9.1.14

The Fall of Derion Part 3

[Author's note: This is the third part of my novel - which is officially not for NaNoWriMo any more, but which is still awesome anyways. This is the 6000 word mark, approximately. All content copyright Elizabeth Klassen, etc, etc. To read more, all parts are linked in the sidebar.]

    “Good morning, my lord.”
    Tem was awoken by his steward drawing back the thick curtains from the windows. Since the fire, he had rebuilt his house. He had acquired staff enough to fill it in a manner that befitted a man of much greater rank than he really was, and had furnished it in the same way. Everything he had purchased for his house gave off an air of opulence. It was not gaudy, but it did not need to be. It was a subdued richness, seeming to say that the owner of this house did not feel it necessary to show off. Even the curtains said it. He still was not used to it; he'd never stopped to think about furnishings before her death – he'd never needed to; his focus had been elsewhere.
    The sun shone golden through the glass, full in Tem's face.
    “Good morning, Sten,” he answered sleepily and half-blinded, rising halfway in his bed, his dreams still clinging to his thoughts.
    “Lord Gellor just arrived and wants to see you, sir.”
    “I'll be down momentarily. Feed him breakfast, will you? Only make sure he leaves some for me.” He yawned extravagantly, cat-like, and stretched.
    Sten bowed in acquiescence. “Of course, my lord.”
    “Good man.”
    Tem slid out of bed and dressed. Gellor arriving this early and without warning could only mean one thing. The people were ready. This was the signal, the tocsin bell. He could not keep a gleeful smile from his face.

    Downstairs, Mayor Gellor of Marronay rather uncharacteristically picked delicately at a plate of scrambled eggs. His stomach protested eating anything and threatened violently to turn traitor. He carefully sipped some tea (which he had fortified from a flask in his pocket – hair of the dog, after all) in hopes that it would settle his insides so he could eat properly. It was far too early to be awake, let alone to be out making calls on people, and his head was pounding, but Tem was the only man he felt he could trust, given the situation at hand.
    The Mayor was not a really stupid man, just very ineffective. He was aware that he was too attached to the bottle, and he knew very well that this did not do the city any sort of good. He had been semi-capable before all the House trouble started, but the city had been peaceful. There had not been a need for quick decisive action then. Since the recent events, he had found Wine and her cousins Ale, Sack, and Mead to be excellent distractions and they soon became his dear companions, so that he didn't feel so impotent. He shook his head sadly – and regretted it instantly. He felt like his head was a horseshoe laid over an anvil, being hammered out of a hot piece of iron. He groaned.
    Of course it was at that moment that Tem thumped his merry way heartlessly down the stairs. The Mayor's head rang harder.
    “Damn it all, Derion, must you make that fearful racket?” he asked despairingly, still wincing, when Tem finally popped his head in the dining room door.
    “I'm very sorry, Gellor. It's a beautiful day. I couldn't help myself.”
    “No, it's not,” said the Mayor glumly.
    “It's not a beautiful day? How's that?” he asked, as he sat down and began serving himself some breakfast from the various dishes on the table.
    “I received a message this morning. I didn't know what to do, so I came here.”
    “Oh?”
    “Blood, Derion, they wrote it in blood – on my bedroom wall!”
    “They? They, whom? Wrote what?”
    “'Down with the Houses and down with the Mayor!', it said. I don't know who was responsible, but whoever it was wrote it in blood on my wall – while I was sleeping, Derion! The kind of people who would do that – well – they'll have no scruples. They'd stop at nothing. For heaven's sake, they could have killed me in my bed! Do you hear what I'm saying? I could have died, man!” He was becoming agitated.
    “I understand, Gellor. I do. Take a deep breath and have some more tea, it'll calm you down. We'll sort this out once we've finished our breakfast. Probably just a couple of loudmouths causing trouble.
    “Tell you what, I'll bet you a pair of gold ducats that they'll have done nothing more sinister than buying a bucket of pigs' blood from the butcher and bribing the guards to let 'em in. Don't worry about it.”
    The Mayor took a deep breath. Tem always knew the best way to reassure him. The man had a gift that way.
    Tem, meanwhile, hid a smile in his cup of tea. Gellor was becoming more and more compliant, turning to him more and more often for help. Everything was falling into place. Down with the Houses and down with the Mayor. That was the sign, the warning that the end of the current way of things was coming. He had instructed his captain, the chief spy, to write that specific message, in that specific place, when he felt that the province-cauldron was about to boil over. Bending over his plate for a bite, he chuckled silently into his ham-and-eggs. Poor Gellor; Tem's captain was the Mayor's chamberlain. It made perfect sense, really: the Mayor was the centre of everything in Marronay, and had ties to the other towns in Upnar. The chamberlain was thoroughly out of suspicion as far as the Mayor was concerned. He was therefore exactly situated to be the spider in the middle of a web; to mix metaphors horrendously, he was a marionette-spider whose legs were pulled by Puppet-Master Tem.
    It had not been easy, earning the loyalty of the man. The Mayor was not a stingy employer, so money was not an incentive Tem could use to turn him. It had taken some promises of future power, some flattery, and some pledges of present familiarity with the more elite and exclusive of Tem's friends – all reinforced frequently to keep him teetering just on this side of uncertain – to influence him to the cause. The chamberlain was mostly a decent man and Tem did not have any serious evil to say of him, but he did like to feel that he was in the inner circle. He liked secrets best of anything, and he especially liked knowing them while others did not.

    When the Mayor had left for Tem's house that morning, the chamberlain had slipped out quietly and sent out carrier pigeons – the Mayor's own – to the five nearest towns, in a prearranged signal. Those five towns would, in turn, also pass on the message to their nearest neighbours, in an Upnar-wide shockwave with Marronay as the epicentre. The message was brief, though it carried weight. It said only this:

        The knell has rung.

    He himself then collected the ten men he had chosen, and sent them each to a tenth part of the city, there to gather all those who were to rise and fight.
    The death knell had indeed rung, and its echoes would ring for a long time.

    After breakfast, Tem and Gellor took a carriage back to the Mayor's big stone house on the hill. Tem had suggested questioning the guards first, to see where that led, and the Mayor, of course, agreed.

    A good two hours' interrogation, bringing in each guard individually, even those who had not been on duty the night before, and cross-examining him thoroughly, resulted in nothing more than twenty-five or thirty answers, all sung to similar tunes.
    “No, my lords, I saw nothing unusual last night. No, my lords, I didn't see anyone go into my lord the Mayor's chamber last night. No, my lords, I didn't see anyone come into the house or leave it during the night. Yes, my lords, I was awake and alert for my shift on duty.” Then an offended, “No, my lords, I would never take a bribe, not on my mother's life! I know better than that,” followed by a mollified, “Thank you, my lords,” each man tugging his forelock respectfully and bowing carefully as he backed out of the room.
    “Well, they can't have paid off all my men,” the Mayor muttered grumpily, as the last guard left, “at least, not unless they have ridiculous amounts of money. Surely one or two ordinary vandals don't have that kind of resources! but for none of them to have seen anyone enter or leave, well – logic dictates, then, that it must be someone in my own household. That's a simply terrifying thought, Derion!” He took a sizeable swallow from the glass at his elbow, as if to strengthen himself against the idea. Lunch had followed the departure of the last guardsman, and the Mayor began to tuck in with a right good will. All those questions had given him an appetite.
    Calm and smug as a cliff in a storm, Tem was standing by the window with his hands held still behind his back, peering past the thick curtains to the street below. He turned back towards Gellor, a small smile of triumph hovering around the corners of his mouth, and ruthless iron behind his eyes.
    “You'd better come look at this,” he said.
    The Mayor picked himself up and stepped over to the window. A crowd was gathered, most of them armed and all of them angry. It had taken a long careful time to stoke their anger – too hot, and it would burn out without fuel long before they were needed, and further, would have made the Mayor and others wary of rebellion; too cool, and it would fizzle out without doing anything useful. The crowd – mostly tradesmen, servants, farmers, and peasants, but in huge numbers – yelled for the Mayor, calling for his de-seating. Slowly a chant emerged. The Mayor, already a weakened man, slumped in defeat when he heard what they were saying.
    “Tem! Tem! Tem the Liberator!”
    Gellor, now made the ex-Mayor of Marronay, shook in his boots.
    “Tem,” he murmured, “what have you done?”

