laurion: (Default)
I found a woodcut image today while poking around for other things, and shared it with a few people. Based on those conversations I made a thing. I present to you Oopsie, the Thrower. The unofficial mascot of the SCA Thrown Weapons community. You can find Oopsie in a ready to wear form
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Crossposted from The Black Horse of the Blog World. Read the full post at https://wp.me/pdWNb-fQ.
laurion: (Default)
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/00/2b/2a/002b2abf3aeeb5df4e48822a5c40c05f.jpg


 

Many of you know that I've been involved with a local con-running group for a very long time. For a number of years I've been the treasurer. So it isn't uncommon for me to get emails talking about money and payments and whatnot. I got one today, ostensibly from the current President
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Crossposted from The Black Horse of the Blog World. Read the full post at https://wp.me/pdWNb-fK.
laurion: (legoindy)
So I went out in the backyard to practice some knife throwing tonight and thought I'd try putting a bit more spin on it so I could stand closer to ten feet. And for the first time had a knife come straight back at me. Did you know bleeding gets you seen faster at the ER? Fortunately it wasn't a bad place (left forearm outside near the elbow). So 18 stitches and a tetanus shot and I'm home before bed. Stitches come out in two weeks. I'll be out practicing again Saturday, although carefully. So, in all seriousness, please be careful out there people. Post stitches image below (below the cut if possible, har har), pre stitches photo available on request. See more... )
laurion: (legoindy)

When last we spoke, I mentioned that the iconic castle at Brandeis University was at risk. Well, now we have further details of the plans by the administration recently approved by the Board.  Rather than tear down the whole thing, they’re opting to keep the parts that most tie into the marketing of the school, the A and B sections that appear so frequently in imagery, and that contain the well popularized Cholomondley’s coffeehouse. The rest they intend to tear down and replace with a modern block shaped dormitory.

Alumni interested in discussing this and in organizing a response to this may wish to join the newly formed Facebook Group. Let me know if you need an invite to join, I’m not sure.

Anyhow, I do understand the pressures. Students want modern dorms with A/C and efficient working heat. ADA compliance is a beautiful thing. Safety is important. Residential students bring in more revenue. But here’s the thing: In the past decade (so, recently in college evolution terms) they knocked down the cottages and the Ridgewood dorms and rebuilt very large modern facilities in their place, so I’m not sure how much pressure there actually is for more beds. I know there’s a growing international population that drives some of the demand for residential facilities. But I do actually think that safety and energy efficiency are the bigger drivers. I think if not for these there’d be no debate. But faced with this, I do acknowledge the compromises of the current plan. It is always cheaper to knock down an old building and start from scratch than it is to rehabilitate an old structure. Building new gives lots of opportunities that just can’t be done effectively with old structures. The Castle is a study in inefficient use of space.

But it’s a castle. It’s not supposed to be an efficient use of space. And too much of the campus already was, or has recently been turned into, unappealing blocks. The Castle is a refreshingly organic (so to speak) and culturally unique object. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The administration recognizes this and is trying to preserve what they see as the parts that most embody that legacy. Sadly, the parts are very much less than the whole.  At the same time, they’ve had scaffolding and safety netting up and all over the whole thing for a year or two now, fully selling to everyone the fact or image of the building as structurally unsound and falling apart on a daily basis. A current editorial in the Justice carries the perspective of at least one student.

So, the Castle is unsafe. It’s inefficient. Fixing it while retaining the exterior and they layout is expensive, especially doing it right and not just slapping some patches up. With the new dorms in place, the school can afford to close down the Castle as a dorm while they address the issue. Now is the time. So alumni and students who want to influence the plan need to vote with their dollars, both earmarking any current donations for preserving the Castle exterior in its entirety, and reminding the administration that alumni dollars are a long term value, whereas the cost of reconstruction is a short term one. I have no idea if that’ll work at all, and I’m at least content that the administration is in fact trying to do its best given the needs and limitations it has, and isn’t just bulldozing the entire structure.

