noideadog: (lucy)
"Here's a funny story", Joel said in my ear, and I was suddenly wide awake and alarmed, because a funny story can mean all manner of things and not all of them are that funny. "No, actually funny", he said, and that helped. "Ok", I said, trying to focus my eyes. "Wha... 7am. Ok."

"The cats were making a lot of noise and in the end I went to put food in their bowls to get them out of the bedroom. So I went upstairs to the kitchen and there was a brown, portly shape with its head in the food bag.".

"The neighbour's cat?"

"It was just a brown blur -- I didn't have my glasses on -- but it looked at me, and it didn't have the face of a cat. So I came back downstairs for my glasses, and when I could see it, it was a raccoon."

"Huh."

"Around twice the size of a cat, but it came and left through the cat door."

"And now it knows that we're where the cat food is?"

"Exactly."

"... That's tricky."

"Yes. I'm going back to sleep now."

"Ok. Me too."

I don't know if I've ever seen a raccoon in real life. Pictures on the internet tell me that they're cute, but they say the same about squirrels and urban squirrels are far from cute. I guess that urban raccoons aren't a thing you want in your kitchen either. It knocked some pillows off the sofa and a bottle of rum off the shelf, so it sounds like it had plenty of time to case the joint before the cats came to tell us about it. Of course I slept through the whole thing, because sleeping through things is one of my most honed skills :-)
noideadog: (Default)
Looks like we've survived the storm. Lots of the city and surrounds got badly beaten up, but we're luckily positioned and didn't have any problems. If I do have any ill-effects, they'll be caused by poor cake-related life choices. Lesson learned: don't ever take banana bread out of the oven when you're getting rumbly but haven't yet decided what you're doing for lunch. I'm staying out of a sugar coma by sheer force of will. 
noideadog: (a plan!)
The city's Are You Ready campaign finally broke through a few months ago and I suddenly realised how unprepared we were for a zombie invasion. Wow. I have no idea how we were so oblivious, especially given how many wine-soaked conversations we'd had about how to get off Manhattan if everyone else was trying to at the same time. (Conclusion: obviously it depends on the situation, but unless you get advance warning, you're basically screwed, and Brooklyn isn't going to be much easier to escape from; best bet is to hole up and try to ride it out until reinforcements come. Bloomberg probably has a plan.) Anyway, we finally realised and we got ready. Water stockpiled. Solar/windup radio tested. Flashlights. Iodine. Cat food. We are prepared New Yorkers!

Being the sorts of people who like the idea of cooking, but don't much get around to it, the rest of our disaster-preparedness plan comes down to leftover food: a pantry full of interesting legumes, dried fruit and little oily fishes, a lifetime supply of New Mexico green chiles, the freezer full of animals from the meat-preparation course Joel did a few months ago. (A disaster might be kind of welcome if it gave us space back for ice cream.). Worst case, we've got a couple of pounds of lard and a spoon. Real worst case, I think some visitor left a jar of Smuckers peanut butter (only sugar has more sugar!) in our fridge, but I pray it won't ever come to that.

We calculate that we could pass four days in relative comfort and ride out a seven day disaster without too much trauma[1]. If it's longer than that, our neighbours will come take our stuff off us anyway, and I'll regret my strong stance on gun control.

#comeonsandy doesn't have the same ring to it as #comeonirene last year, but if she does decide to come this way (currently very unlikely), we're ready for her.

[1] We're assuming it'll be possible to get coffee delivered. This is still New York, after all.
noideadog: (natural dancer)
I always think that glass-fronted anythings are the epitome of fancy adult furniture, and it looks like we're buying one of these. It's called a "buffet and hutch", seriously. Neither of these are words I associate with furniture, but probably they parse better in American.

As well as holding our media center (well, a mac mini, an amp and some networking equipment), this will display all of our fancy adult displayable things. Which consist of:

  • a lovely berry bowl which belonged to Joel's great grandmother and is a family heirloom that I'm petrified of breaking.
  • some candlesticks we got as a wedding present
  • uh?

Probably not our IKEA plates, right? Martini glasses? Batman comics? Eh, fancy adultness probably arrives in stages.
noideadog: (Default)
Something very exciting happened to me today. I was playing Words With Friends and I suddenly realised that I had the word LAQUER, and that I could put the Q on a triple letter square and then have the whole word cross a triple word square and get all of the points. Holy mackerel! Later, when I remembered that LAQUER isn't a word, I was a bit disappointed. That is how life goes.

