R.I.P Electric Blue


Electric Blue was my “downstairs” computer, my secondary.  Born April 24, 2006, declared officially dead November 16, 2015.

The sad thing is… all the components work great!  (Uh, well, the IDE drive finally ran into the ground.  And, yeah, okay, the CMOS battery is dead, but that wasn’t a big deal; I just had to leave an electricity bleed on it, or enter the current date when I booted up…)  It’s just that WinDoze wouldn’t boot from the SATA drive!

The cosmic joke here… the secondary, SATA, drive is what I’ve been running Windows on for that machine.  The IDE was the boot drive, but somewhere in the misty halls of memory, I had it immediately swap the IDE and SATA root partitions using Junction Link Magic or somesuch voodoo.

Anyway, after spending 8 hours trying to get Windows XP to accept the SATA as the root/boot drive… and Windows XP failing…!  I had to decide to get on with my life.



Electric Blue, and my upstairs computer, Blue Steel (no relation to Zoolander; it’s a line from a Top Gun song) are from AVA Direct.  I don’t get any kickbacks from AVA (wish I did, I always pimp  them out whenever someone is looking to buy a new system), but I have to tell you just how cool these guys are.

I have been using them since… I don’t know when.  Before having them build Electric Blue in 2006, I had ordered a MoBo/CPU combo to upgrade my then-current system.  Then when I was ready to upgrade from Electric Blue, I ordered Blue Steel in 2009.

I found AVA Direct through… well, some search or other.  But what clinched the deal for me was this… I went to Alienware (which was THE huge name in bleeding edge gaming machines… not some Dell subsidiary that they seem to be now??), and I specced out a not-quite-top-of-the-line gaming rig.  Then I went to AVA, where I put together a list of comparable components and it came out about 500$ cheaper.  Yep, ever since then, AVA have been “my boys” for my computers.


Not that I used them a lot, sadly.  I mean, heh… I haven’t bought a new computer since 2009. :X  But when I do use them, I get top notch all the way.  When speccing Blue Steel, I had no idea what power supply I needed, but the guy I talked to (techs, not salespeople) told me what it would take to run my uber huge video card.

When I had money to expand my memory in Electric Blue… I was falling badly off the geek-wagon even back then, so I called up and said I’m an idiot, I don’t know what kind/flavor of memory goes in my machine.  Again, I got a tech, not a salesman (do they even have salespeople?), who looked at my order history, and gave me a line on what brand was good that season.  No, not the most expensive.  Bonus!



Anyway, it has been a while, but I have been planning to get a new machine between now and February of 2016.  Uh, I guess now is good, since I’m down to one computer.  I know things change, and the good ol’ days don’t stay good.  Little companies grow and turn into big conglomerates that suck.

I am hoping AVA is still the amazing group of “tech guys” that I remember.  Because I don’t know when I’ll have money for a new computer beyond this one, so I hope it will last.  I know one thing, when they put a machine together, that mofo lasts!

I was worried when I experimentally specced out a high-end system (with no clue) and it came out to 2500 dollars.  And Dell Alienware were 1200?  Oh my.  But I went to New Egg to see if they were cheaper.  And no, they weren’t.

Then I was reading some reviews for stuff at New Egg.  Not to shine a bad light on them, but there were some reviews about systems being DOA, components not working, etc.  And New Egg just being a distributor not a manufacturer.  Well, AVA will build my machine, partition my drives how I want them, install the OS, and then do a 24 hour burn-in test, to make sure the system and all the components are running.


So yeah.  I’m sticking with my boys at AVA!  Stay Good, guys!


Bloodsong’s Writing Resource Collection

Oops, I didn’t mean to imply that I made a collection of writing resources.  But I did decide to collect the ones I find the most useful in one spot.  So, here they are!


Word Help

Collins Dictionary Online  (I used to use Dictionary.com, but omg, the ads and crap!)


Chir-Ag Tip of my Tongue  Can’t think of that word you know you know?  Find it with this tool.


Phraseology Help

Title Generator   Input some concept words and title phrases pop out.

Word Count Tool   Counts words and analyzes your text.


Conceptual Help

Emotion Thesaurus    A sample of how to have your characters express emotion without saying stupid crap like “He was sad.”

