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God! Three days of internet failure! During which time I could not work/ surf/ read the news/ chat/ contact people/ do research/ play games. It's appalling how much of life as I know it depends on my connection to the World Wide Web. Oi.
darthfar: (Default)
MOULDY BREAD - A mysterious black dust cloud has settled around the neighbourhood of Spooky Hill, baffling both residents and officials alike.

"It's most peculiar," says Affected Neighbour #1. "I was in the kitchen yesterday, getting the salad ready, when all of a sudden the sky went pitch-black. At first I thought we'd been hit by a storm, but there was no thunder or lightning. It turned out to be a massive cloud of dust."

"We've never seen anything like it before," admits a Department of Environment officer who declined to be named. "It's not like your regular haze, that disperses over wide areas. This black dust cloud seemed to just - hover in one area, like an insect swarm."

Experts have pinpointed Ground Zero as a red-gabled house in the neighbourhood. Several people living in the are have confirmed seeing the mysterious black dust blow out of a northern upper window at approximately 6pm, shortly before the area was plunged into darkness.

"The question is not so much how the dust got out, but where it even came from in the first place," says environmental expert A. Cyd Raynes. "And quite frankly, we have no idea. I propose aliens."

Affected Neighbour #2 has his suspicions."If you ask me, I'd say that the reclusive little geek who lives there has something to do with it," he says, pointing out that Occupant #3 of Red Gables has already been responsible for numerous bizarre happenings in the neighbourhood, ranging from a mysterious rain of pebbles upon the roof of the house next door several years back, to the frequent emission of Massively Burnt Toast Aroma on slow mornings, and occasional ear-splitting shrieks of what sounds like buffaloes being murdered by motorcycles. (According to sources, Occupant #3 is also an aspiring musician).

And the neighbours are mad - with good reason. The black dust, it seems, is attracted to surfaces, particularly light-coloured ones. Green plants have turned black, laundry has turned sooty, and carp have turned to crap. "Not to mention our lungs are probably also coated with a nice layer of black dust," Affected Neighbour #3 mutters darkly. "Sure, I got insurance, but what kinda insurance protects against Strange Black Dust Caused By Rude Neighbour? eh?"



Okay, maybe just a little.

My computer fan has been making tortured little animal noises lately, so I decided to open up the tower and give the fan a good clean. I turned the back of the tower towards me so I could get at the screws - and noticed a thick layer of dust gathered around the vent. Oh, that's not good, I thought, as I removed the side panel. After unscrewing the fan, I pulled it out and HOLY SHIT IT'S BURIED IN FINE BLACK DUST. Think of the meteor that hit the earth about 65 million years ago, the one that supposedly sent up a massive dust cloud that Plunged The World Into Darkness. Now multiply the cloud by three. That's about how much crap I cleaned out of the fan. Some of it even looked like it had evolved sentience.

It took me a good half-hour to get things nice and sparkly clean again, by which time I (and everything around me) was nicely coated in said black dust. Even so, I'm feeling a tad nervous. Because who's to say that, as I lie sleeping tonight, the Enraged Sentient Brothers of the Black Dust won't come to seek retribution, creeping over me and into my gaping nostri
darthfar: (Default)
Sorry for the week-long vanishing act I pulled, and the entries I missed replying to! But right now I'm so excited:

OH MY GOD I HAS INTERNETS!!!!! ^______________^

The mutant hamsters that generate power for our local server all went up to that Great Big Wheel In The Sky last Saturday, so our household (and a whole lot of other households in our area) suffered Severe Internet Drought for the entire week it took to breed and raise a new lot of hamsters to run the wheels. All is well as of this afternoon, and I foresee no other problems in the near future... unless they forget to feed the hamsters.

One week, and my message boxes overfloweth. On the other hand, I have been practicing my trombone until the neighbourhood dogs howled in pain. So much for gleefully revelling in the dreadfully easy trombone part for George Enescu's Romanian Rhapsody No. 2: last Saturday the conductor called me up front and gave me the transcribed French Horn part to cover (since the only FH player we have is one who moved from the trumpet section, and is still learning the instrument). It was absolutely crawling with notes. The trombone principal was appalled when he saw the notes, asked me, "How the hell are you to play that?" ... After one week of hard work, I can say: with a smaller Denis Wick mouthpiece. And pushing my lungs close to bursting. Ha! ha!

