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Everything is just different enough to be familiar yet bewildering. It's like the new version of MST3K. WHY IS TOM SERVO FLYING AND WHY IS GYPSY UPSIDE DOWN AND WHY ARE ALL MY FRIENDS LINKS TO LIVEJOURNAL oh right I'm supposed to track them each down individually and find their new DW names okay we'll see if I have that kind of energy any time soon
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Anyone have a use for a scanner?

HP ScanJet 3570c, to be precise. It's oldish but perfectly functional, but apparently not compatible with Snow Leopard, and it's been years since I needed to scan something anyway, so it's just been taking up desk space which I would now like to reclaim.

Say the word and it's yours.

(The word is "tintinnabulation.")

ETA: as long as I'm giving things away, if anyone is interested in Google Wave invitations I have seven of them to hand out. Say the word, etc.
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So that was different.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to force the spiritual experience I had last time to happen again. That, predictably, did not work. It was like trying to force an orgasm. Trying to light the same fire twice. A bad chunk of time, really.

Some of this was external: the first day (and night) was a downpour, a mud-to-the-ankles monsoon that kept a lot of people separated and huddled in their tents during the day, and moved that night's fire circle to a covered pavilion usually used just for yoga and dance workshops. It was a little surprising how much the change in setting altered the energy of the event: it didn't come close to running until daylight; we were eventually down to four drummers and no dancers at all, just doing a quiet, not-at-all-ritual music jam for a while. Which was nice, in its way, but by three o'clock it was over and I was back in my tent.

Some of it was familiarity. Everything about that first experience was a complete surprise; I showed up with no knowledge and no expectations -- as a result everyone there seemed like magical beings performing these mysterious acts. This time I could see the people as people, some familiar friendly faces (though I remain embarrassingly inept at remembering most of the names). And knew at least the basic outline of events, which made them more comfortable, but less magical.

And some of it, a lot of it of course, was me.

If I were writing this in outline form, this bullet point would subdivided into 3.a) Me, skill at drumming, and 3.b) Me, issues regarding introversion and age.

3A, then: The first time I came here I thought I knew how to drum, and had it amply demonstrated to me (in the nicest way possible) just how far I had yet to go. This time around I've had two more years of fairly systematic study and practice, and I've definitely graduated out of the beginner level, where you sit around the back benches and go tapetatapetatapetatap and nobody really cares because you're mostly inaudible anyway, into a place where the real drummers are starting to notice me. My whole approach to the fire has been completely changed by this; on the one hand there were a lot of wonderful moments when I looked out there and saw dancers responding directly to something I was playing, or where one of the other drummers and I would toss a rhythm back and forth for a while -- there was some awesome three-way call-and-response the first night, very satisfying -- and times where I knew that if I were to stop doing what I was doing, the whole circle would grind to a halt. (Including at least one, deep in the slow pre-dawn shift, when I slipped and did exactly that. Oops.) But at the same time I'm so much more aware of when I should not be playing, whether because the other instruments at the time are quieter sorts that shouldn't be overridden by a big djembe sound, or just because there are already enough people making noise... I'm used to classroom drumming or small-group jamming, where I need to step up and fill in as much space as possible; here I needed to sit back, play simpler rhythms with lots more space in between for others to play with. (One of the doundoun players said he also does a lot of improv comedy, and drew some useful parallels between that and circle drumming: you can't just stomp in and say HERE IS A PUNCHLINE; it's much better to quietly set up good opportunities for them to happen.) More listening than playing, more responding to than building up.

Aaaanyway. That's a lot of detail that may not be all that interesting; the point is that it all added up to a much more conscious, front-brain experience: I wasn't trancing out and looking inward this time; it wasn't until the final hour of the last fire, when everyone piles in and just plays their hearts out because this is it, there's no more, that I finally set myself aside and threw myself deep into it (grinning like a fool the whole time).

So in a spiritual sense the fires were, perhaps, less than they were before, for me. The daytimes were more, though. (Here we move to step 3B. Nice segue, eh?) I'm not sure I can be as articulate about this part yet, but it boils down to being more comfortable with conversations, more comfortable with my position in the community, more aware that that position is chosen by my actions, nobody's placing it on me. I have a lot more work to do here, but I'm starting to see the way.

And there's the age thing. I am finally, finally starting to let go of that nagging out-of-place feeling that I want to be hanging out with the cool kids. Because, frankly, the cool grownups are a lot more interesting. Duh. I don't know why that one took me so long to figure out, but it's a really recent discovery for me.

