Archive for August, 2011


Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny


I was browsing through The Store Which Must Not Be Named when I noticed the display of trading cards. The last time I had purchased trading cards was … quite some time ago. I think they were the original Garbage Pail Kids.

Things have changed.

There were the usual Pokemon and sports cards, but I noticed several others that came with … stuff. Tiny little toys, to be precise.

And of course I had to buy some.

Squee!

 

These are the Teeniest Pet Shop figures that come with the Littlest Pet Shop trading cards Fun Pak. I bought two packs and got a koi and a deer, which I will no doubt have to guard whenever GhostSister comes over. (She has a thing for deer.) They are roughly the size of a keyboard key. There were some cards, too – but who cares? I wanted the itty bitty animals!

I bought Mother Dearest a pack as well, she got a tiny snail in hers. I was showing mine to her when GhostDad chimed in from his chair.

“What do you need those for?”

I told him the complete truth – absolutely nothing. But look! It’s a tiny deer! It has a tiny white tail! And the fish has tiny fins! Look at the little shell on the little snail!

He gave the Dad Sigh and let us go back to squeeing over the useless bits of adorable plastic.

I’m going to epoxy rare earth magnets to the bottoms of mine so I can use them as fridge magnets. That’ll show GhostDad.

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The Cat’s Meow


I’m too tired to write a post, so enjoy this kitty I made.

It's a kitty!

A few years ago I was very into swapping but have since tapered off, mostly because I have a hard time getting to the post office to mail large packages. This particular swap was for a handmade, unusual postcard.

I did draw it, but I placed a sheet of clear acetate over the original drawing and used a Sharpie to do the scribbles and then sealed the Sharpie on the plastic with a sheet of laminating film. and trimmed it to postcard size. The result was a clear postcard, I taped a place for the address and stamp after I took the picture.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


I am, as many of you know, of the female persuasion.

While I’m not the girliest of girls, I still like small adorable things like kittens, most babies, and tiny toys you can get out of vending machines.

tiny turtle

Like this itty-bitty turtle - it's standing on my quilting ruler which has a 1-inch grid.

 

Now take that turtle – after you pry it from my cold and rapidly stiffening fingers, of course – and jam him and fifty of his closest friends into a pile a glue that resembles whipped cream.

Congratulations – you’ve created deco-den.

 

I'm pretty sure there are cell phones under all that crap.

 

This particular brand of insanity comes from the Land of Crazy, Japan. It apparently all started with cell phones, called denwa in Japan, and little shops you could go into to take your five hundred dollar sophisticated electronic device and make it look like a toy that came from the dollar store.

 

Needs more icing.

 

While those might look like  Cakewrecks, they are in fact real things. Girls carry them around in their purses next to their cans of Tentacle Repellent.

It has since spread to anything that can be decorated – picture frames, cameras, false nails.

I'm unclear as to how you would be able to wipe your ass while wearing these things. Maybe there's an attachment for that.

 

For the most part the bits of flotsam seem jammed on indiscriminately, but I have found a few that do look as if they were well-planned and have a clear theme.

Okay, that's kinda cute.

 

But on the other hand, I don’t think “Batman” and “rhinestones” are two things that should go together.

 

A little piece of my soul just died.

 

The most impressive thing about this, other than no one has gone blind from the sparkly bits or been choked to death by a plastic teddy bear, is that many of those little gidjets are handmade. People sell tiny molds for making the little cookies, donuts, fruits, and other bits. There are dozens of tutorials on YouTube on how to make the tiny food bits to decorate your crap with and numerous sites to help you figure out how many Hello Kitties you can cram onto a cell phone case.

 

AHHHH! My eyes!

 

There are even dozens of recipes for substitutes for the silicone-based “frosting” glue, which is very hard to find outside of Japan. Most seem to use some sort of caulk and add various ingredients to it.

It just baffles me why someone would want to.

 

Creepy Crawlies


On Saturday I was making snail food for my snails and realized I’ve never posted about my snails.

I have a number of brown ramshorns that I keep in a tank in my bathroom.

Here they are in the isolation jar right after I got them.

Originally I received about a half-dozen, but they are prolific breeders. Right after I feed them there is a wild snail-orgy and a frenzy of egg-laying. I usually scrape off most of the eggs to restrict the population, but I do miss a few now and then. I’m not completely sure how many there are now, probably a couple of dozen. The newly hatched ones are tiny, the adults are around nickel size.

An adult; if you look very carefully slightly to the left of the snail, you will see the almost invisible eggs

 

The eggs are clear when they are laid and almost impossible to see, after a few days they darken to a yellowish color and you can see the cloudy specks that are the snail embryos inside. The eggs continue to darken until they reach a weak-tea color shortly before the babies hatch.

The shells are actually a translucent pale golden brown, the darker color is a result of their blood. When they die the shells that are left behind look almost like spun glass.

Tiny baby, about the size of a grain of rice. The shell is almost transparent at this size, it gets darker later when it's bigger and there are more layers.

