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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Magus' LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
1:20 pm
I'm Back?

Gee, it's been a while. I just got a new haircut yesterday, which is totally not the reason I'm back, but since that was the last thing I posted about I feel like I should at least acknowledge it.

For some reason the browser on my desktop started going completely nuts in a way that made me not want to keep a tab permanently open to each of LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. Combined with my having largely moved to twitter, twitter+facebook+googleplus having taken a lot of the content that used to be here, and my spending less time in front of the computer for pain reasons, I got out of the habit of checking in to the journals.

Last week I got fed up with Opera not working the way I wanted on my netbook, firefox being unusable, and upgrading/installing browsers being a giant pain because Gentoo and a netbook with a small SSD don't actually get along well at all and blew away the whole storage and started over again with Arch Linux, which I keep running into whenever I'm doing searches for how to fix/improve something in a Linux installation. So far I'm loving it...things pretty much just work, installation is easy, customization seems straightforward, it thus far has insisted on installing very little cruft (I have a working system with a good deal of storage left), and the speed of installing binaries is really pleasant. Plus for some reason it's running a lot more smoothly than Gentoo ever did, including being able to handle firefox with a dozen or two open tabs including a bunch of app tabs without having any trouble at all. Not sure why, but I'm pleased.

And the happier firefox means I'm able to come back here more easily, at least on this system. Will probably return to my usual habits of lurking a lot and posting occasionally.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/147018.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
5:43 pm

[So I'm totally going to need a new default avatar photo soon, aren't I?]

Got my hair cut today. I'm more sure than in December that this one's going to work for me. I might not end up loving it (still getting used to it, obviously), but I think I'm not going to hate it and it's not going to constantly annoy me, so yay.

This is the result of a Deva Curly cut. It took two hours. Some consultation (and I had a picture, which helped, although what I ended up with is pretty far from the picture...in a good way) first. Then cut, dry, which was time intensive. Then a wash, and trimming of bits that weren't falling right. After that a dry under the diffuser, followed by some final adjustments (including a segment that really wasn't looking quite right).

Throughout the process, my stylist, Katie, was really great about communicating to make sure we were going in the direction I wanted. Especially when she was going to do something different than the photo, because it made more sense for my hair or was actually more what I wanted. Great experience.

Admittedly, my wallet's not thanking me right now, but my shoulders are. Totally worth it. Citrus Salon & Spa in Canton, CT. Recommend.

Photos...Collapse )

Should be straightforward and easy to maintain, too.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/146797.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: giddy
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm
Hivemind: Cylindrical Tins?

I'm looking for a relatively water-tight (needn't be perfect) cylindrical container, ~2.5" in diameter, and ~1.5-2" in height, opening at the top.

This is to contain shaving soap, both for everyday use and to travel. Plastic is ok, metal might be more fun in the long run, I don't much mind if it has brand names printed on it or mild stray aromas. Unlike hand soap, shaving soap doesn't get very wet, so the seal can be approximate.

Surely someone knows where the exact thing can be found inexpensively/free, and I just haven't thought of the right place to look. Any ideas?

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/146574.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
12:39 pm
Regency Men's Shirt collars?

Anybody have good images showing closeups of a men's Regency shirt, preferably without a cravat covering them, preferably from multiple angles? I'm having trouble finding what I'm looking for.

Images of a well-sourced pattern would probably work as well.

I'm hoping to make a detachable collar which can button over a modern formal shirt of the sort typically worn with tuxedos. If I get this working, I'll make up instructions/a pattern and post it somewhere.

I think I can make up something functional if I know what I'm trying to accomplish.

In my dreams I will have a working prototype to wear this weekend.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

[Sorry for the multiple post to people who look at facebook too, but I realized my audience of potential contributors is split.]

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/146275.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: crafty
Thursday, January 13th, 2011
12:04 pm
Nonverbal Consent

I think Parker [the older of my two ferrets] is learning how to negotiate consent despite being nonverbal [being a ferret and all]. Like everything she does, being the cutest thing to ever cute, it's adorable.

See, ferrets like to play quite rough, and since we brought Alec home and she has another ferret to play with, she's escalated the roughness of her play from where it was when we first brought her home, even after she healed from her surgery. Watching the two of them play looks exactly like those scenes in cartoons where you see a tangle of limbs poking out every-which-way with no actual identifiable bodies, and there's a lot of teeth on necks and the like. It has a fascinating rhythm to it which I can't quite explain right now.

