feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
Tomorrow after class I'm driving to Atlanta and hanging out with Ally (Midnighter comics and ice skating boys), because she's driving me to the airport on Thursday.

Then I'm going to Austin for http://glac2017.weebly.com/ ! My poster arrived safely at the hotel yesterday, according to the postal tracker. I'm going to hang out with Laura, who lives there, Thursday afternoon before the conference, then there's a grad student gathering in the evening for dinner & drinks. The conference starts Friday at 8, bright and early.

(Ugh, they rearranged some of the panels, so there are some I want to go to at the same time :/ More than there were before. But it looks like there are a few mostly empty spots, so I might be able to work on memorizing Old Icelandic vocabulary...

Alaska!

17 Jul 2016 10:33 am
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
We had a great trip to Alaska. All flights were uneventful, and we successfully got on the boat at the appointed time. The scopolamine patch worked, and I learned that "wash the area after removal" doesn't mean "scrub it hard with a soapy rag," because that made a nasty, red, itchy spot that made it hard to place patch 3 (you alternate sides).

The weather was gorgeous most of the time--unusually sunny and warm. It was super cold when we had a small craft trip to look up close at a glacier, but that's to be expected.

And wildlife! So much wildlife. We were awakened by the leader at like 6:15 the first day because there were whales off the bow, so I bundled up for wind and cold and grabbed my camera and went out to see whales. There were whales like every morning. There were also brown bears with cubs, which were awesome. And we saw sea lions, sea otters, river otters, seals, puffins, and about a million bald eagles. Other people saw porpoises, but I missed them. Oh, and RAVENS. Lots of ravens.

Here are the photos I took with my phone. I took a bunch on the real camera, which has a wrist strap and optical zoom, mostly when we were in a small boat super close to the water. (I drop my phone a lot.) I need to pick the best from those and add them. Sometime...

We started in Juneau, visited Mendenhall Glacier, got on the boat, then went through the inside passage to Dawes Glacier, Petersburg, Elfin Cove, Glacier Bay NP, some Narrows, and other places, and ended in Sitka. They gave us a little map, and I drew the route on it. They had a laminated one they drew on every day.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Tomorrow I'm flying to Juneau for a National Geographic cruise. Anxiety brain is giving me all sorts of scenarios involving weather and flight delays (we have a 1-hour layover in Seattle) and missing the boat. Thanks, brain.
feuervogel: (group hug)
We didn't get to SF as planned very late Monday night because our plane had a maintenance flag, which resulted in a 2-hour delay. We could have gone home and rebooked for a Tuesday AM flight, but going to Atlanta (and staying in a hotel on Delta's dime) meant we could get an earlier flight to SF. So we did that.

Tuesday we went to lunch with Mo & Enne, and we went shoe shopping, where I tried on the Vivs at the Fluevog shop, and now I really hope Santa brings me some shoe money. Then we BARTed over to Oakland, got dinner with Robynne & Starchy, then I tried on about a million bras at Robynne's shop (bought one). After that, we thought about going out to a tiki bar, but sitting down felt really good, so we had mixed drinks at home instead. I had a de la Louisienne, which is rye, Benedictine, vermouth, and Peychaud's. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday I met several of my VP classmates for lunch, which was nice. I hadn't seen any of them since VP, and I missed them. I miss talking about writer stuff. After that, we went back to R's for our stuff, then took BART to a station where Ben's parents picked us up & dropped us off at our B&B. Dinner was at a Vietnamese place called Tamarine. I had a squash & sweet potato curry which was lovely.

Thursday we didn't do much until dinner, which was around 3:30 or 4. Ben's brother & his wife (and her parents--this was a packed house) made dinner. Ben's mom had Christmas, which was a bit excessive IMO. (Too many presents. Too many stocking stuffers. I don't need more Stuff! I need LESS!)

Friday we went for a walk at a nature preserve in Mountain View then had lunch. Ben and I went to Adam, Alexander, and Rachel's. We played a round of Sentinels of the Universe (where we ALMOST WON but the environment killed us a lot) then went up to Vynce's to hang out and play more games.

Our trip home was entirely uneventful.

Luna is sick and not really getting better. She doesn't have much of an appetite, and trying to convince her to eat is difficult. She's lost more weight since we were gone. She still loves Cheetos, though. IDK. CATS.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Heading off to San Francisco this week for Thanksgiving. Flying out at 5 pm and getting in super late, so I don't miss the last lecture of the semester in my Russian class. (On something really complicated and important: verbal aspect. Which the book explains poorly.)
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
The trip out to Orcas Island was arduous. I got up around 4 am to shower and get the last of my things packed and do physiotherapy before heading off to RDU for our 8:25 am flight to Atlanta. We got to the park & ride lot around 6:15, then arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare, considering the dearth of people lined up for security.

I slept most of the way to Atlanta, where our connecting gate was right beside our arrival gate. Yay! I rewrote my grad school statement of purpose and revised a short story on the flight to Seattle. (I also took a nap.)

We landed in Seattle at 1:25 local time, and we met up with one of the bride's friends who needed a ride to the resort. (There was a tight shuttle connection.) So we picked up the car, stopped at Taco Bell, and drove a little over 2 hours to Anacortes to get the ferry, which departed at 7:20 pm. (We waited about an hour iirc. An aunt and uncle were there, and one of the groom's childhood friends showed up, so we had a merry little party.) Then the ferry took an hour to get to the island, after which we drove to the opposite side of the horseshoe-shaped island, arriving on site around 9 pm local time. I had to drag Ben away from the people hanging out & chatting with his brother and such. We finally got to sleep around 10. That was a fucking long day.

