a table or on public transportation. I graduated high school in 1991*, so I am certainly old enough to remember the Game Gear. What does that make me? Something bad, I'm sure. I think I'm supposed to hang my head in mortification right about now...especially since there's less chance my peers will mistake it for a "more adult" media player.

If I were the author, I wouldn't worry about my gadget choices making me look like an idiot; I would worry that my obsessive concern about what the "in crowd" might think would make me look like an insecure fourteen-year-old trying to fit in with the cool kids.

Meanwhile, I'm going to keep choosing my gadgets based on what I like and what works for me, rather than what random strangers on MARTA think of them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I performed a dance solo!

I actually did it…

It was for a benefit, for a good friend with breast cancer. I nearly hyperventilated beforehand, and I almost hyperventilated again afterwards.

I’m glad I did it. Everyone said, “Now it will be easy next time.” Um, no. Maybe in another thirteen years I’ll do another solo. But I think Nyssa understood that I did it for her. :) And she’s the one who mattered.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The loss of two legends

If you haven't heard, Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling fantasy series The Wheel of Time, died Sunday afternoon. This comes on the heels of Madeleine l'Engle's death on September 6, just ten days earlier.

For me, this is a sad, sad thing. The Wheel of Time is one of the best fiction series I've ever read, and currently my favorite. I started reading it about the time The Lord of Chaos was out, around 1995. I remember how quickly I read them all...and how quickly I re-read them. That's no small thing, considering that each book-and there are eleven in the main series-is at least seven hundred pages, and two are over a thousand! I've since read every book at least two times; some I've read as many as five times.

Madeleine l'Engle, however, goes back much further. I'm thirty-four; when I was a kid there wasn't exactly a wealth of science fiction and fantasy literature for us. Basically, it was Madeleine l'Engle or C.S. Lewis's Narnia books. And like many sci fi and fantasy geeks "of a certain age," A Wrinkle in Time was my introduction to the genres. I say "genres" because it blends the two, using science to explain its fantasy elements.

Even today, I love her work. Of course, I can read through them just a bit faster now... But my husband has never read them; can you believe it? He went to school to get a library degree, and he's getting a teaching certificate so he can work in a school library media center...and he's never read A Wrinkle in Time. Simply amazing.

But Robert Jordan and Madeleine l'Engle had something else in common: both were openly observant Christians. Jordan was a "High Church" Episcopalian (his words); coincidentally, l'Engle appears to have been an Episcopalian, too. So while the lose for science fiction and fantasy fans is great, it's even greater for us Christians among them.

It's comforting to know that, regardless of the suffering they experienced at the end of their lives, both are free of pain and sorrow right now, and living a life of joy in heaven. So I grieve for myself and for this world, and most of all for the families they left behind.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

60% Nerdy?

Wait, that's a lot, isn't it?

You Are 60% Nerdy

You may be a bit surprised with this score, but your more of a closet nerd than an actual nerd.
Stop denying your inner nerd! You're truly dorkier than you think.

How many times must I say it? I'm a geek, not a nerd!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back from Dragon*Con!

It was great! It was wonderful! It was totally exhausting...

What did I do? Well, I talked about geeky stuff with my geeky friends, played geeky (perhaps even nerdy) board games, did some roleplaying with Blackmoor, and blew up an entire sector.

Oh wait, that last one was Mir-O-Wyn... She also ate computer chips and plotted the overthrow of Alpha Sector, but that's standard behavior for a Matter Eater in Purge.

I ate Suno and things which I can't pronounce or even read the labels of. (But my friends assured me it was, indeed, food...) Yeah, that was a field trip to Suno and Super H Mart.

Costumes were fun, too. I modified Thunder Paladin, (excuse me, the Shade of Trokair), giving him a +1/+1. (I was a +1/+1 counter on Sunday. Comfy costume...)

I loved Dragon*Con. When can I go again?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Dragon*Con time! Yay!

I am so incredibly excited about Dragon*Con this year! Last year, I was just getting to know people who were there. But this year...this year I have very good friends who are there.

And we're going goth on Saturday. I made a bat shawl for my costume, too, which I adore. And, because my plain old light brown hair is too boring, I decided to dye my hair burgundy.

At least, that was the plan. The color on the box looked burgundy-ish, on hair about my color, too. But the result is considerably brighter! Fortunately, it shouldn't last too long. I used Color Pulse by L'oreal, and it supposedly washes out in eight to twelve shampoos. And I dyed it tonight, which meant bright red hair for work! Hey, my boss said yesterday that it was okay! :)

Should be fun, though, for a few days. It's still way more normal than a lot of what I'll see there!

