stitching, arctic rainstorms, and photography lessons



This is done, except I forgot to put in the French knots for his eyes, so it’s a little creepy.

The weather is cold and rainy, we’re in the middle of a rainstorm that’s swooped down from Alaska (there’s even snow in the higher elevations), so I hardly left the house all weekend. I did get the first rolls developed from my SuperSampler and Pop9. Some of them didn’t come out: The Pop9’s lenses don’t protrude; in fact they’re a little recessed, so it’s easy to get your finger over one of the lenses. Eep. So I have to train myself to handle it only by the edges.

The SuperSampler worked better than I thought, considering there’s no viewfinder and I was guessing. It needs to be held just a little higher.

But it was a learning experience, and there were a few good ones on each roll. I got them put on CD, so I’ll have them up later.


I was drinking a glass of dry sherry yesterday, when I glanced at it on the nightstand and saw this interesting effect.

stitching, stalkers, and god beams


I banged this one out over the course of the long weekend.

So I didn’t do much with my 4-day weekend, which is my favorite thing to do. Thanksgiving was never a big deal to me even when my family was nearby — I don’t care for most of the traditional food and it’s just an appetizer for Christmas, as far as I’m concerned.

I usually go see a movie then eat out somewhere, but there was nothing playing that I wanted to see, Milk not coming out until December 5. I did consider seeing Twilight, but I heard it’s actually kind of boring and not that lulztastic.

So I decided to bicycle around and take some photos. I have 10 rolls of assorted 120 film, some of it expired, so who knows how funky it might turn out. I shot the church down the street; then hopped a bus to come to the school’s neighborhood. There are some interesting buildings around here that I’ve been wanting to shoot for a while. It was cool because there was absolutely no one around.


There was a great sky, all grey and marbled. I forget which photographer came up with the term “god beams” to describe those shafts of sunlight through heavy clouds, but I always liked it.

The only exciting thing that happened over the weekend is that on Thanksgiving, cops came to the house because the other housemate, who I will here dub Lil’ Miss Trainwreck, apparently has a psycho ex who has been lurking around and peering in her window. So in addition to never cleaning and leaving the same cereal bowl in the kitchen sink for days at a time, now we all have to worry about being murdered in our sleep, thanks to her. I think the reason Bonnie hasn’t thrown her out (seriously, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom is part of our rent; when she bothers to do it at all it’s really half-assed) is because she (Bonnie) is a psych student and enjoys all the secondhand drama.

I do NOT enjoy drama. You might say the avoidance of drama is my chief concern in life — I tend to step back when even close friends are going through it and just wait for it to pass. I have a hard enough time keeping my own shit together, I don’t need other people’s drama slopping over into my life.

However, it’s still a kajillion times better than living in the Taiwanese Asylum for Control Freaks. As long as I can bake cookies whenever I want, I can deal with anything.

stitching, extremely lazy weekends, and yet another camera

joseph and the coat of many colors wip 2

This is almost done, just need to fill in the vine detail in the lower right-hand corner.

I did nothing with my weekend. I didn’t even leave the house. I’m still congested and coughing and exhausted; if there was anything particularly pressing that needed to be done I would have dragged my corpse up out of the house and done it, but there wasn’t, so except for my usual cleaning and cooking, I stayed in bed — or at most, sitting on the floor next to my bed.

Yesterday was my birthday, so fuck it, I guess I was entitled to do nothing if that’s what I wanted. I bought myself another camera. I KNOW, I said I wasn’t going to buy any more cameras until after Christmas. But then Mom told me that we aren’t doing presents this year. They have to save money because they’re probably going to have to buy another house before they get the buy-out money from FEMA for their old one; Rian’s sublet is up and he had to move again; Uncle Larry just quite his job (he was a drug counselor and just burned out, they all do eventually); blah blah blah. Shit, I’ll have to buy season 2 of Dexter myself.

supersampler1So anyway, new camera. I bought a SuperSampler, which I am totally excited about. It has 4 lenses on the front, and it takes 4 different exposures over a period of either (it has 2 settings) 2 seconds or .02 seconds and puts all 4 exposures side-by-side on the same negative. It’s meant to take photos of moving objects; or you can take photos of stationary objects and move the camera yourself. There’s no flash, because you can’t light 4 different shots with one flash of light, so it’s best for bright daylight or well-lit interiors with really high-speed film. And there isn’t any focus, because you couldn’t keep adjusting for a moving object, so it’s got a fixed focus of .03 meters – ∞.


