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I’ll be having surgery on my wrist tomorrow, which means I won’t be typing large quantities for a little while — not sure how long. I’ve got a couple of posts scheduled already, but apart from that, I may be scarce around here until I’m able to use that hand again.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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In the time since we’ve moved into our new house, I’ve seen a little black-and-white cat around a few times. Being a very cat-friendly person, of course I immediately set out to make friends with her — which wasn’t too hard; she’s skittish in the “can’t sit still” sense, but didn’t seem to be very afraid of people. According to her collar, her name is Tiana.

So yesterday evening I go into the backyard and see her at the far end. She makes an immediate beeline for me, which I take as a gratifying sign that Operation Befriend Tiana has been a rousing success. I pet her for a while, go fetch the thing I intended to fetch, pet her some more, and go inside. This last is a bit of an enterprise, because Tiana seems exceedingly curious about what’s in my house, and I have to time my escape so she won’t follow me in (my husband is allergic). But okay, that’s fine.

That was at 6 o’clock.

A little bit later, I notice she’s still hanging out at my back door, peering in through the blinds. This is a little odd, so I shut the blinds . . . which doesn’t shut out the sound of her meowing plaintively to be let in.

When I leave for the dojo at 7:15, she’s still out there.

I come home, have dinner, go downstairs — and at 10:30 she’s still out there, now up on the roof, behaving as if she’s not sure how to get down. My sister and I go out with a stepladder and try to lift her down, in case she’s stuck; she’s having none of it, roving back and forth with the same nonstop restlessness she’s been showing this whole time. We finally get her to jump down to the fence and then, with much encouragement, to the ground; her body language strongly implied she was nervous about making that last jump. But okay, cat off roof, mission accomplished. I go inside (she tries to follow me again), blinds shut, and do my best to ignore the cat yowling outside my door and literally scratching at it to be let in.

At 1:30 in the morning, SHE’S STILL THERE.

I read once that cats meow at the same frequency as a crying baby, which is probably an adaptation to make us want to take care of them. After three hours of Tiana outside my door, I believe it, because each tragic sound makes me feel like a terrible person. She’s got a collar and is well-fed and well-groomed enough that I don’t think she’s a stray, but this isn’t like her previous behavior, which makes me wonder if she’s gotten lost or been abandoned or something. So finally — after much debate with myself — I let her in, scoop her up and close her into the bathroom, with everything she might trash safely removed and food, water, a towel to sleep on, and some makeshift kitty litter.

Now, in the light of day it turned out that there were phone numbers on her collar, engraved so small that I when I looked the previous night I didn’t even realize they were numbers. So I called them and discovered she belongs to our neighbors a few doors down, and to make a long story short (too late), she isn’t lost or abandoned; she’s just Tiana, the Neurotic Stalker Cat. Her owner told me she was a feral adoptee, and has on one previous occasion decided that a person is her NEW BEST FRIEND and tried to move in — so her behavior, while odd, is not unprecedented. By bringing her inside, I’ve probably just encouraged her. But I couldn’t listen to that for hours on end, wondering if something was wrong, and not at least try to make her more comfortable. In the future . . . well, the last person she latched onto apparently resorted to squirting her with a water bottle to make her stop begging. It remains to be seen whether I’ll do the same. I love cats and am delighted to make friends with them, but having a crying-baby imitator outside my door gets really hard on the nerves.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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A while back the artist Robin Scott, a friend of mine, released a project called The Urban Tarot.

Box cover for The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott

I want to talk about how awesome this deck is — and I especially want to address those of you for whom the “tarot” part isn’t much of an attraction, but the “urban” part might be. Let’s start by quoting from Robin’s introduction in the guidebook:

Too often we are told that magic and wisdom belong only to the forgotten forests, the places untouched by human hands, and to ages long lost to memory.

I reject this idea. I look around my world, and I see the beauty, the wonder, the magic in the metropolis, the power under the pavement.

