jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
Darths and Droids is David "Irregular Webcomic" Morgan-Mar's retelling of the Star Wars movies as a roleplaying campaign. It's pretty funny, it's true to role-playing life, and it's been one of my favourite reads for years and years. From the FAQ: "Our GM is an easy-going guy who most of all wants his players to have fun. He's not straitjacketing them into his preconceived story; he gives them free rein to do pretty much anything they want, and then builds (more or less) logical consequences on top of that. He allows his players to improvise and invent some of the details of the setting, so long as they don't conflict too badly with what he'd originally planned, and that it can be worked into the story somehow." This lines up pretty well with my GM philosophy, so of course I'd like it. (DW feed: [syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed)

They ran out of Star Wars movies (1-6) awhile ago. Rather than start on 7-9 they're waiting until 9 is out, so he can craft a coherent narrative. So there was "that time we had a TPK, right before the last campaign" (Rogue One), and now they've sent half the party off to Chewbacca's home planet for the Holiday Special.

The other half have just shown up in... oh, just click the link.

This has absolutely made my morning.
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
He thought he saw an Elephant, that practised on a fife:

For a split second I saw a twelve-pound blue-eyed white cat crouched by the kitchen doorway.

He looked again, and found it was a letter from his wife.

Just the bag of kitchen trash that I've not taken out yet.

"At length I realise," he said, "the bitterness of Life!"

Sometimes it takes awhile, I guess.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
I may be starting to recover.

In late October I went into "head down Do The Thing" mode, which is my standard response to stress. I knew I was doing it at the time and decided it was worth it to keep functioning, because there was an end date in sight. That end date has been further away than anticipated by several weeks at least. But I know it's there now.

I've got a little over a third of my books onto the bookshelves, and I already feel substantially better than I did this morning. Living among boxes is a huge source of stress for me, it turns out. I do a lot better when ... hm. I think it's "when my environment is uncluttered." When things have a place and are mostly in it. And, among other stressors, I've not really had that since I packed up half my stuff in October to show the condo.

I'm starting to feel like me again, is I guess what I'm saying.

Additional source of stress relief: the money from the condo sale has gone through. That is, I can see the deposit transaction in my account record, but I can't actually access the money yet. I don't require it for another week and a half, though, so that's most likely alright.

This is not precisely "no longer worried about money" but it does put me back in the situation I was in, mm, a little over a year ago, when I was thinking about moving back into the condo. I have enough of a cushion that I can wait and see how my current financial situation actually shakes out and where I need to do some belt-tightening. This is way better for my mental state than "i am very nearly at the end of my liquid savings." Very curious to see how my expenses shake out during my monthly Vancouver weeks, and what if anything I'll need to change around that.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Well. The kitchen's mostly in order. I've decided on a bookshelf arrangement (Erin suggested, and I moved bookcases into position and grumped, and slept on it and decided it was probably the best option): along one wall in the living room, then turning a corner and extending back-to-back to create a partition between the living room and the dining room. Gives me a booknook, which I like; gives me space to put up all my games facing the dining-room table, where they're most likely to get any use; gives me a wall to put the couch against. Unsure where the comfy chair is going, but I'll figure it out. My only complaint is the blocking of sight-lines from the dining room to the living room and to the big window with a view of the lake. Oh well; can't have everything.

The games are, as of tonight, on their shelves, which helps it start to feel like a home, to the extent that a place does. The living room is now only half piled in white boxes, which also helps. Tomorrow evening or Saturday will be books, and then the office, and then I guess I'll be moved in.

So far it's alright. That is: it's somewhat drafty and expensive to heat, and I need a rug or two. I miss the condo kitchen, at least on the occasions when it had a functional dishwasher. I don't know how the office will work out and I need to fiddle with the heat in the bedroom.

