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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Ben K's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, May 8th, 2008
1:33 pm
Travel update
Hey all -- I will be in Portland early next week. The trip is going to be mostly family obligations (my brother's graduation, visiting relatives), but if anyone in the area would like to meet up for coffee or something, Monday and Tuesday are still relatively free. I'd also be happy to get recommendations for good museums / shops / hikes / etc. Thanks!
Saturday, March 29th, 2008
6:08 pm
the best news I've heard all week
So the other day I was listening to some Army of the Pharaohs (pent-up aggression, who me?) and did a double-take at the line:

"My peeps walk the streets with stolen heat like Prometheus"

Huh. Apparently I've stumbled into some bizarro mirror universe where not only is it hip to be square, but it is also pretty f***in gangsta to be a classics geek.

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
1:49 pm
weekend report
The moral of last night's play party: ye gods, people are dumb. X-acto blades are really not the right tool for a cutting scene (as a former morbid high school art student, I know whereof I speak). And wiping them down with alcohol and setting them on fire? Flashy != adequate sterilization technique, especially going from one bottom to another ::cringe:: Bonus points for, wait for it, blowing out the flame. Eeeuchh.

So yeah, witnessing that scene, plus more than the usual quota of risible domly posturing, meant that I was not really in a good mental place for any heavy play myself. But I got to hang out and chat with a bunch of folks whom I don't see enough of, so it was still a good evening.

In work news, I finished writing a basic user interface for the new translation stage. I realize this is kind of a ridiculous thing to get excited about, but driving the stage around at something like 30 cm/sec totally makes me feel like Ripley driving the robotic exoskeleton. Vreeee.... CHUNK!
Monday, March 17th, 2008
7:51 pm
cementing my identity as an honorary lesbian
So about a week ago, I did my first play cutting (on myself, for practice). The very next day, no shit, I received in the mail a cruise brochure from none other than Olivia (trademarked byline: "Where Lesbians Go".

...How did they *know*? I suspect spooky breast powers.

BTW,has anyone here tried moving the scalpel blade onto an x-acto handle? Did it help?
Monday, November 19th, 2007
6:10 pm
another day in paradise
So last night we went out to the Eagle and I had a few beers. Butch quotient... rising! I was, however, reminded of why a depressant like alcohol is a bad choice for self-medication for depression. Also, I've gotten ridiculed for my taste in clothing more often at the Eagle than at any other milieu I can think of since junior high. I can't detect any malice behind it, either... maybe this is the leathermen's equivalent of pulling on girls' pigtails?

Then, when I went into school today, I was greeted by an email from my labmate, regarding the laser we both use, and containing the following little gem:

"I tried to realign it only to make it much worse, sorry. and I can't seem to get the system realigned properly."

Lovely. So I'm off to have a look at that now.

Funny how it gets harder and harder to drag myself out of bed each morning.
Saturday, November 10th, 2007
6:43 am
A couple of amusing synchronicities
So the other day my advisor was in the middle of an espresso-fueled lecture on optical system design when he made some offhand reference to, of all things, the Opening of the Mouth ceremony. Naturally I followed up on this in conversation... turns out, he says, that one of the steps of mummy-preparation involved coating the mummy with a photopolymer resin, and then leaving it out in the sunlight to flood-cure? Weird. And then, the other night, on one of my too-rare forays outside my usual circuit of home-office-lab-home, I received a whirlwind lecture on Pythagorean number mysticism, not, as one might expect, from some tweed-and-leather-elbow-patches type, but a perky, baby-butch-looking hipster. Who knew? And she was accurate in every particular, up to the limits of my own knowledge.

(Confidential to chewie23: Not that I have anything against tweed and leather elbow patches. Especially on you. Rowr.)

So maybe the moral of the story is just that I have lots of delightfully bizarre people in my life. One more reason to get up each morning... and right now I need all of those I can get.