“The metropolis” there isn’t generic. It’s New York City, where Robin lives — and that’s exactly what draws me to the Urban Tarot. I’ve been meaning to make a post about the way urban fantasy has the potential to inscribe the landscape around you with an additional layer of meaning: it’s something I tried to do in the Changeling game I ran, and it showed up in the Onyx Court books, too, which were inspired by that game. The urban fantasy novels I like often do this kind of thing, not just taking place in Generica City or the Hollywood version of San Francisco or wherever, but making use of place on a more detailed, meaningful level. It isn’t just an urban fantasy thing — it isn’t even a new thing; Keith Basso’s Wisdom Sits in Places talks about the link between Western Apache folklore and the landscape around their communities — but it works especially well there because the world the story describes is ours, or at least closely adjacent enough to ours that we can feel the resonance.

The Urban Tarot does this beautifully. It ties the cards in with the landscape and the people and events of New York City — the public library, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge during Hurricane Sandy — and it pushes back against the idea that cities aren’t magic, that the kind of meaning we read into the world around us back when that world was rural can’t be retained in the modern day. It rethinks the old archetypes of the tarot into a context you and I can recognize: the Empress is feeding a baby in a high chair, the Eight of Wands shows a cyclist delivering a pizza, the Prince of Swords is a hacker. Even if you don’t have any interest in the tarot as such, you could do worse than to feed your urban fantasy brain with these cards and their associated writeups.

Card image of The Princess of Swords, by Robin Scott

And the artwork is, in my opinion, gorgeous. Each card is built out of a kind of textural collage, abstracting the image without losing its recognizable form. I have the Princess of Swords (aka The Activist) on my wall. I liked the art enough that when I backed the Kickstarter, I chose to go for the level where I could model for one of the cards — no, I’m not telling you which; you’ll have to find out for yourself. 😉 Robin and I struck a deal wherein I wrote a piece of flash fiction for the guidebook, riffing off a location in the city she wasn’t able to work into the deck; that’s how much I wanted to support this project.

You can buy the Urban Tarot itself, or prints of any of the cards. I strongly encourage you all to at least go take a look, and appreciate what Robin has put together.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Mary Robinette Kowal recently had nasal surgery to correct a medical problem. Being who she is (a writer, and therefore professionally interested in just about everything under the sun), she’s been posting pictures of her recovery.

She also posted this.

Here’s the thing. Remember when I fell down the stairs? (It was just three days ago; surely you haven’t forgotten.) Afterward, several friends of ours made similar jokes, about my husband pushing me down the stairs.

Why is it that, any time we hear about or see a woman injured, our minds go immediately to domestic abuse?

And why is it funny?

As Mary says, part (maybe all) of the humor comes from the absurdity of the idea: my husband would never push me down the stairs; her husband would never hit her. Anybody who knows us knows this. But at the same time . . . is it really that absurd? How many instances are there of women being abused by their husbands, when all the friends and neighbors would never dream of him doing such a thing?

It isn’t funny, because it isn’t absurd. Not nearly as much as it should be. It’s reality for far too many women. And making jokes about it — that normalizes the idea. Used to be that you got cartoons about drunk driving, the bartender pouring his customer into his car when he’s had a few too many and waving him off homeward with a cheery grin. Because that was normal. You don’t see those cartoons anymore, do you? We don’t think it’s normal to drive when you’re sauced, and we don’t think it’s funny.

We need the same to be true of domestic abuse.

By all means, joke about me falling down the stairs. Remind me that I can’t fly. Say that however much I don’t want to carry boxes, I should stop at hurling them to the bottom, and not hurl myself with them. That’s fine by me; humor is a good way to deal with a really annoying and painful situation.

But don’t joke about my husband pushing me, or Mary’s husband hitting her.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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So as many of you know, my husband had ankle surgery recently. He’s on crutches, putting no weight on the affected foot . . . for 8-10 weeks.

