plonq: (Perplexed Mood)
Since this is a paid account, and I also put up good money in order to have a crazy person number of avatars, I figured I may as well as well fill more of those empty slots.

Obviously I have added a few ponies because I find these little pastel girls quite delightful, but I have also gone through and replaced some of my older avatars with new ones. I was going through my list of user pictures and noticed that there were a few that I do not recall ever using, or perhaps used once when I first created them.

On another note, there has been this semi-regular "clank clank clank" sound lately that is very reminiscent of somebody slowly wheeling a metal cart with one flat wheel through the office. I have tried to place the source a couple of times, even standing up as soon as I heard it to spot the culprit, but in speaking to some of my office mates this morning, I have concluded that it is coming from our ventilation system.

I guess this is an improvement over the semi-regular, shrill squeaking sound that used to come from the heating ducts. It's not much of an improvement though, because it is rather loud.

The sound moves, sometimes coming closer, and sometimes moving away which is why I thought it was caused by a mail cart. The heating/cooling system in here is set up by independent zones, and I assume the air flow is controlled by a series of gates, so this is probably just the system regulating its air flow.

It just started doing this a couple of weeks ago though, which makes me wonder if it has been malfunctioning up until now, or if the noise is the result of a recent malfunction.
plonq: (Pinkie Ponderous Mood)
There is a fine line between awesome and insane, but the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
plonq: (Twilight Meh)
We put up the Christmas tree last night. I give it a week before the cats have traumatized it beyond recognition.

Pinkie Pie Ornament

We bought this tree shortly after we were married, and I am starting to think that this might be its last Christmas with us. It has been a good tree, and it owes us nothing, but wear and tear and years of cats have taken their toll on it. Every year we find more shed parts in the bottom of the box when we unpack it.

I shot this one at 200ISO, and 1/60th of a second with the lens wide open. Even at that low of a setting, it has a lot of noise in it. I love my old Nikon, but it does not perform well at higher ISOs. Most settings up to 400 are OK with decent lighting, but longer exposures at anything over 200ISO really start to show its weakness.

Part of the problem is that this camera is showing its age. It was a good performer in its day, but it does not stand up as well in comparison to modern cameras. Also, I am probably a bit over-sensitive to image noise because I keep looking at shots taken on medium format cameras at ISOs of 16,000 and above, and they are crisp and clear in comparison.

What does not help is that the original was underexposed, and I boosted the image in software, boosting the background noise at the same time.

Tomorrow may be the day when I find out if I still have a job. I am not too worried, but I suspect there may be a bit of a bloodbath in the office around me. We are in for some interesting and ugly times over the next few months.

The company sent out an announcement about a change to our pensions today that may as well have been prefaced with, "Lawyer up and get ready for the class action suit" when they sent it. We will see how much backlash there is against this, but I know a few people who are very very unhappy about the change.
plonq: (Creative mood)
The next chapter in my epic tale of good versus mediocre is posted for public consumption.

Well, not so much epic as satiric. I like to think that I draw inspiration from the greats (Friendship is Witchcraft, Terry Pratchett, etc) and then ruin it.

At this point I know how the story is going to end, I just need to build the bridge.

I am impressed by some of the MLP fan fiction I have read, and equally depressed by some of it. After perusing what is available, I think that I would put myself in the upper 1/3 of the writing talent out there. That sounds impressive until you start reading some of what the bottom 1/3 is producing, and suddenly it becomes more akin to beating a double-amputee in a foot race.

I would like to get a bit more involved in the writing community, by critiquing and helping some of the starting writers, but some of the stuff is so bad that I feel myself slipping into Truman Capote mode as soon as I begin reading. "That isn't writing at all, it's typing." It is hard to slog through a story where the writer seems to think that the only valid form of a verb is the gerund, and punctuation is his personal Kryptonite.

You can try to put a positive spin on it to encourage the writer, but at some point you are reduced to platitudes like, "Your story contained a lot of words. Boy howdy, I counted at least a hundred different, identifiable words in there that appeared in a variety of combinations. Yup, lots of words."

On the other hand, there are a couple of stories that I have been meaning to get back to, but I forgot to favourite them. I need to go back through my Reddit comment history and see when I responded to the author of one of them. If I remember right, that one had all the hallmarks of some wonderful MLP satire.

I like satire.
plonq: (Creative mood)
I have written another pony story.

Unlike the first one I wrote, I may actually try and continue this one. Sometime this weekend I will bribe [ profile] atara into proofing and editing it for me before I post it over on FimFiction.

Next up on my list is a story for the MFF con book. I have a couple of ideas floating around in the back of my brain for a story.

