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Bits 'n' bobs

I keep meaning to update, and it keeps getting away from me, so let's see what I can recap.

Work is still crazy, but it should let up after next week, which is our big customer conference. I'm currently balls deep in a document about reducing hospital readmissions, something which I knew nothing about until a couple weeks ago. Fortunately it doesn't have to be done-done by next week; even though we're going to show it to a few customers, it's in order to get their feedback on whether we're on the right track. Which is very important, considering we don't even know what our recommendations on how to reduce hospital readmissions are yet.

So even though I'm not as stressed out as I could be about the whole thing, that doesn't mean I can half-ass it like a college paper. I - we - still need to make a good impression on our customers, to show that they shouldn't turn to our competitors for this kind of thing. Yesterday I found out I was invited to attend a meeting with some high muckety-mucks from our largest customer on Monday to discuss the document. Ffffffffff-. I'm not sure how I keep getting thrown into these high-profile situations, considering I've only been working there a year (exactly, come October). Even my team lead commented on how weird it was. Just my luck, I suppose. Now I gotta dig my "business casual" attire out of the closet.

I turned 24 on Monday, though I wasn't able to do much fun stuff on the actual date because of work. My family came to visit over the preceding weekend, though, and they got to see me perform in the play that I'm in. I had several roles: Hansel (from Hansel and Gretel), the boy who points out the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, and a body double for the boy that is listening to the fairy tales.It's nice being able to perform, and to dress in drag, and to hang out with other weirdos even if I don't even know their names. (I only found out Gretel's real name in the past week. It's really sad how terrible I am at names.)

No matter how stressed out I may be about stuff, once the performance starts it all fades into the background. There are so many more imporant things: getting the costume change down; applying make-up; hitting your cues. I don't even get nervous on stage anymore - I just enter this zone, where I follow the flow of the scene - cross downstage; now I'm scared; notice the kids entering the scene. Our "actual" performance is next Wednesday. I'm debating whether to ask Gretel out for coffee or drinks or something afterwards. Not as a date because I don't think she swings that way, but as a little celebration of a job well done.

Kitties are crazy, as usual.

I can't wait for the customer conference to be over so I can think about shit besides work.

J'ai passé un moment merveilleux.

I went to Grand Portage for the annual Rendez-Vous with Shannon and Cory, her brother. I had nothing that was historically appropriate except a bone choker and a knife, so I borrowed clothing from their mum. They already had all the rest of the equipment we needed, as Shannon's been attending voyageur reenactments since she was in the womb; their family has had time to gather accoutrements.

The weather was beautiful; the mosquitoes were mostly absent; the food was good; the people were friendly. I wasn't sure what to expect or what we would do, but as far as I can tell these reenactments mostly involve hanging out with friends while wearing funny clothes, interspersed with the occasional organized activity - much like CON (as my neighbor amusedly pointed out when he heard of my activities). Oh, and suffering the occasional tourist's question, which is a form of entertainment unto itself.

Shannon introduced me to what seemed to be dozens of people, but I only recall a few - the Bobs, Summer, Charlie and a couple others of her large clan, and Corey, whom I probably hit it off with the most. We danced a few times, and when Shannon and Cory went to bed early he invited me down to the campfire by Lake Superior, where other young adults gathered to drink, talk, and occasionally wander off into the darkness in pairs. They also played a Victorian parlor game called Snapdragon, which involves spreading out some cherries or other small fruit in a pan, pouring some sherry (or some other liquor) over it, lighting the whole mess on fire, quickly grabbing the still-flaming cherries and popping them in their mouths.

I was too chicken to join, despite the goading; maybe next time.

Corey also brought two of his homemade wines and a homemade cider to share with the group, which were quite delicious. I had an interesting conversation with a woman in a stunning empire-waist gown and a ruched bonnet about the difference between a textile artist and a clothing designer, and I got an eyefull of a guy's testicle that had slipped out of his breechclout. I didn't know how to non-awkwardly point it out, so I didn't.

Speaking of breechclouts, I got to watch a bunch of attractive men wearing little more than them get all sweaty while playing lacrosse. And one attractive lady who was wearing one as well. Breechclouts: sexy on all genders! They also look really damn comfy; I'm seriously considering making one (and a pair of leggings to go with) for any future reenactments I attend. Those stocking caps that a bunch of people were wearing also look super-easy to knit; I could probably knock one out from memory in a day or two.

In fact, much of the time I was looking at people's outfits and thinking, "How could I make that?" Considering that everything people wore there was handmade, it was not an unreasonable thing to wonder. I think it is this handmade aesthetic that I like the most about anachronistic costuming, whether it's mostly historically accurate (voyageur reenactment) or not (steampunk). Whereas modern clothing is cut to fit the generic "average" person, our neighbor's waistcoat was made to fit him, and it showed. Embellishment is achieved through the addition of details, like a bit of ribbon or embroidery - or if you want to be ostentatious, through the use of richly textured fabrics and intricate beadwork. None of that flat screenprinting stuff. The most gorgeous articles of clothing were the ones that clearly took the most time to make.

