blk: (Default)
Hey Boston peeps: I want an excuse to visit you, and I also want to run in more fun races. Can you help me combine these things? Are there any races around town this summer that you are going to partake in and think I would enjoy? Or just races you recommend? I'm open to anything from a 5k to a half marathon.

Alternately (since a lot of people don't run), are there other interesting events happening you'd particularly like me to join you on?
blk: (polychrome)
Hey Bostonites!

Arisia is almost among us! The usual three from this house will be attending, driving up from Pittsburgh on Friday. Since we are spending all our time at the hotel, I am in search of somewhere that we can park our car for ~3 days that does not involve exorbitant fees, strict weekend-only hours we have to watch for, or high risk of getting caught in a snow emergency, and can be acquired from the hotel by one person relatively easily. Ideally, I think this would involve a private driveway of someone who lives in walking or biking distance from the T. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile, Arisia! I am NOT going to be doing my usual braiding business this year (due to boring reasons that involve a failure in my expectations regarding Arisia's levels of organization), so instead I will be doing a new and strange thing for me.... ATTENDING. I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself in a hotel for an entire weekend. Got any suggestions for that? I expect to have a costume; should I bother with the masquerade? I've never been to any daytime events... are any worthwhile? Any things or people you recommend I do or see or attend to? Are you going? Want to meet up?
blk: (avatar)
General request: If you consume or purchase any Coca-Cola products and you don't have any use for the MyCokeRewards(tm) code on the cap, box, or plastic, I would very much love to have it. You can text, email or otherwise msg the codes to me somehow, and I will redeem the points for sodas that will stock my fridge for serving at future house parties. Thanks in advance!
blk: (house)
So we're getting some work done on the house next week.

It started with a leak in the bathroom tub seal, which made a nice hole of damp, peeling plaster in the ceiling of our kitchen. [livejournal.com profile] xuth, wonderful person, fixed the leak. Eventually we start thinking about fixing the ceiling. Neither of us want to do it, so we'd probably hire someone. While we're hiring someone for that, we should also do something about the ceiling in my bedroom, which has cracks in it from a previous roof leak and other cracks from wear and tear.

we couldn't just stop at one )

the plan so far )

oh god oh god we're all gonna die )

I'm hoping that writing this all down and getting commiseration will help me calm down and start being useful again.
blk: (BEM)
I've decided that I want an e-reader. The first thing I wanted was to read more. I mean read like curl up with a blanket and tea and cat and a immerse in a fiction book, or possibly even read like a good nonfiction that makes me think and learn. I -don't- mean read like catching up on blogs or news articles. A good book is like a mini vacation; it lets my brain escape and relax, which is good for it, so reading is good for me, and I should do more.

read about it )

Hey peanut gallery, here's where I would like information from you. What do you have or have played with? What do you like and not like about it? Do my assumptions above match up with your actual experience? Would I really be able to put Android apps onto any of these systems? (except the kindle) I may or may not be interested in jailbreaking it - how much trouble is it and what would it get me? What am I not thinking about? Thanks!
blk: (bike)
What with the cutting back of bus service, the lovely warm weather here, and the desire for stronger legs and a faster commute, I decided to pull out my bicycle and start using it to travel to work again. [livejournal.com profile] xuth was kind enough to make sure that all parts were still in decent working condition and that I had a nice secure lock to use, and then I was off.

Micro-summary: Woot! I am a wimpy-ass bicyclist.

face to the wind )

I'm looking forward to enjoying more benefits of this, particularly once I get into better shape. I'm totally ready to be rocking out next week for Pittsburgh's Bike to Work Day!
blk: (natalie)
A query:
I want something that will cover my nose, mouth, and ears, is loose enough to not compress my nose, but close fitting enough that it will stay in place when I turn my head and walk around. Is a balaclava my only option for this? Got any suggestions? No beards.