So anyway, Doe Bay resort is nice, in a really pretty spot, and not too far from some state parks where you can do various levels of adventure walking. We had a little more time to spend at Obstruction Pass than Moran, though the view from Mt Constitution was pretty rad. We got to spend some time with one of Ben's cousins, her husband, and their (12-year-old!) daughter. And some other cousins who have no children. And aunts and uncles and friends of the happy couple and all that kind of thing.

Because of ferry timing, we couldn't stay past midday Sunday, following a brunch that lasted two hours and made me feel very hobbit-like. So we drove down to Seattle and stayed in a hotel near the airport, then had dinner with some Carolina friends who live out there now.

Our flight back east left at like 8:15 am, and various forces conspired against us getting food at anything resembling reasonable prices. The US Open was over, so the line for security was absurd, and we stood in it for the better part of an hour, so by the time we made our gate, we could pee and fill our water bottles, and that was about it. Which forced us to spend $obscene on the pay-as-you-go in-flight food. Then we had to do the same on the ground in Atlanta, because this time, our connection was 2 concourses away. Fun!

If you're in my G+ circles, you should be able to see this album.

And now I'm home until July 9, when I go off to Readercon. After that, my next travel isn't until Labor Day weekend (Dragoncon).

Hi, bye

17 Jun 2015 01:32 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Finished sorting all the things from Shatterdome ATL 2 (jaeger boogaloo) and repacking things for Ben's brother's wedding, for which we will be traveling longer than it takes to get to Europe yet not leaving the country.

The wedding is on Orcas Island, which is a 2-hour ferry from somewhere in the Seattle area, and the ferry station is a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. Then we have to get from the ferry to the resort. I seriously do not understand how anyone can live on a remote-ass place like that. I feel isolated in my semi-suburban town on the edge of a moderate metropolitan area.

So we're leaving here at 8:25 am and getting to Seattle at 1:25 pm local, then our ferry leaves at 7:20 or something. At least we'll have time to pick up some food for lunch-dinner when we get there. We only need to be at the ferry port 90 minutes beforehand.

What I have left to do today is clean the cats' water fountain and paint my nails. Then I need to pack my toiletries and other carry-on things in the morning.

Also, I registered for class at UNC this fall, where I'm taking Russian 101. Whee! I can get 2 semesters in before I start at UGA (if I'm accepted). ... I need to work on my application materials, but I'll do that after I get back from the wedding.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Gate)
I drove down to Athens, Georgia, this morning to visit UGA. It took about 5:45, including 2 stops (1 for lunch & pee, 1 for pee & turning on GPS). Not a bad trip, even if Maps routed me through the least scenic way at the end.

I decided to start getting my bearings by walking from my hotel to a game store practically on campus (to drop off some flyers for Shatterdome Atlanta). It was only about a mile (each way), though it was 90 degrees, sunny, and humid. So by the end, I was really sweaty. And apparently my shoes get looser as my feet get hotter, because they started sliding enough to give me blisters on 3 toes.

Even though the place I wanted to get dinner was only half a mile away, because my feet were hurting, I drove. I went to a vegetarian restaurant called The Grit, where I had pretty good food (Grit Staple (beans, rice, cheese) with a side of falafel, grasshopper cake; local beer) for $19 including tip. Not bad. I was super full at the end of it.

I found the Target after dinner and bought some band aids, then I went to the other gaming shop, which is on the south side of town. The guy there was nicer, and there was gaming actively going on. Lots and lots of dudes, but no one was a jerk, so I'll call it a win.

I drove back by getting slightly lost on campus (the sun was in my eyes, so I couldn't see the sign and turned too early), so now I'm sitting in my hotel and relaxing. I'll probably turn in early, I dunno.

Tomorrow I'm meeting the director of the graduate program at 11, then having lunch with some faculty and meeting the department head at 2, then I'll come home. So I'll be getting home around 9 pm I guess, since I'll have to stop somewhere for dinner, though I can go to like taco bell.

I'm really glad I looked at the department website yesterday to come up with any questions I might have about the program, because either I missed or they added a requirement for a second foreign language. Which means I need to learn a second foreign language. I don't know if it can be done concomitantly with graduate work, but I can't imagine it'd be easy trying to learn a language while doing everything else. So I'm going to ask about that, and see if I can start by taking a year of Turkish at UNC, assuming they actually offer it every semester. I emailed someone in the department yesterday, but I haven't gotten a response yet. So IDK.

They do offer Turkish at UGA, but see above re ZOMGWTF. So if I only had to take one year, that might be easier? La.

So anyway, that's what I'm up to. More later, probably.

Made it.

6 Feb 2014 08:32 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I've actually been here a while; I got into Frankfurt at 1:30, then I loitered in the train station until the next train at 2:53.

I got to my apartment, showered, ate dinner with my flatmates, and went out shopping. I have gouda, fruit quark, cream cheese with garlic, vollkornbrot with sunflower seeds, hanuta, and beer. I feel like I'm in Germany now.