It'll do. As I said earlier today, if I'm still here after, say, eighteen months, something has gone Very Wrong Indeed.
jazzfish: a whole bunch of the aliens from Toy Story (Aliens)
Unpacking didn't begin on Sunday, because instead Erin and I both spent all day napping and watching Doctor Who. Turns out that travelling for two weekends running tends to wipe one out a bit.

Unpacking also didn't begin on Sunday because the landlord didn't do much of a cleaning before I moved in, and it'd be nice to not unload things onto dirty shelves. So I have cleaners scheduled for Friday morning. Meanwhile there's not a lot of point in unpacking the kitchen, and I want the kitchen boxes out of the way before I start trying to figure out what I'm doing with the living room / where the bookcases are going to go. So ... the bedroom is mostly together?

Upshot: I don't have a functional kitchen. (I do, finally, have a functional toilet.) I therefore have no groceries beyond what I brought down with me.

However, today's the day the internet guy comes to install internet, so I need to be here. I wisely had breakfast before I came but didn't think to pack lunch.

He's been and gone three times now. I think (hope) this is the last one, because I'm nearly out of pop-tarts.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
A couple of weeks ago I was made a moderator of [community profile] endings, possibly because I'm one of the only people who posts there. Odd. Unsure what I shall do with this newfound power.

Not coincidentally, this is a plug for [community profile] endings, which has long been one of my favourite things about DW.


Jan. 26th, 2019 12:22 pm
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
As of yesterday morning, I am a Canadian citizen.

This is, I think, the end of a journey that started a little over fourteen years ago, in the wake of GWB's re-election. ("I think" because there's always the possibility that I'll renounce my US citizenship, though I'm not currently planning to. Too much hassle, no real benefit.)

I surrendered my Permanent Resident card and filed into a room with seventy-some other proto-citizens. We watched a video from Justin Trudeau (I may have sniffled a bit when he ended it with "Welcome home"), and heard a short speech from a judge, and spoke the citizenship oath in English and (bad) French, and sang "O Canada". And then they gave me a certificate and told me that I'm not allowed to apply for a passport for another two business days, which seems fair enough.

Erin was there for support, as was ex-roomie Mya, which was lovely on both counts. Emily and I were civil and courteous and not not-speaking, which was also nice. Emily's cheering section consisted of the two people who I know for certain took sides in the breakup, and they ignored me altogether, and that was alright too.

Afterwards Erin and I went for brunch at Chambar, where I had waffles with fancy syrup (very good maple, and I believe raspberry-caramel; Erin had something involving pistachio and rosewater), and acquired a nice cast-iron skillet from a thrift store.

Today I fly back north, and tomorrow I start making headway on unpacking my apartment. Kitchen first, I think, and then maybe trying to figure out where exactly the shelves of books and games are going to go. Wall space, as always, is a problem.


so tired

Jan. 12th, 2019 10:55 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
I can tell I've been tired because I've had Gareth Hanrahan's debut novel for well over a week now and haven't had the brain to start it. (Gareth is an RPG writer I've been following since, um, at least as far back as 2000. I must have run into him on the Unknown Armies mailing list.) The Gutter Prayer looks to be gritty fantasy set in a city, with weird magic and twisty plot. Very much the kind of thing I like and I have just not been able to focus enough to read it.

(Also I still have a lingering cough from the xmas plague.)

Movers came Friday and packed the kitchen and loaded 99.9% of my stuff into an orange truck. On Friday I also got winter tires put on Hactar and gave the summer tires to the movers. I then loaded the last of my stuff into Hactar and signed the "yes we're selling the condo" paperwork, at which Emily continued to not speak to me unless directly spoken to. And last night I crashed on a couch at a friend's, which was less restful than it might have been.

I am now in Hope, at the bottom end of the Fraser Canyon, because I wanted to get a start on the driving today but I didn't want to go up the canyon in the dark. (I've done that. Would not buy again.) Tomorrow I drive somewhere between eight and ten hours to Erin's place and collapse, with the worst of the stress over.

