Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hello, Internet, It's Me Beth

Today it occurred to me that so much of what gets posted to the internet is just people's way of reaching out in the digital era.  Checking to see if anyone's listening.  Or if anyone cares.

...tap tap.  This thing on?

But seriously folks.  All joking aside, I count myself amongst that population.  Half the fun of posting status updates to facebook is seeing what causes people to respond, and what they have to say.  The creating of a dialog.  Can you imagine what it would be like if status updates were really just status updates?  There was no commenting, likes, or dislikes?  I'm certain way fewer people would do it.

Elsewhere in my brain at the moment, is a post I've been marinating on for a number of months but am even more eager to do of late.  It's a long rambly exploration of gender comparisons (and interactions) in the workplace, but especially in the finance industry.  Watch this space.  Promise it won't be so long til next posting. 

I leave you with one parting thought - just watched the movie Paper Heart and it was adorable.  I give it a solid recommendation.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cleaning Out My House, Cleaning Out My Closet

For the one who may have gotten away:


For the one in the dark:


For the one not meant to be:


For the one who always made me laugh:



Friday, August 13, 2010

Please Support This!

If you get a chance, please hop on over to Boing Boing and check out this post. I think it's a petition worth signing. Organizations like this one, and like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault provide a crucial service in ensuring the biodiversity of our world. When reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, she had an awesome stat in there (which I can't remember exactly) talking about the lack of biodiversity in our food. I think she said something to the effect of: 2000 years ago our ancestors ate over 80,000 species of crop; today we are down to around 200? I can't remember. I'll have to go to the library and look it up. Either way, check out the article, and if you feel like it, sign the petition. Cheers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Recent Photo I'm Proud Of

I took the below picture on a recent camping and canoeing trip along the Delaware River. It's of my sister's dog, Enrique. I am quite pleased with how it came out.  Click it for the hi-res version.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

R.I.P. Whitney

Whitney. Your obituary, though nice, insufficiently expresses all the great things about you. Here's what I will miss.

I will miss photocopying the NY Times crossword puzzle for you every day, and then meeting up in the afternoon to see which answers we were missing. I will miss how we'd be unable to get any additional letters, but then you'd invariably call me or come to my desk 2 minutes later with some flash of brilliance that occurred to you after I left.

I will miss going to the gym with you at lunch. I will miss getting to teach you all the things my trainer showed me that morning, and you teaching me all the things your trainer showed you. I will miss having a kindred spirit that both hated and loved working out at the same time. I will miss lying outside on the pavement and throwing a ten pound ball around and having all the people eating lunch look at us like we're crazy, and then just laughing about it. I will miss your crazy lunges and ridiculously long wall sits. You kicked serious ass.

I will miss gossiping about family drama, our clothes and shoes, what we cooked for dinner last night. (Speaking of clothes, btw, you were the only person I knew who could pull off those adorable flowered headbands without looking completely twee!) No matter what I brought up in conversation, you always had something to say, something to contribute. I loved your laugh, and loved to make you laugh, and appreciated it with genuine pleasure every time you told me I was funny!

I will miss bonding over photography and other artistic endeavors. I loved that we shared that passion. I'm sad that you never got a chance to show me any of your art - I really looked forward to seeing it. I hope wherever you are is as beautiful as the beauty your passion for art probably inspired in life.

I will miss having such a strong, amazing woman around. I still can't believe that story about how you had to swim a mile with a gaping head wound to possibly save your own life after your sailing students caused you to get in the head with a boom. I am in awe of how you cared for your brilliant yet savant sister. Your ability to stay calm and silent in an argument and wait for the other person to talk themselves into a hole was uncanny.

I am terribly sad that our connections did not have the chance to blossom into what would surely have been a long and fulfilling friendship. I will miss you and I will not forget you. You were taken too soon.

Rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Well, well, intarwebs.

Your propensity for bringing things together is appreciated.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Character Back Story

Have another D&D game coming up this weekend, but with a different crew this time, so new character.  I have crafted an Eladrin Bard.  Will come back with the stats in a few days once my DM gives me the thumbs up, but in the meanwhile, I thought I'd post another back story.  Consider yourself warned, however, that I have not done ANY editing on this one yet.  Ta.

