dorchadas: (Autumn Leaves Tunnel)
Spare me from management's idiotic initiatives.

The temperature has finally dropped. There's a chill in the air when I leave for work in the morning, and the leaves are starting to change. The week before last it was still up to 30°C, so I'm really glad fall has arrived. And I found a relevant fall icon that combines the colors of leaves with the spookiness that everyone associates with October. All I can think of when looking that are the warnings not to come on the fair folk in their revels. It's the perfect mix.

I found an autumn poem by Ueda Chōshū too in an article about haiku linked by a friend:
And my translation:
Though broken
And broken again by water still
The moon is there
The moon is an autumn seasonal reference (季語, kigo) for haiku. Maybe the waxing and waning symbolizes the dying of the year?

Stardew Valley is out on Switch, and while I'm not getting it there because I don't care that much about portability--usually when I'm out somewhere, I'm reading Twitter on my phone or checking my various RSS feeds rather than using that time to play games--but it has gotten me back into it on PC. I have the forest farm layout, so most of it is given over to grass for animals and fruit trees. I turn fruit into wine and jam, milk cows and make cheese, pick up eggs and make mayonnaise, and sell all the products. It's the perfect small-batch artisanal craftsmanship simulator with none of the actual hard work of craftsmanship. And living in the countryside with none of the backbiting cliquery or viciousness. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop

There was a post in that Japanese woman's blog I found about the countryside, since her German in-laws live in a small town where they grow grapes in the backyard. It ends with:

"There might be people who think the countryside is boring or inconvenient, but the time is fulfilling and I like how it seems to flows in a relaxed way."
When I was in high school I just wanted to move to the big city, which is part of why I wanted to go to Penn. And now I live in Chicago, and really like it. But living in Chiyoda taught me the good parts about small towns in the country, and sometimes I miss the songs of the frogs and long walks through the fields.


2017-Aug-22, Tuesday 09:27
dorchadas: (Music of the Spheres)
I didn't get a chance to see the entire eclipse because I was at work and I wasn't in the path of totality, but around 1:05 p.m. yesterday I left the office and went outside to the south terrace, where a couple hundred people were all gathered and watching the sky. I also didn't have eclipse glasses, but thanks to a tip online, I turned off my phone and watched the reflection of the eclipse in the glass. It was visible through the clouds and got a bit darker and colder, but it wasn't super dramatic. That didn't stop me from getting misty eyed, though, because nature is amazing. We knew this eclipse was coming in 1932!

My father was more dedicated than I was. He drove six hours downstate and took this picture:

2017-08-21 - Eclipse image

It can happen here

2017-Aug-16, Wednesday 09:05
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
Posting today instead of tomorrow because there's no farmer's market dinner this week. Now that the school term is starting at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's workplace, her summer break is over and she can't consistently make time to gather ingredients for dinner anymore. There may be sporadic farmer's market dinners before the market closes in October--those meals are really good--but it's no longer a routine thing.

Charlottesville affected me more than I thought it would. Some of it was reading accounts like this one from a local synagogue, about how the police refused to provide protection and they had to hire private security to protect from roving bands of Nazis. Or this account of weapons caches, similar to what happened in Rwanda, indicating that the Nazis were using Charlottesville as a training exercise for a para-military operation somewhere else. And then the President of the United Sates of America revealed that he's a Nazi sympathizer at a press conference, so the Nazis' goals were mostly achieved. Great. 2017. emoji head in hands

It reminds me of an old statement I read by a rabbi from centuries ago that history was divided into periods of persecution and periods of leniency. A lot of young Jews seemed to think that the cycle had been broken, at least in America, and that the concerns of their elders were overblown. I suspect they don't think that anymore.

At least the weather's nice. I'm not sure we've had a day over 30°C for the entire month of August and the weather report shows that it won't get higher than that for the next upcoming week either. Since my preferred clothing style includes pants at all times, I appreciate the deference the atmosphere is showing me.

I started playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (well, ゼルダの伝説:4つの剣+) and I'm filled with immense nostalgia for A Link to the Past. Four Swords Adventures reuses a lot of the sprites and music from ALttP, but also has a lot of toonification from Wind Waker. The bomb explosions are cel-shaded, a lot of the enemies are round and blobby, and the water effects are much more liquid-based than pixelized. The gameplay is all hack and slash, but I'm finding it surprisingly fun so far. We'll see if that's still true after I get past the second area.
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
The weather has been lovely lately. I'm sure most people would disagree, but after the sun a couple weeks ago I was worried that Chicago spring was going to be even shorter than it usually is and we'd be heading into the furnaces of summer early. What was I thinking. Right now it's 7°C and it's supposed to be ~10°C all week, mostly windy or overcast, which is nearly my ideal weather. Maybe a couple degrees warmer and I'd be happy.

