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Aug. 6th, 2013

My parents' visit was awesome! We had a really good time and great weather, thankfully. Friday was a trip to the zoo and a fancy dinner out (soooo good), Saturday was the farmer's market and the Dublin Irish Festival, Sunday was brunch with Rachel and relaxing at home. Our evening movie watching consisted of catching Mom up on the Avengers films - she'd seen Iron Man 1 and 2 so we watched Captain America, Thor, and Avengers, then Sunday we watched Skyfall which I had not seen, either.

Except now I am sick. Dizzy, headachey, throat hurty sick. I stayed home yesterday but came in today, I wanted to get SOME work done. Something must be going around, my manager said like six people called in sick yesterday.

The parentals are on the way

So things are good here. I am now working at home two days a week which is fantastic. I find that I'm really productive - without that "want to go home" thing I'm quite content to sit in my home office and work well into the evening, past when I'd stay at the office. I can play old West Wing episodes on Netflix for background noise. I can throw in laundry or schedule a haircut in the middle of the day. Plus it's saving me gas (my commute is about 12 miles, so it's about a gallon per workday) and lunch expenses, yay.

Tomorrow evening my parents are arriving for a long weekend visit, hooray! Mom hasn't been here since my surgery in 2009 and Dad hasn't been here since...god, I don't know when. A trip to the zoo is definitely planned and we're also going to the Dublin Irish Festival, one of Cbus's biggest yearly events. Good weather is forecast, so yay.

Meanwhile I can't believe it's August tomorrow. Ack.

Bowling for Rhinos!

I'm taking part in Bowling for Rhinos, a fundraiser for rhino conservation totally staffed by volunteers from the American Zookeepers Association, so 100% of donations go directly to the conservation projects. The event started at my home zoo (the Columbus Zoo) and is now taking place at 60 zoos nationwide. Last year they raised over $350,000!

You can easily sponsor my team - any amount is appreciated! Here is the link to donate: http://www.gofundme.com/3lm5e4

Rhinos are amazing, and there is not a single species of them that isn't endangered. We CAN help and it is making a difference.

Pacific Rim

I am starting to feel like the only geek on the Internet who thought "Pacific Rim" was terrible. Like, I was filled with actual anger at how excited I was for it and how very badly it disappointed me.

Last day of work

Senioritis. Oh, and I mean "last day of work before my trip," not "last day of work, period."

The last two days have draaaaaaaaagged something fierce. I'm hoping today goes fast. I came in a bit earlier than usual so I can leave around four - have some more errands to take care of. Need new wiper blades for the car, want to get a manicure, a few odds and ends to pick up.

I've been debating and debating with myself whether to buy myself a really awesome Fossil tote bag that I've had my eye on. It's $100. I can afford it, but...well, I'm a pretty cautious spender and I just have to go through this debating process before I can buy it, and I have to make sure there isn't some tote bag somewhere else in the world that I would like just as much for cheaper. I'm compromising with myself - I'm going to check at TJ Maxx and at Stein Mart, both of which have lots of awesome bags, and if I don't find something I like just as well for cheaper, I get to buy the Fossil tote at Macy's.

Then it's go home and pack, basically. Change the sheets on the bed so it's nice for when I get back. Buy groceries for my housesitter. Make sure I have all the eight million different chargers and cords and adapters I need. I put each one in a different small Ziploc bag which I label with my label maker, because that's how I roll. I do enjoy the growing trend in charging cords for them to plug into a USB adapter, which means you only need one of the USB plugs for your eight different charging cords, so they take up less space. Tomorrow I'm going to get an oil change on the way out of town.

Talked to Mom last night and she said it doesn't seem real. She said "I was afraid you were calling to say the trip was off!" I know what she means, though.

Previously, on MadLori...

So it's been a very busy spring.

Between my hiking club, being a zoo docent, work, my friend Dayna's upcoming wedding (in which I am a bridesmaid) and getting ready for my London trip, it's been nonstop.

I also had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta in April for a Sherlock convention, which was a BLAST. I saw some friends, met some new friends, sat on a few panels, and generally had fun. Can't wait for next year. I've also been invited to be a guest at another Sherlock convention in Seattle in October, so that might be happening.

But the immediate future is all about my trip to London with my mom. I leave Columbus on Saturday, because I need to drive to Wisconsin first, and she and I fly out of Milwaukee on Sunday evening. Everything's all in order and I can't wait.

In writing news, it's been a bit slow, but I am making really good progress on the sequel/midquel/whatever to "Performance in a Leading Role." What started out as a one-shot that would just be about their wedding is now almost 100 pages long and I think it must now be called a bona fide sequel (even though all of it takes place before the Epilogue of Performance). Other than that, it has not been a very productive year or so in terms of writing. I've been trying to write another web-available short novella about Jack and D and I've made some progress, but not enough to release. Sequel plans for that still exist but are a bit stalled.

In personal news, my grandfather's been rather ill for a few months but has finally had some surgery and now seems to be at last on the mend.

I think that's about it. As always, I'd like to post here more often, but my fandom activity has almost entirely migrated to Tumblr (where I am also madlori, but be warned that that blog is almost entirely fannish/geeky content and I make no apologies for it) and my more life-related stuff is almost entirely on Facebook. HOnestly I would enjoy still using this space as a sort of blend of the two, but maintaining this much of an online presence gets exhausting, as I'm sure most of you will understand.

Happy New Year!

I know, a bit late, but there you go.  I had a lovely holiday at home in Wisconsin, although I had to drive back sooner than I would have liked to beat the bad weather system that was moving into Ohio.  We had cold temperatures and quite a lot of snow for a few weeks but now it's warming up rapidly - in the 60s by this weekend! - and raining, so the snow'll be gone soon.  I've been cooking quite a bit, but late December and this early part of January have been pretty quiet, which is nice...frankly, I needed the break.

