Saturday, February 26, 2011

Unintentional break

  These past couple of days have been excrutiatingly long (and yet somehow, now that they've passed, they seem so short) and today, I think, will be no picnic either.  Aaron's aunt recently passed on.  The viewing was on Thursday.  I wasn't expecting many people to show up given how the passing of his grandmother went.  When we pulled up to the funeral home, however, the mass of people told an entirely different story.  The same semi-familiar faces were there, including one neither of us expected.  I suppose the passing of one's kid sister can still mean something (despite time, distance and gossip) and that warms my heart.  I was exceedingly uncomfortable for most of the night (the reasons are my own and I will NOT be sharing them) but . . . it wasn't about me.  So I behaved how I was supposed to and let the family grieve.
  There is one thing, though.  The viewing.  I'm not squeemish and I don't have an aversion to death (my grandparents saw to that when they were alive), but there's still something a bit unsettling about having a special occassion set aside to look at the corpse of a recently passed loved one.  Aaron said she didn't look like herself, and even to my eyes (I had only met her once many years ago) she didn't look like I remembered.  This could be due in large part to the illness that took her, but it just made the whole thing that much more disturbing for me.  I'm glad my parents are getting cremated, but Aaron's made me promise to outlive him and . . . as strong (and cold-hearted) as some people seem to think I am . . . . I don't know how I feel about looking at his age-ravaged body just laying in some box.  I watch him sleep and can almost imagine what it would physically look like, but I don't think that's an actual memory I want burned into my brain. 
  Yesterday was the funeral.  Everyone from Thursday was there, including some friends who had not made it to the viewing.  The service was nice (though it did raise questions for me I'll address in a minute) and given the reactions of her immediate family, I assume she would have liked it.  I was fine through most of it until her daughter started bawling.  I hate to sound crass, but Aaron's asleep so I can't ask, but she's in a wheelchair thanks to some syndrome or other.  I don't know.  I do know she's a sweet girl.  Her wails broke my heart and I had to mentally block her off so I could remain strong.  Yes, I know it's a funeral.  I'm fully aware that people cry at funerals.  However, after years of taking care of my sisters I know that even an unsaid "It's going to be okay" is not near as convincing coming from someone who is a wreck.  So given that I was seated between two grieving individuals I had to remain somber, yet strong.  I almost broke again when this same girl who mere minutes prior sounded as if she'd died inside wheeled herself over to comfort her crying uncle.  Her strength is an inspiration.
  Which brings me to the questions.  Not really questions . . . . concerns, I suppose.  I brought these up to Aaron to which he replied "The funeral isn't really for the deceased, it's for the survivors" and I supposed that's true . . . . but even in the event that I outlive my parents I'm not sure I want a "Christ centered" funeral.  I wouldn't mind hymns played or scripture read if it comforts those there, but to have the officiator then proclaim "I know she would have liked this because ______."  In his aunt's case it was usually followed by something about how nursing is doing God's work.  I don't want people making these innaccurate assumptions about how I am and what I stand for.  I don't hate Jesus, nor do I believe he is my saviour.  I left the Christian path 12+ years ago and am much happier and much more satisfied for it.  I don't believe that a peaceful afterlife is exclusionary.  I know these proclomations make Aaron uncomfortable (especially where death is concerned), but I just don't buy that "heaven" is only accessable to those who dedicate their life to the death of a man who lived a mere 2000 years ago.  Especially when a decent enough chunk of them aren't even good people in spite of their so-called beliefs.  No.  Unacceptable.
  At the cemetary things went quickly.  Too quickly for Aaron's taste.  Again I'm glad my parents are being cremated.  Ashes placed quietly into a military-approved memorial wall is just fine by me.  It was here that he took the opportunity to bridge the gap between himself and his father.  Time will yet tell how this maneuver pans out, but he's been wrestling with this desire for a long time and I'm glad he had both the opportunity and the determination to make his move.  It is a decision I will ultimately not be a part of, but again, it's not about me.  It's about him and his father.  Whatever happens, at least he tried.
  The son wanted everybody to meet up at his house after the funeral and it made me so incredibly happy to see that (most) everyone did.  I think he really needed it.  So we chatted up the family and it was nice.  Merely civil in some cases, outright friendly in others.  One of his cousins is moving back to town and wants to hook up at some point.  I hope that happens.  I wasn't raised as one of those "close family ties" kinds of people, but family is important and Aaron needs more people in his life.

