Tuesday, December 3, 2013


So, I'm writing this on my phone, so punctuation and spelling might end up a bit wonky.

I started a new job about 4 weeks ago in Intellectual Property. This has been a huge shift from my previous position as an auditor in the Aerospace industry. The place I'm working at now has gotten their processes and procedures down to a science. It's pretty amazing knowing what my supervisor expects, and what metrics I will be graded by for promotions, raises, and bonuses. Hell, just the existence of bonuses is pretty amazing, as I've never been employed somewhere that awarded them.

This job also means that I've lived in 3 different states just this year. Which has just been insane.

Moving apartments, breaking leases, and trying to get all the utilites companies to play fair is daunting once, but twice is an impressive headache.

The first move was actually pretty smooth, we used Grabel as our cross-country movers.

The second one... not so much. I can't go into detail yet as the company we used this time is still working to make things right. Once that business is done, that will be a rant in its own right.

Anyway, back to new job, I got to move to a walking-friendly area for the first time in my life and I am loving it. I can walk to everything except a new bookstore. There is a lovely *used* store not too far from me.

I also live in a large enough city now that I will be able to attend some conventions that I otherwise would not have any chance of attending. For example, Women In Secularism 3 has been announced for May 2014 and now I will be able to attend. I'll post more on that once I've actually secured my tickets.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review -- The Black Gryphon

The Black Gryphon was the first book by Mercedes Lackey I read. I love the image of multiple species, even genetically created ones like the Gryphons being able to work together. In this first book of the trilogy you have Humans, Gryphons, and the shy Hertasi are caught in a war as the Warlord Ma'ar seeks to expand his territory.

Urtho, the Mage of Silence, was the banner our good guys rallied around. He's also the one who created the gryphons. The titular character, Skandranon (Skan) Rashkae, is a highly intelligent gryphon who has his feathers dyed black so that he cannot easily be seen against the night sky. He also has more than a little bit of an addiction to adrenaline, and is mildly convinced he's invincible. This results in two main things: 1) He ends up being an idiot and 2) he is Urtho's best operative. 

The other main character is a Kaled'a'in Kestra'chern, who goes by the name Amberdrake. As this trilogy is a prequel, the Kaled'a'in are the ancestors of the Shin'a'in and the Talye'edras who feature predominately in later (and earlier) books. A Kestra'chern is a cross between a therapist, masseuse and priest. Their primary job is to see to the mental health of their charges. Probably obviously, Amberdrake is Skan's. 

If you are looking for a book with some damn fine character growth, then I have no trouble recommending this one. The only character who doesn't grow and learn is Ma'ar. He is the Magnificent Bastard who through his charisma, no one (read Uther) really noticed he was slaughtering their next door-neighboring countries until it's already Too Late. 

Like many of Lackey's earlier books, there is an impressive level of character development and believable change throughout the story. She is a master of bringing racism, homophobia, and general differences between people to  the fore, and then showing the characters that aren't nearly so different as they think.

Zhaneel and Winterheart undergo the most obvious changes and growth, but to say more than that would be to give away some of my favorite portions of the book. 

Overall, The Black Gryphon is one of the best fantasy books in my personal library. 

When I was at Dragon*Con this year, I got to meet Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon after one of their panels. Larry and my dad hit it off majorly talking about classic cars, and my dad's new Fiat 500 Abarth and out of it, I got this print of Skandranon himself. It was the highlight of my time at Dragon*Con.  

On the off-chance either Larry or Misty stumble across this blog, thank you. That was my first con, and my interactions with the two of you were absolutely fantastic. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Day of The Doctor

It's here! Today is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Grab your fezzes, sonic screwdrivers, and popcorn. We get one more episode/movie with David Tennant, remember why we finally accepted Matt Smith as The Doctor, and find out just how John Hurt both is and isn't The Doctor.

I have avoided even the trailers that have released over the last few weeks, as well as turned off all the Doctor Who in my Facebook feed so as to avoid any spoilers.

The Day of The Doctor airs at 2:50 pm Eastern.

