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Annie

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The Inside of My Head [Aug. 16th, 2018|11:49 am]
Annie
Nate and I were talking a while ago about what the insides of our heads would look like if they were physical spaces. I don't remember what he said, because I am a spouse who is apparently awesome at listening. But I wanted to write my own thoughts down somewhere.

So like, my actual house is relatively organized. Things go in boxes, boxes go in closets, etc. Standard stuff to keep us from panicking when we have people over for dinner.

The inside of my head, however, basically looks like this. You may notice that you can still pick your way through it, but all that shit is just right out there. And it's not even useful shit most of the time. It's just random shit. It's conversations from middle school and song lyrics and the memory of where my keys were that one time 2 weeks ago.

When I have something important to remember, I'll do the mental equivalent of painting it neon red and setting it on top of a stack somewhere. Then I'll probably see it when I need to.

Unless it gets accidentally buried under something else, then we're screwed.

(This is why I live and die by whiteboard to-do lists in real life. Without them, I am often floating around with a vague feeling that something needs to get done, but I won't remember what it was until I wake up at 3am that night and then can't stop thinking about it.)

To get the full effect, you also have to imagine fantastical little creatures crawling in and out of the piles, or clinging to the ceiling. These are Art Ideas, and I can either take the first one I see or go digging through piles to see if I can find any better ones.

Once a month during PMS, Mean Annie comes to crash on the couch, and she yells at me occasionally about what a dump this place is. She doesn't actually do anything to help though, she just whines that I don't even have the right kind of soda in the fridge.

There is a balcony too, for when I want some visual quiet. "The balcony" can be a vacation, or a couple glasses of wine. Or both. It's a nice break, but you can't stay out there too long, because you can't see any of the neon red things that need attention, or you'll miss one of the creatures swiping its tail across the stove and setting the whole place on fire.

(Edit: This required a photoshop. I added a ticker that tells me things related to the kids.

room

I have no idea if this is what other people's heads are like. It sounds kinda crappy as I describe it, but it's actually not so bad. You make it work.
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Sitting and Watching [Aug. 11th, 2018|08:44 am]
Annie
As I get older, I find I can enter this kind of partial-zen state, where I can be perfectly happy to sit on the porch and just look at things. This is generally not when the kids are running around, or when I've got some To-Do gnawing at the back of my brain, or if I've got some other Wildermyth-related idea that I'm working on.

But sometimes, when I'm caught up with tasks and I don't have my phone or laptop going, I can just sit and watch the world and exist. And for that moment, it's enough. It's a really, really satisfying feeling.

And then I realize holy crap, this must be what cats feel like all the time.
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Mid-to-Late July [Jul. 21st, 2018|03:28 pm]
Annie
The garden is back down to its off-season crew, aka just the herbs.

Well, technically there's one spindly grape tomato plant hanging on, but since we're going to be on vacation next week and there's no way it would pull through, I'd stopped watering it. The poor thing just decided to put out more flowers yesterday though, and it broke my heart in a stupid little way.

* * *

The art these days generally looks like this:

wildermyth

Putting different scenery in our Wildermyth mission maps is the first step to making a fight at say, a forge, feel different than a fight at a weaver-works.
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Thought of the Day [Jul. 3rd, 2018|09:24 am]
Annie
I know it's not the right time in my life for chickens. They require more commitment than I can give. They're smelly and need lots of protection and our neighborhood *technically* forbids them.

But I cannot totally quash my desire—to someday own tiny dinosaurs who will poop breakfast for me.
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Sourdough Rises Again [Jun. 29th, 2018|06:38 pm]
Annie
When we last left my foray into sourdough startering(?), things were looking a little dicey and my one bread so far had been an intriguingly-flavored brick.

TURNS OUT! My problem was twofold:

1.) The organic rye flour did indeed work waaayyy better than the standard Costco bread flour, at least for getting started. All of the sources I researched were like, "And oh my heavens make SURE your flour is organic rye flour OF COURSE." And I thought they were just being snooty. But turns out it works way better. Fortunately though, you can feed it regular flour once it gets "established" (i.e. a couple weeks in). There's hardly any visible rye flecks in there anymore, but everything is working well.

2.) Things were originally just too watery. Or—I had too high of a "hydration level," because for serious baking you have to use serious terms like that. But anyway yeah, I quit adding so much water and added more flour and things got way better.

