shannon_a: (Default)
I'm going to be traveling in October, and thus I've started waking up earlier in the morning, trying to get myself on East Coast time (and closer to European time). The waking up earlier can leave me a little tired, but it pays out when I'm actually able to sleep on the earlier schedule when I'm back East. However, what really frazzles me is the lost of time in the evening, and everything gets pressed closer together, and I don't have the time to do everything that I want to do.

On the bright side, my usual pattern while cycling earlier is to go out for a one-hour hike above Clark Kerr first thing in the morning. This wakes me up in the early hours, and also helps me expend energy so I'm more likely to sleep at night. And I get a nice, physical intro to the day, and I interact with some people (and their dogs) even before I work.

The weather's been particularly nice. I usually shed my jacked before I get to the hills. And today we got bright blue and clear skies too. The Golden Gate Bridge was about as crystal clear as it ever gets

Anywho, short evenings aren't the only reason I'm frazzled. Lots of stuff going on too.

With help from a Facebook friend, I found a general contractor to take a fourth try at our downstairs tub, and K. actually got him out here last Saturday. He is pretty confident that the problem is that the proper, legally required waterproofing wasn't put in behind the tile walls. I had pictures of the tub under construction, and he said, yeah, it looks like they just put greenboard behind the tiles, which is how you did this sort of thing thirty years ago.

I can totally believe it given the problems we had with the initial bathroom guy, and I'd about come to the conclusion that all of the tile needed to be ripped out and new stuff installed. Which is what he wants to do. He can't do the work until December, but his estimate is about $1500 + materials, maybe $2000 total, which sounds reasonable at this point. (Though not reasonable in the scope of things where we had this bathroom renovated exactly five years ago!)

In the meantime, he offered to put up some plastic on the walls to make the shower usable again. Since the upstairs shower is much less nice this seemed reasonable ... but we didn't realize quite what he intended. So we've got hard plastic walls up now in the downstairs tub, in front of the tiles, which will definitely do the job, but is a bit wasteful for something only intended to last a few months. So it goes.

Meanwhile, our neighbor suggested a gardener for us. I'm always leery of that type of ongoing cost going into our budget, but we came to the conclusion this year that we wanted to start having our front yard look like something other than a prairie wasteland, so that we'll have good Google Maps pictures years before we sell, and so that we'll really have it on the path to looking regularly nice by the time we sell.

So K. had been scheduling with him, and he finally made it out on Wednesday, very late, and only after K. gave him block-by-block instructions because he ended up at the wrong place twice before getting here. He seemed nice and very conscientious and responsive to our desire to have the yard thoroughly deweeded, then something planted when it's all dead. The deweeding is supposed to start on Monday, and then it'll be three months before we're clear of weeds, and then he'll do some planting as winter edges toward spring, maybe in February. He thinks that succulents will grow best, and I'm totally OK with that if they look good and aren't cactus.

Meanwhile, Lucy has been having bathroom problems very intermittently for a while, so when I was concerned with that last weekend, K. suggested that we should bring her in, so I wasn't worried about her on my trip(s). So we did, and it was suggested we up her wet food from once a week to every day, which is a big pain, but we're trying it out.

It had also been years since we'd taken Lucy into the vet, and the vet suggested a senior screen. It was expensive, but we agreed. It came back with her being in very good health, other than her level of dehydration that we were seeing. In fact they said our little ten-year-old cat's kidneys looked more like a two-year-old cat's. Given we lost both of our older cats to kidney disease, we were extremely relieved to hear that.

What else? What else? K hasn't been doing entirely well lately, which certainly contributes to household stress. I've been very busy during my work-week trying too simultaneously juggle too many tasks and also do things necessary to prep for our trip. I had an extremely productive work week last week, but that sort of thing comes at a cost.

And today I finished up "Book One" in what I intend as a trilogy in my Burning Wheel Clockwork Campaign. Perfect timing, as I managed it just before my trip, but that's a topic I'd like to dedicate an entry to later.

Tomorrow: Sister Act. (Meanwhile, pedophile-apologist and Neo-nazi-supporter Milo Y. marches on Sproul Plaza, probably resulting in helicopter riots.)
shannon_a: (Default)
In Which My Hair is Butchered. K. was kind enough to cut my hair on Sunday, which she had done once before with the newish electric razor we have. Because of the long hiatus between the two instances she got confused about what the proper setting was for the razor, which was amplified by her trying to cut with the cover on backwards. When she was done, I had no hair. Quite literally. Between my hairlessness and my Van Dyke, I just need a black porkpie to look like a sociopathic drug manufacturer.

In Which My Cat Escapes a Harness. I've wanted to harness train Callisto since we got her, so K. and I started in on that in the last couple of weeks. Except she totally freaks out when the harness is on, moving like her back is broken, scuttling like a crab, etc. She also tries to lick it off continuously. To try and show her the benefits, we took her out to the deck last week, and that seemed to work OK. But then K. took her out to the front yard and sat with her on the steps. She apparently got freaked out, because when I opened the front door to see how things were going, she bolted for the foyer so hard that she somehow slipped out of the harness. I think we're done harness training her.

In Which I Hike. I am once again on no-biking duty because it would upset a test my doctor has requested. So instead I hiked from Lake Anza, through Tilden, and down home on Saturday. It was a nice long hike. I also did my more typical 70 minute hike this evening, up the fire trails and back down Panoramic Hill. Lots of beautiful views on both those days (though Saturday was a bit hazy).

In Which I Also Walk. On Sunday, when K. wasn't busy butchering my hair, we went out for a long midday walk, traversing another half-a-walk from our Berkeley Walks book. This time we did the first half of the Southside walk, which took us from Telegraph & Bancroft, up toward College and back. (I figured it was the time to do it before the streets filled with returning students.) I knew a lot of what we saw and even predicted some of sites. However, I added dates and details to my knowledge base. Most surprising was that the Togo's was designed by Julia Morgan. That is, the storefront on Bancroft that had a Togo's twenty-five years ago (and the Double Rainbow Cafe on one side and something else on the other) was a Julia Morgan design. The only major change mentioned was that the interior courtyard used to be open. We still have half that walk to do, then another 16 in the book.

In Which the Health Problems Continue. Saw a Doc last Wednesday, to no great results. We agreed that all the drugs had done little good. So he's now got me scheduled for more annoying tests (c.f., no biking), which are to look for unlikely but scary things. If that doesn't turn anything up, then it's off to different specialists. The psychological weight of this (really, of constantly feeling uncomfortable) was really getting to me last week, but I managed to lighten it a bit by taking some music out with me on some of my walks and dancing and singing as I went, without caring who thought I was crazy. (I rarely care who thinks I'm crazy.)

In Which Our Anniversary is Coming. K. and I will be celebrating our 16th Anniversary on Friday at Millennium. Yay.
shannon_a: (Default)
The Cats. Lucy has started being increasingly aggressive toward Callisto lately. It's just hissing and growling, but there's more of it. Mind you, Lucy has never been very fond of Callisto, but this seems to be going in a bad direction at the moment.

