Blog-a-versary!

Hello, all! It’s been a loooong while, hasn’t it?

If you thought I had given up on this blog, you thought wrong. It’s just that this summer has been A Time. By the end of it, I was referring to it as a cursed summer, because it seemed like less than ideal things were happening not only to me, but to everyone around me.

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Pictures in this post are all from a walk in a wooded place in my area last fall that I never used for anything!

For instance, just as I was beginning to feel confident in my new position, I had to cover our calendar for a week because of a near death in someone’s family, which always puts me in a bad headspace. (Why are people so fucking rude??)

My doctor put me on a low dose of a diuretic at the end of July because my blood pressure finally went from borderline bad to actually bad. Needless to say this made me feel like shit mentally, but I didn’t have time to worry about that because the day after that appointment, one of my close friends experienced a major medical emergency.

Thankfully they survived it, and while they could’ve suffered major losses of mental or bodily function, they did not. They were home by the end of August, but that month was full of a lot of hospital visits and anxiety and trying to take my mind off of that anxiety by driving through the desert in GTA Online. (My friend is doing relatively well most days now, although they still have a lot of healing to do at home.)

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A relatively minor gripe, all things considered, is that we had kind of crummy weather on a lot of the weekends, so I couldn’t get down the shore at all.

However, the biggest thing that always keeps me away from computers after work in the summer is the heat. Even in my YouTube days, I was always less active in the summer. I’ve spent the past two summers getting by with just a big fan in my room, without putting an air conditioner into the window. The only thing I want to do when I get home on a hot summer day is sit myself right in front of the fan doing something that requires minimal energy (like reading or, again, video games) until it is time to flop my whole body down in front of the fan so I can go to sleep. The cord for the fan isn’t long enough to reach that close to my desk, and if I plug another thing into the ancient powerstrip at my feet, I’m sure it will catch on fire, lol. As a result of all of that, sitting at my desk is too sweaty to tolerate during the summer.

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But! Now that the weather is cooling down and life is becoming calm, I am ready to make my return. I’m not ready for a full return just yet — I want to prep at least two blog posts first, to give me a head start on a regular schedule. You can look forward to posts about Flame Con! The New York Renaissance Faire! Portland, Maine! And much more!

However, I noticed that my first blog-a-versary just passed, so I wanted to throw up a quick post to say hey, let y’all know why I dropped off the map, and to thank you if you’re still willing to read my stuff after I disappeared without warning.

Throughout my life I’ve tried to keep many different diaries, and then blogs once the internet came along. I always lost interest in them very shortly, but I’m somehow still interested in writing here after a whole year has passed, and I intend to keep on doing so for quite awhile.

See you soon (for real!),
Krys

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My Makeup Routine!

I didn’t really get into makeup until 2014, but I was never the type to wear it daily. It just really requires way too much effort and time — I’d rather get a little more sleep before work! However, there was a period of time where I was putting on a full face of makeup every Saturday. This was mainly during the time when I was really into making YouTube videos, as that was my filming day and I wanted to look polished. However, in 2018, while I’ve swiped on just a bit of lipstick here or there, I’ve really only done a full makeup three or four times. Two of those times were at Anime Boston, and one of them was for the cosplay I did there.

But it struck me lately, that I’ve had the same profile picture on several of my social media outlets for nearly a year now, and I figured if I was going to haul out my nice camera to take replacements, I might as well try to look decent for it, lol. So last weekend I put on a ton of makeup, and documented each step. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the greatest at makeup application, but I have fun with it, and that’s what counts! For starters, here is my bare face, clean and layered with skincare — the Before picture, if you will.

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There is a whole range of things going on here, from uneven skintone, to my highly visible pores, to my various large, crater-like chicken pox scars (which I actually quite like). Also, fun fact, I have a dimple.

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I always start my makeup with my eyeshadow, because I have a penchant for getting it all over my undereye area. I had a very hard time taking a picture of it, this is the best I got. I always start with an eye primer, because I have greasy, crease-y eyes. (I’ll be listing all the specific products at the end of the post!) Once my primer is down, I put a shadow that’s close to my skintone all over my lid, up to my browbone. Then I blend whatever dark color I’m using into my crease using a blending brush, and use a flat brush to pat a lighter color onto my lid. Here I’ve used a purpley color and a orangey glittery color from the nerdy indie (and vegan/cruelty free!) makeup brand Shiro Cosmetics, which I’ve been a fan of since they started!