Current reading: the latest trade-paperback comic book from the public library is "The Five Fists of Science", Matt Fraction, writer, Steven Sanders, art. Features Nikola Tesla as a vigilante superhero; what more do you really need to know? I actually found the art a little disappointing -- not as delightfully retro as the writing. But recommended nevertheless.
Saturday, October 27th, 2007
9:26 am
victory condition: delicious biscotti
Yes, I finally got around to attempting biscotti (with dried cranberries and white chocolate), after having been somewhat intimidated by the intricate baking directions. Now I have an excuse to say 'biscotti' with the ostentatiously correct Italian pronunciation, thereby bringing myself one step closer to coffee-shop faux sophistication. Next steps: start saying 'the States' and 'the Continent' instead of 'the U.S.' and 'Europe'. And stop using 'cappucino' as a discrete noun, but instead ask for 'a cup of cappucino', a phrase which to me always seemed to suggest that cappucinos were not lovingly, individually crafted, but rather decanted from, perhaps, some huge vat of cappucino in the back room.
Saturday, October 6th, 2007
9:48 am
I just realized that my online presence has been slim to none for the past month or so... My apologies for not keeping in touch with everyone. I have just been feeling really drained lately, both physically and energetically. Good news is that we are completely moved in to our lovely new place. There's a garden, with veggies and cooking herbs and grapevines. Next cooking project, filed under "copious free time", is stuffed grape leaves. I will be soliciting gardening advice from you all once spring rolls around. Also, it turns out that just a couple blocks away is an actual, official-like frisbee golf course. Would any of you local folks be interested in this?
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
3:42 pm
update on life
So it turns out that an acquaintance of mine in the local leather scene has been operating under the assumption that my role in my primary relationship is 'boy'. You know, this would be mildly embarrassing... if this were the first time this misunderstanding had arisen. ::sigh:: Note to self: start telling people to fetch me beers and/or sammiches at every public opportunity.

Current (to me) comics reading: "Casanova", Matt Fraction, writer, Gabriel Ba, artist. Um... wow. Just, wow. Imagine a Jerry Cornelius story as written by Warren Ellis. If that sounds remotely appealing, then go read this.

Lab report: my argon laser is up and running. Almost 100 mW in the UV!
Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
10:49 am
Turns out there was an ASCII command for this all along
An excerpt from a motion controller manual I'm reading right now...

"Command: 'x SS y' Description: Define master-slave relationship."
Friday, August 10th, 2007
11:07 am
master's degree of puppets!
Not only have I fulfilled the requirements for a master's degree, I now have a research assistantship for the coming year! And the project in question involves lots of shiny toys! I'm still kind of freaking out about how to juggle my academic obligations here and the need to move back to San Diego... but at least for right now I'm getting financial support to work on a cool project.

In unrelated ephemera, it turns out that spanakopitas aren't actually that hard to make. A little bit annoying, but not hard. Who knew?
Thursday, June 21st, 2007
9:25 pm
media whoring, geek style
Local folks, take heed! I am back from Missouri.

That is all.

Current reading: the trade paperback of the comic "Desolation Jones", writer Warren Ellis, artist JH Williams III. I thought Williams did beautiful work in "Promethea", but this is just... breathtaking. And the tone of the writing really suits my taste -- surreal without being silly. All in all, just the fix I needed while waiting for "Planetary" issue 27.

Current viewing: "Daywatch", the older Russian import version. Delicious atmosphere, very sexy, plus history-geek points for the Tamerlane references. Now if I could just figure out what the hell is going on... Maybe this is because of the charmingly mistranslated subtitles I had, or maybe because so much stuff from the novels didn't make it into the movies (as the Video Station clerk explained at great length), but I really had trouble with the plot. Was anyone else able to keep track of the various and sundry chosen ones and ancient artifacts?

Current listening: the Cradle of Filth cover of Sisters of Mercy's "No Time to Cry". Too much metal for one hand.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
1:15 pm
From the department of next-best-thing-to-On-Our-Backs: The cover of the latest issue of the music magazine NME features none other than Beth Ditto, posing nude. You're welcome.

Link to a blurb at NME, not worksafe
Saturday, May 19th, 2007
6:41 pm
Weekend report
Last night was a play party, with a roleplaying theme. I won't post a play-by-play since someone else has already done so; suffice to say that costumes were involved. A LOT of costumes. All three of the other folks I was playing with were theater geeks, and I definitely felt like I was struggling to keep up with their mad improv skillz. Anyway, I had a lot of fun, although I've still got a lingering feeling of restlessness and being not quite sated. I thought that, as you gained experience in leather, you were supposed to get a clearer sense of what kind of scene satisfies and fulfills you, but some days I feel like I'm just getting more and more lost.

