Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: humor (page 1 of 2)

Oh crap my eyes are getting old

I still remember 2001 as if it were yesterday.  I could swear Richard the Stalking Narcissist came to stay at our house last week (it was TEN YEARS AGO!!!  :O  )  I still feel like a young chick (except for the muscles which groan every time I bend over).  And if not for my hair betraying my age with increasing gray (I don’t want to bother with coloring it right now), I’d probably look 30somethingish.  But my eyes insist that I’m past 40.

I’m already so terribly nearsighted that I even need glasses to read.  Now, for the past few years, my eyes have been struggling with the switch from far to near.  It’s become harder and harder to read the liturgy book or–and this can potentially get really embarrassing–the Epistle when it’s my turn to read.  I can focus after a few minutes, but don’t usually have that much time in church.

In Greek School, going from looking at the teacher or whiteboard to my notebook has been just awful.  I have to tilt paper to read it.  And trying to do finances while the TV is on–I can see the checkbook, but I look up at Colbert, then down at my checkbook, and it’s all blurry again.

I’ve been increasing the font on my computer, and when I finally got a Kindle this year (thanks to b-day money and Amazon’s layaway plan), I set it to a big font.  Which meant that Windows 10 really frickin’ annoyed me by changing the settings so you can’t just adjust the size of your icons etc. anymore, and the default setting is Minuscule.  (I fixed that by downloading a program called System Font Size Changer, but I shouldn’t’ve had to do that!)

3 years ago, the eye doctor said I wasn’t ready for bifocals yet.  After 2 years of putting it off, we finally went back to the eye doctor last month, and he proclaimed that yes, I’m finally ready for bifocals.  Hubby already tried them and hated them, said they were like being in a fishbowl, and switched back to normals.  And my eyes are so bad that the slightest change can be very disorienting, such as when my glasses get knocked into a tilt.  So I was wary.  But the doctor talked me into trying it.

First day trying the bifocals was a nightmare!  I couldn’t see anything anymore, except up on top or down below.  I could NOT see the computer, and I spend a lot of time there with maintaining my blog, writing my novel, networking with other bloggers, that kind of thing.  Since my computer is a laptop, I only had a limited range in which to put the monitor.  So–even though I sit at a desk–I finally held it on my lap at an awkward angle, and hurt my neck trying to look at it through the lower half of my glasses.

Everything directly in front of me/my vision was a blur, making it almost impossible to do much of anything.  I couldn’t see to wipe something off the floor; stairs were dangerous; my head was killing me; and no, it didn’t get better after a day.  Some things came more into focus, but there was still that big blur in the middle of my vision.

Yes, they told me about progressives.  But they said the sides would blur, affecting my peripheral vision.  Now, with my bad eyes, everything outside the edges of my glasses is a huge blur, one reason why I prefer bigger lenses.  And I ride a bike a lot, since driving is dangerous with my NVLD.  So I have to look over my shoulder before changing lanes.  With my bad eyes, this is already difficult with normal glasses, because physics force me to look for traffic outside the edges.  I already crane my neck trying to see.  So blurring the sides of progressives–My gosh, I can foretell getting creamed by a car I could not see.  I’d really rather not get creamed, which is why I ride a bike instead of a car in the first place.  And Hubby said progressives were like a fishbowl.

If this is my fate–wearing glasses for the rest of my life which take a minor inconvenience (trouble focusing up close) and compensate by screwing up all the rest of my vision–then I say, screw that fate!

SO–back I go to Shopko next day.  Fortunately, Shopko does not force you to stick with bifocals, like some doctors apparently do.  For a short time, you can get a refund and replace the bifocals with regular single vision.  So I did that, and got myself a pair of prescription reading glasses, since generic reading glasses are just a big blur.

Maybe if, one of these days, I take on some kind of job which requires quick changes from far to near, I can get a pair of work bifocals.  But for now, a pair of reading glasses and a pair for everything else is doing just fine.  And aaaaaahhhhhh, what a relief it is to put on those reading glasses and see in focus again!  The words are big!  I can even read Doonesbury again!  (I’d been reading it with a magnifying glass.)  I can balance my checkbook while watching TV.  I can see the paper at Greek School without tilting it.

