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*brushes off dust*

Er, so obviously I don't use LJ that often anymore. Mostly, I hang out on G+ or wander around reading femslash but otherwise things are quiet.

Time for a random list, I guess.

1. My teenaged girls have been with me for half a year now. Things are going well. I'm happy.

2. I am unemployed. This has the effect of making me loopy with boredom and more interested in cooking.

3. I have been watching random stuff on Netflix, including Bones. Why isn't there any Hannah/Bones fic?!

4. Video games.... Skyrim and FFXIII-2 compete to drive back my boredom.

5. Started exercising after half a year as a desk jockey made me question if I should turn over some of my wardrobe. Hatred of shopping won out and exercise brought me back to "comfy in these clothes" size. Oddly, I feel better about my figure now that I've worked down to it than I did when I had it effortless. Funny, that.

So... how y'all been?

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Alive - barely

OMG THE GIRLS I AM GAINING CUSTODY OF ARE COMING NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!

SO MUCH TO DOOOOOOO!

:D

*runs back to the real world, flailing*

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Election!

Canadian election day is around the corner, and I've taken a look at the candidates in my riding. A night of serious thought turned into a gigglefest, however, when I realized that I've got a bunch of jokers vying for my vote. Here's the run down:

Conservative: The current MP, a stormtrooper for the Conservative Party and front runner for the seat. I'm not inclined to vote Conservative to begin with, but my illustrious MP went to a prolife (read: anti-choice) rally in Ontario. He wasn't there as a representative of parliament but, dammit, he is a representative in parliament. So, screw him.

Independent: The next most likely to win the seat, this dude is a former Conservative party member who went independent in 2008 when the nomination or whatever didn't go his way. He's already said in interviews that while he's unlikely to rejoin the Conservative party, he would back a Conservative government. His website tends to have links back to official government websites and he's prone to ridiculous slogans, like "I'm a small 'c' conservative but a big 'C' Canadian." Also, the pictures he uses when talking about "the diverse group" he will be representing consist of elderly white men and women. Oh, and one youngish white dude.

Liberal: This poor guy is an ivory-tower academic who's certain that if only he could talk to people rationally they would naturally vote for him. He had a blog with buggy code with posts that really should have been tweets. Unsurprisingly, there are no comments on his blog. His platform is the very rational, logical and therefore clearly superior Liberal platform.

People, this is why I don't want to be an academic. I'm snobby enough as it is....

NDP: I don't know what this guy looks like but in his soul he is a dewy-eyed teenage girl desperately cheering on Team Layton. His website is literally a couple of paragraphs talking about how he's so happy to be Team Layton's batter for this riding, and then links to Layton's twitter, facebook, blah blah blah. Seeing this website led to a tangential conversation with my roommate about whether Layton was a vampire or a werewolf. The current theory is werewolf.

Green: This guy is a typical privileged middle-class white hippy. I think the environment is great, but the Green party tends to drive me nuts with their flaky candidates. You know, the kind that proudly announce that they're vegetarians, as though that has anything to do with where they stand on important issues that the government needs to deal with. This guy wasn't on that level, but seemed to believe that Magic Green Power would solve all of Canada's problems. On an amusing note, a misplaced comma in his list of issues made it seem like he was in favour of bolstering corrupt governments.

Western Block: This is the western separatist party. That's right! I have a separatist candidate! This is probably the only interesting thing about the whole damn riding.

*

Right. So, overall, I am uninspired. Sure, I'm going to vote, but only because I want it to be clear that I don't support a Conservative majority. That's the best I can manage with this stable of candidates.

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PSA: Movits!

Movits! is a Swedish group whose music is a mix of swing and hip hop. As a sample from their last album:



Colbert Nation is streaming the latest Movits! album until April 5th. It is totally awesome and you should check it out.

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Emotional angst without the agony

One week until the next Lost Autumn game (a new LARP in town). I am thrilled. I usually play observant, mature, thinky characters, but this time around I have a character who has the emotional maturity of a high schooler. Last game I had a drunken fight with an ex-girlfriend, got sobered up with magic powers, had a sober fight with the ex-girlfriend, got hit with another magic power, and ended up dragging another woman off to a bedroom. O.o

I'm so glad my real romantic life was tamer. I don't think I could survive that kind of excitement.

In other news, the girls came to stay with us over spring break, and it's been a little crowded but fun. They're bedding down in the living room right now, since our roommate hasn't moved out yet, hence the crowded part. It's weird - I have to transition from "the cool aunt" to "parental replacement unit." My roommate has been giggling over our efforts, because my partner (can't use "girl" anymore - it's too confusing now) and I are a little awkward while the girls are, "'s all cool, yo."

finaira bought us an HDTV (because she's insane wonderful) and it's really really awesome. I didn't realize what a difference it would make, but now I can read the text on my video games! (I hear other people use their TVs for movies and, well, TV shows - I expect it's okay for that too.)