Edited to add a photo

I took this photo at work, at my desk. See? Bright!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Team Soe's team has won a battle in the Hall of Heroes!

Yes! Tonight we won in the Hall of Heroes! It has taken a long time (I’ve been playing for two years, and I’m rank 3.) But it was worth it.

And it was an alliance group, not a guild group, which was kinda cool. We had members of SoE (Spirit of Elijah), SOE (Spirit of Elisha), JCHC, FSCF (Four Star Christian Force) and HOLY (Holy Angels).

To make it even better, we won a FLAWLESS victory against GANK and CCCP, two of the best guilds in the Hall, 22 to 3 to 2!

Now, part of the reason we won is that GANK and CCCP, as two of the highest ranked teams, fight each other often, so there's lots of rivalry there. The battle started with each team quickly scoring one run. But then GANK and CCCP turned on each other and fought bitterly, until we had seventeen relics scored. Then they finally came after us...but we did very well. None of us died (flawless, remember?), and we scored five more runs. They only managed three more runs combined.

Not bad, huh?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A performer? ME?

Apparently, I'm a performer. Yes, I dance. Yes, I'm in the choir. But not that type; this type...

My score on The LONG Scientific Personality Test:

ESFP - The Performer
(You scored 81% I to E, 52% N to S, 28% F to T, and 52% J to P!)

Your type is called the performer, and you very much feel "all the world's a stage". Your type is part of a larger category called experiencers or artisans. You are playful and fun-loving, and wish to help all those around you lighten up. You radiate warmth and optimism. Your motto is "eat, drink, and be merry". You share your type with over 10% of the population. You don't like to be alone - ever, if possible. You are always up on what is new and hot.
As a romantic partner, you are fun and affectionate, leading an active life full of friends. You are naturally happy-go-lucky and supportive of your partner. You dislike confrontation, and will avoid conflict discussion at all costs. You tend to let things go, hoping they go away on their own. You feel most appreciated when your partner is affectionate and acknowledges the good deeds you do, but doesn't make a particularly big deal out of them.

Your group summary: Experiencers (sp)
Your Type Summary: ESFP

The LONG Scientific Personality Test

It's based on the Keirsey Bates MBTI personality test.

So I looked at this, and I thought, "Huh? Are they NUTS? I'm not a performer! I get stage fright! I don't like being in the spotlight, most of the time."

But then I read a little further. I am rather playful, and quite cheerful. I think I'm warm and optimistic, sure. I'm not the "eat, drink, and be merry" type, exactly. I believe in the value of an optimistic outlook, grounded in realism, and taking advantage of opportunities. But the whole "eat, drink, and be merry" thing usually carries a connotation of hedonism, and that is so not me. (Though I do love food...)

I love being around people, too, or at least talking to them. (TeamSpeak, anyone?) But new and hot? Not interested, really.

Fun and affectionate, active, avoid conflict...that's me. And "not a big deal?" Oh yeah, all me.

Weird how something can sound like one thing, but mean something totally different!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I want Six Flags!

2006-10-07 Six Flags 19.JPG
Originally uploaded by Maid Mirawyn
Last year, we went to Six Flags for my husband's company picnic thing. It was so fun, but it was a bit crowded...and it was in October, which meant Fright Fest was going on.

But there were roller coasters we didn't get to ride at all. How sad! And the lines were so long for Goliath that we skipped it totally; it was the new coaster for the year.

And just to tempt me: Six Flags sent a load of buy one, get one coupons to our office just this week! If my husband doesn't get a school library job this year, we are so going!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Woohoo! Bonus tourism!

Saint LouisWell, five minutes away from St. Louis, I realized that meant the Gateway Arch! Well, of course we had to stop...especially since we had never been to Missouri or Illinois.

We only had about half an hour in the city, but it was fun. Parking was a bit tricky, but I'm glad we did it. The arch is so cool! It's big, and it's pretty. Really, really big.

It's practically impossible to get a good, complete photo of it, but I still took several interesting photos. Then I bought a postcard, so I would have a "perfect" photo for the scrapbook. But in some ways, I like my photos better! For instance, I took one that makes it look like the symbol for Starfleet. Perfect geek shot. :)

But then we had to get back on the road. Illinois, then Kentucky, then Tennessee, then HOME.

Did I mention we arranged everything so we can have dinner in Chattanooga, at Luipi's Pizza? (It's only one of the best pizza places ever!) It will be our shortest visit in Chattanooga in history!

Totally in love with the Denver Public Library!

