29 August 2006


An accurate cartoon that doesn't quite go far enough.

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27 August 2006

A Tale of Two Faucets

A look at the picture will probably tell you how I spent the morning. The bathroom faucet recently started leaking, and since I never liked that particular faucet anyway, I decided to replace it. I wanted a faucet with a single control for both hot and cold, and I did NOT want anything very shiny. Chrome should be saved for making optics on space telescopes and be left off of nearly everything else. So I found a fairly dull pewter instead.

The mechanics of taking out the old faucet and putting in the new one were fairly simple: (1) turn off the water valves to the sink; (2) disconnect the "popup" (the thing that pulls the drain closed); (3) loosen the bolts holding the old faucet to the sink and remove the old faucet; (4) put the new faucet in place and tighten its bolts; (5) reconnect the popup to the new sink; (6) connect water lines to new faucet. Sounds simple enough, except that this is all being done in a very small bathroom cabinet, and most of the bolts, etc, are between the sink and the back wall. Even worse, the bathroom cabinet has a divider between its two doors. So my access was through these two 9" x 17" openings. To get both hands in there to work, I had to thread my arms through first, then bring my head in and contort my shoulders. That or keep scraping elbows against the wood, which would have been annoying.

At any rate, I did manage to get everything taken out and then reconnected. I opted to keep using the old drain-blocker-assembly, largely because it wasn't obvious to me how to get it out. I've got the new one if anything goes wrong there. The worst part was the way it made my head feel. I'm not sure if there was some sort of fume under the sink that got to me or if it was just the fact that I'm mildly claustrophobic. Some of both, I suspect. I had to take frequent breaks, as spending too much time under the sink made my head feel like it was on thirteen-times-strength cough syrup, with a side order of nausea. I'm not exactly looking forward to replacing the kitchen faucet now (it's not leaking, but it's got its own problems), but at least there will be more room in that cabinet and larger access ports.

One more fun detail: the cold water turn off valve under the bathroom sink leaks. It doesn't seem to do it when it's actually turned on, but it dripped continuously while I had it shut off. On the bright side, those are fairly cheap AND can be seen from outside the cabinet.

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26 August 2006

The Value of Closets

Tonight, my mom had her piano and organ moved from Dad's house to her house. The moving crew had been working all day, and this was the next-to-last stop. It took almost two hours. Perhaps I should mention that when Mom bought the organ, the guys who brought it in suggested that she never, ever move. They had trouble getting it in. Getting it out was easier. At least, they didn't break the thermostat off the wall this time.

Mostly, Mom's (formerly Grandma's) house has easier access. Not as many tight turns, etc, but the turn to get into the little room where she wanted the organ was a wee bit too tight. It was looking like the organ wouldn't fit through the door at all. Then one of the movers realized there was a closet just inside the room, so that if they turned the organ over, they could use the closet for extra maneuvering room. Essentially, it gave the body of the organ someplace to go while they tried to get the top/keyboard part in. So they're both in place now. Mostly. Mom's going to try and move the piano slightly tomorrow. I don't see a good reason for it, but oh well.

One other note: To get the organ into the house, we had to take the door off by pulling the pins out of the hinges. I'd taken doors off by unscrewing the hinges but never by just pulling the pins out. The bottom pin didn't want to come out (it looked like maybe it had been pulled out a few too many times already). While they were moving stuff around, I very efficiently put it back on (once I worked out how to line up the hinges again), then when it looked like they were going to take it back out, I took it back off. Then, naturally, they worked out a way to get it into the room, so I got to put it back on again. I'm sure the movers would have put it back on, but putting the door on was more interesting than watching them maneuver the organ.

ADDENDUM: Shortly after I got back home, Mom called to let me know her house had been invaded at some point while we'd had the door wide open. The culprit? A very fuzzy gray cat who seems to belong to the people next door. No clue what his name is. She sort of guided him back up the stairs and out the door by saying "NO" when he went the wrong way. He's semi-friendly. That is, he acts like he wants to be petted. The first time we saw him, and accepted the invitation to pet him, he stiffened immediately, hissed, and took a swipe at us with his paws. He's gradually calmed down, and now will tolerate a few light strokes. I sort of wonder if he was abused and got adopted out to a better family. *shrugs*

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24 August 2006

Beware the Mutant Three-toed deer!