Last weekend was torrential rain and it was lovely. I heard some women who work on the same floor I do talking about how depressing it was with all the rain, and all I could think of is that there is an unbridgeable perception gap between us.  photo ashamed2.gif

I've been inexplicably anxious for the last few days and I'm not entirely sure why. Some of it I'm sure is that we still need to buy plane tickets for [ profile] faylynne's wedding in a month and a half (accommodations are already sorted because my sister lives in Portland and offered to house us). Some of it is because today is Japanese class and it's free chat, so that's an hour of me speaking in Japanese as well as I can. Some of it is because even though I work at a nonprofit and our department has been making record revenue for to support our mission...they keep laying people off, so who knows when my job will be suddenly snatched out from under me. I have no reason to assume that my high performance reviews will matter. The Company doesn't care about you.  photo emot-ohdear.png

It still seems like there's something else, though. I can't nail down what.

(There are too many moods in this theme that use 悲. For worries, something like 悩 might be better)
dorchadas: (Chicago)
I usually hide inside when the daystar is out, but lately I've been heading out even on Sundays to keep the streak going on Pokemon Go. Today I also had a library book to return, so I went a bit further than I usually do and I actually enjoyed the sunlight. It's nice and warm--18°C--without being hot and there's plenty of shade along the way in case the sunlight starts hurting my eyes. I think that's the cue to me enjoying sunny days--extremely small doses.

I did take a picture while I was walking, though. There's a tree in bloom in the courtyard of a local church that reminded me a lot of the cherry blossoms in Japan:

Leaves tag used because I don't have a flowers tag.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
I never used to care about the leaves changing or the flowers blooming. When we'd take trips to Oregon, my parents would go to a garden and I'd sit by the pond and watch the water striders because whatever, who cares about flowers. But I got into the mood of leaf-watching when we lived in Japan, both the cherry blossoms in the spring and the colors in the fall, and while there are no masses of cherry trees here, there are still colors.

I didn't get much of a chance to go leaf-viewing this year because the cold came so late--when we went out for the Scarecrow Festival, it was 25°C and sunny--but I've enjoyed looking at the trees in our neighborhood. And a couple weeks ago, we found a momiji tree only a few blocks away! Momiji are famous in Hiroshima, to the point where the local manjū are momiji-shaped, and we'd go every year to Miyajima to see the momiji change to that deep, uniform crimson color. It was a lovely touch of nostalgia to see.

Then last weekend, it snowed, and I took this picture:

Last month snow fell in Tokyo, and there were a ton of articles about it because everyone knows that Japan is Tokyo and Tokyo is Japan (and also it had been 54 years since the last time but whatever). The photos of snow on fall colors were amazing, though, and I'm glad I got to see a taste of it in Chicago.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
The first thing we did this morning after showering, before we packed and before we even ate breakfast, was to finally eat the sakura manjū we bought on Miyajima in the Hello Kitty store.

I'm as tasty as four apples.

They were delicious.

Then we packed, checked out, ate toast and tea/coffee because the soup had pork again--I don't understand how Sakura Hotel offers halal ramen and then has pork in seemingly every soup they make--and walked to the train station. On the way, I learned about this exhibition which I'm now really sad I didn't know about a couple days ago, when we were over near Sunshine Mall and could have gone. Yōkai are one of the parts of Japanese culture that doesn't get much play abroad, like kagura or foods that aren't sushi or ramen, and this would have been a great chance to see them. Sigh.

We stopped at Chocoholic so [ profile] xoDrVenture could get a present for her roommate and then got on the Yamanote Line heading for Tōkyō Station, where we got off, went outside the gates, got tickets for the Narita Express, went back through the gates, and waited for the train. While we were on the platform, I got one last onigiri for the road. Fatty tuna and spring onions. Then the train started moving, and I said goodbye to Tokyo.