Denver Public LibraryI was so surprised by the Denver Public Library, right in the middle of the downtown area. It's incredibly unique...but that's what you would expect, since it was designed by Michael Graves. We saw the outside (and took tons of photos) on Friday night, but we didn't get to go inside. Yesterday morning, though, we took the speed tour before leaving Denver. It was great! It's so large that they have a self-guided tour map available at the front desk. Not only is it absolutely filled with books, but the art collection is astounding! There's art on every floor, and the about half of the top floor is a gallery. The main gallery space overlooks the city, facing the park; there's a deck that is opened for the special events, too.

The fifth floor historical room is breathtaking. I'll upload a photo later, but the center is dominated by the timbers that form the central space. AND along one side are table areas that overlook the museum. The coolest part? It's like a big desk and a window seat all in one; the table is that deep. I would have loved to have climbed up and sat in the window, but I doubt they would have been too happy about that...

We proposed a "bring Colorado here" lever so we could visit the library frequently, but I think they have a backlog.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver

We visited Tattered Cover's downtown location after finishing up downtown. If you know us, you know we had no choice. It is a bookstore, after all. It is also practically an institution in Denver; I had read about it long before, so it was on the must-visit list. Plus it had a coffee shop and was open late...

The selection is great, and the atmosphere is wonderful! There's antique furniture everywhere (but the friendly type of antique, not the "don't touch me" type). The sections are logically arranged, and the magazine assortment is wonderful! The art in the store is unique: portraits of every writer or illustrator who has visited the store, taken when they visited. I didn't have time to look at every single one--there were way too many--but I was happy to see Madeline l'Engle. Yay.

Anyway, if you visit Denver, you must visit Tattered Cover. Next time we hope to visit the Lower Downtown ("LoDo") location, too.

A little more of Denver

Dredd is totally nuts. Denver really is a nice little city. There's a lot of interesting buildings downtown, including an unbelievably beautiful library, the really weird (yet appealing) Denver Art Museum, the Byers-Evans House (where the people were very, very nice), and all the great government buildings.

And of course, there's the Capitol building, with its official "One Mile Above Sea Level" marker. Um, make that markers: the one mile mark was officially changed in 2003, presumably as a result of more accurate measurements.

Parking can be very difficult, but after 6 pm and on Sundays and holidays you don't have to pay the meters...which is a big help.

All in all, it's very compact, so getting from one place to the other is easy!

Next up: Denver

Ugh. The traffic is way worse than Atlanta's: nearly forty minutes to go twenty miles. But so far I love the scenery. To the west, beautiful snow-covered mountains, as far as the eye can see. They just keep getting bigger!

We want to go downtown and do the touristy walking-around thing, but traffic is scaring us. So our plan right now is to head to Boulder, for Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins. (Because I obviously I haven't bought enough yarn. Right...) I'm probably going to buy (a drop spindle and some roving) stuff to spin my own yarn for dyeing.

Anyway, I think I'll like Denver. Too bad we have so little time here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Colorado Springs

Well, Dredd and the Brothers of Dredd are on their way back home now. We had a great time today: Garden of the Gods is breathtaking! All six of us went, and it immediately turned into another chance to climb big rocks. I, of course, am always in favor of that, and kept up quite nicely, even though I was wearing a long denim skirt and sandals. Go me. :)

One of the really fascinating things about Garden of the Gods is the rock formations themselves: they look like sculptures! I would swear I saw a head, a troll's face, a puppy, and at least two fish. Weird, huh? But totally beautiful. I took tons of photos, and Corin took quite a few with my camera, too. He has a good eye, by the way.

After Garden of the Gods, we went to see Transformers, at the Tinseltown USA theater in the Springs. Nice theater, good screen, great movie. The movie really lived up to the hype (in my opinion), but there was a bit of gratuitous sexual-themed dialogue in a couple of places at the beginning. Other than that, I have no reservations. You do see individual humans die a couple of times, but it isn't graphic or bloody. Mainly, you see bad things happen, which presumably kill people. (Like explosions which rip through an area, but you never see the people caught in the explosion.)

Saying goodbye to our friends was sad, but we had a great couple of days with them. And to think, it's all thanks to the internet!

Small town fireworks...

Last night we went to Crossroads Church's annual Fourth of July cookout. (That's the church Dredd's family attends.) Everyone was so nice, and apparently they had heard about our pending visit.

The food, of course, was wonderful. We got to meet so many people we had heard about from the guys...including the infamous Justin. He's really a nice guy!

The fireworks were a lot of fun, and the rodeo grounds weren't crowded at all. One great bonus to the small fireworks: we were very close to the launch site, so we were able to see some really great stuff!

Then everyone went back to the house, and we set off lots of bottle rockets and other stuff. After that, we all played Munchkin, until I got too tired. (Yes, I was actually the first person to go to sleep!) Prince Cor won the game, but Corin (the youngest) played really well. Poor Caspian, though: his brothers ganged up on him, so he never really got beyond level three or four.