I suspect that it's my office that causes most of the contention and annoyance, since both cats like to sit around my desk while I work, and there's also just one food bowl and water bowl in the room. So, I'm in the process of making my office last contentious.

To start with, I tried to deal with the boiling annoyance last week by locking Callisto out of the office during my Thursday and Friday workdays. Poor Callisto, but I figured she got the rest of the house and her mama. But, she yowled at the door for quite a bit. And then she started throwing herself at the door to try and open it (which actually works on our Family Room door, because it has an old lock).

And then she did the wackiest thing ... she ran into the Family Room and started trying to get into the closet that we wedge shut there. She indeed managed to get that door open, because it doesn't latch. Kimberly later said, "What was up with that?" My theory was this: in her little kitty brain, Callisto knew she was blocked by the door from getting into her office. So she ran to open another door, figuring it would lead the same place. Smart cat? Dumb cat? I think the former.

Anywho, this week I got in some cat pheromones to run in my office. I'm also encouraging Callisto to use an alternate lounging place and have moved a second bowl food and water in there.

So far, things have calmed down a bit.

The Bike. I bought my fourth bike computer last month. Those things keep dying. The first started responding incorrectly to button pushes, the second lost a button, and the third stopped recording the bike's movement. The cheapest one I had, by Schwinn, actually lasted the longest at about four years, while the better ones from Sigma lasted just less than two years and just less than one and a half.

Inexplicably, I got another Sigma. Well, it's not actually inexplicable. They have better feature sets, and their new one that I got has a feature I really wanted: an altimeter. Now, I looked quite a bit for bike computers before I decided on one, and quite a few of them have altimeters now, but they're almost all using GPS. And GPS sucks down energy like no one's business. So I decided I didn't want a bike computer that was unreliable because I had to constantly power it.

So I bought the new SIGMA ALTI instead. I have no idea how it actually measures altitude. Maybe atmospheric pressure or something? It's not entirely accurate. I find that it shifts quite a bit, just sitting in my garage. I might put it away at 180 feet and come back two days later to find it's now at 153. But, it certainly gives the general trends, and over the course of a single bike ride it stays reasonably reliable.

I've been enjoying it quite a bit. I've gotten to see the altitudes of many of the places I ride, and what the actual ups and downs are. (I wish it showed rise over time, so I could understand what slopes are the most difficult for me.) I've found it particularly interesting playing the what's-the-same-height game. For example I've learned that the Berkeley Rose Garden and Jewel Lake (on opposite sides of a ridge) are at about the same height. I've also been able to see which routes are more wasteful due to rise and falls. It's also served as encouragement ("Look at that, I'm almost up to 1000 feet, I can go just a bit further"), which is the same purpose served by the odometer on the computer ("I'm lagging, I should push up to at least 12 mph from this puny 10.")

Other Entertainment. I wrote this last section head just to be parallel to my last journal entry, where I wrote about "Other Roleplaying". So, what other entertainment have I been doing? As usual that's board games, TV, and books.

Board gaming continues to be my regular Wednesday + Thursday evening activity. My current obsessions are Pathfinder Adventure Card Game (which gets played once a month with my Thursday group) and Roll for the Galaxy (a great dice-rolling game).

TV is in the summer slumps, which means we're watching great things on DVD. Thus far this summer has included Good Wife (season 3), Newsroom (season 2), and Game of Thrones (season 4), with Newsroom (season 3 and final) and Dexter (season 3) on deck. We've also been slowly watching through Arrow (season 3) and Flash (season 1), now that summer reruns finally got us the start of the seasons on our Tivo Of them Good Wife slumped a little from its season 1 greatness and Arrow season 3 just hasn't been as great as what preceded it, while Flash is still developing its cast and mythos. But they're all at least good (with Arrow my least favorite of that bunch) and many are great. We're also watching the embarrassing Big Brother 14 because I can't give up my love of televised strategy games for the summer, even when the summer show is crap.

As for books: I continue with my massive Michael Moorcock re-read. I just finished Phoenix in Obsidian (1970) a couple of nights ago, and am working on my article for it. Other than that, it's what caches my fancy off my to-be-read shelf. I've just started one of the few Sanderson Cosmere books I haven't read, Elantris. Recently finished books include Ship of Magic (a reread of the classic Robin Hobb book, which is still classic), Scream of the Shalka (a Doctor Who book written just before the new series, by Paul Cornell, which was OK, but disappointing for a Cornell book), The Annihilation Score (the newest Scalzi Laundry book which was very disappointing because it took the series in an entirely bizarre and inappropriate direction), and The Girl with all the Gifts (a post-apocalyptic Mike Carey book which left a bad taste in my mouth).

Oh, and I've also been re-reading A Feast for Crows, following our conclusion of season 4 of A Game of Thrones. I pick it up every once in a while and read one or two hundred pages over the course of several days, then I put it back down and read something else. The problem is that nothing happens. It's just a bunch of people standing around and hoping that something happens, but with a few specific exceptions spread out over the book, it doesn't. So, there's no tension and no concern about putting the book down for a week or two. Pfah. The writing is still smart, the characters well drawn. But it makes me that much sadder that Martin lost his way and wrote these two books that just tread water without any purpose.

And that's some of my current entertainment.
shannon_a: (Default)
Ever since my dad and Mary moved to Hawaii, Kimberly and I have taken care of my sister's cat, Tai Chi (a/k/a Guest Cat), on a regular basis, whenever she visited them. For a while, when Melody was in college, it was twice a year, and so Tai Chi got very familiar with our house, and the stalking Lucy kit and the hissing Munchkin and Cobweb old ladies.

But, Tai Chi's last visit was two years ago. Graduation and a job kept Melody (and Jared) away from Hawaii for a while after that, then when they visited last year, my folks (who were out for the wedding) housesat and catsat for them. So when Tai Chi returned a bit over a week ago, it had been a while.

Unfortunately, this new visit was very tiring. The main problem was Callisto. She constantly growled and hissed at Tai Chi, which would have been annoying but OK. Unfortunately, she also quickly escalated to trying to attack Tai Chi. We deterred her about a dozen times over the course of the visit. And that was only when we were allowing the cats to all be out in the house under careful monitoring. During the workday, our cats were usually locked up in my office, which they don't mind at all and which let Tai Chi have the run of the house. Then, during the night and during the weekend, Tai Chi was more frequently locked up in the Guest Room while our cats had the run of the house.

We were really surprised by the troubles. Callisto had actually met Tai Chi before. He last visited after we'd had Callisto for about a month. And, she's the friendliest cat in the world with people, and she's the one that's constantly trying to make friends with Lucy. So to have her try to attack Tai Chi was ... shocking.

And, it was a real pity, because Tai Chi was friendlier than he'd ever been. Purring and rubbing up against us and climbing all over us if we laid down in "his" bed in the Guest Room. (A bed that he vomited on twice, being Tai Chi ... which led to multiple washings of the comforter and sheets.) So, he could have had a really happy week if not for Callisto.

Instead, it was a tiring week keeping cats separated them and keeping an ear out while they were out together.

Tai Chi was actually not the only bonus animal at the house over the week.

