Elves and Vampires and Unicorns...

Jul. 25th, 2017 07:24 am
seawasp: (Default)
[personal profile] seawasp

... with a Lovecraftian twist feature in The Nightmare Stacks, the latest of the Laundryverse novels by Charlie Stross ([personal profile] autopope ) that's On My Shelves today! 

Dragon goes to Africa

Jul. 25th, 2017 01:00 pm
abomvubuso: (Groovy Kol)
[personal profile] abomvubuso
Dressed in neat military uniforms, sailing in hi-tech amphibious vehicles. That's how the troops of the first battalion China has sent overseas in 60 years look like. The unit will be sent to the new military base in Djibouti, on the east coast of Africa, just opposite Saudi Arabia across the Bay of Aden. The place is chosen deliberately of course, it's just next door to war-torn regions like Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, in a corner of huge strategic importance.

China changes the approach )
fred_mouse: crystal mouse, looking straight out at the viewer (crystal)
[personal profile] fred_mouse
I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I have to accept that there just aren't (enough) 'good' days when I'm fired up and willing to take on everything that needs doing, and that thus I need to have some way of getting things under control despite pain/nausea/lethargy/ennui. As of yesterday, the goals include get off the computer no later than 9:30pm, read a book until no later than 11pm, turn the light off by 11pm. (I managed this yesterday!). In the mornings (other than weekends), get up by 8am, eat breakfast somewhere other than bed, and (unless I have appointments) go for a walk. Today, I did this, with a task of dropping expired medications at the pharmacy, and then purchasing anti-histamines for eldest. I then rewarded myself with a coffee at the local cafe, and time to read a book. This won’t be a common thing, but we ran out of caffinated coffee grounds yesterday, and might not have more until Wednesday, depending on whether eldest is willing to go shopping for me.

And then to work on a specific to do list. I’m using a single piece of A4 paper for the work week, and only allowing myself as many tasks in a day as can be fit in a column. So, today’s list included the above pharmacy run, making a skin check appointment, and a bunch of paperwork. By 10:30am, I'd done half the columne (yes, the easy to get done stuff, but not necessarily the *fast* stuff).

By dinnertime,I'd done most of the rest. Some of it required more computer time than I had during the day, but I’m pretty happy with what I got done. The idea of not trying to fit more in to the week than I can fit on an A4 piece of paper — has potential (although I have to remember to make each thing doable in a small time, or a specific part of a larger task).

and I'm writing this at not quite 9:30pm, and I have a book or two picked out to read some more of. Last night I managed to finish up two near finished ones, so feeling pretty happy about that...

Not again...

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:00 pm
abomvubuso: (Pffft... oh noes!)
[personal profile] abomvubuso
The Stormers are out of the SuperRugby at the first playoff hurdle - getting knocked out by the Chiefs in Cape Town. Again. This time it was way closer, which makes it all the more painful. (source)


Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:40 pm
srukle: (Default)
[personal profile] srukle
As of 5:00 PM today,

Came home after watching some sci-fi.

Couldn't decide on what to do.

Played some Minecraft and drank coffee.

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 02:29 pm
johnny9fingers: (Default)
[personal profile] johnny9fingers
So my old chum Aaron got married yesterday. I was best man, deputising for an unfortunately crocked Steve Asher, who is stuck Down Under and under doctor's orders not to travel. Aaron's whole family pitched up: the Hollywood crowd, consisting of his Dad, Laifun, Thomas, and Alexandra, who was there with her Bulgarian Fiancé, as well as Kate and Josh, Aaron's other siblings from Ted's first marriage.

Aaron married a distant cousin of mine so I was on both sides of the aisle, so to speak.
no dramas at the church; a sold C of E service of the traditional kind.
The reception was held at Aaron's house. Which is an 1890's large family house. Two staircases, bultler's pantry etc. Marquee on the croquet lawn. The wedding band did the gig, so I was on double duty and didn't get off my feet until 2.30am. Fuck-up over money so Aaron and I had to empty a local cashpoint to pay the band. Bit angry with the boss of the wedding band over that one. Never mind. Apperently Alexandra's upcoming nuptials are big news in Bulgaria. She's a very good-looking lass I suppose, and Ted Kotcheff is quite well known in Bulgaria, having some cultural significance and originally hailing from there. Mr K senior is looking a bit frailer than when I last saw him. Young Thomas is taking care of him adroitly. I like Thomas. Apart from the fact he's an exceptional musician and composer, he's also a nice guy. Mr K senior's second family are as cool as the first. First met Thomas at a UK premier of one of his compositions a few years ago. After the band packed up he played half an hour of flawless and beautiful Debussy in the parlour as antidote to the '60's and '70's soul, disco, and pop music that are the standard fare of the wedding band.

However the real stunner yesterday was Celine, who looked unbelievably beautiful. Good on Aaron, making an honest women out of her even if you had to drag her to the altar kicking and screaming... which you didn't, of course, but it still took you fifteen years and two kids to get around to doing it.

Graduate School

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:32 pm
srukle: (Default)
[personal profile] srukle
I begin my journey as a graduate student in Computer Science next month.

Today I read Russel at the beach and drank some home-brewed coffee.

I'll be seeing a movie in a half hour.


While we fear the robots...

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:14 am
mahnmut: (WTF-E?)
[personal profile] mahnmut
...They go around and kill themselves.