So I fixed these things, gave it a few more weeks to find its footing, and now we're getting these gorgeous fluffy sourdough boules consistently.

(Quick aside: apparently the gold standard in the sourdough-baking world is loaves with huge honking airholes in them. I don't understand this, because those make crappy sandwiches and all the butter drips through when you make toast out of them.)

I combined the two starters into one, since feeding two was double the work of feeding one. And it has become an ambitious little booger, hugely poofing up every time I feed it now. Rye-ly and Wheatley have merged I've renamed it my "Dwarf in the Flask."
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Thought of the Day [Jun. 28th, 2018|12:19 pm]
Annie
Over the last few years, I've realized that in Austin, the "heat index" is for noobs.

That thing where you go, "Well it says 95˚F, but the heat index is 105!" when calculating how miserable you're supposed to be.

Maybe Minnesotans say the same thing about wind chill.
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More Wildermyth Comic Backgrounds [Jun. 27th, 2018|09:26 pm]
Annie
wildermyth

wildermyth

wildermyth

wildermyth

wildermyth
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More Wildermyth Wildlife [Jun. 21st, 2018|02:18 pm]
Annie
[Tags|]

wildermyth

wildermyth
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State of the Foodstuffs [Jun. 1st, 2018|04:46 pm]
Annie
We're supposed to hover around 100°F for the next few days, and my poor little garden hasn't been able to take it.

The tomato plants are on death's door, currently delivering their tragic Shakespearean monologues to each other. After having grown to great heights and starting to tease me with a bunch of green fruit, they turned totally wilty and brown over the course of a few days. They're apparently going to finish the fruit that they started though, so I'll keep them around until there's nothing left to pick. We've gotten enough tomatoes that it wasn't a total loss, but it was a far cry from the piles of tomatoes that we were foisting onto neighbors last year.

The basil doesn't seem to mind the heat as long as it stays watered. The other greens though (chard, beets, sorrell) are gone. I noticed they were struggling during the day, and told myself I would just try to give them extra water and try to harvest them when they looked good again. Then I came out one afternoon to find them all laying flat, crispy and sun-scalded.

There is one beet plant left that, while small, continues to hang out all green and happy right next to the also-happy sage, who I'm assuming is satisfied with how it finally showed them, it showed them all!

The rosemary persists, without comment.

* * *

Did I tell you about our peach tree? It went bonkers this year. It gave me that "oh god I can't use these up fast enough" experience that the tomatoes failed to give. It was awesome.

Except for the larvae.

The little half-inch devils made their homes within probably a third to half of the peaches I took off that tree.

They all seemed so bewildered when I sliced off their little peach roofs. I almost felt bad for them—as I dumped them and their wreckage down the garbage disposal.

The peaches were still useable after cutting well around the eaten area, but I hope the neighbors didn't get any of the little buggers in our giftbags of peaches. Or if they did, I hope they discovered them by cutting the peaches and not by... (shudder)

* * *

And then, because gardening is so last month now, I rolled a new sourdough starter after getting a neat little book on it. A couple of starters, actually, to see:

a.) whether rest of the fancy-froofy rye flour I had in the pantry will actually perform as well as the baking world says it will, and
b.) whether the bulk-bread-flour from Costco (non organic! Recoil from my blasphemy, bakers!) can underdog its way to something useful.

A week in, Wheaty smells tangy and pleasant. Rye smells like something from the woods of my childhood that I can't quite place. Neither have any rising power whatsoever.

The one loaf I tried making with them so far turned out very dense, but the flavor was weirdly compelling enough that I've been looking forward to toasting a slice for breakfast every day.

We'll wait and watch them for another couple weeks. Unfortunately, trouble-shooting sourdough starter is nearly impossible, even with the internet. Everybody's got a different idea of the things that make or break them. Im not sure whether that's comforting (in that way of, "eh, just do whatever, it's going to do its own things anyway") or unnerving.
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I Try It So You Don't Have To [May. 29th, 2018|09:19 pm]
Annie
Just googled "Can you dunk biscotti in wine?"

Turns out the answer is yeah, kinda. But only certain biscotti, and only a certain wine. (And not coffee? Whatever, screw those guys, I don't care if they invented biscotti, they're obviously wrong.)

But I've got chocolate biscotti. And I've never bought Vin Santo, but I do have red wine in a box.