K. hosted writing group at our house on Thursday as part of her hopeful recovery from coughing and we let her friend C. bring her service dog, Suzen, to the group. I wouldn't want most dogs in our house, but Suzen is somewhat trained and very friendly, so I didn't have any concerns. I encouraged Lucy to stay up in my office, because I didn't want my little scaredy-cat to have a heart attack, and Tai Chi stayed locked up. But Callisto hung out downstairs and didn't seemed worried at all, though she skirted very carefully around Suzen while moving about when I was (briefly) downstairs.

(While told me that the Callisto/Tai Chi problems were entirely territorial beef, not fear.)

Then when Melody and Jared came to pick up Tai Chi on Sunday they brought their dog, Koloa. She's a fast-growing pup of a year or so. She didn't actually come into the house, but the five of us went out to the soon-to-be-dearly-departed Oscar's, then ate our bounty at the nearby Ohlone Dog Park. We got to see Koloa race around and be crazy and watched Melody discourage her from jumping on people and tables. It was pleasant visit, and a nice bit of time out at a dog park.

Then Melody, Jared, Koloa, and Tai Chi went home.

Callisto was almost immediately relieved. She was lounging about by Sunday evening, clearly relaxed for the first time in 9 days, having finally driven the interloper from the house.

Heard from the sun room earlier today while I was working: "Mmrrrrhhhh!" "Mmrrrrhhhhh!" "Mmrrrrrhhhhhhhhhh!" That'd be the plaintive noise that Callisto makes when she's afraid Lucy is going to get her. And sure enough, Lucy, who is a third of the size of Callisto, was looming over her and threatening/playing. (Lucy has a poor understanding of which is which.)

Yep, that's the cat that spent 9 days trying to kill our visitor, begging the 5 pound cat not to hurt her.

(We did theorize that Callisto was so aggressive because she wasn't just protecting herself and the household, but also her Lucy kit.)
shannon_a: (Default)
I'm afraid that Hawaiian Airlines has joined the dark side.

Their food has been substandard for a few years, but I gave them a pass as they're the only US airline that still does food for their peasantry. (And today's chicken & rice dinner wasn't bad.) However, I hadn't realized that last week's lack of an inflight movie was a sign of their continued descent into darkness. It became more obvious at Honolulu this afternoon when they kept coming onto the PA to exhort (extort?) people into renting tablet computers if they wanted to watch any movies during their flight. Again and again they reminded us that it'd be the only entertainment available from them. (And we could rent them for just $17.)

This new love for evil was also obvious in what K. called "The Scam Cart". I noticed it on the flight in, when they quickly wheeled around a cart of snacks for sale before they brought out the breakfast meal. In other words, they wanted to get people to give them money for food because they were hungry … before they bought the real food around. It all seemed even scummier today, on the flight home, when they also pointed out you could buy a bottle of water for just $3.50, in advance of the drink service. They're preying on peoples' needs to make them pay for what they'll be giving away shortly thereafter.

"Gift blanket sets" were also available for $10.

(On the way out of the plane we saw what were presumably free blanket sets scattered around the First Class section like so much debris.)

Our flight was an hour too long today. Usually it arrives just after 9pm, but today it arrived after 10pm.

The problem was a long air detour to avoid turbulence. Presumably the same winds that buffeted the Hawaiian islands most of the time we were there.

The public transit woes continued at the new Oakland Air Tram, which is clearly not ready for prime time.

First up, it drops from every 10 minute service to every 20 minute service at 10pm, which is ridiculous for the Oakland Airport which still has planes coming at that time. And our plane was so late, that's when we ended up traveling.

Second, when our tram finally arrived, 19.5 minutes after we got to the platform, we were told it was out of service. It sat there for a minute, a "friendly" BART person walked up to the platform, scowling, entered the train, exited it, and then left without saying a word. Then the train pulled out. Another 20 minutes went by and another train showed up. The platform messages were still saying that it was out of service, but by this time we just figured the non-communicative BART people hadn't changed the message, so the ~50-70 of us jumped in and successfully made it to BART (albeit, with standing room only).

Hopefully the kinks are gone by next year, because as of this moment, night time tram usage sucks. If Oakland Airport was trying to compete with SF Airport for convenience of public transport, they failed horribly.

We made it home successfully. The vacation rocked despite today's hijinks.

We have desperate cats, despite a daily cat sitter, and one of K's friends also kindly stopping in several times. Lucy is hitting the floor at everything, like she used to after our first few trips. Callisto is wandering the house whining and being smelly.

Apparently we were missed.
shannon_a: (Default)
LUCY: He's never coming back. Never.

CALLISTO: Hey! Want to race around!?

LUCY: How can you not understand? It is the end of the world as we know it!

CALLISTO: What!? Vet-smell lady gives us extra food every day!

LUCY: Food! Is that all you can think of? What about friendship? What about love?

CALLISTO: I tried to eat the dining room table today.

LUCY: Bitch! I'm going to kill you!

CALLISTO: Why do you say that, frolicking friend?

LUCY: Huff! Huff! Huff!

CALLISTO: Agggggggh!

Cat Drama

Mar. 3rd, 2014 09:34 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
Conversation at our house this afternoon:

LUCY: "You know, I've been suspicious ever since that black bag came out."

CALLISTO: "The black bag? It was fun to eat!"

LUCY: "You don't understand. The black bag comes out, then the sources of heat and love run off before the sun comes up, and we don't see them for EVER!"

CALLISTO: "What!? That's never happened in my whole life!!"

LUCY: "The last great disaster was before you invaded my territory."

CALLISTO: "But who will feed us!!!???"

LUCY: "Bitch!"

CALLISTO: "What!? Why did you say that? Don't hurt me!"

LUCY: "Bitch! I'll kill you!"

CALLISTO: "Agggh!!!"

Eight hours later.



Nov. 22nd, 2013 01:54 pm
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
We had a pretty horrible windstorm last night. Sustained winds up to 40mph and at least one recorded gust of 75mph, according to the news reports today. It's certainly not unprecedented in Berkeley, but we don't tend to see wind that bad more than once a year.

The funniest result was the effect on our gaming. Thursday is my usual board-game/test/review tonight, and last night we were playing Mayfair's new Global Mogul -- a pretty complex and intricate game that I liked far more than I expected based on the components. We were on the second turn or so of the six-turn game ... and the power went out. We waited around for a few minutes, but it stayed out (which is pretty rare for our house).

So the iPhones and other mobiles came out, with their new-fangled flashlight apps (which keep the camera flash on). For the next 2 hours or so (8-10?), we played the game entirely by mobile light -- which was pretty challenging given the large number of cards with smallish print. I offered to hunt up some candles, but no one was interested. The power finally came back on during turn 5 or so. It was a totally wacky gaming experience (and one that probably added at least 30 minutes to the gameplay!).

The cats both have been freaking out about the wind. It started in the late afternoon. yesterday. They were at their worst while we were gaming, because there was weird wind outside, and we were sitting around in the dark, which is pretty unusual too. So there was much chasing and hissing, and I finally had to go rescue Callisto. I sat her down in a chair in the Dining Room (where we were gaming) and she stayed there until the lights came back on. We still have more wind than usual today (though nothing like last night) and poor Lucy remains freaked out ... which means continued hissing at poor Callisto.