Springhole    Includes a boatload of random generators for all kinds of things; characters, objects, super powers…  Plus essays on writing, and research concepts.


Character Help

Writers Helping Writers Tools   Character development, characteristics, backstory, etc.

(See also Springhole.)


Writing Help

Mind-Melding with the Reader   An essay on the brainwaves of storytellers and audiences, as well as concrete examples of how to put the reader into the story.  This is an explanation of how I write in my ‘really intense close third person’  (aka ‘gut-punch’) style.

How to Write a LogLine       This is for movie pitches, but a very good excercise for (book/story/literary/word-only) writers, as well.

The Great Swampy Middle     by Jim Butcher; how to deal with a bogged-down middle of a story.

25 Turns, Pivots, And Twists To Complicate Your Story     by Chuck Wendig (warning: ‘adult’ language).  Some ideas on how to mix things up and make your story less predictable.




The Auralgasm

 Auralgasm:a state of temporary heightened excitement as a reaction to hearing a sound.

I coigned this term a while ago, but apparently never wrote about it.  Auralgasms are most commonly associated with music, and I think the most common auralgasm people would recognize is the bass drop.

It’s a sound, or a break/hit in a song that just makes you go OOOH!  Or possibly squee.  Or even scream.  The sound just hits your nerve endings, like BAM!


Although most auralgasms are produced by music, there are other sounds that may have the same effect.  For example, when playing Quake 3, I would have an auralgasm every time the guy said EXCELLENT!  This happened when you made 2 kills within 2 seconds.  I liked to make him say that a lot.  Like, 35 times in 10 minutes.  :X

I was also addicted to the sound the quad power made the weapons have.  Some kind of echo-y reverb bass boost something or other.  Anyway, I would often run around the map yelling, “Must Have Shiny Blue Thing!”  And, if anyone else got the quad, I would hunt them down in a berserker frenzy to kill them and take it away from them.  Didn’t matter if I only had a shotgun, and they had a rocket launcher.  I really, really wanted that sound!  ::cough::


Different people will respond to different types of sounds and music.  I can post some links to songs I find have auralgasm-inducing parts.  Let’s see…

PelleK:  many of PelleK’s songs have auralgasms, because his voice is SO clear, SO pure.  (This is Power Metal, by the way.  Unless you go to his Disneyification of Metal songs section :X)  My favorite is at about 1:18 of “Gentlemen.”  The song starts out with a really strong belted out note, but the best part is just after a really long extended note.  That WAH! is just the right pitch and power….

“Can You Hear Me Now” by Savatage:  John Oliva had a truly amazing voice; he could growl, he could rasp, he could sing so crystal clear.  But this particular auralgasm isn’t from the lyrics, it comes from a break about 2/3 of the way through the song.  The chunky guitar and the power bass start jamming, and then they crash into the cellos and strings like two ocean waves hitting each other in a truly magnificent splash…!  Then the whole thing just runs away like a freight train.

“Turn Me Loose” by Loverboy:  okay, if you don’t like Metal (hey, it happens :X), this is some straight-up rock.  Um… this whole song is just about one big, five-minute long auralgasm.  It starts with a simple tone, doesn’t seem to be much.  Then it runs up your spine to a higher pitch.  And the bass starts in, nice and slow, but strong.  Then the guitar comes in, growling like a panther.
3/4 of the way through the song, it hammers out a power-anthem version of the chorus.  Just vocal, bass drum, and ride cymbal.  The guitar comes back in, and then… I don’t know if it’s technically a bass drop or a breakbeat or what, but the whole band just STOPS for one heart-stopping moment before BAM!  They slam back into gear.  Whoa…


Was it good for you, too?

Bloodsong’s (Cheap) No Bake Fruit Pie


This is based on Bernice’s No Bake Strawberry Pie recipe from Hobby Farm Homes.  But I couldn’t afford 4 cups of chopped fresh strawberries, so I… improvised!  I created a Strawberry/Cherry/Pineapple pie, and an Orange/Cherry/Pineapple pie.

They are sooooooo delicious!  Not too sweet, very light, nice and cool for summer…  So I had to share the recipe!  (And, you know… write it down so I don’t forget!  Somewhere permanent, like the internet… :X )


*NOTE*  If you’re substituting fresh fruit for my cheap canned stuff,  be aware that there’s an enzyme in pineapple (and other potential ingredients) that makes gelatin fail to set.   This only applies to FRESH foods.  Cooked (and canned) fruit have the enzyme nullified.