I hope I get it this week, I can’t wait to play with it. It shoots 35mm film, so it won’t be as big a pain to get developed and printed as my Diana — although I’ve found a mail-order color lab that I think I’m going to use from now on instead of Ritz. It’s cheaper and more convenient, and they’ll scan my photos so I can share them online.

stitching, cheesy garlic biscuits, and monster flicks


Why did Joseph need that coat in the desert, anyway? That’s like women wearing fur coats in Las Vegas. Show-off.

I didn’t venture very far from home this weekend, even though I should have gone to Ritz and seen about getting my Diana negatives put on disc. It looked like rain, and I didn’t feel like getting soaked again. In fact as I was coming home from running errands it started to sprinkle.

I made these cheesy garlic biscuits, I got the recipe from a Plurk buddy. Supposedly they’re like those biscuits from Red Lobster that everyone loves, but I’ve eaten there exactly once in my life, and that was like 20 years ago, so I can’t vouch for that. They ARE really good, though. Totes easy:

  • Mix 2 cups Bisquick, 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder. Stir in 2/3 cup milk. Drop by full tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • While they’re baking, melt 2 tbsp. butter together with 2 tsp. oregano and 1 tsp. garlic salt. Brush tops of biscuits, then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown on top.

I couldn’t sleep last night, but I don’t think it was insomnia. I just wasn’t tired. I’ve actually been sleeping better lately, ironically since I stopped taking melatonin. I ran out and was too lazy to get more (since we set the clocks back I wasn’t eager to bike to the store in the dark). Last weekend I actually slept 12! hours on Friday night/Saturday morning. I haven’t done that in more than a year.

I wonder if my body is producing more melatonin in the absence of exogenous melatonin? Phil once told me this story about these Buddhist monks who ate a vegan diet, barely enough to stay alive, and they had crazy-high cholesterol, because their bodies overcompensated for the total lack of it in their diet. I think he read about it in a medical journal.

Anyway, so last night was the first time in a couple of weeks that I haven’t gotten a great night’s sleep. I stayed up watching that Korean monster movie, The Host. The monster flick is a sadly uderused genre nowadays. And most of the ones that are made suck, like that execrable Godzilla movie with Ferris Bueller and some chick no one’s seen since.

I detected some anti-American sentiment. Whatever, South Korea. Everyone else hates us, pile it on. The only reason we have a military presence in your country is because you asked for our help to defeat the commies. …of course, that was like 50 years ago. I guess the American military does tend to overstay its welcome.

The origin story was pretty dumb — Formeldahyde? Really?? — but really, who cares. Just bring on the giant, mutated, man-eating, fish-amphibian thing. That’s what I liked about Cloverfield: They didn’t even bother with an explanation. It just crawled out of the ocean and started fucking shit UP. I mean, there was all that online crap about Slurmo or whatever the hell it was called, but they didn’t bother wasting any screen time with it.

october is prime season for bad movies

All done! I think the next one is Joseph and his coat of many colors.

I went to Ritz on Saturday, to get the wedding film and see what scanning services they offer. Answer: None. That really annoys and confuses me. There are people in my LJ photo communities that live out in the boonies of like, Oklahoma, who can get their medium format film scanned. I have 2 choices, basically:

  1. I can get a print of every single negative made, at a minimum of $0.65 each. I have 10 rolls of film, 6 with 16 shots and 4 with 12. That’s going to be a huge waste of $$$, because obviously not all of them are going to be worth keeping. Or,
  2. I can get each roll put on a CD (which they’d have to send out for), at $13 a roll.

I’m probably going to go with option #2, because that way I can upload them to flickr and get prints from them anytime I want. I’m irritated though, because I got the Diana weeks ago, and I still haven’t had any prints made. I have to pay my rent this week and I don’t have a spare $130 lying around, so I have to wait until I get paid again, then wait for the CDs, and it’s going to be another month before I have anything to show for my effort. Aaargh!


back to routine

Why didn’t the lion kill Daniel? I keep thinking it’s because he removed a thorn from its paw, but that’s Aesop.

Anyway, I had a pleasant, if non-exciting (especially after last weekend), weekend. I took the wedding film in to get developed, and I don’t know if they’re having a sale or the guy screwed up or what, but they only charged me $25 for 5 rolls. it was $40 for 5 last time.

Tried something new for dinner, spaghetti squash.

Mom had a garden when I was very little and the ONLY things she grew were squash and zucchini. We had squash and zucchini 7 nights a week, seemed like, and it kind of killed my enthusiasm for either veggie.