But now it's full steam ahead, and one of the projects is to get things planned and sorted for my trip to London with my mother in May.  I've found us a fantastic rental flat in Kensington (for those of you who know London it's a few blocks north of the Gloucester Road tube station) so I need to put the deposit down on that, and soon plane tickets. 

I'm also organizing a few more trips out of the city than I took, because Mom would love to see some stately homes and palaces besides just the ones in town.  So we're going to Hampton Court Palace, and probably Ham House the same trip.  In addition to the previous package day trip I took (Windsor/Stonehenge/Bath) we're taking one to the Cotswolds.  I'm trying to figure out if it'd be worth it to go to Chatsworth.  It's in the middle of nowhere, there's not a lot else to see there, and it's like three hours' travel.  Sadly, Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey) is not an option...they're not open in May except on bank holidays, which there isn't one during our planned stay, and even if we were going to be there, those days are sold out.  Blenheim Palace is much closer so that's a viable alternative.

I'm trying to pay for as much stuff ahead of time as possible.  I bought us a joint membership to the Historic Royal Palaces after I figured out that even if we only go to the Tower and Hampton Court, I'll save money on admissions.  I'm going to order our Oyster cards online and have them sent here.  I won't be able to buy tickets for some things ahead because I just don't know what day we'll be going to, say, St. Paul's.  

But it's so exciting to be planning.

Other than that, there is no big news.

Lori, just the facts

Stolen from Libbie, who stole it from somebody else:

You know how sometimes people on your friends list post about stuff going on in their life, and all of a sudden you think "Wait a minute? Since when were they working THERE? Since when were they dating HIM/HER? Since when???" And then you wonder how you could have missed all that seemingly pretty standard information, but somehow you feel too ashamed to ask for clarification because it seems like info you should already know? It happens to all of us sometimes.

Please copy the topics below, erase my answers and put yours in their place, and then post it in your journal! Please elaborate on the questions that would benefit from elaboration. One-Word-Answers seldom help anyone out.

If you want to ask me anything, now is your chance. I don't have any secrets.

FIRST NAME: Lori, nickname for Lorna, which only the IRS calls me

AGE: 39

LOCATION: Columbus, Ohio

OCCUPATION: Associate Scientific Information Analyst. Essentially I help maintain a global database of chemical journals and patents which is used by the entire scientific community. Also freelance writer, on hiatus at the mo, with one novel published.

PARTNER: Uh...look, a squirrel!

KIDS: None

BROTHERS/SISTERS: Younger brother Tommy, who has two kids, three stepkids and two step-grandkids.

PETS: None, but several pets-of-close-friends who I get to spend doggie and kitty time with.

1) I absolutely love being a docent at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.

2) I run a Meetup club, it's an outdoor activities club for women with 750 members.

3) I do a lot of hiking and have been doing really well with my personal exercise routine.

4) I am really active in the Sherlock fandom right now and have written copious amounts of fanfic for it.

PARENTS: Garry and Jenny, who this past April concluded their Grand Retirement RV Adventure, sold their RV and bought a house back in our hometown in Wisconsin.

Wrestling with iTunes video

I spent most of last night wrestling with iTunes, with the ultimate goal of being able to load it up with video for workplace background noise. I have a 160G iPod classic and I've only got like 20G of music so there's plenty of room, and the less I'm using the streaming wifi on my phone at work, the better. Plus I really really really want to be able to play West Wing while I work.

The first task was just setting up iTunes. I haven't actually used my iPod in probably over a year. My phone has all but supplanted it. I don't have much music on it, but when I listen to music hiking or at the gym it's almost always Pandora. I hadn't even bothered setting up iTunes on my new computer, which I got two months ago. So I did that, and then imported all the restored music files from the backup hard drive of my old computer...which erased all my playlists (no great loss) AND somehow generated like 800 duplicate files which I had to go in and delete.

Next step: acquire West Wing on AVI. Thaaaaat's all I'm gonna say about that one.

But iTunes won't accept AVI. So the next step was download Handbrake and convert the files to mp4. I did a test run on something I already had (an episode of "Elementary"). It converted no problem, and added to iTunes no problem.

After some fiddling with the sync settings and getting iTunes to stop downloading like 400 back issues of various podcasts, I got my iPod to sync up. It synced everything...except the episode. It was there in my Movies section. It would play in iTunes. But it would not sync.

I consulted the Tumblr hive mind and was informed that when I used Handbrake to convert, I had to click the "iPod 5G support" box. So I had to delete the file and re-convert it from AVI with that box clicked. Went through the whole process again (incidentally, Handbrake takes like 20 minutes to convert one TV episode, so it's non-trivial to do that). It STILL would not sync up the video file. I was about ready to give up when I was advised that if I select the file in iTunes and go to Advanced, there'd be a "create iPod or iPad version" and iTunes would convert the mp4 so it could be synced! Hallelujah! That took like another twenty minutes to convert. BUT IT WORKED. The video was on the iPod! With sound and everything!

So I set up Handbrake to convert all the season 1 episodes over night. This morning I moved them all to iTunes, and set it converting all of them to iPod forms. Then I get to do that six more times. Holy God. But once it's done I will have the whole show on the iPod and I will be very happy about that.



My newest appliance:

yogurt maker

Yes, tis a yogurt maker.  I had never made my own yogurt but I eat a lot of it, and if it works out, it'll save me money and possibly be tastier!

I've made one batch.  There's a couple of ways to make it.  You can boil the milk, or you can not boil it.  You can use yogurt starter, or you can mix in some already-made yogurt.  You can add powdered milk to make it thicker.  My first batch I used 2% organic milk with one jar of heavy cream mixed in, and some Fage for the cultures.  I did boil it.  The texture is...off.  It's kind of grainy.  It tastes pretty awesome, though.