If this looks kind of like a mess, it is. Not only am I not the greatest at blending, but the bristles at the tip of my crease brush somehow became fanned out a bit at the end the lat time I washed it so it’s no longer as precise as I’d like. But whatever, when my eyes were open, it didn’t look like quite as much of a disaster, lol. Often I do winged liner as well (although not so often anymore), but I’m glad I didn’t go for it here because even though I’ve applied it hundreds of times, it still can go very hit or miss (as I’m sure you know if you’ve got any experience with winged liner).

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Next is my face base! I start with a primer, trying to fill in my pores so they don’t show so much once I put on the foundation (which never quite works as well as I want, despite using a product which is supposed to be helpful in that regard). I’ve never found a foundation that I’m 100% satisfied with, but the one I’m wearing here is the closest I’ve got. It’s slightly the wrong shade for me, especially since I’ve got just the sliiiightest bit of summer color, but it doesn’t look nearly as off once I put my blush, etc. on top. There’s a bit of concealer under my eyes. Usually I don’t have dark looking undereye circles, but once I’ve evened everything else out with foundation, they appear, so I smear something over them even though I know it will crease horribly before the day is done, lol. I’ve also got my setting powder on — as a greasy girl, it is required if I want my makeup to look alright for a long period of time.

I apply my foundation with a makeup sponge, usually a Beautyblender, but the Real Techniques ones are nice as well. (I keep trying foundation brushes, but they tend to make the makeup SUPER visible in my pores. Not sure if that’s my skill or just the nature of the tool.) I press my powder into my forehead, undereyes, nose, and chin with the flat part of a Real Techniques sponge and then use a large flat fluffy brush to sweep away any extra and apply powder to the rest of my face.

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Here I’ve added my eyebrows, blush, and highlighter. I’ve never groomed my eyebrows, as I’ve been lucky enough to have brows that grow in a way that doesn’t make me self conscious. When I first got into makeup, I didn’t put makeup on them at all, but I was subscribed to Birchbox at the time, and they sent me a brow pencil, and when I tried it with my makeup I had a moment of “oh. maybe I should be doing this.” My eyebrows are relatively light, so they tend to get a little lost when I do a full makeup, especially if I accidentally get foundation on them. Brow pencil prevents me from looking eyebrow-less. I don’t fill them super thickly like the beauty gurus do, I just lightly shade them and hope for the best (you’re probably noticing this is a theme with my makeup application, lol).

I’ve tried to learn contouring, but I just can’t get the hang of it, so I stick to blush and highlight, both of which get applied in accidental abundance.

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My final steps are finishing/setting spray, mascara, and lipstick. The finishing spray helps my makeup survive the oil factory that is my face for just a little longer. I wait until after that to do my mascara, as I had a number of incidents where the spray would re-wet the mascara, and then I’d wind up with smudges under my eyes. Very annoying! I do my lipstick very slowly and carefully, and I prefer drier formulas because I don’t understand lipliner. Even if I use it, I still have wound up with feathering and smudging, so I’ve decided that super creamy lipsticks just aren’t for me.IMG_2284.JPG

So that’s the finished look! I took a whole bunch of photos in a couple of different tops, but I’m not actually sure if I’m going to use them for my Twitter or anything. This is not my best, most successful makeup application, and I’m a little afraid someone might zoom in and notice that, lol. I know I shouldn’t give a damn, but if I’m creating “promotional” photos, I want to put my best foot forward.

Despite my mixed feelings about this makeup, however, I still wanted to share these photos to show that even if things come out wonky, as long as you have fun doing your makeup, it’s fine! The great thing about makeup is that it washes off, and you can always try again!

flatlayfinal.jpgI think this is my first proper flatlay? Anyway, here’s the massive list of everything I put on my face, with comments where I feel one is needed. (As usual, none of this is #spon, I just wanna let y’all know where to get the good stuff!)