Then Monday I see a guy about an apartment, and Wednesday I take delivery of my stuff in said apartment, and Friday we fly back to Van for a kink conference, and fly north on Monday and back to Van again on Wednesday evening, and on Friday there's the citizenship ceremony. Which ought to be a joyous event but I am mostly anxious because two of the people who'll be there for Emily are ones who took sides in the breakup, and no matter how many times I recognise how much better off I am without them in my life it still hurts and it still makes me nervous.

Oh, and there are also some phone interviews in there, because I keep getting headhunted by people who don't believe me when I say "My current workplace is cool with me being onsite one week a month and I'll need you to match that." It's flattering but ultimately kind of annoying.

But I had a bath tonight. And tomorrow I can listen to either any music I want, or the first episode of a number of Serial Box things, to see if I've gotten any better at processing audio books.

I miss you.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Ooh, new Ted Chiang collection in May.

(Chiang is the author of a handful of short stories, perhaps most notably "Story Of Your Life" which got made into the movie Arrival. I liked Arrival less than most people but that's mostly because I liked the source material so much.)

Two new-new stories, plus one that's new to me (the title story), plus reprints of his two Subterranean novellas. "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" is an enjoyable meditation on predestination, with a time travel aspect and a Persian style that I'm partial to. I tend to pick it up every so often and reread it, just for the writing. "The Lifecycle of Software Objects"... I need to reread, I've only read it the once but I remember thinking it was quite good. It's longish, though, so it's more of a commitment than Merchant.

I hope that's not the complete table of contents; I know he's got a few other stories since "Stories Of Your Life And Others". In particular, I hope it'll include What's Expected Of Us, which was printed in Nature, um, fourteen years ago, and strikes me as sort of minimalist Chiang: predestination, spooky, and enough of a human touch to make it interesting and memorable.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
The cough from the Xmas Plague lingers, but that's typical for me and coughs. I think I'm more or less recovered other than that.

Yesterday I finished a very good biography of Jim Henson. I wish he'd had more time. The book is pretty clear that the eighties were a period of decline (attributed to the need for Jim to run his evergrowing company, at which he was good but not efficient, and to a tendency for his technology to overwhelm his artistry and storytelling). But it suggests that if he'd lived, if he'd successfully navigated the Disney deal, he wouldn't have had the burden of the company, and could have gotten back into the strictly creative side of things again.

(Sometime in the late 2000s Emily and JMax and I went to see a Henson exhibit at, mm, probably the Museum of American History? They were running some of Henson's old Wilkins Coffee commercials, and they mentioned that "our sketches tend to end in one of two ways: someone blows up, or someone eats someone else." That sensibility comes through clearly in the book, especially in the early days.)

I unloaded around two-thirds of my Go-Away Books at the local used bookstore, in exchange for $50 and volumes two through four of Greg Rucka's spy comic Queen & Country. Also another copy of The Dragon Waiting, because it's a good thing to have spare copies of. And I acquired a mixing bowl and two more black silk shirts at the thrift store, because I can never have too many black silk shirts.

Perhaps most importantly I got the stereo adapter thing installed in Hactar. The first two car stereo places refused to touch it, claiming bad experiences with the company that makes it, but the third said "sure, we can do that, we've got an opening today even." So, for as much in labour as the parts cost (shipped from the states), I now have a stereo that will play music off my phone, and even skip to previous and next tracks in the current playlist with the steering wheel buttons. I believe there's a way to switch between playlists but it looks like it requires a bit of setup on the phone itself, so I'll likely just leave it be.

And maybe tomorrow I'll do my annual State Of The Tucker post.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Yesterday I ... okay, this gets complicated.

Hactar, my Volvo S40, has a stereo system that includes a 6-disc CD changer, but not an audio line-in or a cassette deck, which means that the main ways of playing music off my phone aren't available to me. And I can't just yank the existing stereo and replace it with an after-market, because it's deeply wired into the climate control system. Looks fancy, works well, but difficult to modify.

