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Come see Burning this weekend!

[personal profile] desireearmfeldt is directing Burning at Theatre@First in Davis Square again this weekend. Performances are tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday at 8PM and a matinee Saturday at 4PM. I'll be going on Friday evening, which is kilt & corset night. Join me!

It's a modern queer retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac. Cy is a Sergeant drummed out of the army under Don't Ask Don't Tell after serving in both the Gulf War and Iraq.

I went on Sunday and the performance was fantastic. Scarcely a dry eye at the end. Fantastic! You should all go.

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Instant Pot Steel Cut Oatmeal

We've been making a lot of this lately. [personal profile] desireearmfeldt; asked how I usually went about it. Fairly simple:
  • 2c steel cut oats
  • 5-6c water (2.5x - 3x)
  • Salt, before cooking so it ends up in the oats, not on the oats. Less than 1/2t
  • Sugar, 1/2-1T; not too much
  • A bit of butter if you're going mad with power

If you use the butter, melt it down and maybe toss the oats in for a bit. Then put the whole thing on high pressure for 6min. Wait 10min after it's done and release the pressure and take off the lid. Give it a stir (it may be wet on top) and let it steam for a few minutes to vent some of the cooked corn smell (this seems to be worse for the gluten free oats). Then put it away once it's cooled down and stiffened up a bit.

We re-heat this for breakfast during the week.
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Intercon Post-con report

Went to Intercon after missing last year due to travel. One thing that felt noticeably different this year was that I felt pretty well-connected – like the con suite was full of folks I knew and could talk to if I were so inclined. That said, there were tons of folks I wanted to chat with and didn't get the chance – including some I knew were at the con but just never ran into or saw only in passing!

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The highlight of this year I think has to have been
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On Sunday morning I had every intention of getting up and playing one of the Iron GM games, which vary wildly in quality from "we shall never speak of this again" to "this will be revised and become a classic." Sounds like [personal profile] dcltdw found a game that was totally up my Deep Feels alley, and got to roleplay with Quinn who's fantastic. Let's hope I get the chance to play it some day. But I ended up in a 15-minute chat that turned into a 2-hour late night series of conversations and couldn't quite get up in time to make the 10AM slot – and the later slots were after we wanted to head home. So I hung out in the Con Suite and caught up with more folks before heading off for lunch.
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Your Lie in April

Looking for Yuri Anime on NetFlix before a recent LARP failed to turn anything up. After an abortive viewing of the made-for-Netflix Anime about a high-stakes gambling high school (Lots of apparent lesbian sex in the credits, approximately 0 emotional depth) [personal profile] desireearmfeldt and I instead started watching Your Lie In April. This may be the best series Anime I've seen to date for emotional depth. Our hero Kousei is in the last year of middle school and used to win piano competitions before his mother died. But his playing lacked emotional depth, and he was known as the human metronome. Since then he hasn't been able to play. Kaori, a girl at school, asks to double date with his best friend on the soccer team, and turns out to be a competitive violinist. Next thing we know she's got him accompanying her in the contest finals and she's pushing him to return to playing while developing a mature style.

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Of course the piano pieces give plenty of chance for obligatory showers of cherry blossoms and flashback voice-overs. But even those seem haiku-esque with seasonal references capturing an emotional state.

That said, I'll never grok the appeal of the whole chibi thing. Ah well, can't win them all.

Still fantastic and highly recommended.
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What am I up to?

We were supposed to launch our thing today at work, involving actual PR folks doing actual PR and a full-court press with an industry group. But that's been pushed back two weeks as the industry group needs to get its act together. The joys of trying to cooperate rather than just go it alone. Meanwhile we've started planning the next really complicated bit.

Meanwhile I'm trying to beat myself back into some semblance of physical shape, hampered by not getting enough running in lately and missing basically all the Wednesday sword practices. I'm finally getting my low stance back. I've also been working on my Schielhau, and it's gotten miles better.

Let me tell you about Schielhau, because it's such a big part of the sword work I do.

The Liechtenauer longsword system from the 1400's tries to keep things radically simple – four basic guards and five strikes. (Contrast this to later humanist-era masters who build ever more elaborate taxonomies of guards and strikes. If you've read Rabelais you know where this sort of thing ends up.) You'll immediately recognize two of the guards: Zornhut Guard of Wrath) is the "Ogg crush" guard where you hold the sword high over your head or shoulder ready to chop the heck out of any bastard who gets in your way, probably with a Zornhau (Wrath Hew) which is the giant diagonalish cut you'd do if you held a sword like that and I told you to swing it. Pflug (plow) is the guard where you hold your hands at your waist with your sword pointing at your opponent's face or chest. Schielhau (Squinting Hew) is designed to break Pflug by cutting downwards with the false edge (two edges are much better than one), thus putting your sword definitively between your opponent's sword and your body as you chop them. If you can't chop them, you're generally in a good place to either stab them through the torso or binding with their sword. Binding is good, because from then on you know exactly where your opponent's sword is and have a lot of control over where it is going.

I started working on this with Eddy, probably the fittest and fastest member of our club – he has a very low stance and is able to quickly come around the sword if you don't deal with him properly. I couldn't figure out what what I was doing wrong and went off to think about it for a week. The following Sunday I ended up working on it with Andy and Matt. It turns out I was too worried about binding the sword and not worried about chopping the opponent. I was also obsessed with stepping off line to get a nice sideways line of attack – this is all well and good, but Schielhau actually works better if you go straight in or actually step off line towards your opponent's sword, because then you're effectively pinning it down as you cut in. If you try to go around it, you actually leave them open to bring their sword around and back into you.

I seemed to be doing much better on this count when sparring with Eddy this week. Which isn't to say he didn't make short work of me in most other important respects...
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Bellman & Black

I've been slowly reading my way through the piles of novels I received for Christmas last year. That generally takes me a while as I also get quite a bit of nonfiction and do quite a bit of other reading as well (magazines, technical papers, and so forth). The previous novel I read I described to desireearmfeldt as "my potboiler". I handed it off to here when I was done as she was curious. The next day she said she'd given up as it was so horribly written. It read a bit like this. But it was a Cathar-vs-Catholic holy grail conspiracy involving Carcassonne rather than Rome.

On Sunday I finally got to pick up Bellman & Black, which I absolutely loved. Great bit of historical fiction – a nice feel for what it means to run an early industrial cloth mill, or what it takes to get a cow out of a ditch without the benefit of machinery. And we are reminded – oh, how we are reminded – of the constant presence of death and mourning in a world of scarlet fever and undiagnosed cardiac disease.

In the end, of course, it's really about the modern obsession with workaholic capitalism. Our hero uses work to escape the need to live and to mourn. And he is able to monetize the gothic in the most apt manner.

I look at the bookmark I placed in the pages – a 1969 Erie Lackawanna pass belonging to my father – and worry that I, too, ultimately became too busy to mourn. I pick up Michael Frayn's My Father's Fortune, which I gave as a gift some five years ago. Opening: 1969. Father, going deaf, walks in the door wearing his hat. I look again at the ticket, and take time to remember.
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OK, it's been a while...

As the lovely desireearmfeldt and kirisutogomen point out, it's been ages since last I posted.

I've got a really poorly-planned trip to Athens coming up in a week or so (we'll be talking programming languages, though, which I enjoy). Meanwhile desireearmfeldt is working on her dissertation, and it's tool, tool, tool hereabouts.

But that's not what I came here to talk about. I came here to talk about yeast morphology.
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