I did make it up to Gibson Jack yesterday. Someone on the way down said she saw deer and a moose, but I only saw their tracks. And some of the deer tracks were three-toed!!! Clearly there's a mutant deer up there whose foot mutates back and forth between two and three toes! (Or, hmmm, maybe just occasionally the deer stepped in an existing track in such a way that it looked like it had three toes, but, nahhh.)

Still, I did put the Tibetan prayerflag up along the ridgeline:
I have no idea how long it might last. The wind will likely keep it from being covered in snow, but also might blow it to shreds before too long. Still, I was pleased to see it up there. It's on a ridgeline on the motorized side, but it's one that doesn't seem to get a lot of ATV traffic. Most of them seem to take a lower road through the forest. I sure wouldn't want to drive any vehicle along parts of that ridgeline.

Despite the lack of large mammals, I did see some quite interesting wildlife, as well as some foliage already showing gorgeous fall colors. In order of encounter: a caterpillar, a sleepy bumblebee, a vulture, a spider, and some odd beetles. The spider is the cute one. There were also lots of other less easily identified birds, as well as a chipmunk and plenty of butterflies. I'm only posting pictures of the more unusual encounters.

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21 August 2006

First Evening Back

I now have a working normal door on my garage. The guy got here a bit before 9:00 to put it on, and was done somewhere around 10:30 or 11:00 except for "wrapping" it (putting metal around to spruce up and protect the wood frame). That's still not done; presumably it will be tomorrow or Wednesday. But the door itself is awesome. It's got a window that opens for ventilation (desperately needed in there) and is NOT falling apart AND will actually stay closed without a separate lock! Apparently my dad complained to my mom that I should have done the door myself. If I hadn't watched this guy put it in, I might even have halfway agreed with him. Now, uh-uh. I would have been in waaay over my head. Now that I've seen it done, I might have a chance of doing a decent job, but not before. Ripping the old bits out? No problem. Putting the door in place? No problem. Shimming it so that it's square and the door opens and closes easily? Problem. Mainly because it wouldn't have occurred to me to do so. And the rewrap? Uh...no.

The garage door itself has proven problematic. Well, not the door. The opener. I have a very old garage with extremely low clearance. The frame that the door slides up barely fits. The driver for the opener requires space ABOVE that. There's at least one solution that involves ordering a more expensive and more compact driver. I'm hoping the guy can work out something else, but the expensive solution is acceptable if there's no other way.

Both workmen have done excellent jobs (though the garage door MIGHT be done if he hadn't been on-call for all sorts of random "emergencies"), so I would recommend Precision Glass and Doors to anyone else who needs work done in Pocatello. They're a bit shorthanded and prone to running late, but they do a good job.

I got syllabi printed out in time to give to my classes tonight. Barely. I had to download the print driver for the department's newest printer (which I'd avoided doing for the past two years) as all the others are on the fritz. Blegh. But I have tomorrow's syllabi printed. They'd be copied, too, if Theresa hadn't been using the copier. Ah well.

Also tonight, my mom took Ji'e'toh to the vet. On Saturday, I noticed an odd swelling on the right side of Ji'e'toh's face. On Sunday it was worse. Much worse. Bad enough you could see it from a distance. I didn't see her today, but she apparently had an abscess, perhaps from a fight with another cat. I get to pick her up tomorrow, and learn how to drain the wound. I'm also going to be the one giving her antibiotics for a week, as I'm the only one in the family who can get her to actually SWALLOW pills. *sighs* At least it wasn't cancerous.

I'm hoping that I can go up to Gibson Jack on Wednesday. I've got a Tibetan prayer flag I want to tie up on the ridgeline.

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Oddly Prepared (or not)

As of about thirty seconds ago, it became the first day of fall semester. I have no syllabi printed out, and only one completely written. Two will be easy, as I need only borrow from Cathi Kunicki's info. The new class will be tougher. None of them will be easy if the printers are still unresponsive and/or attempting to eat paper tomorrow. On the bright side, I'm not likely to get in there before 15:00, by which times those problems SHOULD have been noticed and fixed.

