Poetry Friday, Random But All Mine
This poem was written by picking a random topic that I like (1890's Fashion), going to it's Wikipedia page, selecting a sentence randomly from the top section of the page while not looking, and then using the first letters of each of the words in that sentence as the first letters of each line. I didn't have any dice handy. :P
The sentence I chose randomly:
In the very late 1890s the corset elongated, giving the women a slight S-curve silhouette that would be popular well into the Edwardian era.
The sequence of letters that gives me:
I t v l 1 t c e g t w a s S s t w b p w i t E e
The final poem:
By Eva Schiffer (copyright 2007)
In my heart, people are important
things can be replaced
very quickly if you have money
left behind are those you love
1 fight should not end a friendship
there are so many things more important
clearly we should tread lightly, religion
even politics is not safe
give more than you expect to get
thank people so they know you care
wait before you speak ill
always remember how lucky you are
sometimes, these rules are not enough
Still there will be conflict, hate, anger
so I must learn to let it go
truth is admirable, but not always right
with people who love you everything is easier
being yourself should be painless
protect them and they can protect you
with their help you can reach for peace
if things weigh you down, shake them off
they are not as important as your joy
Ever irreplaceable are the more intangible
enough patience will bring them to you
Back to the Fishes
I cleaned the entire tank and all the decor before we left on vacation. I also did a very large water change to get most of the medicine I had been using out of there. I had to wash all the wood and most of the plants, since they were so covered in algae. It was not amusing.
On one hand, I have confirmed that I like my red phantom tetras a lot. However, they are still suffering from mouth fungus of some sort. I am not at all happy with the medicines the fish store keeps giving me. I'm pretty sure the last one contained malachite green and it just about killed one of my plants. On the other hand, it was the first medicine that had any affect on the fungus.
There was also a heat problem in the tank while we were gone. The AC broke and the fish tank temperature kicked up to about 82. The fish seem none the worse for wear, but the person who was fish-sitting had to turn their light off most of the time to keep them from getting being cooked. I'd imagine this did not help with the plants' issues.
I am struggling with what to do about the mouth fungus. I have a medicine that seemed to have a small affect on the fungus, but it had a very bad affect on the tank and the plants. I think I may run one more course of that and see if it does them any good. I'm debating consulting a vet, since the folks at the fish store appear to be pretty useless.
I am very tired of the constant large water changes and manual tank cleaning that all of this is requiring. I want to be able to get some tank cleaners like a SAE and some bottom feeding cory cats. I think I've been very patient with my tank so far and I'm still waiting for the payout where I don't need to watch everything about it and spend two or three hours a week medicating and cleaning.
When I got a fish tank I knew I was signing up for some routine maintenance, but I was under the impression this was going to be more like an hour a week tops. I'm also really sick of not being able to put plants or more fish into my tank. I know what I want in there and it's been months since the tank finished cycling.
On the whole the disease issue is frustrating and it makes me really pissed off at the fish store, since they're the ones who condemned me to dealing with this crap when they didn't bother to quarantine their incoming fish. I can't afford to keep a hospital/quarantine tank and frankly, at the prices I'm paying the fish store I don't think I should need to.
On the Topic of GenCon...
As you may have noticed I'm home from GenCon. I haven't posted much of anything on my blog yet because I've been trying to recover and relax. I pushed myself too hard before and during the con and ended up more than a little sick. I'll try to do a sort of summary, since several people have asked me for a con report. Photos will follow at some point, although not as soon as I might like.
Thursday was not kind to me. I started out with a Cthulhu game at 8am. I was excited to try the Call of Cthulhu system, since I've become a huge Lovecraft fan and I'd like to run/play in more related games. The game was called "You Too Can Cthulhu" and billed itself as geared towards new players. Sounds good so far, right?
The game started a little late as the "keepers" were trying to coordinate and set up their stuff. I wasn't quite clear on why this was taking so long until they let us into the room. Not only did they have a projector and laptop set up, but there was also a large crate in the middle of the table we were playing on (not helpful for seeing other players!) and most of the chairs in the room had been arranged in rows in the corner. In a year where space was at a premium, this seemed more than a tad insensitive to me.
