on getting “womaned”

Dear Cigar Store employee,

I get it it. You work in a specialty retail store. I go to those sometimes. While I wouldn’t say that you sell anything cheap, you’ve got a range of products that appeal from the casual devotee to the types of people that are referred to in movies about Las Vegas as large marine mammals.

I get that I don’t fit the demographic of those latter, most profitable customers. Hell, I’m probably too ignorant of what goes into the products that you sell to even fit into the former category. But here’s the thing, I had something to celebrate this week. And I wanted a damn cigar.

I could have grabbed something from the “humidor” box at any of a dozen “TOBACCO” stores that I drive my everyday, but as someone who tries to have an appreciation for those things in life that can be appreciated, I wanted better. And I was willing to pay for quality, and for good service and the benefit of your years of experience to help me find the one thing that was right for me.

Obviously, I wasn’t there to spend hundreds of dollars with you. But, I didn’t want to waste your time. I walked in your (smelly) door, intending to make a purchase. I hadn’t done too much research, but I’d put some thought into what I like (I’m a chocolate, malty beer, and fatty steak kind of girl), and how I thought the cigar that I might end up liking would pair with such things. And you’d know that, if you had been willing to spend more than 30 seconds making the sale yesterday.

You know, maybe that $9 number that you pulled off the top shelf and handed to me without asking anything about my tastes will, in fact, be the ultimate cigar experience for me (I’ll admit it, it smells yummy). But would it have hurt you to explain why you thought I would like it? Or tell me something about the product? Or how it compares to others that you have in stock — I was willing to spend more, after all?

So, the good news is, you made your (under $10) sale. I think you’ve guessed the bad news by now. As a girl with tastes that admittedly tend to run more “masculine”, I’m pretty used to dealing with employees who might have a bias against me before I open my mouth. But the trick with all those “boy” stores that I love and keep going back to? Their employees don’t treat me like I don’t belong there. They offer help if it looks like I need it, they listen when I have questions or ideas that I want to run by them, and they realize that I’m a good customer who wants to learn from them, even as she buys from them.  Sure, they might treat women like idiots sometimes…but only the ones who deserve it. The upshot is that those little $10 purchases that I might have started out with? Have lead to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in purchases over the years, plus positive recommendations to my friends.

CSE, this could have been a wonderful friendship, you could have been a contender. Seriously, I’m sure that there will be a time in my life when I do need/want to drop some serious money on high-end tobacco products. But it won’t be with you guys.

p.s. on second thought… maybe it’s because I’m blackCanadian?

the software is not a lie

It’s a good week for the poor cheap frugal geeks among us who are too terrified of the beautiful weather we finally have to go outside.

First, the Humble Indie Bundle got extended.  Five indie games (including the unbelievably awesome/addictive World of Goo) are on sale (and open source, if you care about such things) for however much you want to pay.  The proceeds are split between the developers and two worthwhile charities – The Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Child’s Play.

So, if you like to play PC games at all,  or you care about your digital rights at all, or you think that it would be nice for sick kids in hospitals to be able to play a game or two at all, you should head over the the site and pony up however much you think is appropriate.  But you should probably do it today, because there are less than 24 hours left in the event.  You can gift the download codes too…

Secondly, Valve has finally ported Steam to MacOS, and are celebrating by giving away the outstanding Portal (for both PC and Mac) for nothing at all.  This means that those of you out there who are obsessed with Companion Cubes, but don’t even really know what Companion Cubes are no longer have any excuse except to find out.

Also, I’d like some cake, plz.

a droid named darryl

Not to be confused with D.A.R.Y.L.

As a girl who went through 3 generations of Apple Newtons (including the limited edition clear MessagePad 110), I’ve been pretty skeptical of smartphones for the past few years. As a student, I loved having a PDA. It made keeping track of classes easier, and the MP2000 with the keyboard accessory was actually pretty good for taking notes.

I wasn’t purely an Apple fangirl either, I dabbled with Palms (the m500 was so very sleek), and even made the jump to Windows Mobile (WinCE, at the time) with my beloved Cassiopeia (colour! compact flash! it was like the future). But by the time I started working full time, I realized that having a separation between work-life and actual life was very important to me, and having my office synced up to a device that I had with me 24/7 was not good for that separation.  In addition, most of the devices and the available apps for them were very business/calendar focused, and I didn’t need something so complicated to manage my personal life.

Fast-forward to the release of the iPhone. It was pretty, no doubt. And Apple was definitely targeting it more for “home” use, having ceded the business end of that market to RIM and Microsoft for a while.  I’ll admit, as I heard about the apps available for it, I considered taking the plunge — my phone service was already with AT&T, though I was sans-data plan.  But the way that Apple chose to lock down developer freedoms with the App Store gave me pause.  The fact that the iPhone wasn’t open probably wouldn’t really affect my use of it at all, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Personal Digital Assistant paradigm was still fundamentally flawed.

