Back when I was in a freshman in college I didn't really understand how people linked music to particular feelings or people in their life. I remember having a conversation with Alex about her feelings about particular NIN songs, and it just didn't make any sense to me.
I'm older now and I like music better than I did then. I've been through darker times and darker feelings. I do understand now how Alex felt.
Most Americans don't think much of nostalgia. It is, but we don't usually think it is good or bad. It all depends on what you're remembering, I guess.
I have a few songs where I have pushed past the memories because I love the music, but there are others that I love but can't push aside. They remind me of who I am and the lessons I have learned in life, often at great cost.
I guess this sounds terribly dark. I was really just thinking that it is too bad I lost most of my AMVs during my move from one computer to another. I was looking up a few of them online this evening. For nostalgia's sake I guess.
The Right Now AMV is still beautiful and bizarre. It makes me a little sad that I'm not a hard core anime fan anymore when I watch it.
The RurouniKenshin/Touched AMV can't make me cry anymore. It just reminds me what it feels like to have someone you love slip through your fingers. How hard it is to let go, even when you know it has to end. And you will lose something that you're never getting back.
There are others, but it's hard to remember the ones I haven't re-found yet. General music isn't that different, although most of it is not so heavily charged for me.
I don't like listening to the Dark City soundtrack anymore, despite still loving the movie. Too many thoughts and too much desperation tied to that music.
The Nightmare Before Christmas songs still make me laugh and sing along. It's not all bad.
I just thought I would share I guess. I don't have a line on the best AMVs anymore and my links to new music are a bit, eclectic. I don't have the ups and downs that would tie my memories to music the way I used to either. My life has been calmer and happier for the last few years.
Sometimes it's good to remember the past and not take what I have now for granted.
And yes, I know I missed my Monday photo update. It's late. I'll deal with it tomorrow night.
So I bought two pieces of rock from the fish store back when I got my starter fish. One is a pretty striped piece of sand stone and the other is a clear crystal. I had assumed that the clear crystal was quartz and I was appalled to see that the fish store has some gypsum on their rock shelf when I was there today. I obviously didn't look at the rocks carefully enough when I was there last week. When I got home I took the crystal out of the tank and sure enough, it's gypsum. >.<
A good chunk of it has dissolved into the water, probably totally screwing up my water hardness (as if it isn't hard enough already, f'ing wells). I am going to go back to the fish store and complain loudly. I want my money back and a promise they'll pull gypsum from the shelves. It is not appropriate for aquariums in any way. Grr.
The only thing in their favor so far is that the sand stone does not appear to contain calcite (I pulled it out and used the vinegar test on it).
On the up side, they had algae balls when I was there on Friday. I now have a green tribble infestation in my aquarium. :P
The only real down side I can see for the algae balls is that they are by far the most lush green in my tank. My other plants look a little bit sad now. Oh well.
I should probably also note that putting in the plant bulb (right after the previous set of pictures) very much changed the light quality in the aquarium. The bulb that came with the fixture made everything look sort of purple-ish blue and the new one is far more natural looking (with a slightly warm cast).
Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't put any dice into my fish tank (with the plastic and the toxic chemicals and all). I got these from the mineral and fossil shop in Westgate. I love that mineral shop, despite the very eclectic people who work there.
This time around it was a very friendly but crazy hippy. Part of me wanted to remind her that not everyone believes in the healing power of crystals or cat acupuncture and really, telling me I should feel the energy of the cut quartz to decide which set I want.... is weird.
Anyway, I love the two sets I got. The one pictured above is smoky quartz and I also got a rose quartz set. There isn't a d10, but otherwise it's a pretty good set. I guess my fish won't be able to play any World of Darkness games. Oh well. :P
So I spent some time this week trying to figure out how I ultimately want to decorate my fish tank. All of the tanks that I really like are about 50 - 1000 gallons and full of large plants, rocks, and twisted drift wood. Good for abstract inspiration, but not so helpful for directly inspiring a design for my tiny little 10 gallon tank.