So it goes!
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
Friday was Kimberly and my's thirteenth anniversary. Yow, where does the time go? We opted for a more mellow outing than last year, because she's still finding her energy level. So we went down to Jack London Square and had dinner at Scott's. Good seafood there! We've done that at least once before. It's a fair amount nicer than we usually go to, and thus a treat, and I like the fact that it's far enough out of town to feel "exotic". It was a nice romantic dinner with a view of the Bay. Kimberly managed the bus + walk (about 22 blocks round-trip, from the bus to Jack London Square), but was pretty tired (and a bit sick) by the time we got home.

We also recently got a new computer for Kimberly. She'd been mentioning slow speed for a while, and more recently has been having some disk problems (maybe). I looked up her computer and saw that it was 5 years old, 2 generations back, and the newest Apple iMac generation was quite new. So, we opted to get her a new one. The setup of Macs is now quite easy, especially with a tool that automatically syncs all your data to the new computer. It took something like 36 hours(!) to do the data sync which was about 3x what I expected, but it's done now, and her new computer seems to be working well.

Kimberly also got our front door fixed yesterday, thanks to a handyman her friends were able to suggest. Before that it had been dragging against the ground and it was getting increasingly hard to deadbolt (and unlock!). Part of the problem is just that we're in an old house and so things shift in weird ways. However, the other problem was that our fine, fine contractor had used cardboard as part of his structure for keeping the new door in place. Unsurprisingly, that slipped. This is, I should note, the second time we've had problem with that contractor's creative use of cardboard. Anywho, door opens like a dream again.

In my own minor house work I recently got one of my main closets all cleaned and organized, without stuff all stacked here and there. It's a books and games closet. Good to have it all in order.

And I've been trying to train our cats to be friendlier to each other. Whenever I find them lounging about the same couch, rug, or bed pretty close to each other, without being aggressive, I give them a treat. Here's to hoping for fat, friendly cats.

I've been getting noticeable stronger in my biking lately. I'm able to get up to Tilden a lot easier now and I'm also able to do more rides along the ridge line without being totally exhausted just from getting up there. Yay!

And tonight I got to play Castles of Burgundy at Endgame. Feld continues to be one of my recent favorites, and I think that's my favorite of his games. I played against Brad & Hey, and Brad has played the game tons more than I, so I was happy to come within 10 points or so of his final score. I'm sure I could have won with just one or two good moves that I missed.

In the less "good stuff" section, life currently feels like a constant struggle just to push forward to the next day/evening/weekend/whatever. If I make it to Thursday evening, there's ice cream. If I make it to Friday evening, we have our regular dinner out. If I make it to Saturday evening, my gming-obligation is done for a couple of weeks. If I make it to Sunday, I get a free day ...

I'm once more feeling way too burnt out to run my Pathfinder game on Saturday. But, I'll soldier through. The last game was definitely a good experience when all was said and done. I think I feel more at sea for this one, because I haven't figure out the run yet, whereas I'd outlined some main plot points for the last three adventures about three months ago.

And comes Thursday, Kimberly is going to get some more news about her health, so things should be less in stasis soon ...
shannon_a: (Default)
Tai Chi. So today is our last day with Tai Chi. Jared and Melody should currently be on a plane, scheduled to arrive in San Jose at 8.30pm. They'll be up here to pick up their kitty at 10 or 10.30.

Callisto has sadly never come to accept Tai Chi. Kimberly and I suspect that it's because she's still pretty new to her territory, and is worried about being run off. As a result, she still hisses at him quite a bit, sometimes seeks him out to hiss at him, and sometimes chases him down the hall. Ah well; hopefully it'll be better next year.

Tai Chi has been a Saint the whole time, especially after he got comfortable in the house again after a couple of days. He constantly trills at Callisto and approaches her to sniff, but as often as not, she isn't having any of that. Nonetheless, Tai Chi mostly has seemed comfortable and happy lounging about the big house with the big windows. He's also been eating well, which was one of my paranoias, since he got an upset stomach and stopped eating last time he was with us.

Lucy acts like she barely knows there's a new cat in the house. Perhaps she's come to the conclusion that we're going to keep introducing cats every couple of months whether she likes it or not, or maybe she remembers Tai Chi enough from previous years, or maybe she just figures that it's Callisto's turn to deal with the intruder.

I'd hoped that bringing an alien cat into the mix would bring Lucy and Callisto closer, and before last night I would have said that was the case. Lucy seems to have lost most of her annoyance and standoffishness toward Callisto in the last week. But then last night Callisto aggressively backed Lucy into a corner and kept batting at her. (My poor Lucy kit!) I figure she was just aggravated by Tai Chi, and suspect that when Tai Chi goes home, Lucy and Callisto will be ... closer to being buddies than they were before.

The Weekend. It was a non-gaming weekend, so I had a little bit of extra free time. I used that to bike up to Tilden on Saturday, where I then sat in the Gardens for a few hours, working on my Paizo article for Designers & Dragons. Hard ride because the temperature was moving toward the 80s and I had the extra weight of my laptop computer! Afterward I continued upward to the Space Science Labs, and then was able to drop straight down to right above our house. Though I may not be able to ride up the steep roads behind us, I can ride down them if I do some cross-hill riding, and that makes my treks into the hills more convenient.

On Sunday I was planning just to work on writing & such, but I ended up going for a ride to Lake Temescal in the late afternoon. I repeated my passage through the Claremont neighborhood to get there, which is more challenging than my normal way to Temescal, but keeps me off busy streets. Thumbs up all around (though one road coming BACK through Claremont is unbikable right now. My Berkeley map says it's a 10-15% grade).

The Book. So, as I mentioned, I did a bit of work on Paizo for Designers & Dragons. I'm also working on a John Wick Presents article. I've generally found the new articles for the '00s book to be VERY challenging because almost all of the information for them is buried in podcasts, which are usually unindexed, always unsearchable, and usually full of crap to interesting content at a 10:1 ratio. And they're very slow to listen to when compared to reading speed. So it's been taking me weeks to gather info for each new article.

Fortunately, I have the time right now.

The Table. A bit of housework over the weekend too. We got a table and umbrella for the deck outside Kimberly's office, with the hope of making it more habitable during the daytime. Otherwise, it just gets too much glare, heat, and sun.

The table was good iron construction, but somewhat challenging to put together because (1) the instructions sucked, as always seems to be the case -and- (2) to make everything fit, all the pieces had to be tightened up at the same time. It was only 60 or 90 minutes work all told, but it felt like much longer.

Fortunately, there was ice cream reward.

(I did a bit more housework tonight, taking care of weeds and ivy in our yard. I seem to have hurt my little finger a little in doing so, but hopefully it'll be feeling better after a night's sleep.)
shannon_a: (Default)
New Stuff. Bought a new TV & DVD player for our living room. The DVD player is because we get tired of the old DVD player not playing stuff due to scratches (thanks Netflix), dirt (thanks Netflix), or bad DVD recording (thanks Amazon) and the newer DVD players seem much better at correcting for errors. The TV is because we're tired of not being able to read stuff or make out details on our 20" CRT TV when producers clearly expect you to be watching on something bigger & crisper. (So we're jumping to 26" which is still tiny according to most homes I've seen, but hopefully better, and about the biggest that'll fit in my very old entertainment center, which my dad bought me when I moved to an apartment in Berkeley.) I'm shocked at how cheap both of these items have gotten. At $200 that TV is 40% or 50% of the cost of the old living room set, and at a ridiculous $44 the DVD player is 10% of the cost of (probably much better) one that I bought *cough* 14 years ago.