  Not to grind suddenly into reverse, but that is only part of my sim-break.  I'm also working with the create-a-world tool.  Putting together a neighborhood that can accomodate all of the buildings and such from the eps that EA decided didn't "need" to be compiled into a fresh neighborhood.  I'll have plenty of empty lots for future eps, but mostly I'm just wanting a place where my sim can fully realize her awesomeness.  I'm aware that there's a very good chance she'll lose her work progress and lifetime points, but it's a necessary step to take.  I just hope that it doesn't do like the building an estate for my legacy family did and make me lose interest in her. 
  So I'm going to go through my Rosetta Stone lesson, mapquest a place I'm heading to later and then . . . . I think it's time to be useful again before sitting down for sims.  This will be called an intentional break.  My dad's coming home for vacation in two weeks and I want to get some things done before he does.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Awesomeness Part 4

  Poor Theta's life has been thrust into turmoil.  So sad since it's only just begun!  But, through her difficulties I'm sure she will thrive and come out better than before.  Things started out well enough for her.  She went to work and discovered a new type of fertilizer to revolutionize the plant-growing world.  This earned her an instant promotion!  She was feeling pretty good about herself so she gussied up and invited her new "friend" over for a little post-promotion celebration.



  Things went quite well when she invited him to stay the night. That is, until morning.  She's working hard in her garden and her new "man" is playing in the sprinkler like a child!



  She decided then and there that he had to go.  She just doesn't have time for this kind of silliness in her life.  As soon as he left she headed to China for a little getaway.  She spent most of her time fishing, attempting to catch the elusive Dragon Fish.  Unfortunately she wasn't fruitful in this endeavor, but she did enjoy the time away.



  When she got back she once again changed her outfit to something more Asian inspired.



  But also found herself suffering from random bouts of nausea.



  Jaames decided to swing by unannounced.  Due to lingering disappointment in his behavior and a sudden surge of hormones, Theta found herself behaving . . . less than friendly towards him.



  He hasn't been seen since.  Over the following days it became quite obvious that Theta's one-night stand had resulted in pregnancy.



  She filled her time upgrading random appliances and trying not to get too angry at her inability to further her career.  After a few days she was "blessed" with her little blue reminder.  She named him Geo. 



  She's been a good mother so far.  Making sure to tend to Geo's needs.  Sadly her woes were not yet over.  As she was attempting to upgrade a tv she was electrocuted and a fire started.



  She put the fire out and went to bed singed.  Even tended to Geo before cleaning herself up the next morning.  Oh but she can not wait until he's old enough for a babysitter so she can go back to work.  This little bundle of "joy" has already taken so much of her time!  She had hoped to learn to cook before becoming a mother, but sometimes things happen that aren't planned for.  Hopefully the coming days will look up for her and she'll be able to find it in herself to even love her little accident.  If not . . . he'll be on his own soon enough and she can get back to the life she had planned.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Awesomeness Part 3

  Things were going fairly quietly for Theta as she concentrated on gardening and furthering her career.  But sim life, as in real life, is often fraught with danger!  She woke up one morning with a simple hankering for pancakes.  An easy enough dish to make, any sim with a stove and a fruit can make pancakes.  Theta, however, could not.  She set her stove (and almost her pilfered dishwasher) on fire.  She was able to douse the flames before the firewoman arrived, but she was still left with a hole in her kitchen which needed to be filled.  She had acquired a bonus or two from her promotions and so she decided on the most expensive stove that simoleons could buy.  In addition she put her recently acquired handiness skill to the test and upgraded the stove to be fireproof. 



  The next day she was given the opportunity to bring a loved one back from the dead.  All she needed was an urn.  Well, being a happily single sim, Theta had no loved ones.  She thought that since nearly all of her friends had died recently that surely one of those would suffice.  So she took a trip to the cemetary, visited the mausoleum and took possession of Vlad's urn.  You remember Vlad.  The party-throwing Vampire.  Apparently good friends do not count as loved ones in the sim world, but Theta was in no mood to revisit the cemetary (not yet anyway) and so Vlad's urn rests on her kitchen counter.  All but forgotten.



  Naturally there's nothing like a trip to the local cemetary to remind you that your list of living friends is growing shorter by the day.  Theta decided to bike around town and see if there was anybody worth meeting in any of those houses.  Most were empty and those that were inhabited were currently unoccupied until she reached a beachfront property on the other side of town.  There she met Jaames.  They hit it off quite well.  They've been on a date that ended in their first kiss.  She's thinking of inviting him over on her next day off of work.



  Speaking of work, the next day as she was about to head home, Theta noticed a tourist standing by the fountain outside of the science facility.  A tourist!  Well, she just couldn't resist introducing herself.  As a budding famous-sim it's nice to make a good impression.  This includes welcoming visiting sims to town.