The crowd last night was typical for this venue: almost entirely older hetero male-dom couples. I've been trying to put my finger on why I find it so hard to be around this sort of person socially... I think it has to do with the fact that they are still very much closeted, and so when they do get to socialize in a kink-friendly space, there's lots of nervous tittering about how very naughty everyone is. I think a big reason that most of my friends have moved past this is that they've been through the coming-out process, repeatedly -- even if not as kinky, then as gay or bi or poly or gender-variant or all of the above. That really does seem to give people a more grounded quality.

In related news, the Boulder Valley school district recently added "gender identity and gender expression" to its list of protected categories against discrimination. Go Boulder!

In almost entirely unrelated news, I now have a real genuine wok, courtesy of the thrift store. It is can be stir fry time now plz?
Friday, May 18th, 2007
12:21 am
Book review
"Protocol Handbook for the Leather Slave: Theory and Practice" by Robert J. Rubel, PhD, and the fact that he makes a point of including the "PhD" here tells you just about everything you need to know about his personality. One typical section covers high-protocol dinner parties. Dr. Rubel starts off by suggesting that you copy this section verbatim into an "orientation memo that you include in dinner invitations to guests". What information will this memo include? There are a couple of nice forewarnings, e.g. that his slaves are expected not to make conversation while they are serving food. But the bulk of the memo is instructions like, and I quote, "Cut only one piece of food before eating it" and "Under no circumstances do you place the linen napkin on the dirty plate."

Let's all just take a moment to let this sink in, shall we? Dr. Rubel is proposing that we should invite some friends to dinner, but include in our invitations a primer on table manners. Because that doesn't reek of condescension at all. Arrgh.

Moving on... In actual life news, I got my grades for the semester back. Wow. I am honestly baffled at why I keep getting decent grades for crap work.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2007
5:04 pm
victory through lowered expectations!
Well, I actually made it through the semester. I did a pretty half-assed job, but right now just getting through everything without breaking down feels like a victory. In other news:

--Yay farmers' market! Yay fresh exotic mushrooms!

-- Go read Holly Black's new young-adult novel "Ironside". The best fantasy I've read in a looong time. Also, at various points the protagonists visit a fetish shop, quote Buffy, and make Vampire LARP in-jokes. The only problem is that now I totally want to go play Changeling.

-- Went to the thrift store today and found a pair of white leather pants. Now I just need to find something, anything, that goes with them. And, um, some occasion to wear them. The old lady shopping next to me noticed them... and promptly brought over a couple of other women's leather pants she thought might fit me. Awesome.
Saturday, April 14th, 2007
10:56 am
France... why is it always France?
A piece of free advice to some guy from last night: you will probably have more luck convincing people that your 'house of domination' in exotic Nebraska traces its lineage back through a Parisian domme if you stop pronouncing it 'dom-may'. Just a thought.

In other news, the local farmers' market is open again! Consequently, dinner last night was pizza, with fresh basil, a variety of fresh mushrooms, and goat cheese. I could get used to this.
Friday, April 13th, 2007
11:18 am
what's new in the world of science
So the current project in the undergrad lab is using a laser beam to transmit an audio signal. The students do this by, no shit, sticking a razor blade onto the membrane of a regular speaker and putting this in the path of the laser beam. So as the speaker vibrates back and forth, the razor blocks more or less of the beam. At the other end the light gets measured and an audio signal is reconstructed from this. Pretty sexy... but it gets better. I quote from a student's lab book: "We found that this system worked better at lower frequencies. Therefore the audio signal we chose to transmit was a Barry White song." Niiice.
Saturday, April 7th, 2007
9:07 am
Monday, March 26th, 2007
9:20 am
movie review
Even though I'm not feeling super perky right now, I know that I have a lot to be grateful for. Such as my dearest, who not only considered '300' to be a date movie, but also filled in the gaps in my historical knowledge of the period, off the top of her head. In summary and in conclusion: I win.

So yes, '300' was a blast. We got to cheer at fondly-remembered lines ('fighting in the shade', 'traveler, tell Sparta', etc) even if the other moviegoers looked at us a bit askance. I'm not a huge Frank Miller fan, but his style is really effective here... the cinematography really captures the whole 'dramatically framed chiaroscuro' thing faithfully. I was expecting just a macho action movie, so I was pleasantly suprised to find a conception of Spartan virtue that was not the exclusive domain of soldiers and that emphasized the cultivation of one's reason. I read a review that complained about the movie's 'fetishization of the male form' to which I can only reply ABSOLUTELY TRUE A++ WOULD BUY AGAIN. Thanks to rain for recommending this to us.
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