  1. NARS Blush in the shade Orgasm
  2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in Medium BrownI use the spoolie end to brush product out of my brows before lightly coloring them in.
  3. Shiro Cosmetics Highlighter in Siren SongAs of this post, it’s on sale because it’s being discontinued, so scoop it up quick if you want it!
  4. BeautyblenderThis is the Nude one, I got it in a gift set but they sell it individually as well. I cut it in half because a beauty YouTuber suggested it, and it’s kind of old anyway, but I find it doesn’t help my application much and actually makes it harder to hold.
  5. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion SpongeI actually don’t like this for foundation as much as the BB, but I like the flat end for pressing powder in really well.
  6. Tarte Rainforest of the Sea sprayUsed this as a setting spray here because I looked a little powdery, and this one helps relax that a little. Smells nice, somewhat citrusy!
  7. Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in TransparentMy current favorite setting powder, in case you couldn’t tell from the fact I’m hitting pan. I use this translucent one so I don’t have to worry about it clashing with my foundation. Nice applied with sponge or brush.
  8. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in BrighteningThis can go on hit or miss for me. I actually experimented with mixing it with #14 in this look and it turned out kind of well!
  9. e.l.f. Powder BrushUsed for translucent powder. The flat top lets me press things in, but it’s still big/fluffy enough to sweep stuff around.
  10. I’m not sure I’ve found the exact brush because it’s got no name printed on it, but the e.l.f. Complexion Brush looks pretty close to it. I use it for blush!
  11. e.l.f. Blush BrushI actually use this for highlighter. It’s a relatively flat brush, so I put the product one of the sides and sweep it over my cheekbones. 
  12. From left to right: e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush, Eyeshadow “C” Brush, and Eyeshadow Brush. The blender is self-explanatory, the “C” was used to put my neutral base on over my eye primer, the plain eyeshadow brush was used for the glitter shadow, to keep the other flat one clean for mattes in the future.
  13. Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon in the shade Liquorice:  I -love- this shade, and the formula wears well. They also have this shade in their Amuse Bouche lipsticks, which is where I discovered it first, but god those lipsticks are SO smudgy!
  14. This concealer is from Target’s Sonia Kashuk line, but when I tried to find a link I discovered that the brand is no longer selling cosmetics and is only selling brushes now. So I can’t provide a link, sorry!
  15. Loreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara in BlackThis is an old favorite of mine that I recently returned to when I realized the mascara I’d been using was probably well past expired and also discontinued. It’s still a good product. I buy waterproof because otherwise I get under eye smudges through the day because of my greasy face.
  16. This is a tiny little sampler palette I got in a Smashbox Try It Kit a long time ago — so long in fact that they no longer sell that particular kit. I haven’t tried other shadows from their brand, but these three are quality, and in this look I used the lightest one as the neutral base over my eye primer. 
  17. Shiro Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Yzma’s Essence of LlamaShiro shadows can be tricky to work with because they’re all loose pigments, but they’re definitely worth getting used to. This one has a nice shift — it’s purpley if you blend it like I did here, but if you pat it on it has a bronze cast. 
  18. Shiro Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Wizard WheezesThis one from Shiro’s Potter themed collection can be quite messy to work with because it is largely just glitter. If you sweep it on it’s quite sheer, but if you really work and pat a few layers on a nice orange/copper color develops.
  19. Dr. Brandt Pores No More primerA favorite primer of mine, because when I get it right it fills in my pores so the makeup sits nicely on top instead of revealing all of them. Also supposed to be good for oil control, but I’m not so sold on that.
  20. Loreal Infallible Total Cover foundation in the shade 301 Classic IvoryThe only foundation that I’ve found consistently gives me a look I’m happy about. There’s probably a foundation out there that’ll give me a look I’m even happier about, but I’m too lazy to look for it. This can cling to dry spots rather badly, so make sure you exfoliate and moisturize first!
  21. Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish eye primer: I forgot to include this in the flatlay because I wanted you to know I’m a human being. My favorite eye primer, and I’ve tried a lot of them in my quest for eyeshadow that goes a long time without creasing!

 

Ariel Nendoroid!

