Monday, 23 March 2015

Very illustrative

It wasn't in the user's manual for life that one starts falling apart before hitting 40.
I kept throwing prescription meds' packages in one box for the whole 2014 and...

My one year consumption of meds. Most of them are antidepressants and anxiolytics. The smaller part is meant to treat my damn GERD... and I'm not a particularly compliant patient because I forget everything. If I took the stuff as I should, there would be more. Feel free to be sorry for me.

And a gratuitous cat picture...

Photoshop vs. Photopaint or a short history of frustration

I've been working with images since time immemorial. Or actually since 1992-ish. Not sure when I started using PhotoShop but it was some time about then.
I got the Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, I think, which I cherish on my hard drive because now everything is on the clouds and one doesn't get their Adobe crap anymore, one can only rent it and I'm paranoiac, old-fashioned and a luddite. Now, my good laptop died (1) and the borrowed one has some weird screen resolution that doesn't cooperate well with a secondary screen and it's too small for any serious work. (2) The hard drive doesn't rock either.

I started messing with graphic design in around 1991. I remember CorelDraw v. 2.0 that worked in the wireframe only. We had the first computers with Pentium processors in this country in 1998, ordered directly from IBM and the folks in the computer shop came to look and be amazed. The glories of living in a company that started in one's kitchen. The first software I learned to use was said CorelDraw. Later on, Adobe stuff found its way into our kitchen and adjoining spaces. I never really learned to use MS Office and similar stuff because who needs Word when there's PageMaker or shitloads of cool typesetting software - and there's no way I'm producing documents that lack graphic design. Similarly, I don't throw lousy snapshots around. Every image that leaves my dirty paws is 'shopped. Because I have some standards which are so deeply ingrained that they'd need to be surgically removed.
end of digression

I'm photoshopless and because I just don't do lousy pics, and I have an urge to post stuff all over the place, I had to resort to installing PhotoPaint from the Corel suite. I'm constantly struggling to find tools that are there under unfamiliar names or maybe they're not there at all, who knows.
I finally got used to my new camera to an extent, spring light is inviting and I've had an urge to plague the world with pics. I'm warning ahead that they may or may not be up to my standard because the combo of unfamiliar camera, unfamiliar software and odd screens may produce suspicious results.

My memory card is full, that's why I'm bothering with sorting out pics, not leaving it for later, whatever a later may be.
(Let's not start on the heaps of films from predigital era which someone should scan.)

(1) No, it's not only resting.
(2) Been slowly going blind since 1988. I only get frustrated when the coupons are for frames and lenses although they say "all merchandise". I don't need new $1000 titanium frames. I don't need a replacement for the $50 ones I got on sale, for that matter, all I need is lenses. Fuck you, opticians.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

At random

On Thursday, I got tickets to Paris. Mom is preparing in her usual way, reading travel blogs and noting down tips where to get something for free or cheap. I looked at a map of Paris and noticed that I lack a general idea what is where. Been there twice for a week or so but I failed to remember what's on which side of the river etc.

Work is busy and somewhat annoying. The house is full of kids and I hate kids even more than other people (for those who are new here or didn't notice yet: I'm a certified sociophobe).
It looks like spring but my office is colder than ever. I'll probably go and find a space heater before my toes fall off.
My camera refused to cooperate under the pretense of being full so I was forced to start sorting out pictures. I discovered things I already forgot about. Someone remind me that I remind my shrink to do something about my withered memory.

Monday, 26 January 2015

A story of one dyeing fail

I'm into mushrooming, I have pics to prove it but then I should bother to find them and I can't properly photoshop them and although Corel PhotoPaint works just fine, not my current screen. And back then, I wasn't in the mood.

