New Year’s Resolution: BE BACK

Among other things.

The last few months have been ridiculous.

My fibro pills had their dose doubled. Without me seeing the doctor first. That’s one thing.

A couch I had brought into replace the bed and OLD couch turned out to be infested with bedbugs. Once I got rid of the couch and got rid of the bugs, it turned out that the entire building had them and it’s still  fight that is going on. It also turns out that I’m allergic to those motherfuckers, and it took prescription antihistamines and sort of breaking the usual rules to get rid of the bitey bastards.

My knees have gotten worse, probably because fibro. The pain from it has spread to my hands, making typing more difficult than it used to be.

A crack has appeared in the load-bearing wall of my apartment.

*sips tea* On the upside, I’ve gone an entire week now without seeing one of those little six-legged bitey bastards. It’s a good sign.

100 Things REBOOT #2: Tea, plus bonus tea review: Bensons House of Tea All Day Blend

Since I was about 10, I’ve loved tea. I LIKED it before—preferred it iced, not oversweet most of the time; if it was to be sweet SWEET tea it had better be strong enough to knock over a godsdamned house, that’s to be sure. I’ve been basically fiending on it since we accidentally discovered it would work on my ADHD instead of the drugs.

I couldn’t focus, and one day my uncle asked me if I’d tried this tea right here, this green tea that was just really freaking strong that he couldn’t figure out how to make potable to save his life, and in the week it took to figure out how to brew Ceylon teas (remember, we’re Black Americans living in Black America, and this is the mid 90’s at the time, there aren’t resources in our area for tea at the time other than the occasional Claudia-centric Babysitters Club book), the both of us were so mellow and focused that my dad–his brother–wondered if we’d been replaced with pod people. This same week was my appointment for my suspected ADHD. Having heard about this alphabet soup my uncle comes with, as does an aunt. My doctor notices how much more mellow and focused I’ve become, and Unc and I mention the tea adventure. That’s where we learn the beginnings of tea research, and how stimulants (like the ADD/ADHD pills and caffeine) work in managing this thing.

We take one look at each other and go, “Makes sense.”

Dad and the aunt that went with us take one look at each other and go, “Whut?”

Since then my tea fascination has only expanded, from strictly “this is delicious” to “So if this ails you I can throw this that and the other into a pot and have a fix for you, yeah?” That brings us to the bonus section here: a tea review!


BHOT: All Day Blend

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No, this is not a comically large spoon or a comically small cup. I typically drink my tea from demitasse-sized or espresso-sized cups, and if I sweeten it I don’t use much—excepting my Lousiana-style iced tea, which is strong enough to knock a house over and sweet enough to convince an idiot not to blackmail your friend. The clarity is very nice, and the scent is crisp, almost coffee-like.

At first I thought it was my brewing method—

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But I’d run a cycle of CLR through the thing, which removes hard water deposits from the brewer, and the carafe had received the same treatment. Little tip: when you use this cleaning method, run a second full carafe of plain water through the machine before you brew anything, to prevent any chemical from getting into your cuppa.

Little known trick: If you own a little four-cup Mr. Coffee-style brewer, you have one of the best ways to brew loose leaf tea out there already. Because the water is never AT boil, it’s nigh impossible to cook your tea to death and overbrew it. Further, your leaves have plenty of room in the filter to expand, and you don’t have to monitor temperatures quite as obsessively.

Oh, right, don’t forget to use a filter. Otherwise you have a reeeeeeeeeeeeal bitch to clean up. As an added bonus you can get a second full-strength brew out of those leaves, just like if you used a tea ball or other more traditional infusion method.

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This is only a teaspoon and a half of leaves. The general rule is a teaspoon of leaves per person per pot and an extra for the pot (assuming you’re brewing traditionally.) I like strong tea but decided to go with the usual strength. They expand like whoa, and you can see why I said to use a filter if you’re going the Mr Coffee (renamed Mr. Tea for me here) route. In fact, the presene of Ceylon in this blend means you have wicked tannins, and they’ll bake up as hot tea tends to do to them. If you want to minimize the staining in your mugs and the amount of tannin floating around (because it does aggregate), double up. Use two filters. (No more than two. You’ll flood the brew basket.)

Taste 1, straight: STRONG. assertive and coffee-like almost. It’s potent, and has this light but sweet air that almost doesn’t need anything.

Taste 2, with monkfruit sweetener: This is a VERY EASY TO OVERSWEETEN tea. I only used a slxth of a packet and it was overdoing it. If you sweeten this, make it a strong cup.

Taste 3, with sweet cream and a little sugar: OKAY, STOP. WHAT GAVE YOU THE RIGHT.
This is delicious. Sweetening it by itself is NO for me. It just DOESN’T WORK. But with cream, OH GOOD GRIEF. I’d brewed the entire four-cup (translation: four-person intended) thing and drunk two thirds of it like this, just shotgunning one after the other in disbelief. Adding cream to this tea gives it a nutty, almond-like richness. It becomes like a dessert that you want to eat.

b3df0afdcb6b38cf76764b9fb50d1d4fHere, have a glamour shot of cream tea with tiny spoon in a tiny cup.