But why all this talk about dead platforms and obsolete devices? I’ve had Darryl the Droid (blame Nerd 2 for the name) for a couple of days now (Costco has a deal on, if you’re interested), and of all the devices and all the phones I’ve had over the years, this is the first one I’ve used that has felt like what the Newton Messagepad wanted to be (but couldn’t, because this was the nineties, people). I wonder if Steve Jobs will ever be humble enough to call up John Sculley and admit: “Hey… you were right.” The PDA is back, baby.

sorry, calgary

Heading into yesterday evening’s hockey match between Minnesota’s Wild and the boys from Alberta, I was more than a little torn.  I’m not one to have strong sports franchise loyalites (at least not since the 1992-1994 Blue Jays… love you guys!), and given that a Canadian team was playing I was worried that I’d have to be the one person at the Xcel Center rooting for the wrong team.  I mean… the Wild’s 20-20-3 record was not ideal, and Calgary is leading the division, and who wants to be on the side of the losing team (even if they are the home team)?

I was swayed however by the earnest hopes of my cohort for the evening: “We need to make the playoffs this year!” As a season ticket holder, Jimmy has a made a significant investment in the Wild with the main hope of being able to watch playoff hockey in his adoptive city.  So you can’t really blame him.  And the Wild did need the win more than Calgary.  And since any time I watch hockey the team I root for wins… well…

In other news: last week, if you had told me that a 70 minute review of the Phantom Menace will be the best thing I’ll watch so far this decade, I would have laughed in your face and watched that Audition Dance Online ad again to prove you wrong.  But Nation, this thing is epic in is ability to be awesome in every way that The Phantom Menace is not.  Just give me the benefit of the doubt here and watch the first 10 minute segment below.  If you are a Star Wars fan and don’t immediately queue up part 2, I…I don’t even know who you are.

because someone has to say it

Mark my words, this is going to be a meme someday, and I want to go on the record right here and right now as saying that:

Colonel Miles Quaritch > Chuck Norris

be afraid, little chuck norris man.

Justification after the jump, don’t click or read on if you haven’t seen Avatar yet, k?

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if a girl has a man cave, what do you call it?

The bad news? Goodwill doesn’t take computer monitors to recycle (in most of Minnesota)

The good news? Best Buy does.

The bad news? It costs $10.

The good news? They give you a $10 gift card.

The bad news? It’s a Best Buy gift card.

The good news? I no longer have a 40lb 19″ CRT monitor sitting in the middle of my office. It has been replaced by a USB hub.

That, plus the 3 garbage bags full of junk (not to mention the boxes of Goodwill-ables) that also got hauled out this weekend means that my Nerd Cave is starting to feel quite a bit more spacious.

let’s just not talk about the cornbread, ok?

Very few videogames actually have an “I Win” button.  Granted, every game that pits player against player will have an array of finishing moves, and every once in a while one of them will make it to launch in a woefully overpowered state.  If the game is patchable, you know this ability will be nerfed to the ground soon enough (especially if it benefits mages), or if it’s Starcraft, everyone will just choose the Zerg, forever.

But most of them time, what seems like a quick “I Win” was actually the result of the right ingredients, intense preparation and timing. Often (especially when I’m playing), any “I Win” scenarios are pure luck, and could never be repeated.  Luckily for us all, that doesn’t apply when the game is cooking, and I take notes.

“I Win” Button Harvest Chili

(makes 6 quarts)

The “I Win” button, here, is the second time you turn on the crockpot (yes, I said second). Sure, it will take another 5-8 hours until you can savour your victory – but once you dip your spoon in you’ll know it was worth the wait.

I should note that I have a 6 quart crockpot, and this recipe filled it.  If you have a smaller crockpot, you should buy a larger one. But in the meantime, maybe halve the recipe?

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one thing leads to another: part one

Jenni’s post does a better job of summing up this past Labour Day’s camping weekend that I possibly could.  There was looking, and card playing, and conversation on topics from the inane to the inappropriate.  Somewhere in between the subject of hick-hop came up.  I still don’t know what it is, really, and I wondered aloud if it was related to Nerdcore.

Which reminded me, that I’d recently acquired a new MC Frontalot album, but not worked it into my rotation yet.

In unrelated news, as some of you may be aware, my boyfriend is a Nerd (both capital, and lowercase n). And he’s currently in a place where bandwidth doesn’t really support the playing of more shall we say “graphically-blessed” games.  So he’s reverted in game technology about 15 years or so and is rocking the MUDs.

So, back to MC Front. I finally give Final Boss a listen, and found my new favourite song pretty early on…

The song calls out Zork, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, -and- Leather Goddesses of Phobos1. In the video, he duels with Steve Meretzky! This thing could singlehandedly resurrect Infocom.  How could a girl who grew up with an IBM PCjr not love it?

