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[sticky post] Feb. 1st, 2016


Istanbul at sunset, as seen from the water, with Galata Tower in the distance

A generous benefactor has made up the last not-quite-$300 to get us to our $12,500 goal (the $8,500 you see on the site, plus the $4,000 contribution from my employer).

Our flight leaves in 81 days.

This is really happening, and I will NEVER have the words to thank you all.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1347004.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Hearing hoofbeats and looking for zebras

Several days on, [personal profile] gridlore has begun to think that perhaps the latest unpleasantness wasn't a pancreatitis flare, after all...

As those who follow me elsewhere on social media saw, I came home from work on the 14th to find Doug running a fever of 102. I sighed, figured it was time for another case of pneumonia, and started packing a hospital bag. (With his extensive medical history, 103 is our "grab your coat and a book, we're going to the ER" marker.) We're both so accustomed to things going all the way wrong at once, I'm amazed it actually occurred to me to try OTC meds, but it did, and he dropped three points in as many hours. Crisis averted, we set an alarm for the middle of the damn night so he could take a second dose at EXACTLY the six-hour mark to make sure the trend continued in the right direction, and otherwise got on with our lives.

While the bullet was mostly dodged, Doug has spent the ensuing week with a deep, bronchial cough. Round about lunchtime yesterday, he suggested that maybe he'd simply strained his diaphragm/esophagus from all the exertion. Perhaps the biggest point in favor of this theory is the fact that he never lost his appetite (some of you may recall just how big an issue that was last summer when he was diagnosed).

I'm still looking at the rest of that 6-pack of Kaliber with an incredibly wary eye, though.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1346791.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

And the stars look very different today...

I remember watching this live, and how completely shattered I was as Bowie dropped to one knee in the middle of his set and recited the Lord's Prayer.

If there is a hereafter, I can only imagine that Freddie was waiting at the gates with a drink and a smoke.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1346290.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Folks, this is it. The last time we're going to bug you about our trip to Istanbul. We've decided to make December 31st the day we stop pimping the trip, and start focusing on going.

Thanks to your amazing generosity, and with the boost from EarthBaby, we've raised a stunning $11,640. We're just $860 from reaching a goal that frankly scared the hell out of us when we started this thing. Because of you, we have already purchased:

In the coming weeks, we'll be booking tours and dinner cruise reservations, getting our visas, and doing the eight million last-second things that this trip requires. [personal profile] gridlore is actually upset that 2016 is a leap year, because it means waiting one more day.

But we want to end this year's fundraising with a bang. If everyone reading this gives just a little - ten bucks, five, even a dollar - we can meet the goal and be secure in the knowledge that we are paid for.

So ring that bell a few more times before we ring in the new year.

Thanks again to all of you for making this happen. Doug is getting to see a place he's dreamed of since childhood, we're both getting an amazing 25th anniversary trip, and you will get a ton of photos.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1345949.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Blah humbug

There are a bunch of half-started posts in my head - seeing SW:TFA twice in a week, winning tickets for Brian Setzer on Christmas Eve, all the lovely things I got for the holiday (including fic!) - but one of the UNlovely things I got for the holiday was a nasty-ass bronchial thing, so my rattling lungs and I are going to go back to bed, instead.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1345560.html. Feel free to comment in either location.



I'm currently experiencing a significant amount of bad brain weather. The various stressors of the past four months finally imploded at lunch today, and I was actively in crisis for several long, scary minutes. ([personal profile] gridlore told me in so many words that I was freaking him out; he wasn't the only one.)

I've emailed my former therapist, as I've decided the benefit of working with someone I already know outweighs the literal and figurative cost of having to drive back up to SF to see her. But I may be circling the wagons for a bit until that comes together.

Comments disabled.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1345459.html. Comments disabled in both locations.

The Mane Event (pun intended)

I've been terrible about keeping this thing updated lately, and I want to get better about it, because my life hasn't just been dead cars and fundraising, I swear.

