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blue hair

By day, a mild-mannered Religious Studies major. But by night, a mild-mannered Religious Studies major who's asleep.



April 21st, 2009

Many moons ago, when I was in high school, I had the coolest email address on the planet. antieuclid at therantinggeek.com. I registered the domain name mostly because I wanted the email address, but once I had it I also starting experimenting with HTML. And with getting other people to do mySQL for me so I could set up forums. (Thanks, confuseacat .) I had a website there for probably about a year before I switched to LJ because it was so much easier than doing everything myself in HTML. My LJ tagline has remained "It turns out that LiveJournal is easier than a real webpage" ever since.

This week, as I was working on closing up shop at SakinaNeedles, I found myself thinking about getting back into non-LJ blogging, and actually doing something with wileysherer.com. But because I'm still not good enough with mySQL and php to update the old installation of wordpress clogging it up, I decided to see what else was out there. And to my simultaneous surprise and lack of surprise, no one else had scooped up therantinggeek.com in the four years or so since I let it lapse. So I decided to splurge on the $7 to register it myself.

With the advances in web software since I was in high school, LJ is no longer easier than a real web page. Wordpress has a lot of features that LJ doesn't, and is rather less associated with fanfiction porn in the broader blogosphere. So after this post, I'm taking this journal friends-only. I still really like LJ for keeping in touch with friends and the many useful comms, but I'm taking my non-personal writing over to TheRantingGeek. There's nothing there at the moment, but if you subscribe to the RSS feed you'll be able to see when it's up and running. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

April 13th, 2009


blue hair
I just finished my taxes for 2008. Some interesting numbers:
The total amount of money I received last year: about $12,000
My total actual income once you subtract materials costs to run my business: about $4300
My official adjusted income once I took the standard deduction: $0
My tax bill: $820.

With all the Republican talk about the need for corporate tax breaks to help "small businesses", why does no one ever talk about doing something about the self-employment tax? There's something wrong with the idea that I can't calculate my tax rate because it involves dividing by zero.

April 10th, 2009

When Mom's working or out of town and I'm on Grandsandy duty for days at a time, he tends to get a bit bored. In my defense, I'm quite good at coming up with old BBC documentaries he might like and similar, but I can't drive and he can't walk to the bus stop, which leaves us stuck in the house. Until now.

Because I was poking around on the bus system's website, and suddenly realized that he qualifies for the local paratransit! I'm surprised that I didn't think of it sooner. It'll take a bit of paperwork to get him an Access-a-Ride ID card, but then we'll be able to get curb-to-curb rides anywhere we need to go for $4.  The inability to walk to the bus stop should qualify him for the curb-to-curb service, and I'm relatively sure that the Alzhiemer's qualifies him to bring a Personal Care Attendent (me) with him at no additional charge. The website doesn't go into details about what the requirements are to qualify for a PCA, but he would certainly have a lot of trouble getting anywhere or knowing why he was there if he was by himself.

Not only does this mean that we'll be able to go for outings while Mom's at work, but if I need to be somewhere while Mom's at work I can bring him with me. For example, Mom was working from 11-7 today, and I needed to be at TACtile by 2pm because it turns out both our intern and our Friday volunteer are Catholic and wanted to go to Good Friday mass. To get there by 2, I needed to leave by noon, and that meant leaving him alone for seven whole hours. He was basically fine, but when Mom got home he hadn't gotten his dinner out of the fridge (he remembered that it was in there and knew that he was hungry, he just couldn't quite put 2 and 2 together) and Mom and I think he might have gone upstairs while he was alone, which frankly scares the hell out of us. He's not great at stairs and if he'd fallen it would have been hours until anyone found him.

So I'm definitely glad that we've come up with a way around leaving him alone. I just hope it doesn't take too long to get him an ID card. I teach weekly classes on Fridays, and after this afternoon I'm going to be a bit nervous about leaving him alone again.

April 3rd, 2009

I don't need to be told the answer to this question. I already know the answer. What I would like to know is whether you know the answer to the following question:

What is the first amendment to the US Constitution?