Anyway, tons of fun. Off to the Springs today, for Transformers and general fun. I'm going to hate to say goodbye to everyone.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vogel Canyon adventures

This morning we all headed to Vogel Canyon for some hiking and a picnic. There were nine of us,total: the two of us, Dredd and his three brothers, and Sherman, his twenty-one-year-old sister, and his seven-year-old brother.

It was so much fun! I wouldn't have believed I could do that type of rock climbing, but Dredd and Sherman really knew what they were doing, and were always willing to help anyone who needed it. Sherman also played pack mule and lugged in two gallon jugs of water. Believe me, we drank every bit of it!

The scenery was incredible! The plateaus are absolutely gorgeous, with the exposed strata of rock creating bands of color, contrasting with the green plants everywhere. They tell us we picked a great year to visit; no one remembers the last time it was so green in July!

Dredd and Sherman had their cameras along, too, so I'm going to try to convince them to upload their pics to flickr, too.

Edited on 07/12/2007 to add: Flickr set is here. It's still a work in progress.

We made it to Colorado!

Yep, we made it to La Junta, safe and sound. Sadly, I had to call for further directions just two hundred feet from our destination; it seems Dredd lives on a trick street...

Anyway, the Riveras have been so very, very nice. The guys are all exactly like I expected, and their mom is very sweet. It's not everyone who would invite total strangers from the other side of the country to come stay with them for a couple of days!

Last night we played with the Wii. First the Brothers of Dredd (Cor, Caspian, and Corin) played a weird Mario game and then something called "Rayman: Ravin Rabbids". Mainly, you torture psycho bunnies. Then we all took turns playing Wii Bowling. Apparently I'm better at Wii Bowling than real bowling...but just barely.

Today we're hiking to Vogel Canyon, which should be fun. So Sherman and his siblings just showed up, and it's still unknown whether we'll be meeting Hobbs later today. Yay for Spirit of Elijah!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Leaving Santa Fe

Santa Fe is beautiful! The art district is wonderful, and seems like it will never end. There are sculptures everywhere, along with paintings and murals. It's great!

BUT I miss Southern hospitality. The people here are curt and so many of them rarely smile. They are pushy, too.

But I've met a few really nice people here: a couple from Ireland who are traveling old Route 66 and the owner of Oodles Bead and Yarn Gallery and a male friend of hers who was at the store knitting. The women at Marigold Arts, too, were as friendly, welcoming, and hospitable as anywhere in the South.

All in all, this trip has been incredible already.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Everything's bigger in Texas!

Including the crosses! Groom, Texas, about half an hour east of Amarillo, is home to "The Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere." And boy is it big! The land is so flat that you can see it from miles and miles around. I mean it is huge.

We never intended to stop, but when we saw how big it really was, we decided we had to go see it. Originally it was for laughs, but once we reached it we were quite surprised! It's not just a big, huge cross; it's in the center of a plaza, with the bronze statues for the Stations of the Cross circling it. A path at one side leads straight to a tableau of Jesus, John, and Peter at a table, with Jesus breaking the bread for the Last Supper. Behind it, wide steps lead up to three bronze crosses, depicting Jesus and the thieves. At the base of the stairs, a path leads around to a replica of the Empty Tomb; the angel atop it is visible from the crosses.

I'm not Catholic, so the Stations of the Cross weren't something I'm used to, but it was still beautiful. The sculptor was obviously talented, so the faces are expressive. And across from the parking area is the Pilgrim Center, with a gift shop (we didn't shop). Visible from the parking lot is a beautiful fountain with waterfalls, the Fountain of Mercy. At the center stands another statue of Jesus. Yes, it's a bit cheesy, but it's really quite beautiful, and I thought, "I wish Grandma Lucy could have seen this." She would have loved it.

Wide open spaces

I can't believe how open and flat both Oklahoma and Texas have been! It's amazing enough that you can see practically forever; but the houses! They're so few and far between. There are cows everywhere, or else cultivated fields. I'm more accustomed to the fields of Rural Georgia or Lower Alabama; maybe there are fields this large down there, but they're never that open! There are always gentle hills, so you never see the whole field. But not here.

In some ways, it could be boring. But it's so different from the landscape I'm used to that it's actually interesting.

Get your kicks...

Yep, Route 66! We stopped in Shamrock, Texas to grab a milkshake at McDonald's. As we were exiting the expressway, I noticed a sign for "Historic Route 66." Well, we had to stop. So we headed down the road, and--sure enough--there was Route 66!