[tumblr.com profile] myrkrida posted to the Book of Face a few weeks back, asking if anyone was interested in seeing Odysseo, as it was totally not her housemate's thing, and she wanted someone there to ooh and ahh at all the pretty with her. I blanched a little at the ticket prices, but she insisted upon calling it a Yule present.

The show was last Thursday, and BOY, was there a lot of pretty. 70 horses and 45 performers worth of pretty.

Due to the way the Grand Chapiteau Blanc is set up, accessible seating is in the front row. We were less than ten feet away from the edge of the ring. That bit in the video with the horses running through the water? Is an actual portion of the show - they flood the front half of the ring for the finale, and we got splashed as the horses ran by. They come so close at curtain call that we both had to sit on our hands to keep from reaching out to pet them. (Kimmi resisted the urge to splash out for the VIP tickets, which include a post-show stable tour, but it was a very near thing to hear her tell it. ;-) )

It was also just good to spend some time hanging out with Kimmi; this past autumn hasn't been very easy on either of us, so having a few hours where we could both just forget about Real Life was emotionally nourishing.
The only sour note of the night was the travel portion of the arrangements. All of the advertising I'd been seeing had said the show was at AT&T Park, so I'd been expecting to go through the gate at Willie Mays Plaza and see something set up out on the green; instead, it was set up in the parking lots south of the park, meaning a half-mile walk between the venue and the train station. (I perhaps should have known better, having seen the original Cavalia tour set up here in SJ and knowing what it looked like, but I've also been to other non-baseball events at the park before, including one with an ice rink set up just past the pitcher's mound, so it wasn't an unreasonable assumption from where I sit.) I also misremembered the CalTrain schedule, and thought there was a southbound train that left at 2300; it actually left at 2240, which was just as we were getting out of the show, and I wound up having to wait for the last train at midnight instead. (Adding insult to injury was the realization that for the cost of what I spent on a round-trip train ticket and parking at the station, I could have driven to SF, parked at the venue, and gotten home two hours earlier at the end of the night.)

I made a valiant attempt at going to work the next day, but I was utterly fried; I left at lunch and promptly slept for three hours upon getting home. It was absolutely worth it, though.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1344977.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update 25 - Finding Suleiman

The Süleymaniye Mosque (as featured in our cover photo) has been near the top of our to-see list for as long as we've been planning this trip. But while this may have been the final resting place of Suleiman the Magnificent, it was not his only resting place. Though his body was returned to Constantinople, historians believe that his heart and other internal organs were buried at the site of the battle where he was killed, in a tomb erected on the site where his tent had stood.

And now, there is evidence that the lost tomb of Suleiman has been found. (No, we will not be planning a second trip to Hungary, much to [personal profile] gridlore's disappointment.)


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1344488.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
back-dated, as I apparently failed to crosspost this originally

So Douglas and I spent our Giving Tuesday giving several hundred dollars to AAA, paying for our travel insurance. (That rush of air you feel is my mother-in-law heaving a sigh of relief.) Our three biggest expenses are now paid in full...with five months left to go before our trip. There aren't words to express what a relief that is.

We would love to be able to close out 2015 knowing that we have reached our goal. If 35 people give just $25 each between now and the end of the year, we can do that.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1344730.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Barnum is dead; long live Bailey.

2015-11-28 11.58.02Bailey is a model year older than Barnum was the same model year as Barnum (VINs don't lie), with around 5K more miles on the chassis. We ran several other errands after finishing the paperwork, and I sacked out HARD when we got home; the dealer had already taken the Craigslist ad down by the time I got back up, or I would have more pics.

There's an in-dash CD player, so I may not need to install the stereo (in which case I'm sure [personal profile] gridlore will be agitating to have it put into Darby; hopefully it sounds okay without the subwoofer if we go that route). The rear windows are tinted, and there appears to be after-market pinstriping on the sides. (Whether or not it was there when the car first rolled off the lot, it's peeling at the edges now; Doug and I have already discussed whether or not we can find purple stripes to replace it with and make the car just a little more obviously mine.)