Cats. A week in, Tai Chi is pretty much totally settled. Sadly, Callisto still has the hiss and/or chase reaction much of the time. Not always, as I sometimes find them sitting a few feet apart. I think that Callisto freaks mainly when she gets surprised. ("Cats! I'm shocked to find cats in this house!") I do believe she's not hissing at poor Lucy anymore, however, which she did for a couple days. Lucy, by the by, has been a saint during the entirity of Tai Chi's visit. My poor kitten has become the mature, calm cat of the household!

Meanwhile, Tai Chi is encouraging our cats to be bad, which I've also seen before. Nothing major, but he's very insistent that he can get up on the window sill behind the kitchen counter, and that's been making Callisto decide it's OK. (Meanwhile, since Callisto has arrived she's been encouraging Lucy to get up on the kitchen counter, so it's a feline chain reaction.)

And speaking of bad, Tai Chi insists on eating our cat's food and Callisto insists on eating Tai Chi's food. It's inevitable, of course, but it's amazing how adamant each is about preferring the others. Fortunately, everyone eats their own food at night, since I've been locking Tai Chi up at bedtime to give him and Callisto a stress break.

And it's the weekend! No gaming today, so I'm planning to go out for a ride and enjoy the super hot day up in the hills, if I can make it (heat allowing!). I'm going to bring my laptop (~+6 pounds?) to do some work, which I haven't done since I was working on the previous volume of Designers & Dragons. (It's easier to do when I have final drafts that need editing, and I've been far from that ... but I figured out some internetless work I could do.)

Oh, and the student migration has mostly ended! The suitcase part of the migration was weeks ago, but yesterday was the major moving day, sine a surprising number of students think they're required to end their leases on the last day of the month. Sadly this also means that the streets are now FILLED with crap, since Berkeley stopped putting out dumpsters for the students a few years ago. So it goes ... (And now the City just has to pick it up on an ad hoc basis, which is surely more expensive, and leaves the city looking like crap for weeks.)
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The Hill Ride. So it's been about a year since I started riding up in the hills above Berkeley, Oakland, and other nearby communities. One of my goals was to be able to ride over the hills, and I did that today.

Technically, that's a little less of a milestone than it sounds, because I've previously ridden up to the peaks of a few different hills, and I was pretty sure that I could just point my bike downward and end up in Orinda, Lafayette, or wherever. But today I actually did it (in reverse).

Kimberly and I BARTed out to Lafayette to eat lunch at Baja Fresh, and then when she BARTed back home, I headed southward on my bike (cleverly brought over on BART), to the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. I took it all the way to its end (~8 miles), then turned onto "Canyon Road", which becomes "Pinehurst" and that took me over the hills back to Oakland. I ended up right at the top of Shepherd Canyon Road, so I headed from there down to Shepherd Canyon Trail, then over to Lake Temescale, both of which are among my regular destinations.

The trip was *very* pretty. I love that part of Contra Costa County in general because its got lots of rolling hills and lots of trees. The Lafayette-Moraga Trail is particularly attractive because you go right up into those hills, but at a fairly light slope. I think I'd ridden to the end of the LF Trail maybe twice; if so, this was a third time. Afterward, I was really surprised by how nice the lower part of Canyon/Pinehurst is. It's a very quiet road that goes gradually upwards through heavily wooded areas, full of redwoods and other beautiful old trees. I really enjoyed it.

I was worried that I'd hit some big slopes at the top of the road, but the whole thing turned out to be rideable to me. Mind you, I took a few breaks near the top (where it did get steeper), but I never got to the road that I was expecting to see: which would look really steep and which would be too much to do after (by that point) 13 or 14 miles of biking.

Mind you, the last half mile or so was grueling, and I waS pretty tired when I got to the peak. Much of the Shepherd Canyon Trail went by in a virtual blur, and I've been pretty exhausted since I got home ... but great ride. 22.22 miles total, though the first 2 or so were getting to the Rockridge BART station. An ascent up to just short of 1200 feet (I think) then back down. Through Lafayette, Moraga, the unincorporated community of Canyon (population: 80), Oakland, and Berkeley.

Good stuff.

The Guest Cat. The other excitement this weekend was a visit yesterday from my sister Melody and her fiance Jared to drop off Tai Chi, who we cat sit whenever they go to Hawaii. Seeing the two of them was nice. We did the normal lunch & hang-out thing ... and since then we've had a third cat in the household.

Lucy is totally and surprisingly nonchalant. She clearly remembers Tai Chi well enough to not be scared by him any more -- which is impressive as this time it's been a year since his last visit. Sometimes she avoids him and sometimes she seems to purposefully hang out very near him, but there's no drama

Callisto unfortunately seems afraid of Tai Chi and/or angry that he's in her territory. She's very jumpy when he's out and about and more than once has crouched near him hissing and growling. Continuously. Sigh. At the moment she's laying mostly under the TV, clearly totally exhausted.

Tai Chi for his part wanders around and tries to pretend that there isn't an insane woman bitching at him -- which has been his approach whenever he visits here. (Munchkin and Cobweb used to hiss at him too, and Lucy used to stalk him.) I think it often stresses him out, but he does his best to shrug it off. I've also been locking him up in the Family Room a few times a day thus far to give everyone time to relax.

Hopefully things will quiet down in the next couple of days ...
shannon_a: (Default)
We're about to have a busy week, with birthday celebrations, an outing to a play, and my finishing up volume 3 of Designers & Dragons (hopefully), so a few notes on what's going on now ...

CATS. The cats have continued to acclimate to each other, faster than I had hoped. There's very little hissing now, and the growling has been gone for days. Lucy has even stopped huffing. It's really only when Callisto accidentally runs into Lucy now that there's a minor squabble (by which I mean Callisto hisses and flees and Lucy looks confused).

Poor Lucy really lost her mojo with this strange cat being in the house, but she seems more confident and happier by the day. Unfortunately the poor kit's courage has been insufficient to run Callisto off of the prime spot at the top of the cat tree. Three times I've seen her get up the gumption to go swarming up the cat tree, then turn back at the last moment. She's also not quite up to playing with toys most of the time, but hopefully soon. (As I write this, she just started bouncing a rubber ball around all on her own!)

In any case, it seems clear that Lucy and Callisto not going to be hated enemies, which is a great first step.

HEALTH. I went to my final cardiologist appointment for the nonce on Thursday, and got back the results of my echo stress the previous week. The good news is that the EKG and the ultrasound were both fine after the exercise. That's a big WHEW. Apparently I did have some extra heartbeats *after* the exercise, which can be common with higher blood pressure, but my doc wasn't too worried. We've got a routine follow-up scheduled in 6 months just to be sure everything continues AOK.

