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rfrancis


Stress Fracture

something will eventually give


weird things I do
nope, tard
rfrancis
Spent some time surfing through the archive of my own LJ, in particular for March 2005 or so because, get this, I was curious what I had to say about the new Doctor Who back when it first started.  Finally found something (wasn't that interesting, go figure) but while poking around I got to see posts about getting Asha, which was great.  And then posts about how desperate for money I was, and all but begging for side work, and then about being diagnosed with diabetes.  So basically, terrible idea, the end.

So!  What's this about LJ having been sold again sometime back?  I couldn't find anything about it...

days 5 and 6
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rfrancis
Yeah, I forgot again.  So now I'm at the airport on day 7 and waiting for a while for the next flight, so, I'll try to catch up a bit.

Sunday morning was the roadshow stuff and I might have gone except, no, I slept in instead as Saturday night had been pretty rough and involved tizanidine, so I was groggy.  Once they wrapped it up and mamamoira and the youngest turned up, we decided to go back down for lunch but had some trouble deciding where to go -- I wasn't helpful as nothing sounded edible.  As it happened, we ran into a bunch of other heralds who were going to go sightseeing and include lunch in that, so I strongly suggested abandoning me and doing that, which they did; I went back to the room and chilled out for a couple of hours.  Between that and ibuprofen I started feeling human enough to eat at some point and just grabbed some Subway (protip: Las Vegas Subway costs like 1.5x-2x what you'd expect from a Subway; same food though of course) and did this and that, finally stretching out to watch Law and Order just for yuks, at which point everyone else got back from sightseeing to rest.  I agreed that on Monday I could probably go out with them again to see stuff they didn't get to see but in the same area if all went well enough; in the meantime we had a final social meetup with a bunch of heralds for dinner at TGIFriday's.  Decent meal, good chat, said our goodbyes and all that, and then it was just back to the room to unwind and eventually sleep.  This was basically my sick leave day, I guess.

Didn't get hardly any sleep Sunday night, and as she could tell, I was allowed to sleep until lunchtime or so.  I snuck a half a Provigil (I have an emergency stash of samples that I have spread out over what must be a few years now, I hoard them so carefully) so I could actually participate in sightseeing, and off we went to catch a free bus to Bally's, where we ate at a Johnny Rockets.  (Again: much pricier, same food.)  We walked through Bally's and over several bridges and long story short wound up at Caesar's Palace, which they hadn't seen yesterday.  Walked around and got a bunch of photos; frankly, the place is pretty awesome in the proper use of the word, which is not a reaction I had to all that much I saw in Vegas.  CP is the real deal.  We went to the area of the Atlantis show to wait for it to start (15 minutes sitting on the floor -- I needed it) and... well... it's something.  The show is at once ridiculous and great.  I mean, it's completely silly, but there's water and fire and animatronics and fire and water and voiceovers and projected lighting and... yeah.  And really cheap CGI.  But, fire and water!  From there we walked back through Caesar's Palace and this time cut through Paris since I hadn't seen it (I read every French word I could find and recognized, of course -- "that place is called The Newspaper!  No idea why".)  The gigantic face of Gordon Ramsey was hung on the replica of the Arc de Triomphe.  That was weird.  Anyway, we went back through Bally's and had some froyo with a ridiculous selection of toppings.  I had, among other things, passion fruit bobas -- I've never had bubble tea but now I want to, because they made a fantastic topping.  Caught the bus back, grabbed dinner at, yes, Subway, and picnicked in the room, and that about wraps up Sunday (since we were going to need to be up early to finish packing and leave) except for yet more terrible sleep.  Turning down the thermostat helped some finally -- looking forward to getting back to my bedroom ceiling fan. :P

I do have a bunch of photos, and I sorted a bunch of them Monday night while awake, but I'm not going to do much with them until I'm at home and have some time to kill and a decent connection for uploading.

edit: we also watched the Bellagio fountain show, albeit from a distance on a bridge and thus through plastiglass and without music. Which was fine, the Atlantis thing was so much cooler. :D

days 3 and 4
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rfrancis
So, yes, whoops.  Trying to catch up from memory now...