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    High in the northern mountains, three provinces away from Upnar, a small boy was playing in a puddle. He had just been throwing rocks in it to see them splash. A gurgling laugh and a much larger splash caught his mother's attention; he had thrown himself in, and was now muddy up to his shoulders – and was enjoying it thoroughly.
    “Oh, Rhwnn, look at you! You're all over dirt.”
    “Yes, mama,” part bashfully, part joyously, as he rolled in the mud. He paused, unsure whether or not he was about to get in trouble, but not quite ready to care what the consequences were.
    “Well, there's no sense in trying to wash you now, you'll just get dirty again,” she said. “I'll just have to make sure there's bathwater ready when it's time to come in.”
    “But mama, I'm already in a bath!”
    “I see that,” she returned, smothering a smile. “Like a little piggy.”
    “Yes, mama! Just like a piggy!”

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    Errel had continued in a roughly south-eastern direction on foot for a few weeks, pausing only to eat and sleep. He had stayed on the roads for the most part, except where his path and their direction had deviated; he was a street thief when he was in a city, but he was just as good a woodsman as a pickpocket and only rarely – though not for more than an hour, until he saw the movement of the sun – got confused.
    He had encountered fleeing House members, of various alliances and allegiances, along the way, easily known by the sigils on their clothing and highly amusing by their ill-preparedness for travel. Many of them were walking, rather than horsed, most of them were tattered and dusty, and all of them were obviously escaping Upnar and the madness that had overtaken the province. He had questioned a few of them about the events in Upnar, and the theme common to all responses was that they had not seen it coming. They had been too busy with the fighting between Houses to even notice the undercurrent of tension building among their inferiors.
    “He's too good,” they said. “He must have bewitched them all. There's no way they pledged their fealty to him without us noticing.”
    Errel had two thoughts in response to this, both of which he kept to himself. His first thought was that witchcraft was a preposterous excuse for shortsightedness, made by self-centred people. The second thing that occurred to him caused him a little worry: here was a man who might almost rival his own talent for inspiring devotion and zeal in others. If that was the case, this task might be more difficult than he originally planned.

6.11.13

The Fall of Derion Part 2

[Author's note: This is the second part of my NaNoWriMo novel for 2013. This is the 4000 word mark, approximately. All content copyright Elizabeth Klassen, etc, etc. To read more, all parts are and/or will be linked in the sidebar under that beautiful photo of me.]

    Anyone watching The White Lady Tavern closely that night would have seen two figures slipping out cautiously amongst the rowdier patrons – one portlier gentleman with a slight limp and silver hair shining in the moonlight, and one taller and much more graceful man. They were careful to leave separately, so that the keener and more observant among the drinkers might not connect them together. The portlier man, Lord Yona, walked a little ways north from the tavern and ducked into a side street, where he had a carriage waiting quietly to take him home. The younger man, however, turned south to leave the city. He had a job to do.

    Errel Benris was a dancer. He was a street magician and an actor. He was a thief and a swindler. He was a beggar and a pickpocket. He knew the streets as if he had grown up in them. He had the lightest touch of any thief in Adrin, and could boast of picking the pocket of the Mayor himself. He was lithe and nimble, and easily held his own against any number of opponents in a street fight, no matter how much bigger they were. However, his most important skill was the one he was best known for: he was an assassin. Subtle poison; knife between the ribs; arranged accident: he could do it all. His preference, of course, was a blade in any form – throwing, slicing, or stabbing. Whispers in dark alleyways spoke of the King of Knives, though no-one would ever dare use that name to his face. He was all business with those he saw as his betters, but he could be very unpredictable amongst those he considered lesser than he, and that unpredictability usually ended in someone buying a beefsteak to put on a black eye, or having to walk on crutches for a few months. Even so, those he considered friends would hear no word spoken against him. If there was one thing besides assassination that Errel did well, it was to command loyalty, trust, and respect.

    But it was not for Errel's loyal friends that Yona had met with him this night. Apparently, there was a man whose continued existence was inconvenient to the Royal House. It was usually the inconvenient ones whom Errel was hired to deal with. This particular man was an upstart, of a sort. House Hanach had murdered his family and he had gone mad and sworn revenge. Errel had no professional respect for Hanach's methods: fire was a rather clumsy and inelegant method of causing death, in his opinion. However, this madman Derion had now caused total chaos in the city of Marronay, and was threatening the peace of Upnar. He'd already mostly destroyed Hanach. Half the Houses in the country had joined him in his insanity just to avoid the same ruinous fate. It was rumoured among the still-faithful Houses that he had created an army, and planned to march on Adrin city in the Spring to challenge the Royal House itself. Errel's task was to make him slightly less inconvenient before he could get that far. Kill him, and his rebellion would crumble. The Houses would lose their direction and return with their tails between their legs, begging for forgiveness for their disloyalty. The king might hold them at arm's length for a while, maybe show extra favour to the Houses that did not play turncoat, but all would return to normal in time.

    Errel stopped only once on his route out of the city, to pack a travelling bag. He rented a small room above a shop when he was in Adrin, and was well-liked by the landlady for his quiet habits while at home and for his tidy space. He never kept any of his weaponry and other tools out in the open, of course; he'd pried up a floorboard in one corner for the storage of such items. He hadn't decided which method of death was most appropriate for the man, so for this trip, he picked out a few of his better blades and two of his very favourite poisons, so as to have some options available. Of course, on his person he never carried less than six knives tucked away in various hidden places amongst his clothes, as well as a sword on his hip, so he was hardly unarmed, but he liked to be prepared. Bread, cheese, and dried meat he tossed into the bag after the less savoury tools, followed by a skin of water. A spare cloak and shirt stuffed down the side of the pack completed the outfit, and in less than ten minutes he was on his way.

    By dawn he was well beyond the walls of the city, moving southeast.

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    Tem had been busy over the past months. After the first shocking realisation, he had gathered his thoughts and began to devise a plan. House Derion was by no means one of the Greater Houses, but Tem was a sharp businessman, and had been slowly but steadily building the fortunes of his House, to a point where he was nearly rivalling the greatest of the Greater Houses. While assistance of the kind he needed was not cheap, this meant that he was not exactly suffering under a lack of resources.

    He began by hiring hitmen and thugs. They were mostly fairly inept, the kind of men who would rather smash a head in with a wooden club during daylight hours than subtly knife a man between the ribs in the dark, but they would serve the purpose.

    There were four satellites of the Greater Houses in Marronay, and three satellites of the Lesser, of which latter group Derion was one. Derion was chiefly a trading House, and so had the most presence in Marronay, a harbour city, but Hanach and Noul, two of the Greater Houses, also made themselves known in the city. The other two Greater and two Lesser did not maintain a particularly strong presence, but that was to Tem's benefit.

    The thugs' task was to cause trouble between Hanach and Noul, and to make it seem like the remaining Houses (always excepting Derion, quietly standing on the sidelines) were siding with one or the other. In practical terms, this meant seizing known associates of the various Houses, brutally murdering them, and leaving their bodies sprawled conspicuously in locations around the city where they were guaranteed to be found. Within two weeks, more than ten corpses had been left artistically near both Noul's and Hanach's houses, and tensions were rising. Street brawls were breaking out among rival Houses' members, encouraged, of course, by Tem's thugs, and ignored by the City Watch, due mostly to the subtle application of certain precious metals in the direction of the Head Watchman. Some might have said, truthfully, that the Head Watchman was not particularly interested in putting extra effort into stopping the fighting, and therefore the gold was perhaps misspent; even so, Tem was taking no chances.

    As the House infighting progressed, Tem began also to pay off deliverymen and tradesmen to skim off about a third of the products and supplies coming into the city, especially those going to the other Houses, stockpiling it in a warehouse, meaning that he would control a fair amount of the food and other goods in the city, and that the other Houses would lack it. Less food meant rising tempers, and, in turn, meant that Marronay was going exactly where he wanted her to.

    Each House began to be wary of the others. If Hanach was killing Noul men, then Noul would raise the stakes and arm their men better. If Noul armed their men better, Hanach did also, and would raise the stakes again, telling their men not to hold back if they met a Noul man on the street. Neither wanted to appear weak, though both wanted to protect their own interests.

    Within another month, Houses Hanach and Noul, as well as the other four Houses represented in Marronay, started sending messages to their respective originating residences, each side begging urgently for assistance against the other. Troops of the Houses' private soldiers began arriving, a trickle at first, and then more quickly, as the fighting became worse and worse. Most work in the city slowed to a near-halt. All of Tem's plans had been a catalyst towards this state of affairs. The only occupation that continued to do well were those employed by the city to keep the streets clean. Hardly a day passed where there had not been a skirmish resulting in at least one dead man, and for the most part those bodies lay where they fell, until the street cleaners could cart them outside the walls to burn.