That’s a long time.

And while I can’t rightly compare my own difficulties to his, it’s going to be a long time for both of us. All of a sudden, I’m carrying most of the household on my own shoulders, because he can’t. Many tasks that I’m used to sharing with him (laundry, taking out the trash, etc) are now mine alone. Things that didn’t use to be tasks suddenly are: I have to be available when he goes to bed, because while it’s possible for him to drag his crutches and the pillow we’re using for his leg up the stairs as he slides up them — they’re too narrow for him to crutch up — it’s a pain in the neck, and much easier if I carry those for him. Some tasks that I would normally let slide for a little while now have to be kept 100% up-to-date; the ant infestation plaguing this entire city isn’t related to his surgery, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have to wash the dishes right away or risk finding a conga line of ants making their way across our kitchen to whatever I left out, and I have to keep the living room constantly tidy or he won’t be able to cross it safely on crutches.

But. My friends, I had a stroke of genius, and it already promises to do wonders for my sanity.

We’ve been making extensive use of stools and folding chairs in various places so he can kneel on them(1) while he showers or washes his hands or whatever. I found myself wondering whether it would help to put one of those in the kitchen, too — and then I thought, no. What we want in the kitchen is one of these.

It arrived this afternoon. Today, for the first time since his surgery, my husband scrubbed some dishes. He loaded the dishwasher and emptied it, too; he put dinner into the oven and took it out again. He can’t do everything; kneeling for too long is uncomfortable, and he has to be careful that it doesn’t roll out from under him and drop him into an unexpected split. But he can function. He can probably manage to bake some brownies if he wants to — and if you know my husband, you know how much that means to him.

And me? I was giddy with delight. The sheer fact of knowing that I don’t have to do everything kitchen-related is a relief all out of proportion to its actual size. Sure, I’m still facing another two months of having to carry his plate to him and then carry it back when he’s done, because you can’t really do that on crutches and the stool doesn’t transition well to carpet. But he can make his own sandwich for lunch without having to balance on one foot while he does it, even if I’m the one who carries it to the couch. He can wash dishes, which is a task that normally falls about 70-80% in his bailiwick instead of mine. He can prepare simple dinners. All of these are things I expected to have to do myself for weeks to come and now . . . now I know that he can help.

I’m well aware that the situation I have with him is business as usual for a lot of people. If you’re a single mother with a toddler, you’ve got to carry every bit as much weight, without the compensation of a charge who continually thanks you and can at least accomplish tasks that don’t require standing. And they don’t sell products on Amazon that will magically turn your toddler into more of a functioning adult. But if you ever find yourself dealing with a similar situation, remember the merits of a simple, flat-topped, caster-mounted stool. It can work wonders.

(1) Some of you will now be thinking of those kneeling scooters you’ve been seeing around lately. We rented one, but they don’t corner well at all, and our place is too small for him to easily navigate indoors on that thing. It’s useful only for when he leaves the house; the rest of the time, it’s crutches, which are far more maneuverable.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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(Except for the part where my vision is terrible. And I’m not a dog.)

Some years ago, a friend of ours with a degenerative eye condition told us about the methods used to sort German Shepherd puppies for possible training. I don’t know whether this is how all facilities do it, but at that particular place, they would put a puppy in a room with various blanket and toys and so forth, and then leave them alone there for a while. Some dogs basically curl up in a corner and cry, and those will have a lovely future as someone’s pet. Some tear everything apart and pee all over it, and those are candidates to become police dogs. The potential seeing-eye dogs are the ones who investigate everything in the room, then sit down in a place where they can watch the door and wait.

My husband had ankle surgery today — I swear this is not a non sequitur — and it occurred to me that I am very much a much Dog Type Number Three. In the pre-op room, I wandered about reading every label on every box and drawer, peering at monitors, and generally investigating everything I could get at without touching stuff. When it came time for them to administer the nerve block, one of the nurses said that would be a good time for me to head out to the waiting room; I asked whether it would be a problem for me to stay and watch. The anesthesiologist said that would fine, so I sat in a chair and peered around him at the ultrasound screen while he stuck a needle in my husband’s leg. He even narrated what he was doing at one point, for my benefit!