For example: my twentieth high school reunion was this year, the exact same weekend as Spiritfire. (How's that for a symbolic choice to have to make? Past or present? GO!) When I went to my tenth reunion, everyone looked pretty much the same as they had in high school, but thicker, looser, flabbier, worn down. People have started posting photos from this time around, and this time they don't look anything like they did in high school; you have to squint to even see the resemblance sometimes. They look better than they did. All of them. They look like real people now, not like aging versions of their childhood faces. I know that's because of a change in my perception, not their actual appearance -- but that's a threshold I'm totally relieved to have finally crossed.


Okay, this turned long. And as usual I lack a concluding paragraph. So it goes. Time to post.
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I'm off to Spiritfire. See you on the other side.
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So I got these hearing aids.

They are inch-long plastic triangles that sit on top of my ears, each with a long and fairly stiff wire molded to reach from there down to my ear canal, ending (at some depth for which I have not yet determined the optimum value) in a tiny bead-like speaker. Each tiny speaker, unfortunately, is capped by a big floppy disposable silicone wedge designed to cork up the ear from the outside world, and as an earwax shield. These tickle and at the end of the day itch, and often cause an underwater why-won't-my-ears-pop sensation.

They have a startup chime. It starts playing after a short delay, to give you time to stuff the hearing aids in first. I get a certain nerdy glee out of listening to it. The box they came in is clearly designed with those gearhead "unboxing" videos in mind. They are shockingly expensive.

There was some cognitive dissonance the day I went to put my ipod headphones in my ears only to be reminded that there was already something in there.

I honestly cannot decide whether they are helping me hear better or not. Things certainly sound different -- when the doctor first turned them on the difference was startling -- but I can never judge, when somebody says something that I don't quite catch, whether it's because the hearing aids aren't doing enough or the person was just inaudible or even if I'd be able to hear it better without these chunks of plastic in my ears. When I wear them I am more conscious of background noises, birdsong or fan noise or whatever's going on, but whether that is a good sign or a bad one I am not equipped to say.

I have 60 days to make up my mind (before I lose the option to get most of my money back for returning them. Insurance? No. Personal check.)
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0:00: Octopus [Vader voice] Your pipe wrench. I have it now.
0:22: Octopus Ptui. Ihave no need of your pathetic human pipe wrench.
0:29: Octopus Wait. Give me back the pipe wrench.
0:32: Cuttlefish Yoink!
0:34: Diver [freaks the hell out]
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Just to make it official, yes, we'll do that fourth of july thing I said we might do. My plan is to go to the Williamstown parade (which starts at 11, and ends whenever it ends I guess), do that, then come back home and socialize with anybody who happens to be there for as long as they feel like staying. That sounds like a good plan, doesn't it?

We have zero fireworks visibility here but I'm sure we can find something to set fire to if we set our minds to it.

Bring family, kids, pets, drums if you like (for those who don't already know, the drum crew is going to be playing in the parade; I'll be extending this invitation to them as well, we'll see if any of them feel like making the trek up here.) We'll have basic grillables and drinks, if anyone feels like supplementing one or the other that's great, but don't feel obligated.

Looking forward to seeing you all!
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So if we were to have a sort of informal afternoon barbecue + drinks + pool thing on July 4th, would anybody come?
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Ok, it's becoming clear that approximately half of the people I'm friends with here are ultimately going to move to Dreamwidth, and half are not. Some are crossposting, and some are not, and some are doing it only for certain types of posts, and basically for someone who just wants to see what his friends are up to it's all just about as irritating as it could possibly be.

I could just stay here at LJ and hope that those who crosspost will continue to do so, and that those who aren't will start.

I could give in and set up an equivalent friends page over there and then have to check two separate sites instead of one, and hope that everybody stops crossposting so I don't have to see everything twice.

Neither of those are very appealing options. Is there a third option that I'm not aware of?


For those of you who are migrating to DreamWidth: why? (I had had the impression that the draw was supposed to be that it's more fanfic-friendly, but it doesn't seem to be the fanfic that's moving over there.)

For those of you who aren't: how are you dealing with it? Is this just me?

What? What?

Jun. 4th, 2009 11:42 am
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I'm getting a hearing aid!

They gave me this book to read, more than half of which is devoted to handholding patients who really don't want a hearing aid: chapters titled "The Emotions of Losing Hearing" and "A Bridge To Healing" and "Why Some Consumer Reject Hearing Aids But How You Could Love Them!" and etc.