    In the midst of the chaos, Tem carefully cultivated friendships with particular members of the city – especially the Mayor, who was growing increasingly nervous about the state of affairs in his city, but who was powerless to act. His City Watch was secretly under Tem's control through the corruption of the Head Watchman, and the Houses under his mayoralty were acting erratic and unstable, nay, even violent. The rest of the citizens of Marronay were fishers and merchants; they would not get in the way of the Houses, it wasn't their place to do so. The Mayor was becoming afraid for his own skin. He could not leave Marronay, as that would seem to condone the conflict currently wracking her, but he felt terror when he thought of staying. It was at this point that Tem deliberately became friends with him, to try to influence him. As far as the Mayor was concerned, and as Tem desperately wanted him to believe, Derion was his rock – the only sane House in the region – and he clung to that rock with all the strength that a drowning man could muster. Tem encouraged it. He visited the Mayoral home nearly every day, reassuring the Mayor that he was doing everything he could to settle the differences between the Houses. The Mayor was still worried, and soon took to drinking, which Tem also encouraged, as he needed him as suggestible and pliable as possible.

    As the months progressed, Noul's and Hanach's feud became larger and more widespread. Their individual satellites in other cities also started fighting, and other Houses started siding with one or the other.  Their resources dwindled, and their soldiers' numbers decreased. They could not recruit men fast enough. The Mayor of Marronay was drinking in terror from dawn until dusk, completely useless to the city. Tem was as happy as he could be. His plan was moving exactly in the direction he intended. Meanwhile, he had fingers in another couple of pies. He'd hired the thugs, paid off the tradesmen, and bribed the watchmen, but further, he'd begun a spy network. It had started in Marronay, but he'd built it up through the entirety of Upnar province. Not one thing happened but he heard about it, in the form of a neatly written report that silently arrived on his desk at the end of each day. The network served a dual purpose. He received all the news that he could handle, but also, the people he had hired as spies were involved in legwork on his behalf, quietly inciting a rebellion. As the Great Houses weakened, the  various serfs and peasants, tradesmen and craftsmen, and anyone else who might feel subjugated by or resentful towards the nobility would have a proportionally larger chance of overthrowing them. Tem's spies whispered in ears, and murmured in crowds, slowly but surely bringing the metaphorical cooking pot of the province to near-boiling. When the time was right, they would rise, and Tem would be their Emperor – and then, oh then, he would crush every House within his reach.

4.11.13

The Fall of Derion Part 1

[Author's note: This is the first part of my NaNoWriMo novel for 2013. I hit 2000 words this morning (yes, I'm a little behind >.>) and so I wanted to post it somewhere. All content copyright Elizabeth Klassen, etc, etc. Enjoy, leave comments and critiques below. Love you all! To read more, all parts are and/or will be linked in the sidebar under that beautiful photo of me.]
 
    It was the sort of day in which one doesn't want to go anywhere. Rain pounded relentlessly on the roof and poured from the eaves and gutters. A wind was blowing down from the northeast, carrying no warmth with it. It was gusty and threw the rain sideways into your face, so that no matter which way you were going, you got utterly drenched.

    Oren sat on the window seat, three stories from the ground, and raced raindrops down the windowpane. His lessons were done for the day, and he had no playmates. He'd already devoured all the books in the house at least three times over, metaphorically speaking, of course. Oren would have pestered Jax, the man-of-all-work, to build chair castles and let Oren slay him as the wicked dragon holding the beautiful cushion-princess captive, but he was busy taking care of the household accounts. Even the rotund and motherly housekeeper, Hild, was out for her half-day. So Oren was racing raindrops.

    As he was cheering on the leftmost drop, which had been the underdog for quite some time and had forthwith decided it was time to put on a burst of speed and overtake its opponent, he smelled something unexpected. He turned towards the door of the room, with the distinctive odor of smoke in his nostrils. Flames were licking through the cracks in the door, creeping up the walls, and smoke was billowing near the ceiling. Of course there were no other exits, unless one counted the window, and although that thought crossed his mind, he knew that it was far too high up for him to have any chance of landing it safely if he were to jump – never mind the difficulty of opening the window in the first place.

    The flames came closer. The heat became oppressive, as if the air was becoming thicker and heavier. Oren could scarcely breathe in: the air was so hot and dry that it hurt his lungs. The shelves on the wall came alive as the greedy fire slid closer, eating books, walls, and furniture alike. It became clear that there was no escape. He vaguely wondered if Hild and Jax had gotten out safely, and resigned himself to his fate. He could not keep from screaming as his flesh burned.

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    Temmec stood on the starboard bow of the ship, balancing against the sway of the sea, his hands clasped behind his back. It had been weeks since he'd been home, and he was ready to have a good meal and a good night's sleep in his own bed. It was always an interesting experience, travelling, but there had been too many inns and taverns along the course of the journey where he'd had small tickly bedfellows, and it was about time he slept somewhere where lice and bedbugs were completely out of the picture. He sighed, grateful that the long trip was almost over, and desirous of seeing his wife again.

    When he had first met her, she had been the most beautiful woman in Marronay city, and the second most beautiful woman in Upnar province. No one of his acquaintance had ever been sure who had decided that she was only the second most beautiful woman in Upnar, but everyone agreed she was the most beautiful woman in Marronay, without question or competition. She had more than beauty, though: a sweeter, kinder person, it was said, had not lived in the city for a full hundred years. Tem was never quite sure how he had managed to win her affection, and always felt a vague sense of undeservedness, but it was universally agreed that, while he worshipped the ground she walked on, she also had eyes only for him, anyone could see that. And so, in due course, they were married, and that day a large proportion of the young men in the region, although invited to the wedding, refused to attend, preferring instead to drink their broken hearts away. He brought her to his big house in the middle of town and carried her over the threshold with all the proper ceremony – and promptly stumbled and almost dropped her, too busy gazing at her to have any thought towards watching his feet.

    They were very happy together for a good few years – until she became pregnant. It was not an easy pregnancy, and she had to remain in her bed, by order of the apothecary, for the majority of those nine months. She weakened and became very pale. The apothecary was called to their house almost daily. He frequently bled her, explaining that it was bad blood that was causing the trouble. Tem spent sleepless nights walking the floor of his study, hoping she would recover soon, worrying that she would get worse, and cursing the yet-unborn child for its part in draining her strength. When at last the child was born, a son, any hope he'd had for her recovery died a dreadful death that day. It had been such a difficult birth, and in conjunction with her earlier weakness, the apothecary said, she would not be strong enough to leave her bed again, and in no wise was she fit to ever carry another pregnancy to term. In his anger and grief, Tem blamed the child. He refused to have anything to do with him. His wife was too weak to look after the infant, so he hired a wet-nurse and left them both in another part of the house. At first, he spent every waking moment at his darling wife's side, but when it became clear that his constant attentions were doing more to tire her than to help her, he threw himself into his work, and only allowed himself to see her for a half-hour every day, a time she looked forward to almost as much as he did. Tem also contracted the apothecary to visit and bleed her weekly, and instructed that he do all else he could to improve her condition. His son he put out of his mind entirely. For all intents and purposes the child became an orphan in his own father's house. He was certainly never allowed to see his mother – indeed, he was told he had no mother, and she was told, to prevent her from worrying, that the child had not lived – and Tem himself never interacted with the boy unless it was absolutely necessary.

    Ten years later, Temmec Derion stood with his hands behind his back watching the harbour draw nearer, eager to see his dearest. Even in her weak state, and even though she was no longer the most beautiful woman in Marronay, he still worshipped her, and today's half-hour with her had been long in coming. A dinghy was soon put over the side of the ship for those going ashore, and within half an hour he was standing on solid ground. A seaman was instructed to send his luggage to his address, but Tem would not wait himself for transport; he was in too much of a hurry to see his wife. Twenty or thirty minutes' brisk and impatient walk through the town and he was standing in front of his house. Or rather, what was left of his house. Only a scorched stone skeleton remained; the rest was ash and rubble. The walls stood up like blackened teeth. Neither roof nor floors were left – the fire had completely gutted the place, and taken all the furnishings with it.