I hear lots of people love bifocals, or love progressives.  Apparently they adjust quickly.  Well, I’m not one of them.  And no, I didn’t want to spend a few days or a week or a month adjusting.  But now, I’m happy again.  🙂

 

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O kitty, why do you spurn the litter box? (A Poem)

O kitty, why do you spurn the litter box?
What about its cleanliness offends you?
I make it so pretty,
So be a good kitty,
And spare my clean floor from your mocks!

 

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The Romance of the Rosebud (Dream Vision Parody)–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 10

This story was referenced in Part 9.

This was a dream vision in the style of Chaucer, written for a class studying–well, Chaucer–in college.  The title parodies The Romance of the Rose, which Chaucer partially translated.  (Also see here for more about dream visions.)  Please click on the links not just to understand terms such as “bliaut,” but to understand the in-jokes in this story:

One morning in the month of May, as I lay on my bed between waking and sleeping, I fell into a dream.

I found myself in a hilly meadow, which surrounded a small lake.  The birds sang and chirped, morning doves cooing and crows cawing and some unidentified bird [cardinal] saying “BIRD-ie!  BIRD-ie!”

Katydids [actually, cicadas, but I had been told katydids] shook their wings, or whatever they do, in their characteristic humming.

It was quite warm, but not too hot; an occasional breeze blew.  The sky was deep blue, with white, puffy clouds in it here and there to keep the skygazer from boredom.

Butterflies of various colors–yellow, blue, red, monarch–flitted here and there and bumped into me a few times.

I wore a white bliaut with long, flowing sleeves and a cord wrapped around the waist; my long hair fell in crimps as if it had been braided.  I wandered along the lake and over the hills, wondering where I was and what I was doing there.

I bent down to smell a flower, a blue carnation, and when I looked up I saw a young woman standing before me, looking down at me [based on my friend Catherine].

Her blonde hair fell in long curls, her lips were thick and she had a gap in her teeth.  She wore a long, scarlet gown with tippets and a white sash.  A star sapphire hung on a gold cord around her neck, and a crown of wildflowers was on her head.  She said to me,

“Hello, traveler.  I am Anastasia, goddess of Pleasure and Salt, and I’m here to show you around this meadow.”

“Goddess of Pleasure and Salt?” I said.  “Do those two things go together?”

“They do if you throw salt all over your body and have your man lick it off.  Of course, you’d better keep plenty of water on hand for him.  Now, come on.”  She grinned, hugged me and took my hand.  “There’s a group I want you to meet: the Society for Creative Abstinence.  They’re like you: innocent, always late–”

“How do you know I’m innocent and always late?”

“I know everything about you, dear.  As for your innocence–well, I’ll pervert you soon enough [Catherine often said this].  Now, there’s a lot of hot guys in this group, and they like to flirt with you.”

“Really, now?”  I smiled.  “And what does this group do?”

“Thinks up how far you can go and still abstain.  And alternatives to not abstaining.”

“Abstaining from what?”

“Hehehe–You’ll find out.  Really, it’s many things: drugs, alcohol, so on.  For example, you won’t find anyone saying,

Mistress, sleep with me right now,
Or I will die, God save me!”  [Miller’s Tale]

Here she began to laugh, for some reason I couldn’t figure out.  I shook my head, and we continued walking.

We passed by a red-haired, pigtailed girl, probably about twelve, and a tall, blonde-haired woman with a rosy complexion and lovely features.  The girl wore a frock and straw hat, in contrast to the woman’s heel-length hair and flowing robes.  The girl was saying,

“Call me Anne with an E: It looks so much nicer with an E.  It makes me sound like a romantic heroine, despite the fact that my hair is this horrid red.  I wish it weren’t red.  Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine that I’m blindingly beautiful, with long, raven hair.  Do you ever do that, ever close your eyes and imagine that you’re blindingly beautiful, with long, raven hair?–Oh, of course not, how silly of me!–You’re Beauty: You don’t need to imagine it!  Though I think that might be boring, not having to imagine you’re blindingly beautiful….”

The woman just sat there, smiling and nodding at the appropriate times, with never a chance to get a word in edgewise.  [Dream visions personified human virtues, vices and traits.]

Anastasia and I went on, and walked up and downhill till we reached a gathering of maybe twenty people, all sitting on the grass of the meadow.  Anastasia said to them,

“Ho, guys!  I have here a potential new member–a goodly wench–

There is no man so wise that could imagine
So gay a doll or such a wench.

Haha, I love that tale!”

The group gave me a warm, friendly welcome, and they were all attractive–how could it be otherwise in a dream vision?