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Recently, I was finally able to receive my Christmas present from my friend T! They preordered this Nendoroid figure for me, it finally released in March (or April?), and by the time the post office stopped fucking around (as they are wont to do with T’s packages) and it arrived, it was May.

Nendoroids are figures of pop culture characters manufactured by the Good Smile Company. Over the years they’ve released figures from anime and manga, as well as video games and movies. Nendoroids aren’t the only type of figure Good Smile makes — what makes them unique are their big heads, tiny bodies, and overall kawaii/chibi/cutesy look. Also, they come with a ton of alternate body parts (but are not the only figures on the market that do).

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I’ve been aware of Nendoroids over the years, but haven’t purchased any for myself because all the little parts seemed such a fuss, and I knew I would put it in one pose and leave it that way forever. But T spotted the announcement of this one in the fall and thought I would love it, and I do! She’s very cute, and I was excited to see the little dinglehopper (fork) in the box. I immediately set about putting together a pose that used it.

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Disappointingly, I found that even once I sorted out which hand was for the dinglehopper, it didn’t stay in the hand very well. I also found that sometimes when I was manipulating the figure, the tails would pop out of the slot easily. Additionally, it could be difficult to get the peg into her back. The top of the peg actually comes off of the the rest of the blue arm that she’s attached to, and that happened to me a lot as I was trying to get the blue arm situated. That big head of hers is heavy, and it was a little tricky to keep things balanced on the base. This isn’t an issue that all Nendos have — Ariel is made to look as if she’s swimming, but many of the other characters just stand on the base (which is usually clear, but, again, we’re swimming here). But, she is very cute!

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I took this shot to demonstrate how to change the face plate. You just slide the front of her her hair out of the pegholes and then slide the face off in a similar fashion. Here you can also see where the peg keeping her up enters her back. It’s a little rough to get it in there under her hair. The back of her hair actually comes off as well, and when I first inserted the peg, I found it easier to do with the hair off.

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Another arrangement of the parts. I imagine that she’s fleeing from Flounder and Sebastian while on a mission to do something incredibly headstrong and foolhardy, lol. This one was hard to achieve, though. The pole holding her up is made of two parts that curve in the same direction and putting her so far forward made the whole base want to tip over. It took very precise positioning of the curves to get this shot.

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Here’s a close up of Flounder and Sebastian. They are…not the best. Sebastian looks sort of okay, but Flounder looks a little off. (Or is that just me?) Their posts are also a little flimsy and awkward. I kept accidentally popping them apart at the hinge while putting the pegs into the holes, which were a tight fit. This is the same pose as the previous picture, and you can also see a little bit of the tricky curves of the post holding Ariel up that I just mentioned.

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She also has a pair of arms that is specifically for holding Flounder. Maybe Sebastian would fit too? I didn’t try it because it looked like it wouldn’t work as well.

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This is the final pose I settled on, the one that she will now stay in for the rest of her days. I think I would get another Nendoroid or two in the future if they made any characters that I was really really interested in. (For instance, if they ever make Seto Kaiba, they will immediately have all of my money.) But despite the fact that she is really cute, I’m not totally sure I would recommend this figure to just anyone because of struggles I had that are specific to this particular figure.

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There wasn’t really a good place to mention it above, but there is such good attention to detail with this line of figures, even the interior of the box was beautiful. It would be a nice display backdrop for the figure if I had the space for that, but instead I recycled it. The figure has really good attention to detail and quality throughout this figure. So, again, I would recommend checking out other Nendoroids if  you think you’d be interested, but, again, I don’t know if I would recommend this one.

All the same, Good Smile has links to places to buy this figure on the product page for her, so check it out if you want to!

Summer Has Arrived

At the end of the day when I enter the lobby of the building where I work, I can feel some of the heat while I’m still a couple of yards from the revolving door. I push through, freeing myself from my air conditioned office prison, and for the first minute or so the heat is a refreshing contrast. But by the time I’ve crossed the courtyard and properly entered the parking lot, I’m wilting. Halfway across the asphalt that separates me and my car, I feel sweat pooling on my forehead, on my upper lip, under my arms.

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All of the photos in this post are from more pleasant summer times than the sticky week I’m currently enduring. Here’s the first Dippin Dots I ever had, taken at Six Flags in 2009.