    Tem stopped a passerby. “What happened here? When did this happen? Tell me, did anyone make it out alive?” He was visibly shaking.
    The man had a sympathetic look on his face as he answered. “Not but a week ago, m'lord, the whole place went up in smoke. I didn't see it myself, but I heard. The wee boy screamed, something frightful – it was that piercing, you could hear it right down at the harbour edge.”
    “I don't care about the boy! What about my wife, man?” Tem demanded.
    “No-one knows, m'lord,” replied the man, “some say one fellow did make it out, but I haven't heard who that was, or where he went; but none of them's said anything about no lady, begging your lordship's pardon.”
    “You're sure no-one mentioned her?” he pleaded.
    “No-one, m'lord.”
    “Very well.” he turned away, dejected. Inside of an hour, his entire life had crumbled away like the walls and floors of his once-house. He couldn't care less about the child – even the servants merited more regret than the boy. His one concern, the sun whose warmth he had revolved around, his focus for thirteen years – she was gone. She had been the jewel he prized more than anything else the world could offer, and now she was his no longer. On an impulse, he moved toward the heap of stones and ash; he told himself he was just looking to see if anything was left.

    As he approached the place where the front door had been, he thought he saw something fluttering in the breeze. It seemed to be stuck to the inside of the wall just through the door, a place it could not be seen from the street. Tem, intrigued and curious, came up to it. It was a note, pasted to the wall, and it was addressed to him. It read:

    To my Lord Temmec Derion, by the hand of Ejax Ortrin:
        Pursuant to the aims and goals of those who consort
        with the Family Hanach, and also being individually
        desirous of incurring and inflicting quantities of misery
        and anguish in your Lordship, I took it upon myself to
        deal appropriately with you and your Lady. By the
        agency of my comrades and myself, and with the full
        knowledge and approval of House Hanach, your home,
        your wife, and your son now lie in ashes, dust, and slag.
        I also take this opportunity to resign most heartily from
        your employ, which I trust will not be overly inconvenient
        to your Lordship.

    The cheek of the man: to flaunt his wife's death, and then to add, “Oh, by the way, I'm not working for you anymore – so sorry!” - it was not to be borne. Tem tore down the paper and crumpled it in his fist. He would take his revenge on Hanach. He would take his revenge on all the Greater and Lesser Houses. And when he was done, they would each bow before him and swear their allegiance to Derion House. Jax Ortrin was but a minor player in this game, a simple hired assassin, not worth worrying about in the slightest. Tem would cut down the tree at the root; the branches would take care of themselves.

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    Some months later, in the city of Adrin, a meeting was quietly taking place in an upper room of the noisiest, most disreputable tavern in town. The theory being, of course, that the louder the drunk men downstairs were, the less likely it was that the meeting upstairs would be overheard.
    “You have heard, I suppose, of his – ahem – actions in the past few weeks?”
    “Oh, yes. I have, indeed, my lord. It would be difficult to avoid hearing about him, I think.”
    “And you have heard that the Family Royal wish to avoid – ahem – unnecessary bloodshed, I presume.”
    “I have, yes. Please come to the point, my lord.”
    “Very well, very well. The Family Royal would be grateful if they could – ahem – procure your services in this matter.”
    “The point, my lord; I am losing patience.”
    “Be not hasty, sir! The point, as you say – ahem – is that they wish you to, if I may, put a point into him – ahem.”
    “Leave your puns at the door, I beg you, my lord; they make your meaning less clear, if such a thing were possible. Do you mean that they wish me to seduce him? Or that they wish me to kill him? Answer me straight, if you are able.”
    “Ahem – they do not mean you to seduce the man, no.”
    “Then they wish me to kill him.”
    “I am not – ahem – permitted to say so. However, if he were to – ahem – perish suddenly, I think you may find a large quantity of – ahem – gold in your coffers within a very short period of time.”

19.10.13

Bard

I'm not satisfied
Just to converse with you,
It's not enough.

Your eyes meet mine
I like your eyes,
They crinkle in the corners when you smile

Your stories keep me entranced
Far-off places and wild things
I want to go adventuring

You stand there
You're like a stranger -
So much I don't know
Yet you are a kindred spirit;
I've known you for ever.

You stand there
Telling wild tales, all true
Bard, I want to call you, singer and wanderer
Poet and traveller
Truth-seeker

You make me want to vanish in the mists
Hunting deer, catching fish,
Singing in the silence

I'm not satisfied
Just to converse with you
It's not enough -

I want to wander, climb a mountain,
Seek the sunrise.

I just wish you would come with me.

7.10.13

In which I rant about stuff.

I know it's been quiet on the blogging front lately, but something ruffled my feathers and I'm going to rant about it. My apologies if my ranting bugs anyone, but honestly I'm going to rant anyways, like it or no.

A friend of mine shared a well-meaning link on their facebook wall this evening. I got annoyed. Here's why.

It was a link to a petition asking the Canadian government to require all Internet Providers in Canada to block all pornographic content, and that such content should only to be allowed if the particular household authorises it.

Now this is very well-meaning indeed.

I fully agree that porn as a whole is thoroughly harmful both to the viewer and to the actor. There have been several articles out of the UK in the last couple weeks showing how porn twists young minds, and the problems that it creates.

In principle, I am all for such (specific) censorship.

However - and here's where I get pissed off -

That's basically giving the government all the censorship privileges it has ever wanted. It will start with blocking the obvious sites (XXX anything), and then, oh then, they'll go after filesharing sites and torrent sites like the Pirate Bay. This was exactly what SOPA/PIPA were after. Granted, that was the States, but we've had similar attempts at censorship. And I do not like censorship of any kind.

A friend told me yesterday that they saw me as a person who's very genuine and can't stand bullshit. Well, censorship is bullshit. It allows others to decide what you should or should not see. While I'm all for No More Porn, that sets a precedent for hiding other stuff. Such as, governmental actions, for instance. Anti-WikiLeaks, if you will. So yeah, let's go all 1984 on our own selves.
Great idea.
Not.

So, I will not be signing that petition. Nor anything like it. Ever.

I might be overreacting. I'm perfectly willing to admit the possibility. But I still won't sign.

Much love to all.

26.8.13

In Which: Four More Days, Injury-Prone, Temperature Prevarication, Nerd News.

Monday is almost over - the last Monday at my summer co-op job. After this week, I'm back at university. It's been a really long summer, and it's been a really short summer. I feel like it really wasn't summer at all, except for the bloody heat.
I have sat in an office chair, and I have run around fixing printers. I have imaged computers, and I have wiped computers. I have counted printer pages, and I have swept the floor. I have gotten frustrated with users and computers because Everything is Broken Forever, and I have had the Tech AuraTM make things magically work (yes, that's a thing. Sort of. It's like the Force. If you have the Tech Aura, all you have to do is look at a computer and it just works).
But this time Friday, I'll be out of here. Feels weird, man.

I did my 5k run on Saturday, with my bestie.
Normally, 5k takes me about 45 minutes. Saturday's run took me 43ish, and that was after walking the last km.
The only reason I walked the last km was that my knees were killing me. Stabbing pain and stuff. My muscles would have been perfectly happy to do the whole damn run, and in (comparatively) very good time, but my joints, my stupid joints. I got across the finish line and then was so mad at my stupid freaking knees that I cried. The First Aid tent people gave me a tensor bandage for the worst knee, and some ice for both. I kept it wrapped all yesterday, and it's still giving me achyness today, so I've got it wrapped again.
Other than that, it was a fun run, in the dark with glowsticks and colourful clothing. So much NEON, my eyes hurt...
And there were two little girls, about 10 and 8, who ran it, and they were troopers. They passed me right at the end. I was vicariously proud of them.

Still trying to figure out the best combination of blankets/window/pajamas to go with the hammock - ideal temperature is hard when you overheat on top and freeze on the bottom. Other than that, I'm still liking it. Because hammock.

In Lizzi's Nerd News, some people on reddit have come up with an idea within the last day: to make a sort of "Usenet 2.0"/"P2Preddit". This was spawned from a thread on a post (on a wart on a frog on a bump on a log... whoops, sorry, got carried away there) on /r/linux about the 22nd anniversary of Linus Torvalds' Usenet post that "started it all".
Another reddit member said this about it:
"An updated usenet wouldn't be a bad thing definitely.
With what else is going on in the world, leaving mass information centralized in the hands of a few government-intertwined corporations probably isn't best for future generations - encryption is a requirement."
Sounds about ideal for my recent tinfoilhattedness. I've signed on to help if I can. Because hey, why not? Plus, if it leaves the ground, it's good to have projects under one's belt when looking for a job. Not that that's my primary motivation - I'm really just interested in the whole thing. So far the noises people are making are in the direction of PGP plus some kind of Web-of-Trust system. So yeah.

That's about it. Toodles.

23.8.13

In which I use Physics, and possess Insanity.

I am slightly insane.

I like being insane, so it's okay, but let me tell you all about my insanity.

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I was thinking about making a hammock for sleepage. Well, I did it.
It went through a couple iterations, but I did end up sleeping in it last night.