I will post some reactions after the show, and possibly a few during, it depends on if I can get internet set up in the location I will be watching at.


And it is over. Warning:

John Hurt is a Doctor, he was very believable. I loved seeing him interact with Matt and David. I loved seeing Matt and David interact. Clara was a more minor role, Jenna Coleman did a good job. She wasn't a damsel in distress this time, which was nice, her in that role always annoys me. We also got our first glimpse of Capaldi as the next Doctor. But I can't tell if we're supposed to call him the 13th doctor now or not. They strongly implied that Hurt's Doctor is actually the 9th, as in the credits they did a fly-by of all the Doctors faces and Hurt was immediately prior to Christopher Eccleston.

BBC aired it without *any* commercials during the show, which was amazing. There wasn't anything to pull you out of the story.

We found out why Elizabeth the First was so hostile to the 10th when he saw her with Martha.

The Zygons were really a fairly minor role. Almost a MacGuffin rather than a proper bad guy.

I will admit I was disappointed that Billie Piper was only there as the "Bad Wolf," not Rose. Makes it impossible to place where in the timeline this story is supposed to take place.

Also, the Doctors were able to save Gallifrey. They locked it in a pocket universe inside a painting. How this is supposed to jive with The End of Time I doubt we'll ever know, considering Moffat's tendency to ignore a fair bit of the cannon from the 9th and 10th Doctors era. There were no big gold hats/collars, and no Timothy Dalton.

The end cameo by Tom Baker, and the appearance of Baker's 4th Doctors Scarf throughout was epic.

It also looks like we will be returning to Trenzalore for this years Christmas special. It has been strongly implied that this episode has re-written a lot of the Doctors history for the last 400 years (the modern series). So we'll see. Now I am going to be eagerly anticipating the Christmas special. and we are going to have to wait until about this time next year to see Season 8.

Happy watching!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lego Marvel Heroes Review

So my super sweet husband gave into my begging and got me Lego Marvel Super Heroes for WiiU. Yes, I could have gotten it cheaper on DS, and yes, he could have gotten it for his Xbox 360 and actually gotten the achievement points for it, but dammit, I wanted a WiiU game. The poor console had been barely used since I finished Pikmin 3 earlier this fall. And this makes me sad because I like my WiiU.

I should also note that I played primarily on the GamePad. The switching between the TV and the gamepad wasn't as smooth as it is for Nintendo titles, but it was still easy. I didn't have any lag. The gamepad's battery survived being played almost constantly Saturday and Sunday.

I'll admit, I've been a fan of the X-men comics and cartoons since the early '90's but didn't know much Marvel lore overall until the Marvel Universe movie series started. So, I'm a little bit late to the game.

As such, I can't really speak to how true the game is to the comic-version of the Marvel world, but I do have to say there was something unbelievably awesome swinging around Manhattan as Spider-man, or starting at street level and flying up to the helicarrier as Ironman or Thor.

The story was good if a bit predictable, [spoilers]Loki is the bad guy again, and it used the same MacGuffin as the Avengers movie, the Tesseract., which having seen Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World felt overused.[/spoilers]  The plot did manage to move forward well, though I wish we would have had more options for which characters to use during the initial play through of each level. The first time you play a level, the game assigns which characters will be needed to complete that level successfully, and so there is little exploration initially. This causes the linearity of the levels to stand out and start feeling old by the end of the game. This was, however, offset by the free play mode that is unlocked for any just-completed level. The free play mode allows for on-the-fly switching between characters during the level, allowing for maximum exploration based on needed abilities and skills.

Second admission. I've never played a Lego game before. This was my introduction to the franchise. As such I found the mechanics easy to learn, although some areas gave far too many hints (Agent Coulson I'm looking at you) and others were trial and error until you found the right piece of the background to break apart and turn into a useful item. I liked the mechanics of building a shield for Captain America to stand on to aim lasers, and a 4 for Mr. Fantastic to use to turn into a special item/action.