Anyway, I've been working on a rack for holding my Native American flutes, and it is largely finished now. It probably will need another coat of black paint, then I'll stencil it, seal it, wrap white leather around the pegs (possibly with beads on the ends), and figure out a way to hang it. As I made it out of salvaged particle board from an old shoe rack, it's going to be rather heavy. On the bright side, I have thusfar spend only $4 for materials, and that was for the pegs (12 of them @ $0.99 per 3). Everything else I had on hand. I don't have the sealant or the leather on hand, but that's not likely to run me up very much. I'll post a picture when it's all done. Thusfar I'm pleased with its progress.

In other news, tomorrow they're supposed to be installing doors on my garage. The main "garage" door is an old wooden thing that's about to fall apart and does not like to stay in its open position. The "regular" door is also about to fall apart and does not like to stay in its closed position. The only thing keeping it semi-closed is the lock I put on it. It will be nice to have real, working doors on it.

In other other news, I might finally be tired enough to sleep.

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18 August 2006

Successful Completion

This is the lampshade from the light in the hallway. It looks better with the light shining through it. Then you can see gradations in the thickness of paint in the center sun that make it look like I'm actually artistic. I'm not. Those gradations were an accident caused by having too much paint on the brush while stencilling. However, they wound up looking spectactular, so I'm not complaining. I was debating about painting the outside edge black, but after seeing it up, I think it looks great. (Yeah, the picture doesn't look so great. Trust me. It looks better in real life.)

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17 August 2006

About Bloody Time

A judge has ruled that warrantless wiretaps are unconstitutional. I'm sure the government will appeal, but if ANYone buys their "it would require revealing state secrets to reveal why it IS constitutional" BS, then I have several bridges to sell them. Sorry, the Constitution is a public document, with public requirements. The only way any "state secret" could have an effect is if the government has secretly decided to override the Constitution, in which case it's time for another revolution.

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16 August 2006

Splunge for the Mangos, equip?

Couldn't resist. I just took a randomness quiz. I seem to be 74% random. *grins*

NerdTests.com User Test: The Randometer Test.

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Corn Smut

For the record, I personally wouldn't recommend looking at the picture while eating; though in Mexico, corn smut is known as huitlacoche and is considered a delicacy. I found this in my dad's garden and took it home with me to try and identify. It wasn't difficult. A search for "corn fungus" turned up a lot of entries. The Wikipedia article was quite informative and included a link to a more detailed site. Looking at the stuff, I'm hard pressed to imagine trying to eat it, though it sounds like it's used sort of like a flavoring agent. *shrug*

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15 August 2006

Back to School

Meetings most of the day today. I've got two hours in the Math108 tutoring center, and got to listen to the whole spiel for about three hours this morning. Yeah, there are new people who don't know the score yet, but it would have made more sense to go through the new stuff first, then the old stuff, so that those who had prior experience could leave. That took most of the morning. Then the Math015/025 meeting took most of the afternoon. There is a lot of new stuff going on there. Two changes: Math025 is divided into two parts now (just don't tell the registrar, as Cathi's trying to avoid committees). Students who are not passing at midterm are now required to repeat the first eight weeks until they DO pass is. THEN they can try the second eight weeks. To make this work, each class is paired. One person teaches the whole course; the other teaches the first half twice in succession. At midterm, those who are passing go into the whole course (or stay if they're already there) and those who are failing get to repeat the first half. Both of mine are the repeat sections. So I get to tell my students that I hope I don't see them after midterm, and mean it in a GOOD way.

I've got all but one of my syllabi mostly done. I need to revamp the Math025 one with some of Cathi's new info (in particular, I'm going to copy her "course objectives" = jargon for administration making up useless rules). The one that isn't done is for the class I've never taught before: Geometry for Teachers. I need to talk to Randa or someone else who's taught it before so I have some idea what to cover.

