January 18, 2009

Real Matress

I really should get a real bed for the apartment. Last night I slept a good twelve hours on a real matress, and it sure felt good.

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January 17, 2009

Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson

It's a story as old as campfires. A Dark One arises, evil, cunning, lusting for dominion and doom. But there is a prophesy! From humble birth, a hero will arise, the nations will fall before him. This hero will gather an army to oppose the Dark One. But in the end, armies are for naught: the hero will face the evil, alone, the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

And, of course, evil wins, because good is dumb.

The book itself is set a thousand years later, with humanity still suffering under the undying boot of the unkillable Lord Ruler, who's empire spans the entire world. He's unkillable, at least by any method anyone's tried. And many people have tried- but he shrugs off decapitation, incineration, defenestration, and impalation.

This is going to require a clever plan… and thus this novel is not traditional heroic fantasy, but a recently-popular subgenre of low fantasy, what I'd call "heist fantasy". A group of talented individuals of dubious moral fiber get together to take on an impossible task. Twists and turns and betrayals.

In addition to that, it's a coming-of-age story. The viewpoint switches back and forth between the leader of the gang (a tough old con with a heart of gold), and a young thief and urchin, brought in when her latent powers are noticed.

Ah, powers. The author has created an interesting new magical system for the book, too. It's called Allomancy, and, to summarize, rare people have the ability to metabolize one of eight metals or alloys, which gives them a superpower. Tin gives hightened sences, Pewter gives the body strength and endurance, etc. A very very few individuals can use all the metals, combining their powers, making them impressive individuals indeed. The young heroine is one such, so she must learn a life beyond dog-eat-dog, at the same time coming to terms with her new powers.

It's actually a trilogy; all three books are out, but I've only read the first. I am going to read the other two forthwith.

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January 15, 2009

Uncle-In-Law Is Getting Less Bionic

Today the Uncle-In-Law has been de-intubated and removed from the heart assist pump. He's concious and talking coherently, although he was combatative at first, which is not a surprise to those that know him.

Apparently the docs are now thinking that his heart muscle will recover, and he'll eventually recover full abilities. He had three blockages, like my Dad, but his were better placed, so they opened the blockages with stents vice doing bypass surgery. He's going to be transferred to a different ward, one for people who are not quite so close to death.

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I Am The Wheelman of the American Way

So, I was feeling ill yesterday, but I decided that was not going to keep me down. I took three different medications and was feeling ready to face the day.

My next class was at 11 AM, so I needed to catch the 10:25 shuttle bus. Just before 10, a car pulled up in front of the apartment. "Raghu," I called, "Your mother's here!"

Then I thought to myself "Hmmm. Was their car's front end bashed in like that the last time I saw it?"

Raghu's mother came rushing into the apartment, crying. His father followed, much more quietly. It seemed that they'd been in an accident; no one was hurt, they'd filed a police report, but they were going to be late with a scheduled appointment at the INS that could not be rescheduled. The mother was visibly freaking out, and Raghu obviously didn't know what to do.

It looked like a problem I could solve. I had an hour before class, so I got them herded into my car, and we took off for the INS, following the directions of the Garmin GPS they'd been using.

She must have set it up for "avoid highways", because we went all the way to the heart of downtown via minor streets. I got them there and dropped them off by 10:30, although if I'd know they were going to the center of town I could have gotten them there faster by taking a couple of expressways. Maybe after the accident, the mother didn't want to take any fast roads at all. She was emotionally shaken up.

During the drive, they were dithering about what to do with their car. Although they'd nursed to to get to the apartment complex, it wasn't safely drivable, because the brakes were non-functional. And Raghu's brother was at class in his Rochester-area high school, so the parents couldn't spend the night in Buffalo. I got them on the track of finding a repair garage that could give them a loaner vehicle for a few days.

As I said, I dropped them off at the INS, then gave them a phone number for a cab company to get back. I couldn't stay without missing my class. I felt a bit bad about making them spring for a cab, until I remembered that Raghu's dad is a physician, who can surely afford the fare. In fact, I could have just called a cab for them from the apartment; but it may have taken a while to arrive and pick them up.

The family was traumatized enough on the drive over that I couldn't work out what the appointment was for; turns out it was the citizenship exam! That evening Raghu was thrilled that he'd passed, and would be taking the oath of citizenship in February sometime. Good for him!

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January 14, 2009

Uncle-In-Law Getting Better

Latest word is that my Uncle-In-Law is getting better. That is very good news, of course.

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The Crud

I'm missing class this morning, which is not a good thing what with it being the third day of the school year and all. But I woke up last night with a fever, now compounded with a sore throat, headache, and gastrointestinal distress. It seems I got the flu from some nasty, filthy, revolting undergraduate. I hope I'll be able to crawl to my afternoon recitation. Blech.