We chose the right spot, too. On the corner was a wonderful restored gas station, complete with restored gas pumps! It's now the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce and a gift shop(which we didn't go in). There were also a couple of old "Route 66" motels, which I'm sure have been there since its heyday. I'm really happy with my photos.

And if my mom is reading this: yes, I got you a rock.

Where can you find buffaloes? Only in Oklahoma!

We stopped at the Cherokee Trading Post, somewhere along US 40 in Oklahoma. For the most part it was the typical tourist goods (made in India, usually). But there was also an art gallery, which had some stuff that actually was made by Native Americans, some Cherokee and some Navaho.

My beloved husband knows how I love Raku pottery, so he bought me a little "Dream Box" (or something like that). The theory is that you put your dream in it. I'm thinking it will be perfect for a couple of pairs of earrings. :) It's really well done, and the glaze went almost pure copper on the body of the box, leaving it as beautiful and shiny as a new penny.

AND they had a couple of buffaloes, which I went and tracked down. I couldn't get any good photos, but I did get to see both of them. I love buffaloes! They're almost as cool as the yaks in Yak's Bend. ;)

Almost there!

Well, it's been an eventful day! Our morning started with breakfast at the Waysider Restaurant in Tuscaloosa, courtesy of my husband's instructor, Professor Bullock. She was so nice: she invited me to join the class for breakfast! A true Southern lady...

Then on to Serendipity Needleworks, just a few blocks from the university. What a wonderful store! Shelf after shelf of beautiful yarns, arranged by color! And the owner was so nice! So were the customers, for that matter. I spent an hour and a half there. Lots of fun..

Then we hit the road. Alabama to Mississippi to Tennessee; in Memphis, we stopped for dinner. It was barbeque ribs, of course, on Beale Street: Blues City Cafe. A few photos of Beale Street, then back on the road.

Arkansas, then Oklahoma. We stopped in Seminole for coffee from the Starbucks; again, really nice people! And 3 am Eastern, we made it to the hotel, the Travelodge. Maybe not the best choice: it shares a parking lot with a nightclub, and it was pretty noisy for a while. But it finally quieted down, so I'll be going to sleep as soon as I post this. Tomorrow, we enter Texas and then...NEW MEXICO!

Friday, June 29, 2007

I have escaped!

Yes, I actually escaped my office, with both my boss and the other designer threatening to chain me to my desk... But I made it out!

We're in Tuscaloosa right now, for my husband's very last class for his library degree. As soon as he is finished tomorrow, we head for Santa Fe. We'll stop somewhere when he's too tired to keep going, so we should be in Santa Fe Sunday evening.

But to while away my time tomorrow morning, I will be going to Serendipity Needleworks. Ah, the sacrifices I make for my husband... Actually, I tried to visit it last time I was in Tuscaloosa, but I missed by minutes: I got there five minutes after closing! But what I saw in the window was at least a little drool worthy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Weather Shock!

I just looked at the National Weather Service report for Santa Fe.

Seven. Percent. Humidity.

Yes, seven percent. SEVEN! That's right, seven! I didn't know humidity could drop into the single digits! Denver's is high, because they're expecting rain...it's twenty-one percent.

Our humidity? Sixty-five percent. It's low this year; Georgia is suffering "extreme drought" conditions throughout much of the state.

Can I survive seven percent humidity? I'm not entirely certain.

Monday, June 18, 2007

0.000002% of iPods sold!

How did I miss it? The iPod passed the 100 million mark back in April! Woot!

As the proud owner of two iPods, I can claim responsibility for 0.000002% of the total iPods sold! Isn't that great?

Okay, maybe that's not exactly a significant contribution. And I know some people will use the latest milestone as another reason to turn up their noses at iPods: "They're too trendy."

But you know what? I don't care. I didn't pick the iPod because it was trendy or cool or whatever. I'm a fan of the iPod because it's a truly wonderful piece of electronics. It's easy to use, it's beautiful, and it's fun to use. Simply put, Apple created a great product and marketed it wisely...and so people buy it.

My first iPod was purchased for me by my husband the day they released the third gen iPod, though my thirty-first birthday was still a month away. My second iPod (an iPod Photo) I bought right after they released the "iPod with Color Display," because the price of the iPod Photo dropped...even though it was the same thing, but with a bigger, 30 gig hard drive. (Gotta love the masses!)

And I bet I'll upgrade to a video model eventually. But I think I'll wait for the sixth gen. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can't wait for vacation!

I'm really getting excited about our upcoming vacation! My husband and I are headed to Colorado and New Mexico the minute he finishes his last class for his master's degree.