Tahlwyn Killenea

Tahlwyn the Eladrin was born in the Feywild, 36 years ago. The Killenea were moon Eladrin, the most common of the Tel-quessir, so at Tahlwyn’s birth it was no surprise to see a shock of silver hair, a set of deep blue eyes flecked with gold, and fair skin with a slight gray tinge. Tahlwyn’s people dwelled in a deep forest at the foot of the mountain Shyrmylaes (“broad shoulders”). The forest, called Kaelshyr, stretched for a thousand leagues. Its towering, stout trees reached thick fingered branches far into the sky, and there the Killenea built their homes. Marvels of architecture that blended seamlessly into their natural surroundings, their breathtaking tree-houses fully embodied the arcane power that runs throughout the Feywild.

Growing up Eladrin, Tahlwyn learned at a rapid pace – not just about the spirits and powers inherent to his world – but about fighting and tracking, observing and meditating. He quickly became skillful with the longsword, the chosen weapon of many Eladrin. His people stressed preparation in the face of the unknown – who knew when one might encounter a fell creature who accidentally wandered into the Feywild, or worse, a drow. Tahlwyn was also taught the history of his noble ancestors, as well as those of the common world. He particularly loved memorizing the epic songs and poems that enumerated the deeds of these past heroes. He was a fast learner, always eager to consume the next piece of knowledge. But he was also quick to help those of his peers who worked more slowly, often practicing extra hours of sword-fighting, or tutoring in history and language. He was known among his people for his kindness and generosity, and also for his affability.

There were certain places in Kaelshyr where the borders between the Fey and natural worlds were thin. Often, the Killenea city would appear in the natural world at dusk. Inhabitants of that world, if lucky enough to be nearby, could get a glimpse into the ethereal settlements of the Eladrin. Many Killenea experienced a sense of heightened awareness at this hour, all senses tingling as they crisscrossed these gateways between worlds. Occasionally groups of Eladrin would make excursions to the natural world when the border opened, to hunt or observe, or sometimes trade with passing merchants. By the time Tahlwyn grew to adulthood he had been on many such trips.

But one trip changed the course of his life forever.

On his 36th birthday, Tahlwyn and two friends decided to mark the occasion in a human-like fashion: with judicious application of booze. Alcohol not being a popular pastime amongst his people, his party decided to make a nighttime excursion to the natural world, to visit a tavern they had noticed while observing a nearby human settlement. When they arrived they found it nearly empty – a welcome fact – as the presence of too many `others’ might have put a damper on their amusement. They stayed out all night, drinking, laughing and play-fighting. The sun was just breaking over the horizon when they returned to the gateway. Though their settlement was no longer visible, being Eladrin, the three fey-stepped through the boundary, expecting to arrive all the same.

An abrasive void assaulted Tahlwyn. Wind whipped around him with gale-like force and a black nothingness pressed so hard against his eyes and ears he could neither see nor hear his friends, or anything else. Tahlwyn felt as though at any minute his mind would be crushed and his consciousness would drift away, never to inhabit his corporeal form again. He felt his limbs quivering, wanting to give way to the crushing blackness. He put his hand to his sword, instinctively, though there was nothing to assault. There was just nothing. But the gesture gave him some small sliver of hope, and mental clarity. Enough that he spoke the words within his mind (or may have even shouted them, though he could not hear) to fey step once more.

Just as quickly as he had felt dropped at death’s door, he suddenly felt right again. He was back in the natural world, in the spot he had just left. And he was alone. He could not begin to comprehend that which he had just experienced. Had something happened to his city, his people? Had some magical force intervened to block the gateway back to the Feywild? Or had something he had done (or had done to him) changed him in such a way that he himself could not return? This led him to wonder if his friends had experienced what he had, or if they had returned as normal. Unsure of what to do next, though certain he did not want to attempt to enter the gateway again, he sat, conflicted. Should he attempt to re-enter the Feywild at some other spot? Should he seek out an Eladrin wizard in the natural world, for insight? In due time, he figured, he could try both of those things.

But in the short term, he wondered what to do with himself. What value could he offer to this world? He thought about all his training. He thought about his family’s dedication to the goddess Melora. He thought about all he knew of the history of this world and its people. And the answer became clear to him. He would act upon his teachings, striving to protect the natural places of the world, until he found out what happened to his home. He would go after the foul beasts and forces that threatened nature, its spirits, and even good people of this world. Perhaps in doing so, should some evil force be hindering the gateway, he might even eliminate it.

Having resolved himself to this fate, he felt better, though not entirely. Each minute, hour and day that passed reminded Tahlwyn of what he was missing. The memory of the Feywild was as fresh in his mind as ever, and he longed for its verdant fields, deep azure seas, and crystal clear moonlight. For the feeling of arcane power that echoed in every soft step he took. For his house in the towering trees. To comfort himself, he often sang songs while he traveled, and sometimes, while he fought. But he was lonely, and he was sad. Perhaps someday he would meet trustworthy people with whom he could share his stories, and in doing so, lessen the pain of his separation from home…

Thursday, June 24, 2010

HA, Foresight.