Hello Livejournal! It's been a while really, hasn't it? How are you? I'm well. Life's pretty good. Here's a surprisingly good pictorial summary of what I've been up to for the last few months: https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/109395676149872736665/posts?e=-RedirectToSandbox

I guess the biggest thing to mention is that I'm 30 weeks pregnant. Mental, huh? We're making a small girl who is currently known as poppyseed because we found out about her when she was very small indeed. We're looking forward to meeting her, but for now I'm also enjoying pregnancy a lot. It's very pleasant! Should I be stressed? I'm really not. Is that because pregnancy hormones? If so, they should bottle it. This is a good brain-state.

I think we're pretty prepared. We've seen a couple of daycares, which were both fine, and we've bought most of the baby-related gear we're going to need. No, that's such a lie, we've bought the Big Book of Trains and nothing else, but people have given us some clothes and things and I expect we'll get her somewhere to sleep and some other stuff as we realise we can't do without it. We're fighting the good fight against things that are pink and/or frilly, and our families are mostly on board with that. I'm sure we won't be able to protect her from the evils of gender normativity forever, but at least she can have baby clothes that aren't made for delicate flowers.

Is she likely to be a delicate flower? I doubt it, but who can predict what a new human will be like? She's probably doomed to inherit hay fever, shortsightedness and a tendency towards depression, but in return, she should get a geeky brain and a tremendous capacity for liking things. Are any of these things even genetic? We'll see.

Other things have been moving along pleasantly. I went to Ireland for a wedding, Aruba for some snorkelling, Baltimore for a conference, and Chicago to meet Mark and V and to kayak while looking at skyscrapers. I planted and tended some vegetables which grew spectacularly until the first heatwave, then all fried. We'll try bigger pots next year. Our cats are well. Alex is now distinctly a teenager. Lucy is exactly Lucy. They still don't like each other much.

I did this great algorithms class with Coursera and now I'm doing their equally great compilers class. The quality of these free online courses is quite astounding. The format's perfect too: it's easier to learn when you can to speed up or pause the lecturer as appropriate, and of course it's refreshing to do a course where nobody can ask "Is this on the exam?". Learning for fun is the most enjoyable kind of learning.

We've been working on de-chaosing our house, getting rid of clutter, making an easy place to live. We just finished a bathroom renovation -- the proper-sized house project I've ever owned! -- and have learned quite a lot about how to hire contractors, what things to clarify in writing, and (crucially) what things we like. Joel's been working on something much bigger -- a plan to gut most of the main floor of our apartment -- and has worked out a fairly ambitious plan with a local architect. It's a plan that we won't have time to implement this year, but it's there and I think it'll be good when we do. In the meantime, we'll try to get some insulation in before poppyseed arrives, because New York gets cold and our upstairs exterior walls might have been designed to be perfect thermal conductors.

Work is a lot of fun right now. I'm doing a bunch of things I really enjoy, and will be sorry when it's time to go on leave.

And, oh, lots of other things, but this is already too long. It feels good to write here though. I should do this more.
noideadog: (culture)
"Graduation"

He told us, with the years, you will come
to love the world.
And we sat there with our souls in our laps,
and comforted them.

-- Dorothea Tanning, 2004

The MTA runs a series called Poetry in Motion where they choose short poems to display on subway trains. This one never fails to make me feel good.
noideadog: (coffee)
Today I'm wearing my "I'm blogging this" shirt, but I'm not really blogging anything at all recently. I don't have any sentences. No good words. It's like the linguistic part of my brain is off doing something else. It's weird though, sometimes I'm the sort of person who can watch paragraphs flow out of my fingers and onto the screen and then read them back all "yes, that is exactly what I mean", and other times every sentence is slow and painful and, no matter how much I hammer against it, I can't make it say what I want to say. You should see my drafts folder right now: I could probably explain myself more clearly in interpretive dance.
noideadog: (culture)
So, who's watching Downton Abbey? I don't understand why I wasn't -- it's Dame Maggie Smith plus a lot of people in hats, seriously, why was it even in question -- but I just started and now I am. No spoilers please, I'm only one episode in.
noideadog: (meerkat)
This weekend I: cycled out to Rockaway beach (whatever this is was randomly on the path along the way), went to an Australia day party, made Syrian food for dinner (I only ever make brunch (which means eggs and bloody marys, maybe mushrooms if I'm feeling seriously fancy) so this is remarkable enough to mention), hung mirrors in our hall, ventured into Downtown Brooklyn Macy's to do unsuccessful clothes shopping, and mourned Milk Thistle Dairies, who have closed down and will never again be at our farmers market. Will I have to buy supermarket milk? Is that what happens here?
noideadog: (meerkat)
1) It's raining outside.
2) Alex just brought us another dead mouse.
3) Alex does not have wet fur.