They also like to play with me in exactly the same way, roughly as though my hand and forearm were a ferret to play with. I think Parker at least has decided that the fleshy area between my thumb and index finger is my "neck" for these purposes, and that's usually what she goes for when she tries to bite me.

The interesting part I've noticed recently is how she bites me. The first time she gets me, she'll completely freeze with her teeth just barely touching flesh, as though waiting to see how I'll react. If I continue to play, or even just stay still, the next time she'll bite harder. Around the third or fourth time it's usually enough to cause a bit of pain, but if I yelp and jerk my hand away she backs off. Actually, she usually backs off on the rough play entirely for a bit, but then will come back at a less bitey/less strong bitey level.

shield_toad111 once told me about a technique for training puppies not to bite too hard involving yelping and then leaving and sulking if they bite you enough to hurt . . . that this is how they would learn their limits when playing with other puppies in their pack. I'd kind of decided to try something similar as soon as we brought Parker home, and in retrospect I think it had a positive effect, as she now seems to be actively seeking those signals from me.

Obviously, words are less ambiguous and allow you to negotiate before you reach the limit rather than when you're at or have just crossed a line, but it's really neat that my ferret has developed a model for determining what sort of play is appropriate in the moment and minimizing harm while playing in the way she prefers. And of course if I don't want to play bitey-tickly in the first place, I can decline to respond when she bounces around excitedly at my feet, and she'll find other entertainment.

Addendum: [A quick shower tells me I should add this after all] Parker does not represent the Gold Standard for enthusiastic consent by any stretch of the imagination. But something to think about: are you worse than my two-year-old ferret at making sure the people you're playing with want to play with you, want to play with you in the way you're trying to play with them, and are still enjoying playing with you in the way you're playing with them?

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/146057.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: amused
Monday, December 20th, 2010
9:49 am
Lenses: Background for the Confused

I can already feel the blank stares of the people who haven't known me in one of my prior lens-wearing periods and haven't discussed these things with any of the fairly small number of other people out there who use them. So here's the background on what's going on.

Nifty things you can do to eyeballs using rigid gas permeable lenses...Collapse )

In summary: they can do really cool things with rigid lenses to make your eyes work better even when the lenses are out, and you don't have to worry about them screwing up with a laser and making things both worse and uncorrectable. (They've probably improved that failure rate enough I should look into it again, but when it was new those numbers weren't making me happy.)

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/145685.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
9:40 am
Well, Now I've Gone and Done It (Lenses, Day 2)

I voted with my impatience and decided to go ahead and do the lens thing. Even if this turns out to have been a poor choice, at least this time I won't regret procrastinating it for another year when I had a chance to do it.

Yesterday wasn't too bad. I awoke with kind of mediocre vision, but good enough that I could be fairly functional for an hour or so before it really got to me, then switched into some glasses which we believe to be -2.0 diopters. I didn't do too much that involved reading, because I spent a fair amount of the day with pretty blurry vision, but I could mostly get by. It was actually less bad than I expected.

This morning marks day two. My eyes are now uneven, with (surprisingly) the right eye having significantly better vision than the left. I'm typing uncorrected right now, and I know that I'm primarily using my right eye for reading, which is kind of uncomfortable and probably going to lead to a lot of strain and headaches, especially since my vision is a bit blurry even in that eye. It also will make switching to low-power glasses awkward, because the ones I have at these powers are balanced between the eyes, and I probably need something in the -2 to -3 range in the left, and probably only about a -1 in the right right now.

Hopefully as things get worse they'll also even out, but today's likely to be a day for a lot of radio or mindless TV or such that don't really require a lot of looking at things, or something.


Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/145591.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Saturday, December 18th, 2010
1:40 pm
Found My Contacts!

Finally found my old contact lenses, which I've been searching for since Thanksgiving because I'd decided to return to wearing them, partly because my glasses prescription isn't strong enough anyway, and partly because I hate not being able to lie with the side of my head against something when I'm awake because my glasses interfere and it's annoying.

Also, my life is different enough in terms of my tending to go to sleep in a more intentional way that I'm less concerned about missing nights like I used to a lot, and I'm not doing anything important enough that I can't afford to lose a few days to complete inability to see as my eyes readapt to the lenses.

Finally, I'm kind of hoping that the forced ritual of dealing with the lenses every night and morning will help me to be more consistent with other things like hair care that are a bit more procrastinatable. If it works, this could be beneficial to my getting more done every day and being healthier.