  They did not hit it off so well.  So the days roll by.  Her and Jaames become closer (still waiting for that day off!) and her garden grows.  She has finally planted her own life fruit!  Definitely a step in the right direction.  She also recieved a gift in the mail.  A little something from some company.  Ya know, for being a . . . . for sort of being a celebrity.  And isn't it fancy?!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Awesomeness Part 2

  Well, Theta's awesomeness progression took quite an interesting turn yesterday.  Before leaving France she took the time to learn some local customs (these being the two songs you can learn while in France), picked up a couple of books and ate bouliabase at the local cafe.  The frogs she brought home for the local resteraunt were a huge hit and she's taken to sporting a French inspired outfit for the time being.





  After shaking off the jet lag it was back to work where she earned herself a nice little promotion.  I don't know if it was her promotion, or her dedication to helping out her neighbors, but she then gained herself a fame star.  I wasn't going to worry about making her famous for a while, but there it is.  Fame dropped into her lap.  In short succession she was invited to a swimsuit party



and a formal party hosted by a vampire!



  The partys were not great.  Thankfully she has no desire to throw on herself.  Yet.  In fact, she may have to lay off the party scene for a while and concentrate on her gardening and her job.  That little trip to France put quite the dent in her pocketbook, and she won't work near the Life Fruits forever.  She's got to build the foundations if she's going to reach true Sim awesomeness.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Awesomeness Part 1

  A venture back into the world of Sims.  The last time I played I decided that it would be fun to find a blueprint for a nice estate house for my legacy family.  Between uncooperative landscaping and replacing furniture it took a week to accomplish this.  As it turns out that's just how long it takes for me to lose interest in the family.  So now after discussing simming with Brak I've decided to take a sim, one lone sim, and see just how awesome I can make her.  Can a sim experience everything there is to experience in their lifetime?  Without working outside of the standard game structure, I mean.  I don't like cheating in sims.  It's more of a challange not to.  So, the first step towards awesomeness is, naturally, creating the sim.



  And there she is.  I made her pretty because I tend to tire of facial "quirks" fairly quickly.  Her name is Theta, she's a scorpio.  She's eco-friendly, smart, and I went ahead and made her a schmoozer so that social interactions will go more smoothly and friendships build more quickly.  I started her on a vacant lot and built a rudimentary house.  Two rooms; one for cooking, sleeping and living; one for bathroom.  She wanted to join the science career.  Smart of her because science requires gardening.  Gardening leads to . . . . life fruit!  Good thinking, Theta.  Luckily there are also life fruits growing around the science facility so she's fine in the meantime.

  Part two of her awesomeness is accepting as many challenges/events as possible.  This lead to her winning the local eating contest, fishing a crocodile out of the city hall plumbing and her most recent adventure?  Travelling to France to fish up some frogs for the local Resteraunt! 



  While in France she's explored a tomb and the infamous Landgraab chateau.  She's on the last day of her first trip to France.  Perhaps some more fishing is in order before heading back home?  Or maybe a trip to the nectary?  Or the bookstore?  Who knows?  All I know is it will just be another day on her road to awesome.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Aftermath

  We revisited the site of yesterday's fire.  There were still cops and firemen everywhere so we didn't get any really good shots.  As you can see in my side-view mirror, there was a U-Haul being packed up.  Around on the other side of the building there is a charred gaping hole in the roof.  Unfortunately we were blocked off by a fire truck.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Found the Fire!

  You know how it is.  You come out of the store, or simply round a corner, and there it is.  Smoke!  There's a fire somewhere in that direction right there.  Is it a controlled burn of some kind?  Or an actual fire emergency?  How far away is it?  Is it a house, place of business, or chunk of nature?  Then the big question inevitably emerges.  Can we find the fire?  In the not too distant past this question was all too tempting for Aaron and myself.  Let's try to find the fire.  In nearly every case the answer to that question was "No".  The fire was either on Ft. Hood, further than we were willing to drive (meaning it must have been quite an impressive fire for us to see the smoke from that far away) or was put out while we were searching thereby causing us to lose the trail.

  Previously the closest we had come to tracking down a fire was when the big Action Pawn burned up.  Which we had just missed.  My sister had gotten a pic of the fire, but I never ended up getting a copy of that.  Today, however . . . today was different.  A victorious day for the random amateur fire trackers.

  We come out of HEB and Aaron spies the smoke off in the distance.  It's thick and black and doesn't appear to be too far off.  From our vantage point it looks like it could easily be right across the highway.  We weren't out long and had no plans for the rest of the day and Aaron says, "Hey, let's see if we can find the fire."  Find the fire.  Such magical words.  He's a good passenger to have for many reasons; in the case of fire tracking he's very good for his hawk vision.  He kept his eye on that smoke and he knows the city so that left me to concentrate on not crashing the car. 