. . . yeah, I’m a writer. If I can watch a thing, I probably will. Because who knows what I’ll need to know someday?

(In other news, my husband is home and doing fine, though that will probably change a bit when the nerve block wears off and he starts actually needing the happy pills they have prescribed for him.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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As those of you who have met me know, I am a small-boned woman, especially in my hands and wrists.

Well, I just spent a month with my left arm in a cast — not a broken bone, just tendonitis in my wrist, which the doctor hoped would go away with an injection and immobilization. (Fingers crossed that it works.) Today the cast came off, and . . . oof. My god, atrophy sets in fast.

I’m right-handed, so my left forearm was always going to be a bit smaller. But now? It’s nearly a full inch smaller. The pad at the base of my thumb is shriveled. My wrist proper hasn’t shrunk much, but that’s only because there really isn’t a lot of muscle in the wrist, just tendons and ligaments. The head of the ulna is pointy like a pointy thing, though.

At least my skin is in good shape. The cast was a special new kind, a framework of heat-molded plastic over a type of fabric that breathes well and wicks moisture away from the skin. Unlike a normal cast, you’re allowed to get this one wet. So at least I’m not shedding like a snake, and the cast doesn’t smell manky like they usually do.

Anyway, now begins the PT. Because I’d like to have something resembling grip strength again.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Bad customer service is so common, I think it’s worth talking about the good stuff when it happens.

I lost the safety key for my Lifepsan treadmill, without which it will not function. Went to the website; had difficulty figuring out which version I needed, but eventually ordered one. It came. It was not the right version. So I looked on their site and found out that in order to return anything, you’ve got to email then and ask for a label to be sent — which makes sense when what you’re returning is an entire 100+ lb treadmill, but not so much for a little plastic key. I email, and in the meanwhile make plans to call them later that day and talk to a customer service rep to figure out which key I need, because it is seriously not clear from their website.

Before I can do that, however, I get a reply to my email. After a few messages back and forth, I learn that I do not need to send back the old key; they are shipping me a new (correct) one right away, at no charge.

So yay. That made an annoying situation much less annoying. They could still use to improve the process of figuring out which one you need . . . but in the meanwhile, my life has gotten much easier. Good on them.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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I came home from my trip with a broken toe and then promptly went down with a cold, so things have not been very exciting around here. Also I have page proofs to deal with. Page proofing while one’s head is filled with glue is fun times, lemme tell ya.

I have this vague ambition to post about all the ports of call on my trip, maybe with pictures. We’ll see if it happens. There’s no way on god’s green earth I’m going to get all my pictures edited in time for that to happen (I averaged 308 per day of sightseeing, which after an initial cull drops to a mere 191. Of which more will get deleted, I’m sure. But still); on the other hand, I might be able to pick out a couple of representative pics to clean up and post. None of that is happening while my head remains filled with glue, though. I mostly just want to nap. And stare vacantly at the TV. It’s very nearly all I’m good for right now.

Exciting news is en route, though. The sort of exciting news where I don’t quite know what it’ll be when I announce it, because right now multiple possibilities are up in the air. It makes my life complicated, but it’s a good kind of complication to have.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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According to records, on February 13th of 2014, I started physical therapy.

It felt a little ridiculous: I had a sprained toe, which is not exactly a major injury. But hey, if you can’t really bend it for months on end . . . so I went to PT, and it got better.

Then, in April, just as that was drawing to a close, I found out I needed ankle surgery. Since I wasn’t going to do that until after the karate seminar in Okinawa, my orthopedist advised that I go to PT beforehand to stabilize the joint as much as I could. So I did that for three months, and then I went to Okinawa, had surgery, got out of the boot — and went back to PT.