Ingredients: (makes one pie)

  • 1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 3oz package of fruit-flavored gelatin dessert (strawberry or orange)
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/2 Can cherry pie filling
  • 1/2 Can pineapple chunks or mandarin oranges
  • Non-Dairy Whipped Topping (optional)


  1. Combine water, sugar, cornstarch, and half of the juice in the pineapple (or mandarin orange) can.  Boil on Med-Low heat, stirring until the mixture is clear.  Add the gelatin and stir until fully dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Mix in half a can of cherry pie filling.
  2. Arrange pineapple chunks (and/or mandarin orange slices) in the pie crust.  Pour the warm filling mixture over them to fill the pie crust.*
  3. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours, until the pie is firmed up.
  4. Serve with non-dairy whipped topping!


*TIP*  If you have too much filling for the pie, you can dump it out in a glass or mug or tea cups and create miniature gelatinous dessert cups.  Chill or freeze, then eat right from the cup with a spoon.  It will be sweeter than your typical Jell-O(tm) or Knox(tm) Blocks.


Shopping List:

I shop at ALDI’s, so prices are super low.  Since the recipe only calls for half cans of stuff, here’s the base cost for two Bloodsong’s (Cheap) No Bake Fruit Pies (should I ™ it?)

  • 2x 9″ Graham Cracker Pie Crust (@.95)                1.90
  • 2x 3oz Strawberry/Orange gelatin mix (@.35)     0.70
  • 1x  Can Cherry Pie Filling                                          1.69
  • 1x  Can Pineapple Chunks                                         0.99
  • 1x  Can Mandarin Orange Slices                               0.89
  • Cornstarch  (negligible)
  • Sugar (negligible)
  • TOTAL=============================$6.17
  • 1x Lite NonDairy Whipped Topping (optional)      0.89
  • GRAND TOTAL=======================$7.06

or $3.53 per pie!  Yum!


Manga Studio Fill Pen

This is for all the folks I told to go run and buy Manga Studio, and how cool it was, and about the amazing fill pen!  Which, oddly doesn’t come as a standard tool in this amazing graphics program.  That’s okay, you can just download my version here.

This is the raw SUT file.  Save it, then use Manga Studio to import the Sub Tool.   To do that, go to your Pen SubTool palette, right click on any existing pen subtool, and choose “Import SubTool”.  Navigate to where you saved the file and click on it!

New!  Also see my quickie video on using vector layers and how to use the fill pen. Click here.

Using the Fill Pen:

First, draw your line art on a new vector layer.  (For how cool it is to draw on a vector layer, check out this video by John the Geek!)  Set this layer as a reference layer.  (To do that, click the Lighthouse icon on the layer palette while the layer is selected.)

Next, create a new raster layer (non-vector).  You can’t colour on a vector layer.  Well, you can, but only with brushstrokes that are all vectorized.  With the fill tool, you’ll want to be on a raster layer, trust me.  (See this video by Merry Calliope for more detail on coloring in using a reference layer.)

Now, the fill tool (and the select tool) can use multiple reference layers, and can close gaps so that you don’t need to have all your shapes perfectly enclosed.  But a lot of times, it still leaves a lot to be desired.  Sometimes even if you have ‘close gap’ cranked to maximum, the fill gets outside the lines.  Or sometimes the fill/selection doesn’t go far enough, and you have to click multiple times inside one shape….  The Fill Pen is your friend in this case!

it's a quickie pink pony for demonstration :X

it’s a quickie pink pony for demonstration :X

Select the Fill Pen, pick your colour, then, on the raster layer, plonk the brush tip inside your lines and start drawing.  As long as the center of your pen is inside the line, the ink coming from it will not jump over.  But once your center does jump over, your ink will be on the other side of the line!

To avoid this, try to use the largest size pen you can, to keep the center inside the line, and have the outside of the brush outside the line.  Also: turn on the one-pixel center dot for the brush cursor, that will help you see how close you are to jumping the line.  (This little gem is hidden in your Preferences: Cursor: Pen Type Cursor.  Select Brush Size & Dot (or Single Pixel Dot, as you like) for your Pen tools.  Or your Brush tools, if you’re creating a brush-type fill tool.)