I also bought the SIM card for my phone, so I'll post my German number in a separate locked post. Next I'm going to try to get this Surf-Card working.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
My original 1:15 flight to JFK was canceled, and I was automatically rebooked on the 4pm flight. Which was subsequently canceled. So now I'm flying from Raleigh to Atlanta to Paris to Frankfurt, and not getting dinner (special meals require 24 hours notice) or an economy comfort seat (which they will refund me for, at least).

I won't get to my final destination (Mannheim) until 12:15 at the earliest (assuming no delays and speedy immigration control (which, huh, I guess I'll have in Paris, since Schengen means you don't need border controls? idk?)) or 13:15 if anything keeps me from getting the train at 11:51 (my flight lands at 11:25.)

All I'll want to do is take a fucking shower.

VP day 1

15 Oct 2013 12:06 am
feuervogel: (writing)
Greetings from Martha's Vineyard, land of shitty wifi reception and cold wind.

I had my first one-on-one today with Teresa Nielsen Hayden. It was less terrifying than it could have been, and she gave me good feedback. (I know; she's an editor, that's her job.) Tomorrow I'm one-on-one with Bear, ack. I don't have my group critique until Wednesday.

Though I broke down in tears while giving feedback because the story was about a woman grieving for her dog (and also her husband), and a couple sections hit really hard. Like way too close to home. So that was a thing that happened. I started talking about the parts that were just spot on, and I couldn't. And I apologized for ugly sobbing in the middle of group :/ A lot. But I may have spawned a story to tell future students, about the student who started bawling and it wasn't even her critique! Eh.

Interestingly, this was at heart the same story I submitted, except hers was about a ghost dog in now-ish here-ish, while mine was about ghost war dead in 1917 Dresden. But hey. Using ghosts as a metaphor for the grief process. (I pointed it out, and Doyle said, "hey you're right, I didn't even notice that!" and then stated that the outline doesn't matter, but the execution does.

Have pages of notes and recordings of the lectures so far. My phone says it can record 176 hours, so I have a lot of space and don't need to worry much about clearing it out. Though I hope the sound quality is good.

I saw bioluminescent jellyfish! It was fucking cold, but magically glowing jellyfish!

I am terrible at Mafia and Thing. Somebody told me I was really quiet (because I wasn't really participating in the Mafia game), and that's something I haven't been called in a really long time. Though a couple folks said I was less garrulous than they expected from twitter. They'd just missed an epic wide-ranging conversation I'd been in (though I also don't want to dominate the conversation, which I know I can/will do).

I have been cured of scurvy, and I hope I can be cured of it again tomorrow.

And now I sleep, assuming the wifi works long enough to post this.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
My trip to Readercon began inauspiciously. I got to the airport in plenty of time and sat at my gate. A plane came in. We were supposed to leave at 9:45. Around 9:30, the gate attendants told us there would be a delay because our flight crew hadn't arrived yet. Around 10:30, she told us that the crew that was supposed to be on our flight hadn't made it in at all Wednesday night because of weather, so we would have to wait for another crew. There would be one getting in from Detroit at 11:30, which meant we could leave at 12:30. Ish. So we all got $25 credit card vouchers, good for 24 hours. (I used mine toward the hotel room.)
Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )

Monday )

My flight was uneventful. Ben picked me up, we went home, and I took another shower to get the sweat stink off. Then we went to see Pacific Rim.

PACIFIC RIM. It was really good. The plot wasn't super deep or anything, and a few of the plot points were easy to predict (though not telegraphed). But the characters were fun, and there were giant robots smashing giant monsters. I really dug the song that played during the action scenes. Idris Elba gave a Crispin's Day speech. It was awesome.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Spending some sister time until I go to Bethesda to meet someone for lunch.

I ran into Richard in the train station, and it turned out he was going up to DC with a couple friends for one of their bachelor parties. So I sat with them on the train, which means I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted to, but I'll have plenty of time Monday.

Agora was good. I tried Imam bayildi, a stuffed eggplant dish I've been wanting to try to a long time, and I had falafel. Yay falafel. It was perfect, actually, crisp outside, soft inside, and green from herbs. I love falafel.

Apparently the Safeway on 17th and Corcoran is called the Soviet Safeway. It seems to have earned the nickname.

I slept on a tiny loveseat, and it was actually fairly comfortable.

My sister is reading Marvel 1602, which I find amusing. She's also stopping to google everything, from Wanda to King James, which I also find amusing.

Stuff

22 May 2013 09:42 am
feuervogel: (michel)
I made a to-do list last night because I feel like my ability to mentally organize things is gone. I keep meaning to do things and then either forgetting them or falling into the hole of facebook flash games.

I was feeling consistently awful and low-level migrainey for a few days a couple weeks ago, so I went into my doctor's office, and they took thyroid levels. They said I needed to go down on my T3 because my TSH is too low. So I've been taking 10 mcg instead of 15 for about 2 weeks now, and I don't feel all that great. No migraines or anything, just lack of motivation, dry eyes, mouth, and skin, and low energy. I can't focus worth a damn, either. (And because of my neurologist's verbot on caffeine, I can't just make some black tea and make some focus, either.)

It could be that 15 mcg is too much, but 10 isn't enough. Unfortunately, the medication comes in 5 mcg unscored tablets. Though it also comes in 25s, and 12.5 might work out. Except for reasons completely unknown to me, because I've never had 90-day supplies called in before, the nurse authorized 90 days with 3 refills on my last T3 rx, while doing 30 days with 3 refills on the Synthroid, because I don't even fucking know. Maybe she goofed and read the #90 as 90 days, but #90 and #270 are a lot different.