* * *

Verdict: even though dark chocolate and red wine usually go well together, this didn't. It's hard to describe, but the flavors "fought" with each other. It was less than the sum of its parts.

Coffee-dunking works way better.
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Meal History [May. 20th, 2018|08:04 pm]
Annie
I'm reading a book about the history of American meals, because that's what's exciting to me these days I guess. And it's funny to discover all the weird opinions people had about food over the centuries.

Meat for breakfast is necessary.
No wait meat for breakfast is actually the worst and will give you chronic health problems.
No wait actually it's fine.

The main meal of the day should be around noon, to give time for digestion.
No no, having the main meal at the end of the day is much much better because people can eat it more slowly after work.

Chocolate will restore your vital energies!
No way it is super bad for you!

Soup is stupid.
No it isn't, it's fancy.

Hot school lunches are a sound investment in the children of our country.
No they aren't, they—you know actually, everyone was pretty on board with this once it got rolling.

But anyway, as much as Victorians & early-twentieth-century folks and all their huffy health/morality claims annoy me, it gives a context for a lot of the arguments about food these days. Claims that this or that nutrient will brighten people's moods and make them more productive. Or all the different theories declaring that if we just ate XYZ foods, and not ABC foods, we'd all be beautiful and healthy.

Not to mention all the worries about the optimal way to parent children, what causes cancer and what doesn't, and what smartphones are doing to the very fabric of society.

Not to say that we're not making progress. It's just that the clucking and finger-wagging and prescriptions for long life/happiness lose their punch when you read the exact same phrases being blasted out to the public for hundreds of years, only about different and often contradictory things.
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Rimworld Thoughts [May. 7th, 2018|11:07 am]
Annie
Nate's been playing a lot of Rimworld, and it's one of those games that's too micro-manage-y and complicated for my tastes, so I'm happy to sit and watch him play. You control a group of space colonists (starting with 3-5 and eventually recruiting up to as many as you want) abandoned on a random planet, and you need to get their little mini-civilization up and running by giving them orders to grow food, build houses, defend themselves, etc.

This could have been super boring (for me anyway), except for the fact that each colonist has a randomly generated name and personality. They have passions and pet peeves, they fall in love with each other, and they tame and name animals that they come across.

So we have two "beautiful warriors" who get married, and then the guy falls into despair after his wife is killed by an infected gunshot wound. We have a sanguine doctor who cheerfully forgoes entire nights of sleep to tend to his friends and convince prisoners to join the colony. We have the put-upon, grouchy guy who gets stoned and takes a nap in the middle of a field amid preparations for a big battle.

We had Ferdinand the llama, who obliviously survived more disasters than any llama has a right to, only to finally be slaughtered by one of our colonists who was having a psychotic breakdown because an elephant ate the last of his food.

We get to tell each other fun things like, "Oh no, one of the Yorkshire Terriers overdosed on Go-Juice and puked in the warehouse!"

And nobody really cares about all the drama and story arcs except for us, but. The point is that when a game makes the effort to randomly generate characters and events, it can pay off in spades.
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Thought of the Day: Technology [May. 5th, 2018|10:50 am]
Annie
I don't staple papers very often these days, so I had to find an old stapler in one of our drawers somewhere. And I was pleasantly surprised when it worked, because it was over ten years old.

And then I remembered that it's a stapler, not a smartphone, and a lot of things don't become completely obsolete after ten years.

It's a nice thing to remember.
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Chinzilla Sketch [May. 4th, 2018|09:22 am]
Annie
squeakroar

I thought that when I googled this one, it was going to be done to death, but actually there were only a few relevant images, and nobody had really gone all-out on it. So there may be space in the future for a bigger effort on Chinzilla.

PS- One more fun garden fact. As chard and beet greens get mature, they start to burn the back of your throat if you eat them raw. It's because of something called oxalic acid, and while it's not going to actually harm you in the quantities found in a chard leaf, it is the primary active ingredient in Bar Keeper's Friend.

If you cook them it's fine, that nixes it for whatever reason, but I suddenly became very interested in researching oxalic acid yesterday for about an hour after taking a single bite of a chard leaf.
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Garden Update: Beet Letdown [May. 1st, 2018|09:45 pm]
Annie
I had been surprised by how many of my beet plants had sprouted in the garden, and I had grand plans of pickling dozens of beets because I simply couldn't eat them fast enough.

