zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
It's the eve of my return to my house, and I'm occasionally tidying up bits of my motel in preparation for starting to pack maybe. I popped out through the ranch slider to check on some towels I had drying and got slightly more distracted than I'd planned. Next thing, Boots (who's been sitting at windows meowling for outside for the last week or two so I should have known better) is stepping out beside me.

It's possible that I swore.

Fortunately it was all too new for her to be comfortable just dashing off into, so I could just scoop her up and deposit her back inside.

In other news, I don't feel like I've got much news. Uni's finished for the year, so I've got until the 4th January to complete the final draft of a journal article, write some more code for the software it's about, finish writing the <counts> four or five fanfics I'm halfway through, create a literal fanvid of awesomesauce, and I bet I'll find some other projects pop up along the way. How do people get bored again?

--Actually I guess I could mention that they'll be finishing up painting after I move back in, which I'm fine with, and I won't have a heat source for a while because when they removed the gas fire (to pull down the cracking brickwork of the fireplace) they discovered it wasn't up to current standards so couldn't put it back in and will have to get some other organisation to talk to me about a replacement, which I'm fine with except I think they should have told me upon discovering it rather than me have to notice an offhand comment they made and ask probing questions. Still, y'know. They're good folk and going above and beyond otherwise. I think they like that I'm easygoing about things (I can imagine other homeowners being stressed) but my philosophy is that I've got water, power, a flushing toilet, and wireless: all the rest is bonus features.

Also I could mention that my choir sang in a small concert in a town that a week later got its own state of emergency due to sudden flooding (I disclaim all responsibility) and in a couple of church services in which I got a solo in a verse of Gabriel's Message. So that was my minute of non-fame. It's absolutely fascinating how I can sing three verses in chorus absolutely fine, but the moment I'm by myself singing the exact same tune and words I've known by heart for years I completely tense up which makes my voice crack; so all my rehearsals were me trying to figure out how to stop doing that. Adequate success.

And finally, some plugs for TV shows that pass the Bechdel test flyingly:
  • I've mentioned Covert Affairs, which is full of awesome blonde spies (and a blonde sister homemaker). Ordinarily it's candy floss (fun but no there there), but has recently started having the occasional episode with a bit more kick; I hope they keep at it.
  • Recently one of my siblings has turned me on to Lost Girl which is full of awesome brunette fae (and a brunette thief sidekick). Like Covert Affairs it suffers from Ms Protagonist being required to have the hots for Mr Male Love Interest but I think that can be ignored for the plots, which so far (I've seen 2 episodes) include Ms Protagonist is... possibly not bisexual, but bi-whatever a succubus is. Bi-hungry? Ms Sidekick insists that she's straight but that's never stopped slash before.
  • And another sibling has turned me on to Once Upon a Time which has a mixture of awesome blondes and awesome brunettes. I think there's a Mr Male Love Interest again but it's developing more slowly and less obnoxiously (again, I've just seen 2 episodes). Prince Charming is in a coma and will hopefully stay there, because he was every bit as smarmy a hero as you'd expect Prince Charming to be. In a brilliant move, Ms Protag is introduced to the strange new world not by a wise elderly male mentor, but by her son who she put up for (closed) adoption ten years ago; this makes the dynamics instantly so much less skeezy.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Apparently aftershocks may continue for decades (though obviously decreasing in average size and average frequency). I distinctly remember, nearly a year ago, scientists saying they'd probably stop after some weeks. Clearly they were/are talking about different magnitudes. Possibly they wanted to break it to us slowly.

I gather there are people planning to commemorate the year tonight/tomorrow morning with a bottle of cheer at 4:35am. I'm hoping I'll be allowed to commemorate by sleeping at 4:35am, but we'll see.

The other commemoration I plan is being part of the large combined choir singing Fauré's Requiem (and a few lesser things: national anthem, Hallelujah chorus, and Jerusalem[*]) at Christchurch Sings tomorrow night. It's going to be pretty fantastic, primarily because Fauré's Requiem is one of the most astounding pieces of music in the history of music. (I met it last year and fell in love.)

The conductor working with us is awesomely enthusiastic - you can tell he works with high schools normally - and gives us fantastic metaphors. Ducks on water, squeezing toothpaste, bow and arrow, that kind of thing. Have learnt a heap in the last four days.