And it dragged on. And on. And on.

But as of today, I am free — ish. My remaining issue is mobility, rather than strength, and in some ways the strength work we’ve been doing at PT has been hampering improvement in mobility, because of the way it puts stress on the muscles. The biggest things that help now are heat and massage, and I don’t need to go to PT for a couple of hours every week to get those. So my therapist told me to cancel my remaining appointments, and to check back in with them in a few weeks. For the first time in just shy of an entire year . . . I do not need physical therapy.

It’s about goddamned time.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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I am a solar-powered person, and as such, winter is often a difficult time for me. Not just the short days, but the dreariness: grey skies and — at least theoretically, since I’ve come to live in the Bay Area — frequent rain. It makes me grumpy, and I long for sunny weather.

Of course, this hasn’t been so true of late. Not just that we’re in a drought, and saw almost no rain last winter, but my response to it. A month or two ago my mother asked whether we were still having “beautiful weather” out here. I said that at this point, my notion of “beautiful weather” is a nice steady downpour. Rain is no longer a cause for complaint; I feel like I ought to be grateful for what we get, and (so far, anyway) I am.

We’ve just been through a spate where it feels like the dry spells are things that interrupt the rain, rather than the rainy spells interrupting the dryness. It is, in a word, a godsend, and I hope it continues — though as my husband pointed out, the real question is how much snowfall the Sierra Nevadas are getting. What falls on the Bay Area as a liquid right now is nice, but what falls on the mountains as a solid is what we’ll be using all next summer. I’ve glanced at some sites trying to answer that question, but they’re all geared toward skiers, and I care less about how many lifts are running than about where we stand vis-a-vis the averages for this time of year. I feel like this much rain here must translate to some amount of snow inland, but I don’t really know the weather patterns of the region well enough to be sure.

There’s a storm coming in soon, though, and apparently we’re at risk of flooding because the ground is already saturated. This actually sounds like a good thing to me. (Much better than the kinds of floods Dallas is prone to, where everything runs off because the ground is so dry and hard, and the storm so brief and fierce, that nothing has time to sink in.) It’s a price to pay, of course, but if I have to choose between saturated ground and the winter we had last year, I choose the rain, every time.

Even if the weather does get me down sometimes.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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Our washing machine has been on the fritz for a while, and tonight it gave up the ghost — because of course we forgot to turn in a maintenance request before leaving for World Fantasy.

And, of course, it gave up the ghost when it was very full of water and clothes.

So we just spent a chunk of time taking items out, wringing them, and hanging them off every available bar and hook in every single bathroom. This? Turns out to be hard work. Like, seriously hard. I am reminded of the descriptions I’ve seen in history books and historical fiction, where they talk about the laundresses being beefy-armed women. Dude, they would have to be. This was one pretty small load, and all I had to do was wring it, not even shove it around a tub with a stick or anything. It makes you understand why we invented devices like the mangle.

Now I’m going to flop around like a very tired thing. (And I still have to do my PT. Argh.)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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My husband and I reached a point a while ago where we ought to start thinking about doing something more useful with our savings than letting them sit in a savings account. After much procrastination, we finally went to see an investment advisor to talk about our options.

During that meeting, one of the things he asked us was when we expected to retire. I forget what my husband said; my reply was basically that so long as I am healthy enough to write, and continuing to earn money by doing so, I see no reason to stop.

What I did not say to him: I don’t think I believe in retirement anymore.

I have a dreadful suspicion that fifty years from now, “retirement” is going to be seen as a quaint twentieth-century concept, an unusual social construct that existed for a little while and then went away again. There will be no retirement; there will only be dying or reaching a point where you are no longer able to work. If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough money to more or less support yourself when that latter point comes. If you aren’t . . . and a lot of people won’t be. I have far too many friends with no savings and too much debt — college- and even grad-school-educated friends who can’t find jobs worthy of their qualifications, who work at what they can get to make ends meet but god help them if one thing goes wrong. There’s no “retirement” when you can barely afford a nest, let alone put together a nest egg.

