I'm really struggling with an article I'm trying to write for work. 
Matthew presented me with some data he wanted me to use in an article about what podcasts do for your brain. The data has no citation or explanation of how it was gathered. The information simply said, "there's a famous study where people had to listen to the 'I Have a Dream' speech and the study found that when people listened to it, they were more engaged and remembered more details when they listened to audio only, rather than watching and listening to a video."
Again, nothing to back this up. Were the participants in an MRI machine? Did they self-report afterwards? Who did the study, and when? 
I've been beating myself up trying to find a reputable, consistent study that proves audio is more memorable than video. Turns out, it's not true. They're stored in different kinds of memory in different ways.  Citations available upon request. It took me over a week to get this info because I'm using Duck Duck Go. 

Last night, I was so frustrated that I made this video. It's about eight and a half seconds long. Watch this, then close your eyes, and ask yourself: 
What did I hear? (and, if the question applies, how many?)
​​​​​​​What did I see?  (and, if the question applies, how many?) 

Your answer will help me figure out this effing article and stop obsessing about this section of the article. 
​​​​​​​Further details as events warrant.

My dog is farting up a storm. 

I heard four chimes of a large bell. I saw five stained glass windows. I also saw chairs and benches but didn't accurately count them.
Noted. Thank you.
I heard the bell toll four times. I saw pews and three windows and a bit of reflected sunlight.
Noted. Thank you.

Ever since i put on a pair of my mom's heels at 11 and loved them, i've always wanted to know what my deal was, mainly because i thought it would help me figure out how to express myself in a way that i felt was true to myself, whatever the hell that means.

It looks like it would take forty years for not just me to settle down as a person but also for society to change with a whole bunch of young people changing attitudes and language enough for things to fall into place.  In the meantime, i took some baby steps by starting in 2008 to wear kilts, a heteronormative-approved skirt for men.  I started buying nicer clothes in general as a result of, for the first time, caring about how i dressed and looked on a daily basis.

Two years and a half ago, i bought my first non-kilt skirt from eShakti, which a coworker had recommended primarily for the ability to customize the garment's measurements, as she has an unusually shaped body.  As i do, too, given my typically male proportions, and the fact that most of their skirts have pockets (which i had no interest in going without), that sealed the deal.  But i still didn't know where to wear it (although i did take it out to go see Florence + the Machine for my granddaughter's birthday with her stepmom [my stepdaughter], which was a perfect occasion as i saw other guys there wearing clothes with femenine festoons), so it mostly languished in my closet.

Last year, after i started at Zoox, i decided to rip off the bandaid on Halloween (how cliché) and wore the navy skirt with these, which i'd bought in Portland on a bit of a lark in 2019 and were also looking for an opportunity to shine in public.  After that, i ended up buying a couple more skirts, and also some mid-heeled boots, and it's really feeling like it's all coming together.

Following are the skirts, in order of purchase, plus my favorite pairs of knee-high boots.

So how am i labeling myself?  I'm a cis hetero dude with femme fashion tendencies; that's good enough.

In closing, here's Neko Case.

I think you look great, and I'm thrilled that you feel comfortable and safe enough to start dressing the way that feels right to you.
It's funny that safety has never been a conscious concern for me. Then again, i haven't worn any kilt or skirt east of the left coast.
You look great, roomie.
Nice shapes! A bit dark for my color tastes (when I'm ogling other people, that is; myself, I also tend to wear a lot of dark blue and black, lol).

I wish I could still wear a heel on the regular, but my old feet won't allow it. They're so fun. (Heels, not my feet.)

Always been disappointed in the clothing offerings for male presenting people. We struggled with this when Cal was even just a toddler. "Seriously? Our clothing choices are navy, brown, dark green, and black? And we can have either skulls/crossbones or trucks? Oh! Dinosaurs too?" wtaf

In our family, we're big fans of skirts, wild patterns, and bright colors for all.
Now, Waldby! Now, Bootsie! Now, Zvi and Saint Terri!
I'm so happy for you! You can really see your confident swagger in these shots. Yaaaaay!

That second outfit is absolutely killer. Where did you get that skirt? I love love love it!

I've been hankerin' to get a 3-piece men's suit. I only fit into suits from the Bar Mitzvah section, so it's hard to find something stylish and badass, but I guess I'm not looking in the right places.