Caution, the footage can be disturbing for the more robo-love inclined... )
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Second of the Spatterjay (sub-)series in Asher's Polity universe. Takes place about ten years after the end of the previous book. We do, again, follow several different viewpoint characters, on all sorts of moral sides of any situation that may happen in the book. Some are returning characters, some are new.

I'd definitely recommend starting with the first book in the series, but all in all an eminently readable book.

I've put up...

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:51 am
seawasp: (Default)
[personal profile] seawasp
... the full image that's only partially visible on the cover for Princess Holy Aura on my site today

Good fences make good possum highways

Jul. 20th, 2017 11:44 pm
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[personal profile] garote
Over this last winter, the fence around three sides of my house took a huge beating from the wind and rain. First the endless rain rotted the posts, then the wind shoved them over.

The previous owners of this place made some wonderful decisions about the layout, and some nice aesthetic decisions as well, but they must have been distracted when it came to the fence. The posts holding it up were all untreated wood hammered straight down into dirt. No cement footings. Not even gravel. In a relatively short amount of time, bugs ate so many holes in them that they just crumbled away.

Well, I knew a proper fence needed proper posts. I asked one of the local contractors how much it would cost to rebuild all the fences with cement and treated wood. He walked around with a measuring tape, thought for a little bit, and then said:

"About seven thousand dollars."

Holy crap-o-noley!! I talked to another contractor. He quoted me six thousand. That's still insane, but at least it's going in the right direction. I had a recommendation for a pair of handymen, so I called them up. It took them about six weeks to get back to me. They stalked around the fence, debated with each other like a Laurel-And-Hardy act about the best way to rebuild it, complete with waving arms and pacing in circles, and then said they'd get back to me with a quote.

Two months went by, during which my messages went unanswered, so I gave up on them. Perhaps I could do it myself?

I did some "research", in the form of ten YouTube videos and a bunch of web pages. It was technically possible, but a huge amount of labor. Some of the fence I could take apart and rebuild with better posts. Other parts of it, I would need to demolish and replace entirely, because the wood was too far gone. I made a list of tools, tried to research lumber prices, then got distracted by my day job.

When I came back to the task, it was because the rear fence was halfway collapsed into the neighbor's driveway, and the only way I could keep it upright was to rope it securely to a tree. It was time to confess:

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 6.21.32 PM

While I pondered my own imbecility, I had some tree-trimmers over to deal with the overgrown foliage in the back yard. They did very good work on an apricot tree that was overhanging the fence, and I complemented them on it, then said, "I don't suppose you know any people who are willing to rebuild a fence like this?"

Turns out, one of them knew a guy. Now I knew a guy who knew a guy. I got his number and called him that moment, while the arborists were still packing up their saws and mulching the leftover trimmings. He spoke fluent Spanish but only fragmented English. "Your cousin the arborist recommended you!" I said. "Can you rebuild a wooden privacy fence, with cement footings?"

He said he could. He came over the next morning and examined the fence while we chatted, then he took a bunch of measurements and said he'd consult about lumber prices and get back to me. Two days later he sent me an estimate: 3800 dollars.

Now, that's still a lot of money. But it's just about HALF of what the official contractor quoted me. I said, "Let's do it," and I cut him a check for 10% of the amount to get started.


Here's what the back yard looks like with no fence. Weirdly exposed!


Here is what a proper post-hole looks like. They dug each one two feet deep and tamped the soil down with large metal bars.


They used thread to line up the postholes precisely. Turns out the old fence wasn't quite straight. They brought in a cement cutter and took a notch out of the neighbor's patio so they could reposition the hole, then repaired the cement after pouring the cement for the posthole beneath it.


Hmmm, delicious concrete! Concrete is amazing stuff. It doesn't get wet and then "dry" like glue. It actually absorbs the water into itself, growing crystals that interlock with each other to make one solid object. This is why you can create concrete posts even underwater.


Now that is a proper post.


The next day, with the posts set, it was time to put the framing up and start rebuilding the fence. Check out all that fencing laying around!


They used treated wood for the framing as well, and cut it onsite. They also cut custom pieces for the corner of the fence, interlocking it with the neighbor's fence on the other side to make one continuous structure. The whole thing was put together with screws, rather than nails, which is the more modern way of doing things.

In the end, I figured it was money well spent. The guy showed up on time, took exactly as long as he said he would, put all the dirt and plants back in their spots, hauled away the old fence, and even re-attached my irrigation pipes to the new fence without damaging them. If he had a "Yelp" page I would have given him 42 stars.

Now all I had to do was apply sealer to the whole thing:


Warning: Applying sealer to a fence takes a very, very long time. My mistake was trying to do it with tools at hand, such as a paint tray and a roller. The smart way is to use a large spray bottle, which you pressurize with a hand pump. I switched to that partway through.


That is a crapload of fence. It was a crapload of brushwork.

But now, I have a fence that will last 20 years, as long as I keep re-applying sealant to it every couple years. Yaaay! Another thing off the maintenance list.... For the time being.

Forget alternative history.

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:31 am
ironed_orchid: painting of woman sleeping (Sleep)
[personal profile] ironed_orchid
I want an alternative evolution where humans hibernate in winter.
leecetheartist: A lime green dragon head, with twin horns, and red trim. Very gentle looking, with a couple spirals of smoke from nose. (Default)
[personal profile] leecetheartist


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