Also, draw from the inside, and push out against the lines in shorter strokes.

If your lines do not form fully closed shapes, you will have a bit of trouble.  The Fill Pen doesn’t have an close gap option, sadly.  The larger brush shapes will bleed out of little gaps.

To fix this, make the brush shape very small, and ease it along the line towards the gap.  For bigger gaps, you will actually have to draw the fill ink where you want it to go until it gets to the next line.

Once you have drawn your fill colour around the edges of your outline, you can turn off the vector ink layer, and use the fill tool to fill in the center.  Because the Fill Pen is drawing to the center of the vector line (and the fill tool/marquee only go up to the line), this will result in a fill with cleaner edges.

One slight annoyance (at least to me) is that the inside lines are not filled with the Fill Pen.  The fill tool should take care of those.  Click once in the center of your fill, and then click again on the same spot, to have the fill bleed over those annoying anti-aliased edges it insists on having.

But!  What if you use the fill tool and keep refilling to leach into those anti-aliased lines and end up making your fill go outside the outlines?  Or what if you were sloppy and drew outside the lines with the Fill Pen?  Oh noes!  But wait!  The Fill Pen does even more!

Switch to transparent as your ‘colour’ for the Fill Pen.  Now, go along the outside of the outlines.  Ta-da!  The Fill Pen will erase any colour that is bleeding over!  How awesome is that?

Creating & Editing the Fill Pen:

You can turn any drawing tool into a filling tool.  Yes, even the crayons can be made to stay inside the lines!  Start with the tool you want your Fill version to emulate.  (To create the Fill Pen, I copied the Turnip Pen.)  Right click the tool in the SubTool palette and Duplicate it.  Give it a new name.

13T Fill Pen

Click the wrench icon on the lower corner of your tool.  The section of the Tool Settings you want is down at the bottom: Anti-overflow.

Turn on visibility for ‘do not exceed line of reference layer’ and ‘stop filling at center line of vector.’  Turn on the ‘color margin’ control too, if you like.

That first setting makes the tool colour inside the line only.  The second setting will cause the tool to draw a little bit under the outlines, which results in a more solid fill, and no anti-aliased edging.  (You may want to turn that part off when you are doing the transparency trick on the outside of the outlines.)

Register all the settings as initial settings for your tool, by pressing the button labeled just that.  And there you have it.


Bloodsong’s Writing Method

(Reposted from my (not so) Live Journal.)

I always get a kick out of answering questions about writing methods, because mine are so… bizarre.  ;D

I don’t actually write the stories, per se.  I’ll be here, in my mundane real world existence, bored to tears, and my Brain will start telling me stories.  Doing scenes, that sort of thing.  The whole thing plays out on the inner cinema of my mind.  So, actually, I’m the first member of the audience, and sometimes I don’t know where the story is going any more than you do when you start reading it.

But I do actually do some work!  I mean, if it were just as easy as writing down what my Brain dictated to me, I’d be a heck of a lot faster at this.  :X  The problem is, the parts I do are so much harder and (in my opinion) clunkier than the parts my Brain does.

“Green & Black” is a perfect example of the various processes.  Here’s how the whole thing came to be….

I had actually forgotten (!!) to watch Arrow one week.  (That’s okay; if I get too excited about a show, it always gets cancelled.)  So I watched “Darkness at the Edge of Town” and got to The Cliffhanger!  And I could have just gone straight on to the finale.  However, I didn’t.  I was basking in the “Argh, Cliffhanger!” glow.  ::shrug::

The next morning, I asked my Brain, “Brain, why do you think Malcolm said ‘Oh no’ at the end there?”  and “What do you think will happen next?”  My Brain said, “They’re going to sit down and have a rational conversation about their similar goals.”  Interesting, I thought.  I wonder how that would go.

Well, that was turning the key to Pandora’s Box, there.  The next thing I know, I’m watching Malcolm and Oliver having this intense conversation.  Then I wondered what Diggle would say.  Yep, then I saw Oliver and Diggle talking.  That did not go well.  What about Felicity?  Here’s what happened to her.  Wait… what would Moira think!?