I found the controls to be a bit fidgety. It felt like each button did too many tasks, too few of which were context-dependant. For example, if you were Ironman, a double tap of b was fly. Then holding B was go up, and holding A was go down, with a double tap for land. But if you held the left thumbstick in the "up" position, this would "lock" you into accelerating in that direction. Nice if you are trying to get to the helicarrier, annoying if you were just trying to get to the top of a building.  Or in fights, Y was your main attack, but a to-long press and you would go into aiming mode. Further, there was no way to select between near or ranged attacks for the characters who had both. You are stuck rapidly pressing Y and hoping you hit the enemy who was attacking you. This leads to visually neat (the characters to multiple different combinations, and there are variations between all the characters I've played with), but tactilely disappointing battles. I would have liked to have some use of either the bumpers or the triggers to perform different kinds of attacks.

Overall I had a lot of fun playing it, I beat it in 15 hours, including some but not all of Deadpool's side missions, and none of the special unlockable characters. The result was it felt a lot shorter than it really was, due to my beating it over one weekend of play. I am usually extremely slow at completing games, even short ones. This feeling of shortness would lead me to recommend waiting to purchase it until the price drops below $50, especially if you are fast or have played Lego games before and know exactly what to look for to solve the puzzles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Comment Weirdness

I just changed my settings from Blogger-based commenting to Google+ based commenting, and it looks like this may have caused some weirdness with the first comment being the post itself, shared onto G+. I'm working on fixing this, but I'm not sure where in Googles code this occurred. As such I'm working on cleaning it up by hand.

UPDATE: I have turned off the combined G+ commenting. Besides looking weird, it had removed my ability to track comments and pull them out of moderation. Proceed as you were.

Book Review--Sabriel

This is a new post series I am going to be starting now that we are settled in our third new city and state of this year.

For my first book, I am going to do one that I consider an old friend. Sabriel by Garth Nix contains one of the most novel magic systems I've ever come across. Add that to one of the first independent female leads that I can recall reading, and it becomes pretty clear why it's one of my favorites.

Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, of whom her father is the last of a clan of magic users who specialize in necromancy to the purpose of laying Dead back to rest.

There are two basic divisions to the magic system: Free Magic and the Charter. At the simplest, the Charter is a language used to mold and control Free Magic into "safe" or useful spells. Further their is a division of Life and Death, with each being an actual place. Once someone or something dies, its spirit passes into Death, and from there through nine Gates. Each makes it more difficult to return to Life as you pass it, and once you pass the Ninth, that is referred to as the "final Death." As Death is such a major focus, it should come as no surprise that Necromancers are a not-uncommon type of mage. All Necromancers in this world are recognizable by the bell bandoliers  they wear, containing seven bells. Mages who specialize in the Charter are known as "Charter Mages" and those who use pure Free Magic are "Free Magic Sorcerers."

The bells:

  • Rannat he first, the smallest bell. Ranna the sleepbringer, the sweet, low sound that brings silence in its wake.
  • Mosraelthe second, a harsh, rowdy bell, the waker. The bell whose sound is a seesaw, throwing the ringer further into Death, as it brings the listener into Life.
  • Kibeththe walker, a bell of several sounds, a difficult and contrary bell. It can give freedom of movement to one of the Dead, or walk them through the next gate.
  • Dyrim a musical bell, of clear and pretty tone. Dyrim can return the voice that the Dead have so often lost, but Dyrim can also still a tongue that moves too freely.
  • Belgaeranother tricksome bell that seeks to ring of its own accord. The thinking bell, the bell most necromancers scorn to use. It can restore independent thought, memory and all the patterns of a living person, or slipping in a careless hand, erase them.
  • Saraneth the deepest, lowest bell. The sound of strength, the binder, the bell that shackles the Dead to the wielder's will
  • Astarael, the Sorrowful. The banisher, the final bell. Properly rung, it casts everyone who hears it far into Death. Everyone, including the ringer.

The plot is a fairly straightforward, though as an inverted Damsel in Distress to Badass in Distress, as it is actually Sabriel's Father who is in need of rescue. (Links go through to TVTropes. You have been warned.) This drives home the fact that the Abhorsens, while tending to be awesome, are also fallible humans.