I had to create a stand, because I didn't want to put holes in my walls (yay renting!), and I wanted a simple stand that didn't take too much work and could be dismantled without too much effort. I decided that the stand variously known as the TurtleDog or Tripod stand was the most practical. The second iteration regressed to the vanilla Turtlelady stand, because the Olddog variation collapsed on top of me (ow...).

Let me explain that last paragraph...
A contributor on hammockforums.net, known as Turtlelady, came up with a dual-tripod+suspended-crossbar stand made of bamboo.
The physics of this is that a tripod is very sturdy, and if one were to suspend something from the centre joint of a tripod, between the legs, this is a very stable place to hang. If you had one tripod and a bat-hammock (all corners hang from a single point, and yes, this is a thing), you'd be good to go.
However, an ordinary hammock (especially a loaded one) pulls inwards towards itself from either end, so even if you were to hang both ends of the hammock from two tripods, they would collapse because it's not a direct downward pull.
Hence the suspended crossbar.
Hang each end of the crossbar from the centre joints of the two tripods, and each end of the hammock from the ends of the crossbar. The crossbar takes the horizontal inward force from the loaded hammock, and the tripods take the vertical force. At that point it becomes very sturdy indeed.
Turtlelady's stand was based on the three poles in each tripod being lashed together with rope, and another rope farther down the legs to keep them from splaying out and collapsing downwards.
Another contributor known as Olddog made a variation on the Turtlelady stand, where the inside two legs of each tripod are screwed onto one half of a gate hinge, and the outside leg is on the other half of the hinge. Hence why it got called the TurtleDog stand - a little bit from each contributor. The Olddog version is little more industrial-looking, and (I thought) a little more sturdy.

It seems I didn't get strong enough hinges, is the short version; I set it up for the first time last night, and everything went well for several hours, until the legs twisted around and bent the hinges and the whole lot came down, at about 9.15pm last night. I'm just glad nothing broke.

Of course I had already adjusted my bedroom to make room for this thing, including standing my mattress/boxspring up against the wall, and I, being the stubborn, do-it-all-by-my-own-fucking-self, pigheaded chick that I am, was determined that I would not put my bed back down for love nor money. No, the hammock and stand would do what I wanted, even if I was up til 11.00 to do it.

Happily, I had picked up a package of 100m or so of poly cord from Canadian Tire just in case (in case of what? I wasn't sure, but now I know!), so I dismantled the tripods and hinges and used the cord to lash the hell out of those poles. I also took the screws from the hinges and screwed down another piece of poly cord to keep the legs from splaying out too far.
I even tried to put my small knowledge of physics to use, and set up the two tripods to twist in opposite directions (because when you use lashing, the legs have to twist past each other in order to open up) so that both tripods won't overtwist in one direction and collapse, which is partially what happened with the hinges - I looked at them after they came down, and they'd both twisted the same way. It works in my head, I'm not sure if it's real physics or just Lizzi-brain-physics, but I'll go with it. Any real physicists want to chime in on this? For science!?

Anyways, after that, I got it set up with no more issues, all was well, and I slept in the damn thing, and I was even in bed a little early.

The only thing I didn't like was that it was a little colder than usual, so I didn't sleep as well as I could have, but I have an idea to fix that too. I'll see how it goes tonight.

So that's it. Toodles all.

20.8.13

On Grocery Finds, Further Tin-Foiling, Cardio and Toes, Solitary Confinement, Wheels, and a TV Show That Shall Remain Nameless (At Least Until You Read This Post).

So I went grocery shopping yesterday - and found some very very cheap beef. Beef heart, to be precise. I cooked some up for my lunch this morning. It's very dense and filling. I like, I very much like. I'll have to get more when this runs out. Especially given how cheap it is. Bonus: it's organ meat. Apparently that's supposed to be good for you, or something. So that was a good find.

As per my last post, I'm still having bad feelings about internet privacy and/or safety, especially since Groklaw closed this morning. According to a blog post on the site, they closed because Lavabit closed, and they closed because, they say, email is not safe any more. I don't want to be watched by anyone, but I don't know what to do about it. I could, in theory, drop off the grid - it's just incredibly hard to do that when computers are my job. It might be easier if I was, say, a park ranger or something, you know?
Ah well. For now, I'll stick around, and wait to see how bad it gets.

I went out and bought a new pair of Vibrams last week: pink and grey ones. Partially for the Radiant Run on Saturday, and partially because I really like Vibram shoes and I wanted another pair. I actually went running in them last night, and managed a 5.something km loop, in 45 minutes. I have been known to complain about cardio and how much I dislike it. Well, I still dislike it, but I did get to a point after about the 3rd or 4th km where I just didn't care whether I kept running or not. Weirdest feeling ever. Course now my calves hurt. Yep.
Probably going to go running again Wednesday, and maybe a very short one Thursday, but Friday is definitely resting day and then Saturday night is the run. See? I have a plan ... I think.

Also, Vibrams make a very predictable, though amusing, conversation piece. Anyone who hasn't seen them before will inevitably ask what the hell they are and whether or not they're comfortable and doesn't it feel weird to have things between your toes all the time?; those who have seen them before but don't own a pair themselves will ask similar questions and then throw in things like, how is it running with them, and don't you feel rocks when you walk, and what about glass?; and then the people who also own them will happily tell you how much they like theirs and how comfortable they are for anything and everything, like it's a shared secret, or something. It's funny.

I'm all alone at work today, same as yesterday - my boss is on holiday for two weeks, and my other co-worker comes back to work tomorrow. It's been really quiet, fortunately, although yesterday I had some software that would not behave itself, no matter what I did to it. So then tomorrow I'm not alone, Thursday I'm not alone, and then Friday I'm alone again, because my boss at the secondary site takes every other Friday off - as I think I've explained before. At any rate, this is the week of Lizzi Runs The Show. It's terrifying, right up until the part where it actually happens, at which point most of the day is spent sitting in a chair at a desk, browsing reddit and occasionally answering the phone.

Another thing that's been on my mind lately is cars. I've been contemplating how much more convenient (particularly for groceries) a car is than a bicycle. The one thing that's stopping me is how much of a money dump such a thing would be, although I've seen a good handful of reasonable cars for less than $800 on craigslist. But money (or lack thereof) means, I guess, that I'll have to wait. In the meantime I'm browsing craigslist anyhow.
Speaking of wheels, though: my ugly little black mountain bike finally gave up the ghost. It had so many problems that I couldn't handle the thought of putting more money into it. So I walked down to the thrift store and picked up a nice old 10-speed street bike. Narrow tires, ram's-horn handlebar; I'm a happy happy duck. I didn't even have to think; I walked into the store, looked over the rack, and I knew that that was the one. Nice and easy. I pulled the kickstand and the new brake pads from the old bike and put them on the new one, and she works like a charm. The thing that makes me the happiest is that the gears and chain don't squeak as vilely as the old one did.

Still watching Supernatural like a fiend - most recently finished 6.12, the episode after Sam gets his soul back. A friend of mine made the comment that he didn't like season 6 and up, because in 6 the writers "jump the shark" - and now that I'm watching it, I have to admit, they do rather jump it. 1-5 was a good arc, and they could have ended it there without too much trouble. 6, so far, has been the writers reaching for story. Sam and Dean between them were total facepalm-worthy idiots at least until 6.06, possibly right up to 6.09/6.10. 6.11 was possibly the smartest Dean's been since season 5, and was definitely the dumbest Sam's been, ever. Really, going after Bobby? Dumbass. Even without a soul, there's no excuse for that crap.

Anyways, two hours left in the day, and I think I want to go organise some cables. We have a metaphorical rat's nest happening over on one table, and it's bothering me.

So, toodles, all.



Post Script: I didn't realise how long this post was going to be, or how multi-topic'ed. My bad, and good job if you got all the way through it! Guess I'm a little ADD when I'm writing ... ?

14.8.13

I'm the Hero of ... Canton? Also, of Windows 7 and Paranoia. Tin-Foil Hats for ALL!

I guess it's been a good two weeks since last I posted. Stuff has happened.

For example, I'm about halfway or a little more through season 5 of Supernatural - yep, still obsessed. Shouldn't be long til I'm starting season 6.

