davidn: (skull)
I'd just like to note that the local rock radio station was on at the dentist. I spent a morning having my head irradiated then my teeth assaulted with sharp instruments, in a chair with a broken armrest, listening to Linkin Park.
davidn: (Jam)

fig. 1 The correct way to drink from a glass

fig. 2 The correct way to drink through a straw

fig. 3 What I managed to do in the restaurant at lunch

The hybridized approach does not work.
davidn: (skull)
I had meant to do another NES game this weekend, but I didn't quite get around to it - I instead stuck myself fiddling with various codecs and formats, trying to find the combination that would involve the least amount of post-editing, as resycnhronizing the commentary on the Little Nemo video took me absolutely ages.

To test things, I started up Shadowgate - a game that I'd played before but could only vaguely remember the solution to - and proceeded to mutter to myself throughout, narrating actions as I did them so that I could line up the audio and tell whether the timing on the sound and video were off from each other. Most of it wasn't worth posting, but I thought that this part was too good to waste. After forgetting exactly what was in which coffin and failing to cross that room the first time:


By some coincidence, the portion of the video ID after the "-" is quite similar to the noise I make during it.

The good news is that the video worked - I could just put the video and the two audio tracks together and they suffered no misalignment at all, so the next real video will be much easier to produce this time around. For my own future reference, the magic combination is:

Window recorded through Camstudio: FFDShow codec at 50fps, maximum framerate, no auto-adjustment
Microphone audio recorded in Audacity through the Front Mic audio device, exported to FLAC
Game audio recorded in Tracktion through Pod X3, through a line physically coming out of the speaker headphone socket and into the Pod's guitar input, also exported to FLAC

Video still seems such an inconvenient thing to work with, what with desynchronization and worrying about potential compression artefacts... somehow, a standard format that everybody can play (like MP3 and OGG) still hasn't emerged, though I think that MP4 (and H264 or whatever that is underneath - this is part of the problem) might be going a reasonable way to change that.


Apr. 23rd, 2011 08:43 pm
davidn: (skull)
What a couple of days. I think that I only ever managed to get through my life because nothing ever really happened in it, and I can't really cope with... events. My self-declared holiday had been going perfectly quietly until I stepped out into the world, but once you do that, the world starts giving you things to think about.

Whitney's parents are here for a while, and on the day they arrived, a huge van drew up outside our house and started gouging huge chunks out of the road. Their preferred digging technique seemed to be hitting the asphalt with the back of a JCB shovel as a makeshift hammer, but otherwise things had gone smoothly enough and they had cleared off by the time it came for them to park outside. The next morning, though, I saw the workmen outside staring glumly at the hole cover they'd left, which my father-in-law had parked his colossal hire car on.

So I decided I'd better move it away, and went out with their keys - the roadworks men were friendly and relieved to see someone who could move the car, and one of them asked me what I thought of this new Ford Explorer. I had to say that my car was actually the one in the driveway (which would have fit comfortably into the back seat of this goliath) because I am not eight feet tall and am comfortable with the size of my penis in all three measurable dimensions. Operating it felt rather like driving one of the Transformers - feeling like I was ten feet up from the road, I had to perch on the front of the seat and just crawl it along, hoping the road was wide enough to actually get through the vehicles parked on either side, and then left it in front of somebody else's house as soon as I saw a parking space wide enough to accommodate it, which it fit into with all the finesse of an elephant trying to squeeze into a pair of size M tights.

On the walk back, I was performing my new-found habit of looking at other people's makes and models of cars, and suddenly realized that every single one of them had a rectangular sticker in the window that I didn't have. This is the Massachusetts inspection sticker, which the dealership had never given me through some oversight. And after visiting Whitney's work just after lunch, where I managed to get hold of our salesman and arrange to pick it up, I returned to the car to find that some efficient public servant diligently doing their job fascist bastard had put a ticket on the windscreen for not having the inspection sticker in the five-minute space between my phoning to arrange getting it and returning to the vehicle. But once we got to the dealer, they took the ticket in and paid it without question, for their omission - I think we chose our place well, they're great people.