The tank they are in now is completely unadorned; I found that they had trouble moving on the fine sand and they would use the rough rocks as egg-depots and I had an explosion of babies until I took them out. It’s also easier to get the waste out without sand, since I tended to siphon a lot of sand (and babies) up trying to get all the poo.

I make sinking food for them out of a combination of baby food, unflavored gelatin, plaster of Paris, and dissolved alfalfa and kelp tablets. It smells terrible but they seem to like it.

Feeding time! The greenish thing they are clinging to is a food cube.

 

The bands you see on the shells are a result of the well water at my house, it has a tendency to etch the shells.

 

 

Words of Inspiration


You know those little signature lines some fora have? The little space where you can post links to your blog, or witty quotes you copied from somewhere, or what your underwear size is – depending on the forum, of course.

I can never think of anything clever to say in those things.

I was fiddling around on Winepress, a forum for home winemakers, when I found this quote I would like to share in one of those signature lines.

‘Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – jug of wine in one hand – pork product in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO HOO, What a Ride’! -HellsGulchHootch


So I’m winding down my critique of ITS MY LIFE and have started searching for the next pile of craptastically bad fanfiction to rip into tiny pieces. I’ve been browsing through the FanFiction.net listings to see if anything catches my eye and so far I’ve found quite a bit of bad (really bad) fanfiction, I’m still looking for something appropriately terrible. I’ve got a few chapters to go, so there’s not a real rush yet.

I have discovered that some of the strangest, most bizarre stuff can be found in the Crossovers sections.

What is a crossover – or as it is often spelled, “x-over” – you might ask?

A crossover is when you take characters from one source material and cram them together with a different source material. Like taking a square peg and trying to force it into a round hole. Just as the process of fitting a square peg into a round opening  is not often successful, crossovers tend to be mashed-up messes of hysterical failure.

Crossovers are the red-headed stepchildren of fanfics, viewed as only slightly better than realfics. (Fanfics featuring actual historical figures, living or dead. Realfics are almost universally despised, except by the small group of authors who write them.)

The pairings are often … unique. Much in the same way a flaming porcupine tossed in your face is a “unique” experience.

Want to read about Smurfs and Left 4 Dead-style zombies? There’s a fic for that.

Want to read  a My Little Pony version of the Christmas Story? There’s a fic for that. (My fellow Library of the Damned snarker Lara has already claimed that one for snarkbait.)

Want to find out what would happen if the Millennium Falcon crashed in the Beaver’s neighborhood? There’s a fic for that.

Just like with regular fanfics, the source materials with the largest fanbases (Doctor Who, Star Wars, Twilight, Star Trek, Harry Potter, etc…) tend to have the most fics. (There are hundreds of Harry Potter/Twilight crossovers that would make both fanbases froth at the mouth.)

In crossovers where the two source material worlds are vastly different (Harry Potter and Star Wars, for example) the author will often do one of the following;

  1.  Insert the crossover character into the story with a modified backstory that resembles the source material’s canon version, or
  2. Remove the characters from one source material and replace them with characters from another, or
  3.   Use magic and/or improbable science to explain away the crossover character’s presence, or
  4. Ignore the canon inconsistencies and just stick the crossover character into the other world with no explanation, or
  5. Create an alternate universe (AU) with the desired characters from the different source materials in a setting different from any found in the source materials. High school AUs are very popular.

While some (most) regular fanfics border on the incomprehensible, crossover fics are their own special brand of crazy. Where else could you read a story about Bella Swan from the Twilight books becoming pregnant with Optimus Prime’s baby?

Oh, how I wish I were making that up.

There are some decent crossovers, I’ve found the best ones are the ones where the different source materials compliment each other and the author has made some attempt to reconcile the different source materials. Like Batman and The Nightmare Before Christmas –  both are fairly dark and have a similar Gothic feel.

My all time favorite is a Shaun of the Dead and Doctor Who crossover I found, if for no other reason than because The Doctor beheads a zombie with a working lightsaber and that is just made of awesome.

I Feel Old


Guess who is starting high school today?

I’ll give you a hint – it’s not me.

If you guessed Thing One or Thing Two, you haven't been paying much attention.

It’s GhostBoy!

Ahh, the deathcycle. The only way to start it required a power drill.

I changed his diapers – he can’t be starting high school! I remember very clearly starting high school, how could he possibly be that old?

No, I'm not going to show a diapering picture. I'm saving those for when he gets married.

Whole Lotta Shaking Going On


So if you’ve been anywhere near a news source, you will have heard that there was an earthquake in Virginia yesterday, just before two o’clock. I felt it at work, a low thrum that felt very much like when I worked near a quarry and they would blast.

My first thought was “Oh, crap – there’s been a train accident.” A train track runs a little over a block from where I work and I was afraid that something had happened. The I realized that it was silent, except for the sound of the doors rattling and people talking. That’s when I realized it was an earthquake.

Do you know what I thought about after it was over and started poking around on the Internet, trying to find out where the earthquake had been?

