Green Lantern Is Back

For some reason, it seems to be popular with a certain group of people to blame Obama for…something. He didn’t pass a bill codifying Roe, despite of course most of these people being around for the Obamacare battles in the House and therefore should remember how strong the anti-abortion Blue Dogs were during that. But somehow Obama should have waved a magic wand across the House before moving onto the Senate to do the same magic trick on people like Joe sodding Lieberman. And that’s not even getting into the fact that there’s nothing that protects a codifying law more than Roe anyway, but again, it’s Obama’s fault. The ostensibly anti-imperialist leftists then go on to post a bunch of anti-Ukrainian slobber that makes you wonder why they don’t just carve a ‘Z’ on their cheek and be done with it. And then signal-boost Pizzagate accounts as a cherry on top.

Yes, it has been an angry few days, and I’ve been mostly trying to focus my anger on the people how did just tear up 50 years of settled law, but it turns out I have a lot of rage to go around. Yet it has also been a weekend of hope and joy? We went to the Cincinnati Pride Parade on Saturday, and watched thousands being able to enjoy their lives in a way that wouldn’t have been possible even 20 years ago. And everybody there is ready to keep fighting against turning the clock back (except while dancing to Running Up That Hill).

And finally for the week - two other pieces of good news! We finally, on the third year of trying, managed to harvest some blackcurrants ahead of the squirrels eating them all. I even made a Bakewell Tart with them! Plus, again, after three years, Blood On The Clocktower arrived. Even if we never actually play it, it is a great memento for reminding us of the time Tammy fooled an entire bunch of strangers for two hours and killed them all (…and in the game? — Ed.)

Now, back to staring at NDCG scores and cursing, sometimes at Twitter, sometimes at the screen…


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3D printing is witchcraft in general, but resin-based UV-curing printing? It slowly rises from a liquid to form the shape. It’s basically a replicator but instead of being able to produce food…it produces little models and eventually lots of additions to my Transformer toys (firstly: finally replacing this lost piece from decades ago). Or printing out a 40K Tyranid Epic army one weekend.

It really is quite amazing and not something I don’t think I could even dreamed existing, let alone having in the house when I was little. And so many children will just grow up thinking that’s just the way things are, which is terrifying waves stick at cloud and looks for his VHS tapes1

That’s basically the end of the good news for the week. COVID has finally caught up to us, blowing apart everybody’s plans and leaving us in the worst sort of limbo.

  1. And yes, I do feel a bit annoyed that I have to deal with people going “Stranger Things!” anytime Running Up That Hill is played in the future, but I’m trying to put those feelings aside. waves stick at cloud again ↩︎

And Alexander wept, for there were no more worlds left to conquer…

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Okay, perhaps a slight over-exaggeration, as this was an introduction to using the airbrush, but after creating my own molds, spending weeks A/B testing caramel recipes, and grinding my own chocolate from cacao beans, I’ve quite possibly come to the end of the line for completely new things to do with chocolate. Unless somebody wants to make polycarbonate kite and dart molds. Please, somebody make those molds.

I was quite apprehensive about the airbrushing, mainly because I’ve tried at least two times before and it was a complete failure. Thanks to a tax refund, I got the fancy airbrush and a recommended compressor that feels like you can also use it to power a nail gun…and suddenly it all just worked. I’d been building it up and up for a couple of months, to the extent I took a four-day weekend to give myself enough time. And then the spraying was done in about 2 minutes. It took longer to clean up.

The other thing I tried to do over the weekend was to look at cars. I’ve been thinking about retiring my long-suffering 12-year-old Honda Insight for a while now, and I’d like to go fully electric. For a variety of reasons, I’m not even going to consider a Tesla; instead, my focus has been on the Kia EV6 or the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Both of which are like gold dust at the moment, but I found a garage that had an EV6 and was eager for me to come down and check it out. So off I drove, where I got to look at a very shiny car…and they even opened the doors so I could look inside. But they weren’t willing to let me actually drive it. Or any other EV6 that comes in their doors without me agreeing terms to buy it first. Which seems odd. Oh, and also asking for $10,000 over Kia’s MSRP. Needless to say, I didn’t stay too long.