A complaint:
Dear all you property owners on S Negley Ave. It's not MY fault your street has a ~15% grade, which I realize doesn't make you want to walk up it. Is it really too much to ask for you to shovel and salt your sidewalks for all the people who DO walk up and down your way? We have -maybe- 2 measly inches of snow, and today was partly sunny for at least half of it. (Really, this is to almost half the houses I passed today, but Negley seemed worse)

A grump:
I hate this stage of winter. I'm tired of dressing up in many layers and covering every inch of my skin to go outside. I'm tired of navigating all the icy spots on the sidewalks. I'm tired of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning because mornings are cold and dimly lit. I'm tired of not wanting to do anything, not wanting to go anywhere, not wanting to see anybody. I'm -really- tired of telling people what to do. I'm tired of worrying about money. I'm tired of being in pain (cricked neck still isn't better). I'm tired of being tired. I want to burrow under my blankets and not come up until spring.

On the upside, I have a cat snuggling in my lap and homemade dark chocolate ice cream to eat.
blk: (axial)
The solstice moment passes this evening, and hope for a sunny, warm world returns once again! Every stolen moment of daylight will come back, and the world continues on once more in its path around the sun.

But while the revolution of the planet remains constant, I don't have to. I want to change; I want to grow; I want to improve myself and be a better person next year than I am right now, and I want that to be my goal every year.

This year, I am asking for help.

In your opinion, what do you think I should do this year to improve myself and become a better person?

the fine print )
blk: (computer)
The boys need USB drives occasionally for school. The drives are not used that often, not used for large files, do not need to be secure/protected, and are at high risk of being damaged or lost. I would like to get a few cheap flash drives that I can keep around for when they need/lose one in the next few years. About the cheapest I've been able to find is this 2 GB drive on Amazon for $5.99.

I am looking for help finding either a) another source I can buy inexpensive flash drives (online preferable), or b) friends who might have some old, small capacity drives lying around (maybe tech fair samples?) that are not getting used and could be donated to a good cause (preferably not the kind that autolaunch anything that can't be removed easily). I would like to acquire somewhere between 1 and 5 of them.

Thanks in advance for any help.

[Before people get too far into geek answer syndrome, since I know you're thinking it: yes, there actually are reasons why I specifically want flash drives, and am not looking for alternate file-sharing suggestions.]
blk: (ember)
When we arrived home yesterday evening, I stretched, unlocked the front door, and waited for the mewing, eager, affectionate greeting I always get when coming home from a trip. Instead, there was nothing. Something was wrong.

I went upstairs to discover that the door to my bedroom had blown shut hard, trapping Ember inside for some portion of the weekend. Usually I keep a doorstop in place, making that impossible, but I hadn't noticed it was moved before we left. Judging by the usage of the food and litter (which were, alas, outside of the room), it was on the longer side of things. She'd also torn up a small section of carpet under the door trying to escape.

The very good news is that she appeared basically unharmed. After being rescued, she wanted a lot of affection and a bit of food, but didn't seem unwell. Later in the evening and today she's been back to normal, albeit about a pound lighter. The bad news is that my bed, one of her favorite places in the house, was her de facto litter box for the length of her unintentional confinement.

The victims include a set of sheets, a pillow, mattress pad, and sadly, the mattress. Everything except the mattress can be thrown into the washing machine, and the mattress can be flipped, but I need some suggestions for getting the odor out. I've googled up cleaning suggestions that include a vinegar wash, or baking soda and peroxide. Will that work after it's sat for a day? Any particular methods or enzyme cleaners you recommend? Getting rid of everything is an option too, but I'm planning to give a shot to washing stuff out first.
blk: (delirium)
Outside is chilly and insistently damp, and life all around me seems to be reflecting in empathy.

I recently joined the ranks of the underemployed, and so I'm home, more or less, during the days right now, and keeping very busy -- way more busy, it seems, than when i was working. How did I ever get anything done while I had a full time job?! It's been very good in many ways, particularly useful for when the kids have been sick, and allowing me to take some extended vacation this fall, which I'm really looking forward to. I've got a billion things I want to do and hopefully at least a few will get done.

crop circles in the carpet )
blk: (snowball)
The @WINTER_HOLIDAYS planning commenceth.

I'm planning to be in and around the Boston area again for my end-of-year vacation, and make use of various friends in order to do it. In order to attempt make my life and schedule a little easier, as well as those of all my friends and potential kind hosts, I'm planning to drive it. Since the [livejournal.com profile] jboys will be nearby in CT as usual for xmas, I'm also planning to bring them up to see me for a couple days.