I'm waiting for confirmation of employment, but there are delays, much to my annoyance. It's not that surprising, I guess, but still. In the meantime I've grabbed some stuff to read from my boss-to-be so that I can maybe get a leg up on what the heck I'll be doing. So far... well, it's textbooks and reports. I don't think they're allowed to be thrilling reading.

And to round off this post of randomness, I give you Sara Bareilles. I picked up her Kaleidoscope Hearts CD and it's amazing.

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Addicted to food

I've woken up at some ungodly hour this morning for no good reason and, amusingly, my first thought is, "Damn - can't do breakfast." This is largely because for the past month I've been making myself a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and the blender is way too loud to run at stupid-o'clock. So, I've made myself a pot of tea, which used to be my breakfast of choice.

The fruit smoothie thing was partly in response to a friend of mine, who got on a health kick and partly a solution to a problem I've had for, oh, ever. I can't handle solid food first thing in the morning - I need a few hours or else my stomach just churns. This made getting breakfast hard because I'm not much of a morning person, so I'd get up at the last moment and by the time I was feeling up to eating I would be in the middle of work or school. So, no food until lunch. Liquids were fine (except dairy - that way lies crampy ickiness in the morning), so I'd try to get some juice or tea into me, just to have something in my guts.

Enter my friend, who does all the hard work in researching blenders and smoothies. I think to myself, "Hey, I could totally try that!" So, a blender and a freezer full of frozen fruit later, I've built a habit of breakfast that actually has a decent amount of calories, vitamins, and essential minerals. My fruit intake per day has gone up significantly just by adding that one meal and I've discovered that I feel more like a morning person. I'm not quite as stupid as I used to be before noon, and I'm pleasantly hungry for lunch rather than in a state where I might just forget to eat.

It's kind of cool, and has increased my appreciation of food. I mean, I liked food before, but I'm moving to a point where I'm totally in love with it. I love making it, eating it, sharing it. Especially sharing it, because I have this odd love of the sound of people chewing and swallowing. Not, like, constant open-mouthed smacking that's loud and messy, but the occasional smack is pretty cool. And swallowing. I haven't the foggiest clue why I like listening to people swallow food, but it's just awesome.

Which brings me to a blog I've started to follow, The Fat Nutritionist, who espouses the philosophy that eating food should be a pleasurable experience, no matter what your size or health. She writes some clever posts which address some of the problems our society has with its relationship with food, and I loves her so. She has some videos of herself eating food, and it's adorable, yo.

Also, I recently picked up one of Alton Brown's books, which contains recipes and behind-the-scenes stuff from Good Eats. He is one of my fave cooks because he talks about the science behind cooking. That is the awesomest thing ever since I'm a total science nerd. Understanding the science behind it transforms food making from alchemy into something I can manage. (Except baking - baking is still totally alchemy and always will be, no matter how much Alton Brown tries to edumacate me.) I finally understand meat! Oh, meat....

Right. I'm going to get back to my tea. I probably have another hour before I can run the blender and not have the people I live with kill me. :P

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It's a lucky year

So, it's the Year of the Pig by the Chinese calendar and I've been told by my mother (who is an Authentic Chinese Lady) that it's a lucky year for me.

Turns out things are going pretty well. Employment is of a temporary nature but pays better than grad studies, so I even out.

I'm gaming a lot more, which is awesome. There's a new larp in town and I had a wonderful time at the first game. I had a drunken confrontation with an ex-girlfriend, sobered up, had another confrontation, then ran off with another woman. Game is the only place you can do this and then have a squealing hugfest with the participants afterwards. What's not to love?

This weekend is the Firefly larp. I have a top hat, a tail coat, random Chinese phrases which I will substitute for appropriate Chinese dialogue since no one will know actual Chinese anyway ("That's a chair! That's a table!"), and a head full of tall tales to bother people with. Now if only I had boots and a place to tuck a prop gun....

On the "getting children" front, things are progressing. We get the girls for spring break, which will be fun and we have high hopes that the home assessment will be done "shortly" (by which I mean within 6-8 weeks). Come summer, the girls should be with us and I will be a full-time parent!

(Okay, so I'm terrified. That's normal, right? Right?!)

On the fandom front, I haven't been keeping up with Glee because I constantly want to strangle the characters. I've still heard about the latest development with Santana and Brittany, though, and watched that clip (anyone who's seen it knows what I mean). Allow me to just say that even though my inner fangirl was screaming "YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAA-NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" I think that the path they chose was the right one. I mean, they're in high school. Their lives shouldn't be like fanfic, no matter how goofy the show. Now, whether they'll be able to handle the ramifications of this storyline choice is up in the air. Given that I spend so much of my time wanting to strangle characters and the rest of the time grudgingly being drawn back in by their song and dance numbers.... We'll see.

On a side note, it amuses me to no end that the first part of that clip mirrors I don't know how many fanfics. Just sayin'.

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I'm Popeye the sailor man!