My plan had been to watch the finale the next night.  Instead, I deferred watching it until after the weekend.  During that weekend, nearly the whole two seasons of “Green & Black” were mapped out.  Many, many conversations were written.

In fact, if you look at “Green & Black,” the first half dozen or more chapters are made up almost entirely of two characters sitting somewhere talking to each other.

Once the character interactions and conflicts reach a critical mass (Malcolm & Oliver team up in an Enemy Mine Trope! Hooyah!), the story Must Be Written.

At that point, I need to step in and clear some things up.  Adjust the plot, fix some inconsistencies, fill some holes.  And… try to develop an actual plot.

I have to confess, I suck at plotting.  No, really.

Example Number One:  Malcolm and Oliver team up, Felicity is being held prisoner (and causing her own problems), Diggle is still held on suspicion of theft.  There should be a little mini-mission where the two go out together, before the others return to make a full team.  What should they do?

Brain is no help.  Bloodsong has no  idea what sort of white collar crimes could fit the bill related to The List.  Bloodsong watches some episodes of White Collar, which is no help whatsoever, because they all deal with counterfeiters and jewel heists.

Finally, Bloodsong decides to just swipe a typical ponzi scheme, sorta like was already done on Arrow.  Bloodsong sticks a guy in an apartment and places the Vigilante and the Dark Archer on a roof across the way.  Brain says, “Let’s make it like that episode of Sledge Hammer, where Sledge busts in on the Satanic cult leader who is in the shower.”  Yeah, that should be fun!  Bloodsong adds some dashes of real life experience with police activity in the neighborhood.

The whole thing was a boatload of work!  And that was SMALL!

Example Number Two:  Next, Diggle is released (Felicity is still being stubborn).  Aha, they should go on a three man mission.  Any ideas, Brain?  Of course not!  Bloodsong has a brilliant idea:  Diggle hates Deadshot; Deadshot shot Malcolm… let’s do a Deadshot mission!

Boom!  Brain comes up with this highly dramatic escapade on a rooftop with Malcolm and Diggle struggling with Deadshot who has a bomb strapped to his chest.  Awesome.  (Brain has no flipping idea how that scene ends, or what they’re going to do with a wired-up Deadshot.  Brain let’s me bang my head on the wall trying to figure all that out!)

I say, “Let’s do the briefing.”  Each mission comes in four parts: the setup, the plan/briefing, the action, and the aftermath/debriefing.  Brain starts rolling the mind cinema film, where Oliver, Diggle, and Malcolm are being snippy with each other.  Suddenly, Felicity is there, also being snippy with Malcolm.  Wow, this is Good Stuff!  But, Brain… Felicity isn’t there yet.  This was supposed to be a 3-man mission!

Brain:  “Too bad!  I’m stealing it for a stand-alone four-person mission!”
Bloodsong:  “Wait!  What am I supposed to do for the 3-man mission?”
Brain:  “Dunno.  Bye!”

So now I’m stuck in the middle of G&B season one, with no mission!  No ideas.  I had to make it up all my myself!  Argh!  You don’t think I suck at plotting?  I need an idea!

Well, certainly not another white collar crime from The List.  That was lame.  Diggle’s right, let’s fight regular crime!  Or semi-regular crime.  I decided a kidnapping would be fun.  Kidnapping a kid.  Then I got the idea to put in one of those little girl beauty pageant things.  Spiced it up with some real-life plots.  Cobbled it together with some half-baked backstory, glued it together loosely with some Rule of Cool…..

(Seriously, look at that plot.  How much money can an upper-middle-class couple front for a kidnapping?  And how many ways are the kidnappers going to divide it?  Did you see how many guards they had for one little girl?  SIX!  Those guys were not making enough money!)

Example Number Three:  All right, the end of season one needed the full on four-person-mission.  Brain, what do you have for that?  Brain:  “…..”  Right.  The only thing we had down for that was the code-name bits, and Felicity’s male-slash comment.  Well, so at least I knew part of the mission had to be Oliver and Malcolm sneaking somewhere….

I had been watching Sliders on Netflix.  One episode took place in a chemical plant.  Aha, I thought, I will steal this idea and have the G&B finale in a chemical plant.  Doing what?  I dunno.  But, hey, chemical plant.  Environmental disasters!  Toxic waste dumping!  Yeah!