I customized the length a little shorter because i wear my skirts at my pants waist (same as the kilts), not my actual waist.
Thank you! I definitely like it at the length you chose. Good call!
Also, love all the pleating! The way pleated skirts move… these still shots are great, but you must also look so awesome in motion.
The pleats are key, i just can't pull off a pencil skirt due to, uh, shape issues.
Maybe shape, but more likely basic differences in dimensions: I think pencil skirts require longer legs in proportion to other parts. XX generally have longer legs, XY longer backs. My 6' tall son and I wear the exact same size pants, same inseam. I am 5'6". Which is nuts.
The skirt/boot combos look good. Your boot game is strong.
Thanks! I'd probably buy more if i had room.

Heavy clouds came through and a rain storm slid right past us. Instead, we got this: 

Nature is wild. 

What a shot! I think we were up the street gorging ourselves on banh mi when this happened.
I wish you could have seen it, but banh mi is a very good reason to miss it. Were you at Mi n' Tea?
Yep. I love that place, except they can’t seem to figure out how to buy consistently hot jalapeños.

Taking the Odyssey (Thaddeus' ship which he named after an old book he found in the ruins of a library on Lullingstone) out of hyperdrive, Thaddeus navigates his ship toward a giant cloud covered planet. "This must be Ventura."

Finding a safe corridor between the clouds, the Odyssey twists and turns between dark clouds and lightning bolts until it finds its way to solid ground. The landing gear deploys and the ship lands with a soft bump. The crew breathes a collective sigh of relief as they emerge from the safety of the ship, stepping out onto the alien landscape of the storm-wracked planet.

The landscape stretches out before them, shrouded in swirling mists. Flashes of lightning dance across the sky and the faces of the crew. Dark clouds loom overhead, casting shadows that play across the rugged terrain. Despite the chaos of the storms, there is a certain stark majesty about it; jagged rock formations jut up from the ground, and valleys below them seem to be carved by relentless winds. The air feels charged with electricity, like lightning is crackling within the very molecules of air they breathe. And the booming thunder is almost melodious in its rhythmic certainty.

Amidst the scene, one of the crew members draws Thaddeus's attention to a distant light flickering in the darkness. Squinting against the swirling mist, Thaddeus can just make out the faint glow of a ship approaching through the storm. As it draws nearer, it becomes clear that something is indeed making its way towards the landing site.

Starlog of Paladin Roach as told by chadnorth:

Having unloaded a cargo of daggits to brokers on Diamond ‘Captain’ Roach now decides to use all of Precious’ fuel to accept a cargo of pilgrims to the planet Rapelje on the Outer Rim. The cargo consists of about 27 adolescent females robed in red with white hoods to be delivered to the Central Temple of Joris (the hierophant). As expected the trip is concluded with his normal precision (they made it). There was a parade planned for all of the newcomers as few travelers come out this far. Paladin is uninterested in the fanfare. He does not seek an audience with Rapeljeins nor does he provide a grateful donation; he thinks delivering the pilgrims with their virginity intact is more than sufficient especially after such a long trip.

Upon collecting payment he heads for the nearest hostel. While on Rapelje a lone figure dressed in black arrives at night and offers up a fair price for his next delivery.

I hear that on Ventura’s highway in the sunshine

The days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine.
Alligator lizards in the air...

Extremely bored while waiting for a landing clearance that may never arrive, Willy Minmax uses his time in Gondilly orbit to negotiate with the owner of the pointless scissors.  Willy manages to talk a gentleman named "Rip Higgs" down from "heavily discounted, free on board Gondilly" to "on consignment".  Why the seller would feel comfortable putting his goods onto a confessed "tramp steamer" is not disclosed, but Willy promises to do his best and return with the profits as soon as practicable.  Suspicion and regret fill his mind, despite the far greater justification for Mr. Higgs to own such feelings.


Do any of you recall my brief attempt at NaNo back in 2022? I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

Why? Well, it's because I'm being... condescending. Not my proudest moment, but if I can't be honest with you folks, who can I be honest with?!

Condescending how, you ask?

Well, I've been listening to a lot on Audible recently. (Yes, I know there are other, ostensibly better audio book storefronts out there. Yes, I should give them my business.) Like, A LOT of audio books. I stopped listening to podcasts altogether for a few months. That dumped a lot of listening time back into my schedule. On top of that, the hours for this 'new' job are... significantly longer.

If I'm doing the math right, I've listened to 42 books since starting the job in November. Some of these are pretty lengthy.

All but two of them are in the LitRPG genre.

I'm kinda fascinated by what I'm hearing. Partly because it fits that ooooold fantasy trope that I so enjoy - someone from 'the real world' going to a fantasy world. This trope is not the newest thing in the world (the Guardians of the Flame series was one of my favorites as a kid) but the LitRPG genre is at least new to me.

So I'm making a little 'study' of the genre. Trying to figure out the similarities and differences between the different authors. Figuring out what the audience of the genre expect.