I'm going to make another batch today, without boiling, with powdered milk, and I'm going to blend it more thoroughly this time.  


My Turkey Day plate!

I am having a lovely holiday at my parents' house in Wisconsin. Yesterday = big eating, today = cookie decorating, both days = hanging out with family.

I hope you are having a good holiday! Here are some photos from recent nature escapades of mine.

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Mass update of updateyness

Yah, okay, it's been awhile. I was doing SO WELL for a few weeks, too.

Unpopular opinion: I really like the new Feed style friends-page here at El Jay. It's smooth and clean and easy and I approve.

So, what's been going on in the past six weeks? A lot, but nothing out of the ordinary. A lot of hikes, days at the zoo, work, social gatherings, blah blah etc. We had some gorgeous fall color here; I'll post some photos later. I managed to haul the club members out for some walks; attendance has been dropping (not just in my club, I hear it from other club organizers too) and I'm not sure why, but everyone who does come out has a good time. I went on several long hikes with friends and am happy to report that my bad knee stood up to an 11 mile hike very well. Yay!

The zoo has been exciting this fall; our four-month-old tiger cubs joined the other tigers in the Asia Quest exhibit and have been out in the yard playing Bite-My-Brother (their favorite game) to the delight of the zoo visitors. The zoo also just acquired a very large male polar bear who is a temporary guest. He's from Buffalo; they are rebuilding their polar exhibit so he's staying with us during their construction. Our polar bears are both girls and here's to hoping that springtime will bring news of polar bear cubs! The yearly holiday lights show is on now, so I can go be a docent after work, which is nice.

This past Saturday the club had a gathering at the Brothers Drake Meadery that was really awesome. We're lucky in Cbus to have this place; they are very dedicated to being local and sell their SUPER DELICIOUS mead (mead is a fermented honey wine) only in Columbus and one other county just north of us. It's a small-batch, artisan meadery; they offer tours and tastings and have a little bar/lounge where there is often live music. I may volunteer there; they get people to come in and help when they're bottling. Every year they release their super-popular Apple Pie mead in the fall; they usually run out by early December so I'm stockpiling a few bottles.

Speaking of fermenting, I just acquired a yogurt maker and it is embarking on its maiden voyage as we speak. Hope my first batch turns out okay.

A few quick movie reactions: "Amazing Spider-Man" was great and, I thought, way better than the Raimi films. "Wreck-It Ralph" was clever and charming and I may have a tiny animated crush on Fix-It Felix. Still haven't seen "Skyfall" (which is taking over Tumblr a bit...the Sherlock crossovers are self-evident and plentiful) and Rachel and I already have our tickets for midnight premiere of "The Hobbit."

Tomorrow I'm leaving to drive to Wisconsin for the holiday. I had planned to fly (I'm flying there for Christmas) but various circumstances made driving a better choice this time. Le sigh.

College fairs and music

Tonight I'm driving to Cincinnati to represent Bryn Mawr at a college fair. I used to do those pretty regularly but haven't in awhile. I love doing them, they're fun. The challenge for me is usually a) keep boys from taking my limited materials, b) talk to the actual prospective students and not their sometimes-overbearing parents and c) talk about the actual merits of the college when the sixteen-year-old girl in front of you is horrified at the very idea of four whole years with NO BOYS (which of course does not describe the actual experience...there are boys...but that's what they all think).

I intentionally wore clothes that left my Bryn Mawr tattoo visible. Heh. Maybe I can shock some parents. But hey, it has to be a selling point that the college is significant enough to me that I had its symbol inked into my flesh, right? Anyway I brought along my own lantern to put on my table. I had a pleasant surprise last night when I was reading the fair handout they sent me. On the back of it is a box listing some notable alumnae, and among them was my own friend and classmate Julie Beckman! She's an architect, and she and her husband designed both the Pentagon 9/11 memorial and the space shuttle memorial in Nagodoches (I know I've spelled that wrong). Yay!

There is so much music that's new that I have to buy and haven't gotten around to. I still don't even have the new Muse album, or the new Mumford & Sons album. I read someone online say that Mumford & Sons is like dubstep, except instead of waiting for the bass drop you're waiting for the banjos. LOL. Awwww yiss, muthafuckin BANJOS. My friend tzikeh said she didn't want to like Mumford because they're so popular but when she started listening she couldn't help it because they're just too damn good. I think Band of Horses has a new one out too...dang.

Pandora is my gym buddy. I could not work out without Pandora. I usually do an hour on the cross-trainer and that is only possible because Pandora and the approximately eight billion stations I have set up on it spins out an always-changing set of tunes for me to rock out to while I'm up there sweating. Bless the gym's wi-fi that enables my phone to give me tunes without buffering. The David Guetta station is a good one. And I have always loved "Titanium" but was like damn, another Rihanna collab, but then I found that the female vocalist on that song is NOT in fact Rihanna but Sia. Funny how Rihanna's gotten so ubiquitous that I assumed any woman singing on a mixmaster song was her. My RuPaul station is also awesome. Aside from Ru's own songs, that station gives me a lot of Britney (another fantastic workout buddy, she is) and Gaga and boppy fun dance club songs.

Anyway. Short work day today since I'm leaving early to drive to Cinci.


So my pusher beta-reader tzikeh has gotten me into several shows, including "White Collar" which I marathoned last summer, and now this past week it's been all about "Homeland." This was a show that I was only peripherally aware of; nobody really seemed to be talking about it, but then suddenly it won a bunch of Emmys and then EVERYBODY was talking about it, so I downloaded season one and watched it, and holy crap, it's good.

I'm going to try and talk about it without spoiling anything. It'll be hard. You should definitely stay unspoiled if you can.