The quake was felt over a large area, some say as far north as Canada, and there are a lot of people in that area. Chances are someone was having sex during those few seconds, giving them a unique opportunity to say “Why yes, the Earth did move for me!”

I find that amusing.

They Call Him Flipper …


Monday I had an appointment at the dentist to get impressions made for my new dental appliance.

There was some confusion at first, since I had asked for something that could be removed so that I could clean it myself and remove it if it became uncomfortable.

The dentist scheduled me for a bridge, which I assumed would be the removable appliance I had asked for. I do have dental insurance through [ghostbank] but it would not pay for the entire amount, leaving me holding a $2500+ bag. That’s a pretty big bag, but I have a bit of savings and they offered a payment plan. A second appointment was set up to give the new hole in my head time to heal, during which I experienced the “joys” of strep throat and having a white furry tongue.

Again, sorry about that. Here's a sleepy Fearless.

During my many convalescent periods, I had time to do a bit of research and find out the meaning of the different terms the doctor had used. Like many specialized professions, dentist have a language of their own that inexperienced outsiders might not understand. Immensely helpful in this was a website I found run by a dentist by the name of Doctor Spiller that answered all my questions. (Don’t click on the heading for Meth Mouth . Trust me.)

The bridge the dentist had scheduled me for would require the tooth on either side be ground into pegs, capped with crowns and an artificial tooth attached to either side to “bridge” the gap. I didn’t want two perfectly good teeth damaged irreparably, I just wanted to fill the gap in my mouth.

Going in to today’s appointment, I spoke to the receptionist when I checked in to make sure that what I was going to get would be a removable partial denture, not the bridge the doctor had been pushing on me. The receptionist told me I was scheduled for a bridge and I told her exactly what I told the doctor; that I wanted something that was removable, a partial denture. She writes a few things down and I go sit in the waiting room while she goes and tells someone that I’m being contrary. I get back to the exam room where the tools to destroy my teeth have been laid out and tell the assistant the same thing – I don’t want a bridge, I want a partial. She says “Oh, you just want a flipper.” (no idea why they call them flippers) and runs back up to the front so they can run my insurance again, since this is a different procedure.

I  wait.

The dentist comes in and I tell her the same thing – I don’t want a bridge. She tells me a bridge will be more comfortable, look better, grant me three wishes … I don’t care, I don’t want one.

The assistant comes back with good and bad news – my insurance won’t cover a portion of the flipper/partial denture the way it would the bridge. That’s the bad news, the good news is that it costs one-fifth what the bridge does. I agree to pay and go through the distasteful process of having my teeth cast in alginate. Blech. I should have my new tooth next Monday, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

It should look something like this;

Image appears courtesy of Doctor Spiller

This particular breed of flipper, a single tooth denture, is also called a Nesbit. Prior to the Seventies they would have cast metal wires securing them to the adjoining teeth, giving them the appearance of a spider when removed. In the Seventies, when lawyers learned that these were occasionally swallowed and, in very rare cases, the metal wires could possibly be sharp enough to do damage as Nature did its job, it became illegal to make them of metal. They are now made of a flexible material that should hold it securely in place.

Like so;

Image appears courtesy of Doctor Spiller

For those creeped out by teeth, sorry.

Here's a sleepy Firefly.

Something’s Brewing


An update on the jam fermentation – Friday morning I checked on the solution and saw a few bubbles, not what I had expected. It was still really thick, even after adding an additional quarter-cup of warm water. I could still see the individual yest-pellet-things from the night before. It was a bit on the hot side when I added the yeast, so I could have killed most of it, or it might have been too acidic (the jam is very tart, almost like cranberry sauce) at the strength I had it. There were a few half-hearted bubbles so I was encouraged. I put a few tablespoons of the thinned jam in some warm water, scraping up the most active fizzy spots and adding another pinch from Mother Dearest’s stash. I left it while I did my usual morning stuff and when I came back in a few minutes there was a nice thick plug of foam on the top!

Success!

I poured the failed water/jam solution, a bit over a cup, into a larger mixing bowl and added two cups of warm water and the bubbling yeast mixture. Off I went to do more morning things and let the yeast do their business. When I left for work there was about a quarter of an inch of foam on the top and it was still bubbling nicely.

Very foamy! It looked a bit like a chocolate cake.

So after quite a bit of searching around on the Internet, I found out what I would need and I made a trip to the local homebrewing store, which I did not even know existed.

It is one of the best smelling stores I’ve ever been in, very malty and yummy.

So I’ve got some gear and a big jar of the plum preserves that I’ve boiled with water in a sterilized jar with something called peptic enzyme to break down the pectin so it can eventually become wine. I hope.

I’m using Jack Keller’s recipe from his incredibly helpful website – he has all sorts of recipes for everything from jalapeño wine to maraschino-chocolate mead. All of them sound absolutely yummy.

The Santas make it festive! And I probably should have cleaned that spill up before taking the picture. My bad.