This xkcd strip, posted many moons ago, was never more pertinent (and prescient) than yesterday during Ontario's earthquake. Predicting how ridiculous twitter would get - I LOVE IT.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Can We Talk About... excited I am for this movie to come out?

No, we can't talk about it. That's how excited I am. TOO excited.

In the meanwhile (since it doesn't come out until December), here are some other movies I will probably try to see this summer.

Coming out this weekend, Toy Story 3 continues the Toy Story saga as Andy's toys have been donated to a day care center. Most of my faves are still around (Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, and of course Woody) but there are some new characters that sound interesting too. Michael Keaton is joining the cast as Ken, and I'm really interested to see his chops as a voice actor. I'm a little dubious of this 'lots o huggin' bear, but I guess we'll see. There was a cool article in the most recent Wired magazine all about some of the technical stuff behind the movie, which was fascinating. So I'm hoping they didn't just hype the technical stuff and kill what has otherwise been a great franchise, story-wise. The original Toy Story sits high atop the list of my all time favorite animated movies.

In addition, I am REALLY eager to see Inception, the new Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, Memento) film. Several who I like are in it, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, and others. The idea of the movie, that these thieves steal dreams for corporate gain by inserting themselves into subconsciousness while people sleep, is unique and interesting. So all around I'm interested. Plus the trailer makes it look fairly kickass (and I am swayed by such things):

Also on my list for this summer are: The remake of Karate Kid, The Last Airbender, and maybe Middlemen.

Things I think I'll be skipping? The A Team probably, as it just looks kind of lame. Also? Twilight. That ridiculous franchise will never see a single dollar of my money.

Now all I need is someone to actually GO to the movies with!! {{Sigh}}

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some Quick Links to Videos

I quite enjoyed this video, which Frequency informs me is a Sweedish biking activism group called 'Mock' celebrating their first anniversary.  I really liked the shot looking down on the spinning bike wheel, which looked like it might be using stop-motion.

I was so excited a few weeks ago that Artie finally got a chance to get out of the wheelchair on Glee, even if it was just for a 'dream' sequence.  I particularly enjoyed the way it was filmed, interspersing the studio-filmed clips with 'footage' style clips that made it seem like a real life flash-mob type scenario.  Anyway, here is his dance number.  Enjoy!

This time-remapping 3D animation video, an ad for Ecko Unlimited, is super neat - a technical feat to be sure.  It reminds me of a music video I posted a few months back - a fan-made tribute to the song "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear.  Here's the link to that as well.  In my opinion, it totally trumps the original made by the band.

Finally, via Russ on the Mep Report, this last weird-ass video.  It is an auto-tuned number about our inevitable exploration and settlement of Mars.  It's pretty out there, but I enjoy that a young Carl Sagan sings the chorus.  Here it is.  I totally support the idea of eventual human exploration of Mars (and possibly settlement, should the environment prove to be suitable.)  The only thing I don't like about the idea of living on other planets is that it gives some people justification to treat Earth badly.  They think, "Oh if we fuck it up, it's fine because some day we'll all be living on Mars anyway."  Though that's mostly crazy people.

Anyway, all for now, enjoy the links!

I am terribly amused...

So apparently the other day a lesbian who looks like Justin Bieber (famous tween boy popstar) was almost arrested for underage drinking...except not. She was well over the legal drinking age but was mistaken for 16 year old Bieber. This has brought much media attention to Bieber's so-called "lesbian" haircut, and to the (formerly small-time now getting attenion) blog called "Lesbians who Look Like Justin Bieber." For some reason, this amuses me to no end. Click here for linkage to the biebians blog.

Sidenote: What's not to like about Bieber lesbians?  They look like guys!! ;)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Collection of Things Held Onto

Was cleaning out my inbox and found a couple of interesting links emailed home from work that I'd clearly meant to share here but never did... Better late than never I say!

This zombiepocalypse story, though those seem a dime a dozen these days, is anything but. It is funny, real and tenderly sad.

My biology professor from last summer once tried to explain to us exactly what it's like to be a researching scientist. How one must be insanely precise when describing hypotheses, findings, or anything, and how in the end, that precision still ends up mostly being futile. This cartoon captures that perfectly.

I completely agree with this editorial by Thomas Friedman. Well, completely with one or two caveats of course. ;)

Ok, ta for now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two Quick Items

Thanks to Russ for passing along this video. It kicks ass.