He earns his keep, that one.

Joel's watching Fringe, which, by the way, is entirely incomprehensible if you start watching in the middle of season 4. It makes no sense. I'm reading about combinatorial algorithms and drinking a delicious Captain Lawrence Espresso stout. This isn't really a sustainable combination: soon I'll be just drinking the stout, and after that I'll be having a little nap.
noideadog: (meerkat)
This weekend I: went to the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image[1], enthusiastically shovelled snow, did a password audit and changed all of my passwords and felt _very_ virtuous, watched Sherlock, projecteulered, did some end of year co-op financial stuff, worked a bit on bathroom renovation plans, started using pinterest.com to collect pictures of bathrooms I like[2], bought bread, butter, cheese and chocolate (all of life's necessities, really) at an irish-food shop, learned about teacup piglets, and picked up the start of something that isn't a cold yet but might be later and in the meantime is just brainfog, stupidity and irritability. So no difficult or annoying questions, please. Grr, etc.
 
[1] It's a good exhibit and I recommend it, even though it's in freakin' Queens, but wow the muppets sure did suffer from dogs-and-smurfs
[2] Also bathrooms I find hilarious: see http://pinterest.com/whereistanya/ if you don't mind mild swears)
noideadog: (monkey!)
Another thing! I already posted about this on gplus, but it's cool enough that I want to put it here too. This is a map that was printed in 1814. Joel got it for me for my birthday and I love it.

noideadog: (coffee)
It's snowing! I put on my beloved red wellies and spent an hour shoveling the front of our house. It's technically the second snow of the season, but October's freak snowstorm was long enough ago that people seem to be enjoying the novelty. A slightly creepy passing man told me that I was too pretty to be shoveling, and I said "bless your heart", which is an expression I find extremely useful in my day to day life: it is Texan for "fuck you, buddy".

Our regular weekend cafe was packed and, as sometimes happens, we got stuck between two tables with VERY LOUD TALKERS, both of them edifying their friends with stories about (on the left) their small business and (on the right) how cute it is when their kids knock over chairs in coffee shops. Smoke started coming out of Joel's ears, so we took ourselves home without getting coffee refills.

The rest of this afternoon is about co-op paperwork, password changes, sorting out future travel, and various other chores of the type that hang out at the back of your todo list and start to smell. Later I expect we'll order indian food and watch Sherlock. It's good weather for quiet domesticity.

Look, here's a poll!
[Poll #1812820]
noideadog: (meerkat)
This long holiday weekend weekend I: watched all of Portlandia (it didn't live up to the promise of the first episode), dealt with co-op paperwork, added weatherstripping, silicon caulk and rather a lot of duct tape to the windier parts of our apartment, learned how not to use a caulk gun, cleaned exploded caulk off hands, clothing, furniture, cats, etc, did nine project euler problems, knitted three inches of a scarf (which should be finished by summer at this rate), watched two episodes of Sherlock, futzed with the brakes on my bike, invented black-bean-and-tuna-leftover-breakfast-hash (not bad), continued listening to Machine Man on audible, and didn't leave the house at all except to buy lattes. I'm considering hibernating until it gets warm again. Oh, and I realised that it was time to start the first reread of GEB, but I can't find my copy; did I lend it to someone?
noideadog: (natural dancer)
This weekend I: hiked in Cold Spring, shopped for weatherproofing materials to make our house less goddamn cold, group-solved a project euler puzzle with pen and paper on the train, played TransEuropa, rode my bike a bit, read half of What Your Contractor Can't Tell You, geeked out on maps and globes in an antique shop, and had a bunch of early nights because apparently I got old when I wasn't looking and now I just want to sleep all the time. Sleeping's lovely.

 

Jan. 3rd, 2012 02:28 pm
noideadog: (Default)
This long holiday weekend I: argued with Joel about omelettes (him: eggs should be fluffy and yellow; me: eggs should be a bit browned and chewy), played the demo for Arkham Asylum, played Dance Central, framed and hung pictures, went to IKEA, helped build an IKEA chair, watched Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Michael Caine on a train == everything I need from any movie ever), set up an account on fitocracy.com, continued working on some project euler problems (I've done 21 so far; they're fun), went to the MTA museum store and the MOMA store, rode my bike, bought a clock, continued reading Gentlemen of the Road, achieved inbox zero, approved half a year's worth of sharing requests on 23andme, called my family, hauled my sleep cycle back to New York time, played Carcassonne, and spent an unusual amount of time sitting around not doing much of anything. And liked it!
noideadog: (travel)
Over the holiday I organised pictures from my trip. Here's three months of circumnavigation: http://whereistanya.smugmug.com/
noideadog: (bike)
Five observations from my commute today:

1) The city is in a great mood. I cut some dude off at the lights (completely by accident) and instead of being angry, he waved all "go ahead!" and friendly. I was singing popular hits from the musical Grease (I don't know; you can't help what gets stuck in your brain) and I passed another dude belting out Amy Winehouse and it was just like that for the whole way. Everyone's being all four-day-week-ish and cheerful.