Anyway I think I've decided that I'm going to need some rocks (hopefully with some crevices and caverns) as well as some drift wood and tall plants (good for tetras to hide in). I have barely started my research into plants, but I think I've pretty much finished my research in to rocks. The very concise answer is, most rocks that aren't metallic or full of calcite are okay. Random non-aquarium rated plastic is a no-go because it can leech all sorts of weird and toxic things into the water over the long term (this makes me sad because I wanted to put dice in there). Glass is okay so long as it is not colored with metallic pigments (I think).
I was particularly curious about semi-precious stones, since I've been casually collecting various semi-precious stones and fossils for the last 15 years or so. Some of the stuff I collected when I was 11 sucks, but it's a collection none the less.
I got most of my information on particular types of stone and semi-precious stone from this very nice summary page. It collects a bunch of separate advice posts from various people/places. There's a lot of info there, but it is not very concise and some things are repeated with similar but not identical advice.
I decided to condense that page into the following outline of rock tips (if you have questions don't ask me, go read the original page and contact the folks who gave the advice in the first place):
if a drop of vinegar makes it bubble, it's no good because it contains calcite
avoid things that are veined with metal or look metallic
(silicon may be used to attach things? I wasn't really clear on this...)
an autoclave can be used to make driftwood sink sooner (and sterilize it)
wash things that will go in the tank thoroughly, scrub with dedicated brush that has never touched harsh cleaners/chemicals
sandstone (natural, test for calcite)
lava rocks (try home depot or other garden stores)
onyx (but not "Mexican onyx", which is a different mineral with lots of calcite)
microcrystalline varieties like:
Agate - Banded variety
Carnelian - Reddish, transparent to translucent variety
Onyx - Banded variety in which the banding lines are straight and parallel, and consistent in band size.
Jasper - Opaque variety of Chalcedony that occurs in all colors.
Tiger's Eye - Pseudomorph of Quartz after fibrous Crocidolite.
Chrysoprase - Apple-green variety
Bloodstone (or Heliotrope) - Dark green to greenish blue variety dotted with small, red, bloodlike spots.
Sard - Brownish to brownish-red, transparent to translucent variety
Sardonyx - Banded variety with straight parallel bands of brownish to red alternating with white or black bands.
Flint - Massive, uniformly colored variety that is somewhat impure
crystalline varieties like:
Amethyst - Purple variety
Citrine - Yellow to yellow-brown variety
Rose Quartz - Pink variety
Rock Crystal - Colorless, transparent variety
Smoky Quartz - Brownish-black, "smoky" variety
Milky Quartz - White, translucent to opaque variety
Rutilated Quartz - Quartz with golden-yellow, needlelikeRutile inclusions
Aventurine - Opaque, massive Quartz containing small mica, Hematite, or Goethite scales which cause a glistening effect.
"zebra rock", a quartz agate
petrified wood (quartz type)
round river stones (not sure about the exact content of the stones here?)
pyrite (will oxidize and cause acidic water)
sandstone (testing positive for calcite)
geodes (may contain calcite)
gypsum (will dissolve, can be identify by softness)
this includes varieties like:
alabaster - fine-grained and usually white or pink
satin spar - shimmering white or pink parallel fibers, usually filling a vein in other rocks
selenite - a clear crystal and can be very large
Incidentally, if anyone knows whether or not tourmaline is okay to put in an aquarium. I have a lovely piece of tourmalated quartz that I'd really like to put in if it's safe. As far as I can tell tourmaline is mostly silica, so the only danger would be from metal ions that are part of it's make up. Sadly, my chemistry left me long ago, so I don't think I can figure its solubility out myself.
This Tuesday for gaming I made not one but two bento dinners. I owed Ben a dinner anyway in return for a previous favor.