I’d like to be wrong. I’d like to see this country, and a lot of others around the world, reverse the current trend toward wealth stratification that leaves 1% with obscene amounts of money and 99% with a life plan straight out of the nineteenth century. I don’t really plan to retire, but I’d like it to be a thing people can still do when I get to that age.

In the meanwhile, I will save money, invest it wisely, and count my lucky stars that I’m in a position to try.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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The 20th anniversary HD remake of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers came out last week.

This is one of the few video game series I’ve ever really fallen in love with. It had drama! Character development! Random trivia about real-world history! My sister introduced me to it, and sat with me during my first playthrough, offering advice and possibly taking the controls from me when I couldn’t get past that one mummy in the mound. So, naturally, when I heard the HD remake was coming out, I a) bought her a copy as a gift and b) invited her over for a slumber party/playthrough evening.

First things first: the voices are different. Apparently they lost the original recordings in the intervening twenty years, and the result they got from stripping the audio out of the game files was not good enough. And I’m guessing they could no longer afford the services of Tim Curry and Mark Hamill. I was very apprehensive about this, because Tim Curry’s terrible Nawlins accent is such a memorable part of the game; what would it be like without him?

The answer is, much the same. They did an excellent job of casting voice actors who could match the sound of their predecessors. There were a few lines where I remembered the original intonation enough to cock my head at the difference, but the rest of the time, I forgot I was listening to a new voice. I’m sure that if I did a side-by-side comparison of the two, I would find places where the HD version is lacking, but it passes muster on its own — which is what really matters.

Things that are distinctly improved: the graphics! (Duh.) Holy crap, you can tell what things are. There are books in cases and bottles on shelves, rather than indistinct blobs on horizontal lines. Gram’s house has wallpaper! Rugs have patterns! It’s not the highest-quality graphics and animation — in particular, there’s the creepy thing where people’s mouths seem to be moving independently of their faces when they talk — but it’s a massive improvement over the old look. They’ve also changed up the gameplay a bit: the mime is still a pain in the ass, but getting past that one mummy just involves grasping the general principle of “you need to dodge,” rather than having to move to exactly the right spot, wait exactly the right amount of time, move again, wait again, and then finally break for the door. And the #@$@!!! beignet guy? IS GONE. Replaced by a much less Rube Goldberg-y solution to “how do I get into Mosely’s office?” (And a really creepy moment, too, which I don’t remember from the original.) There are a couple of new puzzles to balance out the simplification of the old ones: a lever puzzle in Magentia Moonbeam’s house that isn’t nearly as difficult as it might have been, a minor unlocking thing in the Gedde crypt.

Some of the changes are amusing. I opened the window in Schloss Ritter and was perplexed to see that the pile of snow had vanished, replaced by a puddle on the windowsill — until my sister pointed out that it’s late June and really, why was there ever snow there in the first place? Gerde no longer looks like she ought to be serving beer at Oktoberfest. Gabriel says “fuck” a few times, and I’m pretty damned sure that’s new. Other things I’m less sure of; weren’t you able to go to your grandmother’s house on Day One before? And you find the sketchbook there? I’m pretty sure the priest’s collar used to be in the vestry; possibly that got moved because the placement of hotspots would have made the door we think was the vestry too difficult to click on. And I wonder how much of the dialogue was changed, apart from Gabriel swearing. They’ve definitely altered the pronunciation of several of the voodoo-related terms (presumably to make them more accurate), and I think they may have added in some more context about things like the racial politics of Malia’s family being so influential in New Orleans.