Still no actual plot.  Time was running out.  I was desperate!  So, I asked for some advice from StarKayak.  Star has some really great stories about Jack Harkness and the Doctor’s Daughter off in the future.  Amazing plots!  Unique characters, interesting stuff, cool aliens….  I wish I could plot as well as Star!

So Star gets this PM from me, saying I have no clue what the dip I am doing.  All I have is this setting of a chemical plant, and some vague idea that there should be military trucks there for some reason.  And possibly Malcolm getting on a truck as they escape, and the others telling him to do an Indiana Jones thing, and him complaining about Indy getting old and not making the rope swing… :X!  And I asked for some advice.  A hint.  An inkling of an idea?

Star wrote back, and I kid you not, sent like the outline for an entire Action/Adventure movie!  I was like, Holy Crap!  It was practically Die Hard in Starling City!  Wow!

It was great, but I ended up not quite exactly using it.  ;)  Star gave me some great tips, like figure out what I wanted to say with the writing, what theme to explore.  For G&B it was the conflict between Malcolm and his ideas of how things should be done, and Oliver’s.

In Star’s plot, the villain was going to turn out not to be the villain!  Instead, the guy’s boss was going to be forcing him to do the toxic dumping.  When this got revealed, it would show how Oliver’s method of talking to people and giving them a chance to make good worked better than being judge, jury, and executioner, like Malcolm wanted to.

That was awesome.  But… well, I couldn’t figure out why this guy kept working for this evil boss.  Why he didn’t turn the guy over to the authorities.  So then I thought, wait!  What if… it wasn’t the guy’s boss, but his trusty second in command, the plant manager?

The plot thickens!  Especially when I made her a woman, and gave them a backstory of how they had met in college and become good friends, and worked together for years.  Then it turns out this woman he trusted totally betrayed him!  (See, that’s a kind of theme, there.  :X)

Next, Star’s plot involved Malcolm getting unmasked.  Actually, he got surrounded, beat up severely, and captured.  The evil bad boss was planning to blackmail him, and they took him away on one of those trucks I had mentioned….  Then Oliver found the Dark Archer’s hood, and realized what happened.  Diggle encouraged him to cut Malcolm loose, but… no.

So Oliver catches up to the bad guys, and kills them.  He frees Malcolm and, without a word, hands him back his black hood.  Oh, man!  That was gonna be sooooo GOOD!

Sadly, it was not to be.  :/

I’m sitting there thinking… ‘Malcolm gets beat up’?  How is that going to work, exactly.  The guy is Bruce Lee!  (Oh, you don’t think so?  Let me tell you something.  I’ll believe that somebody can train intensively in the League of Assassins for two years and become an elite ninja.  But somebody train for two years that long ago and never again, and still be as good as Merlyn is?  Nope.  He’s been keeping up with his training — either with some trips back to Nanda Parbat as I envisioned, or by taking up Judo, Aikido, Hop Gar….  So yes, he’s been training for twenty years.  He’s freaking Bruce Lee!)

But again, I got some good ideas from the whole thing.  Some themes, as it were.  Malcolm takes on the whole ‘army’ there in the G&B mission and pretty much holds his own.  But the villain has an advantage he doesn’t expect, and he is in deep trouble!  Diggle, of course, is all for cutting Merlyn loose.  Oliver disagrees.

There’s the Mother Of All Cliffhangers in that mission.  (Ah, I still love that!)  And some lessons learned all around.

So, yeah… for the plotistically-challenged, my recommendation… is to ask for advice from a really good plotter!  ;D  Star, you rule!  I won’t ever forget your help, and I hope people realize how valuable it was from the credit given.  Or… if they don’t, maybe they’ll read this post and see.  :)


My Superpowers

I have only recently become aware that I have superpowers.  It keeps astounding me.  I really need to get used to it.


Let me start this story with the first revelation I had.  It took me over 20 years, but I finally did realize that normal human beings cannot tell the difference between a fork and a spoon — unless they pull the utensil out and look at it  to see if it has tines or a bowl!

Seriously!  I nearly fell over in absolute shock as I realized this.  I can just grab a fork or spoon by the handle, and usually I can tell by the weight and balance, or how it slides against other utensils in a drainer, which one it is.  I didn’t think this was anything special!