The less good news is I found them now rather than shortly after getting back. I leave on Thursday to visit family and friends for the holiday season (I don't know exact details, fixed locations are Westchester, NY and Baltimore, I don't know if I'll be able to fit you in but I probably wish I could, feel free to contact me privately to discuss.).

As I recall, the 2nd and 3rd days after I start on the lenses are the ones where I'm almost completely useless, being unable to see with or without glasses for most of the day. It'll probably be frustrating for a couple days after that, but I'm not really sure. There's also a slight chance that they won't work right at all, which won't have any negative consequences except that I won't be able to see well until I give up and give my eyes a couple of days to get back to normal for the glasses to work again.

I'm likely to want to have some glasses with me for late evenings, though I don't know which, or even if I have anything appropriate in the heap [totally not a stack, which I said first] of random old glasses I have for this purpose. There's a limit to how many glasses I'm willing to tote around with me while traveling (that limit is probably 2 pair).

So I'm trying to figure out: do I put the lenses in tonight, or do I procrastinate starting them until early January.

Again, my eye doctor assures me there's no safety concern (they night not have the desired effect, but they can't hurt me), but I could be left unable to make out any sort of detail outside of about 6" from my face for a few days. Actually, I'm kind of guaranteed that effect, but I might get that without coming out the other side with normal vision all the time.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/145209.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: excited
Monday, December 13th, 2010
3:47 pm
Still agonizing over my hair

So I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do about my hair, and I'm finding it hugely stressful. I've accepted that my hair is pretty curly (and the extent to which it zig-zags rather than curling is significant, but doesn't look any different to a casual observer and probably doesn't make much difference in either how it should be treated or what styles will have what effect), and that I can like it that way. I've learned ways of caring for it that it seems to like and that are less stressful to my hands and arms than how I used to care for it. That's all great.

Cut for length...Collapse )

[Preemptively, I do not want any discussion here on things to do with no-longer-attached hair after cutting. Any comments on that topic will be immediately frozen and the commenter banned and possibly untrusted/defriended until I stop being angry at them. I'm not kidding around here. I don't care how much I love you.]

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/145064.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: aggravated
Monday, November 29th, 2010
12:18 pm
That was weird

[Post about my thorough physical search by the TSA still to come when I get around to editing the quick thing I wrote in the airport when I didn't have good internet access to post...]

Wednesday, shortly before leaving to fly to NY to visit my family for the long weekend, I went out to check the mail and discovered a memo from my local housing association. It stated that they would be conducting unit inspections today, and that I should call or email to set up an appointment time. It further stated that if nobody would be home to allow them in, we could leave a labeled key at the office to facilitate entry, and that if we didn't do so they would drill out the lock and then we'd need to come during business hours to pick up a new key. It further reminded us that pets had to be secured for the inspectors.

My first thought was something along the lines of "I'm so glad we're coming back Sunday; if we'd, say, left Tuesday and gone for a week we would probably have returned to a drilled-out lock and a citation for loose cats hiding in the closet from the strangers who could have attacked them.

The stated reason for the inspection is "an increasing number of telephone calls from concerned residents regarding community safety related matters and complaints against unit occupants pertaining to same".

I sent them an email informing them I'd be home and available to let someone in any time after noon, and inquiring about more details of the inspection so I could move furniture around preemptively to make things easier for the inspector. I also inquired whether there had been a specific complaint against me, and, if so, what it was, or whether they were inspecting all the units. They informed me they were inspecting all units, and would be by around noon.

Well, they just stopped by. Someone knocked on the door. I opened it partially and he identified himself as being from the office and doing inspections. I allowed him into the front hall.

He asked me if I owned the unit. I responded that I rent. He asked for my name and telephone number, which I provided him (the association has them on record anyway, so, ummm, ok...). He thanked me and left. I'm not sure he even glanced around the living room/dining room/kitchen, and didn't look at the bedrooms or bathrooms at all.

So I'm left wondering what the hell that was all about. Any ideas? Only thing I can think of is that they were looking for illegal immigrants.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/144476.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: puzzled
Saturday, November 20th, 2010
11:50 am
No packages from Japan to USA due to new TSA rules?

A friend of mine just linked me to this announcement that Japan Post will no longer accept US-bound airmail packages over 1 pound because they'll be stopped at the airlines in order to comply with new TSA antiterrorism measures.

