mrvelocipede: (Default)
Persons who complain about the fussiness of food preparation, and say "What does it matter? It's all going to end up in the same place!" should have all their future meals converted to a uniform slurry, and fed to them by means of a tube.
mrvelocipede: (No Good)
Huh, there's this contest thingy, which I thought was an interesting prompt for a piece of writing, so I tried writing a thing and then discovered that to enter it you have to go through Facebook. Lame. I guess I won't bother. And I kind of like the thing I wrote, but for various reasons I don't ever want to have it associated with my real name or any of my known pseudonyms. So now I don't know what to do with it!

This uninteresting message has been brought to you by the Campaign to Avoid Packing.
mrvelocipede: (No Good)
Absolutely my only excuse for posting right now is that I've realized I can have this sign as an entry icon*, even if I don't get to have the sign itself. (Although it turns out you can buy all sorts of road signs, at fairly reasonable prices even.)

We have invested heavily in medium and large-sized cardboard boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap, and the like. I also have industrial quantities of tiny paper bags, in which to roll up loose type so it won't rattle around and fall out of the cases or get damaged in transit. At least that's the theory.

I still need to work on disassembling the press, for which I've been waiting on warm dry weather so I can open the windows and vent paint-remover fumes. Only it's still acting like February around here, and continues to be forty-five degrees and rainy, so this isn't happening yet. Maybe by the weekend.

On the one hand, I guess I'm glad I'm not stuck doing my packing someplace where it's eighty-five degrees and humid, but on the other hand I'm really tired of wearing thick wooly sweaters.

...And as I'm typing this, the clouds are blowing away and the sun is coming out. Ha ha.

I wish I knew how to stop being so angst-ridden about leaving Seattle. It makes me feel like a quitter and a loser and a failure, no matter how much I try to tell myself there are perfectly sensible reasons for going. I'm finding it more or less impossible to separate my rejection by the local culture from my rejection by Jeremy: they seem absolutely parallel. In both situations, I turned out to be a disappointment and a nuisance, full of jarring wrong opinions. In both cases, the answer was for me to just quietly go away and stop causing problems, and in both cases I am convinced that I was an idiot to stick around trying to make things work for so long.

Well. Time to stop putting it off, and get back to loading type into bags.

. . . . . . . . . . .

* It's only visible on Dreamwidth, because I got sick of trying to mess with LiveJournal's increasingly-stupid nested menus. Bah.

So then

Apr. 6th, 2011 02:49 pm
mrvelocipede: (Default)
Hey, is this thing still on?

*kicks internet in the slats*

I'm trying to decide whether to try and update here again, or just add occasional text posts to Tumblr (which I had originally intended to be a place to dump pictures).

Some stuff is happening! It looks like the Professor and I are going to be moving away from Seattle this summer. Probably we will be going back to Pittsburgh, at least for a while, although I have no idea whether we're likely to stay there for any length of time. Partly it will depend on whether or not we're able to find a suitable building in which to set up shop space.

I've been making some more progress with my printing press, figuring out some things I want to do and also some things I don't want to get stuck doing. The question of how to turn art-crap into money is always a vexing one. I'm good at figuring out logistics and producing inventory, and I'm very, very bad at being a salesman or doing publicity. It seems like I can either be productive and make things, or I can sink energy into photographing, describing, pricing, posting, listing, etc., but I can't remotely do both. And the sales-and-marketing stuff is unpleasant enough that I stop making things for weeks at a time afterward, and sink into lethargy and self-loathing.

One of my (forlorn?) hopes is that if I spend some time back in Pittsburgh, I'll be able to tap into a better network of acquaintances, and that some friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend will turn out to be a sensible, cheerfully outgoing person who is interested in the part of things that involves talking to the public. Surely such a person must exist, somewhere.

In the meantime, I'm all worried about how to pack up everything I own and get it across the continent, again.
mrvelocipede: (Default)
From Twitter:

mrvelocipede Professor & Madame Love recommend watching Star Trek for Valentine's day. Perhaps the episode where spores cause Spock to fall in love.

v3ganiz3r @mrvelocipede shows that veganism is the diet of highly evolved beings:

mrvelocipede @v3ganiz3r You do realize that Mr. Spock is a fictional character, right?
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Finished the next bit of the printing. Am theoretically done now. Feel even worse than when it was half-finished, and indeed worse than when it was entirely un-started.