Friday was change-hotels day so first thing of the morning was pretty much getting everything packed up.  We knew that check-in at the Gold Coast would be later than check-out at NYNY so we took our luggage to the bell desk and had it stowed while we had lunch and walked around some more.  The former we did at a little "streets of NY" food court; a couple of us had pizza from Sirrico's, and the others sandwiches from a deli the name of which I forget.  From there, across the bridge, down an elevator, and off to our first experience on the actual sidewalks of the Strip.  Checked out the Coca Cola shop, which was much as you might imagine, and ducked into a t-shirt shop to get, well, t-shirts.  A street performer dressed as Spider-Man (we also saw Iron Man and the seediest looking Batman ever) shook the youngest's hand on the way back, and when we stopped to watch a street magician, he had her hold a pair of scissors, so I guess there's an experience.  Finally we decided to go back to NYNY, get our bags, and get a cab over to Gold Coast and see if maybe we could check in or else store our bags there.

Long story short, we could and did check in at Gold Coast. mamamoira slipped the clerk a twenty for a room upgrade, but it's still no NYNY.  It's not bad, though, just suffers a bit in the comparison.  I'm not sure of the exact order of events hereafter, but at some point we had dinner so I'll mention that first: we went to check out the buffet.  Mistake.  Friday was seafood night or something and long story short it was $25 per person.  Including the ten year old, yes.  We passed and had dinner at (sigh) TGIFriday's instead.  At this point teenager meltdown occurred and so that occupied a chunk of the evening.  (Apparently I want her to be a "Cyberman", which is the nerdiest meltdown ever.  That said, I do more or less take her point that I am from a family of notoriously stoic types and that maybe she's not going to be one of them.  I think that's it, anyway.)  As I say, before, after, or both, there was other stuff -- I think we may have gotten ice cream at the coffee shop, and also I know we checked out the con suite set up for the heraldic event we're theoretically here for.  There were a few people, none of whom I knew really, but we hung out some.  Oh wait, I remember, we came back after the meltdown and hung out some more and knew some people then, or at least talked like we did.  Anyway.

Saturday was the big day of the event, and I made an effort to put on garb and go downstairs at some point, despite knowing full well I had no real interest in the classes and the fact that I'm just really feeling worse every day we're here in general.  Oh, wait, first me and the teenager went down to the coffee shop.  No, I was already in garb for that.  It blurs a bit.  I think I came back up with my coffee, though, and hung out in the room until lunchtime.  We tried to go to a Chinese place but it wasn't open yet, so we wound up at... TGIFridays.  Which apparently hadn't gotten acclimated to Saturday, as it took forever.  Got the teenager her own keycard and sent her on her way and took myself to the aforementioned gathering room where again, I didn't know anyone, but as it worked out that changed almost immediately -- a couple of friends from our local group had driven out just to sightsee and briefly crash the event and they were about to leave, so it was nice to say hi and chat for a few minutes before they left.  Directly thereafter, mamamoira and the youngest turned up with Subway (pretty sure they got a better deal of it than we did) and so sat with them until they finished and left, and then I went back to the room to more or less collapse.  Tired from just sitting and socializing, you ask?  Yes.  Yes, I was.  At this point I'm pretty much getting exhausted from sitting up.  Eventually the others got back and changed into "mundane" clothes and worked out dinner plans with some of the other heralds from Oklahoma and Texas at the buffet and so we did that.  Whereupon I probably got poisoned by whatever mystery chemicals it is I can't seem to tolerate, be it sulfites or whatever, which will now influence the rest of Saturday.

After dinner we brought the kids back to the room and mamamoira left to go wander around and try to find heralds to nerd with; from time to time I'd get an IM update on "nobody in this room" and "I'm up in one of the hotel rooms and it's super loud in here" and so forth, until eventually I felt like getting out about the time she said "it's not as loud now" so that seemed like a sign.  My headache was starting but I hoped for the best, and it went okay, but by the time we left (around 11:30) I really needed to not hear people talk any more.  (I should say I was quite glad to get to talk to some people I either hadn't met in person yet despite having worked with them online for a couple of years, and some people I HAD met but only very briefly, and a person or two I just hadn't seen since last year.) Apparently the kids had been squabbling and took it to IM with their mom (oh brave new world etc etc) and so there was some fallout from that, but the end result is that a few new ground rules about when they'd be going to bed on the trip were made (them staying up until 11:30 hadn't been part of the plan, really, and thus the fragile youngest, I'm sure) and pretty much everyone went to bed.  Unfortunately, for me, it was to start waking up in increasing amounts of pain and difficulty breathing and I tried a bunch of stuff and I feel like crap this morning, so there's that.

