luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
Got my long and short articles "done," for some value of "done." I still have to add some stuff to the long article, but I wanted to rush the payment through because I have spent most of this month being flat broke, if not overdrawn, and I do NOT want the condo to go into foreclosure proceedings.

I had to wait until tonight to renew a couple of memberships in things important to me, such as the SCA and local science writers' group.

I had a WONDERFUL time at the SCA event this weekend, but I'm also running on severe lack of sleep, so I will have to go on about it at a future date -- less than two weeks from now, I hope.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
So, February. Poor little short month, robbed of its extra days (in most years) by those greedy Roman emperors.

In general, life is still good, except for the "lack of steady income" thing. Last week (two Mondays ago) I actually had a phone interview for an editing job at a software company in Beltsville. One of the other dancers in the Lithuanian dance group works there and said I should use her name. I *thought* it went well, but then late Friday afternoon I got one of those emails that said "thanks but no thanks, we went in a different direction." Wanna bet that that "direction" involves someone 20 years younger than yours truly?

What else happened this month? The boy toy and I checked out downtown Ellicott City to see how it is recovering from last year's disastrous flood, and we also went to Mount Vernon on Feb. 22, when admission was free. I even saw General Washington posing with kids and families. He looked pretty good for a 285-year-old. :-D :-D

Last week the boy toy and I finally got to see Rogue One. Probably we were among the last Americans to see it on the silver screen. But, hey, money had been tight for a while. And it will be again. It's amazing how fast I can blow through a big freelance paycheck -- when that involves catching up on the mortgage, utilities, and other bills.

Perhaps most wonderfully, I went to *two* SCA events: Bright Hills Baronial Birthday and Storvik Performers' Revel. I did some things that I haven't done for a while: at the former I shot three arrows (with borrowed equipment) and at the latter I played my bowed psaltery for a bit. Both events featured scrumptious feasts. I feel "back in the SCA" again, even though I obviously never left.

Speaking of the SCA, today I bought a twin bed -- for camping use -- at IKEA. I just happened to notice that today was the last day of a bed sale, and the cheapest, simplest wood bed frame was 15 percent off. Even with the slats, it's still cheaper than most of the heavyweight-capacity cots I've seen (yes, I am heavy). And it will fit inside Draco (the new-to-me car) if I put the back seat down and lay the side rails on the diagonal. FINALLY I will be up off the ground at long camping events!!!
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Yeah, I know, long time no post.

I had a long feature article to write, I felt all seized up from anxiety over the presidential election, so I went WAY over deadline, which meant that I got paid a lot less for my work... and my editor was pissed off... and then I got anxious over money....

And then I went through all the ups and downs of the near-end of the seemingly endless election cycle, and I went into my work as an election judge thinking that of *course* Hillary Clinton was going to squeak through. But the news looked bad as soon as I got home and I just couldn't fall asleep for the longest time, even though I'd been awake since 4:45 a.m., until I took cold medication (and I am not sick) to try to still my racing mind.

I had posted this on FB before going to bed:

Report from today: I awoke at 4:45 a.m. to get to work at a precinct in College Park. (I voted on Oct. 31.) I served as a provisional ballot judge. We were busiest, surprisingly, between 7 and 9 a.m., with an early crowd of people trying to get voting accomplished before the workday. Other than that, a steady stream but no big evening rush. Perhaps all those folks had voted early too (one of the local early-voting sites was elsewhere in College Park).

Before today, I had worried that idiots were going to harass the incredibly diverse voters of this precinct, but the only observer we had was from the Organization of American States. He was the former Peruvian ambassador to the U.S., and he bore an uncanny resemblance to Tim Kaine.
This precinct gave three times as many votes to Clinton-Kaine as to the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and Lord Voldemort. We did our part.