(Am also learning a heap from our new conductor in my regular choir. He's teaching us the solfa method, and after just a few weeks I'm feeling I'm getting a better hang of intervals. This Tuesday he explained modes to us so for the first time ever I know what they are, and spent the next full day earwormed with the Dorian mode - until Wednesday's rehearsal of Fauré, since when I've been earwormed primarily with Libera Me.)

I may end up lipsyncing In Paradisum, though. Is it just me or is that a particularly hard movement? I can't figure out if it's because by the time I get there I'm tired, or because it requires monumental control or something, but my voice keeps failing on the most mundane notes. The notes in and of themselves don't seem harder than any other movement, so it's a bit of a puzzle.

[*] Jerusalem narrowly missed being saddled with some words written for the occasion of the anniversary. Or, at least, the person who showed me the words thought it missed out by a narrow margin of 'not enough time'. Possibly the decision maker took one look at the words and, having the same reaction I did, scrambled for a plausible excuse. It's not that I adore Jerusalem's lyrics above all else - they've got their issues - but it is a classic, and if you're going to filk a classic for an anniversary then you need to be a genius on one of your better days.
zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
It's time to Guess That Song!

Live the toolbox on the hidden and all the same and the pink one and the law was in four of them all made out of the queue techie and they all look just the same

And that the whole in the house is although it too if you are a city or if they all for Tim Parks all the same and there is dark those and the glory years and the is XQ Turks and they're all made out of the D-Day he an they all have

And they all say on the golf course and drank and in July and they all have proved the children and the children go to school and the children caught Osama were as they are all four tin and they come out ore is a

and the boys go in to bears this and in is in on board is made of the the tachycardia and they all look just the same there is a green one and pink one and a global one and all and they are all made down to to keep their year and they all look just the same
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I need to upload my Due South fanvids sometime. I made them back in the old days, using two VCRs and a cassette player. It sounds horrid but really it wasn't so bad. Actually I think it was easier than my current set-up last time I tried it, which involves ripping DVDs on my old laptop, various levels of conversion, and then transferring the sections by USB to my new laptop (whose DVD player has succumbed to a certain amount of, shall we say, bouncing beyond that intended by its manufacturer) prior to being shuffled around in iMovie.

In the meantime! I got bored yesterday afternoon because the current scene in the WIR doesn't like me so I decided to do a music mashup. Since I don't actually have access to the requisite disassembled parts of anything, I made do with what fragments I could disassemble from my iTunes library and told myself it was just a technical exercise.

Seriously, there is nothing of any artistic merit to hear here.

Autoloading but not auto-playing music behind cut )

Or just download it.

The two parts are a) the first four bars of Moby's "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" and b) a bunch of hallelujah's from an old Edison wax cylinder courtesy of Project Gutenberg; static and tempo edited, and then bits shuffled around, in Audacity.

I like to call it "Why Does My Heart Sing Hallelujah?" or alternatively (when I'm being particularly honest about its lack of artistic merit) "Why Does Hallelujah Feel So Bad?"
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(No, this is not about the increasing number of silver hairs on my head or, as I like to think of them, my passport to not getting carded when buying the occasional bottle of wine.)

A few years ago, we used to say as a joke, "Ah, so that's what the kids are calling it these days."

Now I listen to Lady Gaga's songs and I say, "Huh, the kids are really calling it these days."

--Which is why I'm really liking them. I just don't know that many other songs about masturbation, y'know? Somewhere I came across someone online saying she should stop writing such sexual songs and I'm all, "Dude, that's what's so awesome about them!" That and that the music makes me want to move in happy ways, which is good seeing as this is being a crappy week in which the university is proposing to disestablish nearly a third of my colleagues across the whole uni library, mostly managers and other highly skilled staff, and replace half of them with mostly cheaper and less qualified models.

<random wibbling!> After due consideration of risks and benefits, I began tweeting about this proposal under my name. People have been very supportive. Today I tweeted a link to the union's online copy of the proposal itself and only later discovered that it was maybe not meant to be quite so public as I thus made it. I don't think the union will fret and if anyone else complains I can always say that HR told us that after 2:30 Tuesday we could tell anyone we liked about it. I doubt they will though. And I don't seriously think that being bolshy about such an appalling proposal will seriously damage my future career prospects, so long as I keep on sticking strictly to the facts. So it's just really generalised wibbling, and Lady Gaga makes me feel better.