New Cat

Mar. 18th, 2013 11:08 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
So I've been watching local cat adoption listings for about a month, with the hope that we'd be able to find a new cat after we got back from Hawaii. I'd wanted to adopt a cat from Hopalong Rescue (where the last three all came from), but I just wasn't seeing any cats in the age range we were looking (particularly not a pair a of siblings). Fortunately, I found there were even more cat adoption agencies in the area than Hopalong, and I finally settled on an agency called Home at Last Animal Rescue, mainly based on the cats they had.

We found two sibling pairs that we were interested in -- Mo & Minerva and Sweetie & Marco -- and we asked the agency if they'd be able to bring them to their adoption event this last Saturday. Kimberly got a prompt response saying that Mo & Minerva should be available but being curiously noncommittal on the other two. Any way, we took the bus down to 4th Street on Saturday evening to see cats and learn about their personalities.

This was when we learned that Home at Last was, perhaps, not as professional as Hopalong Rescue had been. They didn't bring *any* of the cats we'd asked for (nor did they send us any mail about that) and we learned that the folks working the event hadn't even asked about Sweetie & Marco (who we were most interested in) because the foster parents were "hard to work with". In fact we were kind of shocked to see that out of eight or so cages that only four were full!

Fortunately, there was one other beautiful cat that I'd liked from her description, Briana. She seemed pretty stand-offish in her cage -- but I think all the caged cats at these things are pretty stimulus-stunned. Then the volunteers opened the cage and she was EXTREMELY friendly. Kimberly quickly fell in love with her and we opted to adopt her. (As I said, I'd already been fond of her from her description, and her attitude once the cage was opened just underlined that.)

So Briana came home Saturday night (via a ride from one of the Home at Last folks) and she's been slowly settling into our house. After verifying it was OK to rename a 10.5 month-old cat (and verifying that she didn't particularly respond to Briana) we named her Callisto, after the moon & mythological figure. Kimberly liked the name because her coloring is very similar to the typical false-color pictures of Callisto and because it was a rare non-evil mythological female.

Callisto looks thus far to be a very nice cat. Perhaps too friendly and a bit needy -- but a lot of that seems to be settling out. Also, gorgeous, self-certain, playful, and fun. Lucy and Callisto still hiss at each other, but now it's only sometimes and mainly when someone gets right in the others' face. I'm pretty sure they'll be accepting of each other within several days and perhaps they'll even become friends as we hope.

You won't be surprised that my other news is biking. I feel like I've got most of my vigor back! I did a bike up to Temescal than up to Shepherd Canyon on Saturday and despite the heat (it was a wonderful day!) it felt like I had most of my old strength. Then tonight after dinner (ah! an after-dinner ride in the light!) I did one of my harder rides, up Tunnel Road to the North Oakland Sports Facility, then back down (via Lake Temescal) and that felt pretty good too.

Very happy about that.

In more annoying news, every since I got back from Hawaii I've had occasional headaches, throataches, and sniffliness. Not enough for me to think I'm sick, but enough to make me think I'm allergic to something in the Bay Area that I wasn't getting in Hawaii. Kimberly similarly saw a sudden spike in her coughing upon her return.

Sigh. I should perhaps see an allergist, but not right now after all these damned doctor visits of February and March (the next of which is on Thursday).
shannon_a: (Default)
So we've been home for over a week now.

The actual journey was largely uneventful. I read two or three TPBs, part of THe Lies of Locke Lamora, and worked on various RPGing histories. There were no entirely uncontrolled children and no dead bodies. There was a woman two rows ahead of us who seemed drunk when she boarded and had all the guys around her waiting on her hand and foot. Not particularly great looking, just very demanding.

Our cat (Lucy) was ecstatic to see us when we got home. When we came through the door she let out a MROWWWWWWWRRR that lasted 20 or 30 seconds. It was amazing, and got rid of any doubts that she was excited to see us. A week later, she's still waking me up early. But like 30 minutes early rather than 4 hours (as was the case last Thursday); daylight savings time helped. Also, she's not as frantically crazy-desperate for attention as she was.

I'm back to gaming, which is a relief. Endgame yesterday and my review group tonight. Roleplaying is still in a holding pattern.

Back to biking, though I'm now even more out of shape than before I left for Hawaii (a result of adding up 1+ month of sick, 1 week and a half away from that exercise, and a bit of extra weight from Hawaii). Getting back into my hill riding though. I was up to Tilden once and Temescal twice before last weekend was over. The Tilden ride was super hard, the Temescal rides somewhat hard. And they're both rides I couldn't have done a year ago, so when I saw even-more-out-of-shape, that's relative.

Tuesday I went to see the new Oz movie with Chris. It was OK. Way, way too much emphasis on 3D to the detriment of everything else, and the 3D wasn't even very good. (It was the first movie I'd actually seen in 3D since the '80s and I found it put awkward pressure on my eyes and the 3D was unimpressive besides, so I was surely right in avoiding them.) Look, guys, throwing stuff straight at the middle of the scream isn't innovative, exciting, or even good, and you kept f****ing doing it! Anyway, some fun Oz stuff, and some good actors, but there's no way this will be a Wizard-like classic, and probably not even a Land-like classic (as it were).

Wednesday I had my stress echo test, to see if my heart looks normal when I'm exercising. I was pretty stressed about it. I did almost 15 minutes on a treadmill, which got my heart rate up to 160, which was the point. I won't know the results until next week, so there's still some stress, but a lot less. The nurse twice told me she wanted my blood pressure, which was the first time I'd ever heard that (but thanks in part to my new med).

Oh and today we discovered that Lucy has sort of figured out her Kong. This is a little self-delivery treat mechanism. Basically it's a very large Weeble with cat treats inside and a black tail attached to the top. The idea is that the cat pulls on the tail to tip over the Weeble and sometimes treats fall out. We've had it since Christmas 2011, so over a year, and no cat had ever figured it out. But we heard Lucy playing with it yesterday, then today while we were gaming in my dining room, I saw she was pulling on the tail, and actually managed to dump treats out. When I refilled it, I decided that she must have successfully used it before I saw her, as there weren't a lot of greats left.

Good cat! We're so proud.

So that's life back home. Oh, and lots of work on Designers & Dragons</I), as I'd like to get book #3 done on the 31st. (That's when it's due, but finishing it isn't a 100% certainty.
shannon_a: (Default)
VOTING. So Tuesday was voting day. I managed to keep off the news and politics sites all day, then Kimberly and I went out to vote and eat just after work.

The voting was a bit of a trainwreck. Though the line seemed short when we got there, it took forever to get our ballots, then there were way too few voting booths (and way too little room to just sit down and fill out your ballot). Then the machine that recorded the votes had to be constantly shaken before it would read a new ballot. I kid you not. On the way out the line *was* horrendously long, which I suspect means those poor kids had to be there forever given all the other problems. Hopefully we won't be seeing voting at the 7th Adventist Church again. (None of our other polling places from past years — Grandma's Rose Garden Inn, the dorms, or some church up by my old apartment — have had any of these problems and we had a lot of state propositions in some of those years too, as the system is being increasingly used and abused.)