I must have asked a dozen people today from a variety of ages and backgrounds, and only one of them knew the answer. It came up because my own mother called to ask me because she didn't know.  Interestingly, the one person who did know was just as shocked as I was that no one else knew. And not only could most of the others not name any other amendment by number, the closest of them could get to naming any amendments at all was "Well there's the one where women can vote." I had to work to convince two separate people that "Thou shalt not murder" did not appear anywhere in the Constitution, and then explain why murder was still illegal. I mean, I know there are plenty of very depressing studies out there about the ignorance of the average American, but these are intelligent, college educated people who I work with on a regular basis.

I have half a mind to go around quartering troops in people's houses until they take a civics class.

April 1st, 2009

I hereby officially take back anything nice I ever said about the American version of Life on Mars. I would say more about the series finale I just saw, but I suspect that the swearing to content ratio would be too high to be useful. So let me sum up: That ending was even worse than the one for Angel. And that's saying a hell of a lot.

March 27th, 2009


In the paper edition, the picture was a full 1/2 page. Westword is probably the biggest of the alternative weeklies here in Denver, so it's some good publicity for TACtile. And somewhat unintentionally, good publicity for Asperger's Syndrome. Oh well, I suppose we Aspies could use some positive publicity too.

ETA: I just figured out why the writer thought that the "Sherer Genius" pun would work. It took me a while to even figure out that it was supposed to be a pun, because Sherer (at least the way my family pronounces it) rhymes with bearer. But I figured it was just a really forced pun. But if she thought it was pronounced "shear" or "shearer", which is the way some people pronounce it, that makes quite a lot more sense. Anyway, it was weird enough seeing my last name referenced, let alone being referred to by it. I'm going to go watch The Big Lebowski now.

March 22nd, 2009


blue hair
I'm listening to NPR about the outrage over the AIG bonuses, and I have to say I'm a little annoyed at it all:
1.  Yes, it's logical to be angry that taxpayer money is going to bonuses for the same people who caused this problem, but shouldn't we be more annoyed at the fact that the financial industry as a whole has been getting massive salaries and bonuses for decades to do very little? Shouldn't we be angry at a system that says that daytraders and oil speculators should be rewarded at a hundred times the salary of elementary school teachers? Focusing on $165 million dollars in bonuses just isn't looking at the big picture.
2. I hear a lot of people, including legislators, saying that executive pay needs to be linked more closely to performance. This might sound like a good idea on the surface, but how do you look at performance? Are pay structures going to be set up in a way where you figure out the impact of someone's decisions ten years later and then pay them? Or are you looking at annual or god forbid quarterly returns to determine pay, causing an even greater focus on short term returns than we have now and making future crashes like this even more likely?
3. While I've heard an occasional nod in the direction of item 1, I haven't heard anyone say anything even vaguely similar to item 2. I saw the real estate crash coming in '06, and how it would cause a domino effect into the economy as a whole. I was called naive and told I didn't understand how markets worked by everyone I talked to about it.  While there's always a certain weird pride in having been right against large odds, I'm really tired of being proved right retroactively. There are a lot of people out there making a living as financial pudits. I'm a 24 year old fiber artist. I should not be better at making these calls than they are.

That having been said, when there's a collapse in the value of the dollar in the next 10-20 years, I call dibs on my own TV show. Or possible a psychic hotline.

Priorities and to-do lists

blue hair
I only have three more days to level a set of characters in World of Warcraft before my Recruit-a-Friend bonus runs out and it takes much much longer. They're currently at level 44, and I need to get them to 60. I can do it as long as I'm diligent about it.

But, in typical aspie fashion, I have gotten distracted by a shiny new project making hats. I've figured out how to make my own buckram, which is a possible new material for stiffening the brims.

So in other words, I want to do something productive, but I have to stop myself until I finish playing a computer game.