Went with my dad to see Serenity (that's right, the Firefly movie) on the big screen, because the movie theatre does play older cult movies sometimes. They even did Wrath of Khan once. Good times. I went full nerd in my Jayne hat and Blue Sun t-shirt, because why not, and there were others in the theatre also nerded out; one guy even came up and sang the Hero of Canton song at me.
"He robbed from the rich, and he gave to the poor / stood up to the man and he gave him what-for / our love for him now ain't hard to explain / the hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne!"
Someone else told me I looked like an idiot in my hat - but the way he said it, I think he was misquoting the line by Wash: "Man walks down the street in a hat like that, people know he's not afraid of anything!"
Oh nerd people, Y U SO AWKWARD.

Still absolutely happy with my new ear piercings; no regrets here. I might even get another set done at some point - or something else, maybe. Mmmm piercings. I have contemplated doing my septum (nose between nostrils, fyi) but that's a risky one, doesn't always look good on everyone.

At work the IT department as a whole is slowly rolling out Windows 7 (because everyone's still on XP, and Micro$oft is no longer supporting that as of April). It's due to go out to general users in September, but I'm the only person at either of the sites I work at who's even testing it out, because most users here (not including me) use some very elderly proprietary software that's not certified for Win 7 yet, and also because of the Active Directory structure involved. Oy vey. I can definitely see them pushing back the rollout when September finally arrives, due to unpreparedness. It's so going to happen.
The one thing I personally really find frustrating about the situation is that my admin account is still attached to XP, so sometimes I have admin privileges, and sometimes I don't - and there's no rhyme or reason for the back and forth on that one. Yay Active Directory.

On a much more serious note:
I was browsing reddit happily one day not so very long ago when I saw the first few articles about PRISM and the NSA and Edward Snowden, and since then I've been watching for further information, growing gradually more worried about the whole thing as it progresses.
The problem is, while America as a whole likes to hold tightly to the Fourth Amendment, saying that online communications ought to come under the category of things that should not be searched without probable cause, and that's great for them, if that works - and here's the but - there's no such thing in place for Canadians or anyone else who might happen to be elsewhere in the world. In fact, most of our data ends up in datacentres in the States, and the NSA is supposedly specifically looking at non-American communications for terrorists. This should really scare us all. I might even get labelled "terrorist" just for saying that, depending what their criteria are; who knows?
At this point, of course, I have a fuck-tonne of personal information all over the bloody internet, and it'd be really hard (not to mention highly impractical in today's world) to cut myself out of here, especially since I can't clean myself out of their records (not to sound really paranoid or anything, of course) - so I'm probably not going to bother. But still, I do get a little nervous about the entire business.
Anyone else getting worried?

Unrelated: I might start knitting tin-foil hats, if anyone's interested.
Heh.

I swear I'm sane, sometimes...

Toodles all!

1.8.13

Summer's almost over....

It's August already. I don't know where this summer has gone. I'll be back at university in a month. Way too fast, if you ask me - I really didn't get a summer this year. Ah well. Working life, I guess.

I've still been watching Supernatural - I'm now exactly halfway through Season 2. It makes me wish I could go "hunting" - taking care of ghosts and stuff that are hanging around being all malicious. I really like the show. Added bonus: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (Sam and Dean Winchester, in that order) are very very easy on the eyes. Mhm. Especially Jared. I mean, I'm not experiencing an actor-crush, at all... Really! (internal monologue: he's married, Lizzi - he's married, damnit!)
Although I almost can't take the show seriously since I saw W. Pender St. in "Chicago"... Most of their filming is in BC, especially Vancouver, but really.

I'm also (possibly foolishly) toying and/or experimenting with the idea of sleeping in a hammock on a regular basis - apparently it's the latest greatest best sleep thing you can do for yourself? Something about the zero-pressure-points resulting from not lying flat on a bed, makes for less tossing and turning or some such. I have no evidence to the contrary, so I figured, why the hell not? Can't hurt, anyways, and I've had terrible sleep for the last couple months, so it can't get any worse. So I'm currently sewing up a hammock from some nice thick circus-striped cotton I've got lying around (of course I have fabric lying around...!) and building a stand for it so I don't have to put holes in my (rented) walls. I may give up on the stand depending how it goes and just put holes anyways, cos they can, technically, be filled in after, but I'd prefer not to if I don't have to.

Damn, I'm turning into a freaking hippy - kombucha and kefir, toe shoes, no-'poo*, hammocks, organic and paleo food and other products, the list goes on. I blame you and your granola ways, mother mine!

*(shampoo free, for those who've never seen that phrase before.)

I also got my ears pierced again on Saturday. Funny story there. I was walking to the tattoo place to get them done, and stubbed my toe something fierce - and of course I was wearing open-toe sandals. So I'm bleeding all over my sandal and I walk in and ask to be pierced - and would they be able to give me something so I can bandage my toe? So they actually ended up bandaging my toe for me, and then I had my ears pierced right after. First aid from a tattoo shop. Who'd'a thunk it? Anyway, I now have a couple of secondary rings in my ears, so it's now two on each side. I'm really happy with how it looks.

Oh yes, and I'm doing a 5k run in Vancouver - the Radiant Run. It's for charity, and it's at night and full of glowsticks and brightly coloured clothing. I'm going with my friend Jessi. I've been tempted to get more Vibram toe shoes - and given the violently neon nature of most of their running shoes, this might be a good opportunity to splurge a little, since they would match the theme of the night...

Other than that, life as usual is life as usual - although for the next ten days I'll be housesitting for my friend with cats. Hoo boy. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate cats - I just don't like when their fur gets all over bloody well everywhere. Whoever invented lint rollers should have free beer for life.

As a final note, Don't Fear The Reaper is currently playing on the radio. It always makes me think of that SNL skit - but now it also makes me think of the episode "Faith" from Supernatural, the one with the tame Reaper that I was ranting about in my last post. They had the balls to play that song as part of the soundtrack, because Reaper. Hehehe. Anyways... (I'm totally NOT obsessed with that show...)

That's it, toodles all!

26.7.13

Too many shows.

My friend got me hooked on Supernatural.

This would normally not be a bad thing, except that I'm also trying to watch Torchwood.

However, I just finished episode 12 of season 1. Yes, I know, I have a lot to catch up on. The point being, I predicted the plot of this one well before half of the show was over.

(Warning: I'm going to start ranting about plot, and if you've never seen Supernatural and you plan to, you might want to stop now and go somewhere else until you get past ep. 12. Unless you don't care about silly spoilers. In which case, be my guest. Because I'm going to pretty much tell the story here. Although I guess this show is now a good seven years old, so while I'm late to the party, I guess that means that a spoiler warning is technically pointless.)

So. Summary of plot.
Dean gets all electrocutey, gets heart damage as a result. Sam is desperate to save him, and drags him off to this blind faith healer (who himself had been miraculously healed of cancer, after which he can apparently heal others) in Nebraska. Dean gets healed, but some other kid dies of a heart attack for no reason - at exactly the same moment. They figure this out, and figure out who's to blame, stop the culprit, blah blah blah, happy-ish ending.
I say "ish" because the nice cute blonde chick with brain cancer and six months to live never gets healed. Sadface for Dean, who has a crush. Well -- he kind of has a crush on every cute blonde they find in terrible danger, just saying.

Now here's where I start ranting.

Halfway through, they start suspecting that the healer guy isn't all he's cracked up to be. They think he's got a tame Reaper that he uses to mess with life & death. Well, that requires a binding spell. So they go snooping in his house and find...
A spell book. With a binding spell in it. Yay. But...

Dudes. Think a minute.

The blind guy is reading a book, now?

And yet they still think it's him.
Use your brains; it's his wife, numbnuts! The one who went totally desperate when she saw her husband dying? Seriously. As obvious as a pie in the face. But I digress.

So then Dean stops one of the meetings. The healer guy's wife says, and I quote, "The Lord will deal with him as He sees fit..."

Like, really? Sam, Dean - you guys don't see what she's saying? That phrase there means that you're the next victim, Dean, and that she's the one playing God with a Reaper on a leash.

Winchester must be another word for blonde, I swear, because these guys seem to be a special kind of clueless in this episode. They made it past at least 11 other monsters (including a Norse Vanr) and they can't freaking figure this out. Although I suppose they could be PMSing. Yeah, that's gotta be why they're so far off their game.

Anyways. Entertaining episode, and not as freaky as Bugs, or as heart-stopping as The Hook Man, or as disturbing as the scene from Home with the plumber in the kitchen (seriously, by the way, was I the only one who could see that coming a mile away? Poltergeist + plumber + "backed up" garburator == very bad things) ... but predictable-as-hell plot.