This was unnecessary. The minute they confirmed that yes, I actually do have measurable hearing loss and it's not that I'm just not paying enough attention or something I was all HELL YEAH HOOK ME UP and [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven was all SEE I DO NOT MUMBLE I AM VINDICATED. The doctor wanted to send me home to think about it first and seemed a little amused by how quickly I said no that's ok I can has hearing aid nao plz?

I have, apparently, a problem with the hair cells in my inner ear: I can hear very high pitches and very low pitches just fine, but the midrange, where human speech is conveniently located, drops off quite a bit. This matches the results of a (much less in-depth) hearing test I had done about five years ago, though it seems to have gotten somewhat worse over time. It's not a result of exposure to loud noises (which would damage the high pitches first) so I don't have to stop drumming or anything, which is good -- it's just a manufacturing defect of some kind. I can live with that.

It really is amazing what a relief it is to have this confirmed. I've been watching movies with the subtitles turned on for a while now, and completely faking it in group conversations -- by the way, if any of you happen to have told me anything important when there were more than three of you in the room, you might want to email me about it or something because odds are I have no idea what you were saying and just nodded and smiled because that usually seems to work -- and even during the test where they play the little beeps at you through a headset and you're supposed to raise your hand when you hear something there was that nagging uncertainty: am I just imagining this? Am I just not paying enough attention?

But then they did a different kind of test where I just had to sit there while this device pressurized my ear and, like, listened for echoes or something (I'm a little fuzzy on the details here, obviously) and drew a little line graph of the results, which just zigzagged all over the place instead of the neat tidy line a normal ear would produce.

Objective evidence is totally awesome.

So in two weeks I go back for a fitting, and I'll pick out a color (they come in colors! What do you think, should I get the leopard print?) and sometime after that I'll look like one of those dorks who wear their bluetooth headsets all the time. And, with any luck, I'll be able to understand you when you talk to me. That will be nice.

(Hey, [livejournal.com profile] bayleaf, any suggestions re brands or styles to look for / avoid?)

Life update

Jun. 1st, 2009 05:02 pm
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It's been a busy few days weeks.

We went to New York for a bat mitzvah. Services in which everything has to be done twice (there were two girls sharing the service) are interminable. (I used Stellan as an excuse, and the first time he made an even vaguely fussy noise escaped with him outside and spent most of the rest of the time feeding him cheerios on a park bench.) Outside there were two vehicles ready to ferry people to each girl's separate afterparty: one was a stretch hummer limousine, the other a schoolbus. We went with the schoolbus. At the party I learned several things: A. thirteen year old girls look much younger than you expect, B. except for the ones that look much older than you expect, and C. all of them know how to do the Hannah Montana dance. (Also, D., there is a Hannah Montana dance. It is vaguely hoedown-related. Should you ever wish to impersonate a thirteen year old girl, tutorials are available.)

After that we went to California, where my dad's prostate cancer is being treated by MAD SCIENTISTS FROM TEH FUTURE. Seriously, this is completely awesome: they aim a particle accelerator, no really a real live particle accelerator at him once a day for a couple months, and shoot protons at him at relativistic speeds. My dad was geeking out on the technology almost as much as I was, describing the mold they made of his body to hold him in position (they call it his "pod") and the metal template which guides the beam -- basically a tumor-shaped stencil -- and the barcode system they use to match him with the correct pod and the correct template each time.

Seriously. Medical techniques which depend on particle-wave duality? Mad science from the future. They can aim the thing with 1mm precision. They can use it for retinal tumors. Crazy.

He's doing great -- the side effects are basically nil, he's pretty much acting like it's a long vacation. All the patients live in this same apartment complex; they go out for dinners and call each other "protoners" when they run into each other by the pool. I also got to see my sister and her family, for a day at Disneyland, which was great -- her kids are, true to cliche, Growing Up So Fast™.

Then we went to stay at [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven's brother's house before our flight home, because they live closest to the airport. Except that I woke up in the middle of the night with what we decided must be food poisoning, due to its impressively sudden onset and thorough effect. (I woke up feeling just fine, but with the dreamlike knowledge that I should be in the bathroom as soon as possible. So I went there. At which point my body simply emptied itself, efficiently and utterly.) So [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven changed our flights -- it was literally cheaper to just abandon the first tickets and buy new ones, for some reason -- and spent the day bringing me water to drink, and later confirmed that it was not food poisoning by coming down with it too.

