Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: August, 2014

Traffic and Other Circular Thoughts

I’ve spent a lot of time in the car in the place I lived before as well as the place I live now. The difference between the two is that I spent a lot of time driving in Montana because locations are so far apart. Here in San Diego, it’s not really about the distance. It’s about being stuck in traffic. But either way, most of the time I don’t really mind it. In Montana, you’re smack dab in the middle of fantastic natural settings. In the city, you’re simply smack dab in the middle of everything with tons of stuff to do.

I don’t really think of myself as rural- or urban-inclined. But I do know that I still hate suburbs. I grew up in suburbs where the scenery was middling and there was very little to do for fun. Oh, I’m sure other people had fun, but it was probably fun of the social kind. I was (and still am) a loner. I like fun stuff that I could do myself.

* * *

As another Labor Day Weekend is looming ahead, that means it’s the 3-Day Novel Contest again. I’m doing it unofficially this year. Sure, submitting gives you accountability, but with the massive move this month, I basically had zero time to plan anything except to come up with a genre and a setting.

I’ve pretty much decided to do an urban fantasy this time around. It will be set in San Diego. The great thing about doing that is that I can draw on my own experiences from living here. But since I’m still new, I will probably get things wrong. I could easily fact check by driving out to the place and changing it upon revision. But the “fantasy” part of it will give me an excuse to be lazy in the first draft. So “X” is completely different than what I describe it to be? Don’t blame me. It’s just an alternate universe.

Moving In, Sorta

I don’t know why I’m up at this atrociously early hour in the morning typing this up. All I want to do is to sleep in. I really haven’t had much sleep for the past month as I was prepping, packing, and moving to San Diego. Well, actually I do. I’m waiting for the property manager to drop by so he can secure the water heater in case of earthquakes.

Moving, I suspect, can make or break a person. Sure, I’ve talked to my parents on the phone to get their advice on things, but this is the first time I’ve done this big of a move by myself. (I did most of the move from Idaho to Montana myself as well, but that was a relatively simple four hour drive away. And my dad did visit to help me find an apartment…) My cousin lives here, at least, but she’s a pretty busy person and the only thing I can count on her for is to be stuck by needles as she’s a voodoo priestess…er…I mean acupuncturist.

A word of advice on apartment hunting in San Diego (or probably any large growing city)–be prepared for fierce competition from other potential renters. I guess I’ve been spoiled by living in small towns the past decade where you could see an apartment and then at your leisure, go back a day or two later and ask more questions. Here, it pays to be a bit aggressive because apartments can go off the market in hours. But don’t look desperate and take the first thing that comes along. I managed to nab a pretty nice apartment for a reasonable price (for the city). The only downside is that I will have to commute. However, even with all the gas and driving, I’ll still save money because the rents for apartments closer to work are almost twice as much.

This was also the first time I bought a car myself as well without anyone else tagging along. I think it helps to have a mindset that is not impulsive and not be dead set on a particular car even though you’ve done your homework and already have one in mind. And as for aggressive sales people, say “I need to think about that” and “No” frequently. Keep your poker face. The thing is, America has a kazillion cars. Even on a very limited budget, you can afford to be picky. Unlike apartments, there’s always supply.

As for the DMV, everyone recommends making the online appointment. But that’s only good if you can go two weeks (or later!) after you make that appointment. If you need stuff done as soon as possible, take the whole morning (or better, the whole day) off and go to the DMV two to three hours before it opens and wait. (And if you’re really prepared, take a folding chair. And maybe something to read. Personally, I passed the time by cramming for the driver’s written test.) Make sure you also look up the opening hours and possible unexpected closures online so you don’t get caught off guard. And above all, be zen. The San Diego DMV is nothing like the DMV in rural Montana. In Montana, you can just saunter in a little after opening hours and there’ll probably be only three or four people ahead of you.

The traffic here, as far as I can tell, is never good. It’s just either stuck or not stuck. Once the movers get here with my stuff (and my dedicated mp3 player), I’m going to load in podcasts and audiobooks to make the drive more amusing. If anyone’s gotten this far into this post, let me know your suggestions for podcasts and audiobooks! I’m pretty omnivorous on podcasts, but the narrator for an audiobook has to be pretty good for it to work for me.