Excellent Vegas Adventure, day 2
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rfrancis
It's late evening this time, of the same day as the morning I wrote day 1, but the girls are theoretically doing their journals now so I guess I'll do this.

I think I left off sitting here typing while everyone else was off checking out the arcade in the Excalibur. Sadly, it turned out that nothing was manned at the time, so they didn't get to do anything, so did a little exploring but the eldest was grumpy and eventually they wandered back here after doing some scouting. After a rest up on their part, we declared it lunchtime and I made my case for lunching at Nine Fine Irishmen, which we did. Pricey, HUGE meals, and mamamoira declared her shepherd's pie to be the best thing she's ever eaten. The bites she gave me were quite tasty and to be honest I'm a bit jealous. My lunch was fine, but hardly transformative, and it clashed with my drink.

Afterwards, as we'd planned, we walked back to the Excalibur to try to get into a CBS show focus group thing that they'd declined due to time while they were exploring. Long walk to the far end, and when we got there they told us they did it every half hour and it would be 45 minutes until the next one. This didn't seem to make sense, and we didn't want to wait, and we didn't want to walk all the way out there yet again later, so we just gave up on that. It was TV-14 anyway, and while the youngest could hack it and they were okay with a 10 year old if we were, perhaps it's just as well. So we came back and enacted the next phase of our plan, which was the brand new Hershey's World.

This was exactly as you'd think: they sold a whole lot of Hershey's stuff, including their more up-label brands, as well as Reese's and so forth of course. We spent about $50 on various sweets to enjoy over the next several days. I know, I'm fired as a diabetic. I'm taking it easy, I swear. I got some dark chocolate to help with that. After that we came back up to chill for a bit; later they left to go check out the arcade in our hotel while I rested.

Dinner was in the little faux mini-New York streets downstairs at Broadway Burger, and I quite liked my meal, at least, and we discussed accents at some length due to the waitress's Australian twang. Then it was off to the Excalibur for a peculiar bit of sightseeing -- we took a tram to Mandalay Bay but only so we could take the other tram to the Luxor and look around. Turned out there was surprisingly (to me) little to see, but we saw it, then took another tram back to the far end of the Excalibur, thus giving us a chance to walk through its arcade (the Fun Dungeon, as you may recall) again. We embarrassed a couple of teenage girls by watching them play DDR Extreme, then the youngest (of our girls, I mean) tried to play a jumping game but had no luck with it, and that was it for the cash on hand. The eldest then went into a funk, but declared mostly she wasn't feeling good, and we were headed back anyway, so that's that. We're back in the room now and winding down.

Tomorrow we have to check out, then stash our luggage with the, um, luggage stashing office, I guess, and then we'll do lunch and perhaps visit the Excalibur arcade again or something, before getting a taxi to the Gold Coast hotel after 3 so we can check in there. More on how that went tomorrow night, I imagine.

Vegas Week, day 1
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rfrancis
No, this isn't about SYTYCD, it's about our vacation, my perspective thereupon.

Yesterday was, of course, mostly occupied with airports and airplanes.  We got out the door a bit later than planned (of course; that's why we plan so early), maybe about 8am, got some Chick Fil A breakfast (deal with it) and Starbucks (do those two cancel out politically?) and headed to Tulsa for the airport.  Now, for the girls this is their "first time flying" -- I use the quotes because quite obviously both flew from India to the US but of course neither remembers that.  So there was some anxiety, I think; as for me I hadn't flown since 2005 and things had changed a little.  Not too much at Tulsa, though -- no body scanners, for one thing.  We were flying United Express, so a little plane with three seats per row; these are actually my favorites.  Older daughter and I had a two-seat side and younger daughter and mamamoira likewise in the row behind us.  No strangers, so that was a plus.  After takeoff and a few minutes I think it became a very droll experience for the eldest, which I expected.  Flying is pretty dull, which is good, when you think about the ways it could be exciting.

Anyway, flew into Denver more or less on time despite having left Tulsa a bit late; we had a lengthy layover so weren't worried.  Got some lunch at a little restaurant there which was good enough but of course stupendously overpriced.  Tulsa had power outlets between seats at the gate; Denver was really weak in this area so we stationed the eldest at a little booth thing for people to use for computing and piled up all the electronics for recharge there.  Eventually we got on our flight where the other three had a three-person side of a row and I got to sit with strangers across the aisle.  Unfortunately, and this will inform the rest of this post, I was starting to run out of spoons (if you don't know this shorthand, look up "spoon theory") already -- carrying around luggage and such, I dunno.  Rallied a bit after getting some tomato juice in me.  I always drink tomato juice on flights.  Just a thing, I guess.