I however kept various stuff. Because, the internets say that one can extract dye from mushrooms. I read a bit here and a bit there but they were not particularly useful because good part of the descriptions started with something like Navajos used the Dyer's Mushroom... and since there's no proper name given, I have no clue if this species grows around here. (1) One of the more interesting reports said that fermentation helps release the pigments. The others said that about salt, ammonia and a few other substances. One of the recipes called for wool and mushrooms immersed in a jar and left to ferment for a few months in full sun, that it's fine, the stench will go away after a few months.
This has somehow caught my attention although my fermentation experiments went only as far as getting some kefir grains and feasting on sour milk until the culture turned bad. I hear, however, that the wild bacteria that are just around here could work pretty well, too. I got a mixture of bolete leftovers (good stuff gets eaten or conserved by drying), some dried Laccaria amethystina - they say that it turns your food purple but when dried, it lost a bit of colour so I wasn't very sure - and orange mix of Hydnum repandum and chanterelles.
I needed to go away for a while so I left the mushrooms sit in their respective vessels for two days.

Bowl: chanterelle and hydnum mix; jar: Laccaria; beer glass: bolete mix.

The soaked mushrooms did develop some character that included bubbles and a bit of suspicious smell. The Laccaria jar was a fail, no apparent dye - or at least I didn't trust the greenish colour enough so to compost it went.
The usual method of boil stuff - soak yarn - keep warm for a few hours should do the trick in theory. There should be some Finis coronat opus bit - beautifully dyed samples or some such. However, it didn't work at all. Alum mordant or not, the dye just didn't set. Not at all.
There is a contest in photography of all things fermented. Should you want, gimme a thumbs up - I want to outrun at least one of the wonderful pickles, alcoholic beverages and whatnot.

(1) which is the scientific name in Latin. The only thing that works all over the place. Well, mostly, and still better than common names, much better.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mice et al.

The maintenance guy is so simple that it hurts but sometimes, he is one of the rare people who actually act reasonably.
Since the hotel cat was ran over by car (well, she might have suffered a heart attack in the curb, I didn't get the autopsy done and it was an old cat), there's nobody to deal with the rodents so we got a bit of mice infestation in the dry storage. The kitchen staff didn't say anything because they are too lazy to open their mouths and weren't it for the maintenance who told me about traps, baits and that mice prefer cheescake to bacon, I wouldn't have found out for a while because I don't check every nook and cranny that often.
I went to check because mice in food are no fun and the food safety inspectors would go ballistic if they happened to find the rodent turd which I found among packages leaking flour, oat flakes and what else so I went to do some yelling, to which the chef on duty said Oh, wee little mousies, isn't that cute and gave me hurt looks when I yelled more and ordered her to check everything NOW and whatever package is opened/broken but mouse-free will be put into a sturdy container. Which sorta happened but the mice still came and went. Maintenance guy said that one disappeared with the spring trap. (Rocky mouse, aparently.)
Two days later, I went to check the state of matters, found even more mouse dung, went to the kitchen and yelled more. The other shift gave me another series of hurt looks and chef said But I cleaned the place a while ago.
Yesterday, there was more of mouse dung and I just went ballistic and ordered the kitchen staff to remove everything from storage, check every package, yes, package, not crate, chase all mice, spiders and dirt away...

Maintenance found out that the anti-everything netting in the vent was not tightly set so he fixed it, did most of the shuffling and cleaning. However, the cooks' basic human rights were severely violated by all this totally unnecessary work because they needed to bend their precious backs, and who cares about excrements in their lunch. If I could press and preserve the moment when they gave me the look of kicked puppies, I would. Because, my cynical heart rejoices every time I remember it.