Oh, and here's something interesting: During the Internet Drought, I, having nothing better to do, went through some of my old notebooks. Way back when I was in high school I used to write short stories, and every so often I'd wake up in the morning with names and ideas that I could use, so it was a habit for me then to keep a notepad at hand to scribble said things in it before they disappeared into the hazy mist of awakening.


Right on page one of this notebook were clearly written two words, presumably names. One was "JANNOCK." The other was - "FEUILLE."

What the hell? I didn't speak a word of French in high school, I hadn't encountered Les Mis yet, and I knew absolutely doodly-squat about fanmaking and silks and leaves. So where the hell did that come from? LOL.

I wonder if I ever made use of those. I should go through my archives and see.
darthfar: (Default)

Doing tech support makes me want to cry sometimes. I suppose it doesn't help that (1) I have a very low tolerance for bullshit, and (2) I think that (a) people should attempt to *think* things through before calling for tech help (since it's very often a case of sheer laziness rather than genuine inability) or at least make an attempt to do a particular task first before asking, and (b) tech support should NOT have to cover helping the person check their email for grammatical error, or asking for the best way of saying "hi" to acquaintances one is emailing.


"Feuilly was a fan-maker, an orphan, who with difficulty earned three francs a day, and who had but one thought, to deliver the world. He had still another desire - to instruct himself, which he also called deliverance. He had taught himself to read and write; all that he knew, he had learned alone. Feuilly was a generous heart. He had an immense embrace. This orphan had adopted the people. Being without a mother, he had meditated upon his mother country. He was not willing that there should be any man upon the earth without a country. He nurtured within himself, with the deep divination of the man of the people, what we now call the idea of nationality. He had learned history expressly that he might base his indignation upon a knowledge of its cause. In this new upper room of utopists particularly interested in France, he represented foreign nations. [...] This poor workingman had made himself a teacher of justice, and she rewarded him by making him grand."

from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Charles Wilbour translation)

My concept of Feuilly, probably a little younger than in my other pictures of him. Fictitious character or not, I have a deep respect for self-educated people, who pick up skills and knowledge on their own without the benefit of formal instruction, which might explain why Feuilly's the Ami I root for the most.

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun painting something: it felt like a wonderful release of pent-up energy and fulfilled need. And a deep love for the work I created - which is a very rare thing for me, since I'm fully capable of hating a picture just because I messed up some small part. I think I did well by forbidding myself from painting for the past month, allowing myself to build up the craving to paint again. I've learnt my lesson: painting too much in too short a period of time is so energy-consuming an effort, so arduous a journey that it burns me out; I need timeouts like these.

[Strangely enough, while I usually deplore painting backgrounds (just because I do them doesn't mean I have to like them), this was one that I had way too much fun doing, that I wanted to stretch on a little longer, and did not feel the strong urge to be done with as soon as possible so that I could get to the "meat" of the foreground.]

And because I'm sneaky and I love Easter Eggs, here's a close-up of the painting (at 50% zoom), showing some of the details that probably nobody else is going to pick up on:

darthfar: (Default)
My conductor has Russian fever. We were tormenting the spirit of Mussorgsky all night, haha. Partner left early, so had the dubious pleasure of sight-soloing for Night On Bare Mountain. Got embarrassingly lost the first time around because I was counting 2/2 as the score specified, and did not realise until too late that the conductor had slowed the music and was counting 4/4. The rest of practice went decently enough, considering.

[My resolution: to stick to my Denis Wick 4BL mouthpiece! Because I'm still a wuss, and occasionally swap back to my Yamaha 48L when I'm called upon to play high B flats. Don't even know why I do it; the Wick sounds so much more mellow. Not that it can't be brassy when called upon to be.]

Listened to Jon Schmidt's piano arrangement of Can't Help Falling in Love. Loved it, purchased score from his shop. Best $0.99 I ever spent!

On another note, I sometimes wish people would pay me for doing their tech support.

July 2016

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