I may do a lot of shelf-tidying over the next few weeks with her as background. Did I mention I have a new iPod nano? I have a new iPod nano, and it's purple, and I've solemnly vowed not to accidentally throw this one out with the rotten apples.

<handy tip!> After a couple of days of normal operation, my volume got stuck too loud and hurting my ears and not being at all adjustable, and googling the problem just brought up a lot of people offering oh-so-clever advice like "turn the wheel to turn the volume down" and "use volume lock to set the maximum volume you want". After much desperate fiddling I came up with two solutions (in reverse order of finding them but in order of helpfulness):
  • Reset settings. This made the volume adjustable again, so I can now turn it down to a pleasant volume. The downside was that I had to tweak all my non-volume related settings to be just how I want them.
  • So before that I tried setting the EQ (equaliser) to "Loudness". This reduced the volume to something tolerable, but it was still stuck at non-adjustable.
At some point I may fiddle around to see what I did that made it non-adjustable to start with but in the meantime I'm glad it's working again.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Every now and then I've seen ads in the uni newsletter for a choir that sings awesome medieval music and stuff, and I've thought about going along a couple of times, but last night I actually did.

I was expecting them to be big and formal with auditions and Simon Cowell telling me I can't hold a high note for beans, but I walked in and they handed out music and we sang together and I didn't in fact make exponentially more mistakes than anyone else, even when the person I was listening to for the melody went home with a migraine. And one of the other new members recognised me from a library lecture I gave last Friday.

They seemed quite happy for me to turn up again next Tuesday too. I may, um, try to actually figure out these tunes in the meantime though. o.O Sightreading isn't my superpower.
zeborah: It's not that hard. A dalmatian could do it. (Criminal Minds)
I don't know what it's called but I recognise it from Criminal Minds 1.14. Also from every other TV programme with a cello in it, dude, has no-one ever written any other cello music ever? I'm sensing a market opportunity here!

Other than that -- well, other than that and the occasional Hallmark sentimentality; that romance was so pasted on I kept thinking "Could she be an undercover doctor? Oh, she just kissed him, I guess not. Could she be a hallucination? Oh, she's having an effect on others around them, I guess not." -- that was a fun episode. Because I love me some mind games. House manipulating an entire mental hospital is fun; and the mental hospital manipulating him right back is just, mm-mm. I love me some peripeteia.

The other thing that amused me about this episode is that it felt like an interactive fiction game. House is the player character, trying to solve the puzzles in order to win the game.

> attack alvie
You punch Alvie and he punches you back. You wish being Machiavellian didn't hurt so much.

The nurses rush into the room with a sedative.

> take sedative
You tuck the sedative under your tongue. The nurses seem fooled. Fools.

> sleep
What, and miss all the fun? You let your eyes drift shut and your body hang limp. It makes it heavier for the nurses to carry you to a quiet room and heave you onto a bed.

Quiet room
Your eyes are shut, but you bet the view's not much more interesting with them open.

"Psst! Did you get it?" You crack an eye open and see Alvie vibrating into the room.

> trade sedative for phonecard
You spit out the sedative and give it to Alvie, who gives you What's-his-name's phonecard in exchange. This is just too easy.

> n
You peer into the hallway, looking both ways in case you get caught. Fortunately everyone's off playing doctors and nurses.

Hallway
A stretch of institutional boredom. You see a phone here.

> phone wilson
You limp over to the phone and dial Wilson's number. He hardly even lets it ring before answering. You wonder idly whether his life is so empty that he's just waiting for the phone to ring, or whether he had some particular female reason for expecting the phone to ring. But you have more important things to think about right now.

> tell wilson about license plate
"Wilson, I need you to run a license plate for me. The number is--"

"House, stop," he interrupts. "Nolan already talked to me. I'm sorry. I want to help you, but the only way I can help is... not to help."

He hangs up. You knew this was all too easy.

But, this being (within the conceit of the show) 'life' rather than a game, it's only when he acknowledges that it's not about winning that he wins. --Damn, now I'm going all Hallmark.

Speaking of interactive fiction, I probably ought to finish that Huis Clos game that I got to act 4 of. Problem is that right now I'm much more intrigued by a game that involves brainwashing the player character into becoming an assassin for the main NPC, and I'm debating the psychological implications on the reader/player and consequent ethics of actually unleashing this on the world.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Yesterday the library I work in had a ceremony to welcome back and bless a carving of Ruaumoko, the Māori god of earthquakes and volcanoes. He was stolen last year while visiting an earthquake conference overseas; though in monetary terms the carving isn't worth much, we felt the loss a great deal. He was never recovered but a replica was commissioned, and yesterday -- the bits of the blessing I understood asked his spirit to come back and to remain. And it is *so good* to see him back in the library.