A few people asked if I was going to attend Pine City, another voyageur reenactment in Minnesota. I'm not sure if I can or not - I'll have to check my rehearsal schedule for the play I'm in - but I'd like to.


A harsh reminder

Just when I feel like I've finally gotten into the groove of the whole "being an adult" thing, something comes along to reinforce how clueless I am.

Not too long ago, my futon broke. Considering my car is tiny as hell and none of my friends own trucks, I figured I'd might as well go to a real furniture store that could deliver and have movers lift it for me and shit, instead of just picking something up from Target. So I wandered on over... and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

The woman who worked at the store was very nice and answered all my questions, but I had no idea what questions to ask. How do I know what to look for in a sofabed? How do I know if I'm getting a good price? What are some things to watch out for? What was the process of buying it? I had no clue.

I like the one I ended up getting, which I chose because it was 1) the cheapest, 2) in stock, and 3) had upholstery that will probably withstand my kitties the best. It also looks pretty, so yay.

But the entire time I was at the store, I felt incredibly young. I was terrified that the employee who was helping me was silently judging or ridiculing me for being a young whipper-snapper who had no idea what she was doing, even though I had no reason to believe this.

So I went home and painted my sewing cabinet, which made me feel somewhat better.




In Rokugan, in the year 53, there was something of a scandal when the Scorpion allegedly murdered a Lion general. As was common practice at the time, the Kitsu summoned the victim's ghost to testify in court. Then, however, the Scorpion revealed that the Lion was in fact still alive - he'd been kidnapped, not killed. This was held as proof that the spirit world was so dissimilar from the mortal realm that it couldn't be held to the same standards of reality and truth, and therefore was unfit for use in legal proceedings. Since then, evidence or testimony gathered from the spirits or kami are not admissible.



The Scorpion have a dojo that trains its students to become master impersonators. What if they did indeed kill the Lion general, and ghostly testimony is accurate, but they had one of their spies take the place of the Lion to discredit the Kitsu? Then not only did they get away with that specific crime, but they also effectively destroyed what could have been a very powerful weapon against even their best subterfuges.




Last night I had a dream that I was sitting in my living room with my parents, who were visiting. I looked out the glass patio door and saw alien ships akin to those in Close Encounters of the Third Kind gliding through the sky. Occasionally the smaller ones would swoop down between the houses and scan the windows with pale blue beams of light; the larger one hovered low a little ways off in the distance. Perhaps it was communicating with some humans on the ground.

It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. I was torn between watching the brightly-colored lights swooping through the night skies and cowering in fear. What were the aliens searching for, and what would they do if they found me?


Cool things I've seen biking to/from work

- A bird carrying a ribbon about four times its body length in its beak. It looked like the tail of a kite as the bird flew over the trail, no doubt to the nest it was currently renovating.
- A muskrat chilling in its pool.

- A badger den.

- Red-winged blackbirds trying to get laid.

- A robin gobbling up a fat worm that had crawled onto the bike path in an attempt to escape the recent rainstorm.

- Big burdock plants. I wonder if I'd be allowed to harvest them.

- Lots of pretty purple flowers.

I also saw raccoon tracks in the reflecting pool behind our cafeteria at Epic. Not sure what they were doing there, since there aren't any fish in the pool. Though that'd be awesome if there were; maybe I should submit a suggestion.

Canned heat

The kitten-cats are driving me up the wall, but what else is new. I do love them, though. They're my furry, clawed babies.

I originally wanted to be a Good Hippie Pet Owner and make their food for them, but that involves even more cooking than normal, and they weren't keen on what I made for them, anyway. So I found a nice compromise: supplement their dry food with meat. They love it, and I feel better about giving them at least some food that they actually evolved to eat.

I need to get some dance shoes; my feet are starting to form callouses, which is to be expected when I'm dancing in stocking feet for over an hour twice a week. I'm looking at these ones; they're vaguely vintage-y, which is in keeping with the swing and Lindy that I'm doing, and - more importantly! - they don't have heels. However, I have no experience whatsoever on selecting quality dance shoes, so I'm hesitant to sink any amount of money into them, even though they're a damn sight cheaper than, say, running shoes.

My instructors complimented me on my awesome hip action. I suppose that Carmen Electra "Strip Your Way To Fitness" video that Dan got Zem was useful after all! Or maybe it's just that my bubble booty makes it look like my hips are sticking out further than they actually are.

As awesome a dance partner as Mike is, I'm vaguely worried that I'm getting too used to his specific style of leading and that I'm going to suck it up whenever I'm dancing with someone else. For example, when I was trying to show Dan some new styling that I'd learned, I just couldn't get my feet under me properly. Then again, we were both rather drunk, which probably hampered my ability somewhat. Also, he hasn't taken classes in a while, so Dan's leading might be a bit rusty. *HINT HINT YOU SHOULD TOTALLY TAKE CLASSES SO WE CAN DANCE TOGETHER JUST SAYIN HINT HINT*

Or I just need any other semi-experienced lead to compare with. *HINT HINT REED YOU SHOULD VISIT AND WE CAN DANCE HINT HINT*

(Also, apparently there's a whole line of dance attire that shares my namesake. Neato.)