Verdict: If you like a black tea for all occasious, aren’t frightened off by loose leaf tea, and suspect that you might be a liiiiiiiitle bit of a tea snob (I will willingly admit that I am), GET THIS TEA. If you’re curious about what good tea tastes like, GET THIS TEA. If you like te, GET THIS TEA.

TL;DR: GET THIS TEA.

100 Things Reboot #1: When You Get a nice thing from a best friend in the mail

Let’s set the stage: I love getting mail in general. I love the anticipation. I’ve been over it 934953948539 times. (Okay maybe that number is hyperbole. But if you’ve followed the 100 Things tag (or was it the 100 things challenge tag?) I’ve been over it. But yesterday was different.

CUE A LOOP OF this tune when I open my mailbox yesterday morning. Do not stop the loop. These 24 hours are that silly.

“Parcel?” I don’t remember ordering something.

“Attempted delivery at 9:15 AM?” For once, the local post office is on top of things. I’ll attempt it tomorrow when I get off of work, I decide.

Fast forward to this morning when I can’t seem to figure out how ‘awake’ works. I try to text my boss to let her know I’m going to be a little late (I’m a little sick) but for some reason my screen’s not working. I’m blinking-sleep on the bus. I get to work about fifteen minutes after I realize what the problem with my phone was.

See, I was trying to dial my keys.

Further, APPARENTLY my phone bounced texts and my “Uhhh, we sold nothing, you got a day off” message didn’t come in. And I wouldn’t have known considering I was trying to place a call ON MY KEYS.

I shrug, hand in my keys (the work keys, not the phone keys/house keys), and get breakfast at a local eatery. On the way home I remember “Hey, I have a parcel.”

So I get to the post office and am handed THIS:

I GOT ROYAL MAIIIIIIIL (MAIIIIIIIL)

ooh, shiny

AS A MATTER OF SCALE I HAVE SCALED THIS DOWN TO ABOUT 30 PERCENT. WTF PHONE? EVERYTHING IS NOT THE SIZE OF THE GATEWAY ARCH. IT DID NOT ALSO ALL FIT.

slightly butchered box is slightly butchered

slightly butchered box is slightly butchered

 

An entire side is open. It’s like they actually TRIED to get a parcel WIDER THAN MY TORSO into a mailbox SMALLER THAN MY HEAD. On the upside, is not ParcelForce the most metal name EVER. Could you not see a metal band of nothing but postal and other mail-type workers in a band with that name? “YOU ADDED INADEQUATE POSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE *METAL GROWL*”

NOW FOR THE BEST PART OF PACKAGES: RIPPING INTO THAT SUMBITCH LIKE A STARVING MAN INTO A HOAGIE AND MUG OF TEA.

*five minutes later*

*girly squee* Would you look at this it’s heart-shaped l’il Marmite.

HEART SHAPED MARMITE. OMG.

HOW FLIPPIN CUTE IS THIS

 

AAAAAAAAAAH

TEA AND MARMITE AND LETTERS OH MY

I’M CID HIGHWIND AND THIS IS HEAVEN

MARMITE AND TEA AND MORE MARMITE AND THE FACT THAT THE POST SMASHED A LOT OF THE MARMITE CAN BE FORGIVEN BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T BUTCHER THE TEA. AND IS THAT SUA. I JUST. I DON’T. I CAN’T.

EXCUSE ME WHILE I LET OUT THE SOUND THAT DEFINES GIRLY. IF WINDOWS SHATTER NEAR YOU, MY BAD.

AND OMG. TOFF. YOUR HANDWRITING. ADORBS. I GUH.

IF YOU’LL EXCUSE ME. I THINK IT’S TEA TIME FOR ME.

Gotta Hand It To Me???

I’ve developed a very annoying problem since stopping a couple meds in the last few months.

It began life as a plain ol’ twitch—the thumb on my left hand would just sort of tick-tock back and forth once in a while, and I’d just have to ignore it for a while until it stopped. For a while, that went away, and I figured I’d be done with the problem.

Except now I have a weirder, more painful problem.

Instead of a periodic tick-tock twitch in the thumb, now sometimes, the entire thumb—and sometimes, the whole damn hand—sometimes just…fists up.

Yeah.

I’ll be going about the usual business, when suddenly, there’ll be a series of painful stabbing sensations in the hand, and the thumb will just…snap into my palm, like I’m attempting to make a fist but a couple steps in the middle get missed. On bad days, the thing goes to the entire hand, and I could be in the middle of writing an entry—like this one—and the hand just slaps shut like a…hm. Uh.

Ya know, that simile was going somewhere at one point. The point is, the hand just suddenly goes WHAM shut, completely independent of me trying to do anything with it. In fact, in the course of writing this, the thumb has done that seven times, and the entire hand twice.

It’s gotten common enough that I routinely forget to bring it up to my doctor. You’d think “AUTO-FIST FUNCTION ON HAND ENABLED WITHOUT PERMISSION” would hit priority, but it slips my mind…until I’m doing something that requires the fine control on that hand and suddenly I’ve just squashed the thing because my hand’s turned into a fleshy mousetrap.