Anyway, so lots of visual aids you think, surely this will be exciting! The keeper started off by asking if we had all played before. There were five of us, three friends who were hardcore players, myself (with a good grasp of the fiction but no CoC experience), and another girl who had never played before. I expected the keeper to give us the two minute rule summary and then forge on into the game. The keeper SKIPPED THE RULES SUMMARY. So here I am trying to desperately remember the five minute casual discussion I had with Alan about CoC over a month ago while the game progresses. I'm also trying to help the other girl who has no clue what's going on but is even quieter and less assertive than I am. This is NOT how you introduce new players to a system! Grrrr!
So setting my anger for that stupidity aside, we determined who picked characters first by a dice role. This did not seem like the optimal way to get maximally happiness around the table to me, but I kept my mouth shut. I got shafted with being last to pick. There were two characters left, but rather than letting me chose, the keeper stuck me with a fifty year old recovered alcoholic case worker named Randy. Poor Randy started the game with a sanity of 45, not because he had ever seen anything occult or otherworldly but just because he was a caseworker who had crawled into a bottle for about 5 years. I felt really gypped at this point, but I did my best to get in some limited roleplaying while being helpful to our investigation.
The horror game that followed was interesting, but not all that good. I have played in much better horror games. I'm still pretty sure that being surprised by a raccoon should not cause sanity damage, but I'll let that part go for now. In the end, the game relied far too heavily on small surprise spookings and had almost no hint of the occult until the final confrontation. I really think that 1) there should have been more build up and 2) keepers shouldn't change old one's stats on the fly just because they feel like it (and they absolutely shouldn't admit to players if they are doing so!). In general, I think that having a great old one show up at the end of a one session game is anti-climactic and lame.
I think I'm going to write off the folks who run CoC at cons and try to get into more of Blackat Studio's games. The one I've made it to so far was by far the best horror game I've ever played in.
Anyway, so the other thing that made that CoC game suck was the part where I played through a migraine. That sucked hard, but I borrowed some ibuprofen and just did my best to deal with it.
After the game ended (over time, not okay!) I had to rush back to the room to get dressed before we ran off to True Dungeon. Because I had to be in a LARP right after our TD slot I played True Dungeon in Victorian underwear. TD was highly disappointing. Many of the puzzles seemed so bizarre as to be cryptically impossible and the one I knew the solution to I didn't have the information to implement it (ARGH!!!!!). In many of the rooms you were seriously penalized for trying the puzzles, so if you didn't know the answer already you might as well stand back and not touch anything. The self satisfied GM gloating when they dealt damage to us did not help matters at all.
Our entire party made it to the last room and most of us survived due to my brother's quick thinking. I still think the solution to the last puzzle was completely lame, but I appreciate the fact that he figured it out. The TD props were nice, as always, but did not make up for the super shitty puzzles.
The hints given to the Rogue were once again totally useless. There is no reason not to take the treasure, because I assure you the hint will not help your team. I've taken the damn hint every f'ing time and it has always been dictated as if from the mouth of the master of the super obvious. TD team, I'm not that f'ing stupid. Repeating the exact words that the puzzle description already gave me will not help me (I did read them the first time, I promise).
Stepping out of TD, I was totally exhausted, sore (from my fashionable Victorian shoes), and couldn't even imagine trying to LARP for the next 6 hours. Then I came down with another migraine. That was not the high point of my con. Alan very kindly walked me back to the room and helped me change out of my corset. I slept for about 5 hours and then ate room service, read the book I'd brought, and generally tried to relax so I wouldn't be sick again.
On Friday I spent the mourning walking the exhibit hall with Alan. I wore my Suloise Sorceress costume (minus the false shirt front). A young lady (about 9 or 10) totally made my day by asking to have her picture taken with me. :)
Alan had a game around 11-ish so I spent another few hours going over the stuff he had seen the previous day while I was sick. I didn't see much that I wanted this year. Maybe my desires have narrowed, but it seemed like mostly I was seeing the same leather workers and game re-sellers as the previous years. I did manage to find some amusing looking dialect training CDs to buy. We'll see how those work out for me.