I quoted the information about the bells from the Old Kingdom. This is a site operated by Nix himself that has much more information as well as excerpts from the novels.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

OSX Mavericks and new iMac Review

Well, we are finally settled into the new apartment. The movers where awful, everything is scratched at minimum and flat out ruined at worst.

So while we are fighting the movers to replace or fix our stuff, we decided to retire the 2009 Dell that was our desktop, and upgrade to an Intel Haswell/Mavericks iMac.

I opted for the 27-in with a 2560X1400 display. 3.2GHz quad-core Haswell processor, 8 gig of RAM, and a 1 Tera HDD. This set up also includes a NVIDIA  GeForce GT 755M.

So first impressions of Mavericks is that it really doesn't feel much different from several of the older versions of OSX that I've used over the years. However, we did decide to invest in an AppleTV to take advantage of the wireless desktop extension to the TV in the living room.
This. Is. Awesome. I prefer using a wired mechanical keyboard and a Logitech mouse for my serious typing or gaming, so I'm not much of a fan of the bluetooth keyboard and mouse that come with the iMac. But when these are combined with the extended desktop onto the TV and the fact that Mavericks considers both screens to be primary, it's brilliant. I have my good keyboard hooked up to the actual iMac, and the bluetooth one out in the living room with the TV. This is probably about 15 feet away from the actual computer, and I have had zero connectivity issues so far. 

I've been on Windows computers primarily the last several years, so I'm re-getting used to the maximize/minimize/close buttons being reversed, and having the toolbars for all programs up top. 

The dock still works well, and this is something I've worked hard to imitate on any of my Windows computers that I use on a daily basis. 

I've already downloaded and tested Steam, and it works exactly the way I'm used to. I am disappointed at how few games are actually Mac compatible, 9 out of my 30-odd games. As ubiquitous as Mac/Linux has become the last several years, I was expecting a much higher compatibility ratio. This makes me wonder just how effective the Steam Machines are going to be at playing all games, considering that SteamOS is a Linux platform. 

I'm having fun with the App store, Launchpad, and Mission Control. 

Having free access to the full versions of Numbers, Pages, and Keynote is going to be really nice. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Texas' New Voting Law

This one strikes close to home for me as I was raised in Texas and only recently left to follow work opportunities. 

From Texas' own website which is an FAQ on the new law:

When a voter arrives at a polling location, the voter will be asked to present one of the seven (7) acceptable forms of photo ID. Election officials will now be required by State law to determine whether the voter’s name on the identification provided matches the name on the official list of registered voters (“OLRV”). After a voter presents their ID, the election worker will compare it to the OLRV. If the name on the ID matches the name on the list of registered voters, the voter will follow the regular procedures for voting.If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.If a voter does not have proper identification, the voter will still be permitted to vote provisionally. The voter will have (six) 6 days to present proper identification to the county voter registrar, or the voter’s ballot will be rejected.
So. Breakdown. 7 acceptable form of ID. Ok, lets see what those are:
  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport
Doesn't look too bad, right? Well, lets do a run down of cost of each of those:
  • Drivers License : $25
  • Texas Election Identification Card: $Free BUT you have to have Original or Certified copies of various documents--I'll get into that in a bit
  • Personal Identification Card: $16
  • Texas Conceled Carry: $140
  • Military ID: N/A
  • Citizenship certificate: $345
  • US Passport: $165
So the cost of the proper documentation runs the gambit. The two main issues here are that the "Election Identification Card" requires substantial secondary documents to obtain. From Documentation Requirements, two of the following are required, because the only two accepted Primary identification are...a drivers license or a personal identification card, which invalidate you from getting an Election Identification card.
Secondary identity documents include:
  1. Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by the appropriate State Bureau of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency;
  2. Original or certified copy of United States Department of State Certification of Birth (issued to United States citizens born abroad); 
  3. Original or certified copy of court order with name and date of birth (DOB) indicating an official change of name and/or gender; or
  4. U.S. citizenship or naturalization papers without identifiable photo. 
Original or Certified copies of a birth certificate are $23 through Dallas county, and the statewide system doesn't say on their website what the cost is. An Original or Certified  copy of a US State Department Certificate of Birth is $50.An Original or Certified copy of a name and/or gender change will run you $230 for the original filing, plus $10 for the first certificate, plus any extra fees that I can find referenced, but not values for. (Sorry those of you who are Trans, I had no fucking idea that a simple name change was so goddamn expensive. It was a hassle just getting sorted out for the $25 that cis-women have to pay to get their drivers license fixed.)My google-fu failed and I can't find the cost of citizenship documentation with no photo referenced.