Having spent a lot of Thursday afternoon on EV forums, it seems to be a somewhat common occurrence…but how am I expected to purchase a car without having actually driven in it even once? It’s a lot of money for it to become an impulse purchase!

So no new car just yet…or likely any time soon, to be honest. Which means we are going to do the one thing I promised never to do; we are actually going to put my car through a car wash. For the first time in nine years (I’m not sure exactly why this happened, but eventually Not Washing It became a thing!). Terrible scenes. Just terrible.

Sandy Sandy Sandy

I’ve spent most of this week’s evenings reading all of Sandman Mystery Theatre, a Vertigo comic from the 90s that ran for 70 issues which I dismissed at the time as…I’m not really sure, some sort of cash-grab by DC trying to ride on the popularity of Gaiman’s Sandman? Anyway, I was an idiot, because it’s a fun, pulpy read where the oh-so-90s grisly murders are more than made up for by the Nick’n’Nora-inspired relationship antics of Wesley and Dian. I actually found myself quite upset when I got to #70 and there was nothing further to read.

(it had an interesting structure too; every storyline except for the last was 4 issues long, which I think really helped with the pacing and the idea of “well, I can read just one more story and oh, how did it get that late?")

Anyway, my thoughts on thirty-year-old comics aside, it’s been…a rather boring week full of grown-up stuff. Tidying the house some more, packing things away into boxes, absolutely rinsing the latest Kroger Diet Coke sale1, and managing to deal with one of the two postal issues I’m currently entangled in. Oh, and I went to the dentist too! How exciting. I have really neglected the “all the projects I want to get done in 2022” for the past two months…so I need to get back to those. Plus I now have three pieces of technical writing to get done, so things are piling up!

However, all that is on a slight hold this week, because I need to get things ready for next weekend’s project: airbrushing chocolates. It’s likely to be a disaster, but we’ll see if I can get something that looks presentable out of all the cocoa butter I’m going to be spraying everywhere…

  1. Yes, I have bought 144 cans in the past five days. What of it? ↩︎

Back Home, Now Pet Me

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Back from Durham. It’s still there! It’s a lot different, but also a lot still remains the same.

And Another Thing!

Well, we’ve definitely reached the point of The Story of… where I’m more irritated by it than enjoying it. I was expecting this somewhat - the move to BBC2 and bunging all the episodes out at once, plus COVID - well it was all going to harm it, but the omissions and the inclusions as we’ve got into 96/97 have driven me round the bend. Shed Seven, for crying out loud? Less than thirty seconds or so on Your Woman? All that time spent with Saffron?

I do realize that it’s basically who is willing to talk to them; I was quite annoyed at the omission of a band that had a 25th album anniversary this week1, but I understand that at least one member seems to be less willing to revisit that period2. Meanwhile, too many of the Britpop people they have on seem to have come straight out of This Morning With Richard Not Judy’s Angus Deayton’s Authorised History of Alternative Comedy. “Halcyon days” indeed. And maybe I can forgive some of that…but you can’t forgive the show talking about “now dance is popular!” and “wasn’t Scooby Snacks subversive!” when the programme literally had Mr. C on a few weeks ago. And he was funnier!

At least the Aqua segment was entertaining. 1998 next week. Which will almost certainly include this — which is a song that feels like it’s dropped out of the culture in the past ten years or so3:

And I hope they talk about the infamous 1999 episode when they get there in a couple of weeks…

Okay, in things that aren’t me complaining about a silly music documentary series…look, it was a quiet week. I have moved a little further along with Camouflage; I have a GAN that has been training for just over a week now which should be in a position to be used for downstream tasks in the near future. I also tinkered with an addition to the project this week which might end up becoming a much larger part…if I can just get the loss function to work…

Next week: A Slight Return To Durham!

