Sunday’s Cultist is Full of Frustration

Ugg, not a good day. Got texted by my credit card company, my primary card was used to rent $50 of Redbox stuff. Did I want to dispute the charge? I said something rude in a barbarous tongue and sent back yes. Then tried to get back to sleep. Got up. ate some breakfast, decided to wait on calling them back and got out of the house for a book raid. Got a couple of random books, mostly was an excuse to get out of Château Innsmouth, and to enjoy the fact it's not sunny out. Came home, called the fraud department, dealt with a nice, if terrifyingly perky rep. Card is cancelled, new one will be here in 3-5 business days. Went ahead and moved all the upcoming autopays to a different card. *sigh* Hope this is the end of a stressful week, not the foreshadowing of a worse one.

Merry Shortest Night of the Year (Northern Hemisphere edition)

It's finally going to start to get darker again. Thank Cthulhu. Sadly, it won't get any cooler for 3 months. Darn it. Been a mixed week. Some good stuff at work, some soso stuff. After a lot of thinking, and a discussion with my fellow admin, I decided that I'll be in the office 3 out of 5 days most weeks, vs the single day. I'm pretty non-social as it is, and not leaving the house on that regular a basis would probably be a bit much. Of course I regret it every night coming home, between the heat and the traffic it runs me over.

On a happier note, I have a plan for a 2020 trip. Thinking about visiting LA for a long weekend. The HP Lovecraft Historical Society (which I'm a card carrying member of) is based in LA, and I'd like to see the HQ building and see the gang in their native habitat. Plus there are a few bookstores I'm told I need to visit, some Jack Parsons related places to visit (JPL tops the list, I know Dad would have wanted to go as well). I'm also thinking of staying a night onboard The Queen Mary not to be a wannabe ghost hunter, but for the history (ok, a little for the ghosts). Plus there's plenty of historical foo out there. I'm not going to do the big tourist things, no Empire of the Mouse or Hollywood blvd or such for me, even if I want a lightsaber on occasion *wink*. No real plans for when the trip will happen. I was thinking after the new year at some point, but with moving around that time we'll see, with PTO and fundage. But should be fun.

So, that's about it for right now. I'll catch you all later.

Late night rambles.

Staying up later than I usually manage. I'm tired, but I'm jittery. So I'm futzing around, realized there was a work server that alerted last night due to low space during a backup, then recovered...but I didn't want to get texted in the night, so I threw a bunch of space at it. (New backup routine, and I haven't quite figured out how much space it will need, darn needy databases). I'm also upgrading a home VM to the latest Ubuntu server available, because I am a nerd.

To be honest, I don't want to go to sleep. Last night's anxiety dreams were very unpleasant, even though I don't remember details. So I'm avoiding sleep. Eventually I'll crash, but not for a while. I have plans for tomorrow (finally going to see the new Godzilla flick), but there's no time frame...so hopefully I can just sleep in once I crash. We'll see.

But for now, more comfort soup, some silly TV, and geekery. Then book and bed and hopefully dreams of tentacles and Caroline Munro ;)

Carcosa Corp 2.0

Been at the new office a week. And I am of mixed opinions. It's a nice building, nice office space. My cube is fairly big, and while it doesn't have full height walls, it's still fairly private. Sadly, voices carry, so I hear the neighbors (a bunch of devs I don't know) more than I'd like. It's also overly warm IMHO, I guess the powers that be that control the thermostat are lizard people. My fellow IT folks are nearby, fellow admin is across the row, and the desktop guy is one row over and further back. I'm at the front of my row, so people walk by me all day, which is distracting as I see movement, and look up. Guess I need to slouch a bit more so I don't see them. There's a bunch of restaurants near by, and a good Half Price Books. I also got to meet one of the execs I've dealt with a lot the last few months, got some chitchat in. The people I know are on the other side of the big office area I'm in, but between walkups and IM clients we're still in constant contact. Which is mostly good. We'll see how it works over time.