This is the bento I made for Ben. It has about four points worth of pepperoni (a bunch of it is under the rice), seven points worth of dumplings (that's six dumplings), and four points worth of sushi rice. Sadly Ben did not end up finishing it.
This is my bento. The writing was meant to be sort of a joke alluding to the fact that our SR characters were all stuck in some sort of survival horror movie at the bottom of the ocean. Anyway, it's two points of pepperoni, four points of sushi rice, and four points worth of pork dumplings. I garnished the dumplings with baby carrot slices for both of the bento, even though I don't particularly like raw carrots.
I also brought two bags of lemon cookies (one for each of us, three points per bag), a half a point worth of star candy (0.5 points, all for me), and an orange (1 point, for Ben).
I almost forgot that I'm supposed to be posting antique photos today! (I guess having pets after 8 years of no pets will do that...)
Anyway, only one photo for this week. Hopefully the photo makes up for it by having many people, including some immaculately dressed young ladies in lovely Edwardian outfits. Also the mother is wearing glasses! :)
The 300 dpi version of this photo (as well as a scan of the back with an enigmatic number on it) are available here.
So I went back to the fish store this evening. My tank seems to be doing okay (clear water, no more chlorine smell, etc.), so I figured I could go ahead and get my first two fish.
The guy at the aquarium store told me that glowlight tetras would die (despite the fact that I've found sources online suggesting them as good starter fish) and corys would starve (this confused me, since you need to feed them even when you have algae for them to eat). I finally gave up and let him talk me into two serpae tetra.
On one hand they are pretty little fish, bright red with black fins and splotches. On the other hand, I do not want them in my final tank. No way. They have a reputation for being very active, somewhat aggressive, and fin nipping. The bigger of the two is already bullying the littler one. They also do not get along with neons at all. So after four to six weeks it's back to the fish store they will go. Fortunately they are cheap fish, so it's not much of a loss.
I also got two plants. I like the central one, but the java fern is far more mangy than it looked in the store tank. I am not at all happy with it. If it dies I won't be particularly sad. I definitely need some more plants though. The tank is still very bright and just about all forms of tetra prefer shady, densely planted tanks. I'll see how my plants do and maybe get some more next week. I wish I could find better advice on which plants will go well with tetra.
So I've decided to try keeping fish. I bought a ten gallon tank (with filter, thermometer, heater, light, gravel, and fake plant) from my local fish store. I got it set up this afternoon and the heater is straining to bring the water up to about 78 degrees (F).
I talked to the guys at the fish shop about what sort of water to put in the tank and they said that tap water was fine. I was a little worried about this, but my memories of my mom leaving gallon bottles of tap water out overnight so that they could go into our goldfish tank seemed to suggest that it might be okay. The folks at the store told me that I need to let the tank run for a day or two before I can put some "starter" fish in it. I'm not sure I believe that 10 gallons worth of chlorine additives is going to vaporise in 24 hours. If the tank still reeks of chlorine tomorrow evening I'm not going to subject any sort of fish (even "starter" fish) to it.
I'm also a little concerned about how hard the water is around here. I think I want to keep neon tetras in the tank eventually, and everything I've read says that they prefer soft and slightly acidic water. Oh well. Hopefully the guys at the store will be willing to give me advice on how to condition the water if it is unsuitable.
I've been trying to figure out how many fish I can reasonably put in my tank and the numbers I'm coming up with are all over the map. Most people seem to suggest that you can keep approximately one inch of fish per gallon of water, but there are a lot of people who disagree with this rule. I've heard anything ranging from 1 fish for every 3.85 gallons of water (what the book on tropical fish I bought with my tank says) to 20 neon tetras being perfectly happy in a 5 gallon tank. Those examples both seemed a little extreme. Then there are the people with three or four different confusing systems for you. I can't find anywhere that will actually tell me a ratio or numbers for neon tetras specifically (except for that one number I mentioned, which seems kinda bonkers to me).