Am overwhelmed with a sense of this is not how it is supposed to work.

Not sure what to do now.
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Finally did some of the printing I've been putting off for a month. Feel worse instead of better.
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Another day in which I wake up telling myself that this time I'm going to do some of the things I'm supposed to do, and get them done, so I can stop feeling guilty about them, and another night in which I go to bed hating myself for having done nothing. Again. Again and again and again.

I don't know how to force myself to do anything anymore. It's cold and grey and dim, and I sit still in a chair for hours in a row, staring at the computer, or a book, or nothing. And I am filled with bitter disappointment with myself, my life, everything that surrounds me.

This may ultimately be the most compelling reason to leave Seattle. Not the fucked-up economy, not the hideous and overpriced houses, not the snotty ironic hipsters, not the endless stream of painful memories connected with every square inch of ground I've walked across for the last several years. But purely the latitude, which is far enough north that I don't get enough light in the winter.
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I don't know if it's just the dark chilly weather or what, but I seem to be all full of philosophic mutterings lately. I'm bashing at fractals again. Every so often I try web searches to see if I can find any examples of fractals being used for something really interesting or unexpected or cool, but so far not much has turned up. There are still the small handful of people making images I like, but nothing outside the already-familiar.

And I am constantly discouraged by the overwhelming quantity of really dull fractal art. I realize that lots of people try out a fractal generator, say Ooh, awesome! and stick a couple of dozen pictures on a website before getting bored and going on to something else. Therefore there's a lot of noise in the signal. But I'm disappointed that so few seem to get past that initial factor of Whoa! and realize that there are lots of possibilities still to explore. It's as though everyone who ever owned a camera took a picture of their foot, said Amazing! A picture of my foot! and then never tried taking a picture of anything else. Or maybe it's more like someone who takes pictures of everything, indiscriminately, and never gets as far as considering subject, composition, light, color, contrast, balance, aperture, shutter speed, or different kinds of film. (Everything is digital! There are no kinds of film anymore!)

There's also the part where sometimes I also make really awful fractals. My approach, when doing the sort of illustrative ones that are my usual style, is to build up (hopefully) recognizable shapes out of simple geometric elements, which are then mapped onto the basic fractal skeleton. I probably owe a lot of credit to the drawing instructions of Ed Emberley (warning: flashblob), where you put basic shapes together to make animals and buildings and so on.

Most of the time, I try to do this with a certain amount of subtlety: I think about light and shading and the kinds of materials different objects are made of, and whether they're transparent or reflective or squishy or fuzzy or what. However, it's trivially easy to make some truly hideous things out of simple geometric shapes. And sometimes I do, just because I can. Usually those die in the nethermost regions of my hard drive, where the rainbows and valentines go to rot.

To the obvious question, Why make the damned things in the first place? I can only say I don't know. Probably just to get them out of my head. So I made a thing full of smiley faces, and realized that there was an actual idea in there, and that in fact it needed to be a series. So far there are five of them. None of the others is as hideous as the smileys. For the sake of some kind of consistency, I did make all of them more simplified and saturated and cartoony than I normally would have.

And now I'm sitting here grinding my teeth in bitter self-loathing, because this is exactly the kind of thing I hate most about fractals. I'm pretty sure there are people out there who would think this is really cool. Or cute. Or legitimately cheering.


So, anyway, I'll probably post part two of the series tomorrow.
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On the one hand, it's really nice to be back in Seattle. The air is clear, the light is beautiful, the water tastes good, and I have all my nice familiar systems of tea and food and internet.

On the other hand, I hate a lot of Seattle. We tried to go out this afternoon to run some errands: stop at the bank, pick up some art supplies, maybe get some lunch. This was the Professor's last free afternoon for months, because the new quarter is starting. We got as far as the bank, and somehow it sent me into complete crash-and-burn mode. I don't really know why. Maybe because it was much colder outside than I was expecting. Maybe because the bank guy was a flawless example of the kind of supercilious hipper-than-thou jerk that I hate the most. Maybe it was the dude with the gasoline-stinking leaf-blower on the sidewalk between the bank and the car, that blew a lot of grit into my eyes and made me cough.