References

  • http://www.brandeis.edu/castle-project/about.html
  • http://www.thejustice.org/article/2016/01/castle-to-be-torn-down
  • http://www.postalstampart.com/product/Brandeis_University_Usen_Castle_1st_Day_Cover_Usen_Castle_Stamp
  • http://www.ebay.in/itm/USA-MINT-POSTCARD-USEN-CASTLE-/172069546601
  • http://www.schoolneedlepoint.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/201962490156975/
  • http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/tour/village.html
  • http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/tour/ridgewood.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Castle_%28Waltham,_Massachusetts%29
  • https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/27/beloved-brandeis-dorm-will-longer-castle/oQOg2wMXFenXR3gWlneEeM/story.html
  • http://www.thejustice.org/article/2016/01/editorial-commend-university-decision-on-usen-castle

 

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Attention Brandeis Alumni (and others):

In recent news, it has come to my attention that the administration of Brandeis University is proposing to tear down Usen Castle. They say it is old, it is falling apart, it is unsafe, and it is inefficient. See http://www.thejustice.org/article/2015/11/trustees-to-decide-on-future-of-castle for a recent article on the debate. It is well known for its bizarre architectural elements (see http://allthetropes.wikia.com/wiki/Bizarrchitecture and http://www.brandeis.edu/studentlife/dcl/roomselection/images/UsenCastle.pdf)

That may be. But it is also historic (National Registry as of 1979), iconic, and emblematic. It is the one thing, other than the university seal, that appears most on paraphernalia and imagery. When the Post Office issued a stamp in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary, it was the thing pictured on the stamp. Still listed as a popular dorm, you can see more and read more at http://omeka.lts.brandeis.edu/exhibits/show/photographs-of-the-castle-from .

For those of you in the SCA, it should be no surprise that there was a tradition of using the castle in various ways – meetings, inspiration for arms, the odd strawberry war with another borough, etc.

For those of you with ties to the BSCF, this was more or less where the club started, where many many meetings and movie nights were held, and where many many larps took place over the years.

For those of you curious about academic history, this building predates Brandeis and was the main building of the old Middlesex University (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middlesex_University_(Massachusetts)) an old medical college, and the only veterinary college in New England, until Tufts in 1978.

For those of you with memories of 90’s television, the coffee shop there is widely considered the inspiration for Central Perk in the TV show Friends.

Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis spent time there engaged in political discourse.

In short, if you have a relevant connection to the place, and if you have an opinion on its future, now is the time to make your opinions known to those who are making decisions about it.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

We’re trimming back the book collection and with it the bookcases. This is in preparation for moving J from his current room into what is at the moment our library and guest room. He’s three now and graduating to a big boy room and a big boy bed. But this means we now have a couple of empty bookcases as books have been moved into deep storage.

So, could anyone use a bookcase or two? Let me know, and I,d be glad to take pictures or send descriptions.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

So…  Amanda and I have decided that we’re going to go to Pittsburgh this summer to visit her brother. And since we’ll be there anyway…  Let’s take the toddler to Pennsic!  What could possibly go wrong?

Pennsic, for those who don’t know, is an SCA camping event that regularly draws over 10,000 people. It’s two weeks long, although we are only planning on going for the second week, called War Week.

For those who do know, we don’t yet have an encampment. Got room in yours? Also, have you camped with a toddler who may or may not be potty trained? Advice and support much appreciated.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Knight of the Burning Pestle

Last night was the first performance of Knight of the Burning Pestle.  I commented to one of the actors at Wednesday’s dress that it felt like the whole thing has come together, gelled, at the point where the play is being conveyed properly. That even if the audience isn’t comfortable with the language of the Elizabethan era, they would be able to get the quirks and twists of the dialogue and the plot. Last night’s performance proved it. The house was more full than I expected for a Thursday opening night, and from where I was sitting, they were having quite a fine time.

But don’t take my word for it.  You could ask people who were at the show last night, or better yet, you could come see the show for yourself.  There are performances tonight and tomorrow at 8, and next Thursday and Friday at 8, and Saturday at 2.  Tickets are $15 each, and the theater itself id just outside of Davis square, so super easy to get to.  I’m very impressed with all the cast and crew and it’s an amazing production.  And if you don’t laugh, I’ll even refund your tickets myself.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

knightoftheburningpestle.com


Just to get that out there first thing.  What is Knight of the Burning Pestle? It’s a play written by Francis Beaumont around 1607. Lucky him, he’s been overshadowed in history by some guy pretentious enough to land the epithet of ‘Bard of Avon’.  And that’s a real shame in its way, because Knight of the Burning Pestle is -damned- funny.


And there’s a production of it coming up by Theater@First.  Click on that link for the full details, but in short, April 23rd, 24th, 25th, 30th, and May 1st at 8pm, or May 2nd at 2pm at Unity Church in Somerville, within a song’s distance of Davis Square.


You won’t see me on the stage playing a part. I’m not directing or producing in any way. I’m not even doing tech.  You see, this show is going to have LIVE MUSIC, and I’m in the band.  One of the fun parts of the script is how often it references music from the period. So we’ve taken those, and some other appropriate period music, and will be enlivening the performances all for you.


Come see one of the best plays you don’t know.


Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Now that I’ve told those who need to be told first, I can now say that earlier today I accepted a new job offer. As this year passes and a new one arrives, I’ll be stepping down from Regis and (re)joining Brandeis as their new Academic System Administrator. It’s a big change in some ways, and a little change in some others. As I have seven years under my belt at Regis, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I had some mixed thoughts about making the change. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done at Regis, and the growth opportunities it has afforded me. But equally, I’m looking forward to bringing my acquired skills and established enthusiasm to a new group, and looking forward to seeing what I can do there. And what new ways I might grow in doing so. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ll have a title that better reflects the work I so often do. I’ll still have to explain it to most of my family a few times before they start to understand it though. *grin*

 

(One of the hardest parts may be learning to walk to a different building after I park…)

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Well, in honor of my 20th anniversary being in, out, around, over, under, and through the SCA (yeah, 20… I looked. Feast of the Simple Fare in Barony Beyond the Mountain in 1994 was my first event. Hard to pin it to an exact day though), I’ve gone and done something I’ve never done before.

 

I’ve become a paid member.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Our household has recently gotten an upgrade of the furry nature. This weekend we went out and found two new cats to join our family. We weren’t expecting two. We were expecting one. But these two came as a pair, and we decided it worked out best to keep them that way. So here are Abelard and Heloise, but we’re generally referring to them as Abel (brown and white tiger) and Lulu (grey with gold eyes).

So far the introductions are going as well as can be expected, and Abel is almost aggressive in his demands for cuddles. Lulu is playing it cool, letting her brother be the ambassador for now. And Tica is tolerant so long as the new ones don’t get too close to her food or her library. Pictures below.

 

IMG_0610IMG_0611

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

Do over.

Aug. 17th, 2014 08:44 pm
laurion: (legoindy)

Today:

  • The deck crew did not show to do their work, have said they’ll be here tomorrow.
  • Was supposed to take niece to thrown weapons and archery practice. She threw up all over the backseat one highway exit away. Drove her back and did not throw (universe has conspired to keep me from throwing for the past 2 months).
  • Almost every car detailing place is closed by 1 on Sundays or are appointment only. Took the car to the one place that was open late enough and said it did not need an appointment. Was only taking scheduled appointments today so full car cleaning now waits until Friday.
  • Hung new lamps in the living room. Old torchiere fell and broke while my back was turned doing that. New lamps are not bright enough to replace old one. E12 bulbs are difficult to get bright enough.
  • Target overflowing with back to school and welcome to college shoppers and stuff. Did not stick around to do the intended shopping.
    Button popped off of couch. Have not yet managed to pull the loop back through from the button on the other side to re anchor it.
  • In general the things that could go wrong did. The fights that could have been had were. The toddlerness of our toddler expressed.

Can I declare a mulligan and redo Sunday?

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

This is (literally) your uplifting video of the day.

And remember: each balloon has a basket underneath with at least one person floating up in it.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Had a really good weekend.


Friday (I have fridays off in the summer) Jaeger and I went to our Music Together class where he fell in love with a new djembe, then we we went to the library for books and trains. After that we went home for fluffernutters and naps. Mimi and Poppi (the names he picked for my parents) came by and Amanda came home from a day of relief work. We cooked up some mini pizzas and packed up a picnic basket and walked down to the town common for the Friday night concert series. Dancing and balloons and ice cream happened.


Saturday Mimi and Poppi came back up and took Jaeger for a while. I went to have lunch with [livejournal.com profile] jducoeur and [livejournal.com profile] fenicedautun at Zaftigs, then went back home to do some housework. Afterwards we drove down to Plymouth for a third set of fireworks, having been to Needham and Waltham the weekend before. It was quite late when we got in, but it was worth the drive.


Sunday, there was no thrown weapons practice (most of the regulars being up at GNEW), so after sleeping in a bit, I got up and mowed the lawn. Jaeger got out his plastic lawnmower and helped. Did our grocery shopping a day early, and then after naptime we packed up our swim gear and a cooler and went over to spend the afternoon at Cochituate State Park.  I’d not actually been before despite living nearby for quite some time.  Very nice state park, and absolutely worth the modest $5 parking fee to get in. We walked around the trails for a bit, and spent some time in the lake. Jaegermonsters like swimming, who knew? He had a great time splashing and pointing at the boats and the birds. Our only regret is we forgot to bring the beach toys so he could play in the sand more. After drying off and changing back into our regular clothes I found out that craigslist had come through again, so we went out and picked up a pre-birthday birthday gift of a tricycle for the monster, and went out to dinner at the BBC. Then home for bath and bed. Jaeger’s only regret was that it was too late in the day to actually go riding on the new tricycle, which he is very excited about and keeps referring to as a motorcycle.  I’m sure he’ll be out on it today.