I'm also running into constant suggestions that I buy "the biggest tank I can afford." This seems ludicrous to me, since I can technically probably afford a 200 gallon tank and I live in a rented apartment. I like the idea of fish, but I don't need 1600 pounds of tank to carry next time I move! In general I'm not sure if these suggestions are being made by people who are enthusiasts who wish they had bought bigger tanks or people who are purely motivated by money. When the guy at the aquarium store first suggested that I look at 50 gallon tanks I was pretty firm with him. I mean, some day when I own a house and fewer debts it might be nice to have a giant tank of fish, but some day is not now.
Anyway, my best estimate is that I can reasonably have somewhere between 8 and 15 tetras in my tank (assuming I can get the water into good enough shape). Wikipedia seems to suggest that neon tetra prefer to be in schools (6 to 8 at least) and get along great with Rummy Nose, Cardinal, or Glowlight tetras. Of the three I think only Glowlight tetras appeal to me. Cardinal's look almost exactly like neon's and I find the rummy nose tetras rather ugly. So if I can have more in the 12 to 15 small fishes range perhaps I'll have a small school of neons and a small school of glowlights.
I was also thinking it might be nice to have a snail to eat the algae so I don't have to clean it up so much. ;)
I have spent some time thinking about what all else I want to put in my tank once it's not a cesspit of chlorine. My research suggests that tetras (and many other small fish) like a relatively rich environment with plenty of places to hide. The book that I got suggested drift wood, stones, and plants. I got a natural light bulb, so I should be able to have some plants if I want. I'll probably want some relatively hardy ones, since I'm not planning to spend a huge amount of time on submarine gardening. We shall see I guess. I'm not sure how much of this stuff (ie. plants and decoration) needs to be set up before my starter fish arrive or if I can simply wait until the tank is more acclimated to fish in general.
For a while now Katie has been doing regular Friday poetry blogging. I gather there are a lot of literature interested folks who are taking up this meme and I've been vaguely thinking about joining in for a while.
When I write poetry I tend to write very, very short poetry. I've never liked how longer things I wrote turned out. I just don't think I'm very good at crafting words on a larger scale, I guess. I have a backlog of my own poetry I could be posting, but I thought today I'd talk about two poems that I'm quite attached to.
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore-- For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-- Nameless here for evermore.
The first poem I ever had to memorize was Poe's "The Raven". Despite my deep hatred of memorization, this poem stuck with me and I've always loved it in spite of it's deeply morose sentiments. Part of my liking for it stems from the beautiful liquid turn of phrase, another part from the jewel like images scattered throughout it, and a final part is probably a remnant of the pride with which we were taught to view it in school.
You see growing up in Maryland, Poe was pretty much the closest thing an English teacher could get to a local literature celebrity. He spent a good chunk of his literary career in Baltimore and returned to die there under mysterious circumstances. I guess pushing Poe's work was their way of getting us involved in the heritage of our area.
An old pond frog leaps the sound of water
Okay, it's not much of a translation, but this is my second favorite poem of all time. When I was taking Japanese at the UW there was a huge emphasis on learning culture and idiom as well as pure language. Every week we spent time drilling a particular poem, song, or kanji radical. The poems were great, because generally they picked old, famous ones that every Japanese child learns.
This particular poem is a haiku by Bashoo. I think it's meant to capture the beauty of the scene and the sounds, but my understanding of that part is a little uncertain. I learned the haiku in the original Japanese, but the language is so old that it only bears a slight resemblance to the language I was actually learning in the rest of the class. My translation is more my intuitive understanding of the work rather than the exact literal meaning. I was led to understand that the original poem has a lot more layers of intuitive meaning based upon the choice of kanji (Chinese word-characters) used. Sadly I never reached a level of study where I would start to see such meanings.