Finally we arrived in Vegas.  The first thing we saw when we got in the gate was -- okay, you know this if you've been there.  Slot machines, of course, or rather the modern digital equivalent.  I had heard they were every freaking where, and to be honest, that's still understatement.  We finally managed to get all the way across the airport to the luggage claim -- everyone else had clearly been and gone so we could just pick ours up and go.  We got a taxi-SUV or something like that with a pretty nice driver -- a mom from Colorado -- and took our $20 ride to New York, New York.  Got checked in and found the New Yorker Tower and after a little trial and error the correct set of elevators to get to the 17th floor, where we discovered our room is very near the end of twisty corridors.  Yes, all alike.  No worries.  It's a nice enough room (okay, for the price it isn't all that swank, but I reckon it's about the experience) and I kind of like being back out of the way.  It's very quiet.  I'm sitting here watching the roller coaster that goes around the hotel, which is something one doesn't see every day, unless one is always in Vegas, I guess.

Anyway, we rested for a couple of hours or so, then it was time to hunt for dinner.  One of my goals while in the NY,NY was their approximation of New York style pizza, and indeed, pizzeria on the second floor set us up.  Good stuff, lots of it, once again probably ridiculously pricey but that's going to happen.  Everyone was stuffed on one slice and some "garlic knots".  I advised everyone to remember, if and when they read about a New York character saying they stopped for a slice of pizza for lunch, to imagine that size of slice.  (Oklahomans eat entire pizzas for lunch, but they're 6" pizzas.)  Done with that, it was time to wander.  Poked around in the Houidini Magic Shop next door (I took some phone photos, but I'm going to deal with those after I get back, hotel wifi being what it is) then walked off in the direction of the bridge to the Excalibur and finally found our way down to the Fun Dungeon where the kids got big-eyed at the games.  It was packed, so the plan was made to go back during the day today, and indeed, I'm writing this in the morning while they're back at the Fun Dungeon.

It was there my spoons finally ran out entirely and we went back while I figured I could make it, taking a few more photos on the way.  The strip is... well, I imagine there's nothing quite like it.  Beautiful at night from a distance.  By the time we were back it was probably 8 or so, but that means 10 or so in the timezone we left, and while the kids were kind of wired we figured they should at least wind down.   mamamoira encouraged them to write down their experiences much like this, I guess, so they could review them someday, so they spent some time on that then went to bed finally.  We read for a bit but to be honest we were pretty worn out so took what, for us, were early bedtimes, probably even by the standards of our own timezones.  Slept for crap, partly my fault for forgetting to fill the humidified in my CPAP machine, I guess, and partly just first night at a hotel.  As I said, they left me here (as planned) to go let the kids goof around at the Excalibur while I type and dream of the Starbucks on the casino floor.  Maybe we'll do the Irish pub for lunch -- it's neat that they have live music at dinner but I anticipate they also feature drunks for dinner...

(no subject)
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rfrancis
In honor of the new LJ UI, I applied a new theme to my LJ. Exciting, no?

So
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rfrancis
45

random thoughts with no actual organization or topic
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rfrancis
Just collecting stuff I have thought about writing in the past however long.

What I like a lot: stuff so character-based that it's windows on a longer character story, not necessarily in order and not necessarily all of one form. Example: Miles Vorkosigan. (Some of the windows are even before his birth.) Vlad Taltos is another one, although I feel there's more of a linear tale going on there; he just jumps backwards occasionally. I had hopes that Harry Dresden would be one of those, but then, I also had hopes it would actually be about a private detective, which seems to me to have gone out the door very quickly. But I digress.

I also like crime fiction. One of my favorites, Lawrence Block, with one of my favorite characters, Matthew Scudder, has started to evolve in the above direction. He wrote linearly for a few books, then decided the character was done. Then he wrote a novel that took place before the others. Then he came back and wrote several more linearly at the end of which he retired the character who was really too old and busted up for that stuff. Then he recently wrote another novel that was a reminiscence of sorts, and has also done some short stories that way. I like it.