So the "free" option actually runs a realistic minimum of $23, and that's if you have easy access to originals of the 20-odd items in the 'Supporting Identification' category.

So if you're in college, and don't drive, have fun getting this all together, or if you don't live anywhere near one of DMV locations, you're completely out of luck. By the way around 80 of the 254 counties in Texas don't have DMV locations. 

That's just the cost tip of the iceberg.

Lets go back and look at these three sentences from the FAQ. 
Election officials will now be required by State law to determine whether the voter’s name on the identification provided matches the name on the official list of registered voters (“OLRV”). After a voter presents their ID, the election worker will compare it to the OLRV. If the name on the ID matches the name on the list of registered voters, the voter will follow the regular procedures for voting.If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.
By these requirements I would not have gotten to vote in last years Presidential election. Why? Even though I'd updated my voter registration card and information, when I went to the polls, they still had my maiden name on the rolls, not my married name that had been in effect for over two years. My Drivers License had my married name, but the because the polls showed my maiden, even with an "acceptable form of ID" I would have had to cast at best a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots aren't even counted until after the fact, and often aren't counted toward the final vote. 

And lets have a lovely illustration out of Corpus Christie where a District Court Judge felt  the effects of this law. Her Voter Registration had her first name, her middle name and her last name. Her drivers license had her first name, maiden name and her last name. This failed the "substantially similar" test required by the new law. She had to sign an affidavit confirming her identity, which by the way, is the exact same thing as a provisional ballot!

So, ladies, trans-women and men, and poor people, it looks like Texas has finally figured out ways to make our votes quite literally not count.

Is anyone else feeling that this timing is not coincidental to Wendy Davis announcing her plans to run for governor?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Life Insanity

Well, the government finally opened back up last week, which means that Hubby and I have been thrown into a whirlwind of preparations. We both got hired by the federal government, with a start date pending based on when the re-opening occurred. As it stands we now start November 4th. 

This is going to be awesome, but the movers are coming Thursday, and we're supposed to be at our new apartment Saturday. Hopefully semi-regular blogging will resume then. I'm thinking a book review, and yes it's being written, no it's not done. 

Yes, this is why the blog has been somewhat neglected.  So, as my apology, have a cat meme.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Pokemon X & Y First Impressions

So my wonderful husband read my mind this morning and went to the local big box shop to pick us both up a copy of Pokemon X and Y. He is  playing version Y while I am playing X.

This is a first impressions from my first 2 hours of fiddling with the game.

I love the mini games, Pokemon Amie and SuperTrainer. These are available from the start and really bring the interaction of the Pokemon and Trainer to life. Pokemon Amie further has 3 more mini games in it that are basic puzzles to let you 'befriend' your Pokemon more.

The mix of new and old Pokemon so far has been perfect. Enough old faces to trigger Red and Blue nostalgia while having enough new that you are always wondering what will pop out of the tall grass next.

The 3D models and form of the game, as far as the standard graphics go, are nice. It feels like the series has finally matured into current generation gameplay.

I am disappointed that some of the "general" trainers you battle are still in 2-D drawings, which is only stark in contrast to the fact that your character is fully animated.

This is the most fun I've had playing a Pokemon game in several years.

Once I've gotten further in the game, I will post a more comprehensive review.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Government Shutdown

Ok, so we're one week into the US Government "Shutdown."