However, in order to make this happen, I'd need to get some help. I'm looking for:

  1. Nice people somewhere in the eastern PA/NJ/NY range who would be willing to lend me crash space (and a parking spot) overnight, since I think 10+ hours of driving in a day is out of the question for me, or at least highly undesirable. On the way up, this would be sometime between Dec 21st and 24th, and on the way back, either the 31st or 1st.

  2. Friends in the Bostonish area who are interested in putting up me or me+boys for a night or two. Kids are fine in sleeping bags (which I can provide, if needed).

  3. Friends in the Bostonish area who are interested in hanging out with me or me+boys, or can suggest some fun+cheap stuff to do around town. People with kids in the 6-9 year range for the second part would be great but not necessary.

  4. Notification of any parties/events/funstuff happening you think I'd want to be aware of. I currently (as of writing this post) have no known plans and an open schedule, but I'm sure that closer to the date I won't, so get your reservations in now. :)

Feel free to comment here or contact me privately with any info. Specific details of stuff would likely happen in private, but saying something in comments would likely help remind me to remember to look you up later. Many thanks ahead of time!
blk: (feet)
I'm in the market for some boots. I've gone through several pairs in the past few years, most of which have either worn out for being cheap or been sold for not being exactly right. I think not all my boot desires will be solved with a single pair, so I recently got a fashion high boot off ebay for work and casual wear, but I clearly need some at least one more pair for everyday winter stuff. I'm leaning heavily towards Doc Martens, but since I am currently obsessing over possibilities, I would like to pick some brains.

I want boots that:

have good arch support
I can hike in comfortably
have decent traction for rocks and ice
are waterproof against rain and mud
are reasonably warm against snow
come up above the ankle
look sexy and stompy
are fairly lightweight (no steel-toed)
have a low or no heel
will be durable with regular use

Extra bonus features include being black and leather or green and suede, and also being very fast to put on and take off, although I generally like the look of laces better than not.

I'd rather they be relatively cheap, but that's mostly because I will be less upset if I pay $50 on a pair that don't work out than if I pay $150 or more. I bought a new pair of really awesome-looking stompy Harley-Davidson boots last year that started falling apart after 6 months, and I'm a little grumpy.

I am considering the fact that I might get two different pairs that will satisfy various parts of the reqs (hiking/waterproof/warm vs leather/stompy/regular use). I'm open to the "warm" part being solved with extra socks, since I don't really want fur-lined, as I'd also like them to be usable in summer. I know arch support can be supplemented with insoles, which is fine.

Tell me readers, what do you suggest?
blk: (spicy)
For those who were looking for context for the last post: this past weekend, I was at Confluence, dealing braids.

This was the second con I've been a braider at; first one I've done all on my own. It went pretty well overall. I've considered a variety of things I can change or add to my display and to my list of wares, and I'm pretty excited about going forward with it.

My magnum opus came when [livejournal.com profile] mg4h walked up, with her hair freshly unbraided and brushed, sat down and said, "Do whatever you want!"

I cackled evilly. I went from "lotsa hair" to this to this to ... )

So! the time has come me to solicit help on other things. I have questions!

expressing my creativity )
blk: (justin)
Jerry Meyers, the primary director/organizer of pretty much all the Youth Chess events around Pittsburgh (and many adult events), approached me recently about overseeing a regional ACLA Chess Tournament next weekend, March 3rd, at CLPGH in Hazelwood. I'm not available (or particularly interested, alas for him), but I told him I had several geeky friends and would ask around.

So! Is there anybody in Pittsburgh who knows basic chess (must know rules of moving and be able to easily recognize a checkmate, at minimum) and is interested in dedicating a few hours on a Saturday to helping a small group of kids get in a chess fix? If so, let me or Jerry know. Your assistance would be appreciated. I can vouch that Jerry is a nifty guy who is pretty pleasant to work with.
blk: (pdq notes)
I'm putting out a call for brainstorming help from my geekier-minded friends.