At any rate, I ended up having a complete freak-out breakdown, and we just came straight back home, without doing any of the other stuff that was supposed to get done while we were out. An almost entirely wasted trip. I felt completely like a useless loser asswipe. Something about this town convinces me that I am utterly worthless. I don't think I was quite so overwhelmed by that idea when I was in Pittsburgh.

I miss having people around to talk to. I feel so impossibly far away from everyone.

But I like having all my normal tools and supplies available. All my pliers and hammers and mat-knives and bits of copper leaf and tiny drill bits and spools of wire. All my carefully sorted boxes of beads. All my proper kitchen knives.

So, obviously, the thing to do is move all my ten thousand pieces of heavy, fragile, specialized crap back to Pittsburgh, where there are people I like to see. And where the winters are cold and snowy. And where the summers are thick with haze and pollen. And where my skin completely freaked out during my two-week visit, such that there are huge weird rashy patches up both my sides.


Adding to the complication is that there's a branch of the community college that's really close, right up the hill, and the Professor has been trying to get a class there for at least a year now. They always contact him at the very last minute before the beginning of term, and so he's always had schedule conflicts with the other classes he's teaching. But this time they needed somebody at an hour when he's available. And they're paying extra because the class size is large. And he gets to have an office. And the reason this class opened up was because the guy who used to teach it, and who was full-time, was also very old and died suddenly. Which is sad, and all, but it means that the college might conceivably be looking to hire a full-time person to replace him: death or retirement of existing faculty members being the only allowable exception to the current hiring freeze.


I really can't even tell, at this point, if I'm all pissed off because I hate it here and am desperate to leave, or if I'm all pissed off because I'm clearly not doing so well here, and feel like my only option is to give up and leave. Or if I'm all pissed off because the Professor's job prospects seem pretty decent here, and I'm worried that I won't get to leave.

mrvelocipede: (Default)
Dear guy sitting next to us on the airplane,

Reading a book is (as far as I know) one of the universally-accepted signals that one does not wish to engage in conversation while on public transportation. It is a way of indicating to you that your ceaseless barrage of prying questions is unwelcome, boring, and rude. I bring books with me on the airplane both as a pleasant way of passing the time, and as a method of indicating that I would rather be left alone, without having to go to the trouble of explaining to you that I would rather not tell you my personal history, level of education, field(s) of interest, political and religious beliefs, or sports-team affiliations. I am made especially unhappy if I am forced into the position of having to tell you in so many words that I don't want to answer your questions.

You are likely to take offense at such a bald statement. No matter how these interactions are handled, your persistent refusal to be politely—or, eventually, rudely—brushed off makes our time on this airplane even more uncomfortable than it would otherwise be.

Please, in the future, for the sake of those introverts you may encounter in your travels, LEARN TO TAKE A FUCKING HINT.

Thanking you in advance.

No love,
Mr. Velocipede

P.S. Your screaming child is not helping matters significantly.
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Amusements of early December:
  1. Print quick-and-simple card.
  2. Hey, these don't look too bad!
  3. Melt down & freak out because of huge unresolved guilt about printing press, printing in general, and art in all its horribleness.
  4. Several days go by.
  5. Recover sufficiently to make list and start writing cards.
  6. Suddenly realize that if you send mail out into the world, EVERYONE IS GOING TO HATE YOU because
    (a) People will be reminded that you otherwise never send them anything, you unfriendly creep.
    (b) Anyone who has sent you something (to which you have not replied adequately) is going to resent you for being such a lazy ungrateful jerk.
    (c) Anyone who hasn't sent you anything is going to resent you for making them feel guilty about never having sent you anything, you smug organized card-sending bastard.
    (d) God, these quick-and-simple cards are really stupid-looking, anyway.