But one in particular caught my eye: a man named Lord Cu’gan.  He appeared to be in his mid-or late-twenties; such a good-looking man he was, with dark hair and brown eyes.

He wore a long, black tunic, a black cap, and a silver medallion with knotwork designs carved into it.  On his arm he carried a wooden harp decorated with knotwork.  A tiny gargoyle flew about his head.  [These characteristics all fit my husband when I first met him.  See here and here.]

Once, I noticed Cupid–a little baby with cute, tiny wings, just like the pictures–fluttering around by some rosebushes.  He pulled his bow-string and let an arrow fly, and the force of the snap of the bowstring flung him backwards into a rosebush.

“Ow!” he cried (of course), at the same time that I felt the arrow pierce between my eyes.  It went to my heart–just worked its way down there.  I knew I was stricken with this Lord Cu’gan.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” Anastasia said.  “There are a bunch of hot guys here in the Society.  And they’re like me: They all love to hug.”  She smiled, and nudged me with her elbow.

I wouldn’t mind if Lord Cu’gan hugged me,” I said.

“Ah, yes, Cu’gan.  He is attractive, isn’t he?”

“Yeah–a real cutie.”

She grinned.  “You should talk to him.  He’s a Society guy; he won’t treat you wrong.”  She practically pushed me in his direction.  “Make sure you sit by him as I tell today’s story.”

“Today’s story?”

“Yes.  A different person tells a different story every day in the Society.”  She went off to announce to everyone that she had a story to tell.

I sidled closer to Cu’gan, which got easier to do, when he moved from where he was standing and wandered nearer to me.  I sidled over a little more, and thought up some pretense for standing by him: a question about his harp.

I finally got to him, and tugged on his sleeve.  [This refers to my writing him a letter with questions about the SCA.]

Here Anastasia bade us all to sit down, and began her story.  “This is a fabliau–inspired by the French fabliaux,” she said.  “It’s really a very…sophisticated tale.”

Here she laughed, and started telling a demented, perverted story.  I especially reddened when she got to the following part–not a good one to hear when you’re sitting next to a guy:

She groped always further with her hand,
And found the bed, and thought nothing but good,
Because the cradle stood by it,
And didn’t know where she was, for it was dark,
But duly she crept in to the clerk,
And lay quite still, and would’ve gone to sleep.
Within a while this John the clerk leaped up,
And made violent love to this good wife.
So merry a bout she’d not had since long ago;
He pri–

And here the manuscript breaks off, the rest of it lost to history.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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Life on TCB–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–February 1995, Part 1

Counselor Dude said when he gave me a grade in February that my working on the novel Jerisland since 1988 or 1989 showed persistence.  He said I had a good grasp of the mechanics of writing, and could become an editor if I wanted to.

****

Sometime early fall semester, Sharon saw two freshman guys put up a poster advertising the new Roanoke College BBS.  We were surprised, and checked it out.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones on campus getting connected to the wonderful world of the Internet and BBS‘s.

It wasn’t much, mostly a message board saying what classes were canceled and such, but it was still nice to have one.  It was a voice line, however, hooked up to the freshmen’s dorm room phone, so we could only call up at certain times of the day.

Every other college already seemed to have Internet access for students.  Roanoke didn’t have it until the next school year.  I’d watch the students on Beverly Hills: 90210 use the Internet on a school computer, and feel jealous.  We heard the access was supposed to be available senior year, but had to be pushed off until the next year–after I graduated.

Pearl had friends with e-mail addresses through school accounts, and now she could finally send them e-mail through our AOL accounts.  We got one account for all four of us with separate screen names.

But our favorite was The Crystal Barrier, or TCB, as I described here, because of all the fun we had with people who lived nearby:

The action words in Teleconference, or tele, were a lot of fun.  For example, if I typed, “slap stimpy,” Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is slapping you!” but I saw, “…Wap!…Wap!…Wap!”

You could also do them to other people privately, like this: “kiss stimpy secretly.”  I saw, “Pucker up!” and Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you on the cheek.”

More action words: “pave,” which said, “Crystal Dragon is driving a steamroller over everything, chanting, ‘The earth must be paved'”; “pkiss,” or “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you passionately!”; “look,” or “Stimpy is looking at you,” which the user saw as, “Like what you see?” or “See something you like?”