So I have a metric shit ton of 5 mcg liothyronine tablets (at 2 a day, they will last me 135 days, or approximately 4.5 months), and I refuse to pay for a new prescription when I already paid 3 months' copays for the bottle I have. So if my doctor agrees at my physical next Thursday, I'll see about either taking 2.5 every day or adding a third in the afternoon. Or going to an endocrinologist, maybe.

I have this writing idea that I've been letting float around in my mind for a while, and I finally had some insight into it last night. So I made some rough notes around which the idea can coalesce while I work on other things.

I'm going up to DC next weekend (via Amtrak) to see the US and German men's soccer teams play at RFK stadium. I am excite. I'm staying with my sister Fri & Sat, then going to the game and staying with Ben's brother Sunday, then coming home Monday.

I need to write a letter (in German) to a language school and ask if I can do a practicum there and if they meet the criteria set forth in my course description. I don't really want to do it, but I need to. Ideally, I'd do the practicum in winter when airfare is cheapest, but I don't know ... well, there are a lot of things I don't know, like whether they'll even accept non-native speakers as praktikanten or whether they'll have openings in winter or how far in advance I even need to make arrangements. Argh. (I am fairly certain that there are no practica that meet the course criteria in the US unless you are majoring in education and doing your student teaching. There is an alternative to the practicum, which is 120 hours of teaching experience, which would take me far too long to acquire, if I could even get a job without a certificate and experience.)

Anyway. Stuff. I need to get started on my to-do list before I lost the entire morning to faffing about. This has already taken over half an hour to write, in part because I got distracted and wandered away for a few minutes several times.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I'm going to ReaderCon, which is outside Boston, and I'm flying Thursday & Monday. I believe I have a room for Thursday night at the con hotel, but I'm looking for space Sunday night.

I don't need much space; a couch will work. My flight out is at 12:45, so even allowing 2 hours pre-flight, I won't need to be out at the crack of dawn or anything. I have no major allergy problems, but I will need to be able to sleep undisturbed lest I get a migraine. If you have allergy problems, be warned that everything I own is covered in cat hair.

I do not yet know how I'm getting from the con hotel (in Burlington) to Boston. I may be able to get a ride to Alewife, or even someplace more central, depending on the charity of others with cars. (There is reportedly a bus to Alewife, but it comes every 2 hours.)

I also do not yet know how I'm getting from the airport to the con hotel, but since my flight arrives before noon and con things don't begin until 8 pm, I'll have some time to kill in the afternoon. Possibly even toward 6 pm dinner, if people can be gotten together by then. (Boston friends, I haven't seen you in ages.)

I may enjoy playing tourist in your fair city, but I'll still have my luggage with me, which doesn't sound like a fun game in July. I haven't actually visited much of Boston, so that could be fun, as long as I can leave my bags somewhere. (They will be minimal, as I'm flying carry-on-only. But lugging a backpack around for 6 hours isn't my idea of fun.)

ANYWAY! If you have a bit of crash space I can borrow Sunday night and/or want to show me cool things in your city, let me know!
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Ben's folks took us to Sanibel Island for Thanksgiving. His mom is really into shells, so we walked on all the beaches collecting all the shells. We also went to the wildlife refuge to look at/for birds.

It was fun, though being on their food timetable, and not being able to carry enough water to be properly hydrated, was kind of a problem. We had Christmas while at the beach, and I got 4 more books (2 on soccer, 2 on WW1). Ben's brother's girlfriend's mom is a potter, and she made us cat bowls with their names on them. They're pretty, and now the catsitters will have an easier time identifying which bowl goes with which cat.

I woke up with a migraine Tuesday morning, before we were supposed to fly back. It's possible that the portobello mushroom sandwich I had at dinner was marinated in red wine, though it's also possible that my body was simply saying, "Fuck you." It does that sometimes.

So now I have a question I need to ask people when I order things: what's in the marinade? Is there any red wine in it?

Worse, this may mean that I can't drink Glühwein at all anymore :( Controlled experiments are required.

Back

5 Sep 2012 09:29 am
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Hi!

I'm back from WorldCon! I blogged about it yesterday on my blogspot blog. I have 2 more posts to make on the experience, and I'll link all 3 later.
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
This is the camp in China I posted about yesterday.

Seminar

25 Aug 2012 07:45 pm
feuervogel: (zuko dancing dragon)
So, my taijiquan school hosted a pair of masters from China (one is Chinese, the other is English, but she lives in Shanghai and translates for him). One of my kung fu brothers studied with them while he was in China, so he organized the thing. (Master Wang and Master Rose were traveling in the UK, then Canada, then here.)

It was cool. There was a lot of lecture and some practice, but I learned a couple new ways of looking at things for push hands.

They had a little flyer for a camp they're doing the end of next November in Shanghai. Tuition is $2400 (for 9 days of training and some sightseeing, including room and board). Airfare will probably be around $1200, then there's the matter of a visa (fees, idk, $150?) So, like, close to $4000 all told. I don't have that sort of money.

Of course, I also have health issues, and I don't know how much sleep I'd be able to get. Breakfast is at 7, and there's classes until 9:30 (with multiple rest periods, so I could nap then maybe). Then there's the thing where I don't eat meat and I can't have caffeine. In Japan, I got by with telling people "Buddhist vegetarian," since to them no meat means there may be fish or pork or chicken in it :/ (The term is shokudou ryouri.) I don't know if they can accommodate that.

