May 8, 2013
Goes with anything.
Pay attention to what you like. I remember drinking cabernet and chardonnay because that’s what everyone drank, until one day I realized they don’t taste good. Zinfindel and pinot grigio for me! Also, merlot, riesling, malbec, shiraz…
If you order a bottle at a restaurant that you really like, take a picture of the label so you’ll remember it.
Ordering wine off a menu takes practice. But if you can do it with confidence, you’ll impress everyone at the table.
When the waiter pours you a taste from the bottle you ordered, you don’t have to stare at it and sniff it and swirl it around and pretend like that’s telling you anything. Just take a taste to make sure the bottle isn’t off.
Learn to use a waiter’s corkscrew. Not just because it’s a good skill to have, but because it also impresses the heck out of people.
Discriminating against a certain region makes you look like an ass. However, promoting a favorite region makes you look educated and cosmopolitan. For example: you can’t go wrong with Oregon whites or Australian reds.
Plastic corks: okay. Screw-tops: also okay. It’s a brave new world out there. (Though it can be embarrassing when you try to open a bottle with a corkscrew and then realize it’s a screw top.)
More as I think of them…
January 11, 2013
Remember last year when I was so excited about getting a real bed after sleeping on a futon for fifteen years? Well, I did it again. A couple of months ago I was eating dinner, and I looked at my plate and noticed it was pretty badly chipped. All my dishes — dinner plates, salad plates, bowls — were pretty badly chipped. Which is to be expected, since they’ve been in constant use for something like 25 years. That’s when it hit me: I’ve been eating on these plates since I was a teenager. These are the hand-me-downs I got from my parents when I moved out after college. They got new dishes, I got half of the old ones, and my brother got the other half. When Rob got married, he and Deb got new ones as part of their wedding registry and he gave the other half back to me. And I kept using them because they’re functional and quite nice looking.
And I’ve been using them since I was a teenager.
(There’s some debate with my parents about whether we got this set when we lived in Maryland, ’85-’88, or when we moved to Colorado in ’88. But the fact remains: I was a teenager.)
I decided I wanted new dishes. My very own new dishes that I picked out my very own self. It feels a lot like buying a real bed did, and it feels like I’m finally fully graduated from the dorm-room hand-me-down lifestyle I had right out of college.
Confession: I narrowed my choices down to about four that I liked, and finally decided on this one by asking myself, “What would the Elves in Rivendell choose?”
So pretty, I’m almost afraid to use them. But not really. They arrived Wednesday, and packing up the old ones so I can use these has been so very satisfying. Happy early birthday to me!
December 21, 2012
I think all the presents are acquired and wrapped. (Niece Emmy’s birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I’m making something for her. I’m trying to get it done so I can give it to her now, before she goes back to Oregon, but no worries if I don’t.)
The cookies are baked. (No Colorado pot jokes, please.)
Holiday cards mailed. (Except for a couple the need to go overseas.)
White Christmas watched. (I heart Danny Kaye.)
Muppet Christmas Carol watched. (This is the very best version, I think. Michael Caine is a genuinely intimidating Scrooge, and it’s got all the wonder, humor, and language of the Dickens original. What do you mean, you haven’t read the original? Go read it, now! It’s short! You’ll like it!)
I haven’t been to the mall yet. I like going to the mall at Christmas, not to actually do any shopping, but just to look around and take in the atmosphere. Maybe Sunday.
Revised Kitty in the Underworld turned in. Yeeeha!
So, I think I’m just about ready. I’ve got two parties to go to over the weekend. I plan to enjoy myself immensely.
Oh, and also, for no particular reason: dear Ancient Aliens, I don’t think ancient peoples were quite as stupid as you seem to think they were.
November 16, 2012
October 30, 2012
I’d meant to post yesterday, but things got away from me. I picked up Lily from my parents, then realized I forgot her bag of stuff, which was frustrating. I voted. I’m trying not to panic at my list of things to do before my next trip, in two weeks (vacation! diving! yay!). But it’s a pretty big list, and other chores keep intruding.
But Steamcon. I had an excellent time. I’ve never been to a convention where everyone so clearly came from the same planet and was pretty much on the same page, at least compared to the usual pan-topic SF convention. I wasn’t expecting that. And it turns out, when everyone’s pretty much on the same page, the panels can go into much more depth and spur a higher level of conversation. Over the course of my career I’ve been on probably a dozen or so panels on “urban fantasy” and “strong women characters,” and I can tell you they’re all pretty much the same, and they never really get past the surface. (An urban fantasy panel will always have someone in the audience raise their hand and ask a very confused question about how urban fantasy used to mean something else and why aren’t we talking about that, and there will always be a long discussion about the differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and someone will bring up Laurell K. Hamilton and how her series went off a cliff — unless Hamilton is actually on the panel, which did happen to me once. Anyway.)