  • The CDC is closed, which is disconcerting when you realize that they just got done tracking the epicenter of a measles outbreak in Texas.
  • The FDA is severely reduced, listing only 3 current activities. 
  • The USDA is completely closed. Which also runs SNAP (food stamps), and WIC, a low income women with children food voucher program.

And that just scratches the tip of it.

Furloughed government employees aren't getting paid, although the House did pass a bill that would allow for retroactive payment of furloughed employees.

Here is a US News article detailing some more of the ripple effects that aren't obvious.
Here is a Wall Street Journal article listing that many defense contractors will be furloughing employees come Monday.

This whole situation is one-half of the House of Representatives deciding they don't like one law, the ACA "Obamacare", and that damaging the country to make a point is more important than admitting they lost that battle. The ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010, which means a form of it made it through the House, through the Senate, and to the President. A challenge to Congresses ability to pass this law was brought before the Supreme court as National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. The Supreme Court upheld Congresses ability to write the ACA, and thus it's Constitutionality and legality on June 28, 2012.

Thus, this behaviour is pure posturing and is frankly disgraceful coming from a governing body.

Congress, as a constituent, I'm requesting that you get your shit together and reopen the government. kthxbai

Sunday, September 29, 2013

iOS 7 Review

So, I waited a little over a week to write this, because I wanted to have enough time to truly play with iOS7 and get used to it.

My review comes with one primary caveat: I do not own an iPhone. I use a 5th generation iPod Touch. This means my review will focus heavily on the new Music app and how the new system handles launching and using other apps.


  • I am loving the "swipe up" to access wifi, bluetooth, and brightness. The quick launch of the apps located there is also nice, but I don't find the ones chosen to be particularly useful.
  • I like *some* of the new aesthetics. The "flatness" has taken some getting used too, but I do like how they have overall simplified the icons for their flagship apps. 
  • "Swipe down" for search is also nice.
  • I love the new method for closing apps in the multitask window by swiping upward, it's much simpler.
  • I'm sure parents will like the new lock down options for adding and deleting apps. It is actually possible to remove access to the App Store now.
  • New Safari. The new tab layout is much easier on the eyes and finger, and in my opinion, loads sites faster.
  • I hate the new Music app. In their effort to make "iTunes Radio" a hit and the default, it is now what launches when you try to access your music library. They have also made it considerably more difficult to access your music and your playlists.
  • Playlists have been redone in such a way that it is difficult and confusing to add or delete songs from existing playlists. I spent around an hour trying to figure out how to do this, and gave up and made a new playlist from scratch.
  • The app-launch animations imitate what Android already does with the zoom-out opening window, however, while the animation takes about the same amount of time on my Galaxy Note II and my iTouch, the iTouch's animation makes it *feel* like the application is launching much slower.
  • I can't even notice the much-touted "parallax" effect unless I'm looking for it really closely. I don't get the sense of depth that was such a big deal. That said, I can easily believe the reports of users experiencing motion sickness from it. If you are sensitive to motion, the fact that it is hard to notice could conceivably make the sensation worse.
  • You can't downgrade back to iOS 6. Which means that if you don't like having your eyes seared, or have motion sickness, or notice it draining your battery more, you can't go back.
  • My battery lasts about 8 hours of semi-constant use on minimum brightness. Any brightness high enough to see in a well lit room drops that to about 6. On iOS6 I could trust my iTouch to last 24-36 hours of my normal usage (including standby.)
Things I don't use: I don't use Siri, or the camera (I still own a real camera, kthx), I don't have the ability to call out. I don't use the calendar, although my mother has said there are significant improvements in that feature. 

So basically, iOS7 has some nice new features. It also has some really annoying problems, like draining battery.  I will not be putting it on my now-ancient iPad2. I've seen rumors that it will slow it down, and the battery life is plenty strained by iOS6 without adding all the new background stuff iOS7 has in it. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Diamond and Fan Cowl

When I first started fiber arts, crochet was this bizarre thing that as a knitter, I could not fathom and didn't feel I would ever be able to fathom. Then, about 10 months ago I inherited my grandmothers old hooks, so I decided what the hell, can't hurt to try. 