I mean that literally...we're leaving on Friday afternoon for Tuscaloosa, for the last session of his last class at the University of Alabama. As soon as he gets out of class Saturday afternoon, we're heading to Santa Fe. We should get there Sunday night,stopping at a random place along the way.

I've planned this trip to death, it seems like, with visitor's guides from all the cities and endless time spent on Google. Not to mention all the time spent on IM with one of the friends we're visiting in Colorado, and a billion lists made and discarded.

I really need a real vacation. We haven't taken more than a long weekend since going to Fort Walton Beach four or five years ago. I think we're definitely overdue!

Did I mention neither of us have been past New Orleans? We're going to see thirteen states (besides Georgia, of course), and eight of them will be new to me! But I have my husband beat: nine will be new to him! Hah!

Edited to add: I almost forgot. Photo is of Garden of the Gods, by lars hammer. Creative Commons non-commercial, attribution, share and share alike.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I miss geocaching!

I haven't geocached in months, and I've really missed it. See, the aftermarket charger for my Garmin iQue PDA broke off inside it, so I've had no GPS ability. But over the weekend my father-in-law fixed it for me. Yay!

So I've found several promising caches not too far from my home. Can't wait.

AND I found several candidates near the family friends we're visiting this summer. Yay again!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The show is done, so now for fun!

Yesterday's show may be the best we've ever done! Seshambeh was the third number in act two, and boy did Sarah give us a tough spot: right after a nine-year-old girl! Who wants to follow an adorable little girl? You lose, right away!

Anyway, we appeared to have been a hit. The audience was very responsive, and there was actual cheering and applause, which is always encouraging. AND for the biggest surprise: I smiled. All the way through.

Seriously. I really did.

Ishy came, and I'm so glad she was there! AND she had a good time, I think. Of course, Nicola himself is a blast, so that helps. :)

My husband even made it in time to see part of our number, "Toul Omry." I have to say I enjoyed this show more than any other yet. I felt good about the routine and about my costume, hair, and makeup, which may be a first. Anyway, it was wonderful!

Now I have to start on my solo for Nyssa's benefit in September. I can't bail, since it's for her...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Choreography obviously isn't my thing

I've been listening to Dargaard's Takhisis Dance over and over, and I'm still having problems. HOW AM I GOING TO CHOREOGRAPH THIS? I really need to get it finished by the end of next week, if I'm going to do this solo.

Can I do it? I really don't know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Violet Beauregard skirt

YAY! I got in my yarn from elann.com! It's amazing, considering I only ordered it late Thursday night! They shipped it Friday, and it arrived here at work today! Sometimes you just have to love the US Postal Service.

Sadly, I left my copy of The Happy Hooker at my sister's so I STILL can't start on my Violet Beauregard skirt. Which is sad, because I so want to make it! I mean NOW! Right now! Where's my hook? I WANT MY SKIRT!

In the meantime, I think I'll go fondle my Sonata yarn. French blue, tapestry blue, and Alaskan blue. I love it...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Magic Yarn Ball, Anyone?

I recently heard about magic yarn balls on one of the knitting podcasts, and I immediately thought, "I MUST DO IT!" I mentioned the idea to Jenlar and Ishy over at Craft Wonderland, and they agreed. So, it's official: we're going to do a swap. Our first, actually.

Okay, by now you may be wondering, "What IS a magic yarn ball?" A magic yarn ball is like a little treasure hunt meets knitting and crochet. Here's the idea...people sign up, just like for any other swap (duh!). You get your partner's name and stuff, just like any other swap. But this time, the goodie basket is IN THE YARN. Instead of making a little package, full of wonderful little things, you buy a skein, ball, or hank of yarn. Then, you start rolling it into a ball. As you go, you wind all the little treats up into the ball! You can hide everything, so it's all a surprise, or you can leave little bits peeking out to offer a taste of what's to come. Then you ship it off...with the label from the yarn, of course!

You've had your fun, but now it's your partner's turn! They receive this wonderful little ball of goodness, maybe tied with a ribbon or with things sticking out. (Why am I suddenly thinking of Katamari Damacy?) Now it's time to get to work: starting crocheting or knitting! As they work, more of the goodies are exposed. Common items are candy, ribbons, buttons, stitch markers, little things of lotion (wrapped securely!), and silk flowers. Handmade goodies are always appreciated, of course!

We haven't set a deadline yet, so if you want to join us, head on over to Craft Wonderland and let us know!

Some examples of magic yarn ball goodness...
Whip Up's cute kid's myb
Stitch Marker's chronicle of her magic yarn ball
Another myb blog entry, this one from The Heathen Housewife
An old magic yarn ball swap at Craftster
Tons of magic yarn ball pics from a flickr group

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter!