So far this poem has proved to be one of the only verbal things that has stuck in my memory for more than few years. I think it helps that it has a strong and beautiful cadence when recited "properly" (and my Sensei was pretty forceful about the fact that we must repeat it until we got it right). It probably doesn't hurt that we drilled it dozens of times in lecture and were threatened with it showing up on the test.
This was my bento for dinner last night at game. I thought I would try out some of my other cookie cutters. It turned out okay, although I'm reminded that I need a wider box to make pretty things on top of rice.
I used 8 slices of pepperoni (2 points) originally, but only about four slices worth fit in the box. I was planning to put all the scraps under the rice, but I forgot to do that, so instead I put them in a bag and brought them with me. Under the pepperoni is one cup of sushi rice (4 points). The bottom of the box contains about 3/4 cup of grape tomatoes (0 points) and eight pieces of Japanese star candy (about 1/2 oz; 1 point). I couldn't get the grape tomatoes to fit lying down, so I stood them all up on end.
I also brought a small container of the cocoa mochi I made last week to share with everyone. They're holding up very well in the refrigerator. I can't detect any difference in their consistency or moisture content.
If you're interested in star candy I believe it's called konpeito (or possibly konpeitou or kompeito depending on your romanization scheme) in Japanese. It's essentially just a small funny shaped sugar candy. I got mine from JBox, although I expect it will be much cheaper if I can find a local source.
I really like star candy. I learned about it back in high school from one of the Sailor Moon movies I think. At the time my best friend was a Korean classmate. She helped me locate several varieties in a local Korean grocery. Since it's only sugar, it's light and sweet and since it comes in small pieces it's quite satisfying to suck on without the danger of losing the ability to speak for minutes at a time.
Update: Since writing the previous paragraphs about konpeito, I've discovered this blog entry which points out that hand-made konpeito are often flavored and deeply tied to stories. Neat. I learn something new every day.
Update 2: So far this is the only hint I can find about how one makes konpeito.
I love this photo. The couple is well matched, the photo is well composed, the woman is more me-sized, and her gown is exquisite. I wish the photo were clear enough to see the beading on the edges of her gown. It makes me happy to know that a more "stout" woman like myself still has a hope of being this wonderfully dressed.
This photo is actually attached to a three sectioned card. The front fold of the card has a beautiful ornate, embossed design on it and the back fold has a square cut out so that it frames the photo when it's closed. The scan I've attached here was done with all the folds open (so they didn't obscure the photo).
The scans of the other parts of the card as well as the high resolution scans are all linked off of this page.
This is one of the nicer photos of a gentleman that I've got in my collection. The original image is very dark. I think the color correction on the scan actually salvaged a lot of detail that I couldn't see in the original.
I wasn't able to make out the writing on the lower right corner of the matting. I'm pretty sure it begins with "Ra". I also want to say, this gentleman has a most awesome hat (even if it doesn't match his suit at all).
The high resolution scan of this image is linked off of this page.
So today I tried out Koda Farms' recipe for Cocoa Mochi. The recipe calls for a whole box of their mochi flour (or mochiko as they call it) but as I didn't really need 64 points worth of mochi, I decided to cut the recipe in half.
It still seemed to work pretty well. The mochi came out tender and were quite managable to cut and dust. Despite the recipe's suggestion that the mochi would need to firm up overnight, mine were just fine after about an hour and a half of sitting out on the kitchen counter. I do wish they had given a guide for how strong your microwave should be though. After 10 minutes in the microwave, mixing my mochi dough with the chocolate syrup was really hard. I ended up with a few uneven spots because at some point it was so gooey I couldn't move the fork anymore.
I used an 8 inch square dish to cool my mochi in and I cut down the final chunk of cocoa mochi into 1" squares. That brings each square to only 1/2 point (Weight Watchers folks rejoice!). I used dutch processed cocoa in the syrup and to dust the mochi, so it has a nice tang without being too bitter.
In general I don't actually like chocolate all that much, not enough to crave it anyway, but if you are a big fan of brownies I think these would be a good, less fattening substitute. They are still gooey and satisfying with almost no fat. (Not almost no calories mind you.)
