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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.
My boss checked his frequent-flyer mileage balance, and discovered that the lion's share of his miles expired at the end of 2014 after he didn't renew the credit card they were linked to. So I started looking at other flights, operating on the premise that we would have to go fully out of pocket for the cost of the tickets. I found a flight on a different airline, with only one stop of a reasonable duration, for less than $3000/ticket, and sent the info back to my boss (who is currently out of state himself with limited online access).

36 hours later, I still hadn't heard back from him...and the new flight I had found was now $80/ticket MORE than the non-stop flight on Turkish Air that we'd been looking at in the first place.


We're so close to getting everything booked I can practically hear the seagulls over the Bosphorus Strait. Which makes a delay like this all the more frustrating, especially with the price tag it looks like it may carry with it, as well.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1340906.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Today's eye candy has been [personal profile] gridlore's touchstone throughout the campaign: The Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
(Photo by Esther Lee)

From its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from May 1453 until 1931, then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

That's what Wikipedia has to say. But simple facts can't express how much Doug needs to go there.

I first read about the Hagia Sophia when I was 13 or so. It immediately caught my imagination. The more I studied the Byzantine Empire (and now the Ottoman Empire) the more I came to see how this one building seemed to be at the center of so many pivotal events. It has been witness to coronations grand and pathetic, murders and heroic stands, clerics both noble and scheming. My favorite tale of the building is the legend that when Mehet's troops broke through the doors, the priests who had been saying prayers for the city's salvation around the clock picked up the holy relics on the altar and walked into the walls. They'll stay there until a Christian Emperor takes back the city.

When we get there, we'll see if we can't convince them to come out.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed so far. Just 18 more people donating $100 each gets us to our goal. (Our average contribution has been $97.87, so that's entirely possible.) And remember: we are offering a PDF collection of Doug's better journal posts collected by Hugo Award winner Chris Garcia for any donation of $50 or more, and Doug is still offering places in his NaNoWriMo project.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1340543.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update 16 - Feeling Blue

[Originally posted to our campaign page on Sunday. Generosity (formerly Indiegogo Life) are still working out the last few bugs with the FB crossposter; between that and yesterday's to-do, it's taken me longer than I would have liked to finish sharing this around.]

Today's eye candy (and history lesson) is the Blue Mosque.

Inside Blue Mosque 3.jpg
"Inside Blue Mosque 3" by Christian Perez - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Sultan Ahmet I was both politically and strategically incompetent. Under his rule, the Empire lost huge areas on both the eastern and western frontiers. At home, his attempts to enforce rigid religious orthodoxy infuriated the bulk of Constantinople's Muslim population and caused near riots among non-Muslims out of fear of forced conversion. His death in 1617 led to years of ineffective government as palace factions fought for control.

So why is there an entire district of Istanbul's Old City called Sultanahmet? Because the one thing Ahmet did right was order the destruction of the old Byzantine palace ruins and the construction of a mosque in its place. Here, too, he made enemies, though. He emptied the imperial treasury to build it, which got the religious courts furious with him. Then he decided that it had to be far more impressive than the neighboring Ayasafya, coming to the conclusion that putting up six minarets would be just the thing. This set the traditionalists off, as the Grand Mosque in Mecca was the only mosque in the world with six minarets. (To make up for this gaffe, Ahmet funded a seventh minaret for Mecca.)

With the matching funds from EarthBaby, we are just $1,895 from reaching our goal. If just 40 people can find $50 to donate, we can close the books well ahead of our original timeline.

Thank you all, so much.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1340274.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Tuesday night, [personal profile] gridlore and I sat down with the calendar and the internet and started looking at dates for our trip. I was hoping to actually be in Istanbul for our anniversary itself on May 4, but booking just ten days earlier drops our hotel rates by almost $30/night, so April it is.

This will have us in-country over National Sovereignty and Children's Day, which will be interesting to see. Late April also gives us the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, though judging from last year's itinerary, we'll be gone before they reach Istanbul.

One of the more surprising things I've found while researching this trip was learning about the Tulip Festival. We're so accustomed to thinking of tulips as being inextricably linked with the Dutch - but they came to Holland from Turkey! I haven't found any dates for the 2016 festival yet, but I imagine there will still be plenty of flowers in bloom when we get there.

Finally, your eye-candy for the week is on a bit of a time delay. I've found a page of webcams, but Istanbul is GMT+3, 10 hours ahead of us here in California, so a number of them aren't overly active as I write this. But the Anatolian Fortress camera, looking out over the water, is pretty, and I imagine some of these will be fun to come back to tonight and check out.

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW URL FOR OUR CAMPAIGN! Indiegogo Life has rebranded as Generosity, and there have been some hiccups along the way (the crossposting function is currently broken, as FB is still showing the new site in "developer mode"). The original links are forwarding to the new site correctly, but if you're inclined to boost the signal, please use the new link going forward.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1338674.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


Istanbul, Update 14 - HALFWAY TO GOAL!

I keep staring at the numbers, and they don't get any smaller.


We're halfway there. Further than that, because we've maxed out the matching grant from my employers. We were going to deduct that $4K from the total to reflect the offline contribution, but that doesn't appear to be an option. (It's easier than asking my boss to make the donation, only to hand the funds right back to him to purchase the plane tickets, since he's the one with the frequent flyer miles.)

There will never be enough words to thank you all for this.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1338529.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Lucky Update 13 - Wow.