The train ride was an hour and the only problem were two businessmen sitting ride in front of us who randomly picked seats until they found an occupied one and then loudly spent the train ride discussing business. But that was short, and then we got off the train and made for our terminal. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had some お土産 (omiyage, "gift souvenirs") she needed to buy, and as long as she was doing that, I picked up some for my Japanese tutor as well. I hope she likes green tea. I've met Japanese people who don't. I've also met Japanese people who don't like fish or rice, which strikes me as almost debilitating. You know, like how I'm an American who doesn't like pizza or hot dogs.

Then we went to the food court and had our last bowl of reasonably-priced ramen.

¥880. About $8.25.

We went to go check into our flight but accidentally went to the wrong wing of the terminal, and then when we did go to the right wing, found our airline, and got in line, we got an attendant who must have been new. Her English wasn't that great (and my flight-related Japanese isn't either) and had some trouble finding our reservations and boarding passes. But she did eventually find us with some help from her co-workers, print out our boarding passes, and send us on our way.

We got through security in three minutes because Japan isn't invested in stupid security theatre that just wastes everyone's time and money, went through immigration in about the same amount of time, and proceeded to the gate.


We went through the airport, stopping to say goodbye to [ profile] tastee_wheat and [ profile] tropicanaomega at their gates, and then made it to our gate. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to buy some sakura-flavored kitkats to use up the last of our yen and we settled down to wait, along a few Buddhist monks and a giant horde of schoolgirls probably going on a school trip. No wonder the flight was full.

Fun fact: kitkats are popular in Japan partially because the name sounds like 屹度勝つ (kitto katsu, "I will surely win").

The flight boarded slightly late and we were sitting across the aisle from each other, but as soon as we got on [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd asked the man sitting in the middle seat to move to my aisle seat and he happily did so, so we got to sit together again!

We also sat next to the monks, but didn't talk with them. There was also a kid who thought having to put on his seatbelt when we hit turbulence was worse than being tortured to death and decided to shriek his head off for a while until, presumably, he tired himself out and fell asleep.

About a third of the way through the flight, I started to feel really cramped. I don't usually have problems with claustrophobia, but airlines are the exception. It wasn't until I compared seatbacks with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I realized the problem--the man in front of me had lowered his seat by about 15 cm and I really was dealing with less space. So I immediately rammed my knees into the back of his seat--by which I mean "sat normally, thanks airlines!"--and was rewarded by him shifting repeatedly as I did. And eventually, after enough shoving, he moved his seat back upright. I am not above petty revenge against people being inconsiderate.

We also flew above a lightning storm, but I was not sitting by a window.

Breakfast was pretty tasty:

No pork to pick out this time either!

We landed in Toronto to the news that they didn't actually have a gate for us and we'd have to take a bus to the terminal. Then we went through customs and I was all set to get annoyed until I realized that this wasn't bullshit Canadian security theater, it was bullshit American security theatre because we're going to America. The highlight was the customs agent saying he could tell we were married because we answered all his questions in unison.

Then we got to the gate and our flight was delayed an hour.

And then it was cancelled! So we had to go out through Canadian customs and pick up our baggage and hope we got another flight. Except our baggage wasn't showing up, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to ask about it, they told her that our flight wasn't canceled and they were loading our luggage onto the plane, so we ran back through US customs and back to our terminal to find our flight was delayed due

Ah yes, weather. Oh Chicago.

Ignorant Air Canada employees aside, after a two-hour weather delay we got on the plane. Then we sat there while they loaded in some extra luggage, and while I'm normally contemptuous of people who check carry-ons on the plane, I think it makes sense in this case. Then we taxied away and sat again on the runway. Then finally, finally, we took off at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.

Then we flew through turbulence pretty much the entire trip.

The sun and the storm.

We landed, taxied to our gate, and got our luggage in much less time than I was expecting because we went through customs in Canada. And now I'm posting this from the ride home, and unless our apartment has burned down in our absence, there's nothing further to report.

Thus ends the Japan Trip 2016. What a wonderful time! I'm so glad I got to go back and visit our old students and show all the places we came to love to our friends. The only problem I want to move back.

Maybe someday.

Steps taken: 13245
dorchadas: (Chicago)
It's currently 0° and all of the following week is going to be below zero (C), but for most of winter so far it's been quite pleasant. I haven't even had to button my coat for the last three weeks, which is amazing for Chicago early in the year. Typically, the weather after the New Year drops about twenty degrees and stays cold at least through March, but thanks to El Niño we've had one week with temperatures around -18°C and then it warmed up. The warmed it's gotten has been 10°C, which is madness for Chicago in January.