It has now reached the point where I should really consider myself a crocheter first and knitter second. I still haven't mastered thread work, but things like color changes feel so much more natural to me.

I've even begun to learn how to read...charts! (Which I still cannot do to save my life for knitting)

So, anyway, here is my Fall-themed project, adapted from a flat diamond and fan pattern to circular by yours truly. All three yarns are Sublime Cotton DK. I'm not sure how we'll the sheen will show up in photos, but it has a lovely silk appearance, even though it is 100% cotton. This is hands down my favorite cotton yarn.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Diablo 3!?

So the husband and I picked up Diablo 3 on Xbox 360 this last weekend. We both bought copies of the PC version last year, and while we enjoyed it, the pay-to-win feel of it really dampened our long-term devotion to the game. Total, I think we beat the normal difficulty together and then I stopped, and I think he made it to Inferno before he stopped. (Incidentally, Blizzard has announced they are closing the PC auction house, citing the game-breaking features above.)

The console version is actually a lot of fun. The removal of the real money auction house and the subsequent revised drop rates for rare and legendary items makes the game a lot more functional. It's not pay-to-win anymore.

Blizzard has also mapped each major spell to a button on the controller, the point-and-click movement is gone, replaced by Torchlight-like control of the characters, making the controller feel very natural and simple to use. Unusually, I actually prefer the controller to the keyboard for this game.

If you need a new dungeon-running game, I would recommend console Diablo 3 highly. If you are a PC gamer who hasn't bought D3 yet, I'd still get it on console.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dragon*Con 2013

Here is a selection of my favorite photos I took while at Dragon*Con this year.
It was my first con of a non-professional type, and I loved it.

The 10th Doctor

The 11th Doctor (He's Ginger!!)

Beauty and her Beast

Princesses Merida and Belle

Spider-man getting fitted for a corset


Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez

I got this right when the dude(?) in yellow jumped. It was awesome.

Mrs. Frizzle!!

Navi, Link, Shadow Link

Dr. Frank N. Furter and Rocky

Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask


Ulquiorra Cifer

Vash the Stampede


Yes, a lot of these characters are from Bleach, but that's largely because those are the characters I was able to recognize right off.

I cannot wait for Dragon*Con 2014.

Friday, August 9, 2013

On Harassment and Consent

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, there is a distinctly depressing, but non-surprising unfolding of events in the atheo-skeptisphere. 

"Big Name" players in the movement are being named and shamed for their behavior, with accusations running the gambit from verbal sexual harassment to rape. 

I'm (obviously) a new blogger, so I have zero firsthand knowledge of this in the skeptic communities. I haven't gotten to go to any conventions/conferences yet. However, I have no reason to doubt the accusers/victims claims. Why? I've seen how the authorities and police handle these things in real life.

I was lucky, I made it through high school and college with minimal sexual harassment directed toward me. I was too short, too flat, and too nerdy to even be on the radar of most people I met. I made being invisible an art.

One of my good friends was not so lucky. Most of my memories of my freshman year of high school are of how my group of friends tried to protect her. She was raped by her boyfriend and broke up with him. She reported his behavior to the school authorities, including on-campus cops. They told her that all she could do was try to avoid him. He took her attempts to avoid him as a challenge. He started stalking her. She got a restraining order on him. However, at school, it was deemed 'unenforceable'. When the authorities again refused to do anything, we, her group of friends took her safety into our own hands. We didn't let her go anywhere alone. One of us was there to walk her through the halls in-between classes, to lunch and stayed with her after school until she was picked up, she wasn't yet old enough to drive. This lasted for several months. Those of us acting as her shields got death threats from him. This was finally enough for the school to decide action needed to be taken. He was transferred to a different local school.The harassment described above was my life for the better part of my freshman year. I was not the core focus, but I still had to live through it. This behavior of ignoring personal autonomy simply isn't extraordinary. It is commonplace. Therefore, it is not extraordinary to believe victims when they speak up, even if the person they name is one that might (or might not) be surprising. 