From what I can piece together, the LitRPG genre is to fantasy novels as streaming is to video game playing. There's this sense of 'no real start or stop - just follow along with out hero on the adventure!'.

Some series even seem to eschew the whole 3 act format. More than once, I found myself surprised by the Audible Guy saying "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program." Side note: if you see me in person? Ask for my imitation of that guy. I have heard so many audio books, I feel like I can actually nail his every nuance.

What's more, the writing is... not amazing. Some series are better than other, for certain. And the voice actors really help here. Still.

Seeing it yet?

My NaNo thing was fun for me in part because I used a randomizer to create a kind of prompt for that day's writing. That, in turn, made the whole thing a bit like a solo TTRPG for me.

And I think that the audience for the genre is so hungry for MOAR they don't care that it's not as polished. Call it the YouTube-ification of novel writing.

I say all of this to simply say that I write moderately well during my first draft of most creative writing.

In other words "I could do that. Maybe better than that."

A novel series (especially in an audio format) is obviously a looong way out. If I was to get a three book series completed, it would arguably be the biggest accomplishment of my life.

But I'm looking at NaNo 2022 and thinking...

Did you read my efforts in 2022? Would you like to see Morgan make a return?

ETA: Looks like I never posted the words I did for Day 4. I'll see about doing that asap.

Oh wonderful!

I have the solo adventurers toolkit (I find the tables so useful when I’m at an impasse for where or how to progress a story) and yes, I definitely use it more for writing than I do for playing 😬😊

I’d be interested to read along with your NaNoWriMo
Ohhhh... I don't know about the SAT. I might just have to check that out!

Also, in that vein - PLEASE check out perchance.org if you haven't already. It's amazingly simple to create random tables of your own that you can use for whatever. That's what I did for NaNoWriMo2022. I _definitely_ use it more for writing than I do for gaming.

I'm detecting a trend here.... Hmmm...
This exchange makes me so happy! <3

Also, I loved Guardians of the Flame too! I forget the books themselves except the premise and that I liked them a lot.
oooh checking out perchance.... thank you for that.
Absolutely. It's entirely too excellent to be free. It's like Tom made it or something. ;P
Perchance.org, prompt = "cosy tea shop frequented by odd patrons", Style = Fantasy Painting. The prompt that I modified was "interdimensional tea shop frequented by odd patrons", which was very cool, but not cosy enough.
Oh it’s wonderful!
Ok so perchance.org is not a Boutell jawn, which doesn't surprise me because it's cool, but not THAT cool. I kept trying to get it to make a coven picture for us, but every prompt I put in for "group of women" yielded white faces unless I specified "mixed race". I might drop them a line if I can find a way to say it effectively and not "hey did you know your app is racist?" People respond poorly to that.
I haven’t messed with the A.I. stuff yet. Still a bit too jaded for that. Not surprised it works well though!

The tale of Hirila as told by nikkinoorden:

Desperately longing to leave her home planet, but never old enough to travel, Hirila finally, finally was granted a license to leave Tibro. Growing up in such an advanced society may have its benefits like being educated enough and access to technological refuse to fashion your own ship from secondhand parts, but Hirila may have been the odd one out since the pressure and expectations from a society who prides accomplishments above personal happiness or self worth was suffocating. Thus, rather than studying the mystery behind “Ghosts” like her family demanded of her, she worked hard and made her one person shuttle to leave.

She submitted her traders license number and a cargo list at the traders' guild. Her destination? Urakaze, home to probably the most inhospitable environment. However, she had heard of a rumor while repairing space vessels that there was a lone continent that wasn’t tainted by industrial waste and was uninfluenced by the Algebras. A place she could gather a few meager resources as well as hope she could venture farther out into the unknown, leaving Ghosts and her do or damned society behind.

I’m curious about this traders’ guild. Perhaps even the most insular societies must allow interested oddballs to apply, in exchange for participating in trade.

The tale of Paladin Roach as told by Doug Hoek (chadnorth):

Paladin Roach was a late starter. He managed to scrape together enough money to repair the engines on the crashed ship that he inherited from his uncle. He posted on an Intergalactic message board, “Have ship will travel” along with his coded contact information. Then the long wait, wondering who’d be dumb enough to to risk their cargo in this old clunker named “Precious.” Finally an interested party made contact -- a load of pet robots are needed to be delivered to Diamond. Paladin researched Diamond’s import policies and restrictions, weighed the costs and and benefits, and after taking enough payment to cover initial costs blasted off.