The next week is all below zero, with the coldest being -13°. Time to get my infinity scarf back out of the closet and return to the post-apocalyptic frozen hellscape. At least it's not last year, which got down to -30° at times. There's a reason I keep talking about what a fine spring day it is.

...I'm going to spend all of summer cowering indoors and hiding from the Burning Hate, aren't I?
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
This is undoubtedly the weirdest curry in the entirety of 50 Great Curries of India. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I have spent months occasionally mentioning it, wondering how it qualifies as curry, why the author picked it to include in the book, how it could possibly taste any good, and why we were even making it. The last question was the only one we could really answer--because this isn't "Fifty Curries except for that one that looks weird--though the author seems to imply in her curry intro that she included this because it was so strange. And yeah, it was definitely strange.
Read more... )

Oregon Vacation

2015-Jul-19, Sunday 14:58
dorchadas: (In America)
I tend to write pretty detailed posts about my vacations because even though they're mostly only of interest to me, I like to have a record for when I go back and reread old posts. But this time I was gone for two weeks and, taking into account how verbose my blog posts tend to be, a detailed account of everything I did would run for 10,000 words and be exhausting to write, so I'm going to do what I did when we first moved to Japan and didn't have any internet and write a series of smaller segments and put them all in one post.
Read more... )

It's hot

2015-Jun-11, Thursday 09:20
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Not outside, fortunately. We've had unseasonably cold weather and right now it's only 18°C out. But our air conditioning is broken and has been broken for two weeks. It was warmer yesterday, and when I got home it was 30°C, and apparently our apartment holds heat well because even though it dropped down to 20°C within an hour of me getting home and even though I opened all the windows, it was still 30°C inside when I went to bed. That made sleeping somewhat bothersome. It also made me more irritable than normal when playing through Baldur's Gate II last night.

I just got word while writing this post from management that they're working on it and should have a deadline for getting it fixed later today, which makes me happy. Even in Japan, we had a window unit and could retreat into the bedroom if things got really unbearable, but here opening the windows doesn't seem to help unless the different is really drastic, like a couple weeks ago when it was 10°C outside and we opened all the windows, and even then it took three or four hours to really cool the apartment.

It gives me a lot of appreciation for cultures with siestas and for Southern dueling culture, honestly. If I had to wear formal suits when it was this hot indoors and out, I'd be challenging people to duels at the slightest provocation too.

Edit: Just got word that a replacement aircon is scheduled to be installed on Monday, which isn't so bad. It's not supposed to get above 26°C other than Sunday, where it'll be 29°C which was still cooler than it was in our apartment yesterday. I think a visit to Lickity Split might be in order this weekend.
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I haven't posted anything other than curry night in a bit. That's partially because it's the same old, and partially because I hit a low spot for most of the last week and didn't have enough motivation to do much other than play Dark Souls and post quotes on Facebook. It definitely made me appreciate how helpful to my mental well-being it is that I can go literally days at my job without having to talk to anyone. But enough has happened in the last couple of weeks that I can do a list post, so here we go!

  • Dark Souls: I heard a lot about how great it was and thought "Oh come on, no modern game can be that amazing" like some kind of area man who doesn't own a TV. Well, fortunately I never mentioned it anywhere because I don't like the taste of crow, and Dark Souls really is that great. 25 hours in the last week-and-a-half and loving nearly every minute of it with a few hiccups (capra demon...  photo emot-commissar.gif). I'll have more on this in my inevitable review, but it reminds me of a lot of the great parts of Nethack mixed with probably the most satisfying third-person melee combat I've ever seen. I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to play Skyrim with its nerf-weapon flailing again.

  • Money: [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my diet costs a lot, since it's fat-heavy and we mostly buy organic and local, but it came up much higher than I was expecting so far this month even with hosting a Seder. We're fortunate enough that we don't have to track every penny we spend, and also fortunate in that any budget crunch we have is because of my insistence that we put a third of our income into savings and investments, but it hit me harder than normal because I was hoping this month that we'd finally be able to get ahead and put more into savings above that one-third floor I set. It seems like every single time I clear away some expense something else crops up. Linked to that is:

  • Cosplay: I was really looking forward to actually cosplaying again at ACEN. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was going to do Creeper-tan ... and I was going to do Ender-kun, but I cancelled my plans because I know that now I'd only be able to think about the money we were spending and I wouldn't enjoy it at all. That's another reason for my doldrums lately. Maybe next year...