Secondly, busy again with a visiting stuffed animal. Except this time it's not stuffed. Please, check it out!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Been Meaning to Post this for Awhile

Don't have time to say much about this now, but will soon: have been getting into D&D for the first time. 4th Edition. I recently wrote a back story for my first-ever character, a dwarven rogue named Gefn Silverbrow. It was the first creative writing I've done probably since middle school. Most of high school and college was paper writing, so my imagination muscles are a little out of shape. This was a good way to get them flexing again, though the end product isn't very good. I thought I would share it with you. Here it is...

"I am a female mountain dwarf, born of a people who live deep under the mountain Ralidor. My father was, of course, a miner and silver craftsman, thought to be one of the most skilled in the dwarven community. My mother, born and raised in the deepest parts of Ralidor and hardly ever away from it, gleaned no small knowledge of ancient dwarven magics from her proximity to their source. Together they crafted some of the finest weapons of the last age, my father’s hands shaping and perfecting the metal and my mother breathing life and enchantment into every facet. My father was away for much of my youth, calling upon heroes far and wide, bestowing these inimitable weapons upon new bearers.

When I was still a young thing, no more than twenty-one, a horrific tragedy befell my clan – a great cave in. As the earth trembled and shook, rock began to peel from the walls of our ancestral home. Great stones came crashing down and slid swiftly in great swaths down the mountain, taking with it tools, people, even entire homes. As I climbed for higher ground, trying to escape the menacing flow, I saw a handful of my fellow dwarves making the same attempt. The higher I got and the safer my position, the fewer clansman I saw around me. Eventually, I found myself totally alone. When I emerged from Ralidor and looked back, it stood stoic as ever, not betraying the chaos it had unleashed internally – a chaos that would shape my upbringing in dramatic and unforeseen ways.

I waited. Several hours passed. I saw no other survivors emerge. I hoped beyond hope that any minute I would see a figure, any figure, picking a path through the trees on the mountainside. Slight trembles continued throughout the night, but with each minute that passed my hope grew dimmer.

The next morning, when dawn began to break and the first rays of sunlight peeked over Ralidor’s shoulders, I reentered the mountain. Allowing myself one last hope that I might encounter another living being, I slowly wound my way back down to the remains of our settlement. About half way down I heard a strange scuffling. Resisting the urge to call out and find another voice in the darkness, I crept behind a boulder and peeked out. Before long my eyes picked out a shape in the darkness. A bulky, rounded mass, it towered over the pathway, moving slowly, but deliberatly. As it moved closer to me, I realized, horrified, that it was a spider – dragging the corpse of a young boy, one of my kinsman. I turned and ran. It was clear that Ralidor had awoken, and that evil, perhaps in more than one form, was now looming in the deep.

Not aware that I had been too scared to breathe, as I emerged from the mountain, my breath burst from my chest. Some of my fear began to break away too. I quickly resigned myself to the fact that I was alone, possibly the sole Silverbrow survivor. I was not too proud to admit I was too young to stay alone. Fighting my way through whatever dark enemies the earthquake had unleashed was out of the question. I had to find somewhere to go. I began to call up memories of my father’s journeys. He had friends in many places, of that I was sure. As I sorted through my mental files (no easy task for a dwarf!) one name kept coming back to me: Bungo Twofoot. My father had often spoken of this elder Halfling, of his generosity and wisdom. Many years ago they had shared an adventure (the full tale of which I was never privy to) and subsequently, my father paid a visit to Bungo with every journey westward. I knew that he dwelled in Bywater, a river town less than 50 leagues from Ralidor through the Alendar forest – probably a two day walk. I looked back on Ralidor, and realized I might never return.

When I arrived in Bywater I was easily directed to Bungo’s house. Though foreign to me (and probably I to them), the Halflings I encountered were affable and welcoming. Bungo was elated to see me, having heard much of me from his visits with my father. He introduced me to his prodigious family – four children, 13 grandchildren, and nearly 25 great-grandchildren, many of whom were far too energetic for my liking! He regaled me with tales of my father’s more recent stopovers. His charming wife Lalia cooked constantly, and it seemed my plate was an immense universe of tastes that reached out to infinity.