  7. Fuck.
  9. Small bonfire; burn embarrassing unwanted cards & envelopes; contemplate immolating self as well but decide you'd probably need a larger fire.
  10. Resolve to print more cards next year, so as to allow for adequate immolation fuel.
Happy Holidays, everyone!


Dec. 6th, 2010 07:40 pm
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More cool stuff I've found online recently!

  • Beautiful printable fruit! The rest of this site is full of awesome things, too, but I can't help wondering if I'd be better off looking for cuts at flea markets. Although around here, I don't know if there are any flea markets. And if there are, printers' cuts probably cost twice that much, due to the hipness factor.

  • Properly hemispherical ice cream scoop, in small sizes. Say, slightly larger than a golf ball, but smaller than a pool ball.

  • Socks. Socks. Socks.
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Heigh ho, I have a cold. It's not a terribly bad one, thankfully, but it means I'm completely useless for doing anything that requires physical strength or coordination. Instead of printing my Xmas cards, I therefore have been spending the last two days sitting around messing with fractals, and idly surfing the internet in search of things to give people.

Naturally, this mostly results in me finding things I wish I could buy for myself, instead. So I figured it might be useful to make a List of Seasonal Greed, with links, for the benefit of the couple of people who might be thinking of giving me presents. (Sigh. One of whom never reads the internet anymore, while the other has probably already pulled the relevant information out of my browser history when I wasn't looking.)

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I fear I have entirely forgotten how to write anything for posting.

It's gotten to be that dim & grim time of year, when the light goes away and the warmth goes away and I mostly just shut down completely. This year I'm especially sad, thinking about the windows in the house that didn't end up being ours, up on top of the hill where more light happens. Some evenings I can tell by the color of the sky that there's been a break in the clouds, way down at the western horizon, and I know it would be visible from the upper windows of the house. From where I am I can't see it at all.

And I beat myself up, mercilessly, because no matter what I do, I still can't stand the business of trying to sell any of the things I make. Putting stuff online is always painful, and taking pictures is slow, and writing ad-copy is excruciating. But none of those components are nearly as bad as getting a reaction from some interested customer. As soon as some poor soul says "Yes, please, send me many!" I go into a useless catatonic state, withdraw from the outside world completely, and shun all communication. And I stop making things, because I don't have any way of storing them, but somehow making them go away is beyond my capacity.

I'm developing a theory about the stuff I make, which is more or less like this: There's a thing that happens sometimes, where I get a terrible joke stuck in my head. Those jokes that turn up in hideously-illustrated booklets, intended for gradeschool children. They are often puns, forced, utterly unfunny. Sometimes the pun is explained in parentheses, just to make sure the reader gets it. [One was a salted (assaulted).]

At any rate, I'll get one of those jokes stuck in my head, as though it was a pop song I'd heard in the grocery store muzak. [Hold up the chicken and make it pea.] It rattles around in there, driving me batty, and the only way to get rid of it is to tell some unfortunate victim the joke. Somehow that clears it out of my head, so I can get on with my life. Sadly, this is not a nice thing to do to a person, since these jokes are not at all funny. They are embarrassing. They are painful. I am ashamed to admit that I know them in the first place, let alone feel compelled to pass them on.

Something very similar happens with the stuff I make, and the projects I do. They start with small, stupid, irritating ideas, that get stuck in my head and won't go away. The only way to clear them out is to make them physically manifest, so that somebody else can see what I've been thinking about. But showing people the things I've made feels just as horrible as telling them those jokes; it's the same overwhelming shame and embarrassment. [Because he was a common tater (commentator).]

This results also in a distressing corollary, which is that when people say they like the things I do, I have no idea how to react. (I wouldn't know how to react if I had an audience who laughed uproariously at the jokes, either.) To me, any feedback that seems enthusiastic or even positive is purely baffling, because I feel so bad about inflicting such crap on the world. I'm not doing it on purpose. It just sort of bubbles up from the unseen depths, and I push it out of my way in hopes of getting loose of the stuff. It's not something I'm proud of. I would stop, if only I knew how.
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All of a sudden it seems like the world is noticing me. Maybe all my piles of spirographs are starting to trickle out into the aether enough to find the right audience.