Even though CNN just called California for Secretary Clinton, I am feeling lots of loathing and disgust right now. Can you say "reverse Bradley effect"? I can't even imagine the suckage of another humongous recession. I am going to bed after I finish this one beer, but this may be the last news I watch for a long, long time.


Since the news, I have been in a dark place.

Facebook again, Wednesday afternoon:

(Adapted from a couple of comments I made on other pages.)

I admire everyone who is saying, "Yeah, folks, let's go out and fight for justice! Never give up!" However, some of us are in a very dark place emotionally and are not ready to do that yet. Some of us may never be ready for that, ever. I know that my grief and disgust are still too deep.

Since I have earned degrees in journalism, physics, and astronomy, I am feeling some professional as well as personal repudiation. There's nothing like living in a nation where a large chunk of the population believes that every journalist sucks and repudiates the science that both detected the global warming problem and could give us the tools to fix it.

The polls lulled us because so many people in this country are willing to lie about their own bigotry. I have lost a lot of my faith in the arc of the universe and the supposedly intrinsic goodness of humanity.


And finally in the evening:

On top of everything else ... I started heading out to the "gathering in community for worship, reflection and fellowship" at my church, and the steering on my 20-year-old car started acting really squirrelly. The car was pulling to the left, which grew noticeable at about 30 mph, and when I tried to correct it, the steering system felt all loose or something. I pulled into a parking lot and checked the tires -- no flats. Managed to drive home, but I have to get it looked at tomorrow. It could be something as simple as power steering fluid or as messed up as a bent tie rod or a busted axle. Just another episode in the ongoing saga of "The Ruination of Patty D[redacted]."

Still don't know what is wrong with my car. Still don't know whether I will ever work again. I *do* know that without an Affordable Care Act subsidy, my health insurance will cost $532 per month for my high-deductible plan. Right now I pay $70 per month. My mortgage is only about $594 per month.

I am still sad. I am angry. I am on a hair trigger.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
For some reason, today I want to type "JL" instead of "LJ." I guess it's just that effed up. Well, once again, I'm not even going to try to cross-post this to LJ.

It's frustrating that I randomly/occasionally get glimpses of my LJ friends-list, but I can't stay connected to the site long enough to comment on anybody's post.

Getting a bit anxious about this feature article I'm working on, getting way anxious about finances too. I know, I know, I should be biting off little bitties of this project and focus on doing one step at a time until the project is done. But then I toss and turn at night and wonder about the big picture. How much longer will I be able to live like this, will I have to rent out my spare bedroom somehow, who would want to pay to live in this filthy condo anyway, how will I survive if my car dies, yadda yadda yadda.

I can hardly believe that I am supposed to be leaving for Pennsic a week from tomorrow. Hell, it still seems like a million years in the future. I am not sewing any new garb for Pennsic. That dress I was working on at Marilyn's house a couple of Sundays ago will be for the 30-Year event.

I just noticed today that I'm not listed as cooking on ANY of the nights on the Pennsic meal plan. Our meal plan is pretty simple -- every night, two or three people take their turn buying food and feeding everybody else in the camp dinner (except for the one family that keeps strictly kosher). I'm listed in the tent database -- what happened to the food? Oy.
luscious_purple: "avoid heralds" (avoid heralds)
This was the weekend of Marching Through Time (MTT), a two-day gathering of all kinds of military reenactors, from Romans to the Marines in Vietnam. It's at a county-owned site a few miles from my residence, and Three Left Feet participates every year.

Thing was, yesterday's weather sucked rotten eggs. Chill, rain, wind. We didn't have the tornadoes of North Carolina and southern Virginia, thank goodness, but there was dampness and mud everywhere. Some of the reenactment groups bailed, and hardly any "members of the public" or "civilians" or whatever you want to call them showed up. We played two sets, but ended the second one early when it became obvious that no one was paying attention to the dancing.