May this day mean more to you than chocolate bunnies and colored eggs! Remember, it's the celebration of Jesus Christ's resurrection, and our promise of the resurrection to come. Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 06, 2007

To Solo, or Not to Solo...

I happened to catch just a few minutes of Dancing with the Stars earlier this week...just enough to see Heather Mills do a front walkover. Now, I haven't followed the show. In fact, I don't particularly like it, just as I don't like any of the other shows that are always picking a worst. And don't get me started on the suggestive choreography and skimpy costumes! (end rant)

However, I have watched a couple of the Heather Mills numbers...because that woman flat-out blows my mind. I didn't know who she was before this, but I'm so impressed by her spirit. She has a prosthetic leg, and she's doing Dancing with the Stars! Can you believe it? THAT is guts!

And now the dilemma. I've been considering a solo for dance for probably six months now. I have considered doing one in June, but I'm hesitant. I found a song I like, Takhisis Dance, and a style: double veil. So when I saw Heather Mills dance, I told myself, "If Heather Mills can do a front walkover with a prosthetic leg, I can do a solo!"

Except I can't choreograph. At all. I tried, and my mind goes blank after "Enter wrapped in veils." Yeah. The song is almost four minutes long! I can't just SPIN for four minutes! And I'm already fighting my choreography for the Seshambeh number...

What do I do?

Postscript: Please excuse my limited editing and any errors that surface. And the lack of links. I seemed to have misplaced my handwarmers. Well, I can find one. Just one. Even though they come in a pair. So I'm typing wearing my satin over-the-elbow Rogue gloves. It's not as easy to do as one might think.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Come knit a dragon with me!

Over at Craft Wonderland, we're doing a dragon stole knit-along. Actually, it's a knit- or crochet-along; Ishy is finishing up a crocheted dragon.

It's inspired by the Vegan Fox on Knitty. I would say "based on," but it seems we all left the pattern after about row three...Anyway, it's an awesome pattern, and we're having a blast.

For the record, mine is now 23.5" long. I'm using TCL Amore in black (yes, it's cheap, I know, but it did what I wanted!) and Patons Brilliant in Black Dazzle. I'm using size 8 bamboo needles.

So if you knit or crochet, even if you're a total beginner, come play!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Confessions of a Guild Wars addict!

Wow. Can't believe I've never talked about Guild Wars. I mean, I'm an addict. Really.

I've been playing Guild Wars since less than two months after its release on April 28, 2005. For the first seven months, my husband and I played on our own or with a small group of RL friends. Then, in January 2006, I found Christian Gamers Alliance, which has a very active GW chapter! Woohoo! We joined and found out that GW is even more fun with an active guild...cause my husband talked me into liking PvP!

Okay, "talked into" is a bit of a stretch. What really happened is that he told me, "Here, they need a mesmer. Do what Fiona Dredd tells you." He then logged me in to TeamSpeak and left me there!

After I got over the shock, I started having fun. Sure, I had NO IDEA what I was doing, but it was still fun. And now we do PvP every Tuesday and Friday night. (Oh yeah, Friday night playing a video game. I really am a geek.) In fact, I'm now rank 3 (/rank)...and I only earned about twenty or thirty of that rank during double fame. GO SoE!

Oh yeah, "SoE" would be "Spirit of Elijah," my guild. Well, technically I'm in two guilds; my husband and I have two accounts, and we each have characters on each account. One account is in each guild. So to be exact, I'm an officer in both SoE AND SOE...Spirit of Elisha, that is. Twice the fun! Except that we're actually one guild. (Yeah, it confuses us, too.)

And now my social life depends heavily on TeamSpeak, alliance chat, guild chat, and team chat. Is that good or bad?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What can you do with an Altoids tin?

Over at Craft Wonderland, I started a new thread on creative uses for mint tins.

I'm currently using some to hold D&D dice, a barebones first aid kit, Splenda, a basic bike travel kit, and some other stuff.

The internet gives many more creative uses, including an Altoids tin wallet or a thumb piano. If you like gadgets,you can go high tech! Try a mp3 player, flash drive, mouse, or a battery pack for an external hard drive that runs on four AA batteries! You can even go retro and make a Morse code oscillator. (Not practical, but it sure is geeky!)

Here's one I may try: an iPod charger. There are multiple versions; one uses only one 9V battery, while more sophisticated versions use combinations of batteries.

What can YOU think of? Why don't you come add it to the list?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Craft Wonderland for Christian Crafters!

Well, my friend Ishy of TechnoChicks has started up another new forum: Craft Wonderland! So far, I've racked up thirty-eight posts in four days, and we aren't even "really" up and running. But feel free to come join; we DO have stuff going on.