And to wind down from that and taking the car out to a neighbouring town on the freeway and back in the evening, we somehow decided that the best home activity for today was to screw a massive plate into the wall to hold up our television. We had actually had the wall mount since moving in, but hadn't ever put it up because it had instructions like "Get your knees to unbuckle enough to hold the entire thing in place on the wall while you mark the positions of the mounting points with one of your other twelve arms". With Whitney's father's help (and two separate trips to the local B&Q equivalent to retrieve missing parts and tools), though, it's finally up where we'd meant it to be last June, firmly bolted to the walls studs and unlikely to come down even during a major earthquake.

It's strange being able to tug such a huge piece of electronics about to re-align it, remembering that its mount is made of something stronger than steel and it's impossible to accidentally knock it off. Actually, now what I'm afraid of most is that we'll come downstairs tomorrow morning and it will indeed still be firmly fixed to the studs, which it's ripped clean out along with most of the wall on its journey face down on the floor.
davidn: (skull)
Up until yesterday, the most uncomfortable thing that I've ever tasted was probably bubble tea, a Taiwanese concoction with beads of slightly frogspawn-like tapioca floating in any type of plant-flavoured hot water. I'm sure that it's an acquired taste and it was made wonderfully by the friend who offered it to me (I do apologize for calling it "the worst thing that ever happened" slightly later on, by the way - that was a bit rude) but I found that drinking it through a straw was not entirely unlike having an alien ovipositor inserted into your mouth and it forcing its eggs down your throat.

But yesterday at work, somebody had left a supply of... nondescript snacks out on the kitchen table. These things came in a packet with a squid, fish and lobster on it, written entirely in Chinese (or it may have been Japanese - I didn't want to go back and check) apart from the name "Treasure of the Sea". And if whoever invented this thought that the things inside were any sort of treasure, then I'd really like to see his face when he's first introduced to any of those three creatures actually properly prepared or cooked. Instead of any of the above, the packet contains a number of smaller packets that encase sort of... brown-green speckled lumps, about three inches long and approximating the shape of a fish. What most distressed everyone around me upon opening it, though, was the smell - almost uncannily as if somebody had shoved a three week old mollusc into the space heater.

However, I knew that there were some foods that smelled awful but tasted rather better - or at least overoptimistically half-remembered that. So I hesitantly put my tongue on to it, tasting that its primary ingredient was salt and that it seemed to be made up of a compressed roll of... stuff wrapped into the lump. Finally I bit down on it, whereupon it ejaculated a payload of fish juice into my mouth and the attempt was abandoned as the plan instantly changed to spluttering and hurling it binwards. Even after taking a drink of water to rinse my mouth out, it took a ton of soap to get the pungent stale fish smell off my fingers, and the odour even after burying it deep among the other rubbish was so offensive that I felt moved to surreptitiously swap bins with the one next to the paper-shredder out in the corridor. I'm still almost convinced that I'm now pregnant, and that a fish is going to pop out of my stomach and start singing showtunes at any moment.

Maybe I misinterpreted the packet and they were actually some sort of fish food. For really big fish. Who were unencumbered by a sense of smell, taste or indeed sight.
davidn: (skull)
Evidently the post about the strangeness of my life yesterday was premature, because a couple of hours later I accidentally carjacked someone.

We had found out that the other coder who had suggested the umbrella trick and I were coincidentally going to the airport at the same time, so he was going to come past the office and give me a lift - soon after getting outside, someone on the opposite side of the road stopped at the lights, and I could see through the tinted car window that he had the requisite long hair and glasses, and he did a double-take at me as if recognizing me. So I ducked through the rain, sprinted over the crossing and opened the door on the passenger side, making a joke about feeling that I was hijacking the car.

"But you are!" came a rather shocked reply, and I looked up to see that it wasn't him after all. So I gave a frantic, hysterical apology as I stepped away from the vehicle, and returned to my waiting place, watching him laugh shakenly as he finally got to turn the corner in peace away from his encounter with a dangerous lunatic. Please tell me this has happened to some other people as well.