There's a company called GROM that makes devices that you can use to connect your phone into the system, and as a bonus the CD-player controls on the steering wheel will work to navigate music tracks on the phone. I ordered one of those and it arrived while I was away. I watched a video on how to install it and thought "hm, looks complicated, but probably doable."

So yesterday afternoon I tried to install it.

You can probably guess from my choice of verb where this is going.

There's basically three parts to the process: remove the display so I can get at the components behind it, patch the GROM unit into the fiberoptic loop, patch the GROM unit into the 12V power supply. I got the display removed with only a moderate amount of swearing. Patching in the fiberoptic took substantially more swearing, and I may have broken a connector (but, I hope, in a way that doesn't actually affect the functionality.)

I tried for about ten minutes to get at the 12V power line and finally gave it up as a bad job. I think I have the right bundle of wires, but it's wrapped in fuzzy insulation so I'm not sure, and shoved far enough back that I can't reach it very well. I think it's ziptied to something but I can't see in there too well either.

I decided to leave it be and deal with it Later, where "deal with it" involves leaving Hactar at a car stereo installation place and paying them money to deal with it.

I then discovered that I'd somehow installed the fiberoptic wrong, and that that mattered because the dashboard lights are also connected to the fiberoptic loop. Which means if it's not working, I have no way to see the dashboard at night. Such as when I'm on my way to a New Years party. So I took fifteen minutes (and did NOT break anything else) disconnecting the GROM unit and reconnecting the display properly.

Everything still works, which I take as a minor triumph, and I'll go talk to a stereo place later this week.

Today I have showered, eaten (twice, and soon to be three times I think), napped, and read my book. Oh, and coughed a lot. In all a more successful day.


Dec. 28th, 2018 11:06 pm
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
"Blink" (Doctor Who S3E10), Steven Moffat

Sally's friend vanishes while they're exploring an abandoned house. It turns out she's vanished into the past, kidnapped by statues that move when you're not looking at them, and if Sally can't figure out what's going on with these weird DVD easter eggs she might be next.

Okay, so, I liked Blink less than most people seem to, and it took me a bit to work out why that was. The Weeping Angels are great: inventive and successfully creepy, and I love love love the bit where the TARDIS vanishes from around Sally and Larry, surrounded by Angels. Sally's a decent enough character, and while we don't see much Doctor or Martha what we get is perfectly fine.

My first thought was that it's a puzzle-box story, and that's just not what I'd expect to see from Doctor Who. But that's not really accurate: a lot of episodes have been "here's a weird thing, what's going on with it," layered throughout the story. It works well. But here I could see the gears moving, and that made the difference.

Specifically: I didn't ever get a sense that Sally and company were solving the thing, were figuring out what was going on. Instead they were just following a trail that had been laid down for them, by the Doctor and Martha, and by Kathy and Shipton. There wasn't any joy in the discovery. It was all "Oh, the police box. Oh, the list of DVDs. Oh, you know what I'm going to say. Oh, we shouldn't blink."

(It didn't help that Larry, Sally's most constant companion, is a slacker dude with no particularly redeeming features. That she takes his hand at the end of the episode is just insult to injury.)

Well-constructed, neat ideas, execution left me cold. If I hadn't seen other Who, if I hadn't known how much heart this show can have, I expect I'd have been more favourably disposed towards it. But it could have been that little bit better, and I would have liked it so much more.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
How to Mis-Read Lord of the Rings, which I tend to misremember as being titled "Do Balrogs Have Wings?" or "Is Tolkien Actually Any Good?", by Andrew Rilstone. From early 2002, when LotR-mania was still a new enough thing to be remarkable and there was only the one Harry Potter movie.

This is one of my favourite essays, and I'm tired of having to trawl through the Internet Archive to find it, so, enjoy.

(It's included in a volume of Andrew's essays, but the ebook appears to be Kindle-only, which, no.)