The problem with saying to myself, "I should update my LJ" and writing an entry in my head is that I then don't post because, y'know, I've done an entry. In my head. *sigh*

So! The fast and dirty updates, as they come to mind:

1. My hair is green! Well, the top layer of it. I'll probably have to dye it some respectable colour in the near future when I get a Real Job (TM) but for now it can be green. I'm quite delighted. I'm going to see how red takes and if it looks all right, I can do red (as red is a respectable colour in so far as real people grow red hair). If it looks bad, it's back to black. This makes me sad.

2. I'm working a temp position as a lab tech but am searching for a Real Job (TM). Anyone need someone with a BSc in Molecular Genetics and a MSC in Plant Biology? I am qualified to poke buttons on a machine and blink in bemusement when nothing works.

3. I have a blender and have been making breakfast smoothies. It's awesome. It's been a week so far, so we'll see how long the honeymoon lasts. Still, veggies and fruits in the morning! (A handful of spinach makes for the best green slime smoothies.) Yay health!

4. I'm working towards getting custody of some teenage girls (it's a looong story - but the short is that I've known them all their lives and they're in foster care in BC right now). I am discovering that Responsible Adulthood is hard. I remedy this by playing pretend a lot.

5. My bank account has less money than I thought it did. I checked around and this is not due to bad banks or paycheques or whatever. It's just me. The telephone banking guy laughed at me because I asked him to reset my internet banking password so that I could "Review my bad choices" and make sure it really was just me.

This means I must make eyes at my wife and hope that she can feed my addictions (food, helter, internets - the usual culprits). Frankly, we're okay - I'm just annoyed at myself. All that Responsible Adulthood isn't taking, apparently.

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Accessibility for the colour blind

I'm working on some figures for publication, and I have lots of bars which need to be coded somehow. The usual way of dealing with this is with colour, but that makes data interpretation hard for the colour blind.

Thankfully, there are resources! Here's a site for Color Universal Design (CUD), which details how to design figures and present images in such a way that the colour blind can interpret the data. For the PDF brochure of the info, click here.

I am quite pleased by this. I can't follow some of the directions (directly labelling bars rather than having a separate legend - I barely have room as it is and it would be far too messy) but the colour suggestions are especially good.

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Should people counter-protest?

For those who don't know, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is a church run by Fred Phelps which goes around preaching hate. They claim God hates America and God hates fags and God hates... well... everyone who isn't part of the church, really. They're the ones who protest outside of the funerals of soldiers, claiming that those who died deserved to do so for protecting a country which allows the faggot agenda to continue. These are the people with signs that say "Thank God for IEDs" and indoctrinate their kids to hold hateful signs.

The WBC has protests/pickets scheduled for every day of the year, and one of those pickets is in my town, outside a performance of the Laramie Project, a play about the reaction to the murder of Matthew Shepard. Naturally, there's a counter-protest planned even though the expectation is that the WBC probably won't show - the announcement of a picket is just to draw attention to themselves.

Counter-protests against this group are increasingly common and range from altercations (which the WBC uses to their advantage to sue the pants off of counter-protestors - the other thing these guys do with their time is go to law school) to parody. There's been some thought that the counter-protests actually play into the WBC's hands by giving them more publicity than they deserve.

I've been thinking on this last point for the past few days, ever since I heard the WBC might be coming. I think there's some merit to the idea that a counter-protest brings more publicity to the original protest, but I don't think that's the complete picture in this case. If counter-protesters arrive to directly confront the WBC, then I agree that WBC wins. But there's been a shift from direct confrontation to using the WBC's presence as a reason to draw the gay community together and raise awareness of homophobia. It's become increasingly common to raise money at WBC protests for things like AIDS awareness, pride centers, charities and organizations which support equality....

Take, for example, the counter-protest here. In the few short days since the counter-protest has been organized, it's gone from "a bunch of folk who want to show the colours" to an organized event including speakers such as the MP and MLA for the area, the director of the Laramie Project, Nate Phelps (estranged son of Fred Phelps and pro-LGBTQ activist), one of the founders of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta, as well as a performance of transgendered singer/songwriter Rae Spoon. Donations to the Pride Center are encouraged, and a thank you card is being sent to WBC for helping to raise awareness in my city.

Sure, publicity is publicity and it can give power to the WBC. But it gives power to us too. It's us taking control of that publicity and spinning the story so it's a positive message. It says, "You may call yourselves Christians, but we're the ones promoting love and inclusiveness. You may say that we're damned, but we're the ones showing that there's hope for a better future. You may feel righteous, but we're the ones fighting for justice. This is OUR event - you're an excuse."

Normally, I don't go to protests or "raise awareness" style events. I'm not a "draw a line in the sands" kind of person, and I don't go in for the "us vs them" dichotomy. Tonight, though, I'm going out to hang out with a bunch of queers and Christians and atheists and other folk. I'm going to hope that the WBC folk show up so that I can hold up my Free Hugs sign and show anyone who drives by the difference between them and me. And, even if they don't, I'm going to get some hugs out of it. :D