This is clearly a response to the toner cartridge bombs a few weeks ago. I'm trying to figure out whether this is because the Japan Post has no way to certify that packages don't contain a toner cartridge over 1 pound, or if there's more going on that I'm missing, because the only relevant restriction I'm finding is on inbound toner cartridges.

Anything factual that doesn't trace back to the Japan Post Services Co. announcement would be appreciated.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/144376.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Friday, November 19th, 2010
11:01 am

Mmph. I had another one of those "back in college" dreams this morning. These aren't good dreams; they're usually full of anxiety and housing issues.

In this one I was, for some strange reason involving money and it seeming like a good idea to my parents, living in a 4-person dorm room: with my brother and both of my parents. It was horrendously awkward and an extra source of stress on top of the fact that classes were stressful (something about motivating myself to attend, something about being way behind in everything even though it was the first day, I think, and something weird and complicated about the specific bags I was packing to take the stuff I needed, which for some reason included a violin case packed with art supplies. Dear unconscious: WTF?)

The dream ended with me in some sort of fight with my father, and getting really stressed out and hitting him with a soft bag of stuff I was carrying. (I seriously must have been carrying like 5 bags to class; I have no idea why.) Meanwhile, the scenery of the room was really vivid, if nonsensical.

I got nothing.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/144097.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
3:43 pm
An incredible video game ad

I'm not big on FPS games, I'm not at all up to date on gaming systems or gaming trends, and I'm often not all that big on multiplayer games. However, I just saw this advertisement in a post at Shakesville, and it is enough a thing of beauty that I want to share it with everybody.

Video and more behind the cut...Collapse )
Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/143626.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Monday, November 1st, 2010
6:12 pm

I spent my day Saturday going over my local ballot (the vote411.org ballot is quite handy, although the questions they asked weren't as revealing as I might have liked).

I live in Florida right now. We have a three-way race going on for our Senator. (Well, a lot more ways than that, but three major candidates.) If the polls are to be believed, Marco Rubio's going to run away with the thing. Which I'm not thrilled about. After looking things over, I decided I wanted to vote for Kendrick Meek, and not just because he has a (D) after his name. But Charlie Crist (former Republican, running unaffiliated, promises to caucus with the Democrats if elected) is polling better than he is.

There's been some discussion of whether Meek should withdraw and urge people to send their votes over to Crist to defeat Rubio. He hasn't. Crist, of course, would never even consider withdrawing and sending votes to Meek (but he did make announcements that Meek was going to encourage people to vote for him instead).

So, depressingly, as I looked at the empty ballot, I had to think about whether I was going to switch from voting for a candidate I think I can actually feel kind of good about to voting for a "lesser of two evils" candidate who has a higher chance of winning.

Even more depressingly, I was relieved to discover that if the current polls are correct, Rubio will win even if every Meek supporter switches over to vote for Crist. So I don't have to compromise my principles. Because the candidate I least want to see win is going to win no matter what I (and voters like me) do. Yay.

At least the Governor's race is close enough that votes are highly relevant.

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/143486.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)

Current Mood: depressed
Friday, October 29th, 2010
12:42 pm
Braintrust: Calling/Business Card Editing

As probably many of you know, I got a bunch of cards made up at VistaPrint a number of years ago through their 250 for "free" (something like $6 S&H) if you use one of their small selection of preset designs (which change) and allow them to print a reasonably subtle ad on the back of the card. The idea was to have something I could hand out at conventions and the like when I met someone interesting as an easy way to give them contact information and help them remember who I am.

I'm running low on cards, and the contact information is pretty woefully out of date (it has my ICQ number!), so I think it's time for a new batch. It looks like they still have something like that deal running, so I'm probably going to go with it again.

In addition to the contact information being out of date, I'm not sure the text I put on them is still what I want, especially as I don't really do much roleplaying any longer, and I've gotten involved in some other things not reflected (dance, costuming a bit).

Current CardCollapse )

I'm looking for some brainstorming help for the new card. Ideas for things I might want to reflect, or specific text to capture them succinctly would be appreciated.

I'll probably replace the last line with something like "Most sites: marcmagus", since I have that as a user name most places these days. Suggestions for alternate wording definitely welcome.

I think I want to stick with the style of silly entrepreneurial adventurer/Player Character type business card, rather than a proper formal calling card. If only because the lines about the sorts of odd jobs I do are fun and generally get a positive reaction.

Any suggestions?

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/143313.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Thursday, October 28th, 2010
5:15 pm
Are these headline writers incompetent because of their genetics?