That was just as well, because I had to drive up to Owings Mills, northwest of Baltimore, for a Southwind Camp party. These are the people with whom I camp at Pennsic. Our friend Cameron had come from Oregon for a long-weekend visit around here, especially so that we could meet her new significant other, a guy named Steve. Deirdre and Llewellyn, our hostess and host, managed to grill the burgers and hot dogs outside, but the rain and wind picked up, so it wasn't much fun to sit outside. But it *was* a lot of fun to see everyone again. I left around 10 p.m. and reached home an hour later.

I repeated the Three Left Feet experience today under sunnier skies. This time we played three sets, although the final one of the day was pretty low-energy, at least in terms of us musicians, who sat on the damp ground. In between sets I walked around and took pictures of some of the encampments. Every year I admire the detail that some of the non-SCA groups put into their clothing and kits. It makes me feel so inauthentic. Anyhow, I was on my feet for a good part of the day, then came home and had a snack before going to barony meeting, where I had to take the minutes and thus pay attention to every detail.

Now I'm wiped out, and I don't feel like working on my taxes. Maybe I should just go to bed and finish them tomorrow, or file for an extension or something. Le sigh.
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
My apologies for not feeling much like posting here. I wrote another short article for my ex-employer, did some laundry, and wrote up the outline for the class that I'm teaching on Saturday at the University of Atlantia. (Now I just have to boil it all down into a two-page handout.) I also did a catch-up post on http://ladypatriciaoftrakai.blogspot.com.

Last Saturday I had a fine time performing in a paid gig -- Maugorn wrote about it here. I *had* been planning to wear my navy blue Italian Renn dress with the white tie-on sleeves that I bought at Holiday Faire last November, but in the days before the event I was persuaded to wear my pink silk Cavalier outfit because of its higher "bling" value. I think it's a good thing that I heeded that, because the venue was a really nice "old money" hotel and the attendees were dressed to the nines (whether they were wearing "Venetian masquerade" costumes or evening wear).

Speaking of money, I can't believe how gasoline prices have rocketed up in the last week or two. The nearest gas station to my house is now up to $3.459 for regular. It seem as if it was $2.999 not that long ago. I hate to think what the prices may be like by the time Memorial Day rolls around.
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
What do they say about no good deed going unpunished?

Anyhow, I didn't think I should stay for feast, because while Bright Hills has awesome cooks, SCA feasts tend to get long in terms of time, and I have this freelance deadline thing. So I borrowed Mistress Fevronia's phone to call the boy toy, and he asked me to pick up a pack of cigarettes for him on the way home and he'd pay me back. I hate doing this, but as long as he reimburses me...

So I filled up the gas tank at the Sheetz there in Manchester (Maryland, not New Hampshire!) and got myself some coffee and a small bag of chips. The drive home was uneventful, although there was a stretch along MD Route 30 (in both directions) where the GPS system started giving wonky directions, insisting I make a left turn where there was none. I wonder what kind of strange geophysical anomaly lurks in Carroll County.

I got off the parkway at my usual exit, which is actually pretty close to my house, and stopped at the gas station right at the end of the exit ramp. I bought the cigarettes (yecch), got in my car, and drove off.

Well, right at the next corner the car ... went ... and ... gave ... up. It just pooped out and I steered it as far as I could to the side of the right-turn lane before it stopped moving. The engine would turn over, but once it would "catch" it would run out of gas, so to speak, and stop running. Yeah, 50 miles past the most recent fill-up.

Officer Friendly pulled up behind me to tell me that I couldn't leave the car there. Well, duh, I live right around the corner and I drive through that intersection practically every day! At least he put out some flares while I walked back to the gas station ... remember, I forgot to bring my cell phone with me. So I called AAA, and I emphasized that my car had expired in a bad place and I needed it moved ASAP (as opposed to the time, years ago, when I had waited FIVE HOURS for AAA in a Metro parking lot). A second set of flares from the police officer later, and the tow truck came and picked me up and brought my car back to the service station where I had bought the cigarettes in the first place. Then the tow truck driver brought me home.