My schedule is a bit odd this time around. Monday and Wednesday evenings, with the rest of the day free. Tuesday and Thursday most of the morning, plus a class at 13:00. Friday, I'm in the Math025 testing/review center in the morning, and have my hours in the Math108 center from 12:00 to 14:00. I tried to get my hours on Tuesday evening instead, but we had a guy who needed ten hours, and I was the easiest one to move to make it work.

Anyway, that's quite enough school stuff. Here's a partial picture of how my door turned out (hard to get a wider picture because the hallway is too narrow):

Yes, I realize that the Chinese characters are up-side down... I lost track of which end was "up" when I took the door outside to paint it. For the moment, I'm going to leave it as is. If I find a larger stencil of Chinese characters at some point, I might put some on right-side-up, then rebrush with the yellow for an aged effect. My goal was to wind up with a door that looked like it might have been in use for ages and ages and ages. That's why I let the brown bleed through. Oh, you can also see one spot I still need to touch up, right on the door frame. I'm guessing that it got nicked when Mom helped me carry the door back in.

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13 August 2006

Shuffling: furniture and colors

*sighs* I haven't posted much this weekend because I've been busy. Between swapping furniture with my mom, helping her swap it with other people, finding space for the swaps I'VE taken and painting the upstairs hallway, I haven't had much time for anything else. I finally gave up on the flooring I bought several years ago for my back room. I realized that if I kept on as it was, it was going to look horrible. If I started over, I would need to buy more supplies. Neither option appealed to me, and my grandma's inheritance left door number 3 wide open: PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION. Better yet, Lowe's has bamboo flooring. What's so great about bamboo floors? Simple. Gorgeous, durable wood flooring from a resource that only takes 4 years to grow. Hardwoods may require centuries. I don't know yet what I'll do with my leftover planks. Either I'll find something, or find someone who wants to use them as intended.

Okay, furniture swapping. Mom ordered a set of three matching tables for her living room. She gave me one of Grandma's tables that was now superfluous and tried to get me to take the coffee table...which is too big. But it looks like my aunt Sandra wants it, so that should work out. Also, Mom had a twin bed to get rid of and Simba (guy in the choir at her church) somehow was without a bed. Not sure how he'd been sleeping, but he now has a twin bed and a set of sheets.

And colors. First, a rant. When I bought my house, it was white. White carpet. White vinyl flooring. White walls. White bloody doors. It.Was.Miserable. I've slowly been ading color to it, starting in the living room (deep blue carpet; adobe walls). The back room is red with some white, but the white works with the red in there. For some reason, I was in a Tibetan mood when I decided to paint the hallway before getting the floor put in, and was inspired by the bright yellow robes many Tibetan monks wear. Usually they are paired with deep red highlights, but I thought that might clash with the red of the back room, so I went with a deep reddish brown instead. It's almost done now. I've got a few touchups to do on and around one doorframe, then I'll check around for any other problem spots. I would have liked to replace the light (white box; white square glass cover), but I couldn't find anything that (a) I liked, (b) put out enough light and (c) I was willing to pay for. So I'm going to paint the box yellow and maybe stencil or stamp the glass cover to add some interest. I stenciled Chinese characters on the door in the brown color, then put a thin coat of yellow over them so that they still show through. Nice effect, imo.

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10 August 2006

Bad RAM, Bad!

Well, I have my laptop back now. The problem, if the title didn't tip you off, was a bad RAM module. For the moment, Galaxy has put in a "loaner" module, sent the bad one back to HP, and is waiting for the replacement. So I'll have to come in once more, but they said that it takes less than a minute to do the swap. So no hard drive problems, no virus problems. Just a weird hardware thing. As it's under warranty, I pay nothing. But I finally got my vacation pictures off-loaded from my camera. For tonight, I'll just post the one that most caught my attention. It was taken downstream of Alberta Falls.

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09 August 2006

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You...

Click here to see one of the most frightening, disturbing, horrifying images EVER!!!!!!. Agh! My eyes!!!