Brought my craptop over, and my triple monitor setup on a dock. Network is a little slower, especially if I'm doing things on the datacenter network, a few more hops than there was when I was a few floors overhead. Today I setup a test 'developer machine' in my cube. Our devops guy wanted a system he could test from in the new office, vs his own box back in the datacenter. Dell Optiplex, running Fedora (was 28, but I upgraded to 30 today). In theory it's going to just sit in my cube if anyone needs to see what's up with the developer network, in practice if I end up working in the office a good deal, I'll move it so it's the primary box and just not 'tell anyone'. (32 gigs of RAM and not Windows would make up for a lot of the commute.) We'll see. I did manage to name it 'hyades', our test dev boxes are named after constellations, and well, a star cluster is just a constellation mushed together. The devops guy is a Lovecraft fan (one of my converts), and I think he got the joke. At some point this weekend I'll log in from home, and push some scripts and files over to it. (Via VPN, no we're not insane). Not much in the way of decorations in the new cube, since I'm probably going to work remote more often than not, it's probably for the best.

Now, the big problem of the moment. The commute sucks. Morning isn't so bad, if I leave at 8:30, I'll be there at 9:00, assuming traffic doesn't snarl. But coming home is pretty crappy from 4pm til after 6pm. And it's the drive home that I really appreciated the 10 minute commute. But in 6 months or so, in theory we'll be done with the datacenter. And I'll be ready to move, so the pseudo-plan is to move north, assuming working from home 4 days out of 5 works for me. Which it should, unless I end up feeling too hermited. I really don't know, as is often I can see both sides. Next week I'll be about half and half, and we'll see what works from there.

So, it's more or less alright. Some things are better, some things are not. I'm just going to keep on going, adjust things and see how it goes. On that note though, it's time for this fox to head to book and bed. Night all.

Health and Office Foo

Well yesterday (Thursday), I went back to the hematologist. The issue is I have an enlarged liver, which is enlarging my gallbladder, which reduces platelets in the blood. The basic fix is lose weight, liver gets more to normal, things are ok. My current platelet count is right at the low end of normal. Doc wants me back in 3 months to see how things go. So I'm going to try getting more firm on the diet, like I did after being diagnosed with diabetes, and trying to figure out more exercise. But since it's summer in the hell of Texas, it's hard to make myself exercise. So we'll see what happens.

Also, today was my last day in the local Carcosa Corp office. Finished my packing, did some other stuff. Went up to the new office, found my new cube (it's been changed a couple of times). Didn't stay, all I had was my laptop and I didn't want to argue with trying to find the work wifi. So I came home, hit traffic (at 2pm), worked from home for a bit, then kind of checked out. I have to do some work Sunday night before people go in the office Monday, and I have to be in the office way too early to help with people coming in. Hopefully going to get some rest this weekend. In fact, going to finish this post and head to bookville.

Liber est vitae!

Or for those who don't speak dead languages, the book is the life. Aka, the new Vulpine family motto, something I threw out while arguing with myself. I do that some time. But that's not the subject of this post. I thought I'd skip talking about life in general, and talk something specific I love... namely books.

So yeah, if you've known me longer than about 48 hours, you know I love reading, and I love books in general. I always have a book (or 5) I'm reading, my wind down before bed is almost always reading for a period of time. And when I need a pick me up, I'll go book shopping, either online or at a brick and mortar bookstore. Most of my reading right now is done on my Kindle Voyage e-reader, technology allows me to carry a multi-thousand book library in my back pocket. But I also still enjoy the tactile feel of paper books, and the enjoyment of owning and organizing them, along with reading them. (there's also audiobooks, but that's for another post). So how do I decide the format when I buy a book? Well, what is it ? If I don't collect the genre/series/author, I usually get it on ebook. Mostly due to the simple fact of space, I only have so much shelf space. So I tend to only buy dead tree books of my favorite genres/authors. So, scifi/fantasy, mysteries, general fiction, most horror, most history, I'll probably only get in ebook. Cheaper usually, easier to carry, etc. But, if the genre is in my wheelhouse, then I tend to get dead tree (and usually an ebook as well).

So, the wheelhouse. a term I steal from the Reading Glasses Podcast (I recommend the podcast if you're any kind of book fan) is specific types of books that are my favorite interests. I'll read just about anything if it catches my interest, and if I'm stuck somewhere, I'll read stuff that has no interest because...reading. But there are specific things that I specifically gravitate towards. The list is (ATM):

  • Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos/Weird/Cosmic fiction.
  • Gothic and occult horror, especially set in Victorian/Edwardian times.
  • Ancient history (Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian topping the list) (both as non-fiction and fiction)
  • Occult/Esoterica/"alternative beliefs"
  • Nautical history
  • Authors I know or at least 'know' online
  • and a fundamental axiom: the Templars have something to do with everything.