March 10th, 2009


blue hair
My sister is a senior at a "leadership academy" high school for kids who have had behavioral problems. Seniors have to write a senior thesis on ethics, which my sister is working on while she's home for break. This has led to two entertaining ironies:
1. She doesn't see a problem with leaving ethics books all over the living room floor where people could trip over them, and
2. She's coming to me for help in structuring her paper, and I'm starting to get a sense of how hit and miss her curriculum is. On the one hand, she's relatively well versed on Kant vs. Consequentialism, but on the other hand she just asked me what capitalism was. She's nearly 19. She also didn't know what feudalism was. She's been taking ethics classes for two years and they seem to be treating it in a philosophical vacuum. I wasn't a fan of most of the core classes I took at the University of Chicago, but I did like the way Sosc in particular treated anthropology, philosophy, religion, psychology, and ethics as interrelated ideas. How the hell does anyone think you can look at ethics in modern society without learning how modern society works?

edit: My mom points out that it's always possible that they are teaching it, and she's just not paying attention, which is certainly a possibility, but she's getting good grades in everything but math and it should not be possible to do that at a decent school while being that under-informed. Also, she has no idea how to structure a paper. She'd actually written four pages of a 19 page paper without coming up with a thesis statement. She was just going to write one page on each of 19 ethical theories. Even at a second-tier state school, she is going to get creamed in college.

March 7th, 2009

Nap now. Naps good.

blue hair
The dye workshop went very well, especially considering that there were 17 students. I could have sworn that I told the knitters' guild 12. But we managed, everyone seemed to have a great time, and by the end of the class three of them had signed up for my spinning class next week.

March 6th, 2009

The Denver Knitters Guild has hired me to teach a class on dyeing yarn tomorrow. They asked me to put together a handout, and they're actually paying pretty well so I'm trying to include as much as I can. It's really kind of weird. I've spent the last two years learning quite a lot about dyeing fiber, and at the risk of bragging I'm pretty damn good at it. And now I'm going to be handing out everything I've learned to a room full of people in the form of a four page handout. Sure, they aren't going to instantly develop the instincts I've gained. They aren't going to be able to intuit what color a given dyebath is going to turn when heat is applied, or how easily a particular fiber might felt at what temperature. But they're going to know all of my recipes, they're going to know what sorts of heat sources to use in what circumstances, they're going to know a number of techniques that I developed myself and have never seen referenced anywhere else. And that just seems weird somehow. It's like putting together a handout on how to have my sense of humor. I'd never really realized how personal my dye process was for me until I was suddenly putting it all on paper for someone else to acquire. Anyway, if any of you are interested in my accumulated dye knowledge, let me know and I'll email you the file.

In other news, my (significantly less formal) class today was a blast! I teach a drop-in class on Fridays about recycling/practicality-oriented crafts, and this week was soda can camp stoves. Not only did I get far more students than usual (5), but to test out the new stoves we sat around on the floor roasting marshmallows and making smores. Probably violated a fire code or two but it was really fun, and I made sure everyone knew that there was a fire extinguisher three feet away. There have to be a few advantages to having a cement floor.

March 2nd, 2009

I have a bed again! I'm mildly worried that I'm going to fall off when I try to roll over because it's only two feet wide, but I haven't fallen off the similarly-sized memory foam piece while it's been on the floor, so I'm just going to risk it. Once I finish my bookshelf tomorrow afternoon and finally have somewhere to unpack the box of books I packed up when I moved out of Pittsburgh three years ago, I hope to finally have the right amount of furniture to actually keep my room semi-organized. I will also only be left with only one piece of furniture in my room which I did not build myself. (A chest of drawers for infrequently used clothing that the guinea pig cage sits on) For those of you who aren't on facebook and haven't seen pictures of the project, you can find them here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2249912&id=14221563&l=010c0

Now if you'll excuse me, I think my arms are going to fall off.

February 26th, 2009

Typecasting humor

blue hair
I'm really starting to feel sorry for David Morrissey. I mostly know him from Blackpool, which I watched because it had David Tennant in it and subsequently found it to be very good. The plot was rather complicated, but a significant subplot involved Morrissey's wife having an affair with Tennant. Now I'm watching State of Play, which I started watching because John Simm was in it, but which also stars David Morrissey. And Simm just started making out with Morrissey's wife.

