Archive for February, 2009

What I Did Today

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2009 by P. Dunn

Installed windows — over, and over, and over.  Until it worked.

Also finished a really good book on magic, which I’ll review on here shortly.

Grrr

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 by P. Dunn

I’ve been wrestling with Windows lately.  It seems to have become unstable on my (very expensive and ludicrously overpowered) home system, so I tried system restore to last month, before the instability started.  It worked fine for a few days, then crashed epically, with two blue screens in one day followed by a freeze up with no escape and a refusal to boot thereafter.  I finally got it running in safe mode, then restored to an even *earlier* point.  If this doesn’t work, I’m going to have to reinstall windows.

How can anyone sell a product that fails so randomly and completely and frequently?

Today’s Lunch

Posted in Food on February 19, 2009 by P. Dunn

A Taste of Thai Red Curry Noodles.

The noodles are thin and long, and sink into the water slowly as you microwave it, which means they can be crunchy on one end and done on another.  One of the packages looked like marijuana, but was sadly just seasoning.  The sauce had no particular flavor, other than kind of sweet, kind of spicy.

Resemblance to dogfood on first inspection:  10% (sauce packet)

Complexity to prepare:  six envelopes, but only two steps.  Package nearly too tall to fit in  microwave.

Guilty pleasure:  2  (mostly toward the end)

Cost:  about $2.00

Calories:  280 (60 from fat)

Still hungry:  Yes?  No?  I don’t know.  It was Thai.  Ask me in an hour.  Strangely, I now have a craving for Thai food, which doesn’t really bode well.

Today’s Lunch

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 18, 2009 by P. Dunn

Okay, it has nothing to do with magic, but I’m bored and want to introduce a new feature.  It beats grading papers.

In order to save money, I’ve been bringing lunch to work rather than patronizing the sandwich cart.  Our office kitchen is — limited.  Therefore, I’m stuck with one-package microwave things.  I picked up a bunch cheap at Target, of all varieties.

Today’s was the Taco Bell Home Original Salsa Chicken Bowlz [zic, I mean, sic].  It is Mexican-style rice, refried beans, zesty tomato salsa with white [gray]-meat chicken.  Now 30% more chicken!

I hesitate to imagine how much chicken was in it previously, as I counted six bits.  Wait, I don’t have to hesitate.  I can do math.  Originally, we had 4.6 pieces of chicken.  Woo!

The beans were hard, the rice more like rice pudding (although it was the best part).  How the hell anyone got the idea that salsa mixed with chicken is, in fact, a dish I have no idea.  It’d be like selling “ground meat with catsup!  American style!”  I suppose that does exist, but shouldn’t.  The chicken was mercifully gristle-free and actually not too bad.

Price <$2.00

Resemblance to Dogfood on Initial Inspection: 65%

Guilty Pleasure (1-5):  3

Calories:  290 (45 from fat)

Still hungry:  No.

Waiting for the moon. . .

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2009 by P. Dunn

I hate to admit it, but yes, timing matters.  Magic done on the full moon in the hour of its governing planet just seems to work better — faster, more spectacularly, and with more wide-ranging effects.  It seems superstitious, like cutting your hair when the moon is waning, but it tends to work.  Which is why I’m sitting here waiting for the moon to start waxing.  I think I can wait until first quarter, rather than full, because I’m not working on changing my life.  I just need a bit of grease in the wheels for some of my goals.

Of course, that’s nonsense: all magic changes your life.  Anyone who imagines that being a magician is standing untouched like Prospero and directing the storm is a fool.  Magic about communication, and communication is always two-way.  If you’re not changed by magic, you’re doing it wrong.

And probably that’s why timing really works (okay, just a theory).  By waiting for the moon you’re willing to say “I’m part of the universe, and I’ll change myself, form my schedule, around it if it’ll respond in kind.”  I don’t know.  Maybe not.

Results of Alchemy

Posted in alchemy on February 4, 2009 by P. Dunn

Well, I crystallized something salt-like.  Not the beautiful snowy white all the books talk about — more brownish kind of sticky film with black specks (carbon from badly calcinated and clumsily filtered c.m.).

I tasted a grain and found it salty and not entirely useless, so I dissolved it into the tincture (which smells exactly like apple juice).   I think I can use the tincture for some of the stuff I’ve used Bardon’s fluid condenser for in the past, but I’d hesitate to call it “perfected.”

What I learned is this:

1)  Good enough isn’t.

2)  Nevertheless, it’s worth trying even in imperfection.

3)  I am poorly equipped for calcination.  It might be worth it to build a Bunsen set-up, which is fairly cheap and easy.  Alternately, I could create an oven from the grill.  Using the household oven doesn’t really work so well.

4)  I’m kind of lazy.

More alchemy

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2009 by P. Dunn

This round of calcination is going a lot better.  I took the dried and slightly charred herbs and ground them fine in my mortar and pestle.  Then I lit them again with the propane torch and they burned merrily, filling my garage with smoke.  Most people think the mass of a plant comes chiefly from the earth — it doesn’t.  It comes from the air, and when you calcinate a plant you return all that carbon back into the air.  What’s left are the mineral salts, the bits that come from the Earth.

I should have waited until Wednesday, when my SO could open the garage door.  I’m too short to get it open because the broken spring won’t support it.  So it smells like hell in there now.

Idealism and Panpsychism

Posted in Speculation on February 1, 2009 by P. Dunn

Idealism is the belief that the only thing that exists is consciousness itself.  Bishop Berkeley summed it up in a bit of pleasant Latin: “Esse est percepti” — to be, is to be perceived.

The only experiences we have are mental experiences.  We seem to drink, say, a glass of wine, but really we only perceive the wine.  The wine exists — as far as we are concerned — only insofar as we are conscious of it.  We form an idea of wine and then externalize that idea into the wine.  “This is earthy and unassuming, with a citrus finish,” we might say.  But until we tasted it, the wine was no such thing.  The wine was, Berkeley would say, nothing at all.

Samuel Johnson, my good buddy and trusted friend, was once walking with some friends who were discussing Berkeley’s idealism.  One said something along the lines of “Yeah, of course it’s nonsense, but how do you refute it?” meaning, of course, in the philosophical sense.  Johnson aimed a square kick at a stone and said “I refute it thus!”  But what Johnson (a man smarter than me by a factor of ten) failed to recognize is that he still only recognized the solidity of the stone as an idea.

I’m a flavor of idealist who admits to the existence of a world outside my mind.  Otherwise, I’d be a solipsist, and they’re terrible party guests.  However, this world outside my mind is, itself, a world if ideas.  The world is a mental, not a physical, construct — the very idea of physicality is just that, an idea.  This particular flavor of idealist is labeled panpsychist, from the Greek pantos, all, and psyche, mind.

Why do I think this?  That’ll be another post — this one is already too long.

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