First, it is so amazing to see a female protagonist (played by the frighteningly talented Claire Danes) who is allowed to be all the things that a male protagonist would be: obsessed, prickly, competent, demanding, damaged, and yet it does not take away from her character. AND her sexuality is not a tool or an object; it belongs only to her and she's the only one utilizing it. In short, she is a character with that mythical quality we always look for in female characters: AGENCY.

Second, regarding the series' OTHER protagonist (the equally amazing Damian Lewis, rolling out his American accent again), I've never been so gloriously confused by a character. Although he's the MacGuffin who gets the plot rolling, Brody is a cipher, an enigma, and we learn about him in dribs and drabs, and just when we think we have him figured out, we're wrong. Again.

BOTH of these protagonists have been fearlessly written as difficult, complicated characters who at times are hard to like or sympathize with. So the series smartly gives each of them an angel and a devil: each of them has one character who we DO love and who loves them, to redeem them in the audience's eyes, and each of them has one character who we have issues with to antagonize them, so we can root for them. And then as if that isn't enough, they did what I never expected: they tossed these two difficult protagonists at each other.

Everything builds and builds and builds to a heart-stoppingly tense climax in the season finale in which we legitimately do not know what we want to happen, and that's amazing.

You should watch this show.

ETA: Oh, it occurs that a quick series blurb might be useful. Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA field operative, who gets one final bit of intel from an asset: "An American POW has been turned." Months later, she's back at Langley, and lo and behold an American POW, Nicholas Brody (Lewis) is rescued after having been MIA for eight years. Is he the POW who was turned? He's hailed as a war hero, and Carrie is the only one who suspects.

Awesome weekend, sucky Tuesday

Well, I had an awesome weekend! Today has sucked so far, but more about that in a minute.

Saturday was a Zoo Day. It was a beautiful day and I got to work the North America region on my own for the first time. I spent most of my time in the polar bear exhibit, which also includes our mammoth brown bear brothers, who are a big draw. People love those guys, they're really entertaining. Then I worked at the tiger cubs viewing line, then visited my gorilla friends before heading home to grab a bite and relax for an hour before Phase 2.

Which was my moonlight canoeing trip, which was great! It was a perfect night, weather-wise. I don't really like canoeing much (vastly prefer kayaking). It drives me nuts switching sides when in a kayak you just tilt your paddle one way or another, and the steering is crazy, but it was fun being out in the dark in the full moon. Plus I was sharing a kayak with my co-organizer Kim and we had a great talk. Campfire and the charming local bluegrass dudes afterwards confirmed an oddity about myself: I do not like s'mores. Yuck.

I got home around 11. I had hopes to rise VERY early and set off for a hike at Fort Hill State Memorial (a two hour drive)...I did manage to get up at 7:30. Got on the trail at 10:15. It was a good hike and reassuring to my insecurity about my fitness level. The hike included a 300 foot climb over half a mile. I paused once for a water break but mostly walked right up. Breathing hard, sure, but I think anybody would be.

Monday was a normal day but last night I started feeling sick. That sore, hollow throat feeling. Woke up and it was worse, plus I'd overslept. Got up and threw on some clothes, got my lunch together and made tea with honey instead of coffee. Three blocks from home I rear-ended somebody. We were stopped at the red light waiting to turn left (there's an arrow). The light turned green, everybody was going, I started to go, glanced down to pick up my tea, looked up to find the person in front of me wasn't going quite as quickly as I was and I hit her, not too hard. She was super nice about it and thankfully efficient; it was a company car, so she wasn't too personally affected. No damage to mine except the license plate got a bit bent.

Then my exit onto the highway I take to work was closed. Police cars everywhere. I had to go to the next exit and take surface streets, which meant phoning my boss and telling her I was running a bit late. Also today is the annual company picnic (which I never go to because I hate all things fun) which means everybody who works at home came in today which means I had to park super far away. Which is not a big deal all things considered, it just piled on.

Can I be done being a grownup today? All I want to do is go home and get under a quilt and marathon "Homeland" which I started watching last night.

Fall TV, once more unto the breach

So here we go once again with the fall TV. It's worth noting that in the Internet Era, the strict breakdown of TV seasons has been pretty deconstructed. Most shows now do a mid-season hiatus of at least a month. Many shows run winter/summer, like "White Collar" which I spent a month mainlining this past summer (omg lurve). Premium cable shows run their tiny seasons whenever they damn well please. Remember when we used to get the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide and it was so exciting? Do they even print TV Guide anymore? I'm sure they do.

Anyway. So far the only season premiere I've seen is "Castle" which was pretty good, I'm relieved they didn't go for the tired old "this never happened" approach but disappointed that now they're going for the even more tired "we must hide our love from everyone" approach. I taped Criminal Minds last night but haven't watched it yet.

Tonight one of the new fall shows that got the TWOP seal of approval begins; I will probably watch it. It's "Last Resort" with Scott Speedman and Andre Braugher (yay he's back on TV) and it's some kind of submarine military thriller intrigue thing. The other show I may give a try is "Nashville" because TAMI TAYLOR. Also "The Mentalist" ought to be starting soon (tonight maybe?). And "Fringe" starts on Friday. SOB. I realized last night that I actually never watched the final three eps of last season, they're still sitting on the DVR. NO SPOILERS.

At some point I need to download the second ep of Downton series 3. "Parade's End" finished up last week and was divinity incarnate. Not gonna lie, Downton (while I adore it) seems pretty Romper Room after that.

Photos of pretty nature

A few photos from last Saturday's hike at Mohican State Park.  See what I mean about the misty morning elvishness?




This last photo I took to show these stairs.  Down at the bottom is the base of Big Lyons Falls and I am standing up where the trail resumes.  I've hiked this trail probably a dozen times and we always had to practically rock-climb our way up the side of this hill I'm looking down, finding handholds and hoping not to slide back down.  At some point over the summer (I was last here in March) they put in STAIRS.  Halleloo!