Kimberly and I then got on BART and went way out to Lafayette to eat at Baja Fresh. The plan was one part to go somewhere we particularly enjoyed but don't eat much and one part to keep me away from the internet until the election was called. Sure enough! We were walking home from BART about 8.15 and we suddenly started hearing cheering. "I think Obama just won," I said.

The election results were overall terrific. Obama was reelected. The Democrats are up two in the Senate, primarily thanks to the Republicans continuing to pick awful Teabagger extremists. (Will they learn the lesson this time, and maybe start returning to a rational center? I doubt it.) The two worst Senate candidates, the misogynist rapist apologists, were both defeated. For the first time ever in the history of this country marriage equality was voted in by the voters. The first openly gay Senator was elected. Super woot all around!

Locally there was a bit of disappointment. Our road bonds which had lots of stuff for pedestrians and bicyclists failed because it only got 65 and two-thirds percent of the vote (1 below what it needed). The attempt to get the travelling street kids off our streets failed by about a thousand votes. The problem being that most of the other major cities on the west coast have passed laws against these "travellers" and so they increasingly congregate in Berkeley where they're doing serious damage to the civil atmosphere of our open spaces (and our businesses). And I was going to say that the Measure mean to revitalize West Berkeley also seems to have failed (due to NIMBYs, as usual), but they're actually still counting absentee ballots and according to the last results from the evening ... it's up by 1 vote. I kid you not. Clearly, could go either way, but it was down by 100 on election day, and has been gaining ever since.

Anyway, a good evening overall.  Great people were elected  and awful stuff failed (like an attempt to destroy unions in this state), and if we didn't get some of the other good stuff we wanted, ah well.

ELECTRIC BATHROOM. So a couple of mornings ago I touched the pipe leading to the shower head ... and discovered there was a mild electric current going through it. So Kimberly told our contractor about the problem ... and he immediately said that it had nothing to do with him and our house just had bad electricity leaking into the walls or something.

We were pretty pissed at this contractor already, because of continued shoddy work and no apologies for it throughout the bathroom project, so I said that maybe we should just call an electrician. So that's what Kimberly did today. He came out and verified that there was indeed rogue electricity. 8V apparently, so not a huge amount, going into our pipes and our tub! It took him a couple of hours, but he finally discovered that our contractor when he'd installed a new fan had put a clamp right through some of the fan's electrical wires and thus shorted them into our walls.

So, yeah, that's probably the last we're having to do with the contractor, not necessarily because he tried to electrocute us through what I'd have to call pure carelessness, but because he immediately rejected any responsibility.

MUNCHKIN. Last night I was asleep in bed, and I was absolutely certain that I heard Munchkin give a MRORW to announce her presence, then jump into bed behind me. I turned around, waking as I did, and realized that no, she was gone. But it was such a visceral and haunting experience that it just numbed my heart for a moment there, in the black of night. Sigh. 

I've been pretty blessed, and so it's only been in the last several years that I've had friends, family, and pets who were very close to me die. I can't believe how often I thought I saw Rory or Chris V. in the streets in the year or so after they died or how often I thought I saw Cobweb or Munchkin in the house here. It fades though, thankfully.  
shannon_a: (Default)
We lost Munchkin early this morning. She outlived her sister by just more than six months. At the time that Cobweb died, we already knew that Munchkin was sick, and I told her, "Now you get to be the important cat in the house for a while." And she was. I'm glad we got the time to really care for her and shower attention upon her in the last six months.

Munchkin was kind of a dopey cat. You always say that your cat is surely a smart one, but we never did with Munchkin. Instead we imagined that her plaintive meows when she was confused for some reason meant, "Where am I!? Who are you people!? What's going on!?" 

She was always a yowler, especially if someone touched her without her getting to sniff them first. In the last several months, her yowls seemed to get louder and more aggressive. By that time, she had a clear routine of wet food at lunch time, and so she'd walk around the house yowling as noon approached, sure that she should have food. I always thought she was part Siamese with her high and shrill yowl, totally unlike any other of my cats.

There were several years where every morning when she heard me stirring she'd come running into the bedroom and leap into bed, so that she could get some affection before I got up. Afterward she'd love to be carried on the shoulder of my robe, a "robe ride", down to the bathroom so that she could be there when I showered. The goal was to eventually leap into the tub so that she could lick up the water there. Inevitably this was a big back and forth, as she'd leap in, get some water, accidentally get splashed from the shower (still ongoing), then leap back out. Throughout all of this, she'd often yowl to get into or out of the bathroom too, sometimes a few times over the course of a shower. In the last few weeks she was again greeting me in the morning, running to leap up on my desk for some attention first thing.

She was always very sweet. She loved to sit on laps and when she was held upside down like a baby she'd purr and purr and purr. Even when she started getting pilled — in upside-down baby pose — she'd purr then too.

She was always affectionate with her sister, Cobweb. Happy to curl up and cuddle with her. But she was a little crazy too. They'd start bathing each other, and the next thing you know, Munchkin was biting instead of licking, having gotten her signals confused. Cobweb would have to flee or chase her off. Lucy and Munchkin never got on as well, though in the last months Munchkin came to tolerate her.

She was the cat who could never control her claws. She spent years and years getting stuck in stuff and never quite knowing what was going on. We finally trimmed them a few weeks ago because they'd gotten particularly bad and ... wonder of wonders ... the problems mostly stopped.

She was our only mouser! When we had an infestation of mice several years ago, she was the one that would catch them. We'd hear a yowl from downstairs totally unlike her normal complaints and we'd run and find her with a mouthful of mice. As often as not, she'd immediately release the mouse upon seeing us, and we'd then have to catch it again. Fortunately it tended to be stunned by that point and so its "run" would be more like a drunken lurch. Over the course of a couple of months, Munchkin entirely emptied our house of mice, and we've never had the problem since. Sadly, that was before Lucy's time, and so Munchkin didn't pass on her mousing to the next generation of felines.

Perhaps more than anything else, Munchkin changed the way our household operated because she was the plastic-eating cat. She could literally hunt plastic down by smell alone. We'd sometimes find her nosing into piles of boxes toward the precise one with plastic inside. If she managed to get at the plastic she'd chew and chew at it. I was long certain that she'd expire by choking to death on a Pop Tart wrapper, but I eventually learned the plastic lessons that Kimberly already knew — pocket plastic whenever you have it — and so we saved her from that fate. We've probably traumatized and confused many a guest, though, telling them not to put plastic on the floor.

She loved shoes on the floor too, though she did this a lot less in the time that I knew her than than in her earlier years. But every once in a while she'd find someone's shoes and keep shoving her head into them and rolling about in ecstasy.

She hated change and would yowl at the other cats just for going to the vet. When we moved into our north Berkeley apartment she hissed at the walls.