Article title in The Post Chronicle: Liberal Gene Discovered: Is Being Liberal Decided At Birth?

Article title at their linked source, ScienceBlog: Researchers find a ‘liberal gene’

Original article title: Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology

A choice quote from the abstract: Here, we hypothesize that individuals with a genetic predisposition toward seeking out new experiences will tend to be more liberal, but only if they are embedded in a social context that provides them with multiple points of view.

Note that they didn't discover a gene at all. They did show that, among people with a genetic variant already known to predispose people toward novelty seeking, having more friends is positively correlated with self-reported liberal ideology (and among people without the variant, there is no correlation between ideology and number of friends).

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/142929.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
2:02 pm
More About My Hair

[If this is too frequent/uninteresting, feel free to filter these posts out on the "hair" tag if your aggregator allows it. If it doesn't, complain to the manufacturers for giving you a crap product.]

I've spent much of the last couple of days reading around at CurlTalk and learning more about how curly hair works and how the whole CurlyGirl/no-poo thing works from a chemistry perspective.

One thing that kind of jumped out at me as I was reading was that most of the basic hair care regimens suggested sounded like they'd be less stress on my arms than all the brushing and combing I've been doing, so I'm going to start experimenting.

Yesterday I walked to CVS and got a cheap ($0.06 due to luck and a kind cashier) bottle of VO5 Free Me Freesia conditioner. This morning I washed my scalp and hair with it thoroughly, put a bit more in, rinsed with dilute vinegar, squeezed out most of the water, and gathered things up on top of my head with a T-shirt for a couple hours to dry out of the way while I went about my business.

I know I'm probably going to have to look into some sort of finishing product to hold things together and prevent the top from lifting off and frizzing, but two things dissuaded me from doing so yet. The main one was that I was kind of paralyzed by indecision looking at shelves and shelves of options (and the product mosephine kindly recommended wasn't carried). The second is that by only introducing one new product to my routine, I can kind of get a sense of what and how much it does on its own before adding something else in. Yay data.

So, this is what I've got, about half an hour after letting it out of the shirt. Not sure how I feel about it, but it's definitely . . . different.

Photos...Collapse )
Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/142372.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
11:27 am
Why Seventy-Six Trombones?

For some reason I can't remember at all, shortly after I crawled into bed last night shield_toad111 started singing "76 trombones". It must have made sense at the time, because I said something to the effect of "I was thinking that too!" But then I said those fateful words, "Why 76?"

There followed a few minutes of speculation (76 is a strange number. It probably wasn't a 4x19 rectangular arrangement. Maybe it was 4x20 or 8x10 with flag-bearers or something at the corners.) before she sensibly went back to sleep, but I couldn't get to sleep for thinking about it.

It's not a triangular number.

Maybe it makes a pixel circle? No, they all have odd area from the center pixel.

Wait, what if there isn't a center pixel?

Many games played on a grid (like roguelikes) use "Euclidean distance" to measure distances between the grid squares for things like spell ranges and areas of effect. This gives you relatively nice circles (even nicer if you have square tiles, unlike most fonts). The "Euclidean distance" between to squares is, of course, sqrt(x^2+y^2), although it's usually easier to stick with integer math and square the ranges/areas of effect.

For example, the 5 circle (radius 5 if you're working in integers, or sqrt(5) if you're not) would be a 5x5 square with the corners cut off to make an approximate circle. (To get into the corners of the square you need radius 8; radius 9 pushes you out one more square along the axes.)

As I said, though, these all have an odd area because you count the target square.

But of course pixel art doesn't have to have a square where the player/target is. If you look at circles centered on the grid lines rather than the square, you can describe circles the same way, as all the cells fully contained within the arc of the circle. A circle with radius sqrt(29) contains 76 cells.

Thus, I propose that the 76 trombones marched in a circle, like so:


Do you have a theory? Or an actual knowledgeable explanation?

Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/142213.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
12:46 am
Hair Experiment V: 12 hours

tirerim intelligently, if frustratingly, pointed out that it would be a good idea to take another set of photos after my hair had had some time to be lived in dry. This is it.

Photos...Collapse )
Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/142001.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
Thursday, October 21st, 2010
7:19 pm
Hair Experiment Part IV: Dry

Well, that was fun.

At a bit under 7 hours, I'm close enough to completely dry to call it done. If I really feel for it, I can still find some dampness.

Photos...Collapse )
Originally posted at http://marcmagus.dreamwidth.org/141678.html. (comment count unavailable comment[s]|comment there)
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