So, it’s mid-October and

it has been quite a long time since I posted anything here. Instead I’ve been posting shorter snippets on Facebook, where people who generally want updates from me will see them. Saves me a few emails. 😛

{Edited to add: Dear thunder lizards that emoticon is godawful. I hope they change the icon set back to something tolerable.}

But here are a few photos that I took in September of a couple of the cats that hang around my block in Philly; there seem to be lots of indoor/outdoor (mostly outdoor) cats around. They have collars, mostly, so they’re not strays, just not cooped up inside. One of the others is another gray & white calico that always seems to be in the middle of a staredown with this one when I see it. Another dark-colored cat is a bit shy and sneaks off between houses as people walk by.

i naps where i wantsjust chilling
"There is a human holding a thing. I must investigate." does not brake for autofocus
"This human is belong to me"

…also, note to self: offers a title field for images you add to a post, but that’s a lie. The “title” you enter is actually coded in as the alt text (title shows when you hover over an image; alt does not).

Shiny new Zazzle store

About a week ago, I finally started a store at Zazzle that’s dedicated to text-based designs. This was prompted by drivers being assholes toward cyclists in my hometown:

Side note, while I was making car-shaming stickers, I made another one because of a tweet I saw from an actor I follow on Twitter, in which he complained about assholes throwing garbage out their car windows in his hometown:

…and he retweeted it. Cool!

Anyway, I’ve also been making some stuff with quotes I like (that are out of copyright),

some store swag (which I think looks pretty awesome),

and latest, a bunch of quasi-Art Deco-style business & profile cards that might be my favorites.


I also set up a Pinterest account just for my various Zazzle stuff – check it out at!

Microsoft self-sabotage?

Well, I had a fun little adventure in Ways Microsoft Can Break Itself today: I bought my laptop brand new almost 4 years ago. Besides a hard drive replacement almost 2 years ago and the slow but inevitable death of the original battery (replaced ~1/2 a year ago), it’s been blue skies. This morning, all of a sudden, it started saying that my copy of Windows 7 (which, of course, came preinstalled) “is not genuine” and that I need to buy genuine software. Say what?

Avast, Spybot, and Malwarebytes found no baddies besides a few unwanted but mostly harmless cookies. The internet said this has actually happened to quite a number of people. The most informative page (if it’s accurate) said Windows has a hidden function that gives Microsoft a snapshot of the hardware you’re running when you first set up the computer, and if too much changes, especially if it changes all at once, it flags you and thinks you’re trying to pirate/copy the OS onto new computers, or something like that. Suggestions included mostly “call Microsoft (ha ha like they’ll help),” “reinstall Windows (ha ha you lose anything not yet backed up and have to waste a day setting the rest back up)” or “buy a new copy of Windows (ha ha Microsoft just robbed you).”

Someone with apparently more sense suggested re-entering the product key from the sticker on the bottom of the laptop. I did. This seems to have fixed it, but I still have no idea what caused my OS to try to self-destruct or whether it’ll do it again. Hooray. -_-

(If you happen to know what causes this – when no hardware has changed – please tell!)

Back to the Zazzle

At long last (half a year or so), I’m back to updating my Zazzle site. I’ve added a few dozen new items to my photography gallery, which are still in the process of going live; I have all the templates set up to play catch-up at Les Étoiles, as well. Since I was last there, Zazzle has retired a few product lines, brought one back (gel mousepads, which I now get to remake), and added quite a lot of new ones, some of them pretty strange. Like this:

Perspective Flask

…Yep, that’s a flask. I’m a bit surprised that they believe demand for flasks is high enough to warrant setting up the process & stocking them, but it’s providing me some comic relief, at any rate. 😀 The image is one I call “Perspective,” which was from a college photography assignment to find an alternative sort of ‘landscape.’ Now I’m re-purposing it as a pun…it is a bottle of ‘different perspective,’ you know. Weird image for a weird item. 😛

Zazzle has also added a really nice-looking pewter snowflake ornament, which would have been nice to notice before Christmas came and went, but oh well. Here’s one:

Elephant Leaf Ornament

They also finally have double-sided keychains (it always seemed strange to me that the only keychains they sold were one-sided, when every gift shop I’ve been in always has some kind of clear plastic ones with the image on both sides). And they have the greatest-looking pocket journals, which let you choose what style of page rule to use, including dot grid! And I can add design-y stuff to the inside covers! Favorite new item, definitely, even though I’ve not seen it personally.

Flight JournalFlight Journal
Flight Journal

Arestelle playing an MMO? That can’t be right…

I’ve been kind of anti-MMO since I first heard about them (via FFXI), and I didn’t like the sound of them. I’ve never been a big fan of multiplayer games, probably because they tend to be more action based, faster paced, and that plus either worrying about being the weak link or actually fighting other players is stressful to me. I don’t play video games in order to have more stress, so, I generally avoid such games.

But as I understand it, FFXII is basically a single-player MMO in its playstyle, and I really liked that game. And not just because it’s so damn pretty. So when I saw a Coursera class on “remediation”* of literature to other media, including MMOs, which focused mostly on Lord of the Rings and the corresponding MMO, LotRO, I figured I’d give it a shot. I wouldn’t say the class was particularly rigorous or intellectually stimulating, compared to others I’ve taken (like Ronen Plesser’s intro astronomy class, also on Coursera and starting again in a few days–go check it out!). But it was enjoyable and set up a group of people who were totally new to the game, along with a handful of veterans, to help each other out and muddle around together for awhile.

I do like interaction with other players insofar as you can trade with each other (can save some time if they’ve gathered a resource you need, say), be silly (several times I’ve run into a particular character who runs around playing pranks on random players), or randomly help each other out (like a time I was running through the Trollshaws on the way somewhere else and came across a wizard who accidentally got into a fight with a higher-level, tough troll; I jumped in and together we managed to beat it, where the wizard alone would’ve gotten killed). I have done very little actual group content, though–maybe it’d be fun, if the players are good enough (did an impromptu group one time with a player who kept drawing too many too difficult enemies and got me [and himself] killed three times before I just gave up on him).

I’m still in the game, a few weeks after the Coursera class ended. Still enjoying it, but I want to back off from it and get back to reading some of the many books on my To-Read list.