In the general state of things, it is going well.  Certainly better than things were. Amanda is feeling better than she has in a -long- time, and things are looking positive for the job prospects. We’ve gotten some things sorted and some help on the financial front. And the parents of the children’s center kids (most of the children aren’t of faculty or staff at the school, but are from the Weston/Wayland/Wellesley community) got together and pooled their not insignificant business and financial firepower, formed a task force, and got the college to agree to a three year plan to keep the children’s center open. So we have that back and one more source of stress has been lifted. Our current immediate stresses tend to be along the lines of not overscheduling the remainder of our rapidly filling summer. And I’m glad to have that as a problem.


Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

My kid has recently proven that he has the strength to weight ratio and the coordination and the cognitive ability to put it all together and to pull himself up and over the railing of his crib and to lower himself down to the floor.

Kinda defeats the purpose of having a crib, doesn’t it?

So we’ll be transitioning to a toddler bed sooner than expected….

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (dangerous to go alone kitten)

So, a long post now that the knife’s edge is blunted a bit.

photo 4

Cats and cat ownership has long been a big part of my emotional anchoring.  I got my first cat when I was eight (he was Italian, no really, we lived there at the time) and he was with me through the angsty teen years and through college.  He lived 18 years with us before finally succumbing to old age in 2004. Long time friends may even remember that post.  And then the first cat I got as an adult was Ozy. Again, long time friends may remember the post I made the day the day after we picked him out. I’d always hoped Ozy would live as long as Midnight did.

But we were not to be so lucky. About a month ago, as a result of a change in his eating habits (He was -always- a food motivated cat, more labrador than cat sometimes), Amanda found a lump in him. And again, I’ll link to a post where you can read more about that and what he meant to us. It quickly became obvious that this was not something that was treatable, and that we had a limited amount of time with him.

Over the past month he ‘rollercoastered’.  He would rally and have good days, and then other times he’d go downhill rapidly. We kept looking for signs as to when it was time, and we kept seeing that the ups were losing out to the downs.  He went from not eating his regular food to eating tastier dry food to eating quality wet food to eating the equivalent of junk food.  But still, wit a pill at mealtimes, even as recently as Thursday he had an up day where he ate 5 (small) cans of food across the day; on Friday he ate two cans in the morning, but would barely eat half a can in the evening.

He wouldn’t give us clear signals though.  He didn’t become overly reclusive, still jumping up on Amanda’s lap in the evenings and purring, still coming running at mealtimes even though he wasn’t eating, and generally behaving catlike. But we could see his body wasting and he had a lot less enthusiasm and energy than he had 6 months ago when he would bolt down his dinner and go after Tica’s, or when he would attack her aggressively.

It was clear that our cat was sick, getting sicker, and wasn’t going to get better.  And we could see that he was dehydrated and in a lot of discomfort.  We found spots where he’d vomited. We didn’t want him to suffer needlessly. We didn’t want the catsitter to have to be the one who was there with him at the end. We wanted him to go on a good note and in a way where we could say goodbye properly.

saturday we could see things were rough, but weren’t sure. Sunday morning we knew we needed to discuss it. And on our way back from thrown weapons practice we made a decision and came to peace with having made it.  When we got home and he asked for food I gave him some more, but again he wasn’t eating enthusiastically.  After naptime we gave him some fish, which he enjoyed, and called in a vet we knew well enough to be comfortable with, but weren’t socially connected to.

We took Ozy out on the deck, because he loved being outside even though he wasn’t an outdoor cat, only going out when we occasionally took him out on his harness. And J came out with us and loved playing in the sunshine. Ozy wanted to go down the stairs to the yard, so we let him, and we walked him all around the yard. Yesterdays picture was from that time. It was the most animated he’s been in months.

Shortly after, the vet showed up.  We brought Ozy back to the deck and sedated him. Then we brought J over to say goodbye to him, which he did, waving, saying bye-bye and giving a kiss. Much of it at our prompting because he is too young to understand. And then we killed our kitty so he wouldn’t go suffering or alone, but could go outside in the sunshine happy. It was quiet. It was peaceful. There was no spasms, no meows, no protests. We brought Tica out to see. Not sure she understood either. And we said goodbye.

It was a beautiful day, and it was everything we wanted it to be. It was perfect. And yet I still can only hope that helps in the long run because it isn’t helping in the short run.

Goodbye to the cat who picked me in the shelter.

Goodbye to the cat who hid for his first week with us.