Those did not pan out, sadly. Turns out this thing can happen where the top of the plant looks gorgeous, but it's not developing the actual beet underneath (not my photo in the link, but that's what they look like). You go to harvest it, and the root is this piddly little thing that isn't worth cooking.

We got a few beets that were maybe an inch and a half in diameter, so we boiled those and stuck them in a salad. And it was a fine salad. They were fine beets. But they looked so small in the bowl by themselves.

I have been using the greens, but they're just not as good as the chard, and I still have plenty of chard.

***

The tomatoes vary a lot in how they're doing. Of the two cherry tomatoes, one is my largest plant and the other is runty, wilty, sickly, and probably some other unhappy words that end with the letter y. I don't know if it's the plants themselves that made the difference, if one just got sick and the other didn't, if the soil is really that different in the three feet between them, or what. If I had only bought one or the other, I would have believed that I was either amazing or terrible at growing cherry tomatoes specifically. Now I have the data points to know that I am both. Or neither, more likely.

I'm nervously watching the heirlooms grow their green fruit, checking in every day, looking for spots or bugs, and giving them more than their fair share of water. We are once again in the stage of "you have a good plant, now whatever you do, don't botch this." I know the real trials are still to come, because these are tomato plants, and tomato plants love to tease.

***

The melancholy sage from the previous garden post has suddenly become happy. I have no idea what happened, but now I'm afraid I'll breathe on it wrong and piss it off again.
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The Things You Learn About Yourself [Apr. 18th, 2018|09:54 am]
Annie
Sometimes you wonder, "If I really let loose, like didn't stifle it at all, what kind of a scream would I make?"

And the moment when you go to dispose of a massive dead roach, and suddenly the roach is not as dead as you thought it was and now it's trying to give your fingers a hug—that's the moment you learn the answer to that question.

Nate wasn't home to hear it, but I did scare the hell out of the cat.
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Wildflife Magic [Apr. 11th, 2018|11:31 am]
Annie
Nate and I were talking about a fantasy setting in which people would attract different kinds of wildlife to their property to gain some low level magic.

Birdfeeders would bring Bird Magic, which could be either musical talent, or having news find its way to you more easily.

Squirrel Magic would mean that you didn't lose items as often, and they'd always turn up again more quickly when you did.

Cat Magic would make your enemies unlucky on your turf, or maybe you'd always squeak by unharmed in situations where you really shouldn't have.

I don't know what Raccoon Magic would be, but it sounds like it would seem lame at first, but turn out to be surprisingly powerful.

Bear Magic is only something you'd try for after years of experience. Physical power would come easily to you, but if you couldn't control it well enough, you'd just turn violent.

We figured Dog Magic would probably make people be more friendly and outgoing with you, then we realized that Dog Magic is already kind of a real thing.
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Thought of the Day: Currently In Use [Mar. 28th, 2018|07:23 pm]
Annie
My computer likes to bug me to install updates. Every day until I do the update, it gives me a message at some point:

"There are applications currently in use that are blocking updates from happening."

Yes, there are. Because I am using them. Currently. And I don't want to stop what I'm doing, shut everything down, wait for you to update, then restart them again.

Updates are cool, it's just that every time I'm at my computer to see the update message, it means that I'm in the middle of doing something. Somebody has surely made computers that have an option to do updates "the next time you restart" or whatever, right?
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beet-rat [Mar. 27th, 2018|02:36 pm]
Annie
beet

I cut the stringy root-bottom off a beet one day, and it fell onto the floor. And then I forgot about it until an hour later, when I noticed it and my brain had to do this whole like four-step process of not freaking out and thinking it was an animal part that Baxter had brought in.
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The Garden, Year 2 : Back for More [Mar. 17th, 2018|08:58 pm]
Annie
The garden beds are getting another go-round this year. The mint, oregano, and rosemary made it through the winter and are our senior plants this year. I assume they organize meet-and-greets for the new plants, dispense wisdom, and talk behind everyone else's back about how things were better back in the day. Thyme and sage have joined the herb section this year, and while the thyme has been integrating well, the sage sits around hating the world but refusing to die because I dunno, I guess it enjoys being miserable. I've never known how to keep sage happy.

Last year I dropped stupid cash on the fancy soil, and when I went back this year to ask about mulch, the guy was like, "Oh, but you bought the Happy Frog soil last year?"

"Yeah."

"Well you shouldn't need mulch then. As long as you kept feeding the soil all year."

"..."