The Emmys and fanfiction

The Emmys were a bit odd in my little corner of fandom. For those of you who don't know, my most recent fanfic output was a 160,000 word "Sherlock" AU story called Performance in a Leading Role in which Sherlock and John are actors. Sherlock is a highbrow Oscar winner and John is the king of rom-coms, both their careers are in a slump until they co-star in an indie film about a gay couple. The story is about them forming a relationship, getting accidentally outed, dealing with that fallout, and the consequences to their careers both of starring in this highly-acclaimed film (and getting Oscar nominations for it) and of being together. One of the key scenes is late in the story when they accompany each other to the Oscars and are on the red carpet together.

So you can imagine that more than one reader had a bit of a flashback when Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were each other's dates to the Emmys (and man, didn't they both look gorgeous). I was out all day Sunday and when I got home I checked Tumblr and wondered why there were suddenly like 20 new posts in the "performance in a leading role" tag. Then I scrolled down my dash and was like...oh. Heh.

I was, however, relieved to see people saying "Well, that isn't how I pictured it, because I imagined Sherlock and John, not these two." I'm glad to have that distinction preserved, because it was hard work keeping Performance firmly out of the RPF category. A lot of real actors make appearances in it (John is friends with Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connolly, Natalie Portman talks to them at a party, etc) but the two main characters are that...characters, and not meant to be skins over the actors who play them.

That story...I have All The Feels about it. It might possibly be the most fun I've ever had writing a story, and I'm proud of how it turned out. I'm writing a follow-up and I wish it was coming faster but life happens.

Of course a lot of people were upset that the show didn't win any Emmys. I was profoundly unsurprised. Honestly, as a lot of OTHER people pointed out, it's amazing that the show got 13 nominations. It only airs in the US on PBS and is not remotely mainstream, certainly not as much as Downton Abbey. Plus there's nothing American awards shows love to reward as much as lengthy explorations of our own history so I figured "Hatfields and McCoys" would walk away with a lot of stuff, plus Kevin Costner got the traditional "your career went to shit but then you came surging back with something awesome so here's an Emmy" award. I didn't watch "Hatfields & McCoys," was it good? It had a lot of awesome people in it.

One of the photos that came out later was one of Tom Hanks (who I guess exec produced that?) sticking his Emmy to the hood of his car with packing tape. Tom Hanks, please never change.

Fantastic weekend

Saturday I had scheduled a 7-mile hike for the club at Mohican State Park, which is about an hour north of Columbus. I admit, I was a little nervous about it. The first mile of the hike contains some fairly steep hills and I've been feeling insecure about my fitness level lately. I haven't been doing as much hiking as usual this summer (combo of weather and schedule). For the last month I've been going to the gym a lot but I still have this (stupid) notion that I ought to be able to zip up steep hills without being out of breath. Also the weather looked chancey and the attendance was going to be very low. I came within a hair's breadth of cancelling. I'm SO glad I didn't. It was, indeed, gloomy and damp when we started (there were only four of us, one woman I like a lot that I've been on a few hikes with and two newbies who turned out to be awesome)...but that first mile is woodsy and mysterious and the mist was hanging in the treetops, it was otherwordly and beautiful. We were seriously waiting for Galadriel to float out of the mist.

I was out of breath on the hills but never had to stop, I just trudged right up, so right away I felt better. That's about as well as I did those hills when I'd been doing more regular hiking and gym exercise. Then the sun came out and it was lovely and cool and perfect hiking weather.

I don't think I realized how much I needed that hike until I was on the trail. Since my big Lifestyle Change, hiking has always been so associated with my general feeling of well-being and accomplishment that when I'm not doing it as much, I feel...well, kind of unfulfilled and icky. Being on the trail and feeling really good doing a not-super-easy 7 miles reassured me a lot. I'm feeling much more confident about the very busy schedule of hikes I've got for October, the best hiking month of the whole year.

Then Sunday, my docent friends and I took a field trip to the Toledo Zoo. We loved it! We knew it was a smaller, older zoo and weren't sure what to expect, but it exceeded our expectations. We were especially excited to see the African Elephants and the hippos, which our zoo doesn't have. We were there open to close and had a great

So it was a busy weekend (I was up at 6 am both days, argh) but really fantastic.

Hope you guys had a good weekend, too!

Ask Lori an Animal Question

So I've been posting a lot more regularly lately, which is fun. I've not much to contribute today so I thought of doing an Ask Lori a Science Question, then it occurred to me to do a bit of a variation on it in honor of my new semi-career as zoo docent.

So today we're doing...Ask Lori an Animal Question! Wondering if bears in zoos hibernate? Why bonobos have so much sex? Whether lions and tigers purr? Are elephants smart? I will answer (or attempt to answer).

I'm not an animal expert or a zoologist but it's amazing how much you learn hanging around these guys for hours at a time.

Have at you! (oh, and feel free to ask a science question if you have one)

Sherlock, zoos and the vagaries of weather

In case any of you were waiting for this, I got an email this morning from Netflix that "Sherlock" series 2 is now streaming. So if you want a good cry at work you can watch "The Reichenbach Fall" on your phone now. Good luck with those TPS reports while gross sobbing. That may be today's worktime viewing. Lately it's been reruns of "Mythbusters." Man, I would commit murder to have "The West Wing" on streaming. I could listen to that for the rest of my working life. I'd just get to the end of season 7 and then start over at the beginning.

