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Showing posts from February, 2014
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I was perusing a bunch of sports medicine stuff the other day, and I finally remembered to dig up the normal range of motion for the major joints.
"Hip flexion: Flex knee and bring thigh close to abdomen," it says. "110-130 degrees." Well, given a few minutes to stretch, I can get my knee hooked around the back of my shoulder, which degree-wise is something in excess of a hundred and eighty.
"Internal hip rotation: Flex knee and swing away from midline. 40 degrees." Sitting upright, I can press the top of one thigh to the floor, bend my knee all the way, and hook the arch of my foot over my bicep so that I can get a direct look at whatever part of my foot I've blistered this time. My toes rest just short of my shoulder. Fairly comfortable, actually.
"Shoulder vertical extension: Raise arm straight backwards. 60 degrees. Shoulder horizontal extension: Swing arms horizontally backwards. 45 degrees." I crack my back by pushing both arms around…
It is time for another pledge drive. I fucking hate doing this.

I have a gimpy rat. It's Bianca, aka Binky, if that matters to anyone. She's listing to port. Head-tilt is easy to treat, so I packed my cockeyed rat into a box with some fabric and a cookie, shoved a water bottle and a dish into my purse in case she needed to tank up before peeing all over the vet, and went out to Allston.

One of the reasons I decided it was safe to get more critters was that I was told that Merwin offered free veterinary services, and they do, but when I got there I was told they didn't treat exotics. They referred me to MSPCA Angell. I've taken a würfliger Rat out to Angell before, and they're perfectly nice and competent, but they also charged me $100 for the visit and $20 for the antibiotics.

I do not have $120. I don't have grocery money right now. Short form:

Still no fourth roommate. Roommate who left not coughing up any money. Cost: $133Dudebro got the internet turned off f…
If you've ever looked at a photograph and asked, "Oh god, do I really look like that?" the answer is almost certainly no. Nobody looks like they do in photos. Not even professional models. Especially not professional models.

Photography is two-dimensional. It cuts both depth and time out of your perception of the subject. It's hard to judge how quickly things curve towards or away from the camera, and it's easy to snap the shutter at the one instant, right in the middle of a movement, that looks bizarre and awkward. You need a lot of practice to light things such that the shadows suggest the shape that's actually there -- or at least the shape you want -- and you still spend a lot of time sifting through proofs and throwing away all the ones that look weird. I routinely get back lots of 300 proofs from a shoot, of which like ten are worth showing to the outside world.

Most of what makes people cringe about pictures is that they don't look like the image t…
Quite a while ago, I was gifted a copy of "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes". I poked at it and made some comments about the writing style here, but I am a terrible person, especially when it comes to things that have no formal deadlines, and it's taken me this long to figure out how to make my draft of the book report into a readable document.

I admit to having little patience with these sorts of books. Aside from resisting the urge to snap something about not teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, a lot of them are boring. You can only reword "pay attention to your surroundings and remember to think about stuff" -- which is the actual mechanic of the trick -- so many times before your 300 page magnum opus starts to get tedious. Konnikova peppers hers with bits of memoir, which to me are the more interesting part. She also shovels in a lot of pop psychology, so if you're tired of hearing about how you can only hold X things in working memory …
I managed to finish Johnny Weir's book some time ago. Seriously, you need to see this thing. It is very pink. And he is wearing one hell of a pair of shoes on the cover. High-fashion ankle-breakers, if I ever saw them.

Some of the reviews charge that the book sounds immature in places. A fair cop, but irrelevant. It's a memoir, not a scholarly biography; he's putting these things down as he remembers them happening, and during most of them he was suffering from an inconvenient but common medical condition called 'being a goddamn teenager'. He is quite able to apply hindsight, and sometimes hops back into the present to comment that he'd just done something of consummate stupidity in the story he was telling.

He was also occasionally not an idiot at that age. He recounts a moment when he was maybe nineteen-ish, when he had the sudden realization that his crowds of adoring fangirls were fawning and helpful and showering him with presents not because he was better…
Boston lost its mind last week, when it snowed again. My phone buzzed all day with T-Alerts telling me that buses and trains were delayed by weather. I still don't know why this happens. It's only snowed all winter, every winter, for the past 400 years. I'm pretty sure that Precipitation isn't one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but I never have gotten all the way through the Bible. Maybe it's been updated -- Precipitation, Traffic, Banking Fees, and No Signal. I assume Death is still current.

I went to the library, because they had some of my holds in, and secretly, I like walking around in the winter weather.