2) Manhattan mini storage posters are getting even cheekier. Seriously, I hope to never have anything to store, but if I do, their posters have done their job. Today's was "You'll have more wiggle room than Herman Cain's morals". I nearly crashed my bike. More posters here: https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/107911091913902920172/albums/5686035676133975729

3) There are signs up warning of gridlock, but traffic is pretty light. Maybe that changes in the afternoon. Even when there are fewer cars, the big vehicles are still scary. I wish people didn't park in the bike lane (obviously), but I hate it most on Bowery because there are so many delivery trucks and other lumbering giants. You sure do feel invisible and squishy. In related news, I finally remembered to enroll at http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/donation/organ/

4) Travel mugs are better than disposable mugs for not splashing coffee all over the things in your stupid bike basket. Mmm, stale milk smell. (I love my stupid bike basket, not least because it means I don't have to choose between coffee and cycling first thing in the morning).

5) Cycling in winter is much nicer than cycling in summer (assuming no ice or precipitation), but the bike room is almost empty. What's going on with that?
noideadog: (a plan!)
Decluttering websites focus on how to say goodbye to Stuff without separation anxiety. Dudes, I've said so many enthusiastic goodbyes, but the things just won't leave.

This is my problem: I would like 90% of my belongings to immediately leave my life, but I want them to go somewhere where they'll be useful. Tons of cleanup services exist, but they're gleeful about tons of junk going into dumps. The "decluttering" services are more coy about what happens to the once-clutter they "get rid" of, but it's not hard to guess. That stuff kills me. I can't do it.

But then the ethical options are so manual and painful and slow. Like, charity shops accept donations, but they each accept different categories of things, and moving stuff to them in bulk is awful without a car. I like the idea of Freecycle, but in practice it's slow and unreliable, and it means itemising millions of tiny unrelated things: one remote control for a mac, one combination lock, one metronome, four cork tiles, a case for a macbook air, a mosquito repellent kit, several notebooks, a cubic foot of comics (I usually put these outside, but if I give Warren Ellis to the neighbourhood kids, their parents will burn down my house), a first generation OLPC, a 4x4 ikea expedit, a saxophone stand, a mask from Sleep No More, a keyboard, cables, cables, more cables... and that's a subset of the stuff I can see from where I'm sitting in my little study. With Freecycle, this will take the rest of my life. I will have burned down the house myself by then. Some charity shops come collect, but... itemising. Pain. A staging area that takes up half the apartment. Probably divorce. It's risky.

There's the option of hiring a storage service that will come get stuff and paying to have it hidden like toxic waste forever, but, that's more mental than I am (yet). Though someone floated the idea of doing that and then not paying the storage company, so they'll try to sell things to recoup the cost. (Still no.)

What I really want is to hire a skip/dumpster, spend a week putting things into it, and leave it sitting outside for the good people of Brooklyn to scavenge from, then have someone else aggregate stuff into piles and deliver the clothes to Goodwill, the furniture to Housing Works, random bits of metal shelving to a recycle depot, blankets to dog shelters, etc, etc. I'd be willing... no, I'd be _overjoyed_ to pay for that service. This is New York City, you know? Every crazy service you can imagine exists. Why doesn't this one?
noideadog: (Default)
Alexcat grew while I was away. I wasn't sure it was him for a few seconds when he came bounding over the neighbour's wall. He's not kittenish any more, apart from when you rub his belly and he briefly forgets that he's the terror of the neighbourhood and becomes a mewing ball of fur and teeth and claws. It's not clear whether he remembered me or just isn't picky about food apes, but it took about six seconds before he was all purring and love.

Lucy hid for all of yesterday (this is her usual method of dealing with people she doesn't know, conflict, confusion, loud noises, changes of routine, mice, new furniture, etc) but this morning she was interested in the kind of pettings where everybody is quite formal and nobody makes any sudden movements. I suspect I got sniffed while I was asleep and was judged to be mostly ok.

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