I have a busy weekend ahead. Tonight I have a walk in a park with The Club, Saturday we're doing a longish hike (7ish miles) at a state park about an hour north of here, and then Sunday I'm going on a field trip with some of my docent friends to the Toledo Zoo. Looking forward to that! Except now I see that it's supposed to rain on Saturday near the park. ARGHARGHARGH. Lately the weather's been doing this thing when it's glorious, sunny, blue-skied and beautifully cool all the time EXCEPT when I have an outdoor activity planned, at which time it turns to shit. At least it'll be nice for tonight's walk.

I've been going to the gym a LOT. I joined a fitness challenge group on my food logging website where you set a goal of minutes of exercise for the months of September and October. I set an admittedly ambitious goal of 3000 total minutes for those 61 days. I'm a tad behind right now because the last week or so has been slow, I've been feeling crappy. My Saturday hike will help a lot, that'll be at least four hours, provided we're not rained out (argh). I went last night and I'll go again tomorrow. I'm alternating cardio with a new strength training routine, although said routine is punishing enough that I might only be able to do it once a week at first. I can do an hour on the crosstrainer without difficulty now; last night I did 35 minutes treadmill, 30 minutes cross trainer.

Our zoo trip ought to be fun. My docent class has a little bit of a club; we often meet for dinner before our weekly Tuesday region meetings (which are about to end for the season, sad panda) and send each other notes from those meetings for those who can't attend. I've discovered that a side effect of becoming a zoo docent (apart from a sudden need to acquire animal-themed jewelry) is that you want to visit a lot of other zoos. See how they do things, see how they measure up. Now, the Columbus Zoo has been ranked as the #1 zoo in the country, and even if you don't agree with that ranking (the San Diego Zoo and Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo are often touted as such as well), our zoo is definitely one of the top zoos in the country, for size, breadth and depth of animal collection, as well as infamy...Jack Hanna is our director emeritus, this is his zoo. But different zoos do things differently, and it's fun to check out the competition. Looking at their map online, the Toledo Zoo is much smaller than our zoo, but they have some things I'm looking forward to seeing that we don't have, like African elephants (ours are Asian) and hippos!

One of the things I like about the Cbus zoo is our North America region. Not many zoos have a whole region dedicated to North American animals; most tend to focus on exotic animals, but the NA region is the most popular part of our zoo, not to mention the largest. It houses our awesome Polar Frontier polar bear exhibit, which also features a pair of truly entertaining huge brown bear brothers. There are also bison, pronghorns, two kinds of wolves, moose, reindeer, bobcats, cougars, wolverines, bald eagles, a grizzly bear, an aviary, river otters and the petting zoo. It's nice as well that the zoo visitors can have animals to see during the winter months when a lot of the animals in the Africa and Australia exhibits can't go outside (you can still see the gorillas and bonobos in winter because they have indoor viewing, but you can't see the orangutans or the kangaroos and a lot of other animals).

Today they had a groundbreaking ceremony for the brand-new region they're building at the zoo, an African Savannah region. It's going to expand the zoo considerably...it's already a ginormous zoo (over 350 acres) and now it's getting bigger. We're all excited - it'll be so nice to tell visitors that yes, we have giraffes (which we haven't had for over a decade)! It won't open for a year and a half but it'll be interesting to watch them execute this huge project.

Concerning Mr. Freeman

So in case you've been living under a rock, there's a new Hobbit trailer out today:


I'm sure it's many other places, that's just where I watched it. Apart from wanting to see it for its own sake, my current fandom is eagerly awaiting the film because MARTIN. Since they make us wait all the eons of the earth between Sherlock seasons, we have to get our fix by seeing our boys in other projects. Since series 2 we've had Benedict in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "Parade's End" and seen him in many photocalls, interviews and such, but Martin has been all but invisible since he's spent most of the past two-three years in New Zealand shooting this movie.

Mr. Freeman, he is an enigma. Most people who aren't cinephiles don't know his name (although they may know his face) but he has now played three of the most iconic characters of the English language: Arthur Dent, Dr. Watson and Bilbo Baggins. Just about everyone who likes movies has seen him (unless they haven't seen "Love, Actually" in which case what is wrong with them) but in between these iconic, widely-seen roles are a strange hodgepodge of weird little movies nobody sees and random pop-up appearances in the projects of friends. He seems content to alternate between fabulous creative work and payday jobs. People think he's a cuddly teddy bear when in reality he's a snarky cynic. He's a talented actor, but in a quiet, non-show-offy way.

His wife is unofficial Queen of the Fandom. She buys fannish t-shirts for herself and their kids to wear (and reports that Martin begs her not to wear them when she's with him). The fans did a congrats-on-the-BAFTA postcard project and she made him pose with a bunch of the cards for a photo to Tweet to us. She is hilarious.

And his casting in "The Hobbit" was met with near-universal sighs of relief. As soon as it was announced everyone went, well, of course. Who else? And there was nobody else, not for PJ and the crew. They wanted him so much that they were willing to suspend production for an entire summer so Martin could take the role. People who've seen more extended clips from the film report that he's amazing. I'm not surprised.

Anyway. That's fannish news for today.


I had kind of a crappeh weekend. It started out fun, as I joined Rachel and Mike at the Indiana Jones marathon. It was awesome to see the films on the big screen, although we were all puzzled as we'd thought the whole point of this was to show Raiders in IMAX and we were...not in the IMAX theater. The prints looked a bit muddy, too. I didn't hang around for Crystal Skull, I admit. I didn't really like it the first time and I had some stuff to do before going to bed early to get up early on Sunday to go kayaking with my club.

Which didn't happen because Saturday night I felt awful. Sore throat, achey...I was sure I was getting sick. I told the group that I had to pull out but they should still go. Some of them did and had a good time. It was a gorgeous day on Sunday.