But a squash that shreds into pasta-like strings? That’s too weird not to try. You bake it whole (375 degrees for one hour, pierce with skewer or knife so it won’t burst), slice it open, scoop out the seeds and gunk in the middle, then run a fork through the flesh to make it shred.

It’s very firm in texture (think julienned carrots that have been very lightly steamed), not mushy at all. It doesn’t really have a flavor, just a faintly sweet squash-y taste. I didn’t know if I’d like it, so I didn’t want to make any elaborate sauce. I just used a jar of mushroom spaghetti sauce, and added some bits of spicy pork sausage meat. Next time I make it maybe I’ll try something fancy.

To go with it I made some potatoes au gratin with bacon and fennel. I rcecently re-read this book, which has given me a renewed appreciation for potatoes.

Unfortunately, this week is not starting out so great. I almost got hit by cars TWICE on the way to work, as I was crossing the street to my bus stop. One asshole didn’t even look to see if anyone was crossing the street before he turned, and I nearly ran right into him; and while I was recovering from that, ANOTHER asshole did THE EXACT SAME THING and I had to swerve around him. Of course they were both guys in their 20s. HEY DOUCHEBAGS, YOU HAVE TO YIELD TO PEOPLE IN CROSSWALKS.

Oh well, at least I have my new camera to look forward to — I bought a Fuji Instax Mini 25 from Lomography (cheaper than eBay!) last week and it should get here this week. Yee! Instant photography is enjoying quite a renaissance in Asia.

I promise not to buy anymore cameras until after Christmas.

asian groceries, power issues (as in electricity), and the arrival of autumn

All done! Well, mostly; it still needs a border.

This weekend was weird. The power went out for a couple of hours over a huge section of Fremont early Saturday morning. I have no idea what caused it, but one of our neighbors drove around to see how far it was out, and he said even the other side of the freeway was dark. (And it’s strange that the power going out should wake me up when it’s still dark.) Luckily it came back on before the food in the ‘fridge spoiled. I just went grocery shopping the night before.

For some reason the stupid dish was having trouble re-acquiring the satellite signal (it finally got it together later in the afternoon), and I like to have the television on when I cross stitch. I was sitting there kicking myself for not haveing replaced my broken DVD player yet, when it suddenly occurred to me that I’d never checked to see if the audio/video jacks were reversed. They’re color-coded white and yellow, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. So I looked, and sure enough, that was the problem.

Yay! Now i can watch Season 2 of Dexter. I don’t know anything that happened, so NO SPOILERS! I read the book, Dearly Devoted Dexter, but I don’t think the show follows it all that much. The first season/book went on pretty different paths. So I re-watched the first season all weekend to refresh.

It also went out this morning when I turned on my hair dryer, because the other housemate (who just moved in) had literally everything she owns that plugs in, turned on. So of course it blew a circuit breaker. Luckily that’s easily fixed. Usually she’s long gone by the time I get up; she works at a grocery store and gets up at like 3:30 in the morning. Maybe she’s only working half a day today.

I’m trying to save money, so I’ve been doing more of my shopping at 99 Ranch. All the staples are just a little cheaper there. Plus it’s fun trying new things. My dinner this week is kind of funny: Korean short ribs, Chinese snow peas, and Japanese curry. It’s Vermont Curry, which always makes me laugh when I see it. Because New England is known for spicy and exotic food? (I know, they call it that because it’s flavored with honey and apples. Still funny.) Serving potatoes over rice kind of horrifies me, but that’s how they eat it. There must not be many diabetics in Japan. We always associate seafood with Japanese food, but the truth is that they love meat and potatoes as much any Midwesterner, even if they don’t eat it as often. Curry is actually sort of an unofficial national dish. Usually the meat is in the curry and it’s a sort of one-dish meal, but I had my eye on those ribs.

It rained a little on Saturday morning, and it finally felt like fall. It was windy when I went out to run errands, and the air had that freshly scrubbed feeling to it that just makes you want to breathe deeply.

stitching, limoncello, and the passing of an icon

I took a break from stitching for a few weeks, but I got to missing it this weekend. Even though it was hot again, feh. I hope it was summer’s last hurrah. As usual, she’s overstayed her welcome. It’s gonna be October in a few days, autumn nau plz.

So my latest obsession is limoncello. I’ve just been drinking it straight over ice, a little bit after dinner. Which is when you’re supposed to drink it, it’s a digestif. (As opposed to an apéritif, which you drink before you eat.)