Dec. 28th, 2018 11:52 am
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Christmas is two posts: Christmas and sick, and I only feel competent to write about one of those at the moment.

physically unwell: sinuses, fever )
jazzfish: a black-haired man with a big sword. blood stains the snow behind (Eddard Stark)
Another longest night past. I'm told it gets brighter from here, though.

Winter up north is better than winter in Vancouver. There's light, for one thing: less daylight but what there is is dazzling against the snow.

It's been a downhill slide since the equinox. Here's hoping it turns around.

The year past: Four of cups
The transition: Death
The year to come: Eight of pentacles, reversed

Well. Harsh and abrupt change, from a lack of foundation to a lack of ... foresight, maybe. Great.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Compulsory. Per [personal profile] marthawells, "It's sort of a short Murderbot Diaries prequel."
My risk-assessment module predicts a 53 percent chance of a human-on-­human massacre before the end of the contract.
(Link courtesy [personal profile] hwesta)

on first

Dec. 13th, 2018 07:55 am
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
With the advent of Jodie Whittaker's Doctor Who, we've started watching the modern Dr Who. I never got into it, first because I have a problem with episodic anything that isn't finished yet (see also: comics; bound book-fragments) and then because much of what I was hearing about Moffatt's run was frustration. And then I watched his Jekyll and had this weird and unpleasant mixed reaction of "this is pretty good but omg parts of it make me want to throw things," in particular to the main character's wife's sexual assault being used as a device for MANPAIN. And then I got the impression that Eccleston was basically a giant dick about it, and didn't want to watch anything he was involved with.

But hey, Moffatt's gone now, and he didn't take over until four seasons in. So I'm happy to try those at least. And there's only the one season of Eccleston, so however bad it is there's not much of it.

We're most of the way through S2 (Tennant's first season). At this point I really wish Eccleston had gotten more than one season: the second half of S1 feels incredibly cramped. It would have been nice to flesh out the Rose/Doctor/Jack relationships and to see more of Jack's character. Plus Eccleston's Doctor is, surprisingly to me, friendlier and less overbearing than Tennant's.

(Reading some of the history it sounds like Eccleston got rather a raw deal from the BBC, but then he's given as good as he got since then, so.)

I'm enjoying it so far. Moffatt's Empty Child/Doctor Dances two-parter in S1 was pretty great; I'm less fond of The Girl in the Fireplace than the rest of the internet seems to be. Overall, solid, mm, science-fantasy adventure. Happy to keep watching, and likely even to dabble in the spinoffs.

Besides, when we watch Torchwood, I'll get a) more Captain Jack and b) an understanding of the jokes in the hilarious-even-without-context Under Torch Wood.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Have just recently finished reading the last Murderbot book. Murderbot's "why am i having emotions about real people instead of shows" and general grumpiness remain adorable, and its internal honesty hits buttons for me as well. Plotwise, the book successfully resolves various bits that were set up in the first novella, comes to a solid conclusion while of course leaving space for more Murderbot adventures. Now to wait until *sigh* 2020 for the novel. Suspect I will be rereading these at least once more before then: they're fantastic comfort reads. Bite-sized (well, largeish-bite-sized), with some depth and some humour and some very real pathos.

All four novellas are standalone stories, which I appreciate a great deal. They also build heavily on what's come before. That is, I wouldn't read them out of order, but I don't get annoyed at reading them as they come out. Not unlike the Dragaera books, come to think of it.

Also I would really like a t-shirt for "Sanctuary Moon" (Murderbot's favourite soap opera). My mental image is of a dark shirt with a light/white silhouette image of a domed city and three or four human shapes inside, kissing or sneaking around or some such, and "The Rise And Fall Of Sanctuary Moon" in block type below. Someone should get on this, please.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
A helpful two-part Academic Feedback guide for US academics working in the UK, and vice versa.

Every Book on Your English Syllabus, Summed Up in Marvel Quotes. Annoying slideshow, but (mostly) worth it; Hamlet and Macbeth are absolutely perfect.

... I thought I had a third thing but I guess not.


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon


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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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