Rant over :)

Oh yes, and I almost forgot. The dodgeball tournament I was supposed to be in this weekend? We had to drop out. Not enough players. Just as well, I don't think we were quite prepared.
And my pinky finger that I jammed on a ball during dodgeball practice two weeks ago? Pretty sure I must have fractured it, because it shouldn't still be this painful/swollen, although the swelling did go down some, but it's not down fully. Maybe I should go to a clinic... *shrug*

Toodles, love you all!

18.7.13

Like a *bleep*ing BOSS.

I like being independent.

I like the fact that I went out and bought lightbulbs for my house.

It seems like a silly thing to like, but I friggen bought my own friggen lightbulbs. And that makes me feel like an autonomous grownup. Or something.

I also bought a stick of 2gb of RAM for my computer, and stole the 2gb stick from my old one, so I'm running with 4gb, like a boss. And I did it myself. Picked up the right kind without anyone's help - though I expect I confused the poor Best Buy guy... he meant well for offering to help, but I wasn't making sense even to myself... Haha. Anyways. All is running like a blooming dream.

And I will carry on being inde-freaking-pendent, like a BOSS.

By the way, another chapter in the Saga du Pinky: the swelling is finally going down a little. Still a wee bit sore, but nothing fearsome. So that's a relief.

That's it. Toodles!

16.7.13

In which I'm clumsy.

I learned a new word today: pantagruelian. It means enormous, and adequately describes the way my pinky finger looks today, as a result of last night.
Last night I went to dodgeball practice (Don't laugh at me. I joined up for a tournament at the end of the month that's for charity. After that it's done. And by the way we could use more players, particularly female ones.... ...Anyways). We were practicing by standing one person against a wall and a) practicing aim by throwing at the person, and b) practicing dodging by being the one against the wall. It was my turn against the wall, and someone said, "Hey! Try to catch this one!" So I tried. And smushed my pinky finger really badly.
It's all swollen now, and purple. Sadface. I don't think it's broken, cos I could move it yesterday - it's too fat and swollen to move much now - but it still flipping hurts.

I had the best/worst moment at work today. I went to sit on a chair to do some stuff. Didn't realise it wasn't under my butt. Sat down, astonished myself thoroughly, and landed on the floor. I laughed at myself properly after that. Ended up with a wee bruise on my backside, and a slightly larger bruise on my pride, but nothing serious.

Other than that, been a pretty slow couple of days. I may colour my hair when I get home - it's starting to bug me a bit more now. Yay roots.

So yeah. Toodles...

15.7.13

Goldenears, cleaning, floppy drives, and Monday.

I've had a busy busy weekend.

On Saturday both my Pathfinder games were cancelled, so the first thing I did was googlechat at my dad to request a hike-day. Originally the plan was to do Elk Mountain, cos that's our go-to day hike (especially since the mountain bikers took over Sumas' Centennial Trail, and that one subdivision went up right at the old trailhead... I'm not bitter; why do you ask?), but when I got to my parents' house, Dad suggested suddenly that we try Goldenears, and see how far we could go in one day. So we did that. Started hiking at 10.30 - a little later than I would have liked - and got about 30-45 min past Alder Flats, maybe a bit more, but then various feet started to hurt. I was in my Vibrams, which on any other trail would have been fine, but Goldenears trail is especially rocky, and by the end it felt somewhere between Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid (whose every step felt like walking on knives) and playing guitar with no callouses for six hours straight. Let me tell you how glorious it felt, at the end, to walk on the plain dirt sections; it was like walking on freaking velvet, it was so amazing. Course, I'm also my mother's daughter: coming downhill was hell on my knees. And there was so very much downhill. We finally got back to the trailhead at 4.30. Once in the car, I promptly fell asleep and drooled on my own shoulder. Classy, right? It was a good day though.

Yesterday I acquired a copy of the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Soundtrack. It has every piece of music from those movies ever. The Elves' chant in the Fellowship when they're leaving for the ships, Aragorn's snippet of Tinuviel's song, all Merry and Pippin's drinking songs, even Gollum's Rock and Pool song - and all the ones you thought you knew (from the "proper" soundtrack) are so much longer and more complicated than you thought they were. So yesterday afternoon I played that while I cleaned my room. I did so much laundry, and I organised stuff. I even rearranged my room - a plan that occurred to me around 8.30pm, which reminds me - why on earth do I get the urge to do major cleanup/rearrangement late in the evening? I did have a momentary concern that it would cause me confusion in the morning, but that didn't last long. And it does look better; much better. Now I'm thinking I might do that for all the other rooms in my house. Someone stop me before I do something foolish....

Today at work I took apart computers and removed floppy drives from them so we can surplus the computers and use the floppy drives later. Yes, we still need those. Yes, they're technically obsolete. No, I'm not going to argue. Tomorrow I'm going to take all those said computers and wipe them. Then I'll put them on my list of things to be surplussed. Can I hear Three Cheers for Doing The Same Old Thing At Work As You Did Before? hip hip....

Anyways, it's almost going-home-time - thus ends another Monday.

Also, I'm looking forward to a metal show on Friday - First Reign and Dialect 9. It'll be awesome.

Toodles all.

12.7.13

Anglophone rage, an adventure in coordination, FINALLY NO MORE HAGGIS, laptops, gaming, and Friday.

To this day I don't understand why Canada has to be bilingual. We English speakers make up most of the population of this country. Francophones are just the vocal minority.
Course, I'm probably just a wee bit pissed because I'm thoroughly mono-linguistic (although I admit I have designs on being fluent in Sindarin, not that that's particularly widely spoken) and I just had to make a warranty call to somewhere in Quebec. It irritates me when I'm clearly speaking accent-free English and I can hear the lady I'm talking to speaking in French to her co-worker without shame. Dude. I'm right here. I can hear you - and I can't understand you. It's incredibly rude, in my opinion.

Last night I hung out with some friends. We had tacos on the porch and played darts and pool, and the six-pack of Lonetree cider I brought disappeared very quickly, most of it not down my throat. I failed epically at darts, but actually did surprisingly well at pool - it was girls vs guys, and we would have won except I accidentally potted the white while trying to get the eight-ball out. At the end of the night, I grabbed three cans and a bottle, two things in each hand, to carry upstairs. At that moment, a pool cue fell, so I caught it. Picture this: left hand, a can held by my thumb and index, and a bottle between my index and middle fingers; and right hand, from thumb to ring finger, similarly holding two cans and a pool cue. So far so good. So I went to put the pool cue back in the stand, and just as I managed to get it to clip into the bit at the top, one of the cans fell out of my right hand and bounced smack off the top of my head. Moral of the story: put down the bottle and cans before you try to do anything involving hand-eye-coordination. Although, it was pretty funny timing.

Also, because you care so much, this is the end of the Saga of the Haggis: I ate the last of it for lunch today.
I just have to laugh at all the people who get all grossed out by the fact that I'm eating haggis. It's really not as gross as you'd think, I swear!

I have a laptop at work today that I'm supposed to image with a specific image - and it refuses to take it. Dammit Toshiba why?! I've tried at least five different ways of getting it to image, and it just refuses. At the moment I've got it on my lap instead of the desk behind me, so I can keep a closer eye on it, and hopefully see what it is that's breaking so badly. Aaaaand nope. It still broke. WHY.

On the subject of laptops, I installed Steam on mine this morning before work, and started it downloading Portal. Hell yeah. It was about 40% when I left. I have yet to upgrade the RAM in it, but that will happen before I start playing. And on the subject of gaming, I'm definitely going to go out and get an HDMI adaptor for the monitor I bought so that I can use my OUYA with it. Who needs a TV?

Happy Friday, everyone.

Toodles.

11.7.13

Is it really only Thursday?

So for the new laptop I went with Ubuntu 13.04, because I'm used to Ubuntu, overly pretty or otherwise. I had some fun trying to get it installed though. My mother has my 4gb flash drive in her possession because I'm playing her Doctor Who dealer, and I only have a 1gb one otherwise, and the iso once applied to a flash drive takes 2gb, and I didn't have any writable CDs or DVDs that were compatible with the CD drive in the old laptop. This made my life difficult until I found a 2gb microSD card. So I currently have a card as big as my thumbnail loaded up with Ubuntu, fully bootable. Which seems really bizarre to me, because it's so damn tiny. (I should totally try to boot my phone from it. Then again, maybe not.)
Anyhow, spent some time setting that up, and then got it into my bedroom and hooked it up to the secondary monitor that I bought, and watched Torchwood on the monitor while still having facebook open on the main laptop screen. Damn, new shiny stuff is awesome. Heh. I did find out that the new lappy only has 2gb of RAM, so assuming they're the same type, I'll definitely be boosting that out of the old one.