But I have this huge bottle of Skyy vodka in my freezer at the moment, which I bought because it was on sale for ridiculously cheap, then promptly forgot about. And like I said, it was hot, so I got to thinking a cold, lemony cocktail would be just the thing. Here’s what I came up with:

Lemon Meringue Fizz
In a lowball glass (about 8 oz.) put 5 or 6 ice cubes. Pour in 1 shot of vodka and 2 of limoncello. Top up with soda water. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel if you’re feelin’ fancy-like.

Limoncello is almost as strong as vodka, so go easy. Remember that old saying about martinis: They’re like a woman’s breast. One isn’t enough and three is too many.

Unfortunately, I spent Sunday afternoon crying into my lemon meringue fizzes over Paul Newman. That is just unbelievably sucky. I threw on Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and The Sting back-to-back. Newman + Redford = OTP. Like, seriously. I think Redford even said Butch Cassidy was “a romance without any women”. (I wonder what Katherine Ross had to say about that.)

stitching, hurricanes, japanese housewares, and the return of my teevee boyfriend

Except for a quick trip to Marina Foods and Daiso on Saturday, I pretty much stayed glued to MSNBC all weekend, following Gustav’s progress. Mom decided Butte La Rose was going to get too much wind, and they couldn’t risk anything happening to the motor home, because if the house got trashed they’d have to live in it. So instead they went to stay with an old family friend who lives in Alexandria. They have a standing invitation to stay with him whenever they need to evacuate, it’s where they stayed during Rita.

All appears to be well, by the time it got to Vermilion Parish it had dropped to a Category 1, and except for some trees missing some branches, there doesn’t appear to be any significant damage. (They’re still in Alexandria and probably won’t leave until tomorrow, but my cousin who’s a State Trooper already went around to everyone’s property and called them with news.)

There’s like 2 more hurricanes and another low pressure system right behind this one though, joy. Hannah looks like it’s definately going to hit Florida and the Carolinas and miss Louisiana; but Ike’s still too far out to predict where it will go. August and September are the worst months of hurricane season. Sometimes I really wish the ‘rents had stayed in California.

Anyway, like I said I did get out once, to get some groceries and a few things at Daiso:

Bento cups!

Egg sectioner thingy!

Adorable chicken-shaped kitchen timer!

More school notebooks!

All $1.50. You gotta love Japanese dollar stores, they actually sell useful items; unlike the tatty junk peddled by American dollar stores. Also a few other things I didn’t bother to take photos of, including a new bento box (it’s exactly like the square red one, except it’s blue), and a cylindrical onigiri mold. Triangle onigiri are played out, man.

Luckily by 8:00 last night the need to obsessively track the hurricane had died down, so I was able to tune in for the 4th season premiere of Prison Break, which looks like it’s going to be pretty weird. Allow me to break it down:

  • Whistler: Dead!
  • Sara: ALIVE!!! And could we please have some hot monkey lovin’ between her and Michael already?!
  • Gretchen: Dead! No wait, alive and in some Company hellhole. And this show continues its fine tradition of the female characters getting tortured horribly.
  • T-Bag: Cannibal! I told you it was weird.
  • Sona: Burned down!
  • Tattoos: Lasered off! Aww. The tattoos were my favorite character!

stitching, film processing, and really weird spam

So yesterday afternoon I made it my mission to find a place that processes medium format film. Logically, I knew that it had become a niche film, especially among amateurs who don’t do their own processing. But it was still around when I was a kid, although mostly amongst people my grandparents’ age who never upgraded to 35mm. And you could still get it processed at most places.

Well, I’m apparently a dinosaur, because when I started with the logical places (Target, Longs), they didn’t even know what I was talking about. I would ask them if they processed medium format film and get “Med…i…um…form…at?” in return, like someone parrotting an exotic foreign phrase.

So after a couple of those calls, I decided to stick with camera stores. Ritz Cameras develops it, but doesn’t print it. However, they do have a third-party contractor that will print it. And they can make me a proof sheet, so I can more easily choose which ones are worth printing. I didn’t ask how much it cost or what the turnaround is; I suspect it will be neither cheap nor fast, but I really want to do this.

At some point I may look into enrolling in some non-matriculating classes at Chabot or Ohlone so I can use their photo lab. And I never did learn how to process color film (B&W only), so I’d have to take a class for that.

In other news, this is quite possibly the most bizarrely random spam subject line to have ever landed in my filter (click to get a bigger version):

Is “Plaster Wall” some white rapper I’ve never heard of?

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