  • Spring Cleaning: We stuck to a reasonable cleaning schedule in our old apartment, but maybe because we thought of our time there as temporary, we never really did a full-on spring cleaning session. This year, prompted by Pesach coming on and the fact that both [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I had a week off at the same time, we tore the whole apartment apart and cleaned everything. Two-and-a-half hours later, everything was sparkling, dust-free, and chametz-less (though we hadn't had any chametz on our house for weeks, so that's not saying that much.

  • Work: It's the end of the dull period, which usually lasts from November to March and leaves me knocking around with little to do. But conversely, the busy period isn't that stressful, because I don't have any deadlines or quotas. I'm basically just fed an effectively unending stream of data and have to sort as much of it as I can, and if some of it slips away, they'll send an update again later in the year. Low stress, podcasts all day, no one talks to me...I really do love my job.

  • Star Wars: I haven't watched the trailer.  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif

Still not all the way back to normal, and the weather isn't helping. I know the sun cheers most people up, but my eyes don't do well in bright light and I associate the sun mostly with headaches, and fatigue if I'm in it too long. Give me cloudy fall skies any day.
dorchadas: (Autumn Leaves Tunnel)
Confession: I don't actually like pumpkin at all, much less the spiced variety. I don't like kabocha, or most squashes. Zucchini scrapes by as acceptable due to exposure.

I do love fall, though.

Temperatures in °C. Get with the program, Americans!

That was Thursday's weather. The day before, it was closer to 25°C, and then we woke up to cold winds and rainy skies. It was like those old cartoons where things are great and the sun is shining and then all the leaves suddenly fall at the same time.

I'm not exactly sure why fall is my favorite season. I suspect a lot of is the weather--I've always said when people ask that Ireland is the place I've lived with the best weather, because in Cork temperatures ranged from 5° to 30° with none of the awful extremes we get in Chicago--but the leaves play a part in it as well. Last year when I went to the Scarecrow Festival in Geneva I wrote a blog post about going down by the river to view the leaves and how disappointing it was. With the weather changing so early this year, maybe in a month when we go to the Scarecrow Festival again the leaves will actually be worth looking at.

I never would have thought I'd be the kind of person who'd like leaf-viewing. When I was younger and my parents would take us to gardens, my sister and I would usually find some place to hang out so we wouldn't have to look at the stupid flowers. When we'd go to Shore Acres State Park for a picnic and so they could look at the flowers, we'd always go to the "a Japanese-style garden with a lily pond" and watch the water striders and fish in the pond. And now, I willingly go on walks to to look at leaves.

See, this is why children think adults are boring and adults think children are dumb.

Various thoughts

2014-Mar-09, Sunday 19:27
dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
I used to write a lot of blog entries that were just random snippets from my life. I've moved away from that and into more themed entries as time went on, but here's another info dump!

Last night I saw Knights of Badassdom, which is the first movie I've seen in almost two years unless I'm counting wrong, and it was...meh. I think part of the problem is that the "characters" in the movie had basically not character at all, and no reason for me to bother with feeling bad when they died. The movie just relied on casting people like Danny Pudi or Ryan Kwanten or Peter Dinklage and they saying "Hey! Hey! You know this person from [famous geek media source]! Isn't it cool that they're here!" And for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, who does watch [famous geek media source], it did have some effect, but it just fell flat for me.

Also, the ending shattered my suspension of disbelief over its knee. Not an auspicious return to movie-watching.

Oh, something interesting I noticed, I think based on an thread. One of the big old debates people had in the OSR movement was the idea of player skill vs. character skill. This is often expressed through ranting about Spot Checks, but I can see the legitimate complaints, where skills are used to surpass immersion in the world. Like, what's the point of describing the room in great detail so that the PCs will look behind the statue to find the secret button if it's all going to mechanically be handled by a Spot Check? Just get the essentials out of the way and roll the check. The downside, which is something that I've fallen prey to myself, is the dungeon with stupid logic puzzles that the characters could easily solve but the players have to actually work out. The canonical example of this is the GM making the players work through the Towers of Hanoi to open a door or something, though I used the Eight Queens.