I make it to the car and haul myself inside, desperately turning the key in the ignition as quickly as possible so I can roll down the windows. I feel blood rushing to my face and the sensation of all my pores opening up like I’ve just steamed them for a skincare treatment. The breeze from driving with the windows open calms my heat borne agitation (the AC is reserved for only the hottest of days, or when it rains).

I get home, and do I get to go inside where it’s cooler? Not yet — I have the task of pulling the rest of the family cars into our long narrow driveway once mine (the last to leave in the morning) is properly situated at in the back of the property. My brother’s car is black, with a black vinyl interior. Even if he remembers to crack the windows and park in the shade, I feel like I am sitting in hell.

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Here’s a weird baby head that was on one of the carousel horses in Dorney Park. This was the second carousel, way in the back of the park, that played hilariously out of tune music. Taken 2010.

Once that’s done, I go inside and eat dinner before going up to my room and cranking on my big boxfan. Last summer I successfully shunned the window air conditioner on the floor of the spare room that has my name on it, as it dries me up inside and out, usually giving me a cold. Hopefully this year I shall remain strong again. I’m usually wearing long pants or a cardigan in the interest of being office appropriate, and I curse them as I peel the sweaty cloth from my body. I flop down on my bed in my undergarments and let the cool air of the fan blow over my sticky skin.

Yes, I hate being cold. But I hate the heat even more. When it’s cold you can put on a sweater or grab another blanket. But when it’s hot, you can remove all of your garments and still be miserable, and I am absolutely not about that life.

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A beautiful view from the fortress of Wulzberg in Germany. Taken in 2012.

A New Job, Sort Of

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I’ve been able to personalize my new work area a little bit more than my old one!

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for awhile, then you’ll know that for over a year now, since March 2017, I have been desperately wanting a new job. When I asked the universe to help me out with that, I was incredibly specific that I wanted one at another business, but apparently all it had to give me at this point in time was a new position at my current place of employment.

I work at a law firm. I’d been the receptionist for the past four years (my anniversary is the start of May), but two weeks ago I moved up in the ranks and became a proper legal secretary!

How this came to pass is a story full of panic and cautious optimism. About a month ago now, I came into work one morning and was getting settled at my desk when my coworkers A and T rushed over to my desk. This was odd, and I immediately felt a slight sense of alarm.

“We have news!” they said.

“What happened?” I asked warily.

“L gave her notice this morning, she got a new job!”

I was incredibly jealous (Why wasn’t I getting to escape?) but I also felt happy for her — I knew she’d been very unhappy at work for a long time, largely because of one of the attorneys she was assigned to, a woman I’ll call C.

I could go into a looooot of detail about how awful C is, but for the sake of looking at least slightly professional to any future employers who might come across this blog, I’ll keep it to this: she is nice to your face, but is an incredibly demanding extreme perfectionist, to the point of toxicity. When I went to congratulate L on her new job, she confided in me that she’d been having frequent panic attacks because of C, and that C was pretty much the entire reason she was leaving. (Fun Fact: in the past four years the only people that have left our firm have worked with C.)

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A closer look at my figures! Everything except the mermaid and Morgan from P5 had been previously tucked in a corner of my old reception desk that no one could really see.

A legal recruiter I’d met with earlier in the spring had told me that my resume was a little awkward for her to market because I’ve been in a firm for years, have a good admin background, but had no experience with dedicated legal secretary paperwork. L’s vacancy would be a good opportunity for me to get more skills so I could get out. But….C. C was the entire reason that I didn’t immediately run to F and ask for the job.

I’ve been working with C often myself — she’s been frequently giving me different types of work ever since I started with the firm, because she decided early on that I was smart and capable enough to work with her. So I’m extremely familiar with how she is, and I knew that if I worked for her, I’d be shortly having frequent panic attacks myself.

I consulted with my office manager and the other secretaries and they all agreed that there was no way I could take C and F, especially considering I hadn’t been a full-on legal secretary before. But my office manager floated an idea with F and our other boss E: “Krys can’t possibly take on two partners, so why doesn’t she take F and…I don’t know, maybe G?”