We pick the car up on Tuesday; the shop who does the smog certs for the dealer wasn't responding to phone calls, and we were his last sale before he went home for the day - at 1pm. (Holidays, whaddyagonnado?)

Taking that nap had the added benefit of letting me process the post-major-purchase anxiety while I was asleep - my subconscious had just gotten me a cashier gig at McDonald's when I woke up. But I may finally be able to relax now.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1344088.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


I immediately posted it to the fundraiser.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1343821.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


Things have been a little quiet on the fundraiser front lately, due to the accident and associated hassles getting in the way of making regular updates. But while we may have the two biggest hurdles cleared, we still haven't quite reached our goal. It's absolutely within our reach, though. [personal profile] gridlore just did the math, and if we can clear just $70 a week in donations between now and the end of March, we're there. And our average contribution has actually gone up since the last time I checked - from $93 to $98.

So let's talk a little about what the rest of that money covers. Those of you who follow Doug on Facebook may have seen his post about The Big Bus, a hop-on, hop-off double decker tour bus operating two different routes in Istanbul. The Red Route crosses the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia (did you know that Istanbul spans two continents?) and takes us past such sites as Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim Square and Beylerbeyi Palace; the Blue Route takes us around the top of the Golden Horn, passing Miniatürk, the Dolphinarium, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the cast-iron Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars. Both routes begin and end in Sultanahmet, just a quick tram ride away from our hotel. And a 48-hour pass, allowing us to do the Red Route one day and the Blue Route on the next, is €40 per person - less if we book them online.

All aboard!

banner from the Big Bus Tours Istanbul site, featuring several of the landmarks seen from the tour

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1343398.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Technology continues to hate me.

I was able to successfully retrieve the product key, but entering it and attempting to re-validate the software gives me an error code.

I know I have a few M$-savvy types, so here's my latest MDAG report.Collapse )
I've got an email in to the person who helped me with the original upgrade to Win7 to see if there's anything that can be done. I was intending to put Win10 on here - but without a validated install of 7, it isn't letting me.

I'll be the first person to admit that I've gotten a hell of a lot of use out of this machine - it was a refurb when I bought in 2008. And I'll be able to replace it easily once the settlement from the car posts to my bank account, without having a major affect on my budget for a new vehicle. But, much like the car, I wasn't ready to replace it.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1342910.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

And now, for some badly needed fluff.

labelleizzy posted a meme wherein they were asked to write about six of their userpics. If you comment "Meme Me" I will pick six of your userpics that you can then write about, thus maintaining meme balance in the journal-verse. Feel free to propagate or not, ask people to ask you for six userpics, as you like.

samuraiI entered a raffle at LeatherMasters (and need I tell you that link is NSFW?) and won a boudoir photography session; I still see occasional credits online for the photographer, but he appears to have no web presence whatsoever. Hard to believe it's been twenty years since I had that photo taken...

nudeEight years later, and there I was, taking my clothes off in front of the camera again. This was from a session with my then-lover yohannon for the fetish photography site he was attempting to run at the time; it never quite came together due to a bad case of Life for several of the involved parties, but it's fun to freak people out by telling them casually "Yeah, I had naked pics for sale on the Internet."

PonyPonyPony!squigglz was drawing MLP versions of her friends for a while; this was mine. The cutie mark was intended to be a koosh ball.

ButtercupButtercup was always my favorite of the Powerpuff Girls. (Damn, the artist who drew this originally appears to have buggered off the net, and I don't even have a copy of the full piece, showing all three of them as teenagers, to show off.)

LivejournalAh, the bad old days... I'm trying to remember if this predates power_loss or not.

PiffanyPiffany was the Lawful Good cleric from Aaron Williams' Nodwick, who carried a roll of Duct Tape of Healing with her. I used this icon when talking to/about one of my exes, who always triggered my protective instincts.