Mostly it’s the same, though, with better graphics and a score that no longer sounds quite so MIDI. I’ll probably look at the original version again before I decide, but it’s entirely possible that this will become my preferred version to play. It’s nice to have the game look less primitive, and I will put up with a lot just to avoid that mummy and the stupid beignet guy. :-P

The real question is this: what now? Apparently Sierra was revived recently; they have a shiny website and everything, complete with what looks like a teaser for a new King’s Quest game. Will there be remakes of The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned? Redoing the former would be interesting, seeing as how they’d probably have to just scrap the FMV entirely and redo the entire thing as standard point-and-click, but you could probably rebuild the latter quite easily, with some off-the-shelf 3D engine that would blow the original one out of the water.

Or — dare I dream — might we finally get a fourth game?

I’m trying not to get my hopes up. But if this remake sells well . . . who knows? :-)

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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I have bought a new dress for the World Fantasy banquet. I am sitting here trying to remember the last time I bought a dress that wasn’t a historical costume I paid somebody to sew for me.

I am failing.

As long as I’m on a roll of doing things I haven’t done in hmmmm let’s be conservative and say ten years?, I think I should also get new black heels. And this is where I turn to you, O internets, because I don’t like high heels (but I recognize their uses), and if there is any maker of heels who makes some I would actually like, I want to know about them.

My criteria are as follows. Each one should be footnoted with the caveat that I know I may not be able to get what I want, or at least may not be able to get all these things in one shoe. But I might as well try.

  1. Not too high of a heel. You may recall I had ankle surgery less than three months ago. My ideal would be maybe 1-1.5″; anything above 2″ is Right Out at present. And in general I prefer lower heels, because . . .
  2. Padding beneath the ball of the foot. I can and do use inserts to help with this, but it annoys me that we have an industry built around providing something I think the shoe ought to provide in the first place. I end up with a lot of foot pain if too much of my weight is on the ball of my foot for too long; it’s like my body is saying “we stopped doing this shit when you quit ballet at the age of eighteen, and aren’t going to put up with it anymore.”
  3. Arch support. Does this even exist in high-heeled shoes? If so, tell me, because my god do I need it. I have stupidly high arches, and wearing shoes that don’t support them gets painful quite fast.
  4. Allowance for a high instep. A lot of those strappy shoes put straps right across the top of my arches, which, as mentioned before, are quite high. Result: I feel like my foot’s being cut in half by my shoe. This one’s more of a stylistic thing than a characteristic I’m likely to find in a specific shoe manufacturer, but as long as I’m describing what I want, I ought to include everything.

Is there anybody who consistently makes shoes that match this description? Or even parts of this description? I could go to the store and try on shoes randomly until I find something that works, but I’d like to be more targeted in my shopping if possible. Seven years of dancing on pointe left me with an absolute lack of tolerance for badly-made or ill-fitting shoes, and a desire to avoid spending hours trying things on if at all possible.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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EDIT: Sadly, it turns out the timeline was even shorter than I thought. Thanks to everyone who offered help.

Some of you have seen this already, but I’m trying to cast my net as widely as possible, and that means canvassing all my available outlets.

A friend of mine is looking for a place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and if this is going to happen, it needs to happen fast. Her main requirements are that rent be less than $1200 a month, and that the place allows cats. It doesn’t have to be close to public transit (she has a car), and it doesn’t have to be centrally located — she’s even looked as far afield as Santa Cruz. She’s willing to share with a roommate, though an individual living situation would be preferable. Craigslist etc have already been tried; this is a hunt for options that aren’t on the usual radar. So if you happen to know of any leads, please do let me know ASAP: like I said, this has to happen fast if it’s going to happen at all. (I don’t have an actual deadline, but I’d guess that if there isn’t at least a strong lead by Friday, it’ll be a moot point.)

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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After the Napa quake a little while ago, I found myself curious. I’ve known for a while that the Hayward Fault in the East Bay stands a decent chance of tearing loose in a big way. If I’m still here when that happens, how bad will it be? What will it feel like for me, on the other side of the Bay? How will that compare to what I felt during the Napa quake? (How frightened am I likely to be?)