For CRPG players, though, it's the other way around. One of the big complaints I've seen about Oblivion from Morrowind fanatics is that Oblivion isn't a real RPG, it's an action RPG (whatever that means), because for a lot of things the character's skill doesn't matter. The most obvious example is the lockpicking minigame, where a skilled player can pick any lock without breaking lockpicks at all, so Lockpicking skill just acts as an artificial gateway for what locks the player can even attempt. On the other hand, I can see why they did this, because one of the biggest complaints about Morrowind is the combat. When you base everything on dice rolls against the character's skills, but you can see yourself swinging a sword through the enemy and it not hitting...well, that does a number on immersion. Also, it can be boring. I modded Oblivion to make lockpicking a straight skill roll and it involves me clicking over and over for 10 minutes to pick locks occasionally.

I suspect it has to do with the ability of CRPGs to portray the entire world graphically, whereas TTRPGs have to rely on the theatre of the mind, meaning that entirely different constraints apply and immersion means totally different things. One of my favorite computer games is Unreal World, but honestly, if it were a possibility, I'd rather play that in the Skyrim engine...or at least with Skyrim visuals. Part of the reason I put so much time into modded Fallout 3 is that I turned it into a post-apocalyptic survival simulator, which is a lot more engaging when you can peek through desks and behind beds and so on to find items rather than making Spot Checks or searching the square. Trying to replicate that experience in a TTRPG is one of holy grails, but I'm not really sure it can be done.

It's finally warming up in Chiberia. Enough that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and a friend and I were able to walk around for over an hour outside and not feel like we should have been fighting off wargs and yeti to get to our destinations. The sun is out too, and now I can tell I'm getting old, because for most of my life I reacted to the sun basically the same way that a vampire would, but now it's a welcome sight. Then again, it might just be that after a few years of soft, weak winters, I'm no longer conditioned to a true Chicago winter and the sun comes as a welcome sight. I guess I've lost my ability to call it the daystar.

Among all the complaining about daylight savings time, I'm actually kind of happy about it, because Ta'anit Esther is this Thursday and this means I don't actually have to get up much earlier than I usually do in order to keep the fast. I just have to wake up, eat, and then shower instead of doing it the other way around. I guess I am kind of the stereotype of the convert that becomes more observant than a lot of others...though somewhat oddly. I mean, if I always say the blessing before meals, but still eat bacon cheeseburgers, I'm not sure where that puts me. (^_^;)

That's about all I can think of for now!
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Surprisingly, even though I've lived in Chicago my entire non-university-attending life in America, I've never had a flight cancelled before. Plenty of flights delayed, because Chicago, but not cancelled.

Until tonight. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were scheduled to fly out tomorrow to go to the National Association of School Psychologists 2014 Convention in Washington D.C. Well, she's going, and I'm going to go to the Smithsonian, maybe the National Cathedral, the National Gallery, etc. Anyway, we got word today through our phones (because we live in the future) that our flight had been cancelled. No reason, but based on all the other flights that have been cancelled lately, I feel safe tagging this post with "weather."

Because life is random and unfair, our flight was cancelled even though one of the earlier flights was unaffected, and after a call we are now leaving five hours earlier than we had originally planned. At least, we think we are--trying to go to American's website to check in just gives us a note that we can't do that because there aren't any seats available. So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is currently on hold (one hour so far...) waiting to talk to American to see what's up and make sure we at least have a chance of flying out tomorrow.


Update: [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd finally got through. Apparently, the seats are all being held in reserve by the airline and no one can check in, but we have a seat on the plane since it's not full--it'll just be determined by when we get to the airport. That's not that bad at all.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Not the actual weather outside. Sure, there's a polar vortex and it's colder for longer than it's been in decades, but...I live in Chicago. Being cold in the winter is kind of part of what I signed up for when we decided to move back here instead of to Seattle.

No, it's the weather inside. Back in Japan, our house was basically an uninsulated concrete box where we'd wake up to ice inside the shower room in the morning. On the other hand, we had a kotatsu with two electric heaters that we could huddle under after we woke up and made it downstairs, and we had a combo aircon/heater unit in our bedroom that was minimally effective. It actually wasn't that bad when you were under the kotatsu, other than the risk of burning yourself on the grating around the heater. Or getting minor burns from the electric heater if you put it too close. Or how the side away from the heater always froze. Or the aforementioned ice in the shower. Did you realize olive oil can freeze at relatively common temperatures? I didn't until I moved to Japan.

Okay, perhaps it is nostalgia that makes me not hate it.