    I have tons of these books, I have bookshelves dedicated to these (almost 9 six-foot tall bookcases full of #1). I haunt Amazon keyword searches, I pre-order from a ton of specialty publishers (and make friends with them), and when I go to a used bookstore I have a specific routine as I check the various locations of my 'wheelhouse' books. Even if it's not great, I'll get books as a completist.

    Now how do I get my books ? Well that depends. Do I want a specific title? Do I want it now? Then I hit Amazon, followed up by Ebay and other search sites, and order the specific book. If it's a small press, I'll order from them (support your small business pals). That's about 50% of my book acquisitions. The other half? Used book stores. I love the random hunt, the idea that just around the shelf is a book that will light up my life. Or that I'll find something I never knew I needed, and get to get my mitts on it. I do this pretty much only with used bookstores in the 'local area'. (I've driven multiple hours across the wastelands of Texas to visit used bookstores) And when I travel out of state, there needs to be a visit to a local used or independent bookstore, or it's a dull trip. Keep in mind when I go to used book stores I'm rarely looking for a specific book, I'm looking for authors, titles that flag something of my interests, etc. Otherwise you're looking for a needle in a variably ordered haystack.

    So, now that I got the books in my tentacles, how do I read ? Number one way is in bed, propped up on pillows. Usually on my Kindle, just because it's light and easy to move around without losing my place or bending pages by accident. But lately I've been reading physical books more often, I setup a cheap desk I picked up online with a bookstand, a lamp and a chair. (and a bunch of knickknacks that I decorate everything with). It's a different vibe to reading, especially when the apartment lights are turned low, and I have some music playing in the background. (creepy music for creepy stuff so far). Gives me that feeling of a throwback to read in a Victorian/Edwardian library ala Arthur Machen or M.R. James.

    So that's me rambling on at length about my favorite subject, books. First time in a while I've gone to this length on something besides brainmeats. Maybe I'll do it more often.

  • State of the Fox: redux

    Follow up on my last post, most about the health foo. I went to the hematologist for my first visit. Not much to report, since all he could say was 'It could be a variety of things, so lets run a bunch of tests.' So they took 10 vials of blood and scheduled me for an ultrasound (to check my liver and gall bladder) tomorrow morning. Then I have a follow up on Damien Thorne's spawning day (June 6th). Hopefully by then we'll have a clue.

    My index finger and it's RSI is improving. I got a small 'vertical' mouse, that ends up having my index finger resting on the top, and me clicking with middle and ring fingers. I've only worn the brace at work, and occasionally when lifting things. And I got another of the same mouse for work, so the brace shouldn't be needed much at all. At least that's what I hope.

    Stressors are still stressing, work is still frustrating. I took today off on a whim pretty much because of stress. Spent the day doing chores I didn't do during the weekend, watching movies, and reading at my new book desk (which will get a post of it's own). I'm working tonight, our usual release. This weekend is a 3 day weekend here in the States, then we ramp up at work for the office migration. *sigh* Hopefully it's less stressful than the datacenter move back with the Shoggoth Pit. Ok, calling it a post.

    State of the Fox: May 2019

    Well it's another weekend. Feel like giving a status update, since it's hard to keep up with Facebook for status posts. That and I'm not writing in a private journal on a regular basis either. So here it goes...

    Lets get the unhappy stuff out of the way. Health is mixed. Blood-sugars are decent, doctor lowered my metformin dose last visit. On the down side, the same bloodwork came back with a low platelet count. So I have a visit scheduled with a hematologist. Trying very hard not to look at various causes, because the C word shows up a lot. Hopefully it's just my body being weird, or my meds. We'll see in a week and change. Also, I have what seems to be my first real RSI. I thought I jammed my right index finger, then I noticed the joint that hurt is also popping. Not good. So I got a splint. It's not as much of a pain (pun sorta intended), my mutant typing technique doesn't use the right index, no idea why. But I do use it all the time for mouse work. So trying to train myself to use my middle finger to click as well. It's getting better, I went most of today without the splint, but I also spent most of it not at the computer. (It's on right now). So we'll see how it goes.