(via Pharyngula)

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07 August 2006


Not much going on here at the moment. I've gone into cleaning mode, likely because I enjoyed the simplicity of life at Sunrise Ranch and am sick of having my house so cluttered up. My laptop is at Galaxy Computers, awaiting diagnosis. On the bright side, if it's a hardware problem, it's still under warranty (and HP has a good warranty). Not sure whether to hope for hardware or software. Whichever has the best chance of leaving my personal files intact, I suppose. Unencouraging: the guy at the desk put a note to the techs that said something like "if the hard-drive is bad, it's still under warranty." Bad hard-drive seems likely to have irretrievable files.

I still have the pictures on my camera from after Breakdown101, but I'm being lazy and not doing anything about it (largely to avoid trying to find the camera's installation disc to get it onto my desktop). I've got a 1 gigabyte chip in it right now, which holds roughly 400 pictures at the highest resolution.

Oh, and my sword is awesome. It feels so much better to practice the sword form with it than with a wooden practice sword. The balance is soooo much better, and it's a lot easier to keep from "paddling the air." It's a Paul Chen sword, very similar to my teacher's. He also has a Dragonwell sword, but it didn't feel quite right in my hands. Too large a grip, mainly. So I went for the Paul Chen. Which reminds me, the other Don (taiji instructor from Iowa who was at camp) introduced me to sword-sparring. I'd seen it done, but never tried it before. He was rather surprised, as I didn't make any classic beginner's mistakes. He specifically mentioned two, but the only one I remember is "getting backed into corners." I went sideways and back and forth rather than just backing up. *shrugs* I sparred with one other person...and now I can't think of her name.

One other item of interest. A while back, Idaho-Don started doing some occasional "Om" chanting during Saturday morning practice. Basically, chant "Ommmmmmm", closing off to the "mmmm" without closing the back of the throat. It is extremely energizing and relaxing, all at the same time. With a large enough group, you get a continual hummmmmm, since people don't breathe at the exact same rate. The first time we tried it, Don mentioned that some Tibetan monks could get a harmonic going in the nasal cavities, so they would be chanting two (or more) pitches at once. The second time we tried it, I actually got one of those harmonics. It didn't last long, but it was there. How? Uh...the best description I can give is that I relaxed everything behind my eyes and let my throat hang open. Anyway, I thought it might be a one-time deal until this morning, when I tried it on my own. I actually had three notes going some of the time. According to the Wikipedia article, and other sources I've read, it's possible to get SIX notes going at once. Oh, and the Tibetan chant CD I picked up does have some of the overtonal chanting on it. It's pretty awesome to listen to.

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06 August 2006


Hmmm... THAT was a longer break than planned. However, there is an explanation. My laptop was running just fine when we got to Estes Park and checked into the hotel. When we got back, Windows would not run. It would start, then scream something about not finding some dll file, flash the blue screen of death, and attempt to reboot. Then the futile dance would start all over. So, either a file got corrupted randomly, or I caught some sort of virus off the hotel's wireless network. Either way, I did as much as I knew how to do. It's impossible to run a virus scan when Windows won't keep running long enough even to open the scanner. So it's going to Galaxy tomorrow. It looks like most of my files are intact, so I'm hoping they can rescue them if a hard-drive wipe is necessary. Especially the picture files.

So...highlights. No pure Montina flour to be found at either Wild Oats or Whole Food Markets. Wild Oats had a Montina blend, which I did get, but I really want the pure flour. So I will soon find a place to order it. Might even be cheaper that way. I did find a zafu (round meditation cushion; this one is filled with buckwheat hulls) and a set of dress-clothes. All my dress-clothes were polyester, and while I hadn't yet gotten rid of them, I am currently unable to wear them. The new ones are light blue silk with a mandarin collar. It's a pants outfit that almost looks like a dress. The "shirt" is a vest with very long tails that swirl around the pants. In winter, I'll probably put a long-sleeved shirt under it, but for summer it's perfect.

Camp was awesome. Amazing how people that I'd only seen for one week a year ago, and some that I barely met, can feel like family so quickly. Sunrise Ranch is a nice, relaxing place, too. Darren mentioned that there were plenty of other places that would be cheaper, but that everyone was rather fond of the ranch. Good food (mostly; when spelt isn't involved), and friendly people, and a welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. As always, camp was over far, far too quickly.