The other side of this discussion has been consent. I'm going to use a cheesy move here but Google defines consent as (v.) 
Give permission for something to happen. Guess what? That means that if consent is not expressly given, you don't have it. It doesn't matter if you're dating. It doesn't matter if one or both were drinking. It doesn't matter if consent was initially given, or given with caveats. Consent can be withdrawn. Consent can be gotten before the act. Consent can't be given if the person is in a state where it would be unwise for them to drive, severely inebriated for example. Consent can't be given in cases of coersion. Consent is an enthusiastic, "Yes! I want to do X with you." If you have any doubt about if you have consent ask, and then respect the response. You may not like the answer, but if it turns out to be "No" then anything past that point is rape. The onus to not be raped is not on the victim. The onus is on the partner/stranger/friend/acquaintance to Not Fucking Rape.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Really Moffat?

So I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and one of the posts I come across is "Women Don't Want Female Doctor -- Moffat." This was the headline for a news article posted on

So I clicked on it to see the actual quote. This is what I got:

"It's absolutely narratively possible (that the Doctor could be a woman) and when it's the right decision, maybe we'll do it. It didn't feel right to me, right now. I didn't feel enough people wanted it. Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it - and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this - were women. (They were) saying, 'No, no, don't make him a woman!'"

So line by line my reaction was, "Sweet, they formalized that into canon!" followed by, "oh, ok, I guess that makes sense" then, "Wait, really? Since when is the Doctor a popularity contest?"

And then came the kicker, repeated to refresh the impact, "Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it - and I know I'll get into trouble for saying this - were women."

Wait...What? "I know I'll get in trouble for saying this" Protip, if that's your reaction, don't say it.
Also, sure I can believe there is a decent swath of the Whovian community who would flip their shit if there was a female Doctor. Fuck knows I've seen too much of the same attitudes in the Sci-Fi community at large, as well as the atheist/skeptical communities over the last several years. Hell, I would be more surprised if there wasn't a segment of the fanbase who flipped their shit.

But seriously, Moffat, you already gave a valid reason for not selecting a different actor or actress for the Doctor--it didn't meet what you wanted to do with the storyline. Why not just leave it at that?

Post the Second

Now that we've gotten the serious bit of commenting policy out of the way, Welcome to Dreamfall.

For those of you out there who aren't complete and utter nerds/geeks/etc. Dreamfall is a reference to the video game "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey." If you haven't played either Dreamfall, or The Longest Journey and can handle a decade-old point-and-click adventure game, I highly recommend both. They revolve around a world and its mirror. Stark, the world of science based technology and hard facts, and Arcadia, the world of magic and fantasy. They balance each other, two halves to the whole. Reality and imagination. For me this balance of fact and fiction and the blending and blurring of the two is what makes these games so lovely.

As to why I chose this for the name of my blog, well, it's not too far from how I view life. Life is a journey, and it is the longest one we get. Imagination and creativity go so far into creating so much beauty to enjoy, yet so does technology, for all that technology is generally viewed as cold and impersonal. What's awesome is that modern technology is working to break that mold by creating more aesthetically pleasing devices, and combining and varying what materials are used to create different effects.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Post The First

I had a blog called Dreamfall several years ago, but it appears to have been tied to a now-defunct email address, so here goes an attempt to restart it under a new url.

As I have had ample experience over the last 5 years as a member of various online communities I am going to get my initial commenting policy out of the way in this first post. This blog will be a safe space. It will be moderated.
1) Attack the arguments not the person (no ad homs)
2) Gendered slurs will not be tolerated.
3) Actually, slurs and othering in general will not be tolerated.
4) You are all commenting at my whim. This is a privilege that can be revoked.
If I feel the need to add more, I will, but I rather hope that this is enough for a baby blog like this one.

Some background of what I hope this blog to be. I am starting this as a space to write about stuff I enjoy and care about. That means one post may well be about a cool new (or old) anime I found. The next could be on feminism, or politics. Still the next could be an amigurumi project. Most will probably be my musings on random things I stumble across online that I find interesting.