The characters are completely different, and Morrissey is a very good actor who pulls them both off brilliantly, I just feel like I should find something he's in and watch it for that reason, and see if maybe that means he gets to steal someone else's wife for a change.

February 24th, 2009

The first episode of Law & Order: UK came out yesterday. Leaving the contrasts with Life on Mars aside, there are two amusing mismatches that I've noticed so far: a) It's very recognizable as Law & Order, but everyone's British. L&O is so consistently New Yorkish that it's like seeing all the detectives wearing tutus. B) Lee Adama from Battlestar Galactica plays a blond British detective.

Also, the lawyer wigs are really funny.
Why is there an assumption that if you like a show/movie/book, and wish to talk to other fans of the show/movie/book, you also must want to read porn about the characters in that show/movie/book? I'm all for free speech and people who want to write sexual fanfiction are certainly welcome to do so, but it would also be kind of nice to find a discussion of the sound and lighting design in a particular show without having to wade through pages and pages of porn!

February 18th, 2009

I recently discovered that there is now a CollegeHumor tv series. On the one hand, it sounds like a rather typical workplace comedy. On the other hand, I think it could start a whole new trend in film adaptations of non-narrative websites. I'm holding out for Craigslist: The Musical.

February 17th, 2009

Well, this is a surprise...

blue hair
I started watching Life on Mars because it runs ads constantly during Lost, and when I looked it up on Google it seemed interesting, especially the fact that it was based on a BBC show. I downloaded both seasons of the BBC show, and everything that's aired so far of the US series. The US episodes finished first, so I watched those, and now I'm starting in on the BBC. Here's what I'm surprised by: I don't like it as much as the US version. Maybe that's because I've already seen most of the plot and even whole sections of dialog before, but I also think the US plot's a lot more interesting, and in a couple of cases I even like the acting better.

I know it sounds dumb to be surprised that I liked an American show, and it's not like I'm a snob about it. I watch entirely too much TV, and enjoy any number of American shows, and I've even posted here about some of the hilariously bad UK shows I've watched. But there's a long history of a real difference in training and acting style between the US and the UK, and when you pit really good British actors against really good American actors, I tend to prefer British acting.

I also have to say that it doesn't help to have John Simm (who played The Master on Doctor Who) playing the lead character. The whole central mystery of the show is why a modern day cop finds himself in 1973 after being hit by a car. But with John Simm in the role I just want to say "Of course you can go from 2006 to 1973. You're a renegade Time Lord."

February 16th, 2009

Someone should develop a facebook app that lets you track what power tools you and your friends have and keeps track of what you've lent to whom. I suspect that somewhere in the neighborhood is a belt or orbital sander, but I'm not quite willing to go door to door asking to borrow one. I would gladly let other people use my bandsaw in exchange. A word of advice to anyone who's parents are getting divorced: keep track of the power tools. I'm still used to the garage containing variety of saws, sanders, and drills, and now I find myself trying to build a set of bedroom furniture using a tabletop bandsaw and a dremel.

But I'm definitely looking forward to getting this project finished. It includes a bed, a bookshelf, and a large shelf/drawer/table unit that's sort of hard to explain, all out of four sheets of plywood. My bedroom is only 8'x10', and I'm sick of losing so much of that to a bed and not having any shelving. The new bed that I'm making is going to be just 2'x6' and will have three 2'x2' storage drawers under it. Obviously they don't make mattresses and bedding that size, but I have one of those memory foam mattress pads in a "full" that I think will do the trick doubled over, and what's the point of being me if I can't make myself some bedding? I'm thinking of taking a traditional "mummy" style sleeping bag pattern, making it out of cotton flannel, and adding sleeves so that when it's too cold to get out of bed in the morning, I can at least hop over to my desk to do morning email without having to get out of my blankets.