It was a very strange day. I was exhausted even without my parents arriving, but they're here safely now, and had a rather more relaxing journey than I did on the ground. Why can't I have plane journeys like that?
davidn: (skull)
1. Go to the supermarket and buy a box of cake mix. Realize halfway back that said box doesn't include icing.
2. Go back to the supermarket and buy icing. Go back home.
3. Go back out to the supermarket and retrieve the icing from where you left it on the counter after buying it. Trudge back home.

I think I'll just stay in bed for the rest of the week.
davidn: (skull)
Not very long ago at all, I said that there was something accidentally terrible I did in primary school that I couldn't bring to mind, and that if I thought about it too hard I would remember and it would be awful. I've remembered. It's awful.

As far as I remember, our project task one day was to draw out an advert for a new medicine. I can't remember why we were doing this - it might have been something that came off being taught about the plague of 1665 as part of the Tudors and Stuarts. However it happened, we had to stretch our imaginations to think up some sort of magic new product to benefit society and draw a poster for it.

I had been playing Civilization in a very experimental I'm-in-primary-school sort of way quite a lot around that time (which had also led to me being the only one in the class the same year who knew what a trireme was), and one of the Wonders that you can get towards the end of that game is "Cure for Cancer". I didn't know what it was, but it had a terrifying Civilopedia entry which started "Of the diseases that continue to plague humankind, cancer remains one of the most feared and deadly. Despite huge efforts to find a cure for this malady, it continues to reap its toll each year." So all I knew about it was that it was this awful disease for which nobody had discovered a cure.

So cancer became my chosen medicine's target - bottle it up, give it a catchy name like "Cure 4 Cancer" or, as it was labelled, "C4C" (because I was still at the under-10 stage where you were allowed to name things with numbers in the middle un-ironically) and there you go. This is probably already the most tasteless thing that someone could have done in the situation, but you don't realize things like that when you're that age.

What I didn't know then, and only realized in retrospect because of the sudden disappearance of all her hair, was that my teacher was undergoing treatment for leukaemia at the time.

This event doesn't quite match the surrealist elegance of my brother, who when the class was asked to draw "what they thought God might look like" during an RE lesson with the local Catholic minister Father Moran, couldn't think of anything and handed in a drawing of a wedge of Swiss cheese instead. On taking it off the top of the pile of hand-ins, the minister hurriedly tried to think up something about God being powerful and the cheese having a powerful smell, but I think that the damage to the lesson had already been done.
davidn: (Jam)
It's been a continual source of bafflement to me that whenever I try to act like one of the real human beings, the world just refuses to work in the same way for me as it does for everyone else. Take the example of scraping together some lunch - feeling slightly stingier than normal today I decided to go up to the big kitchen on the sixteenth floor at work and get something edible from there rather than spending any money or interacting with the outside world. Given previous experience it might have been better to abandon this idea at its inception, but I pressed on nonetheless.

The sixteenth floor kitchen had been entirely changed round since the last time I was there, so it took me a while to find anything, but from what I could tell it still manages to provide a selection of items that are mostly entirely separate, cheap and/or calorific, and can't really be combined to form anything resembling lunch. The closest I got was some English muffins (which aren't English and don't resemble muffins) sliced in half with blocks of cheese spread around on the top, which I intended to transform into cheese on toast with the nearby toaster oven. Putting it all in on a paper plate, I set the timer and waited. If I had kept things at this sort of level then there would have been no trouble and I would have escaped in the five minutes that they would take to toast.

But while I was wandering around waiting for those five minutes to pass, I read some of the posters on the wall, one of which was the instruction sheet for what the CIC calls the "soda fountain" - a collection of giant alchemical-looking flasks on a rack full of luminous liquids. I don't like carbonated drinks so it was probably a mistake to try it out at all, but something drove me to investigate anyway with the vague intention of finding out if Fanta with normal water was all right. Now, what you do with these things is simple and was written in a set of easy steps up on the wall - you put a cup under the spout coming off the bottle of syrup, you unscrew the handle a few turns, wait for a modest amount of the stuff to pour out, then spin the handle in the other direction to completely close it, after which you go off and fill the cup the rest of the way with carbonated water. It's simple and works fine for any normal person.