G is super nice, and easy to work with. F is also pretty easy to work with, and while he does put out a lot of work, he’s not overly picky about how it gets done the way C is. It’s a long complicated story, but we were able to swap some of the attorneys around between the secretaries so I could have F and G. They’re also in the process of hiring a new attorney, and my assumption is whoever they hire will get assigned to me as well, just to keep all the numbers even between the secretaries.

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The trinkets I keep under my monitor — a tiny lucky cat from a Neko Atsume blind box and a squishy Aggretsuko that a friend recently brought me from Japan.

Being a legal secretary is somehow not that different than some of the work C was having me do, but there’s just a lot more of it. Also, large portions of my day are spent typing F’s long dictations, to the point where sometimes the thoughts in my head are in his voice, lol. I find myself feeling more tired at the end of the day than I did when I was receptionist, probably because there were more lulls at the front desk than I get now. But I feel more satisfied about work, and the day goes by faster because I’m more occupied.

Plus, C has largely gotten off my back, which my office manager predicted! She was still giving me a lot of work for the first few days (which caused me a fair bit of anxiety because I just wanted to be rid of her so badly and it hit me that it will never happen as long as I work here!). But I’ve made it clear with my actions that she’s less of a priority to me now (aka, I’m taking longer to do her stuff because I’m doing work that F and G asked for first). Supposedly I’ll be getting a raise as well, but I still need to talk money with F. I’m honestly not expecting to get the figure I have in mind because they don’t really pay any of us what we’re really worth, but any money is good money.

So I guess I’ll be staying at this office for another eight to twelve months before I start looking for a new job again, just to be sure I have the skills firmly under my belt. I didn’t mean to wind up in the legal field now, but since I’ve wound up here, I’m going to start making the most of it. My career future feels brighter than it has in a long time!

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(My final piece of cubicle decor are these two prints! The Journey one up top is by Etherelle — I bought it at Anime Boston and had it up on my whiteboard at home before bringing it to my new desk. You can buy a larger version of it here — they don’t seem to sell the postcard size on their site. The lower one is the Pokemon Swablu and Altaria,  done by Cryptovolans. You can buy it here.)

 

An Evening in NYC!

Last Thursday night, as I was preparing for bed, a text from my friend Kristen popped up on my phone. She’s one of my friends from college, and one of the people I always stay in a hotel with when I go to Anime Boston. I knew she was coming down from the Boston area to NYC for an event that weekend called Bookcon. Kristen’s text said that the friend who was going to Bookcon with her wasn’t going to be getting in until very early Saturday morning, so would I like to come into the city for dinner on Friday? I usually only see Kris once a year (at AB) so of course I immediately said yes!

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but despite the fact that I live only a 30-ish minute train ride outside of NYC, I only make the trip in a few times per year. There’s just not a whole lot there that feels like it’s worth making a frequent hassle. And when it’s as hot as it was on Friday, that desire drops even more. NYC (or at least Manhattan) is kind of gross in the best weather, but in the summer it immediately turns me into a disgusting, sweaty, sticky mess, and I hate that. But getting to see a friend that I very rarely get to see makes everything worth it.

My office has special summer hours that allow us to leave at 3pm on Fridays. I wound up leaving half an hour late because of some urgent work that came up, so after rushing home to change out of my work clothes, I wound up arriving at Penn Station at around 5:30. Kristen and I met by the TGIFridays in the big main area — she’s not as familiar with Penn as I am, so I figured it was a landmark that would be easy for her to find.

Her bus had gotten into the city around 1pm. She’d checked into her hotel and then gone to lunch with a friend from the area that she’d met at NYCC. He’d recommended some interesting bookshops for her check out, which is what she’d been doing until it was time to come meet me. He’d also suggested a few restaurants, and the first one she mentioned sounded intriguing to both of us, so we set off for Turntable Chicken Jazz, which is located in walking distance from Penn, in an area known as Koreatown.

We picked Turntable Chicken because they supposedly have really good Korean-style fried chicken (which is supposed to be awesome), but when we got there and looked at the menu we both decided to eat other things. Kristen got seafood fried rice, which she said was really good, and I got the seafood pancake, which was very greasy, but very worth it. But the best thing we ate was an appetizer we shared that’s called Corn Cheese. It’s a simple dish of yellow corn cooked with cheese, butter, mayo, and onion and it. was. AMAZING! And prices were actually pretty reasonable for the area of the city we were in, which is always a plus.