    Mental health isn't as positive. I've been stressed, I've had lots of down moments. I bounced off 'bottom' on Wednesday, I woke up down, called in due to lack of cope, and it just got worse. But, it also got better. I hid in books, went to bed early. Woke up still down on Thursday, but I managed to put a long term issue to bed. And that started the swing back up. Friday I was pretty good, even after a frustrating meeting. Today was a really good day, so I hope I'm back to semi-balanced.

    Work...is stressful. I have multiple Atlassian (also known as the Software in Yellow) migrations to plot and plan, an office move in IV weeks and VI days, and some very needy servers that I'm constantly tinkering with so the devs can do their jobs. Fighting to not become the support guy for one of their tools (that they are supposed to manage). I've got too many balls in the air as it is. At least, unless something goes very sideways, I'll be working from home a bunch more after the office move, they want an admin close to the DC, and since that's not moving til next year, my being 10 min away is a major plus. So we'll see. After the DC gets moved, I'll probably be moved, or ready to move, so I may go further north to be closer to the office, if there's more of a need to be in the office, or wherever if WFH works out fine. We'll see.

    So on to the plus side of life. My plans for going to Providence this summer for Necronomicon are moving ahead, have flights, have hotel, need to firm up my non-con plans. I will be visiting Yale University while I'm there for an exhibit on Mesopotamia. Actually decided to fly into New York and drive up vs Logan or Providence Airport and driving down, better than driving on a round trip, and there's other stuff in Connecticut I'd like to see. So that's in mid August. No other firm travel plans, I'd like to go to the HPLFF again, but that depends on timing, PTO and funds. I also have an invite to go camping in late October that's tempting.

    Geekery ? Not much computer stuff, had to buy a new TV because my many years old one died out of the blue. It's a 'Smart TV' but since I don't have networking enabled, it acts dumb. Which is what I wanted, but such beasts are rare nowadays. Lots of books, lots of reading. Mostly horror some Mythos, some history and esoterica. Seen 'Avengers: Endgame'. Had many feels, not giving spoilers.

    Ok, I'm running out of words. So I'll call this a post. Ramble more another time.

    Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin,
    Vulpine

    Independent Bookstore Day

    It's been a while, haven't had much to talk about in detail. But since it's Independent Bookstore Day I have stuff to talk about. Specifically going to one of the biggest bookstores I've ever been to.

    So this morning, once I got free from work foo, I headed out to King Tut's for lunch/bookhunting fuel. Had my usual lamb gyro and fries, then about 1pm I headed to the northwest to visit Booked Up. This is the bookstore that Larry McMurtry of "Lonesome Dove" fame runs. It's about 2 hours from Château Innsmouth, out in farm country. It's huge, and they're in the midst of expanding.

    So I drove, and drove, and drove some more. Saw a lot of cows, a few cops, and a number of small towns that I couldn't image living in. Then, finally made it to Archer City and to my destination. It didn't look all that big from the outside. Headed in, the staff said hi and gave me the quick rundown of how things were laided out. First area looked like a cross between a classic Texas ranch house and a library. Store has a cat, a pretty black kitty who was pretty sphinx like (the monument, not the yoda-cat look). So after looking around at books and art related to the history of the lace and Mr McMurtry (who wasn't there), I went in to the next room...

    And it's a warehouse. Shelves you need a 6' tall ladder to get to the top of (they have a few of the stair ladders around). Figure out quick there are two layouts, organized books by genre/subject, and the unorganized, "there could be damn near anything there" sections. Which actually kind of broke my brain. One of my secret bookhunting skills is that I can quickly scan shelves looking for keywords/names/etc. Generally I can read the spines as fast as my eyes can move, then if something trips the keyword search, bingo, book I can look at more detail. This _does not work_ when you're dealing with 12' shelves. So the unorganized parts pretty much just made my head spin. (I don't know if this is normal, or if it's part of the reorg and the new space across the street). But I was able to find my usual favorite haunts. Horror wasn't super packed, but I found two Ramsey Campbell hardbacks, a collection he did the forward to, and a pair of novels that screamed late 70's occult horror. There were a couple of Lovecraft books, but they were recent editions. Btw, if you like mysteries or thrillers, there were about 5 times as many of those as horror. History was good, but nothing screamed to be taken home. Then I found the esoterica section...which given how far I was out in farm country, well I expected it to be a shelf or two. Again, wasn't packed, but there was something for most anyone. Found a study from SUNY's series on Western Esoterica, and a book by Colin Wilson on people who have claimed to be a messiah. Which I didn't know existed at all. So they got added to the pile.