One evening, after I had already been in Bywater two days, I craved a talk with Bungo. We ambled away from his house, bursting at the seams with boisterous family members. That there had been no questions thus far about my presence in their town or my father’s whereabouts was astounding to me, though I admit I was right glad of it. I can only attribute it to Bungo’s many dealings with my father and his understanding of our inherently private nature as dwarves. In any event, I slowly laid out the tale of what had happened at Ralidor, my assumption that my parents were dead, my uncertainty over what to do next. Once his shock had subsided, Bungo seemed to move straight into a military-like strategizing. He dismissed outright the notion that I should travel to another dwarf settlement (which I had considered), especially with so little experience journeying and at such a young age. “First off, you’re welcome at my house as long as you like. To boot, we’ve long been in need of a decent smith in these parts. In no time you’d build a decent store of gold, think over what way you’d like to set out, and in the meanwhile learn a thing or two from an old adventurer,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. Having arrived at the local tavern, we shared a tankard in silence as I thought about what he had said. It was true that I had very little experience with travel or adventure. Most of my youth was dedicated to learning my parents’ craft of silversmithing. In addition, though I had developed a good deal of physical strength through mining, I had never really needed to fight or defend myself. And I had no desire to return to my home with its threatening aura still lingering. The world was full of dark places, and my knowledge of them was slim.

And so it was that I came to settle in Bywater. Though I never really got used to most of the raucous Twofeet, one of them, a woman of my same age named Pansy, soon befriended me. Pansy, though one of the quieter of her kin, would often sit by my forge and talk to me of her latest achievements. Too smart and too energetic for such a lackadaisical gossipy village, she amused herself with petty crime – pick-pocketing, burglary, vandalism. In excited whispers (and an occasional, accidental exclamation) she would explain to me exactly how she had sneaked into this place, fooled that person, or discovered such-and-such secret entrance to so-and-so’s house. And eventually, as fewer and fewer residents of Bywater needed weapons, locks or tools, my hours at the forge became few, and I began to accompany Pansy on her expeditions. She encouraged me, even goaded me at times – “C’mon Gefn – you can get down in there, you’re as short as me!” she piped (while playfully murmuring “Though you could fit three of me side to side!” just after.) Our delinquency was insignificant but exhilarating. Eventually we both desired to learn more than just shrewdness and began practicing with weapons of my making, hitting targets in the wood, or taking down wild turkeys for suppers we would share in satisfaction.

When I had been in Bywater about 15 years, it came to pass that Bungo fell sick. At 98 years, he was already one of the oldest Halflings around. It was clear that his illness would be fatal. I sat with him often as his health declined. Having long desired to hear from him the one thing my father withheld, I worked up the courage one day to ask him about the adventure they had shared so many years before. “Though I’ve grown quite fond of you, m’dear, it is not mine to tell,” he said sadly. “I assure you that one day, in time, you will know.” Puzzled I asked, “But if neither you nor my father are around to tell it, how can I?” He looked right into my eyes, held my gaze, and said, “I believe it’s about time you left Bywater. You’ve been here nearly as long as you lived in Ralidor, and you’ve done well for yourself. But your life is not one to be lived at a standstill, especially if you’re cut from the same cloth as your parents. I believe there are many adventures, and many stories, in your future.” Having said that, he closed his eyes, and sighed, as though it tired him to think about my life to come. “I guess I’ll let you rest,” I said, adding, “Thank you for your advice, and for your kindness these past years.” Without opening his eyes, he nodded, and I turned and left. Later that evening, Bungo Twofeet died. A few days later, after his death had been fully and properly commemorated (in the typical Halfling way – parties galore), I packed my things and said my goodbyes. Pansy didn’t show up, anticipating the sadness of our parting, but I later found a single turkey feather in my supposedly locked travel bag. It was her little way of saying goodbye, of sending me off with a memory of our friendship. I took a little piece of spare leather and tied it into one of my braids. I was off to find adventure and see the world, and I’d never be truly alone."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interesting Tweet Chart

Despite being an outsider (I've never succumbed to twitter) I still find this pdf charting the 140 most popular users very interesting. Not only does it graph the frequency of their tweets and size of their readership, but it also contains the first tweet many of them ever made. I am happy to see two of my favorite culture icons in the top 140 - Wil Wheaton and Warren Ellis. I'm less happy (more like dismayed) that the #1 ranked tweeter, Obama, posted his first tweet about ending the war in Iraq. Now look at him. {{Sigh}} Anyway, check it out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A recent self portrait

A recent self-portrait shot I was pretty pleased with...

Something about the mixture and balance of colors and textures is really pleasing to me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When I see you...

...I feel like there is an ocean stretched out between us, filled with things I never said. You were so important to me and I don't know if I ever told you. Every year, around this time, I think about that conversation we had. You gave me solidarity I didn't even know I was looking for but so needed. And I still value that solidarity today. So instead of an ocean of things, let me just say one: thank you.