I do have contact information, and I can ask Master Rose these questions. The low sleep triggers migraines thing kind of sucks. I also like being able to eat.

So anyway. If they can accommodate my food restrictions and health issues, I'd probably try to find a way to get four grand. A friend of mine had success with indiegogo for tuition for a prestigious Shakespeare school; I don't know if I know enough people who'd do that to help (or what goodies I could award). I could probably ask Dr Jay if he could spread the word throughout the school or help me fundraise somehow.

But Ben was like "I wanna go too," not that he'd train; there's an option for going as a partner for $1600 (plus airfare). :P So then it's more like $7000. Gah.

I dunno, what do y'all think?

Travel

31 Dec 2011 11:41 am
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I'm in St Louis. I haven't killed Ben's dad yet.

I had a glass of Glenlivet 18 at the Melting Pot last night. I had to drink it quickly because everyone else was like LET'S GO LET'S GO LET'S GO. That was not a good idea. It was pretty good, though.

Today will be going outside and walking, tomorrow will be Christmas and Ben sorting through his stuff stored in closets.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Wednesday morning, I drove up to Maryland for Thanksgiving. I stayed with my grandparents for multiple reasons: 1) my mom's guest bed is dreadfully uncomfortable, 2) her house is smoky and gives me migraines, 3) Grandpa's 87 and Grandma's 82.

They live in a retirement/assisted living apartment complex. They're in one of the retirement buildings. If they need to, they can move into the more assisted sections of the facility. They've been there 13 years, and they love it. Their apartment is cute, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, living/dining room, tiny kitchen (there's a cafeteria on site).

Anyway, the drive up Wednesday was fine, if windy and periodically cloudy. I discovered that popping my sunroof decreases the sideways motion when the wind comes up hard. I didn't hit any traffic until Fredericksburg, though it persisted the whole way to 270. 495 wasn't as bad as 95. I got to NoVa around 2:30 or 3, then I made it to my grandparents' around 4:30. So a tad over 7 hours including 3 stops.

We went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner, then I showed them all my travel photos. We started with last summer's European vacation, then I paged quickly through the Berlin Xmas trip and Japan. Grandma said I travel a lot. As often as possible!

She gave me a bunch of stuff from Bath & Body Works, which always has a perfumey smell to it. Ah well. I also got socks. Grandma likes putting together little bags for us, and they've usually got shower stuff, socks, jewelry, etc in them. So I said, "yay, socks!" and she asked if I wanted more. She apparently just buys socks at the store when she sees them, and she sticks them in a drawer to either give to people or replace her socks when they wear out. So, anyway, I ended up with a dozen new pairs of cute socks. She also gave me a fleece vest, a sweater, and a velvety hoodie. And a copy of The Kite Runner. And a brooch that was her aunt's.

I also ended up with 2 bags of Nestle chips (1 milk, 1 semi-sweet) and a slice each of cranberry and chocolate pecan pie. (Let me tell you, chocolate pecan pie is fucking AMAZING. I bet it would be awesome with hazelnuts instead. Nutella pie? Hell yes.) Every year at Thanksgiving, Grandpa makes three pies: one either pumpkin or pecan, and two cranberry pies. He takes the pumpkin/pecan and one cranberry to mom's for dinner, and the other cranberry he eats for breakfast for the next week. Mom will eat the leftover cranberry pie for breakfast, too.

Thursday morning before we drove out to mom's, I sat with my laptop and wrote some more of my spy story. It's up to 2000 words, and I just finished the second entry (the one that was partway through in the last locked post). I'll see about doing more on that tomorrow. Today I've been catching up on teh intarwebs and doing laundry. Tomorrow I need to clean the bathroom, but that won't take all day.

I took mom most of a jar of sauerkraut from the farmers market. It's really nice, fairly mild stuff. Ben & I can always buy another jar, and I want to try it with caraway. Because I bet that would make it more awesome. Mom enjoyed it, and so did the grandparents. For years, I thought I was a bad German because I hated sauerkraut. As it turns out, I just hate the kind of sauerkraut that comes from bags in the supermarket.

My grandfather grew up in a German immigrant community in Pennsylvania. His father, who was born in Silesia (now Poland), had a friend whose house they'd go to that always smelled funky. They made their own sauerkraut in their basement.

So mom, G&G, my sister, and I all hung out at mom's for a while. Bin brought a quiche and some veggies for roasting (squash, beets, potatoes, carrots), I brought stuff for the sweet potato casserole which went over so well with Ben's folks last year (and equally well with mine this year; I xeroxed the recipe for Gram), and mom had everything else (except Gramps' pies). "Everything else" was a turkey, corn, green beans, rolls, cornbread stuffing, appetizers, and gravy. The only things I couldn't eat were the turkey and gravy (made with beef fat). Mom actually read the labels on the stuffing packages and determined that the Pepperidge Farms one was OK, but the Stove Top one had chicken something in it. Go mom? She just didn't read the gravy closely enough. (Which is fine; I'm not big on gravy as it is.)

We ate a bunch of food; everyone loved the potatoes. We sat around and talked while waiting for there to be room for dessert. All of us but mom talked politics and world news; thankfully no one there is knee-jerk Republican. Let me assure you that discussing things with my family is less stressful than with Ben's dad, because they don't treat living room conversations like they're Socratic inquisitions.