Afterwards, my mom and I went to Akron to visit some of my grandma's old friends. Mom had been there once already, to drop off some things she thought Grandma would have wanted them to have. One was a large Christmas set in white and gold, of Santa and a sleigh and (I think) a reindeer. It went to Virginia, who's always been like an aunt to me. She also got some Broncos memorabilia that we found. We also brought down a whole bunch of Grandma's hardcover books. I guess the original plan was to donate them to the library. That is still likely to happen but only after the "coffee girls" get done with them. The coffee girls are a group of people, mostly around Grandma's age, who always went to coffee together before they retired and didn't see retirement as a reason to stop.

Next day we went to Estes Park (where my laptop contracted some dire illness), stopping in Fort Collins for lunch. At camp I learned that Beau-Jo's pizza actually had a gluten-free crust available (Thank you, Aaron!), so for the first time since going to college at CSU, I had Beau-Jo's pizza. Their GF crust is made by another company (probably comes pre-prepared), and isn't the best, but the toppings are excellent. The crust is too thin. I was hoping for something more similar to Beau-Jo's wheat crusts. *shrugs* It was still wonderful, though.

In Estes, we wandered the shops a bit. Compared to my mom, I really didn't find too much. A few rocks at the rock shop. A book or two. A magnet set. My mom more or less forced herself out of the rock shop before she could buy out the store, and this was after filling the back of the trunk with a full Bose stereo system while I was at camp.

Then we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. I finally convinced my mom that, YES, there IS a road that goes into the park in a more-or-less southwest direction. We have never been down that road. We always go in through the Fall River entrance. Anyway, we stopped at a few scenic spots and I hiked to Alberta Falls (picked because it was relatively short: roughly two miles round trip). Very pretty. The nice ranger who told me where to turn also warned me about the 200 foot elevation change, and suggested that I stop at a different parking lot and ride the shuttle back if I was tired. I sort of blinked and told him I was used to 1000 foot changes, which startled him a bit, then he quickly changed mental gears. I was breathing a bit hard, but only because the elevation there is over 9000 feet. On the way down, I overheard an interesting conversation between two ten-year-old girls about burying pets and making memorials for them. Apparently one memorial kept getting stepped on, but "that won't happen now. It's covered in poison ivy."

Then we drove over Trailridge road and stopped at the visitor's center at the top. I found a few presents for my dad, and my mom found a Christmas present for me. Yeah, I know what it is, but it's against MY rules to get it before Christmas (much to my mom's disgust, oddly). I was going to hike up behind it, but when we got there it was 14:00 or later and I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. My body screamed "food" rather than "hike," and it would have been about an hour before I felt up to hiking. So we moved on, stopped a few more places, and stayed the night in Granby.

From there, it was homeward bound. The only question was, which way? I talked Mom into going through Flaming Gorge on the way back, as I didn't remember ever being there. It made for a longer drive, but it was well worth it. Highway 191 between Vernal, UT and the Wyoming interstate is beautiful. Also, fun to drive. At least, on dry roads and in daylight. On icy roads in the dark...not recommended. There's a sign that says something like "10 switchbacks in the next 9 miles". Eight of the switchbacks were labelled with mucho-decreased speed limits. The other two were continuations of previously labelled ones.

I was all for going on after we got back to the main interstate, but Mom was violently tired (odd combination, I know) and wouldn't even concede to going 40 more miles to Little America before stopping. So we stayed in Rock Springs. With two or three hours of daylight left. *sighs* On the bright side, I found a used $40 book for $8 at the Hastings there. It's a Smithsonian book about U.S. National Wildlife Refuges, and is worth $8 for the pictures alone. I'll eventually get around to reading the text, too. :^)

And now, I'm home. Lots of unpacking to do, as well as laundry, and rescuing drowned plants (my aunt was a bit overenthusiastic with the water on at least one of them). I can't get my laptop looked at until tomorrow, so I'm leaving it in its case. That way I won't get frustrated enough to do further damage. My sword came while I was gone, and is beautiful. Tonight I must find space to do the sword form with it. The park might be a good spot.

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