To top it all off, the decor inside Turntable Chicken is really neat! It was too dark to get a good picture, so I’ve borrowed this one from their website.

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From here, Kristen and I took a little stroll through the rest of Koreatown, ducking into a bookstore where they also happen to have a lot of KPop CDs and merchandise. I’m not sure of what it’s called, but I do know it’s just a few stores down from a bakery called Tous les Jours, which I just found out when I pulled up their website is a decently sized chain! They have a lot of cute little pastries, and beautifully decorated cakes.

After all this wandering, we wanted to go someplace that had air conditioning, so we decided to explore the flagship Macys at Herald Square, since we were right near it. This is the Macys that the annual Thanksgiving parade passes by, and I had never been inside before. There’s really not much to say — it’s a department store, but super massive. There’s a lot of different merchandise to look at (there was a whole large area just full of nice furniture!), and there’s multiple places to grab food (including a small, but proper, McDonald’s).

I became fixated on finding out just how many floors there were, seeing just how many escalators up there were, and Kristen (bless her heart) was game to answer that question with me. Not only did we discover that the Macys has nine floors, but the upper four or five of them were unexpectedly connected by these old wooden escalators! You can’t tell from this picture, but even the side walls of the escalator were wood.

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After Macys we made our way over to Times Square, even though we both know it’s awful tourist bait. We popped into the LINE store, which is full of merch based on the characters from a popular messaging app. There were a lot of cute things in there! I wanted to include a picture of my favorite character in this post, but I can’t remember its name and Google is not being helpful at the moment. So instead, have this nice picture of the sunset! Not quite Manhattanhenge, but still quite lovely. (Evidently we missed it by just a couple of days, bummer!)

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Kristen’s picture was much better than this, because it wasn’t taken on a 2 year old phone, lol.

After this, we walked over to Kristen’s hotel to continue our chit-chatting. We were just longing for a bit of quiet and air conditioning — even though it was starting to get dark, it was still quite hot. Along the way we stumbled across the theater where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is happening.

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I haven’t actually read the play, but I did read a plot summary online when it first came out, and I utterly reject it, lol. I can’t believe they took over the outsides of three different buildings for that awful black spiky mass. And if we zoom in just a little closer…

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What the fuck is this trashfire? It somehow makes me view this play even more negatively than I already did.

Anyway, I didn’t want to stay in the city for too much longer, but Kristen had told me her hotel had a really neat lobby. She was not wrong! This photo is also borrowed from the hotel’s website and makes it look brighter than it really was — the lighting was actually a little darker and more moody which is why I didn’t try to take a photo myself.

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Kristen’s actual room was a little lacking interior design wise, but it was a basic room in a big city hotel that’s not part of a chain, so it was kind of to be expected. At least it had air conditioning! We sat and talked for a little while before I headed back to Penn to grab a train home. I was pulling into my driveway by 10:30.

So all in all it was a quick little trip, but I got to go to a few places around the city that I hadn’t been before, eat some good food, and spend some time with a good friend that I rarely get to see. Definitely a very good use of a Friday night!

 

Getting AdSense Money?

Once upon a time, oh so long ago, I used to be very into making YouTube videos. I started in 2009 and uploaded at least once a month or so up until this past September. (I’m not saying I’ll never make a video again, but this blog has kind of replaced my channel.) I’ve had my YouTube account since the year the site opened, and by the time I actually began creating my own videos advertisements were becoming more prevalent on the site, but you had to be specially invited into the Partner program in order to collect any of that revenue yourself. I had quickly realized that probably I wasn’t going to have massive YouTube fame ever, so I wasn’t too fussed by being cut off from this program.

But then around 2012 I spotted a notice that had popped up in the video manager area of the site — my good conduct had earned me the right to hook my account up to the big monetization machine. I waffled a little bit before deciding to take the plunge and sign on. Why not? Who knew what would happen? It took me a year and a half to reach the payment threshold of $100. It was a nice accomplishment, but, again, I didn’t tie the worth of my work to the numbers it brought it. What mattered to me what that I was enjoying myself and maybe getting to connect to a few people, which I did get to do in greater numbers than ever before the following year! (#TeamCake!)