I was supposed to have a game at 1pm, but I was not feeling so well. I walked over to the hotel where the game was around 12:30, sat down to rest and look at the con schedule book. I was sort of ambushed by someone promoting an Edwardian adventure society game (not Spirit of the Century, but rather a D20 based one). He was interesting, but as I fundamentally disagreed with some of the game designer's choices I probably won't be investing too much time in it. I did give him contact information so they can use my period scans in their books/adventures later on if they like. By the time I realized what time it had gotten to be, I'd missed the start of the game I was supposed to be waiting for. (Doh!)
I went back to the room, drank water, and rested so I could spend some time with my Mom that evening (we went out to dinner, it was very nice :).
On Saturday I finished walking the hall in the morning and then I had to do an NPC guest spot in Aaron's ShadowRun LARP. I had made up DocWagon costumes for myself, Ben, and one other person. We had to rush into the LARP in character and stabilize (and extract) a gentleman who had fallen over twitching. It was amusing. I'm not good at improv acting in that sort of venue, but fortunately LARPers are pretty forgiving. Everyone seemed to like the costumes. Now I have to make one for Aaron too. :P
After that I hung out with Ben for a while and we played a demo of the indy game "Steal Away Jordan." It was interesting. I can't really see wanting to own or play the game regularly, but the dice mechanic was really cool. The game's creator was really cool as well, although I managed to forget her name in my unusual confused stupor.
That evening I called up people to arrange board gaming, only to be surprise invited out to dinner. Ben totally won the dinner place finding game. He got us tasty Greek food as well as flaming cheese and a belly dance performance. It was most awesome.
After dinner we got about twelve people together and played two board games. I played Mystery of The Abbey, which was a bit like Clue on steroids. All the traditional deduction strategies start to break down, because the cards that designate the clues get passed around between the players as the game goes on. It was fun, but more than a little confusing. I was so muddled in the head at this point of the evening that I just resigned myself to losing and enjoyed the game as much as I could. I'd like to play it again some time, but the game's hefty price tag will probably keep me from buying it.
Sunday was relatively quiet. I was supposed to have a game from 10 to 2, but I opted to deal with the errand that I had forgotten to do on Saturday. I took my leather bodice back to Journeyman Leather to be altered. They were totally awesome about this, and didn't even charge me shipping. I'd also like to note that it doesn't need alterations because of anything they did wrong, but rather because I've lost about 25 pounds in the last six months or so. :D
Alan and I managed to cram in one more tasty meal at Steak 'n Shake before we hit the road. It was pretty nice weather-wise in Indianapolis while we were there, but as soon as we had everyone in the car to head home it started pouring. Alan had to drive well under the speed limit for most of the trip just because visibility was so bad with all the rain.
I should note that there were several games that I bailed on throughout the convention because I was too tired, sick, or stressed to deal with them. I'm hoping that next year I'll be able to take a more relaxed (and healthy) approach to games and make more of them while scheduling less tightly.
So Close to Awesome
The DocWagon logos are about half way done. I just have to finish them and baste them on tomorrow. That and pack.
Costuming is going to be awesome this year. I'm totally psyched about actually meeting my goals. ^_^
On a semi-tangent, my fish are still suffering from horrible diseases. I cleaned their tank and changed the water to get most of the fungal medicine out (it was killing my plants and not helping the fish). I also washed most of my plants and driftwood, which was getting slimy and gross. Pictures will follow after the con.
I'm Totally Not Going to be Sewing at 4am This Time!
I'm not done yet, but this is what I've got so far. ^_^
I'm so excited about not doing everything at the last minute this time! Wooooo!
*does the happy dance*
Victorian Petticoat and Other Costuming
I actually finished my petticoat a few days ago, but I only managed to get pictures tonight. I've been sick since yesterday, but I managed to feel well enough to go to my Weight Watchers meeting, so I figured I'd better get the pictures out of the way before I passed out this evening.
I'm pretty happy with the petticoat. I'm going to go ahead and use the front sections of the petticoat as a pattern for my apron as well I think. I'm just about done with refinishing the shirt and skirt I'm going to wear, so I'll just have to make the apron and neck scarf and I should be GenCon ready.