“Look” was good for giving a funny look to someone who was acting very strange.  You could also just type “look” without directing it at anyone, and that showed up as, “Nyssa Of Traken is looking around the room.”

To direct an action at someone, all you needed were the first three letters of that person’s handle, or more if someone else online had the same first three letters.  You didn’t need to capitalize.

Sharon and I often spoke to each other and others offline as if we were in tele and using action words.  For example, I’d say to Sharon, “Nyssa is slapping you,” and we would laugh.

South Bend and S– BBS’s had different commands.  South Bend used dot commands.

Unlike with the South Bend area dot commands, which dealt with other functions on the BBS’s, on TCB you could use dot commands to send an action to someone who was logged into the BBS, but not in Teleconference or Farwest Trivia with you.  Example: “.kiss krafter.”

To look at someone’s registry, or a list of answers to personal questions, you typed “/r Krafter,” or went into the registry menu.  This registry asked for computer phone number, the name of your own BBS if you had one, your favorite food and movie and music and TV show, your least favorite show and music and movie, physical description, eye color, hair color, a short summary, etc.

You could answer each question however you wished: Some people typed “n/a,” or not applicable, to every question.  Speaker typed “.” after every question.  Some people gave answers that revealed them to be scary people, such as one guy who I believe called himself Nightstalker.

I either ignored the phone number questions or made up fake BBS names or spelled out fake numbers (“1800FUNWITHZARA,” for example).  My summary was often, “I long for the days when men were men, alternative was alternative, and mice were little furballs that squeak.”

Krafter liked this one.  I knew it was an adaptation of something I’d heard once (and I don’t mean the standard, “When men were men and women were women”), but I didn’t remember where.  Some time later, I discovered it came from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  My variation was my own, but the Hitchhiker’s version went:

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. —http://www.davekimble.org.au/humour/hitchhiker.quote.htm

We could also type taglines, which showed up next to a user’s handle whenever someone typed “/#” to call up a list of who was online at the time.  There was a default tagline, I forget exactly what; I generally had various taglines, depending on what I felt like putting there.

When someone was still logging in, the screen showed “login” in place of the handle, and “I couldn’t stay away!” as the tagline.  These were similar to the taglines on Pan-Optic Net.

I was Nyssa Of Traken, Sharon was Ziggy, and Pearl was Pearl.  My name, of course, came from my favorite handle from Indiana BBS’s, as I explain here.  Sharon loved Ziggy, and Pearl’s handle came from her nickname, so none of these names was a surprise.

Even Astrid went on TCB a few times, and called herself Tigger, fitting with her nickname, Boing Boing.

There, as in Internet chat rooms, normal punctuation and spelling rules went out the window.  In forums, people wrote normally (except for the occasional “4” for “for,” “u” for “you,” “c” for “see,” and other abbreviations).

But when chatting or playing in tele, you saw lots of ellipses and emoticons, and a lack of capitalization or punctuation.  Even I, whom Stubby once called the TCB spelling cop (I got better), was guilty of this.  It’s just quicker to write if you don’t have to worry about what your English teacher would think.

Sharon loved going online and being bombarded with “so and so is hugging you” from people all over the system.  I would go online, get such greetings, and type “.kiss Krafter” (which kissed him on the cheek) to greet him each time I saw him online.  Pearl was also popular.

The people online were so sociable and Sharon was so popular, in fact, that sometimes she went online and hoped no one would notice her so she wouldn’t have to answer their pages or return their hugs.  She tried to sneak on, check her e-mail and get back off again.

The problem, however, was that the system announced to everyone whenever someone came online, along with an entrance message, if one was set.  So it was hard to sneak on without being noticed, unless you figured out how to work the “invisible” function.

In my teens, the “cool” kids had never even heard of BBS’s.  (No, I was not one of the cool kids.)  Now, even the “cool” people joined the “geeks” online.

Other people liked to sign their names in various ways–all capitals, shortened handles, funny symbols–so I decided to use my own signature.  This is what I came up with:

}] Nyssa of Traken [{

For a short time, I changed my online summary nearly every day so that a different line of the first twelve lines to the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales–in Middle English–showed up.

When one of us was online, the other two often sat around the computer and watched.  Most often, we went into tele or Farwest Trivia (a multi-player trivia game).  There, the watchers would tell the one typing, “Page so-and-so and say this,” “Say this,” “Tell him Pearl says such-and-such,” etc.