I also think I write funny dialogue well, and have always suspected that's a strength I maybe should play to. Anything I've written before, that's what people seem to jump on. (This served me well in audio dramas, where dialogue is pretty much all you're doing. Sadly, in prose you have to actually describe things sometimes, which is not my strong suit, because it bores me as a reader and a writer.)

I did say this was kind of scattered. But I feel like maybe I would enjoy coming up with a long general outline of a character and then writing bits and bobs of him or her. And being more amusing than grim without going into that silly parody stuff that I can't stand to read. (Peter David, I'm looking at you.) One of Block's other characters, Bernie Rhodenbarr, comes somewhat to mind...

I've had formal training in writing short stories but I still don't read them much, and I think it makes mine kind of terrible. It's an issue.

Idle thoughts.

(no subject)
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rfrancis
So I kind of vanished from LJ after a discussion about it with nick_kaufmann, which sounds worse to him than it's meant -- it's just that the discussion was about social networks and use thereof and I went off to think about why I still need to pay any attention to LJ, or if I need to at all.

Previously, as you may recall, I thought maybe I'd use it for the real diary-style stuff it was theoretically meant for in the first place, but it turns out that my diabetes peeps and my fibro peeps and so all are more easily found and gathered elsewhere and then there's a community for fitness blogging on Tumblr and so... I didn't do that after all. I'm not really much of a diary guy; I like to talk about myself fine, just not to myself alone. Plus I don't actually need LJ or anything else to do that.

However, I've started to consider that I really need to get creative again, despite my recent protests that I facilitate the creativity of others (which I do) or else I direct other people to them (which I also do); the last time I really got going the legs were cut out from under me (and not just me, of course!) and I pretty much have just laid there on the ground since. But now it's been a couple of years or so, hasn't it? So it seems like maybe that's enough of that.

Anyway... I've started asking myself some sausage-making questions, so to speak, and I thought "I should ask writer friends these things, too, just to see what other people do" and lo and behold, I need a place to do that. And that's when I realized: most writer friends and acquaintances are in fact on LJ, either using it primarily or redirecting a blog and following comments and friends on LJ. Like nick_kaufmann, for example.

So... this may turn into my writing place. Not where I DO the writing, but... you know. This aspect (hat tip to FATE.) I think Nick's right that I should stop giving LJ money, though, that's just overkill. Maybe I'll remember this year.

More later, if I in fact follow up on this notion.

Scrubbed
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rfrancis
A page I follow on Facebook -- that of a weightlifting coach -- got me thinking today, and not entirely in a positive way, at least at first. It was, frankly, some not uncommon rah rah about how lesser mortals like us take day jobs and are part of the machine and whatever. Now, I didn't find corporate work awesome (I've worked for academia the vast majority of my adult life), and frankly I think the industrial revolution has a lot to answer for in how people are treated, but... I dunno, it hit a lot of wrong notes, and eventually I figured out what it was. And go figure, it was the finale of Scrubs that put it into place for me.

I think creating stuff is pretty awesome -- when other people do it. I don't do a huge amount of it myself. It's not really my thing. I'm not saying I don't have any creativity or whatever, I'm just saying that despite my constant protestations at not wanting anything to do with other people, I do not, clearly, in fact, want to go off in my corner and make something all alone. What I like to do, and this is obvious now that I think about it, is enable other people to do stuff they need to, or even better yet, like to do.

I mean, come on. Professionally, I'm a system administrator. Yes, yes, I enjoy Mordac cartoons too, but the fact is that my vocation is clearly in enabling other people's work. I think this is why customer support by email also went pretty well for me, and software engineering did not. (Even though I was writing software that people would use to do stuff, but it was all too squishy and vague.) My SCA compadres definitely know this about me -- my #1 activity is holding offices. In the mudding days? Spent more time wizarding than roleplaying. Audio dramas? Let's just say I spent very, very little time actually acting (which is what I thought I was there to do originally.) And so on and so forth.

So no, dude on that video I watched, I guess I'm not the badass who goes out every day to show how I can awesomely change the world. I'm just the guy who likes to help other people do their thing, and gets a kick out of it. And, says JD at the end of the finale:

"I guess it's because we all want to believe that what we do is very important, that people hang on to our every word, that they care what we think. The truth is, you should consider yourself lucky if you even occasionally get to make someone - anyone - feel a little better. After that, it's all about the people that you've let into your life."

Right on, JD.