There's a bunch of candids on YouTube of some of the skaters I've been nosing around rehearsing for a show, and in one of them, right as they finish a number, Stéphane Lambiel decides it's time for a little lie-down. He executes what I can only describe as a good-natured fwomp! flat backwards onto the ice. This is about how I feel about w…

Weekend Radio Theater: Burns & Allen

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I'm a nitwit sometimes. I've been thinking for a while that it's difficult to know whether I'm doing anything right in the dance studio because I can only see myself in the mirror in flashes. I can see that I look roughly right when I do the 180° to start an axel, but after that I'm too busy trying to make myself spin to know what I look like in the air. It dawned on me, after far too long, that my phone has a goddamn camera in it. In my defense, I spent years doing my best not to own a phone with a goddamn camera in it, and nine times out of ten, I only remember this one can do that when I accidentally hit the shutter button and interrupt my solitaire game with a sudden, puzzling view of the floor of the train car. (The other 10% of the time, it's because I've developed an urgent medical need to take pictures of rats.)

So now I've some idea what I look like when I do this, and while I won't be posting any of these until I look less like I have some…
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For those of you who aren't good at converting words into movement -- and because I'm doing animated ads for Circlet now and need practice at giffing things without being completely incompetent -- here are a couple of animation showing what the feet do for an axel jump. Specifically, this is what my feet are up to. For a counterclockwise jumper, mirror everything.

Everything starts going backwards with a crossover. Crossovers are how you get going a million miles an hour, especially around a curve. Ice skates are broadly Newtonian; objects in motion will stay in motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an outside force. Since the walls of the rink curve, you also want to curve, unless you're dead-set on embarrassing yourself by smacking into the boards. To do this, you plant the foot on the outside of the curve on the ice and never lift it -- a bit counter-intuitive for hockey players who are used to shoving off sideways to get going in a straight line. The inside fo…

Reader question! Hooray!

Slightly delayed because goddamn roommate.

A reader submits to me two adorable PBS Muppet videos -- one with Tom Hiddleston and one with Benedict Cumberbatch -- and comments:
Comparing the two, I wonder if Cumberbatch is slightly ill at ease, possibly preferring to act alongside flesh-and-blood, because Hiddleston seems more comfortable in his segment. Possibly because he's improvising more? What do you think? Not really. I think what you're seeing there is a difference in acting styles and scripts. Hiddleston's segment casts him at someone who's obviously familiar with Cookie Monster already -- and besides which, he spends the entire time trying not to go heeeeeeee heeheehee Muppets! -- while Cumberbatch's script is specifically asking him to be bewildered by Murray's insistence on being his arch-nemesis and refusing to get his name right. Cumberbatch generally reads very true when he's acting, and in this case he's playing himself, so you get a convinc…
GRR.

My Wintel laptop is having some issues. The power adapter is getting very grudging about making contact. I've been wedging it against things and jamming the adapter cord into the screen hinge and using the patented Click & Clack Bungee Cord method (i.e., rubber bands and clever use of hair elastics) to keep it pressed in and charging, but I'm getting fucking tired of it, and it'll break completely sooner or later.

I've been ignoring it as hard as I can, because laptop mobo replacement is generally $200+. This is way out of my budget right now, plus the entire laptop cost $300 a year and a half ago, so no. I finally went looking around in the vain hope that the problem was somehow the $20 AC adapter instead, but no luck.

I was hampered somewhat by the fact that the sticker is worn off the bottom and hell if I know what the model number is, but after plugging in a bunch of specs it seems to be one of the X54C line. (The other line that shares some of the same co…
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One of the things I find I'm enjoying about the figure skating experiments is that the mechanics are entirely crackable by logic. They don't give you a method for much of this stuff, so much as they tell you what the requirements are and leave it to you to work out a way to get there without falling down. The goals are often arbitrary -- "land your jumps on one foot" springs to mind, no pun intended -- but they're also not numerous, or even necessarily all that idiotic. A lot of practical experimentation ensued, and convergent evolution of all the methods tried by all the skaters leads to there being a right way to do something, which is the most efficient way to do it as well.

It's my favorite sort of game. Here are the rules, you can try literally anything else as long as you follow them. Manipulation of logical systems, more or less.

Take sit spins. There's a bunch of different ways to do them, as you can see there on the left. The requirements are tha…
The Russians are so cheerfully insane. Johnny Weir makes it a habit of thanking people very loudly for being nice, and while I was offline he posted this on Instagram. If you're having trouble comprehending what you're looking at, that would be Evgeni Plushenko, reimagined as some sort of ninja skating duck. Given that the person he was thanking for those was Yana Rudkovskaya -- in Western terms, Mrs. Plushenko -- I expect Zhenya is aware. It's a hilariously not-terrible likeness. The mop of platinum hair in his face is spot-on.

Ninja skating Plush duck, I would like to point out, is wearing white skates. You may argue that this is one of the least perplexing parts of that picture, but it's actually kinda weird. White skates are for girls. I found that out when looking for the things on Amazon. It's pretty easy to find men's figure skates -- probably because these are the sorts of skates you buy if you're just planning on fucking around in a rink or on a po…
Yannow, I was all prepared to watch Johnny Weir go over to Sochi and be really upset at no longer feeling welcome in a place that was so important to him -- either Russia or the Olympics. The best he expected, I think, was a kind of peace by silence, where a lot of athletes would defend the apolitical nature of the games but refuse to comment, even diplomatically, about the Russian Federation's new law. And at worst, the Russians would renege on their stated policy of 'you don't go poking us with sticks, we don't go poking you with deportation proceedings'.