  We turn down Mary Jane and almost lose it.  Can still see faint hints between the houses.  Down near the Wedding Cottage we get a magnificent show of the still billowing smoke.  As we drive down the road (who's name escapes me) I begin to wonder if perhaps we should have pulled into the Wedding Cottage and just gotten the picture from there.  Aaron says, "Turn right here.  Now left.  Now right." and there we are!  So close we can smell it.  Right across Veteran's Memorial.  Another right and left and the fire is right in front of us.  We've found the fire!  It's an apartment building on Gilbert.  We get as close as we can, but the road is blocked by cop cars.  This first image was taken as I'm working on taking a turn so we can hopefully loop around for a closer look.



  I offered to pull into that adjacent parking lot, but he explained why that was a bad idea.  So around I loop and he takes us down a side road.  We're even closer, but unfortunately on the wrong side of the building.  He did manage to snap a shot of all the emergency response vehicles down this road.



  The smoke was filling the streets and we did get eyeballed by a cop so rather than loop around the remaining road we decided to take our earned bounty and head home.  I do hope everybody was okay and that the damage isn't too severe.  I guess we'll find out if they report it on the news.  Until then I can just relish in the victory that we did track down and find the fire!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is it art?

  So we went over to Nate's last night.  He had his Christmas lights plugged in and I was again fiddling with my phone-camera.  Following are the results of this fiddling.  I don't know if it's art, but they are interesting to look at.  For a while anyway.  There are three with the negative-filter and two with the blue.









Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Come a Long Way

  So I was sitting in the bathroom, doing my business, and I began to ponder.  Aaron said his new camera phone has all kinds of cool filters and effects.  I hadn't really explored the options mine had to offer.  Yet.  So with a bit of time on my hands I thought "Now is a good time to check that out."  Which I did.  And was pleasantly surprised.  Sure it's got your basic size/quality/save-to options.  It's also got some color filters.  Black & White, Sepia, Negative (seen below), Green and Aqua.  Not sure why those were the only two colors worthy of being filters, but it's nice to have options.



  Oh, but that's not all.  It will also do a sort of hi-speed deal where it takes 5 or 10 pictures concurrently.  I really like this option.  Means I can take 5 pics at a time and pic the best one out of the subtle little differences.  Hurray for enabling my nitpickiness!  There is also a mosaic feature which allows you to take 9 or 16 different pictures and it assembles them in a grid.  I didn't fully understand what this meant when I took the picture, so all of the images are the same.



  Wait! There's one more thing!  It also has a panorama feature.  You start the picture and move the camera whichever way you want to go and then a red box comes up and you line it up with the center box on the viewfinder.  It does this . . . five times, I think, and auto-compiles it.  Remember, I was in the bathroom.  Guess what you're gonna see?  More of the bathroom!



  It probably works a lot better with more space.  So there you have it.  I will definitely be playing with this some more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Yeah, I'm awful

  For these past three weeks, at least three times a week, I tell myself "I should get up and blog."  As you can see, it didn't quite work out that way.  Partly because not much has been happening, partly because I haven't been able to find a way to make those things that have been happening interesting to read.  Not like anybody actually reads this, but . . . ya know, for posterity. 

  Elvis isn't doing well.  The honey was helping with the seizures for a while, it doesn't seem to be any more.  On the other hand, if it is helping then I shudder to think how bad things could be.  The other night he had two concurrently.  It was heart-wrenching to watch and I thought for sure it would be the end.  It was not.  Not yet.  I don't know what it is that keeps him going, but I don't know how much longer it's going to hold out either.  I just hope that when the time does come that it's not too terrible.

  Aaron and I went out to Burger King today and actually sat in their dining area to eat.  It was like a victory meal.  There we were with people around sitting and eating like it was normal!  The pictures of our meal can be found here:

 
  I've kind of given up on the ThinkPad at the moment.  I'm resigned to carting the other laptop back and forth for biking and yoga.  At least I get to do the yoga.  It's been so long.  This morning I did "Yoga for Abs" (for beginners) and it wasn't as relaxing as my tape, but was still good to stretch and feel my abs.  Been a long time since that, too.  I have "Stress Relief Yoga" also, so perhaps that will be more relaxing.  I still want to try and find my original tape to download.  I really did like that one.
 
  I guess there's really not too much else going on.  We got snow.  That happened.  Pictures are here:
 
 
Oh, and I've been working through the Rosetta Stone courses for German.  I'm on Unit 2 of Level 1 and it's starting to get a bit difficult.  Not overly hard, but . . . I don't know.  My confidence is not that high.  I'm doing fairly well with reading and matching the pictures.  Grammar is so-so.  But speaking?  Could I put a full sentance together without sounding like a Kind das ist zwei Jahre alt?  I'm not even sure if "das" is the correct word in that context.  Google translate says it should be "ein Kind, zwei Jahre alt ist."  *shrugs*  Practice, practice, practice.