  1. Watching this back, I realize it wasn’t Nicky Wire wearing the dress, it was Lauren… ↩︎

  2. Why is there still no Kenickie special edition reissues, eh? ↩︎

  3. Of course, I’ve been in America all that time. It’s probably still played a bit back home. ↩︎

Escape Room Tour!

If you couldn’t make it to our escape room, we put together a walkthrough:

We’re still working on cleaning up - it’s taking a little longer than initially expected because we’re doing it right - cleaning up the garage so we can fit the furniture into a more compact space1 as well as trying to clear some of our cardboard mountain that has built up during the past two years.

I guess the other big thing of the week was finally getting to see a new dermatologist after about a year’s wait (yes, even with insurance, you still get queues here in the US unless you’re obscenely rich). It was a very short visit, but the upshot is that he is going to try and get me on skyrizi, which, aside from the litany of side-effects, might be able to clear some of my psoriasis. If the insurance covers it. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, given that my previous dermatologist told me that most plans won’t even look at skyrizi until you’ve tried (and failed) with the older treatments. We shall see.

  1. I still dream of fitting an EV in some of that space. Especially since my current car seems to be returning to nature with the things growing on it… ↩︎

The Drop

Well, it’s not COVID, at least not by the many tests I’ve taken this week, but I’ve come down with something that has cast something of a shadow over the past seven days. I even took Friday off after realizing that I had no real idea what the code I wrote Thursday morning did by the afternoon. I am, at least, finally on the mend, but I am resentful of losing the weekend to it as well as the weeknights.

Which means the week has been a little uneventful, as I’ve been mainly blowing my nose for most of it. I did start planning for August, as Los Campesinos! are touring the US for the first time in three years. Naturally, I bought tickets within seconds of when they went on sale. We’ll be travelling to Cleveland, which will be something of a little adventure (and a four hour drive, because America is stupidly big at times). And I’ve started planning out some sweets to make once the Chocolate Room is back up and running. But otherwise, it’s been mostly in bed.

Next week, then: might actually do something! See you then!

Boop Cards & Blackjack

Because I am too lazy to tie things into a coherent narrative, I present: a list of thoughts about our recent trip to Las Vegas!