Which I didn't get to enjoy because I felt so crappy. Also had cray cray mood swings on Saturday night, ended up crying in front of Tumblr for no particular reason. Time for Aunt Flo to visit! Sunday I just read books in bed, stumbled out to go to the grocery store. I posted on FB that I was going to do experimental cooking and my friend Other Rachel offered to come over and be my sous-chef. We put together a soup with hot Italian turkey sausage, sweet potatoes, quinoa, peaches, apricot nectar and chicken stock. Oh and chickpeas. It turned out pretty well, actually. I showed her the first episode of "Parade's End" which she loved; after she left I watched the fourth episode (which aired Friday in the UK) and was predictably enthralled and hair-pullingly frustrated by.

At least I made it to the farmer's market and got chicken sausage. Delicious, delicious chicken sausage.
So many of us spend so much time on computers, it's easy to get tight and sore with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. I found a video online showing some stretches for tendonitis and CPS. I've been doing them for a few days and they're amazing.

I don't have a link to the video, but when I did a search on YouTube for "tendonitis CPS stretches" it was the first one that came up. It's a guy in a purple shirt standing in a forest showing you the stretches.

I'll describe the stretches here.

1. Hold both arms out straight in front of you, palms facing in. Tuck your thumb across your palm and wrap your other fingers around your thumb, then tip your hand gently forward from the wrist. You'll feel it along the top of your forearm.

2. Hold one arm straight out in front of you, palm facing in. Bend your wrist 90 degrees in so the palm is now facing you. Now bend just your fingers another 90 degrees in so your hand is making a U shape. Wrap your other hand around the back of your bent hand and gently press inward. You'll feel it along the back of your forearm. Repeat with other hand.

3. This one you need a wall for. Place one palm against the wall with your fingers pointing down (so the inside of your forearm faces upward). Reach across your arm with your free hand and gently pull your thumb upwards. You'll feel it across your hand and your forearm.

4. Finally just hold both arms out with palms down, then bend your hands from the wrist so the palm faces out (the "stop in the name of love" position). Stretch outward from the base of your palm.

Hold each stretch for 8-10 seconds. Repeat several times throughout the day.
What happened to summer? Wasn't it May, like, yesterday? And now it's September.

I'm just going to stop apologizing for so infrequently updating this journal. If I do it more often, then I do it more often, but I'm going to stop feeling guilty about it. All my fannish stuff has moved to Tumblr, most of my real-life updates are on Facebook, and although I still like LJ for posting fic, AO3 is rapidly becoming the first-choice archive (I still like getting comments on LJ, though). Anyhoo.

Update on my life: things are fine.

I am now a fully-qualified, 100% trained docent at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium! Yahoo! In August I undertook three more weeks of training on the remaining two regions of the zoo (Shores and North America) and yesterday I completed all my mentoring hours. Now when I come to the zoo, I can go anywhere in the entire place and be a docent. I still have a strong affinity for the gorillas, but the North America region is a lot of fun. It includes two different kinds of wolves, river otters, moose, reindeer, polar bears, brown bears, wolverines, grizzly bears, cougars and bobcats, bald eagles and bison.

My final hurdle will be next February, when my first year is up and I stop being a provisional docent and become a regular docent. I'll get a nice new red lanyard to replace the provisional white one!

It's been a weird summer for the outdoor club. The extreme heat put the kibosh on several of our planned hikes, though we did get a fair amount of kayaking in. I participated in an introductory SCUBA class a few weeks ago. One of my fellow docents is a SCUBA instructor (and a volunteer diver at the zoo's aquarium) and he taught the class for me. It was really fun! I don't think SCUBA is a hobby I want to pursue, but I'm glad to have had the experience. Fall is a better time to hike anyway so I am planning a number of outings for this month and next month. October is particularly peak hiking time because fall colors.

This Saturday Rachel and I are going to an all-day Indiana Jones marathon. I hope we don't have to watch Crystal Skull.

Other than that it's been reading fanfic, reading regular books, going to work and to the gym, blah blah blah.

For those of you who are fans of Mr. Cumberbatch I'm downloading and watching the BBC/HBO miniseries "Parade's End" which he stars in with Rebecca Hall and which is currently airing in the UK. I'm assuming it'll air on HBO at some point. It is really quite brilliant. It's very challenging and complex and I love things that aren't afraid of characters who are difficult and full of contradictions. Benedict is brilliant as usual (his ability to totally exude a different person with each role he plays never ceases to amaze) and Rebecca Hall is astonishingly good as a character who is difficult to like but somehow is making me root for her.

Peace out, homies!

Once more unto the Olympian breach

So tonight's the Olympics opening ceremonies. I don't know how many of y'all remember my Lori's Olympics Cheers 'n Jeers. Dunno if I'll be doing that this year. Honestly I don't know how much of it I'll be watching (it's all set to DVR). Of course I say that every year and then I end up glued to it like everybody else.

So who do we think's going to be those final torch bearers, eh? They've had lots of public figures the past few days. Both James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart carried it, leading to the inevitable "Wow, Professor X has been running for a long time..." jokes. But who'll get those coveted final five spots leading up to the actual torch-lighter? Will they go with people who are quintessentially British to the rest of the world? People who are beloved to the British people?

I bet Beckham will be one. How about Stephen Fry, we seen him yet? And I bet DanRad will be there, too. Rupert has already done it.

It'd be kind of amazing if the Queen was the last torchbearer. Can you picture that? Jogging in her little royal track suit? With the corgis, maybe?

Of course everyone jokes about the final one being Tennant. God, what if they actually did that? It'd be like the greatest example of fanservice in the history of media.

Still, the biggest question on my mind is: what crazy-ass shit will Boris Johnson say or do this time? Heh. (we kid because we love, Boris)

Travels with mother

I don't remember July happening. Surely I was, you know, alive and stuff. I did spend one weekend in Janesville with the family (which was lovely). Time just seems to fly by.