The bookshelf started out as something to use up a few spare bits of wood left over when I was doing the cutting diagram, but after a couple of pieces of wood were cut slightly differently than intended, but I think it's turned into something rather cool from a design perspective. Basically, I was supposed to have 6 1'x1' shelves. The cutting guy at Lowes accidentally left four of them as 2 1'x2' shelves. And my bandsaw only goes up to 9". But I found two other 1'x2' pieces of plywood that were left over from building my desk, and thought it might be neat to have shelves that stuck out further than the sides. Since I didn't want the whole thing to fall over from the extra torque, I thought I'd alternate which side they stuck out on. This way actual books and other heavy things go in the middle, and lighter things like clocks that need to be visible can go on the sticking out bits.

The shelf/drawer/table unit is where this whole project started. Currently all of my clothing and personal belongings have to fit in one three-drawer dresser and one file cabinet. From a practical perspective, this means that they mostly end up in piles on the floor. The dresser is one of those turn-of-the-century working class ones where the drawers tend to stick, and who wants to bend down to open floor-level drawers anyway? Basically, the design is like a slightly larger version of the desk I built a couple of months ago, combined with a large "hutch" sort of thing that provides plenty of eye-level shelving for clothes, craft supplies, and all the other random stuff currently occupying my floor.

Unfortunately, even though I have all the plywood now and it's even generally in pieces the right size and shape, I start actually assembling things until I paint all the pieces, and I can't paint until I sand them all. I tried sanding by hand, it's slow and my arms were ready to fall off after the first two 1'x4' pieces. I'm going to see if Ace Hardware has sanding attachments for electric drills when I'm at work tomorrow, and hope that it's warm enough in the garage to keep working on this on a mornings and evenings basis through the week. For the rest of the afternoon, I'm going to clean up my room to get ready for the new furniture, and possibly move my current bed out of the room. I suspect that if I'm sleeping on the floor until I finish the new bed, procrastination will be less likely.

February 14th, 2009

Whar's ma coo?

blue hair
If you were given an educational gift certificate, and you could take whatever courses you wanted with no particular concern for usefulness in the future but just because they were interesting, what would you take?

Here's my list:
1. Voice acting, particularly accents. I tend to get accents stuck in my head when I'm listening to audiobooks, and I can think fluently in a variety of accents, if that makes sense, but I can't get them to come out of my mouth properly. I'm quite good at pronouncing words in foreign languages correctly, so I suspect I could get the hang of accents in English pretty well, I just need a way of practicing and getting feedback on whether I'm doing it correctly. I have no good reason to need to be able to do different accents, I just think it would be really neat.

2. Flat pattern drafting. For the uninitiated, this is the art of taking someone's measurements and turning them into a pattern for clothes. We did just enough of it in a costuming class I took at UofC to let me know how useful it could be without being able to actually make anything other than a skin-tight bodice pattern.

3. Carpentry. I took woodshop back in 5th grade (I even won a prize for it) but I haven't had any formal training since, and the list of tools our insurance agency wanted 5th graders using was rather limited. I haven't let that stop me from making several pieces of furniture, but all out of rectangles of plywood. It would be neat to be able to do nicer looking things.

4. ASL and Spanish in depth, and basic "Hi, How are you" stuff in as many languages as I can get my hands on. I've lost nearly all of my ASL vocab with no one to practice with. And even not having taken any Spanish since 5th grade, I know I could probably pick it up again relatively quickly. They're both handy languages. And I know from experience how frustrating it can be to be linguistically isolated for even a short period, and I would love to be able to speak enough Korean, Farsi, Somali, Russian, etc to be able to chat with the people I see semi-regularly who still struggle with English.

5. Technical Drawing. I've done a couple of projects now where I've tried to draw a diagram before actually making the object, and wow am I bad at it. I'm working on making myself some bedroom furniture and I ended up just making a scale model in cardboard because it was too hard to draw.

The list of things I'd like to take a class in is quite different from the list of things I'd like to know more about, but that's mostly because when it comes to learning information, I've never found classes an efficient way of doing that. So this is more a list of things I'd like to learn that are difficult to learn from libraries and Google.
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