So it drove me absolutely nuts when… let’s say a particular housemate of once upon a time kept yanking open a (very loud and old) silverware drawer, pulling out utensils, and throwing them back in.  When I figured this whole thing out, it was a simple matter to go to the silverware drawer and turn all the utensil piles so that the working ends were at the front of the drawer.  (Yeah, apparently it’s difficult for normal humans to also remember which slot is for forks and which slot is for which type of spoon…)

From then on out, the silverware drawer only had to be opened a little bit and it was instantly clear which utensils were in which slot.  Ah, relief!



My second revelation wasn’t that much of a shock, but it was certainly a game-changer.  Well, life-changer.  I had always complained about being plagued by stupid people.  Why?  Why couldn’t I be surrounded by smart people?  How did all the idiots of the world seem to end up in my immediate vicinity?

Then I realized… OMG!  They aren’t stupid people!  These are all people of average intelligence!

Dopey me, I expected humans to be as smart as I am.  It’s a shock, I tell you.  I mean, I’ve always known I was smart, duh.  Just not… how much of an impact that really had on my life.  And how really above average I was.  :X

But it helped me with my anger.  I don’t get so mad at people being stupid.  I just go, “Well, they’re of average intelligence.  That’s about the best they can do.”  Lowered my expectations right down to normal levels.



Now, my biggest superpower to date…!  People tell me things.   And I remember them!


No, seriously.  I could never, ever  understand why everyone thought school was so hard!  I mean… the teacher told you something — like, I dunno… ‘In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ or whatever.   Then like ten minutes later, the teacher would ask, “Okay, class, what happened in 1492?”

And everybody would be like… No, no, don’t pick me!  I don’t know!   And I was like… um… you just told us this TEN MINUTES AGO.  Duh?

Then at the end of the week, or the end of the lesson segment, and/or at the end of the year, you’d get a test.  And this was a little piece of paper that asked about stuff the teacher told you previously.  You write down what they told you, or what you read.  Kids would go nuts over these things!  Oh no!  I have to study!  This is so hard!  I’m going to fail!   I was constantly like… WTF?

My parents were ecstatic and would tell me I was doing so well in school, and blah blah blah huzzah.  And I was bewildered, because… uh?  What was so hard about it?


Just recently, I was telling my mom about something she had told me.  (Within the past 7 years, not when I was a kid.)  And she was like, ‘Where did you hear that?’

I said, ‘YOU told me!’

‘I did??’

So… not only can’t people remember what other people told them… they can’t remember what they told other people!

Oh, I’ve had that happen to me on more than one occassion!  Someone will tell me something, something I could do or make use of… a while later I will act on what I’ve been told.  And then this person will yell at me for doing what they told me I could do!  Like I made it up and did it on my own.  Without permission!

So, screw that.  When people offer me stuff, or offer to be there to support me, I’m like, Yeah, right, sure.  Ignored!


On the other side… I tend to not want to harp on things, or get in people’s face.  I will tell my friends something.  Like “I’m doing this.  If you want to see some WIPs, you can look here.”  One time.  That’s it.  They don’t want to bother with it, they don’t want to look, they don’t want to comment.  That’s fine.  They don’t care.

But apparently, it’s also quite possible that I say something, and they forget it soon afterward.



Lastly, yes, there is one person I know who is jumping up and down and waving arms and making faces…. I will admit it!  My superpower is NOT infallible.

Sometimes, people tell me things.  And sometimes I don’t remember them!  (GASP!)  Well, hell, I didn’t say I remember EVERY SINGLE THING anyone has ever said.  Or that I’ve ever read.  But I’m starting to have the sneaking suspicion that this is what’s going on.

If I figure this out… I’ll better be able to cope with humans as a species.

(Cause it has been quite clear all along that I am NOT one of them!)



A Plea for the Retention of the Special Case of the Word “Hanged”

When I was a young’n, like you whippersnappers today, the word ‘hang’ had a special past tense case. When used as a word to describe being executed by having a rope noose tied around your neck and letting your body weight strangle you (or break your neck), the past tense was ‘hanged.’ Not ‘hung.’