This week's another busy one. Tuesday night I had docent meetings, last night I had a date (went all right), tonight having cocktails with friends, tomorrow I have a hike. Sunday I have a morning kayaking thing, although I may see if another member of my club can host instead so I can do some other things. There's a trail I want to scout and I want to put in some more zoo time.

In the meantime I'm mainlining White Collar, reading Sherlock fic (and the current Percy Jackson book, as the new one comes out in the fall), and setting up the DVR to watch the Olympics.

Speaking of London...

I'm going back! Next May I am going to return to London and take my mother! I'm so excited! My mom's never been out of the US (as I had never been) and as I left London I kept thinking about how much she'd enjoy it, so I asked her if she wanted to come and she said yes! It's nice to have a little more lead time. I'm already scouting good places for us to stay. It'll be good because I now know how to get around, what to do, how things work, etc, and I have a better idea of what would be good to revisit with her and what we can skip that I already did. I'm already planning for us to visit Hampton Court Palace, which I didn't get to. I do want us to take the same day trip I took, the Windsor Castle/Stonehenge/Bath trip, because she'd love that. Mom and I travel well together so I'm sure we'll have a blast.

She's excited. I asked her on the phone the other day if she'd been thinking about things she'd like to do and she said "That's ALL I've been thinking about!" She said she plans to watch the Olympics with a pen and paper. Heh. She wants to have fancy tea so I've been looking up the best places to do that, too. Cucumber sandwiches ahoy!


Holy crap it's been a month since I updated. I've been busy!

I know I sort of dropped the ball on my London-trip-by-the-day travelogue...I did the whole trip on The Facebook. You guys want to see some photos? I can keep doing those posts every so often.

June was crazy. I took my hiking club kayaking, and spent one weekend on an overnight trip with them in Kentucky which was AWESOME. It was our first-ever overnight trip and it really couldn't have gone better. We stayed in this lovely cabin with a totally amazing view out the back patio, hiked, had a campfire, napped, it was great. Lovely weather. Unlike now as it's been ONE MILLION DEGREES here for weeks, it seems. My friend Gretchen came to visit one day, there was a trip to a local safari park, baby showers, brunches, and oh yeah the normal everyday stuff of work/write/zoo/laundry and such.

The huge storm (the derecho!) that blew through here a week ago didn't affect me much, thank God. I never lost power. Had some friends refugee at my place.

But on to the main topic of this post. The way we share and post fanfiction has changed a LOT since I started writing it in 1995. As most of you know, I keep a separate LJ for my fanfiction (<lj user="madlorific">) and there are masterposts for each fandom I've written in. Some of the links go to external sites (like FictionAlley). I'd like to start moving/copying my fanfiction output to either the fic journal or to AO3. Eventually I'd like to have everything post both to AO3 and to the fic journal. This is not a small project. Of my entire fanfic output, only my last two fandoms (Criminal Minds and Sherlock) are posted to the fic journal and some to AO3. My Brokeback fic is posted to its own journal. My HP fic is still just on either FA or on the Yahoo!Group (which I'd like to get rid of once the fic is resettled). My Trek stuff and my early Doctor Who stuff is still scattered on old geocities sites. Some consolidation is clearly called for.

This is not a small project. I think I'll start by moving the HP stuff to AO3 (it'll stay on FA as well, though). Likely I won't post those to the LJ fic journal, I'll just post links. The chapters are too long for single posts and it'd be a huge pain, plus then people can download a PDF of the whole story.

I do have some things on FF.net. I know, pit of voles, but there are so many readers who only know to go there for fic. "Alone on the Water" (which has shaped up to be my most popular fanfiction EVER) gets by far the most reviews from FF.net. Some things I'd like to add there.

God. I'm a little daunted by the prospect.

Grand Canyon: International Superstar

I'm a friendly sort of person, so when I was in London and having lunch or what have you, I often struck up conversations with strangers.  Two different Londoners, upon ascertaining that I am American, asked me if I'd been to the Grand Canyon.

This just supported my theory, formulated some years ago, that the rest of the world is fascinated by the Grand Canyon.  

The answer is yes, I have been to the Grand Canyon, once.  While there, I was amazed at the number of international tourists (the Wik informs me that 17% of the parks' annual visitors are from outside the US...I wonder how that compares with, say, Disney World).  From everywhere.  Actually it got a bit old because they kept assuming that I knew things because I was American, when in fact I was just as much of a tourist as they were.  Whaaaaaat, you don't know everything about the Grand Canyon and its associated national parks?  BUT YOU'RE FROM HERE.  No, I'm from OHIO.  I don't know from Arizona, my German/Japanese/French tourist friend.

Don't get me wrong...the Grand Canyon is, without a doubt, mind-blowingly amazing.  I mean, come ON.  It's a canyon almost three hundred miles long, eighteen miles wide and over a mile deep in places.  It's not the deepest or longest canyon in the world, but the others can't beat it for visual impact.  It's probably to date the most amazing thing I've ever seen.  No photographs can do it justice.  Your brain sort of short-circuits when you see it and all you can do is stand there and gape.  Some people cry from the sheer amazingness.  My friend that I was with did, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a bit choky myself.  One of the rangers I talked to said that it isn't unheard of for people to actually FAINT upon seeing it.  I believe it.  It is a bit of sensory overload and nothing can prepare you for it.

So perhaps it isn't too surprising that people all over the world are so interested in it.  After all, it is the only one in the world, there is nothing else like it anywhere else.  But I would never have thought that the first thought of the world, upon hearing "America," would be GRAND CANYON.  I would have thought it'd be Disney World, or New York City, or Hollywood, or something like that.  But you know...those things are all man-made.  The Grand Canyon isn't.  Perhaps it speaks to anybody, regardless of culture or language or home country, because it is of the natural world, and everybody can understand and respond to that.


TV:  I Reject Your Reality
The Mad Lori

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