I made what was either a noble decision -- get Stellan away from the source of infection! -- or an incredibly selfish one -- I just want to be home! -- and left [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven in the care of her brother's family while Stellan and I went to the airport. And missed our flight. So I changed our tickets again and went back to bring water to [livejournal.com profile] squirrelhaven which is what I should've been doing in the first place. And the next day we finally flew home, and Stellan was an absolute champ, waiting until wheels down in Hartford before puking all over me, rather than doing it at the beginning of the flight, which would've been disgusting, or on a fellow passenger, which would've been mortifying. (He's fine, it was an overstimulation puke, not a desperately-sick-with-stomach-flu puke.) Her brother's family is sick now. I feel bad about that. But I'm glad we're not there anymore.

And now we're home, and that doesn't bring us totally up to date but does provide a good stopping place for the time being.
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One of Stellan's toys is a french-canadian monkey. We don't know why he's french-canadian, only that every time he picks up the monkey I am compelled to say hello I am your monkey! yeesss are you ready to play with your monkey now yes? where you'll have to pretend that italic text denotes a gutteral french-canadian accent because I am at a loss for exactly how that would be most effectively transliterated. There are three people in this house for whom I am narrator, each with his own specific accent: Frank has his deep, slightly stoned "are you going to eat that?" thing going on; Stellan himself is high-pitched and honestly rather foul-mouthed, especially before meals or naps; and then there is this french-canadian monkey. Here is a photo of the monkey:



and I should note that there's ongoing discussion between squirrelhaven and I as to whether he's french-canadian and not just french; the only evidence being a frequently guttered JE SUIS CANADIENNNN!!!! on his part which is maybe protesting a little much if you know what I mean. Also I sometimes mix up the pronouns, such that the monkey tells Stellan "Okay now your mother and I have to go away and be alone by ourselves now, you just wait here and be quiet for a while, ok yes?" which is just a wrong thing for a monkey to say, french-canadian or not.

Anyway, the reason I was posting was to tell you that we watched Synechdoche, New York last night and it reduced me to literal, face-hurts-the-next-morning-from-the-muscle-strain-of-holding-them-back-for-124-minutes tears, in a "wtf who gave Charlie Kaufman permission to eavesdrop on my therapy sessions" kind of way. Not so much the four year old tattooed european sex trade daughter parts, but the striving, the aging, the death. That the fictional representations of us would be better at being us than we are. That the inside is the outside. That the house is on fire. I was going to watch it more times before saying anything, but I'm worried that if I look too closely at it it'll evaporate. And if someone was eavesdropping on your therapy sessions they might have made a completely different movie. Still.
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If enough of you watch this video,1 then [livejournal.com profile] osirusbrisbane will get a shiny2 new microphone. And wouldn't that be nice?3


1Editing and bobbly camerawork by me
2Microphone may not in fact be shiny
3Why, yes, now that you mention it it would be nice indeed
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So, hey, I put all your monsters online. Let me know if I got any of the ingredients wrong.
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IT IS OFFICIALLY SPRING
I HAVE SHAVED MY BEARD
THAT IS ALL
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I haven't been posting much because I've been in a relentlessly negative mood for the past, uh, well now that I look back I suppose the time period would best be described as "winter."

This is pretty much per usual: I am not a winter person in the best of circumstances. (Which this winter has not been. Ice storms and roof leaks and cars stranded in driveways and, well, and a baby. Who doesn't deserve to be placed in the Household Disasters category, it's not his fault. But in terms of disruption of day-to-day life, a new baby is right up there with construction work and, I dunno, falling anvils.)

But nobody needs to read me whine about that, so here's the 'five things' meme instead. )

Per the inviolable rule of LiveJournal memeage, I may not break the chain lest a family in North Dakota suffer thirteen weeks of bad luck, therefore: if you want me to prompt you with a list of five things I associate with you, ask below.
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I love the "Arguments" sections of the voter information packets -- the part where they get partisans on each side of the propositions to write a short essay about whether they should or shouldn't be made into law. They're so educational!

For example, this year I learned that here in Massachusetts, marijuana is so overpriced that people can only afford to purchase it in half-gram increments:
Decriminalization emboldens and enables drug dealers and poses a threat to public health and safety. One ounce of marijuana -- street value $600 -- equates to approximately 56 individual sales. --Michael O'Keefe, President, MA District Attorneys Association
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[no, we haven't had a baby yet]
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[No, we haven't had a baby yet]
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