I’m not asking the word ‘hung’ be stricken from the dictionary in favor of ‘hanged.’ I’m just asking that we continue to use the special case of ‘hanged’ as the past tense of hang when referring to the above method of execution.

Because, I swear, if you write something like this:

“Why yes,” the old cowboy drawled, “I know of ol’ Black Bart. That boy was hung!”

then I am going to start laughing like a juvenile Beavis Butthead.

“Uh… he was?”


“And you know this how, exactly?”

“Everybody in town knows that, stranger!  We all done seen it.  Why when the boys got him up on Boot Hill, he was swingin’ in the breeze!  Coulda seen that from miles around.”



Seriously, people.  Hanged.  He was hanged!  PLEASE!


Adventures in Knitting: Cowl

After making a hat with a brim that my Mom requested for Christmas… I had some really soft ‘chunky’ yarn left over, that would feel really nice as a neck warmer.  But instead of JUST a neck warmer, I thought it would be really awesome if it came down to cover the shoulders like a yoke kind of deal….

So I poked around looking at those Fairport Isle sweaters?  You know, the ones with the goofy mooses and patterns going around the yoke.  I deconstructed a panel from one for stitch counts, and designed my own one-colour pattern.

I wanted to do cable patern deals, since that was the big new thing I learned doing the hat.  But I wanted them to go in a spiral, so I worked out this three cable spiral pattern for the front 3 panels, and then a plain line and diamond pattern for the back panels.

I got to the part where I was supposed to do the next cable cross-over at the start of a panel, but the yarn wasn’t over far enough yet….  And then I was looking at the slanted cable, and I have to tell you… cables don’t work on a diagonal!


The diagonal-running tracks looked nice, but the supposed ‘twist’ looked like a lump of messed-up yarn.

Since I was also kinda unhappy with my back pattern and wanted it more, well, patterny, and I had been thinking the spirals need to go all the way around, not stop… I decided to pull the whole thing out and start over.

It’s a good thing I did.  :X

I took it off the circular needles and tried it on, to see how the sizing was going.  Um….


I discovered I could fit a few other people in it with me!  Oops.   I wrapped it around my shoulders and counted how many panels it took.  It seems I should be using 5 instead of 15.

No wonder it was taking up so many skeins and I had to order more yarn!  I was almost at the end of another skein, so I took it out and started wrapping a ball.

And, yes, ended up with a ball of yarn bigger than my head.


Well.  At least I’ll end up with something that looks nicer than this!  (I hope!)

(And now watch, Awen will yell at me for not checking gauge!  Well, I made up the whole pattern, how would I know what the gauge is?  Besides, I checked gauge for the hat and found out I had to use the biggest needles I had to get the right 4×4 swatch.  Then I started the hat and it was practically a yoked neck warmer!  :P )

Lined Nautilus Hat

Return of the Nautilus Hat.


Finally, I got this done!  I thought it was going to look like an absolute mess, because I KNOW the pattern is messed up soooo many different ways.


Anyway, in our last episode, the Nautilus Spiral Hat was too thin with holes in it for winter outdoor use.  (Yes, I wear it indoors.)  So I decided to make one with a lining.  And, brilliant me, I thought, “Hey, if it had a bright pink lining, that would show through the holes.  COOL!”


So I followed the top-down pattern by Marnie McLean, but didn’t put in holes.  Then I switched to purple for the brim, because… why not?  I like purple, too!  (In case you couldn’t tell. :X)  These are in Caron Simply Soft yarn, my favorite!



Then I followed the bottom-up pattern on the outside.  I thought I would like the ridges and holes spiral better than the just-holes one, buuuut…  turns out I don’t.




And the holes are too small to see the pink through!  :/  I need a pattern with bigger holes.  Or, I guess, bigger needles.  (This is done on a size 7, I think.)




Below, I tried turning the hat inside out and putting the original one over the pink.  Which works a little better.





At any rate, the hat is DONE, and I don’t imagine I’ll tear it out and try to start over :X   And it is very snug and warm!  :)

If I make another one, I’ll do the top-down nautilus and then go up the lining.


Meanwhile, I have a design for a neck warmer that has a yoke so it drapes over the shoulders and chest.  That’s in soft chunky wool that is even softer than Caron Simply Soft yarn!