And yes, I had haggis for dinner last night. Cooked it up with 3 sweet potatoes, sliced up, and half an onion, all in the oven together with some rosemary on top. Hit the spot, it did. And had leftovers for lunch today, and probably enough left for lunch tomorrow too. At $8 for one haggis, that works out to 2-something a meal (not counting the sweet potatoes), which is a pretty good deal. Cheaper than eating out, anyway. And tasty. Nom nom nom. I think I weirded out my boss by appreciating haggis. Oh well, more for me.

Didn't get much cleaning done, because of the computer taking pretty long to set up - nor did I get my hair recoloured. But that's okay. I can get some cleaning done today after work, maybe - and definitely Friday after work too. Thankfully, the hair thing (as I said yesterday) isn't imperative - so that could wait til Monday, or even longer, if I wanted. We'll see how it goes.

At work my boss and I set up a computer with two monitors, which is fairly standard, but we also had to put a second keyboard and mouse on it. Hilarity ensued: I'd go to right-click on the desktop for settings, and he'd click away so my menu disappeared immediately; or he'd go to log in, but I'd already hit Ctr-Alt-Del and so he'd do it again and thus exit from the login screen. At one point he was moving his mouse left/right, and I was moving my mouse up/down, so it went in a really wonky circle. What is it they say about small things and small minds?

The radio at work played Werewolves of London this afternoon. I can't take that song seriously. I crack up every time I hear it. I want to know how in hell he sang that song with a straight face. Also, I'm getting bloody tired of Skagit Valley Casino radio ads. That and whichever credit union has the stupid jingle about being "in your corner".

Can't wait for Friday, it's been a long busy week so far. Can't wait for next Friday, either - metal show to see! Woohoo!

Anyways, signing off for now.
Toodles.

Edit: formatting ...

10.7.13

tl;dr: skunking, mondayism, talk geeky to me, haggis, and reddit.

Well. Stuff happened.

Sunday I had a picnic in the park with all my dear family. It was picnicky - and much too warm. I skunked my uncle and my dad at cribbage - almost didn't cos my dad was one point away from getting across the line, but then I pegged out. Made me feel good, cos I've never skunked anyone before, and they've been playing much longer than I have - but I got a whole string of double-runs one after another, and most of them had fifteens too, so that's why. Plus my uncle had a series of really terrible hands. Sorry, Uncle.

Monday was mondayish; I actually fell asleep on my desk partway through the day and I'm really glad no-one noticed. It was only for a few minutes anyways. But then after work I got to hang out with my good friend Jessi and another friend, Jazzy - I made paleo apple fritters (I keep getting asked for the recipe. One of these days I'll publish it here, all formatted and with pretty pictures to go with it) and Jazzy made Earl Grey Tea and Lavender cookies. OH MY GOSH those were amazing. Then we sat on the floor and did crafty stuff for a while. I got some chain-mail done, as well as part of my "uniform" for the dodgeball team I'm in...
And I laughed at us because for a full half hour none of us said anything to anyone else. Introverts, much?

Yesterday I got to hang out with a friend whom I didn't really know very well beforehand - she's been more my sister's friend up til now - and it was nice to get to know her a bit better.

Yesterday I also got a new laptop and a monitor, YAY! And just in time, too - my old lappy was becoming more and more decrepit. For the last few weeks, if it ever tried to do anything, it had to access the harddrive fifty bajillion times first, during, AND after. I thought maybe it was using the swap space too much - which says bad RAM to me - but dad thinks maybe it's just retries because it has bad sectors on the harddrive as it is, so maybe the harddrive is finally giving up the ghost. I'm hoping for the latter; as long as the RAM is still good, I'm happy, cos my old one has 3 gigs (a stick of 1, and a stick of 2), so if the new one also comes with 3 (cos I haven't checked yet - I'll do that tonight probably), I'll swap out the 1 for the old one's 2, making 4 in the new one. Mmmm hardware. And the RAM should be compatible - they're both Lenovos, one's the T61 and the other's the T61p - so I see no reason why it shouldn't work. *Crosses fingers*
Which brings me to the question of what OS I should put on it. I was considering Linux Mint for a while, cos Ubuntu's pissing me off, just a little; but I may just bite the bullet and give it Ubuntu 13.04 Raring. I stuck with 11.04 (Natty) for quite a long time, and now they've "stopped supporting it", of course - but on the other hand, 12 and up are Steam-compatible. I mean... I'm not interested in starting gaming... at all... no... um. All I know for sure is that I refuse to have Windows anywhere near it.

Anyways, my plan for today is to go to the butcher's and buy a haggis (because I want haggis for no apparent reason, and I know it's not paleo, but I refuse to make an excuse for this; haggis is its own excuse, in my opinion) and have that for dinner while cleaning my house and possibly putting some OS or other (meaning probably Ubuntu Raring) on my new laptop... and I may even make this Goth-Upkeep Day and recolour my hair. Maybe. I could probably last a couple weeks more if I wanted to, so it's not imperative that I recolour it this week, I just feel like it's almost that time again.

Final thoughts: you know you're on Reddit too much when you find that people ask the same questions and make the same comments over and over - and you know you've been on Reddit too long when people start nostalgically referencing stuff that you saw when it was first posted. Yeah.

So. Back to work.
Toodles, all.

3.7.13

Well that wasn't so bad.

After the terror inspired by my co-worker, that really wasn't so bad. She just asked about how I liked it, what I've learned so far, etc., etc. So the terror really wasn't warranted.

Oh, and yesterday I somehow won a custom sundress from a giveaway on facebook - I never win stuff, so that was a surprise. I get to inspect some sketches today. Hoooo boy.

Today I also discovered that The Devil's Panties is back... that was my favourite webcomic for a long time and then she stopped - but she's back! However, I hadn't checked her site in a while, so there's a couple of years of stuff to catch up on, like her marriage, for example... And no, it has nothing to do with Satan, nor porn. She's a geeky chick with LARPing tendencies who wears big black boots; I need to be friends with her, I think, but fat chance of that cos she lives in the States and probably has dozens of fans besides me anyways.

I'm thinking of getting another piercing or two. Possibly somewhere on my ear(s). My one friend says I'd look good with an industrial. I was thinking either a secondary pair of lobes or maybe something up in the top of my ear, in the cartilage. Alternatively, I might get my nose done, or (less likely) a couple of dermal anchors somewhere. Thoughts, people?

So that's it.

Toodles.

Oh help.

Today is the Co-op Site Visit.

That means that someone from UFV's Career Centre comes out to the place I'm working, to discuss me with my supervisors, and then talk to me after. It's like an interview; only it's an interview that affects my grade at university.

My co-worker very kindly gave me a piece of advice - anything they say about me, not to take personally, because it will probably be constructive criticism. As in, they might say less-than-pleasant things.

You know that knot that happens in the pit of your stomach, the terror-fueled adrenaline rush that makes you feel like you want to vomit? Yeah. I have that right now. Not pleasant.

Even worse, I have to come back and sit through the rest of my eight-hour day afterwards. I wish this was over and I could just go home.

Oh the stress.
Toodles.

28.6.13

Best Friday Ever.

I'm all alone in the office today, so my boss left me a list of stuff that I should try to get done.
I swear, I'm more productive when I have a list of things to do than when he's making it up as he goes along; I haven't been on Reddit once this morning, but so far I've wiped eleven computers, and of those I took half a dozen and put floppy drives in them; later today I'll put a new image on them, if I can. I also have two computers that I swapped out and a profile to restore, as well as some (technically optional) Active Directory stuff to do, of which I've already got a large chunk done, because I did it while waiting for the computers to wipe.
Damned if I haven't done more today already than I've done all week - though it's hard to get anything done when one has to sit and supervise contractors - so that explains some of it.

So that's been exciting.

I think I like working alone. I get to listen to the radio station I want (which today happens to be Praise 106.5... Yeah - it was the most tolerable option that was not Classic Rock).

Time to go see if there's coffee somewhere. Cos I (really don't) need caffeine right now...
Also, after work: more lifting. Awww yeahhh.
Speaking of which, got a bunch of random tips from an older guy at the gym on Wednesday, most of which (though, granted, given with all the best intentions) I believe to be broscience and will be taken with a heaping hill of salt. Didn't go running yesterday, but I think it's for the best; my legs complained so much after the run on Tuesday that I figure it's better to let them rest a little.

Coffee time.

Toodles!


Post Script: I have discovered that I have the reflexes of a ninja. I just accidentally knocked my lunch off my desk, and caught it before I'd even realised it had fallen. Nothing even spilled. I am officially awesome.
Best Friday ever.