And as for work, well, my co-workers seem like nice people. But I think they’re nuts for thinking they can have any meaningful scientific meetings with the boss on Saturdays. I have no problem meeting up with the boss to discuss science. I also have no problem going into lab on weekends to do an important experiment. But meetings? Weekdays only, please.

July 2014 Camp NaNo Prompts for Week 4

Oh man, this was probably the craziest week for doing @NaNoWordSprints because I was also packing and apartment hunting. I didn’t manage to finish Camp NaNo this month, but that’s okay. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But even so, I believe I’ve done the most sprints out of all the other sprint leaders. I guess for me, it wasn’t that big of a deal because I already had the sprint sessions planned in advance and I could multitask. Sometimes I sprinted as “the ghost” just so that it didn’t look like I was monopolizing the account, but I also have to point out that whenever the ghost sprinted, it wasn’t always me.

Anyways, here’s the last week of prompts archived here for the rest of time:

July 22, 8:30am-10:30am (UTC -7)
Ghost Sprinting: Titles of Ghost Films

  • Beyond Tomorrow (30 min)
  • Field of Dreams (30 min)
  • The Sixth Sense (30 min)
  • Tormented (10 min)

July 22, 5:00pm-7:00pm (UTC -7)
Phrases Part 1

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (15 min)
  • Break the ice (15 min)
  • Close your eyes and think of England (15 min)
  • Dog is a man’s best friend (30 min)
  • Ends of the earth (20 min)

July 22, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)
Action Girl Tropes

  • Lady of war (5 min)
  • Never mess with grandma (30 min)
  • Useless boyfriend (15 min)
  • Silk hiding steel (15 min)
  • Ninja maid (30 min)

July 23, 11:00am-12:00pm (UTC -7)

  • A gigantic pyramid of tomato soup mugs from Lincoln, Nebraska (10 min)
  • An “exotic” Canadian knife sold in Thailand (20 min)
  • Bad smelling cologne to be used for revenge (10 min)

July 23, 10:00pm-12:15am (UTC -7)

  • Point of no return (30 min)
  • As quiet as a mouse (30 min)
  • He has the heart of a lion (30 min)
  • You reap what you sow (30 min)

July 24, 8:30am-10:30am (UTC -7)
Villain Tropes

  • Adorable evil minions (10 min)
  • Bad is good and good is bad (20 min)
  • From nobody to nightmare (30 min)
  • Maniac monkeys (15 min)

July 24, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC -7)
Phrases Part 2

  • Feeding frenzy (15 min)
  • Greased lightning (15 min)
  • Hoist with your own petard (15 min)
  • It came like a bolt from the blue (30 min)
  • Jump on the bandwagon (20 min)

July 24, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)
Quotes from Columbo

  • Just one more thing… (10 min)
  • She almost hit me with a frying pan. (20 min)
  • I can’t swim. I don’t even like a deep tub. (30 min)
  • The problem is, he’s blocking traffic. (5 min)
  • There are a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up. (30 min)

July 25, 10:00am-12:00pm (UTC -7)
Wombat Disaster Sprints

  • Monumental damage (5 min)
  • Ripped from the headlines (30 min)
  • Harsher in hindsight (30 min)
  • Stuff blowing up (30 min)

July 25, 4:00pm-7:00pm (UTC -7)
Drama Tropes

  • Hanging by the fingers (10 min)
  • Dangerous terrain (20 min)
  • A mysterious parent (15 min)
  • We used to be friends (30 min)
  • Unable to cry (10 min)
  • Sugary malice (15 min)
  • Golden moment (10 min)
  • Things get real (30 min)

July 25, 9:00pm-10:00pm (UTC -7)
Hand Idioms

  • All hands on deck (10 min)
  • The devil makes work for idle hands (20 min)
  • To be in safe hands (15 min)

July 26, 9:30am-2:00pm (UTC -7)
Plot Twist Tropes

  • Actually a doombot (10 min)
  • The cake is a lie (10 min)
  • Didn’t see that one coming (20 min)
  • Backstab backfire (20 min)
  • Easily overheard conversation (20 min)
  • Game changer (20 min)
  • Left for dead (15 min)
  • Prophecy twist (30 min)
  • The dog bites back (20 min)
  • Unreliable narrator (20 min)
  • Untwist the plot (30 min)