Not for me. I confidently pulled a cup off the pile, held it under the nozzle and gently turned the handle, which promptly fell off, clattering into the bottom of the cup followed by a mercifully slow but steady and relentless syrup torrent spewing forth from both the remainder of the spout and the hole in it where the handle had been stopping it from getting out.

I picked the orange-covered screw-like tube out of the bottom of the cup with my fingers and tried to re-insert it into the handle, but without any success - screwing it in in either direction didn't help, because it required more pressure than it was really possible to give it with one hand occupied holding a cup that was creeping closer to full by the second. In a smooth Indiana Jones-like manoeuvre I pulled another cup off the pile with my increasingly sticky hand, put the first cup down on the counter while simultaneously shoving the second one under the nozzle, and continued the effort, looking round at the deserted kitchen for any sort of stopper or wad of Blu-Tak or anything that might help.

Eventually a man with a beard arrived, and I mentioned the slight soda fountain related problem to him as he walked past. Helpfully he immediately ran out to get a technician before I could say that all I needed was a hand on the back of the flask to screw the handle back in, leaving me still stuck there with a growing assembly line of cups filled with bright orange glutinous stuff. By this time the level in the bottle was almost below the handle, which would have released me from syrup-catching duty and allowed me to sort the problem easily.

But just before it ran out due to the natural force of gravity, which my family have had a talent for since the 17th century so it's something even I can't mess up, I finally managed to get the screw to catch and spun the handle back in at the same moment that the man from before came back apologetically saying he couldn't find anyone. I thanked him for his help anyway, poured the luminous contents of the cups back into the bottle, recorked it, washed my hands and then went back to the oven to get my lunch, which the toaster oven had baked almost solid to the plate during the time I was distracted by the soda fountain at the opposite end of the room, and was now on a uniformly brown plate that had been white when it went in. I got some yoghurt to go with it.

This is why Whitney cooks in our house.
davidn: (skull)
  • 17:20 Beginning to notice a worrying tidal wave of banality seeping on to LJ #
  • 17:21 Oh no, there's an automatic Twitter transfer site #
  • 17:22 It seems to be a bit like a computer virus that can infect interesting people and turn them into boring people #
  • 17:23 Going to stop all this and write something worth reading instead #
Automatically shipped by a blight upon my Friends page
davidn: (Jam)
As I've touched on before, I'm very bad at telling whether food is all right to eat or not. Years of growing up in a country where we eat pie made out of kidneys and feed cows their own brains probably gave me a fair amount of resistance anyway, but it's compounded by the way that I have very little sense of smell after having been in chemistry for two years, and am colourblind so often can't tell whether I have green eggs or ham until they start growing cotton wool.

With that in mind, this is an accidentally rather artsy picture of my lunch today.

This collection of raw fish (and a squid), left over from an extremely overambitious visit to Fugakyu with Whitney's parents on Friday, has been transferred between the fridge and the freezer since we brought it home with us. The rice accompanying two of them had gone hard from the freezing, so I threw that out - otherwise it looks and smells all right. It certainly tastes fine, but after four days, behind that deliciousness might be death. We'll see.
davidn: (skull)
This is the first day that I've made it to the station but then just given up all hope of a train ever coming - the pavement is a one-inch-thick sheet of ice. As Whitney's out at work while I do my job at home, I'm secretly baking surprise oatmeal cookies for her to come back to. I'm normally good at that, but I realized too late that we didn't have any eggs, so I just threw in some mayonnaise that we had lying around instead. I fear that these cookies are going to absolutely redefine the word "surprise".

This post's invisible to her just now - I might open it up if she detects that anything is amiss. The egg substitute was on the advice of the Internet, and the dough tastes fine to me.

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