I'm sure I was quite a sight for the tow-truck driver ... though my winter jacket covered most of my garb, my House Corvus Decameron pouch with its bright white tassels dangled from below the jacket, and I pulled my white haversack, my tablet-weaving loom and the boy toy's Dirt Devil out of the car to take with me.

Needless to say, I was not up for writing much by the time I got home. After finally eating supper, I lay down on the bed to watch "SNL" and didn't keep my eyes open past the opening monologue.

Today I found out from the gas station that my car's fuel pump is shot. I'm pretty sure it's the original fuel pump, so it lasted almost 15 years and 148,200-plus miles. The station gave me an estimate of $825. I'm pulling some cash out of the reserves, but I think I can do better on the price. (I rather HAVE to...) Maugorn is already hatching a plan to get the repair done for much less $$$.

But first, I have this deadline tomorrow... a long article with lots of words for which I can charge actual $$$....
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
1. It has not escaped my notice that the funeral Mass for 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim Christina Green fell on the 14th anniversary of my mother's funeral Mass. Of course, my Mom did not live to see Sept. 11, 2001. Christina's entire life came after hers.

2. After a hiatus between June and December, I started to update my LibraryThing again. Today I passed the 300-book mark, and I'm nowhere near finished. Have a look if you wish.

3. I know there's a Bardic Night in the barony tonight, not far from where I live, but I don't feel like going out tonight. Maybe it's the cold, maybe it's the lack of money for gasoline. I am really, really hoping that the check comes tomorrow. On Saturday, at the latest.

4. I'm still working on the boy toy's fingerless mitts. I'm almost halfway done the second mitt. I should really post a photo when I get a chance.

5. Note to all who are going to Arisia this weekend: Travel safely!
luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Default)
First post of the year here. I wonder what this year will bring for me personally and for our country as a whole. I hope, hope, hope I get the money flowing in again. I can get a chunk of change for writing a feature article that is due on Feb. 15, but I won't see the money for several weeks after that -- that's simply the nature of freelance writing. Haven't yet gotten the check from my December writing. So I still feel pretty iffy about things ... especially with the recent upswing in gasoline prices (again).
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
You know me -- I'm always looking for sources of Lithuanian history, particularly about the Battle of Grunwald, since this is its 600th-anniversary year. Lately I started poking around on Better World Books, which overall looks like a very good Web site.

So I found these books, but scattered among them I found stuff like this and this. And then I started to think ... hmmm, that cover illustration kind of looks like an American Civil War cannon, so what's it doing on the cover of a book about a battle that happened 450 years earlier?

And THEN I found yet another book -- again, with a fairly high cover price -- that said in the book description: "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!"

Whaaaat?? So THEN I Googled the name of the publisher, Alphascript Publishing. You can tell that something bad is going to happen when you start typing "alphascript publishing" and Google automagically suggests the word "spam." :-P

Sure enough ... according to this Web site, Alphascript is a Mauritius-based "company" that is a subsidiary of a German thesis publisher. Its books are just agglomerations of downloaded Wikipedia articles with the same authors' names appended to the cover (one of these authors, "John McBrewster," gets 35,900 hits on Amazon.com alone, which makes me laugh). And these books -- with content you can get for FREE under the Wikipedia license -- sell for $50 and up a pop, sometimes as much as $120!

You can read this rant by [profile] rufftoon and other statements of awe and disgust here and here.

Oh, that company also goes by Betascript Publishing.

I cannot believe that somebody would be trying to make money by selling such poor-quality books, never mind abusing the "copyleft" provisions of the Creative Commons license.

I am not blaming Better World Books, Amazon.com, and other online booksellers. I doubt they can police every title, especially by the rapidly growing print-on-demand houses (which includes reputable players like Lulu.com). But we who are looking for books on fairly obscure topics need to stay on our toes ... and NOT subsidize this kind of effort.

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