I've had Jack and Garrus long enough now that I can discern their distinct personalities, and they're not necessarily what you'd expect.

Garrus is definitely more skittish, and he's much gentler. He's a huge lap cat, and he get jealous if you're giving attention to Jack. (Even if you're giving attention to him at the same time!) He also loves opening my kitchen cupboards and crawling around in them, even if there isn't any food to steal.

Jack is much bolder; she keeps trying to slip out the front door to explore, and she's already ventured out on my back patio (while safely harnessed, of course). She also is much more assertive; she's very insistent about getting up in your business, whatever that business may be. Usually it's food or the computer.

Garrus's meow is much deeper; Jack's purr is much louder.

One of them keeps farting on me. I think it's Garrus. It's gross.

I already feel guilty whenever I'm away from the apartment for any extended amount of time. Even if I've spent the previous three evenings at home with them, I feel terrible when I come home just to feed them and then head straight back out the door. I imagine this is something like what being a parent feels like, especially considering the little shits keep breaking/eating/getting into things they're not supposed to. :P


DM: You can see that the plaguelings are homogeneous throughout their entire bodies, and as they swarm Andrew (an NPC paladin) they smoosh into a goo -

Me: So they're like cumsprites? :D

DM: ...No, they're not like cumsprites.

Me: Oh?

DM: No. As they swarm Andrew, their bodies dissolve into a sticky goo that completely engulfs him -

Me: So they are just like cumsprites! :DD

DM: ಠ_ಠ

Other player: What's a cumsprite?


[Half-hour tangent about most things sexual.]

And this is why you shouldn't roleplay while intoxicated.

...I take that back; this is exactly why you should roleplay while intoxicated.

On the job

I'm currently in Minneapolis for my first go-live.

"Go-live" is what we call the first week or two that a company uses our computer system. This week's customer is Fairview - my old clinic! - and I've been helping the past three days. Despite the years (literally) of planning and setup that goes into this, shit always goes wrong. It's a given. Which is why they pull as many people as possible - even us writers - to wander the hallways of the hospital and help out nurses and doctors.

Apparently Fairview's go-live has been incredibly smooth compared to others. I believe it; even with the cock-ups that the lab has been having, many times when I checked in on a unit, there would be absolutely nothing for me to help out with. "No, we're doing fine. Thank you anyway!" While it's great to hear that the clinicians are adapting to our software well, it does make me wonder whether it's worth getting up at 4:45 in the morning.

There were several interesting parts; I helped the MRI tech place orders for contrast dye, and while I was down there he showed me how he performed the imaging, and he told me all sorts of cool stuff about MRIs. He was neat; his name was Dan, and he seemed like a cool uncle or something. I helped a few other nurses and physicians as well, and a few other imaging techs.

It was surprising the number of issues I had to phone in to the command center. Well, no, not actually surprising - I'm just a writer, so while I'm more familiar with the software than a lot of clinicians, I'm far from an expert. But still, I didn't feel nearly as bad about calling issues in as I thought I would. Before the day of my first shift, I was convinced that if I wasn't able to personally solve every issue I came across I'd be a failure. Instead, it turns out I was just as knowledgeable as most of the support people on the floor, if not more so. And many of the things that I came across were literally impossible for me to fix. For example, the technicians in the cardiology unit didn't have the software they needed built yet. Nothing I can do except get on the project team's ass about not getting shit done in time. There were lots of things like that; it was just my job to decipher the clinicians' frustrated grumblings and point the build team in the direction of the problem's source.

The twelve-hour days weren't as bad as I expected. As long as I kept walking I didn't notice how tired I was; as soon as I sat down, though, I was nodding off. Thank goodness I wasn't needed much in the lab, so I was able to round on the entire hospital.

And the hotel's nice. It's right downtown, at the old train depot - just down the street from where Dan and I stayed when he came to visit once. Apparently one of my coworkers got a fireplace in her room; I just got a kitchenette (which I haven't used) and two flat-screen TVs (which I also haven't used). I'd trade both of those things for a fireplace, dude. It was freaking freezing in here for a while.

Argh, I can tell I'm getting all rambly because I'm tired and a bit tipsy; I had a few mixed drinks at the sushi place I had dinner at tonight. The company's footing the bill for the food, but not the alcohol; I think that's a fair deal. I'm also overusing semicolons. TAKE THAT, TECHNICAL WRITING STYLE; YOU WILL NEVER SEPARATE MY BELOVED SEMICOLON AND ME.

I kind of wish I had the drink that they set on fire before they serve it to you. I'll have to ask for that next time I'm in town. Or just go around to every bar and ask if they have any flaming drinks. Because I must have one.

I was going to have this deep, introspective post about how weird it is to be on the job in the hospital when all around me people are suffering physically and emotionally, but I'm too tired, and apparently I'm too hung up on flaming martinis and semicolons.

Thank goodness I go home tomorrow.