We are just $400 away from hitting the ceiling on the dollar-for-dollar donation match offer from my wonderful bosses at EarthBaby. With those matching funds, we go over ten grand. That means this becomes real. Because then we can start blocking out dates, making flight and hotel reservations, starting the visa process.

We're still working to hit our total goal, but this hurdle is the big one. Let's knock it out of the park!


Remember, any donation of $50 or more gets the collection of some of [personal profile] gridlore's best blog posts as compiled by two-time Hugo Award winner Christopher J Garcia. And there are still chances to become a character in Doug's NaNoWriMo project in exchange for a donation. "An excellent holiday gift," Doug notes, "and far more legit than those star registry scams!" Details here.

Thanks to everyone for your generosity and kindness. Y'all are amazing.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1338319.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update 12 - Tuckerization!

[personal profile] gridlore has an offer for you today:

I'm working on a novel for NaNoWriMo. Working title is The Prophet Principle and it's a SF thriller/caper novel. I will finish this and publish it through Createspace. I'll be honest; this book is unlikely to win a Hugo, or sell more than a few dozen copies. But I think it will be fun and I am determined to be published.

But here's the thing. . .

I suck at names. I tend to use name generators, which are fine, but I would prefer to both do something fun and raise some money for the trip. So I'm selling naming rights.

I have about ten characters who will be in most of the book. About half will die along the way. Here's the deal.

For a $250 donation to the fund, I'll name my protagonist after you, or whoever you want. I'll take your description or photo, any mannerisms or quirks, and write them in. Note the character is a confidence artist and thief.

For a $100 donation to the fund, you get to name one of the supporting characters. Some of these characters have roles established, so we might have to find a good fit.

For $50, your name gets mentioned. Somewhere. Random bartender, Krazy [name]'s Used Starships, mook who gets killed and his mate goes nuts screaming "They killed [name]!" As above, but details will be limited.

When the book is published, I'll autograph a copy and mail to all the people who became part of it.

For those of you who have already contributed, if you're interested in being in one of Doug's other stories, drop us a line.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337913.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
We were looking at flights again tonight (which I imagine we'll do every few days until the trip is actually booked), and as we discussed the subject, I started doing some research into traveling with my CPAP. I was relatively certain that it won't count against my carry-on allowance, but I figured there were probably other details that hadn't occurred to me.

Most of the flights we've looked at thus far (particularly if we're able to get the upgraded seats) will have power outlets, but the recommendations all seem to say "carry a back-up battery with you." My current back-up is NOT something I can take on the plane with me, so I started pricing actual batteries.

I'm better off staying awake for 13 hours on the damn flight.

([personal profile] gridlore asked me if it would be possible to rent a battery, instead; the one place I found wanted a refundable deposit that was twice the cost of buying one outright.)

I thought we'd set our goal with a good cushion for something I once heard described as "expected unexpected expenses." I can see now that we're going to need every penny.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337670.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


Today's eye candy/history lesson is Topkapi Palace.

Imperial Gate at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II (soon to earn the label "the Conqueror") found the old palace wholly inadequate. It was crumbling, dirty, and falling down in places. He ordered a new palace built to the northeast. The Saray-i Cedid-i Amire (Imperial New Palace) was the primary residence of the Sultans and their huge (dare I say Byzantine?) bureaucracies for 400 years. During the reign of Mahud I, the palace was renamed Topkapusu Sâhil Sarâyı (Cannon Gate Palace by the Sea) after another palace that had been destroyed by fire. The current name simply means Cannon Gate.

The Topkapi was the home to Ottoman rulers until 1856 when the Sultan moved to the more modern (and European) Dolmabahçe Palace. The bulk of the Imperial bureaucracy remained in the Topkapi until 1924, when the new Republic of Turkey made the complex a museum.

As of this writing, roughly $1200 of the matching funds my employer has pledged remain. That's two dozen people contributing $50 each (which also gets you a writing sampler of Doug's work, compiled by two-time Hugo Award winner Chris Garcia). Once those matching funds kick in, we will be at 80% of our goal.

There will NEVER be words to thank you all enough.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337459.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

I guess we're doing something right.

I just happened to look at the Indiegogo Life homepage...and our campaign is on the Most Active tab in the Celebrations category.


I even made sure to look at it in a browser that I wasn't logged in on to make sure they weren't just doing it to make me feel good.

I'm a little awestruck at the moment.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337268.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


The more [personal profile] gridlore looks into places to see and things to do on this trip, the more he finds that gets added to the list. Just doing the research is exciting him beyond any reasonable level.

For example, one of the things he really wants to see is the Theodosian Walls. The 5th-century city walls, built by Emperor Theodosius II, stretch for 6.5 km (4 miles) from Istanbul's Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. These walls were legendary in their time, and only breached twice in the city's long history. So few city walls remain, seeing them with restored gates and guard towers was obviously high on his list.

But then he learned that one of the best places to view the walls was very close to the Kariye Museum, originally built in the 4th century as the 'Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls' or 'in the Country' (chora), it was indeed outside the walls built by Constantine the Great. However, less than a century later, the new city walls placed the church solidly inside the city. Of course, nobody bothered calling it anything different. The current building and mosaics date from the 11-12th centuries.

Best part? There's an established tour that hits these two sites as well as other great stops.

As I write this, roughly $1500 of the matching funds my employer has sponsored remain open. That's thirty contributions of $50 to get us to the $10K mark after the match goes in. From there, it's just raising the rest of the money to cover our expenses in-country.

This is really happening.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1336846.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


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

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