There isn't any ice in our shower, but the temperature in our bedroom in the morning certainly feels water we left out would freeze, though I admit that's probably just the contrast from the pile of blankets we have. The advantage of having a wall aircon unit in both our living room and our bedroom is that summers are fine because it's really easy to cool the entire apartment when we need to, and the disadvantage is that it's very drafty in the winter even when we seal up the inside side of the aircon unit with professionally-made sealing kits mixed with duct-taped garbage bags. At least our apartment doesn't face the lake or it'd be even worse.

We have radiator heat, which means we don't pay for it and so have a criminally low electric bill compared to Japan (something like one tenth of what we paid there), but the radiator is not particularly effective at times like these. I practice city-dweller indifference toward my neighbors, but [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd does the laundry and occasionally talks to people, so she's heard several other people complaining about the lack of heat as well, which in classic human fashion makes me more secure in my own annoyance at how cold it is inside when I wake up. I'm too stubborn to actually buy an electric heater to deal with it, though, since we're probably going to be looking for a new apartment come the summer and it might not have as much of a problem.

I have no greater point here. I'm just annoyed that they won't turn up the heat.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Note: I didn't make that word up. It's a thing. It's currently -24°C, -41°C with wind chill factored in, and colder than the south pole (though that's not entirely fair, since right now it's summer there).

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I (and a lot of my friends too, including some who work in retail) have the day off today due to incredibly low temperatures. If you live in America, this is not news to you. If you don't, imagine something like this:

It's a bit like how I imagine the zombie apocalypse would be. Except for one car every few minutes, the only sound outside is the howling of the wind. It was especially loud last night, but I went and climbed up and down the apartment staircase a few times for some exercise (and because it was warmer than out apartment in there) and when I was up at the top near the penthouse floor, there's a window looking out onto the roof. The sky looked really peaceful--it's a brilliant blue without a cloud in sight--but the wind was blowing hard enough outside that most of the steam coming from apartment heating was traveling horizontally.

Going into the staircase and then coming back was a bit of an adjustment. You'd think that after living in an unheated, uninsulated house in Japan for three years that I'd be used to ambient cold, but you'd be wrong. I suspect that's because in Japan, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I would huddle under a kotatsu with a space heater next to each of us, which changes the context a bit. Here we have radiator heat and it's not that bad, but it's still chilly. But I'm not going to complain any more because I got to stay home from work, unlike quite a few people who had to go in.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has tomorrow off as well, and while I might, work's emergency website anticipates being open. I wouldn't mind a day off, but I wouldn't mind going in either. I did just get back from a huge vacation so I'm pretty rested.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
I hope the rain doesn't ruin our plans to go late-night minigolfing. Unfortunately, considering how heavy it is, it well might. Curse you, global climate change!

Next Friday will be my last day at the paper, which is a little sad. It's the longest job I've ever worked at (a little over three years), and I'm glad that I got it, but I don't know if my future lies in journalism. If it does, I now have extensive experience and clippings to draw on if I apply to another job, though, so there's at least that. And if it doesn't, I still managed to use my English degree from college to write for a living, which is more than a lot of people expected I'd be able to do. I probably could have made more money in a different job, but any alternate plans were pretty difficult due to meeting [ profile] softlykarou and then wanting to go to Japan. Well...maybe when I get back from Japan I can do translation work (though I hear the pay there is crap too). We'll see.
dorchadas: (Teh sex)
Wow. The fog outside is ridiculous at the moment. Visibility at max is 100 feet or so, and it was down to probably 50 in some places. It's like driving in the middle of Stephen King's The Mist, except without the horrible monsters waiting to eat me when I step out of my car.

There was one part that was pretty memorable. There's a bridge over an interstate on the way back from work. While driving over it today, the fog was thick enough that I couldn't see the interstate below me, or the lights of any cars on it, or the ends of the bridge. It was like I was driving along a road suspended over an endless chasm of mist. I kind of wish the bridge had been longer...

Happy birthday [ profile] ashiri_chan!

Ohayocon 2008

2008-Jan-07, Monday 19:07
dorchadas: (Enter the Samurai)
I have a little post-con blues at the moment, but I'm sure it'll go away. In the meantime, here's the report from Ohayocon 2008.