May, or may not involve ponies of some kind. >_>

(or possibly llamas)
plonq: (Twilight Meh)
A commenter on Reddit summed it up very well today:

Twilight is the new Elaine.
plonq: (Unsympathetic Mood)
One of the things I was tentatively planning to do at MFF was commission a new badge. I scoped out the dealers' den and artist alley trying pick an artist who drew in a style that I liked, but didn't look so overburdened with commissions that I might have a chance of getting a finished badge before the weekend was over.

Then suddenly it was Sunday and far too late to seek out a commission.

Part of the problem was that I could not decide if I wanted to just get another [ profile] plonq done, or if I wanted to get a ponified [ profile] plonq done, even though I am totally not a brony.

I was leaning toward the latter, which landed me in the lap of another conundrum; for the life of me I couldn't think of an appropriate cutie mark for my ponified [ profile] plonq.

Well, that's also not true. I had a cutie mark in mind, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to try and saddle some poor artist into doing a visual representation of existential nihilism in a form that would fit comfortably on a flank.

Oh well, maybe next year.
plonq: (Plonq @ Work)
One of the benefits of having administrative rights on both of my work computers is that I can fight back against lame corporate screen savers.

Recently the company created a number of new desktops and screen savers with rail crossing lights and tepid safety messages. These look like they were designed by somebody's middle-school kid as an art project, and they have gone with a "one size fits all" policy, so they will stretch the same picture to fit your 16:9 screen as your 5:4 monitor right next to it. As you can imagine, it looks pretty awful. As an added bonus they recently locked down the screen saver and have it slowly slide an equally badly scaled version of the current backdrop around the screen. It has the cheesy, amateurish look that I have come to expect from EDS.

I have four monitors shared over two computes, so I am surrounded on all sides by the awful. It was driving me up the wall and hampering my productivity, so I pushed back. My desktop wallpaper is now full of ponies. Again.

I have been involved in a a bit of a cat and mouse (or to be more precise, pony and lame) battle with them for the past few weeks. If I delete or rename their scripts and files, they push down replacement ones once or twice a week. If I run a desktop application like, say, DisplayFusion to override their desktops they occasionally kill it remotely. Well, in fairness I don't think they are actively killing it, rather I think it is collateral damage from their half-assed registry hacks.

So far I have been holding the upper hand in the battle. When I returned from MFF this week I found my desktops intact, but they had managed to override the login screens. Their horrible screen savers were active too (they finally managed to kill my BSOD screen saver). So far it appears like my latest strategy is largely working though - that is, instead of deleting or renaming their files, I have replaced their collection of backdrop pictures with ponies bearing the same file names.

We'll see how my latest fix for the screen saver works. I returned from coffee to blank screens all around, which is better than nothing. Well, technically a blank screen is nothing, so I guess it is better than something.
plonq: (Ninja Mood)
In theory I should be showering and getting ready to head out the door right now. In practise, I'm sitting here reading about ponies on TV Tropes. In this case it's a page on nightmare fuel that is devoted to Lesson Zero.

Not surprisingly, the more you think about that episode, the more disturbing it becomes.

"Consider this. Twilight never sees what was really going on, from her perspective it looks like Fluttershy just killed a bear with her bare hooves. Yet the conclusion she draws from this is that Fluttershy doesn't have any problems."
plonq: (Twilight Sparkle Clapping Mood)
The people who we ordered new windows through waited until we'd already confirmed the order and paid our deposit before telling us that they can't install the windows we want because of building codes.

They had no less than two different people come out to take measurements and confirm the order before they figured that part out.

Anyway, I'll bitch more about that later. First, ponies.

The /r/mylittlepony sub-reddit is getting very close to the 10,000 mark for subscribers. I was mulling on that fact while I was out for a walk today and this silly comic came to mind, so I tossed this together this evening and will probably post it to Reddit tomorrow.

Comic behind a cut because most of you don't care about ponies. )
plonq: (Cheesy Mood)
There is a pall of smoke over the north end of the city this morning. Apparently a paper recycling place by the river got torched last night and it's still burning. There is no evidence yet that the fire was arson, but given the part of town and the fact that there have been previous arson attempts against the business, I think there is a pretty reasonable likelihood that it is. Usually arson is a summer activity here, so hopefully this is an isolated incident; we had something of an arson epidemic when I first moved here.

Er, there was no causal relationship between my moving here and the spate of arsons.