Once in orbit around Diamond the cargo was transferred to an awaiting shuttle (an unexpected cost plus tax) to be offloaded to the consortium itself (more cost and taxes).  "Should be able to show enough profit to get wherever the next load may take me", he said.

I have a lot of questions about the pet robots.

<< part of my continuing series recording memories to assure myself I've actually been to the places I think I've been to>>

I'm doing New York in two parts. This part is just about the New York City area. At some time in the future I may write about the not-NYC part of New York. 

Excelsior is Latin for “Higher.” And the NY state motto. Now you know.

Despite growing up just 3 hours south of New York City, it was never an experience for me as a child. NYC was that far away overwhelming dangerous big city. Nevermind that we went to DC a lot,  Philly sometimes, and Baltimore upon occasion -- I do not have one childhood memory of going to NYC.

My first NYC memory is when I was about 19 and I had an interview in NYC for some summer internship (that I didn’t get). I stayed with my cousin who lived in Brooklyn, navigating my own way via Amtrak & subway. By this point I’d already spent time in Madrid and maybe London - city transit did not intimidate. About that same age - maybe a year plus or minus, I met up with a few friends in Manhattan. We went to my first Broadway play - something forgettable with Mark Hamilin (yes, of Star Wars fame) as the lead called. . . queue me going on a google dive to find the name . . .yes, found it THE NERD 1987-88. That would have made me 18. I remember it as it was my first NYC play. And I remember noticing how the sidewalk of Broadway sparkled in the night light. I thought then, as I do now, that more sidewalks should be sparkly. 

Across the years I’ve had a number of trips to NYC. I've had a work meeting or two there; a work meeting or two just outside the city that I would tack on a day or two to visit into the city. Plus a few other personal trips here and there. One that sticks out in mempry: while I was living in San Franciso, 3 of us gals did a weekend in NYC in November 2008. We ate our way through top chef restaurants, went to night clubs and speakeasy style bars. It was wonderful and we felt so chic doing the cross continental weekend trip to the Big Apple. Here, a photo of us at Buddakan. 

In January 2017 CM Adams ​​​​​​​ invited me to this event in NYC (well, Brooklyn) called Zlatne Uste Golden Fest. It became a mini-reunion as a few other college friends joined; we’d do the event and then some city tourist things. I must shout: ZLATNE USTE GOLDEN FEST IS THE BEST PARTY. Rooms of music, tons of dancing, great food, fancy fancy location “Grand Prospect Hall”.

I ended up going back 2018, 2019, 2020 and then it didn’t happen in the Pandemic years. The venue got sold and demolished. Very sad :-( I thought the Golden Fest would become one of those awesome things in my past, never to experience again. However, it appears they have found a new location and it will happen this May 2024! Same bat party, new bat venue! I just got tickets & bringing my kiddo!  WOOT WOOT. Also WOOOOOT.

Just last fall I did a 3 night jaunt to NYC to see the Broadway revival Sweeney Todd - the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I was only vaguely aware of this musical, but a friend really really wanted to see it. I was happy to join her and have an excuse to visit the city. The musical was great. The eateries we went to were great. The Brooklyn Museum was well worth it. Consuming too many mimosas (because we couldn’t find any Bloody Marys) and talking about art for hours was definitely worth it. It’s always great to have an excuse to visit NYC. I’m glad I have another one coming up soon.

So yes, New York City. Been there.


Thaddeus Nebulaire, born into the aristocratic opulence of Lullingstone, never quite fit in with the shallow customs of the elite class. Instead, he found solace and companionship among a group of smart stargazers who shared his passion for astronomy. It was during this time that he encountered an eccentric entrepreneur named Willy Minmax, who introduced him to his fabulously successful invention, the portable holoemitter.

This encounter with Willy sparked Thaddeus's imagination and planted the seed of curiosity within him. He purchased a holoemitter that projected a mysterious stellar phenomenon, one he had never seen before but felt compelled to explore. Inspired by this newfound fascination and armed with his family's exorbitant wealth, Thaddeus secretly embarked on a mission to build a ship with his friends and set sail to find the phenomenon.

As the final touches were made to his ship, Thaddeus stood on the brink of a new chapter in his life. With a mixture of anticipation and trepidation, he prepared for his maiden voyage, ready to leave behind the confines of Lullingstone and set sail into the unknown depths of space.

Thaddeus gave one last glimpse of the expressions on the faces of his friends in the seats next to him before pressing the ignition button on his control panel. With each hum of the ship's engines and each flicker of starlight through the viewport, Thaddeus felt the thrill of adventure coursing through his veins, knowing that he was destined to chart his own course among the stars.

"First stop, Ventura!"