MOUSETRAP! THAT was the simile that I was trying to remember earlier. Ah-DOY.

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In other news, I am a nerd.

I got hella bored today while doing laundry. Like, super hella bored. So bored, in fact, that I didn’t even feel like starting up a game of Civ at the time–but I wanted to listen to the music. Like, crazy wanting to listen to the music. But I didn’t have the soundtrack to the expansions, and I wanted to listen to the soundtrack to the expansions, and maybe some of the pretty idle, nothing-is-going-on, the empire is at peace right now-music. You know, the stuff that rarely makes it into the final OST.

I had an idea then: Like the time I got around Steam to launch Kerbal Space Program during the time a beta bug, I could get into the local content to see where it was and listen to it from there.

With a few clicks, I was in the file explorer and looking at the Vanilla music, found in .ogg format. Interesting, I thought, looking at it.

Granted, I have the Vanilla OST—it came with the Bundle—but after wandering around I noticed that oh hey, there’s the pretty idle music!

…let’s poke around a little more, shall we?

After about fifteen minutes of poking around, I found what I was looking for.

I am now in the process of deciding which device to put this lovely ear candy on to listen to while I get the writing done.

“Whoa whoa whoa, you nerd! How am I supposed to do that on a Steam game?!”

Hold your horses, I’ll explain it. It’s simple. DISCLAIMER: You damn well better not otherwise manipulate the files other than a cloning. I am not responsible for any bricked installs. It also goes without saying this is personal use only (don’t be piratin’ yo). They all start the same:

  1. Jump into your Steam.
  2. Right-click the game in the sidebar.
  3. Clck properties.
  4. Click “Browse local content.
  5. Find the folder with the music. DO NOT CHANGE OR MOVE ANYTHING.

After this you have a couple options.

Here’s a pair of methods:

SUPER RIDICULOUS EASY METHOD:

Sync the folder with the music with your Google music manager folder. Upload, refresh, boom, done, it’s in the cloud.

LESS EASY METHOD:

Clone the folder to the desktop, if space allows, and move it to a secure place—an SD card, a device, a sufficiently powerful phone. …depending on the device this could take a while. DO NOT MOVE THE ORIGINAL FOLDERS.

THINGS TO NOT DO:

DO NOT USE ITUNES. While it sounds like linking the original folders to the library is simpler, iTunes especially likes to tweak things’ metadata and can easily cause problems.

IN FACT, DO NOT USE ANY MEDIA MANAGERS THAT WILL CHUCK SETTINGS AT THINGS. Keep the entire process manual. It’s best you not have to need to turn around and reinstall anything, because—especially if you’ve got the kind of connection that I do—that can take hours.

Boom. =D Enjoy your new game music.

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Returning from Hiatus: and a comment on current events (#Ferguson)

No off  days until next week.

Tore a muscle in my arm.

Typing hurts because I overloaded it at work and until I get my day off it’s gonna be overloaded.

BUT.

When I get a chance to breathe, I’m putting myself back on a schedule of updates. …the fact that I have developed a mild (HAH) Civ V habit also hasn’t helped things, but I think I’ve got a handle on that now.

OBLIGATORY CURRENT EVENTS MENTION:

I do not live in Ferguson. I live near enough that the events are concerning.

With the events in Ferguson, MO–a suburb of St. Louis, a mere stone’s throw from the city I live in, racial tension is at the whistle point. The kettle will either pop or have to be removed, and I’m suspecting a pop rather than a timely removal. Without going into the gory details (they’re all over at this point, to the point where the beleaguered souls in Palestine are giving us here in the US tips on surviving teargas and counter-riot brutality), things are at the point where even though I don’t live in Ferguson itself, the area is still tense. Solidarity protests have taken place in my city, a city known for its racially tense history (we are not far removed from race riots), and when I heard about them I was concerned that things would turn ugly. Later in the day I heard about a threat on the post office and federal building–potentially unrelated, but there was nothing in the paper or online to confirm or remove my suspicion.

Just yesterday, during my shift at work, there were a number of persons who will not be identified lamenting the destruction of the QuikTrip store involved in the whole affair. It made me sick. Had I been in charge of the property, they would have been thrown out–not escorted, not directed, not told, THROWN OUT. To hear someone with more concern for property than life–no. Fuck you.

I do not believe that it will get quieter soon. Not with the press release that just went out. The timing was terrible, the tone was worse. Anonymous is already involved, and we know how they work. (While their intentions have been not-shitty their methods have been…ech.)

My input stops here–not for lack of things to say, but because of injury.

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Well, at least it isn't eldritch…

“?! You little shit.”

As I stand stock still in the pantry it’s confirmed—I am in fact not hearing things. A mouse has gotten in through the hole in the floor that the people in charge of this hole of a building refuse to fix.

(Of course, this on top of the black mold, the falling-in-bathroom walls, the leaky pipe, the decaying space under my kitchen sink that has been that way since I moved in…)

I moved the trap to the path of where the mouse has been going, but it seems to have wised up. (“You little shit.”) Now I’m about to clear out the pantry and put down a couple more glue traps.

On the upside, I’m on vacation until Friday.

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