I haven't really been interested in any of the FIM merchandise out there, but these little gals caught my eye at Zellers the other day because they are some of the first I've seen that actually resembled the characters in the show. I bought one each of the ones they had, and have looked here and there for Fluttershy. I've since learned that they don't make her in this line of toys, so I guess I won't be able to complete my little pony harem collection. They're small and innocuous enough not to raise awkward questions from co-workers. Mind you, if they haven't already noticed my pony desktops or the ponies in my email signatures then I doubt anyone will notice the toys by my monitor.

Pony Harem


Oct. 16th, 2011 12:36 am
plonq: (Insane Mood)
One of the problems with sleeping in until almost 9 is that one is often not the least bit tired well past their normal bed time. I even got motivated and did a couple of chores I'd been planning to do tomorrow to see if that would put me in more of a sleeping mood. I guess the next step is to climb into bed and see if the boredom of lying there in the dark puts me out.

Among the chores I did this evening was hook up our new dryer. Er, our new new dryer. Well, technically our new new new dryer. Maybe I should back up a bit here and start at the beginning.

I'm not sure if I covered this in LJ, but our dryer recently quit working because it forgot to quit working. [ profile] atara put in a load of wet clothes and set it to its auto cycle on a Sunday, and when she went downstairs for something on Wednesday it was still running. Fortunately she'd set it on low heat, so we didn't have a fire on our hands, but that was apparently enough to kill the heating coil. I set to work disassembling the dryer to see if it was the coil, or maybe the thermal fuse that had gone, but on further discussion we decided that even if it was one of those, that still left us with the problem of a dryer that didn't want to shut itself off when it was done. There is a term for dryers like that: fire hazard.

We did some tentative shopping for replacement appliances, and in the mean time [ profile] atara began hanging clothes in the basement to dry manually. One of the delays in replacing the dryer was that we could not agree on whether to replace just the dryer, or get a matching washer/dryer set. She was leaning toward the former, but I favoured the latter. There was nothing wrong with the washer, per se, but I reasoned that it made more sense to just replace the set rather than alternately replacing the dryer and washer as they wore out in turn. Plus there is something aesthetic about having them match.

Eventually we roped in a friend with a truck and picked up a used dryer that she'd got a lead on through a co-worker. We hooked it up, and it worked fine with the exception that it tended to blow the breaker after drying one or two loads of laundry. This dryer could charitably be called a beat up piece of shit, so we assumed it was probably on its last legs. That belief seemed to be confirmed when it stopped producing heat a couple of weeks after we bought it. Great. Now we had a working washer, and two broken dryers in our basement.

When we were out shopping that weekend, I dragged [ profile] atara into Sears to look at their line of appliances. They typically have pretty competitive prices, and the one out in our end of town usually has a fairly broad range of appliances to choose from. We found a decent mid-ranged, high-efficiency set that were on sale and seemed to fit the bill nicely, so we ordered them. Part of what swayed us was that they promised delivery later in the week.

They delivered them right on time. Unfortunately they delivered the wrong dryer. Worse, it was a dryer a few models lower than the one we had paid for. I immediately called their help centre, and the frazzled but helpful girl at the other end promised that they would set things right for us. She said to go ahead and use the dryer they had sent us, and they would call us no later than Saturday with an update.

I called them again Saturday evening and got a different girl. She repeated what the first had said about using the one we had until they could arrange a new one, and she promised that unlike the first girl, she would actually order a replacement for us. A week later when we had heard nothing further, [ profile] atara called them again to politely say, "WHAT THE FUCK?" She got a slightly different story, but the person at the other end again promised to get things rolling for us and told us to call back if we didn't hear from them after 2-3 days so that they could escalate the problem.

In the mean time, the new dryer didn't work. It made all the right noises and tossed around clothes, cats, and whatever else went into its drum but it wasn't pushing out any heat. We quickly figured out that the problem with the previous dryer had not been with the dryer, but with the circuit. It was late Sunday at this point, and I was flying out to Calgary early the next morning, so we had a very short window in which to get it fixed. I took a picture of our breaker box and drove up to Home Depot. I showed my phone to one of the helpers on the floor, pointed at the breaker box and said, "I need one of these in 220 volts."

I brought home the new breaker and had [ profile] atara hold a flash light while I tore apart our breaker box and replaced the faulty breaker. Fifteen minutes later we had a happy dryer that pushed out heat. I had a happy wife who had a working dryer, and she had a happy husband who has clean underwear that's not stiff from hanging on the line.

The day before yesterday Sears showed up with our new new new dryer and hauled away the old one - and that's what I was hooking up this evening.

Oh, and for the record, it works.
plonq: (Happy Mood Too)
I can identify with this.

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