  • The room at The Cosmopolitan was good…but still ended up being a generic hotel room with a few extra additions. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I’m fixated on how hotel rooms and corridors all look so similar. The balcony was…well, I’m told it was a nice balcony. I simply could not go out there; I managed to put a foot outside on the final morning, but that was enough for me.
  • Having said that, when you are paying a premium for such a room, you do start to be a little more critical of things that you’d normally just let slide. Light switches that are coming off the plate, and a curtain rail just entirely missing. Nothing worth actually complaining about, but considering how the hotel markets itself as a haven of luxury, it did feel a little off.
  • I also fretted that I’d booked the wrong hotel entirely; I’m not exactly the type of person that goes to nightclubs, and I had to google to find out exactly what a dayclub even is (I mean, it’s not exactly rocket science, but there are differences! There’s pools involved!). But we did end up eating at a large selection of the restaurants in the hotel, it was relatively well-placed for everything we needed to get to, and it wasn’t actively horrible1…so even though I coveted the Aria’s patisserie, The Cosmopolitan worked out well.
  • There is no way the eggs at Eggslut are worth the queue.
  • Being my first real trip since the pandemic, I hadn’t realised just how self-conscious I’ve become with my psoriasis over the past couple of years. Long sleeve shirts for the entire trip, and despite having an outfit more akin to Victorian standards of swimming costumes, I couldn’t face showing off my legs at the hotel pool. So that’s something I need to deal with at some point…
  • There should be more soup dumplings available.
  • You might think that due to its proximity to Fremont Street and its subject matter, that the Mob Museum is just going to be an expensive bit of fluff. But actually it turns out to be a fairly large, comprehensive history of the building of Las Vegas as well as the Mob’s involvement in the city, and is definitely worth a visit!
  • The Neon Museum is a lot smaller — you’ll probably be done within thirty minutes, but looking at the bits of Vegas that have been tossed aside is interesting, and it is nice that the city is starting to looking after some of its heritage instead of just dynamiting everything in sight.
  • Who knew that a visit to a strip mall in the north of the city could trigger separate existential crises in both of us? Trader Joe’s had mini stroopwafels, though!
  • Also, don’t trust Total Wine’s online stock count.
  • The Wicked Spoon upcharging for a holiday that doesn’t really exist in the US (Easter Monday) was a little breathtaking.
  • Remember to check all the possible side effects of medication you’re taking! On a related note, the people at Number One Escape Room are lovely and handled our abrupt exit very well, giving us a voucher to come back another time (which we did on our last full day). The Pandora’s Box room at Trapped was rather good too, feeling more like an extended game in The Crystal Maze rather than a traditional escape room.
  • I think I wore real trousers consistently for the longest time since January 2020.
  • It was also my first time really using public transport in Las Vegas…and it was pretty decent? There’s a route that goes back and forth between the Strip and Fremont Strip which runs double-decker buses that are very similar to the ones that traverse the S5 route from Bicester to Oxford, so they felt quite familiar. The other routes use the oft-maligned-but-really-not-bad bendy buses. The city’s transit network is currently running a Saturday service during the weekday due to ‘labour shortages’, but honestly we had no trouble getting around using the system (except for one long trip on Wednesday, but that was a bus malfunction and could happen any time, really), and as the stops were so close to our hotel it was easy to hop on and off even on short trips to avoid the heat. It’d be nice to see a few more routes, e.g. to Area15, but I imagine that’s not really possible right now with their staffing issues.
  • The terrifying realization that my basement has a better bourbon selection than pretty much every bar on the Strip.
  • A word of warning: the french toast you see on this page for The Henry really undersells just how big the slices are. Each one is larger than a person’s head.
  • Having the mask mandate struck down while we were on holiday was a little stressful, although obviously nowhere near as much as the poor people who had everybody unmask on the planes in the air. Masking was pretty spotty in Vegas before the end of the mandate; probably around 10%, which fell to 5% or so towards the end of the week.
  • Be prepared for a lot of “Let’s Go, Brandon” if you venture to Fremont Street at night. But it was nice to see some of the old-style slot machines instead of the massive LCD panels you’ll find on the Strip these days.
  • I think the pandemic (and probably the last five/six years in politics) has made people forget how to behave in public. Our trip started with somebody cutting in front behind us, a time advantage of likely thirty seconds in the queue, and got incredibly hostile when people called him on it. Then there were the golfers drinking beer right on the access ramp in the hotel hurling abuse at people trying to get by, and people getting angry at being told to follow the rules. If I was going to make a generalization, they were all white men of a certain persuasion…
  • Finally, Omega Mart. This was amazing. We went twice, spending over six hours in total at the installation. You can just wander around the area, taking in the absurdity of things like “Doomed Expedition” chewing gum, ‘tattooed chicken, and infinity melons. And then discovering the other part of Omega Mart behind the counters, a multi-level setup taking in offices, a village, and a factory. Oh, and wormholes to an alternate dimension. No big deal. Everything is trippy, glitchy, and with a staggering amount of attention to detail. AND THEN! There’s an ARG layered on top that you can chose to take part in which sees you trying to unravel various mysteries and fighting the system from the inside. And there’s even more secrets - telephone networks and connections to other Meow Wolf installations in Sante Fe and Denver. The only downside to Omega Mart is that we left brimming with ideas for our second Escape Room. There’s a reason why I have one of these staring at me as I type.

Anyway, that was most of the Vegas trip, which was a great way to spend a birthday. Back home now - Helvetica has almost forgiven me for abandoning her for an entire week. Almost.

  1. I am available for any and all PR duties. “It’s not the worst experience you could have had!” “Nobody died this week!", “This time without bees!” ↩︎