Of course, I should maintain perspective. While I feel unwell, I've got a relative by marriage feeling a lot worse.

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January 13, 2009

Here We Go Again

I got a call from my eldest sister. Her father-in-law was getting routine surgery this morning: oncologist were inserting a couple of tiny radioactive "seeds" into his prostate tumor to destroy it. On the operating table, he has what is delicately referred to as a "cardiac event". The oncologists stabilized him and rushed him to the cardiac ER.

They catheterized him and took a look around. His heart muscle has been substantially damaged, although the clot was gone by the time they got the cardiac catheter in, presumably the result of the drugs now routinely given as soon as a heart attack victim gets to a hospital. Still, it's not looking good.

At the moment he's in intensive care, unconcious and on life support.

Sis's father-in-law has not been a well man. He's got the aforementioned prostate cancer, and is in trouble with diabetes too. But both of those are slow killers, and managable. Here's hoping that he pulls through the heart trouble.

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January 11, 2009

Meet the New Guy

My flatmate finally showed up. (I'll use the English locution because it's faster to type.) His nickname is Raghu, and he's in the first year of his Master's in Mechanical Engineering. He's a nonsmoker and a teetotaler, which gets our relationship off to a good start. I also met his parents; his mother is a homemaker, he's got a 16-year old brother, and his father is an internist at a Rochester hospital.

Raghu claims to not be much of a cook, so he brought very little cooking gear. That's fine by me, more space in the cabinets for me! His parents offered to help me unpack my cooking gear, but I demurred, as I've got a lot of duplicate stuff. I outfitted my kitchen here at UB in 1998, then I outfitted a second kitchen in Georgia in 2003. I don't need six saucepots, so I put the best three in the kitchen here, and I think I'll see if there's a donation center that'll take the others.

Similarly, I've got two different patterns of drinking glasses, so I put one set on the shelves. I think I'll keep the other set, though. They're still good, so I'll probably put them in storage back in Dad's basement. Thanks, Dad!

Anyway, classes start tomorrow. So I'm not going to go back to Big Flats today to get my table and chairs. We'll have to live without a kitchen table for a week. I ate breakfast at my desk this morning, I can live with that.

Even with a kitchen table, we won't have a table for our common room. So perhaps I could get a cheap plastic table, eat off it for the moment, and if we get a TV we can stick it on the table. Or if I start inviting friends over for gaming, we'll have two tables to work with.

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January 10, 2009


The plan was, get up at 8:00, go grocery shopping, then drive back to Big Flats. Spend the night there, drive back with the kitchen table and as many chairs as I could fit, meaning two or three if I was lucky.

By the time I was done grocery shopping at 11:00, it was starting to snow vigorously. And it was expected to continue doing that for the rest of the day. I didn't fancy a snowy three-hour trip unless I really needed to go, which I don't. So here I stay, and I'll live without a table for a little longer.

I do have somewhere to eat and sit, anyway; at Wally-World I got myself a $25 put-together computer desk and a folding chair. Once I get my real chairs, the folding chair will be demoted to staying by the front door, for people to sit in while removing their snowy boots.

As for the desk, the box was labelled "Metal Student Desk", but the recept amused me: it called it "Freshman Desk".

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January 09, 2009

Moving In

I'm back at UB. Hooray. Sorry, feeling a little sorry for myself at the moment. It's a cold, snowy day, and I've got no furniture. Also, the apartment is not exactly up to my standard of cleanliness, plus there are a number of issues that will require remediation. I'm making a list, and expect to become a pest at the apartment complex office.

My apartment-mate arrived before I did, which means he got the pick of the rooms, and unsurprisingly he took the better one. This is a handicap-accessable building, and I got the room with an exterior exit. Which is nice I guess, except that the lawn is backed by Interstate 290. And the door needs a better seal, I can feel the draft though it. Plus the door has a window, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a peephole. I'm planning on draping a big hunk of cloth over the door, to block the windows and also block the drafts.

I talked the the neighbor in the next apartment; he's a law student with a wife and 1.94 kids. (The second one is due in two weeks.) I complained about the door, and he told me that the insulation in this place is not good, despite being only 12 years old and in Buffalo. Tenants pay the utilities, you see.

And while my apartment-mate did arrive before me, he's been out since I got here. I really need to touch base with him before I return to Big Flats to get the furniture for this place, as we don't need two kitchen tables et cetera. I might go back to Big Flats tomorrow, or maybe I'll wait a week and do it over the MLK day holiday weekend.

I suppose I should go out shopping. I need a desk to put my computer on, as well as a shower curtain, garbage can, groceries, dresser, notepaper, et cetera et cetera ad nauseam.

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