When one of us was online, all three of us were generally online, even though only one of our screen names was logged in.  It was quite a party every night by the computer.

Oftentimes, people, such as Krafter or Speaker, sat in the menuing system (main menu), and just waited there for pages while doing something else.  Just like nowadays we do with, say, IRC, Facebook, or other instant messaging systems.

For me, the computer gave stiff competition to the TV.  Even though I wanted to see a new show named Sliders, Star Trek: DS9, and this new Star Trek show called Voyager, it was hard to pay attention because I was usually online while they were on.

I loved Sliders anyway, as did Charles, and we loved the various things that were different in each dimension the four sliders slid into.  One of my favorites had a dimension in which America had never broken from England.

(When Sci-Fi Channel picked up the show three seasons later, they ruined it, turning it into some action thing where favorite characters got killed off.)

As for the Star Trek shows, I couldn’t get into them.  After that year, I didn’t even try keeping up with them.  My love affair with the continuing Star Trek series had ended: There were just too many of them now.

For a short time, a guy called Atlantis sent me messages on TCB.  He played a game with me, a guessing game, with hints on who he was.  Then he disappeared before I could find out, upsetting me.

I heard somewhere that he was kicked off, maybe for a misunderstanding, but I don’t know if this was true.  Then Mike’s friend Brent finally admitted to being Atlantis.

Sometime during this period, Pearl’s sister came to visit and stay in the apartment for a day or two.  She saw my tapes and CD’s and went wild, because I had a lot of alternative, and the kids were really starting to get into alternative in those days.

She also went on TCB a few times as Squisha.  This name came from an inside joke between her and Pearl, a name one of them gave to a squirrel squished on the highway, Squisha Squirrel.  She had a lot of fun, and the other TCB users loved playing with her in Teleconference.

One day, I checked a user directory for one of the BBS’s.  The new user setup, or a series of questions each user needed to answer–what kind of computer and graphics you had, what password you wanted, your real name, address and phone number–included, of course, the question, “What handle would you like to use?”  The user directory listed all the users of the BBS by handle.  One person showed up as:

What do you mean “HANDLE

(No, no closing quote or question mark for “handle”; there wasn’t room; the handle could only be so long.)

Many teenagers hung out on TCB, and most of these seemed to love talking to Sharon, Pearl and me.  We felt popular.  Sharon said, “I think they think we’re cool because we’re three women living together.”

Though TCB wasn’t free, it wasn’t expensive, either: $5 a month got you five hours a day.

****

Sharon’s Sharon-isms included various expressions of disgust or dismay: “eww,” “ergh,” possibly “erckle” and “icky.”  We both used these online as well.  Another popular term among us roommies was, “Owie!  Owie!”  Sharon also sometimes said “cry” during a fake argument.

During second semester, it became common for my roommates to steal my seat whenever I got up from the couch.  I often ended up sitting in the armchair instead.

It was comfy, of course, so this wasn’t a problem, though sometimes I’d be in the chair while my roommies acted weird on the couch, joking and making weird noises and such.  I felt a bit left out.  But at least I had fun playing the straight woman.

Just as she did last semester, my old roommie Clarissa often came over to walk to dinner with me.  This, of course, was on nights when I didn’t end up eating mac and cheese or Spaghetti-os in front of the computer, while playing on TCB.  Now that we had our own kitchen and food, I could do this.

Tara and Pearl, having just seen Bugs Bunny’s A Hare Grows in Manhattan, began saying, “It’s a GY-raffe!  a GY-raffe!” instead, of course, of the usual “giraffe.”

My friends now watched Sesame Street every once in a while.  They thought there was nothing weird about this, that they had every right to if they wanted to no matter what their age, and that the show was cute.

Pearl’s sister liked Elmo.  (This was before the “Tickle-Me-Elmo” craze, which was in the fall of 1996.)

We noted that the same little African-American boy with an afro (probably John-John) had been on Sesame Street since we watched in the 70s, yet he was still there.

The show kept playing the same old clips even in the newer shows.  It was good, though, that the little kids wouldn’t miss out on some of the things we saw as kids, but wouldn’t they wonder why the kid’s hair looked so weird?

I never wondered about it as a kid, but that was in the 70s, and lots of people had hair like that.  (Of course, if Sesame Street still plays those clips of the afro boy, today’s kids probably think he looks normal.  Fashion is weird like that.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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