It's not actually all that much, yet. First I had a message from somebody in Italy, asking if I could ship the Scribbling-Engine there. I spent a bad couple of days trying to disentangle information from the US Postal Service's appallingly convoluted website, and was reaching a stage of acute breakdown. Fortunately, the Professor intervened; he's much better at wading through bureaucratic charts than I am. (And anyway it turns out that Ponoko will let me have the parts made in Italy, which makes the eventual shipping much more reasonable. Amazing.)

So while I was recovering from all that excitement, I got another message, this time from some official Ponoko person, who said they wanted to write about me on their blog. I got to answer a brief list of questions about how I found the site, and what kinds of things I make. Alas, the post doesn't actually have a direct link to my showroom, possibly because I didn't specifically mention it in my answers.

I did give them a link to my regular website, which is in the middle of some serious slash-and-burn updating. I'm trying to make it happen faster now, just in case anybody out there decides to follow the links. Aiieeee!
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It's all spirograph all the time around here lately. I finally managed to haul myself up the hill and check out the local laser-cutting place. It's a neat hidden-away spot, below street level, and full of interesting-looking machinery. I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a certain amount of time there in the future.

In the meantime, I'm trying to finish the listings for the last of the basic gear-plates. I keep wishing that all these websites had less clumsy interfaces: Etsy and Ponoko and that lot, they all make you click through every damned step if you just want to fix a typo or change a picture. I suspect I'd be happier if I could get set up to list and sell things directly from my own website. I keep on not doing it though, partly because I'm not entirely sure how complicated it would be to make it work, and partly because I'm too busy and distracted struggling with all these other sites.

But if I can just get this last gear-plate posted, and sort out shipping to Australia (and now also Italy, yikes!), and update the PDF of the pattern guide, and add some links to other useful stuff, then maybe I'll be getting somewhere.

Then after that all I have to do is test these next three plates I've had made, with all the weirdly-shaped parts.


How have I managed to get so busy?

. . . . . . . . . . .

I also wish I didn't keep tripping over the name "Dreamwidth." On bad days, I misread it as "Deathwish." On really bad days, it looks like "Dreamwing," which EWW EWW YUCK RETCH SPIT PTOOOIE. So, um, yeah.
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For a couple of days I've been thinking about Facebook, and wondering whether I might want to try spending some time there again. There are some people on there who I'd like to have a small amount of contact with, maybe, and some of them aren't on any of the other social-networking places that I like better.

It took less than half an hour for me to decide it was a terrible idea. No matter how much I might like to check in with my brother, or some of the people I used to hang out with in Pittsburgh, Facebook is such an unpleasant way to interact with the world that I can't make myself do it.

There is, of course, all the ongoing flap about how Facebook only exists so that what's-his-name can sell your eyeballs to advertisers for billions of dollars, laughing and sneering all the way to the bank. Blah blah privacy invasion marketing blah. But actually, that one doesn't trouble me as much as it probably should. I figure, my eyeballs already belong to advertisers, purely because that's the culture I live in. By deciding to look at the internet at all, I've given up my eyeball-rights, and the best I can do is try not to give up too much brain-space as well.

No, the problem with Facebook is twofold: there's the user interface, and there are the users.

The site is (I think intentionally) designed to be confusing, and to waste time. If I upload a picture and then want to find it again later, to send somebody a link, maybe I try clicking a thing on my profile page that says "pictures." But it takes me to other people's pictures that are tagged with my name. To get to my own pictures takes three or four more clicks. With every wrong page I have to slog through to get there, Facebook is showing me advertisements. I end up spending much more time on their site than I had planned, looking at dozens of ads instead of just one or two.

And then there are the friend requests. Look! All these people are waiting for me to acknowledge that I'm their friend! Doesn't it make me feel all warm and fuzzy and loved?

Well, no. Most of these people aren't my friends. I don't like them much at all. I can probably divide them up into tidy little categories.