The grandparents are registered independent, which in MD (and NC) means you can vote in either primary. They think the current crop of GOP presidential candidates are really out there. I have no idea how I got to be the way I am--engaged with politics, interested in knowing about the world and seeing the world--growing up with my mother. She's completely uninterested in current events, news, politics, or traveling. I can't imagine being so completely isolated and insulated.

After dinner, grandma brought out this envelope from the Maryland Anatomy Board and asked if we had any objections to them donating their bodies to science. I think that's pretty awesome, even if it's a somewhat morbid Thanksgiving dinner topic.

Grandpa drove us back to their place, which was a little scary. (I mentioned that he's 87, right?) We talked a bit more before getting more sleep.

Friday morning, Grandpa made scrambled eggs, and I put mine on toast because I like them that way, dammit. We talked a bit more before I had to leave. I only hit a little traffic on 495 in Virginia, near the Woodbridge/Manassas exit. I left a little after 9 and pulled into my garage at 2:30, including 2 or 3 stops. Not hitting NoVa traffic makes a big difference. (Well, on the way up, there was more traffic on 27, and more cars at the stop lights, and I hit very little traffic on 27 on the way back.)

It was a lot of driving for a short trip, but, like going up for the 4th of July party, it was worth it. I'm not really close to my family as a whole, but Gram and Grampa have always been there. They're the reason I had clothes in high school.

If we had functional mass transit in this country, I'd go up more often.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Off to visit the family.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
- call grandparents about what we're doing for dinner tomorrow
- email mom about more planning stuff

- pack [clothes picked out, toiletries not ready yet; don't forget phone charger]
- email vet re Isis' blood sugar
- bake sweet potatoes & get 2 cups mashed to take up [start at 4:30 so only have to heat oven once]
- make gingersnap crumb topping
- make next/final attempt at alternate history spy story
- writers group @ 7
- get directions to grandparents' house

I think that's everything I need to do today... I've got all the refrigerated stuff I need to take up sorted in the fridge, and I'll put it in a cooler in the morning.

I'm not really looking forward to a 6-hour drive by myself tomorrow (and another on Friday), but my grandparents aren't getting any younger.

Stuff

21 Sep 2011 04:42 pm
feuervogel: (hetalia germany with beer)
It's raining right now, quietly. I've been hearing this light rustling through my open window for a while now.

Isis has been sick lately. feline digestion ) At least we hadn't given her her insulin already, like the first time. Checked her blood sugar, and it was 407. She got a second feeding and her shot. She was limping really badly yesterday, so I called the vet and asked it we could give her some tramadol we had left from a different cat's dental cleaning. Isis doesn't fall for the hairball gel trick, so I had to give her some more food (on her already-wonky blood sugar). She was all stoned the rest of the day. Today, after 2 doses of fish oil, she's less limpy, which is good. And her blood sugar was only 200 this morning, which is a lot more normal.

I'm working on the synopsis of Iron and Rust. This draft is going to be 6-7 pages, and if I want to send it as the Kickstarter reward submission packet review thing, I have to get it down to 5. I may go through and extend it to 10 pages at some point, then also cut it down to 2 pages and 1 page, since those are the common requested synopsis lengths, and a girl ought to be prepared.

Then again, I have a few dropped plot threads I need to tie off and a few "more tension!" moments to fix, so I'll be changing it anyway. May as well wait until I've done all that to fix it up nice.

I changed my thyroid medicine again. I dropped down to 10 mcg of T3 after noticing I was really irritable and that my tinnitus was back. (Irritatingly, it happens for both high and low thyroid for me. Makes it a fun guessing game.) Since I've recently gone up on my T4, which is converted to T3, it's possible I was getting a little high on that end. I'm still having tinnitus for much of the day, but it's gone when I wake up. I'll give it a few more days to balance out (it needs about a week to reach steady state). I should probably call my dr and let her know I adjusted my meds. I may go down further if this tinnitus doesn't abate. I'll know pretty quickly if it's too low, because I get The Nausea. I lasted about a week when we dropped my T3 last month before feeling awful.

I'm doing things with people this weekend! I'll be missing the second half of Werder Bremen: Hertha BSC on Sunday, but I can download it if I have to. Twitter can keep me posted.

And next weekend, we're going to Asheville with Ben's parents and brother. We're staying in the same B&B Ben & I stayed at for our anniversary 2 years ago. There will be hiking (yay -_-) and the Biltmore and food and (hopefully) Beth (who is awesome & giving us comp tickets, so we only have to buy 1)! Our usual catsitter has a second job at the vet school hospital, and the backup one locally had problems with Isis (who growled and clawed and pissed and shat). The usual sitter hasn't gotten back to us, either, which is frustrating, because she's the only one Isis doesn't hate. Probably because she shows no fear of the crazy evil tortie.

We may have to do separate vacations for the foreseeable future if this keeps up. Especially at holidays. (And, joy, I really want to go to my mom's house by myself! It's so much fun!) I could ask if mom & co want to come here for Thanksgiving, but she doesn't drive that far, Grandpa shouldn't drive that far anymore (he's 87, and his artificial hip hitches if he sits too long), and my sister works retail, so she has to work that Friday. Which pretty much means it's always me going to them. We already have plans (but no plane tickets) for New Year's in St Louis, and I may end up begging off. The new catsitter charged us extra last time because she had to bring a helper and spent a lot of time dealing with the evil hissing beast (and wore WELDING GLOVES to give her shot), and at $15 a visit, 2 visits a day, times two for the helper/trouble charge, those 4 days away become 8 in catsitting fees. With me not getting any hours at all, we can't afford the extra charges. (And subsequent vet bills because Isis' blood sugar is whacked out due to stress and she gets sick again.)