As the old story answers the question of how the mice eradication went: Two injured, three bruised and five seriously ridiculed

The maintenance artists are redoing my office. Moving the old furniture out was a bit of a task as it tended to disintegrate - which was the primary reason why I started this refurbishing adventure, I certainly do mind if the shelves threaten to collapse on me. I said that it's up to them to sort ouf which bits of the plywood and that sort of chipboard that's called compressed darkness around here could be useful for some shelving and to toss the rest. At which they pondered that the furniture looks quite good. After a few kilos of sawdust falling out of the solid-ish looking pieces, they caved. The IT guy came to check the wiring. After removing around five kilometres of cables that were not connecting anything, the place almost looked neat. But for the dirtiest carpet ever, which was ugly and dirt-coloured to start with.
It cost me around 130 euros to get a hardwearing carpet made most likely from recycled polyethylene bottles which is blue, pretty and will probably outlast the end of the world, cockroaches, Keith Richards and a very special cat that was recently rehomed from a shelter I know and whose name was Satan for several good reasons. Ikea post-giftmas sale provided the rest. The provisional workspace is truly Procrustean and I can't wait to get to an actual table. Coffee table with an orange crate (as used to hold oranges, it's actually mostly black, not that it mattered much) to lift my laptop to a reasonable working height is not the last cry in ergonomy and my back hints the same.

Monday, 5 January 2015

On malice of things

My computer bricked. As in changed into an object as useful as a brick. The motherboard died.
I hinted the computer guy that there's the same laptop with a broken screen, maybe he could make one functional and one doubly useless laptop but there were some other issues so I ended up basically laptopless.
Some shuffling later, I got my dad's laptop, IT guy reloaded my mess including history, cookies and similar crap from Firefox and saved my various antiquated software (Adobe runs PhotoShop and InDesign from a cloud and I don't do clouds) for later use. The screen has worse definition makes some of the work applications pretty much useless but it's a working computer and everything went okay, even if PhotoShopless for a few days.
Then the computer bricked again. Dad said that I'm a dumbass, did some poking, prodding and revert-to-three-months-ago thing so bye bye stuff, had to reinstall the things like Adobe Reader or Libre Office, fished out the passwords and references from various places and I'm not allowed to touch any electronics until it's found out whether I bring bad luck or some such.

Since the Nasty Tendinitis of 2012, I use the mouse with my left. With the borrowed computer, I didn't bother to switch and it took less than a week for my recently treated left shoulder and mouseitis prone right wrist to start hurting. First thing today, I changed the rodent to its usual placement and I don't care if people call it weird.
Pics will come. I installed Corel Photopaint which sorta works but I don't know how but I'll find out. Kitty is growing, you know, and being as cute as kittens get.

Friday, 19 December 2014


It's been a while. I got sciatica, then I got nasty case of sniffles, meantime I was depressed, now I have bronchitis... well. About a month ago, I got a kitten. I was pondering getting a cat for long because I was essentially deprived of the Fat Meezer who is now generally referred as Grandma's Cat but parental units are what they are so I always saw a nice one in a shelter, asked a thing or two or not... until the little pointed kitten appeared out of nowhere. Actually, she was found with her tabby momma and tabby siblings, along with the whole collection of feline parasites and I was the first to ask for this genetic oddity.

These eyes only glow red, otherwise it's the garden variety pointed cat. I still don't have a stable name, she's going under Šiška which means, among more important and frequent things, Airhead, which she is.

And she's the most adorable kitten in the world. The pics are a few weeks old, now she's darker as pointed cats are darkening with age, bigger because kittens grow and plushier. And parental units are in love. Yes, my grumpy dad included. He shares his morning yoghurt voluntarily, even.

Parents were, obviously, furious. But, there is a thing about pointed cats. They're white and that always looks sorta cute, with cute dark paws and face and ears, and blue eyes. I'm positive that the blue-eyed beasts know their way around people, every owner of a full-bred Meezer, Siberian husky or something similar says that the sky blue gaze is just... something that makes the humans get up and fetch a snack.

Šiška is a basement cat. Not Basement Cat, just a cat that lives in the lower floor. Parents are worried that she could pee in their unguarded beds or eat the carpets so she's inhabiting the laundry room and the place that's called cellar but for practical purposes, it's a smokers' parlour. The cat already found out that a full ashtray is a great toy, and that everything is a great toy so the room will finally get tidied up from all the dad's dusty treasures covered in spider webs.

Hell yeah. Widdle white plushy kitty with widdle black feet and blue eyes.