He's having a blast instead. I'm glad. He's spending half his time playing dress-up with Tara Lipinski and cluttering all the Instagram accounts he has access to with photos of shoes and shiny renditions of Cheburashka, and the other half being more than a bit overwhelmed by the show of support from athletes and personnel from all around the world.

And I do mean all around the world. In addition to t…

Weekend Radio Theater: Burns & Allen

In honor of the fabled holiday Chocolate Sale Eve (others refer to it as Valentine's Day, clearly not appreciating that the real benefit is the glorious Chocolate Sale Day on the 15th), I give you one of the most cherished, adoring, hilarious couples in show-biz history: George Burns and Gracie Allen.
"Gracie Plays Sadie Thompson"
"Gracie's Murder Mystery"
"Government Jobs"

George & Gracie

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Happy Chocolate Sale Eve, everybody! And Valentine's Day, if you celebrate that. I think I've only once actually had a boyfriend on V-Day, and in retrospect I should have dumped him long before that happened. 
In honor of couple-dom, however, today's post is about one of the quintessential couples of showbiz, George Burns and Gracie Allen. They were a mixed couple, unusual for the time; George was born Nathan Birnbaum to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Romania, and Gracie was one of four Irish Catholic sisters. They met in 1923, and at first their partnership was strictly business -- Gracie was engaged to someone else at the time. They went on tour first as a traditional vaudeville act, where George played the wacky comedian and Gracie was the straight man, but after noticing that Gracie was getting more laughs on the setup than George was with the punchlines, they flipped the characters around.

"And all of a sudden, the audience realized I had a talent. They we…
It occurs to me that the progress of my blog looks rather uneven from the outside. I write a bunch about one thing, disappear for a few days, then come back fixated on something else. It's not quite like that on the inside. For me, once one particular stress-bucket is filled to the brim, it sloshes over to stain others. Moggie can tell you that I'm always on about something; the apparent gap and appearance of a sudden attention switch happens in my writing mainly because when I'm under enough pressure about one thing, however unrelated, all of the dials start creeping upwards in sympathy, including the one that's hypersensitive to signs that I'm boring the fuck out of people. A lack of feedback usually strikes me as meaning that I've succeeded in writing something that has not made people all stabby-angry. When I'm already worried about basically everything else, the same lack of backchat convinces me that no one wants to know what my brain coughs up on the…
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[X-posted from the Circlet site.]

EIGHT YEARS IN THE MAKING The literary anthology the bi community deserves!
Circlet Press is proud to announce a new Kickstarter campaign for the book "Best Bi Short Stories: An Anthology of Bisexual Literary Fiction".  Compiled and edited by bisexual visibility activist and writer Sheela Lambert, "Best Bi Short Stories" is a 23-author anthology of bisexual fiction, including contributions from Katherine V. Forrest, Ann Herendeen, Jane Rule, James Williams, and Jan Steckel. Find the tale behind the book -- and why the effort has culminated in a Kickstarter campaign -- here, with details of what you'll get for supporting their efforts to both publish and pay the authors a reasonable wage for their work.

And please, feel free to spread the word! If you have a news site, personal blog, or even just a Facebook page, share our campaign! A variety of banners and graphics are also available here.
After a great deal of angry yelling, my internets have returned. I'm sure my roommate thinks I'm some kind of hysterical psycho-bitch by now, but I've got the telecomms back, so I don't care anymore, do I? I don't think he grasps what happens when there is no internet in the apartment.

I'll just go down the list, shall I? With no net connection, I:

can't do any of my QA work. The position is entirely remote, entirely online, and bills hourly. This position pays most of my bills.can't do any Mechanical Turk work, which is also entirely online, and pays per-piece.can do a very limited amount of work for Circlet. Technically, all of my graphic design software is stored locally and duplicated across both platforms, but all of the resources I need to put together an ad campaign -- clean cover art, templates, the stylesheet, press/blurbs, the list of ISBNs, the list of press sites, the various social media, the actual books -- is stored on GDrive, Dropbox, and…
It has been astutely noted that I've stolen a lot of my rational checks and balances from the bipolar people of the world. I actually wondered for a while if I was bipolar -- particuarly worrying, as at the time I was around the age where traditionally you have your first full-blown manic episiode -- so I did the usual and started cramming everything I could find into my noggin.

The first thing you do, obviously, is start keeping track of what's knocking around inside your head. It was how I started blogging, in fact. That was back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, so this was all in a terrible trashy LiveJournal read by about three people, all of whom I also talked to in person. It became apparent rather quickly that I don't fit the standard symptoms of (hypo)mania; I have a depressed mode and a non-depressed mode, and the non-depressed one is the one where I eat and sleep properly, and venture outside, and don't go on crying jags, und so weiter. In the years since, I&…