We spent most of Thursday traveling, so not a very eventful day. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I woke up at [personal profile] fiendishfanfares's, where we had spent the night to solve parking issues. Got to the airport, plane left on time, got to the con location okay, etc. etc. Once there, we kind of waited around for everyone else to arrive (since most of them had driven) and then hung around in [ profile] tropicanaomega and [ profile] tastee_wheat's room while they did a bit more work on their cosplays. After dinner at the Max and Erma's across the street (very rare New York Strip with blue cheese crumbles. Mmmmmmm...), we went back to our room to finish up our cosplays (and some others came up, since our room was inexplicably twice as big as anyone else's), then went to bed.

Friday, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I woke up and got her Navi ("Hey! Listen!") costume put together before heading out. There wasn't much we wanted to do before a beginning cosplay panel at 7 p.m., so we wandered around for a while and looked at other cosplayers. We went to the dance on Friday night, but nearly got kicked out because it was apparently a "family-friendly" rave, whatever the hell that means. After that bout of lame, we went back to the room with some friends of [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and hung out before it got pretty late, and then went to bed.

Saturday we woke up again and changed into our Phoenix Wright cosplays (unfortunately, I don't have a picture yet where I'm not obscured) and went down for the semi-official photoshoot, which lasted a while. After lunch, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I separated. She had to go to a Psych in Anime panel, which was apparently pretty awesome and has inspired her to run a similar panel at ACEN. It also inspired her to get the manga Welcome to the NHK, which is hilariously disturbning (the manga, not her desire to get it). We went to the masquerade and saw [ profile] tropicanaomega's skit (which, sadly, did not win anything), as well as the other skits, which were actually pretty funny. We caught the tail end of the AMV contest, and while nothing I saw was really amazing, there was a neat video of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to Still Alive of Portal fame. After a few hours in a room hanging out at a pseudo-birthday party with a bunch of people whose LJs (if they have them) I don't know, we went down and caught the tail end of the rave (which was decidedly not family-friendly this time ^_~), before heading outside for a bit, and then to bed at around 5.

Sunday we left and came home. Only problem was the lack of sleep and the massive flight delay due to "fog," though I'm told that weather always gets blamed because the companies don't have to reimburse anyone for the delays then.

Looking forward to ACEN already. This could be the year when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my Marie and Miruru (from Onegai Teacher) costumes actually happen...

Random rantings

2007-Dec-04, Tuesday 16:40
dorchadas: (Ping Kills)
Redneck gifts? )

Intra-Ivy League snobbery? )

It's snowing now. Theoretically, anyway. I got a warning of 2-4 inches by tonight, but while the sky is the color of impending snow there's nothing falling as of yet. I hope it stays that way, since I have to go teach EFL tonight.

On Sunday, [ profile] softlykarou will have been married for six months. Time flies. ^_^


2007-Feb-12, Monday 23:37
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
Nothing like sitting underneath a blanket with a heating pad. Except maybe sitting underneath a blanket with someone else, but unfortunately, [ profile] softlykarou is already on her way home.

We went to see a theater group perform The Canterbury Tales on Saturday at Fermilab. I was a little leery of what it was going to be like, but it turned out really good. A lot of it was direct quotes from the book though mostly in modernized English. The costumes were odd. Originally, it seemed like they were going to be original, when the nun came out and started her tale, but then when the soldiers she mentioned were dressed in fatigues... It wasn't bad, just a little surprising. The pardoner was appropriately creepy, when he gave his speech at the end about if anyone with anything needed to confess, they should come forth and kiss his relics. All in all, I expected not to like it and was pleasantly surprised.

I think all the commentary on midwest winter weather I need is that when I went outside this morning, with snow on the ground and my breath misting the air, my first thought was "damn, it's warm out here." 30 is a nice change from -3.
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
Most of my posts lately have been my NaNo project. There's 35K words done if you want me to add you to the NaNo LJ list. :)

My sister got into Michigan State for Vet school! She's not sure that she's going to go yet, because she hasn't heard back from any of the other places she applied to (I'm not sure what all these are. I know Penn is one of them), but at least she knows that no matter what any of the others say, she's going!

Speaking of which, I need to get cracking on my JET essay. By Thanksgiving weekend, it'll be done. *nods*

I'm starting to see why people look back on college as the best years of their lives. I wouldn't say that's true of me (though it was hella fun), but my life recently hasn't been worth posting about as much because so much of it is the same. Not boring, or bad, just similar.

It's freezing cold here.


dorchadas: (Default)

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