Why I Won't Be Your Friend
  1. You're creepy.
    Something about your behavior reminds me of people I knew in the past, who seemed really nice, but who turned out to be abusive jerks. When I see you on my Friends Feed, all sorts of red flashing lights and loud warning sirens go off in my head.
  2. You're boring.
    You seem pleasant enough, but nothing you post is ever worth reading.
  3. You're from a time in my life I don't want to remember.
    I knew you in a peripheral way while some other huge thing was going wrong. Maybe it was in high school. Maybe it was in one of my wretched failed attempts to go to college. Maybe you were friends with one of my vile ex-boyfriends. I don't have anything against you, really, but the only thing we have to talk about is all those good times, back in the day, that I wish to god had never happened.
  4. I don't actually know anything at all about you.
    I've only met you once or twice in my life, your posts are full of inside jokes and conversations between people I've never heard of, and none of it makes any sense to me. (Reason #2 may also apply here.)
  5. Your presence fills me with guilt.
    This one is mostly for relatives. I still don't actually know much about you, my only real-life interaction with you consists of polite, awkward conversation at holidays ("So, how's school going?"), and I don't have a damn thing to say to you. Also, my life is complicated in ways that I don't ever want to have to explain, and I feel weird posting about myself if I know you're likely to read it.
  6. Your life is so awesome that it fills me with despair.
    Applies mostly to former classmates from my various schools. You're traveling the world, or having a big gallery show, or you just got a fantastic high-paying job. I am an impoverished nobody. My world is without hope. Sniffle. Go away and stop making me feel inadequate.
  7. Actually I like you a lot.
    You do interesting things. You say weird random stuff that I find entertaining. You post cool pictures. I really wish I was your friend, but I'm assuming that you don't like me, probably for reasons similar to the ones I've listed above.
So I'm giving up on Facebook again. It exists, in my mind, as something that's kind of like Chuck E. Cheese: a place full of blinky lights and annoying noises and games I don't find fun and people I'm trying to avoid. I can understand why somebody might want to hang out there, even though it's not my kind of place. But dammit, I still would like to have a bit more online social contact of some kind. Is anybody out there on Twitter? Tumblr? Flickr? Any of the ten thousand LiveJournal clones? Any of the other webloggy places? Does anybody know of any good message boards, forums, that sort of thing? Am I going to have to start using instant messengers again? (Nobody uses IM anymore, right?)

ETA: Oh man, I can't believe I forgot reason #1a, which is You're crazy. It's okay with me if you think President Obama is really a giant mutant pineapple, but my life is a whole lot nicer if I don't have to hear about it.
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From the department of And Now This Is Happening: I've moved from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth. Thanks, [personal profile] chronographia! I suppose I need to update my official contact page again.

Things have been unexpectedly busy for the last couple of weeks. Some things sold on Etsy, which is nice, and then while I was processing those my aunt contacted me wanting some large fractal prints. That ended up being trickier than I might have liked, because it turns out there's hardly anyplace in town that will sell you 13x19-inch matte paper in reasonable quantities. It's either a giant expensive packet of incredibly high-end stuff, or nothing. Or you can order it online, and pay shipping, and wait. However, once I did finally get some that was workable, it turned out to be lots of fun printing things BIG. Now I need to get more ink.

In between all the printing and packing and shipping, I've been elbows-deep in spirographs. I had two new prototype gear-plates made at the end of August, and the plan was to get them tested and photographed and ready to go, so that I could add listings for them on the laser-cutting site. Now weeks have gone by, and I'm finally managing to make a little progress. I've been bouncing back and forth between the Scribbling-Engine and the old-school Spirograph, trying things with one and seeing how they translate into the other, hoping that some of them will also be suitable for the proposed new instruction book of designs.

Mostly today I was trying to make designs by drawing around the outside of a gear, as opposed to the inside of a ring. Outside patterns aren't as interesting as inside ones, generally. They're all pretty similar to one another, varying only in number of cusps and crossings. But some things can be done with repetition, and with changes of scale. It's quite a tricky design problem, actually. The set of conditions is incredibly limited, and limiting, and I'm trying to figure out if I can get results that are as interesting and varied as possible. When it goes well it's completely maddening, and when it goes badly it's much worse than that. So at least I'm kept entertained.

But I really do need to pry myself loose from the epicycles, and get some more damned things slung onto Etsy. It is horribly neglected.