Anybody else?

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1342547.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

And then...

...after a desperately-needed nap, I get up this afternoon and get on my computer for the first time all day to discover that the latest Windows update has done something to trigger the "invalid product code" error message on my copy of the OS. Further inspection seems to reveal that the product code has somehow been rolled back to the OEM code - for the copy of XP that was on the machine when I bought it a decade ago.

And my install disk is at the office.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1342233.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


...when your bank's fraud-protection unit works TOO well...

The charge for the hotel room was blocked. I got an email notification, and I logged in immediately to say "Yes, this IS a valid purchase," but the transaction still got reversed. I called the bank, who said that they'll accept the transaction if the vendor resubmits, but they can't call it back once it's been reversed; I called Hilton HHonors, who actually called the front desk at the Doubletree Istanbul Old Town for me. As they're 10 hours ahead, the reservations department has quite sensibly already gone home for the night, but should be back tomorrow "until noon" (though the Honors rep wasn't too certain of whether that was noon their time, her time, or my time). For once, my nocturnal nature is a point in my favor, as I'll be able to call before I go to bed tonight and see if we can fix this.

Yes, this is one more hassle in a week that has been nothing but for me, but as I said to [personal profile] gridlore, imagine if I hadn't tried to make an $1100 purchase and the bank let it through without question.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1342113.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Barnum, 2007-2015

CSAA called this afternoon. They gave me two settlement figures, one if I surrender the vehicle and one if I choose to retain it with a salvage title; however, the estimated repair cost is something in the vicinity of $2K more than the salvage settlement would be, and we just don't have that to spare. [personal profile] gridlore and I haven't made the official decision yet, but I suspect it's inevitable.

This is the first car I didn't drive until it was no longer mechanically sound, which is another part of why this is so hard to deal with. We hadn't even cracked 90K miles yet; I could've gotten another 30K easily, and maybe more.

I need to figure out how much the shop will want to pull the after-market stereo for me, and if anyone has any pointers on how I can surrender the car, but keep my personalized plates, that would be a big help.

G_d, this sucks.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1341785.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


Featured wrap: Bon Voyage

As some of you are already aware, I was introduced to Jamberry Nails earlier this year by a dear friend. I'd always been a fan of my awesome friends' awesome manicures, but I gave up trying to maintain my own years ago - I'd spend all the money on having them professionally done, and I'd screw it up before I even got home from the salon (seriously, I dinged two nails beyond recognition once just getting back into my car). But after doing Jamberry's 7-day challenge this spring, I was a convert.

My consultant, GlitterGirl, has generously offered to run a virtual Jamberry party for me on Facebook as a fundraiser for the trip - instead of earning hostess gifts, a portion of the sales from the party will go directly towards the cost of our incidentals while we're abroad. And with holiday shopping just around the corner (how did THAT happen?!), this is a great opportunity to pick up some stocking stuffers or a gift certificate for that hard-to-shop-for friend while raising money for a great cause.

At least, we think it's a great cause. ;-)

The party starts next Monday, and if you're interested, send me a message on Facebook and I'll send you an invitation to the party and a link to a form to fill out for free samples to start your own 7-day challenge. If you're not on FB, but you'd still like to check out what's available, I can get you instructions on how to place your order so I still get the credit for it. And if nail wraps don't interest you at all, the original fundraiser is still open. ;-)

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1341655.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update 19 - We did it.

We really did it.

After a couple of phone calls with my bosses earlier today, I just finished booking the plane tickets. (I'd been hoping to wait until mid-week, as prices tend to be slightly lower, but our orignally-planned return date is already sold out, so I figured I better jump.) Once the funds transfer from our savings account to checking, I can book the hotel room next week, and those are the two biggest expenditures out of the way.

We're going to Istanbul.

Thank you all, so very, very much.


These last couple of posts have been pretty light on eye candy, so here. (Warning, autoplay audio)


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1341080.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....

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