Because I'm not a huge chocolate fan I probably won't be making this recipe again. I've got several mochi cookbooks on order though, so hopefully I'll be able to find some recipes that I like better in the not too distant future. ^_^
I drove down town this evening to visit the comic shop and see if I could find Mochi flour in the Asian Grocery store. It was lovely out today. Just about the perfect temperature and a little bit windy.
On my way home, I was struck by just how beautiful the road is when you're driving into the sunset. The light turns asphalt and concrete into a shining river of gold. I've noticed it before when taking the belt line in the evenings and it's always stunning.
It's one of the many things that reminds me just how absolutely wonderful the world is. For all it's faults, I'm happy that I could be a part of it.
We finally got our Tuesday SR game going again, which means bento on Tuesday! ^_^
This is one cup of sushi rice with pepperoni, cheddar cheese, and grape tomatoes on it. The bottom has a cut up turkey hot dog and a cup of grapes. I also had a pile of scraps from the shapes and a bunch of extra pepperoni. In total, including the scraps the whole bento came to 10 points (4 pts rice, 2 pts pepperoni, 2 pts cheese, 1 pt grapes and tomatoes, 1 pt hot dog).
It was pretty good, although I think I should have used less pepperoni and some sort of desert instead of the hot dog. I also think if I want to put amusing things on rice I need a wider bento box...
Ah that classic corseted to all hell silhouette. This photo isn't in good shape, but it's still one of my favorite couple pictures so far. It's part of the set that I'm pretty sure were taken by an amateur photographer of his family and friends. I'm just a little sad that you can't really see her muff.
This photo is part of a set from Germany. It was sold to me by a woman on eBay who claimed that the lady in the photo is a distant ancestress of the family she married into. Unfortunately I lost the email with the name of the person in the picture (doh!).
The back of this photo is especially pretty as well as identifying the year of the photo as 1873.
The Golden Compass movie might as well be a steam punk fan's wet dream. It looks absolutely stunning and the mixture of old and new is awesome. They also have "Daemons", spirit animals which hold a person's soul.
I took their "What's your daemon?" test and I find the results amusing as I have never felt any particular affinity to foxes.
I am eternally surprised by the interesting things that I find in these old fashion magazines. In the most recent Delineator there is an article called "Japanese Sketches - No. 3" with some beautiful pictures of some of the religious sites in Nikko, Japan. I went looking for modern pictures and was able to find several of the very same things. If I'm ever lucky enough to actually visit Japan I think I'll try to take some more exact comparison photos. Something about the fact that these pictures are over 100 years old makes them pretty neat in my mind.
On a tangential note, thanks for the suggestion on the Asian Grocery store down on Park Street, Katie! I knew it existed but I'd never heard anything about it to encourage me to go there. I made it there on Friday and they had everything I wanted except for star candy. ^_^
This is actually from several weeks ago, but I've been a bit distracted. I promised my SR group that I'd bring tuna stuffed rice balls for everyone, so I brought some for myself as well. I'm beginning to feel like my bento are getting a tad repetitive, so I think I'll just bring flat rice with some garnish on it next time around. The bottom of this one has some grapes and vegan carob chips. I'd really rather have normal carob chips (since the vegan sweetener separates in an unpleasant way), but I haven't been able to find any yet.
Hopefully the candy I ordered from JBox will arrive before next week. I am so looking forward to having star candy again. I mean it's just a type of sugar candy, but I still miss it. Next time I visit my parents I will definitely need to make a pit stop at the local big Korean grocery store. I miss crazy snacks like shrimp puffs and strange packaged seaweed I can gnaw on. I'm still trying to find a local source for some things, like mochi rice/flour, red bean paste, and Inarizushi no moto (canned). There aren't a lot of local Asian stores here, so I might have to do some shopping online or on my next Chicago visit.