She was crazy and wacky and weird and at times a little deranged. But she was also a loving, warm, bundle of fur, and for 17 years she got plenty of love in return.
shannon_a: (Default)
To address recent issues:

Munchkin. For the last week and a half or so, Munchkin has crazily taken to lying on a rug in the upstairs bathroom all day and all night. No one takes this as a very good sign, though she does wander out to eat every once in a while, as long as the food is close enough (e.g., in my office). This really seems like sick-cat-hiding behavior, though she often chats with us as we go by. So, I dunno. Probably, though. Unfortunately, we've also opted to stop giving her those apetite stimulants for the moment, as they were obviously making her miserable the nights we gave them to her (shaking, maybe vomiting, and generally acting distressed). We may change that if her eating declines, but we've never been certain about giving old & sick cats meds that make them unhappy. 

DSL. So replaced DSLExtreme today, and the quality of our 'net connection jumped way up. It was just FLYING this afternoon. Unfortunately as the evening has gone on, I've seen slowdown and dropped packets from my office. This seemed to be the result of the wifi not working as well as I'd like (or as well as the old wifi was). It just didn't seem set up well to deal with a high-contention wifi environment like South Side Berkeley. So, I called about half-an-hour before they closed down their customer service for the day, and a tech came on and fiddled with our wifi settings. The result looks *much* better. It doubled the quality of the wifi in the same room as the device and did much more than that back in my office (and at this point, much better than I was seeing on the old DSLExtreme/my-wifi setup). Yay for the wifi experts and pretty damned impressive service.

Now, just as was the case with our DSLExtreme throughput, our wifi quality has also been degrading as long as we've been in Berkeley. More and more students with their own setups, which seems like it's a generally growing problem for urban centers. So, I think we actually need to wire the back couple of rooms of the house, but that's now officially a problem for a different day.

Bathroom. There's been no work on the bathroom in a week now (though our contractors suddenly showed up to haul garbage on Friday, leaving our back yard much more acceptable). Oh, and as a nice surprise, Kimberly showed up Saturday evening with the medicine cabinet we'd picked out, thanks to a ride from a friend. Word is that our new sliding glass doors are supposed to arrive at the hardware store on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Kimberly has our painting company coming out to show us some samples so that we (by which I mean Kimberly) can decide on colors for the bathroom. So: sliding glass door and medicine cabinet will hopefully go up this week, then painting will hopefully occur next week, then we'll be done.

Bike. Got another damned slow leak in the back tire of my bike, probably when I was riding on Saturday. I saw it Sunday when I went to go for a ride, said screw it, it'll probably be fine, pumped it up, went for my ride, and it was. That's something to be said about slow leaks. On the plus side, I've also gotten better at fixing them. This evening, I had the tire off, out, tested, patched, and back on in the time it took to watch 0:38 of an episode of Glee, minus most of the commercials (except when I forgot and watched them because I was mostly focused on the bike). I looked at my tires more carefully today and saw that the back tire is indeed getting pretty worn, which is probably why I've had the cluster of flats. So, if it happens a time or so again, I'll probably just get a new tire. 

And I've noted that even if my "teflon" tire isn't keeping me from getting punctures right now, it is keeping me from getting quick leaks that might strand me in the middle of the hills (or worse: the middle of Oakland at night). So yay for that.


Sep. 25th, 2012 01:00 am
shannon_a: (Default)

Munchkin. So Munchkin last night had an episode of an hour or so in which she was trembling notably and continually. This freaked Kimberly and me out. We know she's not doing well and that her kidneys have been doing worse, but this was a new one for us. Turns out that can be caused by (1) low Potassium, which has been a problem for her; (2) the appetite stimulant she's been getting, and in fact got that evening; or (3) kidney problems generally. It was gone by this morning, and we also have a new Potassium supplement for her.

DSL. Our DSL which has been getting worse for months, maybe years, largely sucked over the weekend. Talking with the tech folks did pretty much nothing. Better today, but getting worse toward the night. I finally decided to say screw DSLextreme, who not only offer us bad service lately, but also took advantage of us for years by not offering us better DSL packages when they had started offering *considerably* better deals for new customers. So, fuck them. We've got a modem coming, with a changeover for our phone line, long distance, AND DSL scheduled for Monday. Hopefully it'll be more reliable. It's should be faster. Unlimited US long distance. And about $40 cheaper a month. I'm just waiting for the problems when we try the changeover though.

Bathroom. So the bathroom was supposed to be done today, but it turned out that the bathroom doors we ordered from Amazon were shattered. We ordered some locally. I was surprisingly unsurprised, but then this is the 4th or 5th problem we've had of some note. We'll have new doors in a week or so. In the meantime we have a bathroom that's more or less done, but not yet usable for showering. Sigh. So another week or two showering in the cat bathroom. In the meantime, everything looks pretty finished, though there's clearly some cleanup to do.

Bike. Biking is my biggest destrossor, so after snack, I decided to go for a ride on the hill. When I hit the big hill up to Temescal, I realized that I was leaning back on the back tire a lot more than I should be able to. Another slow leak, I think, or maybe the same one reemerging. Sigh. I'm going to pick up a new 'tube tomorrow, then make the decision to patch or replace, but oh-god I hate taking out and putting back in the rear intertube!!

So, stressful night yesterday, then an annoying somewhat stressful day today.



Sep. 19th, 2012 12:07 pm
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)

After a couple of good months, stressors are unfortunately increasing.

Work. Stress at work hit a fever pitch a couple of weeks ago, between over a month of constant last-minute work on Infinite Canvas and an increasing amount of stuff being thrown on my schedule. I think we have all this figured out, and I have a much better schedule for fall than I was considering, but this was what really got the ball rolling.

Builders. We are 7/8th of the way through our main bathroom reconstruction. In the meantime we've been using our secondary bathroom, upstairs. I'd expected showering there to be a real trial, because it's smaller, it takes the water longer to heat up, and it's the cat box bathroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the pores in the wood open up when you shower there and thus you smell pine (I think) rather than catbox. The water pressure and heat and everything else have been good too.

Unfortunately, other things stressed me out more, starting with the constant noise of construction. There have also been a stream of problems of different levels and Kimberly has been even more stressed about it all, which has also added to my own.

On the good side, the existing problems are almost all fixed, and the builders are gone until they come back to do their final day of work (Monday?) after everything has dried.

Munchkin. I've been increasingly worried about Munchkin for the last week or two, as she seems to be eating less and lazing about more. I wondered if it was just other stress that was making me stress about this for no reason, but was happy we had our regular vet tech appointment scheduled for yesterday to test her current kidney functionality and such. Bad news: despite our every-other night subcutaneous fluids, her kidney function has declined very notably. We've got a list of things we can do to help, some of which are doable and some of which are probably too costly. Kimberly and I will have to talk about it later today. (Just got the call a couple of minutes ago with the test results.)

Other Work. I always do lots of work in my free time too, just stuff that's more personally meaningful than my work work. A bit more than a month ago, I added a major new project, which is the second edition of Designers & Dragons. That's unfortunately pushed me over the top to too much work, since I also have: the continued work on my new Mechanics & Meeples blog; my regular board game reviews;  the Armorica iOS game which I've been working on forever; my regular Pathfinder game; and whatever else I"m not thinking of at the moment. I've cut back on everything and even stopped work on some stuff (like the continued cull of games from my house), but I'm still juggling too much stuff. Trying to figure out how to resolve that better.

So, lots of stressors.

September 2017

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