But Steamcon: I was impressed with panels — all four of them went well and got pretty darned intellectual and academic. I saw someone carrying around Edward Said’s Orientalism. At the werewolf panel, an audience member pretty much nailed the underlying great divide between werewolves and vampires, at least in a Victorian/metaphorical context: vampires are the aristocracy, werewolves the unwashed working class, so of course everyone wants to be vampires. The most wide-ranging, info packed panel I was on, with author and Kickstarter celeb Jordan Stratford, was about the 19th Century Spiritualist movement, and we covered everything from the Fox Sisters to the Cottingley Fairies and the role of photography in 19th century supernatural belief and the Doyle-Houdini rivalry and early paranormal investigation and the British Society for Psychical Research and issues of gender relating to the medium phenomenon, skepticism v. unquestioning belief, and the impact of the Civil War and World War I on the spiritualist movement. In hindsight, we probably could have done a panel on each of those topics, and we tried to cram it all into 50 minutes. We could have gone for another hour, and I think the audience would have stuck with us.
And then the convention had music. Lots of music. I’ve written about my fondness for steampunk music on several occasions, and I very much enjoyed the two nights of concerts I got to see at the con: the Toy-box Trio, Unwoman, Curtis Eller, Eric Stern, Nathaniel Johnston, and Rasputina. Rasputina covered “Breakfast in America,” which was a moment of pure awesome. The other moment of awesome came when Curtis Eller sang “Sweatshop Fire,” and stopped in the middle to ask his awfully young audience, “Do you guys even know who Jack Ruby is? Jack Ruby is the guy who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, and Lee Harvey Oswald is the guy who single-handed shot. . .Abraham Lincoln!” And he kept singing.
And so many costumes. So many lovey costumes. The average steampunk costume, like the kind I’ve been putting together and posting about — at a convention like this, that’s not a costume, it’s just clothes. To stand out, you really have to go above and beyond, like this:
Spring-heeled Jack joins the army? Anyway. Yeah.
And then I got home to find my author’s copy of Steampunk Revolution, and discovered that not only am I in it, I’ve got the lead story. Eeek!
Now, I must go tackle that to do list…
September 21, 2012
I went to the Denver Gem and Mineral Show last weekend for the first time. I’d been wanting to go for years, but something else always came up, SCA event or convention or whatnot. Well, this year I went, and walked out muttering to myself, I do not need another hobby. Between knitting and costuming and birdwatching and gaming I already have more hobbies than I can keep up with (I haven’t gamed regularly in a couple of years…my dice are rusty, dammit!). I do not need to start rock hounding, even though I live in a brilliant rock hounding state and bought a Colorado rock hounding book before I left the show. I can love sparklies — and essentially, a gem and mineral show is all about the sparklies in both their pre and post sparklie form — without, you know, being obsessive, right? The other mantra of the day: use the beads I have before I buy more, use the beads I have before I buy more. Because yes, there’s another hobby I’ve already started that I really should spend more time with before I start yet another hobby. But come on, tell me this stuff isn’t just so awesome! Pretty things made by the planet itself. LOVE.
Did I mention I was two classes away from minoring in geology in college? I took the first class because it was available and fulfilled a science requirement. I took the others because I loved hiking around and looking at rocks so very much.
The show also had fossils. FOSSILS!
I do not need another hobby, I do not need another hobby. . .
May 11, 2012
This weekend is Mother’s Day. For years, I’ve sent out three Mother’s Day cards: to my mom, and to my two grandmothers. One of my grandmothers passed away last November. So, for the first time, I won’t be buying a card for her (even though I’m thinking of her).
In January, my niece Emmy was born. So it turns out, I’m still sending out three Mother’s Day cards: to my mom, my grandmother, and my sister-in-law. Funny how that sort of thing ends up working out.
Happy Mother’s Day, to moms and grandmas and aunts and everybody else with kids in their lives.
March 9, 2012
I’ve spent the week in Oregon, meeting my niece Emmy, who is exactly two months old today.
Pictures and posting when I get back home and on a real computer. Have a great weekend, y’all! I know I will!
February 24, 2012
I went to a talk at the dive shop yesterday and learned about something cool: NEEMO, or the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. What is it? An underwater space lab! For real! Basically, NASA and other research organizations are doing all kinds of things to learn as much as they can about living and working in space, without actually going to space. (Because A) going to space is expensive, and B) you want to make all the mistakes here on Earth where there’s an atmosphere and stuff before you start trying things in a place with a ridiculously low margin for error.) I knew about the arctic research station on Devon Island that’s being used to simulate a habitat on Mars. I didn‘t know, until yesterday, about the Aquarius Habitat in Key Largo. It’s sixty feet underwater, and people live there for up to two weeks at a time, working on projects and experiments. Scientists and astronauts on NEEMO missions go to Aquarius to test equipment and techniques that might be used on Lunar, Mars, and even asteroid landings.
My mind is spinning with ideas…