And then, in the spring of 2014, as I slowly drew close to the payment threshold for only the second time, I received an alarming message. My AdSense had been disabled for “invalid click activity.” I could file an appeal to try to save myself, but I only got the one appeal and if it was denied then that was that — banned from using AdSense for life. I had one video that was about hairstyling My Little Pony toys that had gotten many times more views than any other of my videos, and I assumed that this was the problem. I included any information in my appeal that I thought would help me, but ultimately I was rejected. And so I did what any good YouTuber would do and made an angry rant video.

I’m actually quite fond of this video. It really makes me laugh, even four years later! And I think I bring up some valid points about the whole process. For instance, they never even fully specified, in any detail, what I was supposed to have done to make the “invalid click activity” happen. (My research at the time told me there’s a whole variety of things that fall under this umbrella, from clicking your own ads, to using robots to do it for you en masse.) Google claimed the opaqueness is because they don’t want people to know how they figure out when misbehavior is happening. I thought (and think) that it’s so people have a harder time defending themselves so they can share money with fewer people.

(And, to go on a tangent, honestly that whole “we’re demonetizing all the small creators” thing they pulled this winter only serves to back up this opinion of mine, although I also feel that situation is related to their consistent lack of punishment when it comes to the massive fuckups that some of the massive personalities have made in the past couple of years. If they’d just properly discipline the PDPs and LgPls of the site, maybe advertisers wouldn’t be running away and Google wouldn’t have to steal from the poor to feed the rich. Taking away a person’s YouTube Red program, but still letting them have ads is NOT A REAL PENALTY. Anyway, tangent done.)

But if they were more specific perhaps I could have put together a stronger appeal because I was totally innocent. (Additional fun fact: as soon as you receive the, “You’re getting demonetized, try to appeal,” email, you’re locked out of the AdSense website, which might also hold helpful information for your appeal.) I am a huge square who is constantly worried about whether I’m behaving in all aspects of my life. I did nothing at all to deserve a permanent ban from what is probably the biggest advertising service on the internet. My numbers were the same consistently low numbers that they had always been. I don’t know how I got caught in the “invalid click activity” net, but I did, and I’m still slightly bitter about it.

If you actually take the time to watch the video I’ve included here, you might notice that I throw out the idea, “Hmm, isn’t it a little bit suspicious that they’ve disabled my AdSense shortly before they’re going to have to pay me?” And apparently I’m not the only person that’s ever thought that. I was recently cleaning up my various email inboxes, including checking the spam folders to make sure nothing important had wound up there by mistake. And in the spam box of the email for my YouTube account was an email telling me about a class action settlement, that I might be able to collect a little bit of money from!

The lawsuit is captioned Free Range Content, Inc. v. Google LLC. and to pull a quote from the settlement agreement, the most basic description of the complaint is: “Plaintiffs alleged that Google terminated AdSense publishers from the AdSense program and improperly withheld unpaid amounts in those publishers’ AdSense account.” They also alleged that Google would do these terminations shortly before money was due to be paid. At some point during the proceedings, the lawsuit became a class action situation, which is how I received a message about potentially receiving a piece of the $11,000,000 of settlement money. (The terms of the settlement still have to be approved by the court, as per this FAQ.)

I naturally did some research, because it sounded kind of fake. But after coming across several different articles corroborating the information, I submitted a Confirmation of Claim form to try and get my piece of the pie. I’m not certain that I’ll get all $90ish that was in my AdSense at the time Google disabled me, as there are going to be different payment groups that will receive different percentages of their balance depending on several factors. Since I work at a law firm, I’d like to point out settlement obviously does not mean Google is admitting fault. In fact, the settlement agreement I linked above specifically states that Google has denied wrongdoing.

But it’s still a good feeling for me that a lawsuit and settlement has happened at all! Even if I don’t get any money, I feel vindicated knowing that, yes, perhaps Google misbehaved in regards to me and others, and they are now going to pay up because of it.