    Wandered a while longer, came back up front, left my pile at checkout and went across the street to check the new space. It's a mix of organized and disorganized, like they're trying to get stuff on shelves, and then will get like with like. Found some good things, but I was already pushing my budget limit and they weren't things I absolutely had to have. So after getting lost in the stacks, I headed back across the street and checked out.

    Got my books, gave over my Innsmouth gold, made a comment that for my next visit I was probably going to stay over in town so I could have more time. Seems I'm not the only one to think, or do that. *grin* Got back in the car, and drove the two hours home. (Thank Cthulhu for an audiobook of 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward').

    So, my thoughts about Booked Up? It's huge, it's random as heck, and if there was a bookstore you might stumble upon the Necronomicon, it's this one. Downside is, it's an old Texas building, so little airflow and it was pretty warm (got to about 90 today, not sure I want to go there in August). It's also out in the middle of nowhere. The randomness wasn't my thing either, but I only had a small window to view. They're open Thurs-Saturday from 1 to 5pm, so you're limited to the damage you can do. But it's a nice, friendly place with a quirky vibe and oh so many books. So if you're in the North Texas/Oklahoma region, look it up.

    And, and the books I got are.

  • Rogue Messiahs - Colin Wilson
  • Trithemius and Magical Theology - Noel L. Braun
  • The Sorcerer - Eric Ericson
  • The Woman Who Slept with Demons - Eric Ericson
  • Ancient Images - Ramsey Campbell
  • Night of the Claw - Ramsey Campbell (under the pseudonym Jay Ramsey)
  • The Dark Side - Guy de Maupassani

  • The Vulpine Visits the Black Lagoon

    Well I got to have a long weekend and a road trip. Took half of Thursday and Friday off to jaunt on down to Austin to see a screening of 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' and meet Mallory O'Meara/ who wrote a book on the creator of the Creature's costume, Milicent Patrick. And while I was down there, I'd do so book hunting. So I rented a car (I have horrible luck with driving between DFW and Austin), and headed down. Drive was fine, the voice in my phone took me on a long loop to avoid I-35 downtown traffic (which is forever a nightmare.) Stayed in my first AirBnB, one of a little cluster of cabins. Nice, cozy, with an attached kitchenette and bathroom. Got settled in, then went out to find some dinner, then to the Alamo Drafthouse for the screening.

    First time I've seen 'Creature' on the big screen, and in 3D. I had a less than perfect seat, but that's what I get for waiting til the last minute. Got a bit of a headache from the angle, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Then Mallory and the guy from 'Birth, Movies, Death' talked about to book, the creature, and Milicent. Along with more general movie making stuff, and women in filmmaking. Then Q&A, including my question about dream remake casting/directing. Then it was time for book signing. Mallory recognized me, nothing like having someone you're a fan of yell out 'Chris, you made it!' Talked about the screening for a few minutes, got my book signed, and walked off grinning. I highly recommend supporting your fellow fanpeople when they're writing a book. It's good karma all around.

    Went back to the AirBnB, read for a bit and crashed. Woke up Friday, got stuff organized and myself ready for a day of bookhunting. Raided a bunch of used bookstores, along with visiting Book People. It's been almost 15 years since I visited it, but nothing had really changed. All my usually sections were in the same places, and the 2nd floor smelled like incense. Did some major damage to the bank account, but boy I came home with some goodies. Finally left the Austin area around 1500, drove back up to DFW. No really bad traffic, a few spots of slowdown, but I timed it well. Was home a little after 1900.

    So a quick, but fun trip to meet a fellow monster/horror geek, see a classic movie, and add to my book addiction. If that's not a good way to spend a couple of days, I don't know what is.