July 26, 4:30-7:30pm (UTC -7)
Food Triplets

  • Dill, ginger, saffron (10 min)
  • Cranberry, gooseberry, mulberry (20 min)
  • Kale, beet, avocado (15 min)
  • Baguette, hardtack, pancake (30 min)
  • Barley, wheat, rice (20 min)
  • Wafer, biscotti, animal crackers (5 min)
  • Bird’s nest soup, tomato bisque, clam chowder (10 min)
  • Milk, mint julep, orange juice (30 min)

July 26, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)

  • Original 501 (20 min)
  • Slim 511 (20 min)
  • Taper 508 (20 min)
  • Bootcut 527 (20 min)
  • Loose 569 (20 min)

July 27, 9:30am-1:30pm (UTC -7)
Ghost Sprinting: Haunted Places

  • House (10 min)
  • Cemetery (20 min)
  • Asylum (15 min)
  • Ossuary (30 min)
  • Catacombs (20 min)
  • Museum (10 min)
  • Castle (15 min)
  • Desert (20 min)
  • Prison (20 min)
  • Hotel (30 min)

July 27, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)
Unsolved Mysteries

  • A mysterious manuscript (5 min)
  • Encrypted sculpture (15 min)
  • Hidden treasure (30 min)
  • An ancient disc with mysterious symbols (15 min)
  • Monument inscription (30 min)

July 28, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -7)
Same Letter Triplets Part 2

  • Palindrome, plethora, pugnacious (20 min)
  • Subterfuge, schadenfreude, sonorous (20 min)
  • Bucolic, bibelot, bailiwick (20 min)
  • Enervate, eschew, esurient (20 min)
  • Lexicon, lascivious, lugubrious (20 min)
  • Commensurate, conflagration, crabwise (20 min)
  • Frisson, faction, finical (20 min)

July 28, 10:00pm-12:15am (UTC -7)
High Brow Tastes From 1949

  • Town and country (30 min)
  • A decanter from a chemical glass company (30 min)
  • A glass of red wine (30 min)
  • Greens and olive oil (30 min)

July 29, 8:15am-11:00am (UTC -7)
The Airport

  • Bags (10 min)
  • Cranky babies (20 min)
  • Incomprehensible announcements (30 min)
  • Uncomfortable seats (10 min)
  • Gates (20 min)
  • Tickets (5 min)
  • Expensive food (30 min)

July 29, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)
Conflicts in Literature

  • Man versus nature (10 min)
  • Man versus society (20 min)
  • Man versus technology (15 min)
  • Man versus man (10 min)
  • Man versus self (20 min)
  • Man versus reality (15 min)

July 30, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -7)
Titles from “The Shadow” Book Series by Maxwell Grant

  • The Living Shadow (10 min)
  • Hands in the Dark (20 min)
  • The Silent Seven (15 min)
  • Kings of Crime (5 min)
  • The Wealth Seeker (30 min)

July 31, 7:45am-11:00am (UTC -7)
S Words

  • Scandal (10 min)
  • Sprinkling (20 min)
  • Sneaky (30 min)
  • Sinking (15 min)
  • Shovel (15 min)
  • Speculate (30 min)
  • Sallow (10 min)
  • Silver (25 min)

July 31, 2:30pm-5:00pm (UTC -7)
T Words

  • Tremendous (25 min)
  • Terrible (10 min)
  • Trebuchet (10 min)
  • Tangle (25 min)
  • Trouble (15 min)
  • Taste (20 min)
  • Tussle (10 min)

July 31, 8:30pm-10:00pm (UTC -7)
U Words

  • Uncomfortable (20 min)
  • Utility (10 min)
  • Unfathomable (10 min)
  • Urn (10 min)
  • Unholy (10 min)

July 31, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC -7)
Ending Tropes

  • All just a dream (25 min)
  • Bonus material (25 min)
  • Cataclysm (30 min)
  • Destroy the evidence (20 min)
  • Ray of hope (20 min)
  • Exit, pursued by a bear (30 min)