It doesn't really help that I don't like Family Togetherness Time (tm).
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I actually got back Tuesday night, but the prospect of wading through a week's worth of RSS feeds and flist was daunting, so I played Gundam instead. Then yesterday I caught up on the reading part and played Gundam. Today I'm actually updating this thing then playing Gundam.
this is long )
The Amtrak adventure, like the road trip adventure, is not one I'm looking to repeat. As much as I resent security theater and distrust the calibration of the pornoscanners (and their safety), flying takes a mere 2-3 hours (plus travel to & from the airport), and can be done on the same day. 16 hours each way is inefficient. If we had modern train service, real high-speed service like in Europe, the Durham-DC route would be 2 hours (per the Economist article I linked months ago), and DC-Boston 3, with the price to match, no doubt. (So flying would still probably be less expensive and shorter, but not by a significant amount once you factor in travel to & from the airport.) It was nice to see my sister, since I don't get to very often, but even so.

Next year should be fun!
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
My train leaves in an hour; I need to stop at the ATM on the way to the station, so I'm leaving in about 20 minutes.

[personal profile] stormsdotter hope to see you there.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I survived both sleeping at my mom's house (barely) and the, uh, first cousins once removed? Second cousins? idk, how does that work?

I never sleep well at my mom's. Her guest mattress is old and saggy, and the pillows are full of residual cigarette smoke, like all of her furniture. It's filthy and disgusting. And, of course, one of my migraine triggers! Isn't that great! So I'm trying to sleep in an uncomfortable bed with my face pressed into cigarette smoke, which makes my sinuses swell, makes me cough, and makes me produce so much phlegm that I almost choke myself on it.

Add into that the fact that her alarm system is broken and beeps LOUDLY every 4 hours, which means it went off at 1 am and 5 am. And I've suffered from insomnia since I was about 4. If I wake up, I can't get back to sleep. Sometimes it takes hours, sometimes I don't get back to sleep at all.

So I got maybe 5 hours of sleep Saturday night, and they weren't restful at all. Sunday I was fairly OK, and I slept pretty well at my aunt & uncle's (despite my cousin randomly shouting overnight; she's profoundly mentally retarded, and that's something she does.) Yesterday, though, I was really tired much of the day, and my neck started getting stiff like it does when I haven't gotten enough sleep. (Apparently that's unusual? Low sleep is another migraine trigger for me, yay.)

At the picnic, no one asked me to hold the baby, yay. My mom held him for a really long time. She wants grandbabies. Tough shit. My sister doesn't want kids, either (last I talked to her, anyway), and beside that, she doesn't have a boyfriend, and she's in theater, which means she's out at rehearsal, auditions, her friends' shows, her own shows, whatever most nights a week. (She wasn't at the picnic because she had a show, apparently.) On top of that, she barely remembers to feed herself and doesn't really eat properly if she does. So, no, no babies from my sister. Considering that we're both in our mid-30s, I don't see that happening, like, ever.

The toddler was kind of cute (she'll be 2 the end of this month). She's not very good at going down stairs by herself, and as the closest big person, I held her hand down the stairs a few times, and I tried playing catch, but she hasn't figured that out yet, apparently. My cousin's pretty good at the dad thing. (And, god, I remember when he was smaller than me. He's like 6'3" or something, and so's his brother the former Marine. Their baby brother (who's 15, god) is pushing 6'. The men in my family are TALL.)

It's weird how strong the genes are on that side. The three guys above look so much alike, it's shocking. The middle brother looks just like his dad, and the other two look a lot like each other. I'd seen the oldest, Nick, with his girlfriend and daughter & said hi, then a little bit later the rest of his family showed up. I saw Max (the youngest), and was like "Wait, I just saw Nick a second ago over there...damn, Max looks like his brother." Max apparently plays goalie on his HS soccer team and likes Barcelona (before they were cool, he says). I said, "Man, I don't know if I can like you anymore," and he asked if I was a Madrid fan. (I'm not, but Madrid has one of my favorite German players.)

And this is my uncle's backyard. On the right edge, you might be able to make out his hops trellis. He's growing 6 different kinds to make his homebrew. He let us sniff them, and they do have subtle differences in smell. One was fruity, another smelled like juniper (the Willamette variety, popular among the American craft brewers who think MORE HOPS!!! is how to make beer better; they're wrong).
feuervogel: (sideways days)
Or something.

I'm going to drive up to my mom's in WV this afternoon, then we're going to my uncle's in Westminster for a family picnic Sunday (which we haven't had in years). To save some driving, we're staying there tomorrow and coming home Monday. (If we stayed both nights at mom's, it would be 6 hours driving today, 3 hours tomorrow, and 6 on Monday. This way we save (yay) about an hour and a half.)

Yes, I'm driving. Ben's car's been making weird noises for a while, and they've been getting worse recently. The mechanic thinks it's the catalytic converter. I checked online, and for our 1999 VW Golf, a replacement runs about $500. More than the car's worth, but less than a car loan. It works fine, close to 150k miles on it. So anyway, we need to check my oil and tire pressure before we go.

