Free Legal Advice

Number One: Know your own Terms of Service.
Number Two: Don’t fuck with me.
Number Three: When shopping for a Ventrilo server, think twice about Darkstar, LLC.

Bonus Number Four: Learn how to spell “do.”


As you may have heard from the twitters, I have some projects going. Here are some brief descriptions of them. No photos, yet, because I’m writing this on my phone and don’t have any handy.

Project #1: Exercise
Yesterday, I went to a high intensity training facility. It’s not a gym–a gym is a place where you pay a membership fee and get to use the equipment on your own, and pay extra for a trainer. I don’t care for that. This place does personal training exclusively at a fairly reasonable price. They use the BBS/HIT protocol. I selected BBS/HIT (specifically as against CrossFit) because 1) the science looks good, 2) it fits my schedule, and 3) the intense, focused, slow style appeals to me.

That’s not to say the science doesn’t look good on CrossFit. CrossFit doesn’t fit my schedule, there’s no reasonably accessible facility, and, most importantly, the “play” style of CrossFit doesn’t appeal to me as much as the one-track, distraction-free, intense focus style of BBS/HIT.

As soon as my financial situation evens out from the quite unexpected hit I took from taxes this time ’round, I’ll be going once a week. I am very excited about this long-term project.

Project #3: Logo Pins
For a while now, I’ve wanted to make some lapel pins of my “W” logo, so that when I meet people who know me predominantly by that logo from the Internets, they won’t have to go through the embarrassing “is that you, Qwertz?” situation into which I have put them by not using many photos of myself.

I finally started this project. I can’t do metalworking where I am, so I designed the W in CAD and sent it to a machine shop to mill out of aluminum for me. When I get these back (I ordered a bunch, ’cause it made sense) I will enamel them in red and black, leaving the body of the W unpainted. They will look spiffy. I have everything except the Ws and an airbrush for the painting. Will be finished in time for SnowCon.

Project 4: Toothless Plushie
I’ve posted a few photos to twitter on this one. I wanted a plushie Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon, but the official ones look terrible. So I found a pattern online and am sewing it up right now. I have all the wings and fins done, 3 of 4 legs (hard!), and about half of the head (tricksy!). I’ll post more about this one as it progresses.

Project #5: Scarf
This is actually the oldest of my five projects. It has been on my needles for a year and a half. I’ve just been lazy about it. It’s a very interesting pattern, though: transverse herringbone. I’ll be bringing this one to SnowCon.

(Yes, I left one out. It’s private, but I may post about it later.)

New Apartment Redux

Remember my new apartment? I got mostly moved in:

There are still some boxes. I need a piece of furniture. I think they used to call them “credenzas.”


I only need one.

Christmas Tree: An Epilogue

I just received this photo from my mother, showing the method presently in use for the removal of her tree.

Health Care “Reform” – 2011

The following provisions of the Affordable Health Care for America Act take effect beginning January 1, 2011:

  1. Numerous and extensive changes to the Medicare rules, including payment cuts to providers and facilities.
  2. Pregnant women receiving Medicaid must not smoke or stop smoking by January 1, 2011, in order to remain Medicaid-eligible.
  3. Individuals may no longer use flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement accounts, or health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter medications.
  4. Penalty for unqualified withdrawals from health savings accounts increases from %10 to %20.
  5. $2.5b tax (for 2011) on brand-name pharmaceutical companies and importers, based on their relative market shares. Increases to $3b/yr in 2016, $4.2b/yr in 2018, and decreases to $2.8b/yr in 2019.
  6. Businesses that purchase more than $600 in goods in one year from one seller must report the purchases to the IRS and provide the seller with a W-2. Legislatively repealed, Feb. 2011.

Source: Center for Health Transformation [PDF]

My Mother is an Addict

My mother has an addiction. Each year, she must see how far the laws of physics will stretch. She will not be satisfied unless she manages to push them further than the previous year.

Her obsession is with Christmas trees.

Every year of my life (except last year, when we were in Italy), we have had a live Christmas tree. For the past 10 years, it has always been a particular sort of tree, an aibes concolor, from a particular tree farm about a 30 minutes’ drive from her house. She loves this particular model of tree (and so do I) because it is resilient–the needles do not drop for a long time as long as it is regularly watered; because it has long but fat needles; because it is a typically dense model; and most importantly, because it smells of oranges. Yes, oranges. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a concolor fir.

But every year, she must get a bigger one than the previous year. We’ve been through tree stands like you wouldn’t believe. This year, she really managed to push it.

Mom always goes for an eight foot tree, because the ceiling in her living room is nine feet high. But this year, the tree farm didn’t have a lot of trees. Something about deer eating things, and the economy, and crap like that. So if we wanted one that big, we’d have to go out into the field and pick one to cut down. All the trees in the field were 12-18′ high, but they said to pick one and they’d sell us the top eight feet.

We found a lovely one and they cut it down and home it went. Foreboding music cue here.

The diameter of the cut trunk ended up being a full three inches bigger than the largest tree stand in our collection, and our collection was (we presumed) quite extensive. After Mother’s Husband left (cursing a storm and decrying the whole practice of live trees), Mother convinced me to help her bring it in the house without him, and then figure out the stand issue “later.”

The tree is fully nine feet across at the bottom–wider than it is tall. These sorts of things cannot be baled to temporarily reduce their diameters. And we had to squeeze it through the (admittedly large for a front door) four foot wide front door. This took an hour and a half of shoving, pulling, squeezing, and otherwise being mightily unpleasant. Fortunately, being very freshly cut, it was quite resilient and, after much ado, managed to get it’s fat ass in the door and lie pathetically on the living room floor.

We first tried a new plastic stand alleged to hold trees “up to 10 feet”. This we bought from the Lowe’s for $25. It promptly collapsed, plastic rent and twisted beyond all hope in a matter of seconds. So we called a small, local garden store. And they told us about this:

The Last Stand.
They called it “The Last Stand.”* As in, the last one you’ll ever have to buy. And boy howdy was it.

The thing weighs easily 30 pounds. It’s steel. Thick steel. Welded. And the bolts are thick. Really thick. We drilled out a half-inch hole, about one inch deep, in the center of the bottom of the cut stump of the tree, attached the stand, then tipped the tree up. It took all of five minutes. I grabbed the thing and shook it hard and slow to see if it was likely to tip. It was rock solid. If you buy big trees, get one of these stands. It will change your life.**

And so I play enabler to my mother the giant tree addict for yet another year. Here’s the tree, complete with decorations and presents. And yes, this is actually how wide it is. I did not stretch the photo for comedic effect.

*Warning: This link goes to what appears to be a vintage 1996 website, complete with embedded midi Christmas music player, cursor-chasing text, and animated GIFs. What the company lacks in web design skills they make up for in yuletide arboreal erection competence.

**The company didn’t give me anything at all to get me to say that. We bought ours. We paid less than they charge on the website, because we bought it locally and didn’t have to pay for shipping.

Thought of You

I rather enjoyed this.

Thought of You from Ryan Woodward on Vimeo.