The other costumes I have to assemble for the con are coming along as well. I'm waiting on some stuff that's in the mail and the one LARP that claimed they are going to do some pre-casting but still hasn't replied to my forum post.
Incidentally, asking for open-ended casting requests on a forum is about ten kinds of lame. Seriously prospective GMs, I should not need to register for your forum to communicate with you. Give me a freakin' email address if you want to talk to me. Gmail accounts are a dime a dozen. I have like 98 Gmail invites free right now if you want.
Dear Person Who Invented Pin-Tucks,
I hate you with the blazing fire of a thousand suns.
Even More Sewing; Corset Done!
(It fits great other than that back cleavage I'm getting.
I wasn't trying to pose in the picture on the right, just
reaching to rub the back of my hand against my mouth.
For some reason I like the pose.)
My corset is totally finished! Ha ha! More pictures will be forthcoming after Gencon and there will be a full review of the pattern I used (TV110) eventually. Here are my general thoughts for now. This pattern is much more "honest" about sizing than the laughing moon pattern. Most patterns (especially for corsets) don't include instructions for custom fitting, so you just have to fail until you figure out how to size them up/down to fit you correctly. This is especially insidious with corsets, since a mock up won't help much with fitting.
The Truly Victorian corset pattern has awesome sizing instructions. Most of the problems I had with fitting (like the top still not quite working) were probably because I ignored parts of the sizing instructions based on my experience with the LM pattern. I have learned the error of my ways and although I still think the TV pattern is not quite nippy enough in the waist for me, I'm going to try to stick closer to the instructions in the future.
I spent some time thinking about construction before I began this one and came up with a hybrid procedure which I think includes the best of both the TV instructions and my previous crazy experiments. I took over 400 pictures while making the corset and I intend to put up instructions with copious illustrations when I have time (probably October at the rate things are going).
I quilted the boning casings into the corset fabric (rather than attaching separate boning casing) and I think this is going to be the way I do things from now on. I generally want to make 2 layer corsets anyway because I tend to tight lace and it was awful nice to skip the whole "figuring out where to attach boning casing" step. On the down side, the corset had less structural integrity, so I ended up adding a total of 44 bones to deal with wrinkles (gah!). Almost all of the bones are spiral steel, since the corset is so curvy.
Despite the fact that it is only a small detail, I'm inordinately proud of the ribbon lace insertion. That lace was not made to have ribbon inserted in it. I perpetuated evil against it, and it worked out very well. I managed to machine sew the lace without incident, although I had to hand finish parts of the ends which were wrapped around the end of the corset. We'll see if I need to tack the ribbon down after I've worn it a few times. I'm not quite sure if the stresses involved there will cause problems in how the ribbon lays on the lace. I could have gone with a different color of 1/4" ribbon, but I like orange.
I also got my petticoat cut out on Wednesday like I was hoping. I'm using the Truly Victorian pattern (TV170) and making it out of some cream colored muslin that I had around for lining and making mock ups. I also bought 8 yards of cream colored eyelet lace to replace the bottom ruffle. This way I don't have to hem the bottom edge (totally worth the $33 for lace, since the circumference of the skirt is going to be huge).
I ended up using the XL, since I'm worried about it eventually being too big. I had to adjust some of the pieces to be a bit shorter, since I'm a short person and the skirt has a 38" waist to floor length built in. I'm also increasingly annoyed that my waist to floor length is very different at the front (36"), side ( 37.5"), and back (38.5"), but I did my best to correct for it.
I rather ambitiously cut out the version of the back ruffle that has tucks in it. I'm still debating about how long I think that's going to take to sew those in. I may give up and trim that piece down if I feel cowardly this evening. I'm hoping to get the whole petticoat done tomorrow night (or at least 90% done) so that I can work on fixing my skirt's waist band over the weekend. I need a better idea of what my corseted waist will be with all my undergarments and the petticoat.
I have to remember to call Joann's during my lunch break some day next week so I can order some white eyelet lace (in the same style as the cream I already have). I eventually want to be able to do up a petticoat (and maybe also drawers) out of the white broadcloth that I have, so I'll need the matching lace. I've been told that the broadcloth will last a lot longer and hold up better than lighter materials.
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