Goodbye to the first cat I gave a name to.

Goodbye to the cat with the awesome big paws and extra toes who didn’t care if you touched them.

Goodbye to the cat who got out of the house and had us sick and worried that we lost him, but showed up the next morning for breakfast (always food motivated).

Goodbye to the cat who ate a corn cob and sent Amanda with him to the Tufts hospital only hours after she’d graduated from there.

Goodbye to the cat who would jump up and settle down on my desk while I was trying to get things done.

Goodbye to the cat who was always getting on the counters looking for food scraps.

Goodbye to the gentlest cat on four feet.

Goodbye to the cat who used to crawl inside the couch frame and hang out there for hours.

Goodbye to the cat who managed to take up half the bed in the wintertime.

We love you, and miss you already.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (legoindy)

Goodbye Ozymandias.  Full post another day when I don’t hurt so much.photo 4

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

laurion: (zaphod politics)

Recently, the FCC decided to allow ISPs to charge content providers for the services ISPs provide in conducting content to customers.  This is principally a fight over bandwidth consumption from sources like Netflix and YouTube. Critics of this move have said that this will break the notion of Network Neutrality by allowing network providers to favor some providers over others, based on how it benefits the network provider.

Brett Glass, an ISP operator in Laramie, Wyoming, accurately described this as what is economically referred to as a two-sided market, with the advantage that ISPs can continue to offer customers a fixed bill (unlike, say, your electric bill which varies based on usage), while still being able to charge to account for fluctuating usage, by billing the content provider.  He uses the newspaper model as an example of a long standing, and successful two-sided market.

In the case of the newspaper, customers pay a fixed subscription cost regardless of whether or not the size of the paper varies from day to day, week to week, or whether the customer reads some or all of the paper, et cetera.  On the other side, advertisers pay a cost which covers the overhead of making the paper bigger to include the ads, such as extra printing and delivery costs.

But while this is a good example of a two-sided market, this is a terrible model for ISPs to ape.  An ISP is not a newspaper.  Take away all the ads from a newspaper and you still have a product that customers want to buy.  In fact, customers almost never want the advertising they receive anyhow, but accept it as the shared price of keeping their newspaper subscription costs low.  But take away all the Netflixs and YouTubes of the world from what your ISP brings you and the service distinctly loses value.  It comes down to the fact that a newspaper -is- a content provider, and is the primary content provider.  ISPs are a service provider.  They provide little to no content of their own.

Advertisers pay a newspaper for access to the subscribers because advertising is fundamentally an undesired product to most people. Netflix shouldn’t pay an ISP under a similar model because Netflix is providing a product that people want and pay to access.

The real problem comes with trying to apply a two-sided market model to a utility service model.  Currently, ISPs sell a fixed amount of bandwidth to customers at a fixed monthly cost, and offer tiers of service with different bandwidth speeds to try to differentiate their customers. And they charge very large amounts of money, while simultaneously underprovisioning.  They sell the speeds they offer to a large number of people, knowing that many people aren’t going to use nearly that much.  And now that popular offerings like Netflix and twitch.tv are around, more people are in fact using more of what they’ve bought.  And rather than improving their infrastructure to accommodate, or altering their tiered offerings or pricing structure, ISPs are taking this as an opportunity to get paid twice for the same traffic, once from the customer requesting it, and once from the content provider providing it. And they can do this because customers don’t really understand the concept of bandwidth.  Ever since the days of dialup access they’ve paid a fixed monthly cost without really understanding what that entails beyond unmodified access to the internet. So when streaming video gets choppy, customers are just as likely to blame the service provider as they are anyone else, even if it is a result of network congestion on the part of the ISP.  To return to the utility analogy, that would be like blaming the reservoir because the water pressure in your house is too low.  It’s -possible- the reservoir is out of water, but unlikely.

So a two-sided economic market model makes little sense when applied to ISPs which function more like a utility. And ISPs don’t want to switch to metered usage models (like your electricity or gas) because they lose the ability to oversubscribe and underprovision. And customers like the idea of a fixed bill with ‘unlimited’ usage.  So what’s the way out? How do we get to a model where people pay for what they use, and ‘fairness’ is restored?

Some people think the way out is for the FCC to actually regulate ISPs the way they do another utility service: the phone companies. This is called ‘common carrier status’ and proponents see it as a way to encourage competition and to allow for new entrants into the market that can experiment with different pricing models and service offerings.  Recent legal outcomes have made it clear that the FCC can choose to take this route, but so far they have been very reluctant to do so.  Time will tell.

Mirrored from The Black Horse of the Blog World.

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