My mom is looking for ideas on how to provide a way to play recorded music for a severely mentally retarded adult, without the player needing constant supervision. She's got a few cds ripped, and would like to find a player that would ideally meet as many of the following criteria as possible:
  • Able to play/hold multiple cds' worth of music
  • Requires the absolute minimum of maintenance/operation, such as
    • does not involve removal or handling of media devices in any way
    • does not require batteries, recharging, syncing, headphones, detachable parts, extra cables, or too many options
  • Sturdy, as sooner or later it -will- be dropped, hit, or thrown across the room
  • Fairly cheap (under $50), as it would likely need to be replaced frequently (see above point)
The top-running options we and some friends have come up with so far include:
  • a small boombox which is capable of reading mp3 format from a cd, such as this, this
  • a mp3 player bundled with speakers, with an wall power adapter
  • something custom-built to have a hard drive, speakers, power cord, and durable, shock-proof protective outer covering
Unfortunately, a) most of the boomboxes I've searched on seem to have rather low customer ratings, and are still quite fragile, b) anything with a hard drive is going to cost a lot of money, and c) we don't actually know if this is something that will work for the long term, so it's hard to say how much effort should go into it. My mom has stopped in a couple electronics stores in an attempt to look at something hands-on, with very little success. I think a small boombox on a high shelf with a remote control might be my first choice, but I'm only guessing.

Can you help us think of any other ideas here? All comments are welcome.
blk: (thinking)
I am in search of interesting, short, not terribly challenging trivia (preferably geek- or computer-related) questions and answers which are not easily googleable, to put on my whiteboard at work for department entertainment purposes.

If anybody has any ideas, I would appreciate pointers (feel free to email they are better related privately).



ETA. For those playing the home game, previous questions (yes, they're intentionally easy) have included:

a) Which team won the game where the first Macintosh commercial was introduced?

b) How many nibbles in a ZB?

c) What was the longest calendar year ever?
blk: (elf)
In a recent web search, I discovered that the Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is sadly no more. I must admit I'm not terribly surprised, as in the past few years I've visited, it has seemed sparser and less enthusiastic. I am pretty disappointed, though, as I had relied on that one to get my yearly renfest fix.

Also, because of one artisan who was regularly there (and the path by which I discovered the Festival's demise), who ran a booth I know only as "Jenn's Crown Jewels."

And she had what I now want.

She ran a jewelry booth that had primarily earrings and ear cuffs. Among her wares were earrings with double piercing attachments; they had a gemstone stud at each end, connected by a chain, to be worn with a cartilage and a lobe piercing. I remember looking at them last year, but at that point I didn't have a cartilage piercing that was fully healed, and that I was comfortable changing the jewelry in. Now I do, and I want one, and I really liked hers. From the festival crafts page and my credit card statement from last year, I have her full name and former business locale (Florida), and I know at one point she had a web page (I remember browsing it) but Google has been absolutely no help. Phooey.

So I'm looking for that style earring in other places. I found one place that has one close to what I think I want, but no others. I'm incredibly particular about jewelry that I wear (I'm partial to gold, certain types of gemstones, and fairly simplistic styles), so my best bet is probably to get custom work done, either by a random internetz crafter or by a friend who makes jewelry and is up for a commission.

So, my LJ-friends. Do you have any recommendations (for said earring, or for convenient renfests worth visiting)?
blk: (computer)
For some time now, I've been thinking that I want to track my moods/emotions, and see how much they correlate to other variables in my life (including, but not limited to, hormones, sleep, exercise, stress). Rather, I know they ARE related, but I have never put any effort in to analyzing the patterns more than a passing glance over the calendar.

The thing is, I have a more complex system in mind than a simple homemade text file is going to do for me, and I don't want to do all the work (which is one of the reasons I've been putting this off). Is there any good free-ish software out there that will let me track personal variables, such as emotions and give me nifty graphs and let me do fun things with user-defined data, without taking a huge amount of overhead time?

The scientist in me thanks you.
blk: (spicy)
From the encouragement and practice I've gotten recently, most specifically at Arisia, I've been looking more into braiding as a serious moneymaking practice, instead of just as an occasional hobby. I don't think I'm going to go the RenFest route, as the time commitment there is a more than I want, and I'm not relying on this for income. However, even just as a casual thing, there's a lot of parts to this that require brain attention.

cut for hair and polls )

There are a few other things I'm thinking about, like regularly braiding practice time, as well as some ideas for incorporating some handmade hair decorations into this, but those aren't things that need attention right now. However, the rest of it, I'm definitely interested in hearing comments on. Suggestions for web or graphic design options? Things to think about in starting a small business? Anything important you think I might be missing? Volunteers to come visit me some evening and let me spend a few hours messing with your hair? Generic words of encouragement? Send 'em my way.

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