Now… if only I could find my old Wishbringer stone…

1I have to admit, I’m pretty sure that playing this game circa age 11 warped me in ways that are probably pretty self evident, today.

when hobby becomes obsession

I spent the vast majority of Friday evening at Chez Delobi doing things so depravedly nerdy that I don’t dare to mention them, even here.

Saturday morning’s class at Cassandra let out at 11:30, and I was home by noon.

I didn’t leave the house again until 4pm on sunday, and that was only to restake the tomato plants that did not fare well through Saturday evening’s storms.  My first journey off of my property in almost 48 hours was my drive to work this morning.

What was I up to?

  • It wasn’t catching up on Infinite Jest, which I’m about 100 pages behind in (btw, that thing with the Skydome… it actually happened.  I was in middle school, we giggled… a lot).
  • Nor was I catching up on the 5-a-day challenge.  I owe my “to go” box about 55 items.
  • I wasn’t doing laundry or yardwork or cleaning the fish tank either (all of these are also, woefully behind).

What I was doing, was fulfilling a promise I made to myself last year:  That after my stunning 2nd place (out of a field of at least 4!) finish last year, I would be entering the MN State Fair again this year.  Not really to win, but just so that I’d challenge myself to make something competition worthy again this year.

The problem with these year-long promises of course, is the procrastination factor.  It took me months to decide on the right project, and once I had project and yarn, it took me longer than it should have to start it.  Still though, I was proud of myself for starting over Memorial Day weekend this year, and I figured I’d have plenty of time to finish (I was even planning a second project, to be eligible for this year’s Bohus sweepstakes).  But I didn’t take into account the summer knitting slump.  It’s hard to stay inside and focus on cable charts and tiny yarn when it’s beautiful and sunny outside.  Not to mention other indoor temptations like Infinite Summer, and Ulduar.

So, even though these were the only thing I knit on this summer, they took me almost 90 days to finish.  And the final work my fingers to the bone sprint  (to finish, ironically, the fingers of both gloves) took almost exactly all of my free time this weekend.  But you know what?  I kind of feel like these were worth it.

click to embiggen!

click to embiggen!

This photo was taken pre-blocking (hence why they look a little claw-like here).  They are currently blocking between two layers of sham-wows (shut up) in a cat-free zone in the house, and they need to be dry by Wednesday at 8am, so I can deliver them for judging… so, any dry thoughts you wanna send my way would be greatly appreciated.

My thoughts? I love them.  I loved the pattern when I first laid eyes on it, and the yarn, when it first showed up in the mail (it was part of Sundara’s Season’s collection… yes, I was in a yarn club last year… shut up. again).  These may not strike the fancy of the state fair judges (who, I, in my sexist and ageist fashion imagine as little old ladies who will decry my break from knitting tradition by daring to do cables in dark, variegated yarn), but they are warm (too warm to wear to model for pics even), and probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever knitted. So, besides certain Nerd-related events this fall and winter, putting them on is the only thing that makes me look forward to the cooler weather this year.

So yeah, that’s this year’s State Fair.  Next year… I tackle the homebrew competition*!

*maybe.

status update

The thing about having a week off, is sometimes it takes you about 6 and a half days to realize that you need another week off.

Stupid “milestones” and “project delivery dates”, you’re getting in the way of the perfect summer, dontcha know?

I could look backwards and tell you all about the royal mountain, and OHMYGODTHECROISSANTS, and the team boobylicious silent auction, and OHMYGODTHEWINDCHIMES, and game night, and jokur’s belated birthday, and just enough yardwork and green garlic & cheese quesidillas, etc. but where’s the fun in that?

Let’s look ahead, shall we?

Tomorrow’s knitting, followed by dessert & adult beverages at Zeno.  Can’t complain about that at all.

Apparently, I should be expecting a 60lb-ish mystery package sometime soon.  Supposedly, it’s not a kegerator, yet it belongs in the basement.  Nerd 2 wants to give me more hints, but I really just want to be surprised.

At some point in the next week or so, I need to dig my teeth into BESM, Third Edition.  Yes. It’s a table top RPG. Which is pan-genre anime-based. And Delobius is GMing. I feel like a scared 17 year-0ld school girl, all over again.

I started on my 2009 State Fair project.  I’m going to keep it relatively under wraps until I’m sure that I actually finish on time (the going is slow with this one).  Even if I don’t win another ribbon this year, I’m super excited about this project, and can’t wait to show off the finished object this winter.

I found the first modification that I’d like to make to Beauty. Cosmetic, yes, but also a safety feature when you consider how hard my current turn signals are to see.

And finally, I’ve decided that more of my monday evening’s in future need to involve New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk. Oak and Vanilla, chocolate and smoke. An ABV that would make it illegal in several states. I found it at Tournament Liquor, but I’m willing to betcha that Alvey has it too.