If reading about destruction from earthquakes is likely to upset you, don’t go behind the cut.

Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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The problem with being in physical therapy is that even when I’ve declared a Day Off From Everything, I still have to do that.

I mean, I could skip it. But since my happiness is better served by recovering as quickly and thoroughly as possible, I’m still going to put myself through my paces. Other than that, however, I intend to spend today having lunch with a friend and reading on the couch and maybe going out to celebrate a bit when my husband gets home from work. Also on the celebratory list: last night I slept without a brace on my ankle, for the first time since the surgery. It was an experiment, to see if it would complain at me when I turned over or whacked it against my other leg — and it did, a little, but not enough to counterbalance the sheer joy of being able to fully relax. I have hopes this will help with the problem where the tendons and muscles that kept cramping while I was in the boot are actually giving me more pain than the bit that got surgeryified.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll work on “The Unquiet Grave” tonight. Because it isn’t work if I decide to do it of my own free will, right? :-P

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Fizzgig)

As of a few hours ago, I am officially Free of the Boot.

The boot is dead; long live th — wait, no, it can die in a fire.

I’ve graduated to a mere brace: a complex arrangement of laces and straps and velcro designed to make sure I don’t re-injure myself while I get my strength and mobility back. I suspect, though I can’t be sure, that I’m already off to a better start than I was last time, owing to all the PT I did beforehand. Stepping on my unbooted left foot is still mildly scary (and my heel hurts like crazy, it’s so tight), but it doesn’t feel as pathetically weak as I think the right one did post-boot.

Either way, I’m not going to waste any time. My first PT appointment is tomorrow morning! At this point I could probably do the relevant exercises in my sleep, but it’s good to have someone helping me pace myself, plus they have nice things like the electical stimulation machine that will speed my recovery along.

In the meanwhile, I’ll be over here curling my toes and rubbing my heel and generally rejoicing in the fact that I am free, free, FREE.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

swan_tower: (Default)

I’ve noticed two quakes since I moved to California in 2008. One of them was small and brief: it felt like when you’re on the highway and a larger vehicle goes by quickly, so that the wind of its passing makes your car sway momentarily to the side.

The other was last night.

I was trying to fall asleep when it hit. Took me a second or two to figure out that yes, this really was an earthquake. Then it kept going, while my husband woke up and we stared at one another, trying to figure out if we ought to run for a doorway or something. It was strong enough to worry me, not strong enough to be really scary: 6.1, with an epicenter near Napa, maybe fifty-five miles from here. For the people there, it was worse, with injuries and property damage.

I looked up the epicenter and magnitude immediately, because it was better to know than to lie awake wondering. Of course, knowing brings its own perils. That’s a 6.1 at X distance: okay. What would it feel like if it were a 6.1 in, say, Hayward, just across the Bay? Or on the San Andreas Fault, right here on the Peninsula? Actually, that one sounds scarier than it actually is; the San Andreas is more of a problem for SoCal than it is in the Bay. The Hayward Fault is the one we need to be afraid of. What if it were 7.1? The scale is logarithmic; 7.1 is not one-sixth bigger than 6.1. It’s ten times bigger. What if it were 8.1?

Not good thoughts, when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Nothing is damaged here, though Napa wasn’t as lucky. I find myself hoping that the suffering and loss of people there has a silver lining, helping motivate the local and state governments to move forward on some earthquake preparedness measures. We’re already refitting the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct, though last time I checked that isn’t due to be finished until 2016; since the aqueduct supplies most of the Bay Area’s drinking water and (pre-refit) could be thoroughly trashed by a big one on the Hayward Fault, that’s a pretty high priority. But there are other things we could be doing, and should. Sure, it’ll cost money. But we’ll lose even more when the East Bay falls down.

In the meanwhile, at least I know what a “proper” earthquake feels like. It’s good to know that, in a way: now I have facts, instead of just imagination.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

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