Sweden has a town called Båstad. Unfortuantely even if I could manage to get my king there, in the 16th century it was spelled Botstœdœ or Botsted or something.

Some nice person has replaced the 19th century "fantasy portraits" of Sten Sture Jr. and Kristina Gyllenstierne's Wikipedia entries with actual contemporary images of them from some altar. Of course in the 16th century *every* knight was depicted on altars and gravestones as being perpetually in armour, and a quick skim of my images folder confirms that plump faces for ladies and gentlemen alike were also fashionable. But that plain brown barrett is way better than the gravestone image I have for Mogens Gøye with his visor entirely covering his face.

Via [livejournal.com profile] shweta_narayan, a fun video of Revathy Sankaran singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in a whole bunch of different musical styles from India.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
So I've trained Boots that, if I open the piano lid, she plays some notes before I go to pour her supper. We're working on increasing the number of notes and reducing the number of times she tries to eat the keys. Sometimes I can pretend it's tuneful. She's sufficiently used to the routine that around dinner time she'll often sit on the piano stool and look at me expectantly.

Occasionally I'm too lazy to do the piano exercises and just feed her. Oftentimes in such a case she'll eat a few bits of kibble, and then come running to the piano stool and look at me expectantly. Music and dinner go together! So I open the piano and let her play, and then take her back to the bowl to eat.

Tonight I was lazy. So she insisted on playing the piano. So I let her, and took her back to her food; and she ate a few bits and came back to the piano again. So we ran through the routine again, as routinely as I possibly could... and she ate a few bits of kibble and came back to the piano a third time.

I know, it's all my fault.

---

In other news, if you have a Mac and you want a free, simple, free, effective, and free desktop image editing application, go to Skitch. It's in beta and their ridiculously long TOS suggests that they may be planning to move to a pay-for model at some point, but for now (did I mention?) it's free, and while it's not Photoshop, it does have your basic pen, line, oval, rectangle, eraser, eyedropper, fill, text (defaults to lolcat style); plus arrows, screensnaps, and webcam. Click-and-drag objects (including random squiggles) around.

Saves in various formats -- it's just a bit unintuitive in that command-S saves to history and shift-command-S saves in its own format; but at the bottom of the screen you can click and drag the file to the desktop or email or anywhere. This is a general thing, actually: its buttons don't really look like quite what you'd expect and aren't quite where you'd expect them to be; but the program's simple enough that it's very easy to get used to them, and there are unobtrusive (and turn-off-able) hints to help you get the most out of the thing.

I'm in love. ...Possibly influenced by their icon, a big sparkly pink loveheart. But seriously, it's a gorgeous program if you just want to do some basic stuff and don't need the power of Photoshop.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Said mystery commenter, seeing the photo of Boots on a piano stool, commented thusly:
Boots is a poser.

Not so! Inspired by a YouTube video someone showed me not long before I finally got the piano here, I have begun teaching her how to play. I began by sitting her down and plonking her paws on the keys then promptly rewarding her with food. After a week or so of this she finally got the idea to make a noise herself. One or two notes. I kept up the rewards. I began ignoring the shorter snatches of notes, ignoring when she merely walks across the keyboard instead of sitting in a proper cat-pianist pose, and hissing when she tries to lift the keys up with her claws, thereby pulling chips in them.

Fortunately it's an old piano.

Last Thursday I reached the stage where she was playing long stretches of notes at high volume while I was attempting to watch a particularly tense episode of Criminal Minds. I now keep the lid closed when it's not dinner time.

I have video proof (which I may even some day be motivated to make pretty and upload to YouTube or summat): okay, maybe I haven't yet taught her how to play the piano, but I've certainly taught her to play, and I'm confident that in time she will be playing every tune possible for a cat with a limited paw-span.

(1) Yes, after long and assiduous research (viz, looking at their user profile) I worked out who they are, and their icon does indeed rock.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
About a year ago my mother promised I could have her old piano (it's a semi-tone flat and has some sticky keys so she bought a new one years ago) if I paid for it to be moved; and I finally got around to organising that.

I'm now trying to teach Boots how to play...

Cute picture behind the cut )

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zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
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