The "fun" part: my cousin's wife had a baby recently, and another cousin and his girlfriend have a kid that's about 1.5. I don't care for small children. If I'm expected to fawn and coo, that's not happening, let me tell you. Though hopefully two great-grands will get the grandparents off my back. My mom finally got the picture a couple years ago when grandchildren hadn't been produced after 9 years of marriage.

I'll make the requisite "yes, s/he's growing well, how are you doing?" remarks and maybe smile and wave, but no fucking way am I holding either of them.

It'll be fun. But my lesbian cousin's going to try to make it (she's on call for work, she said, so she's not certain). I wonder if she has a girlfriend to introduce. She's got some cute pictures on facebook :)

[This is the cousin who, at her brother's wedding reception a couple years ago [this is the one with the tiny infant], was asked by all the aunts and grandma, "Do you have a boyfriend?" She answered, "no, not a boyfriend..." She's 10 years younger than me, so we weren't ever particularly close. But I guessed that she meant "a girlfriend." Because, yay heteronormativity amirite? This was the same party where all the aunts asked when I was having children XP and when they wanted to know who'd take care of me when I'm old, I said "my cabana boy in the south of France."]

I'll only have internet on my phone, so no journaling.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I'm going to be in Boston for ReaderCon (July 14-17), and I will probably need a place to stay Sunday evening before catching Amtrak back to DC. (And likely a ride from scenic Burlington, because it's only vaguely accessible via public transit, but I might be able to bum one.)

The trains that leave Boston that don't mean I have to miss part of the con get me to DC very late, and my sister (whose couch I'm crashing on) would probably object to picking me up around midnight when she has to be at work at 8. So I'm looking at the 9:30 am Monday train to DC (5:30) then back home Tuesday.

My clothes and things will be covered in residual cat hair, since I have cats, if that poses a problem for you.

I have not yet bought tickets, because Amtrak runs specials on certain days of the week up to 5 weeks in advance of travel, and I'm waiting to see if any of these legs go on special. (Not holding my breath though.)

Please let me know if you have a couch I can sleep on and a shower I can use :)
feuervogel: (trains)
I'm aware of various reasons, like automakers in the early 20th century actively eliminating railways in the name of profit (thank you, capitalism), and preferential funding for highways over trains, as well as anti-state arguments that trains are too heavily subsidized by the government and Amtrak should be forced to compete on the open market (while conveniently ignoring the fact that gas taxes aren't the entire source of highway funds, or the massive subsidies on gas and cars (by tax breaks to carmakers)).

Notable conservative pundit George Will is against trains because they take away our individualism and are the first step to socialism. (I wish I were making that up.) Factor in a bit of projection (ie, liberals say they want trains because X, but really COMMUNISM) and a bit of hypocrisy, and you have the face of modern movement conservatism. (Note: if you don't know the difference between being conservative and movement conservatism, spend a few minutes with google before yelling at me.)

A nice piece on CNN fact checks a lot of these myths, and an operations engineer asks why so riled about rail?

Seriously, why do Americans flip their collective shit at the thought of TRAINS? Trains are awesome. Amtrak kind of sucks, but that's not completely Amtrak's fault. It's in large part due to the inevitable shit-flipping from Americans at the thought of building train tracks and having the government fund something that will let people get from point A to point B without putting 500,000 one-person-SUVs on I-95.

I'm going to Boston this July, and because I object to security theater, the war on liquids, and the option of submitting myself to probably-unsafe radiation levels/naked scanner or a pat-down that borders on sexual assault, I'm taking the train. It's a good 800 miles by train between here and there, and I can go direct, leaving here at 10 am and arriving in Boston at 8 am, or I can take the train to DC and stay with my sister overnight, then catch one of the regular morning trains to Boston, and repeat the process in reverse. Not a big deal, sort of inconvenient, but I'm the person who took an overnight train from Berlin to Vienna because that only cost 49 Euro and about 12 hours. (There were fancier trains with actual sleeping compartments (EuroCityNight), but they were a lot more expensive.)

Ben's going to Atlanta in a couple weeks for a concert, and he wondered if it would be possible to take the train down. Short answer: no. The train to Atlanta leaves from Greensboro at 12:30 am (midnight) and gets to ATL at 8:30 am. Annoying, sure, and I don't know many people who'd want to be in GSO at midnight because it's kind of dangerous. If he went to GSO by train, he'd have to leave Durham around 5:30 and wait in GSO for 6 hours. WONDERFUL, yes. Coming back, he'd leave ATL at 8:30 pm and get to GSO at 4 am. Which is also extremely convenient.

Now, if you were going from NYC to New Orleans, you'd have great departure and arrival times, and that 1400 miles only takes about 30 hours, assuming you don't have to wait for CTX trains to pass, since CTX owns the tracks and Amtrak only leases them, so CTX has the right of way.

Here are two people who would rather take the train, rather than be yet another one-occupant vehicle on the road, but American individual-über-alles culture and its worship of cars with the policy decisions that go along with this car-idolatry has made it inconvenient to impossible.

It's not possible to take the train from Raleigh, NC, to Memphis, TN. It's marginally possible to take the train from Raleigh to Detroit (which I looked into because there's a Gold Cup match between the US men and...Canada maybe? this summer).

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