Since it's a "Craft Wonderland," the theme is Alice in Wonderland. And in case you were wondering, yes, we ARE all mad. In fact, Ishy is the Mad Hatter; I'm the Queen of Hearts. OFF with your head!

Okay, all better. :)

On a serious note, we have some great features. The most interesting one to me is our Member Showcase, which is just that: a subforum where every member can create a thread to showcase all their creative stuff, whether it's digital art or photos of your work; you can also include writing, whether it's creative writing or short essays.

Speaking of creative writing, Ishy is working on the Creative Writing forum. Should be fun; Ishy is a very creative person, and quite a good writer. I'm working with the Art and Digital Art section, as well as Papercrafts (which is currently part of the Other Handicrafts section. Ishy and I are both working with the Knitting and Crochet section, too.

Know what we have that other craft forums don't? Faith Talk and Prayer Requests. That's right: Craft Wonderland is a Christian-oriented craft site. You don't have to be a Christian to join, but you do have to respect our faith. So, we'll be keeping it clean. Yay!

For the low price of nothing, all this can be yours. So come join us!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Belliveau Shores-Gulf Cove Hat!

I finished crocheting my first hat from a pattern (about a week and a half ago)! Yay me! And not only that: I customized the pattern!

I love hats, and cloches are one of my favorite styles! So when I saw THIS pattern, I couldn't wait to try it! I really couldn't justify going out and buying more yarn, though, and I had three skeins of Paton's Classic Wool in black...which, conveniently, makes up about three-quarters of my wardrobe.

Okay, so I have some really great (if basic) yarn that I bought on sale...except that it's thinner than the Lamb's Pride Bulky for which the Belliveau Cove pattern was written, and thicker than the Lily Sugar and Creme called for in the Gulf Shores hat. But I really can't go buy more yarn. So, I forged ahead and customized the pattern.

Like I said, I used Patons Classic Wool. That yarn calls for a size 7 hook, but I only have a G and an H, and none of the stores carry a 7. So I used a G. I added an extra round of double crochet stitches after round six; I increased it by one stitch every six, for a total of eighty-four stitches going into the shell stitch portion. If I were to do it again, I would make my increase round single crochet or half double, and add an extra round of shell stitches before the shaping the bell (round thirteen in the pattern). But I had already frogged several rounds to go back and add the extra round on the crown, and I was not about to crochet the same section a third time! Instead I added a single crochet edging, which helped lengthen it just a bit.

All in all, though, I'm very happy with my new black hat. :) And just in time for the really cold weather (by Atlanta standards) from the last week. Now I'm making an amigurumi "Fat Kitty" from Crochet Me. :) Light blue with embroidered eyes, since it's for a baby boy!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Behind the veils...

I think the average person would be so surprised if they were a fly on the wall at a dance rehearsal! Every single woman in my dance company has been dancing for years; Ghala and I have been dancing for over a decade, with the same troupe! But you wouldn't have known it if you had seen us practicing last night.

We're working on double veil right now, and boy is it a challenge! And it's not just any double veil combinations; I would swear Saroya has searched for the most mind-bogglingly complicated moves in existence! We snagged the veils on our jewelry and hip wraps, tangled them around our arms and legs, caught them on our skirts, and generally became ensnared. One set of evil veils were dubbed "the veils that ate Atlanta." Not our most shining moment.

On the bright side, I did come up with a way to gracefully transition the veil out of a front butterfly wrap through a spin. So it wasn't a total loss.

Moral of the story: Next time you see a dancer performing, give her some credit. That stuff is hard work and takes months of practice!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Star Wars: Geek Vindication

Star Wars in the Rose Parade! Who would have imagined it?

But it's true. For the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars, George Lucas and company planned the Star Wars Spectacular as part of the Rose Parade. It started with plans to honor the 501st Legion, a very dedicated fan group comprised mainly of Stormtroopers. From there, George Lucas chose the Gramling Tiger Band (Grambling State University) to participate...in Imperial uniform, with the dancers and flag corps in Twilek costumes. Then they asked for floats...so Lucas commissioned two floats, one of the Forest Planet of Endor and one of the Garden Planet of Naboo. Then George Lucas was chosen on Grand Marshall.

But know what's funniest? My mother-in-law has always treated us as if we were strange for liking scifi and fantasy. (So being addicted to football is okay, but enjoying the rather-intellectual fields of scifi and fantasy isn't? I don't get it.) But for one day, it's cool? I don't get it. But this is proof that geeks are finally, finally, coming into their own!

This photo and the links are from bonniegrrl's photo sets on Flickr...