"You fed it with the molasses. Right?"

"...Oh. Yeaahhhh. Yup."

"Great, well then that'll hold the water and you won't need mulch."

"Uh... awesome. Then. Thanks."

(I have not fed it shit. Though honestly, this soil + the compost is already so much better than anything else I've worked with, I have a feeling it'll be fine if I don't shell out another fifty bucks for replacement stuff.)

I got some Swiss Chard in early, and it's been pretty low-maintenance so far. Chard is nice to have around—I don't like making a whole salad out of it like I would with say, spinach, but it's convenient when I want greens to add to a pasta dish, stir fry, or soup. And when I start to notice that the heat is too much and it's done for the year, i can harvest the whole things and sauté them down to a manageable volume.

I also picked up some beet seeds and threw them into a couple of the beds back when I put in the chard. And like, I like beets. But I didn't expect as many of these things to germinate as they did. And now I'm morally obligated to keep these dozens of beet seedlings alive, until such time as they produce beets and then I have no idea what to do with fifty beets.

I've made a grave error here.

(ETA: pickling beets could be a thing?? I am saddened to learn that the awesome pink pickled vegetables we used to get at Zankou Chicken in LA were actually turnips with beet juice added, but I bet pickled beets would be cool too.)

And then there are the headliners, the prima donnas: the tomatoes. Despite my complaints last year about tomatoes being damn dirty heartbreakers, apparently I decided they were worth it on the whole, since we've got another half-dozen plants this year. The memories of the "Purple Cherokee" heirloom tomato loomed so strongly in my mind that I got two of them this year instead of one. And then we've got three little varieties (since they're hardier in general) and one "Brandywine" heirloom, which is a long shot, but if successful, will make giant pink tomatoes that are the stuff dreams are made of. And the plants were all like two bucks each, so even if they all bomb, oh well boo hoo try again next year.

I don't think they'll all bomb though. Not least because I learned some things last year that I plan to put into practice:

1.) Cage these suckers earlier than you think you need to, and keep them on the straight and narrow. I thought I was on my caging game last year, but everything still ended up sprawling into the grass where it was much more likely to get eaten by critters.

2.) Speaking of critters, I'll be on the lookout for baby stinkbug broods and will be much more ruthless about killing them. My "knock them into soapy water" ninja technique has improved since last year.

3.) Be consistent about watering. Tomatoes complain about that kind of thing emphatically, in the form of cracked fruit.

4.) Be proactive about making fried green tomatoes with the unfortunate souls who aren't going to make it to ripeness.

All this being said, they'll probably fall prey to aphids (ugggghhh aaaapphhiiids) or some disease I haven't heard of yet, but maybe we'll get a few edibles out of them before they do.
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Clowns [Mar. 4th, 2018|08:57 am]
Annie
I'm filling out a survey about Ben's vocabulary, and they're asking about different types of characters/people/costumes. I google-imaged "cowboy" to see if Ben knew what it was. He didn't, he guessed fireman, which was kinda interesting (I dunno, we just haven't shown him cowboys I guess. He can tell you a bunch of obscure Mario characters though.)

And then I google-imaged "clown."

Holy shit, guys.

Do not recommend that.

Our culture has apparently decided that there is no such thing as a friendly clown anymore, and I may as well have searched for "unspeakable horror" or "nightmare fuel" directly.

(Ben didn't know what the clown was either, when I finally found one that wasn't terrifying. He just said it was a guy holding balloons.)
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Thought of the Day - Oven [Feb. 28th, 2018|11:23 am]
Annie
Our oven is pretty new, since we bought it when we moved into our current house, and apparently a Thing with newer appliances is they all like to make lots of little beeps and chimes and dings. Our oven has a few different "songs" that it sings. One for when the timer goes off, one for when the door has been open too long while it's heating, and one for when it's finished preheating, among others. It's like a Disney character, willing to bust out a whole musical number for any situation.

When it's preheated, it accompanies its little song with some blinking of the oven light. So you've got a happy "Beedle-BEE be-DEE be-DEE!" and flash, flash, flash, and it's adorable because the oven is just so proud of itself.

I've never tried the self-cleaning function, but I bet it loses its damn mind with glee when it gets a chance to pull that task off.
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How Now [Feb. 27th, 2018|10:32 am]
Annie
moooo

I was whipping up some livestock pngs for Wildermyth, and I like this cow a lot, but she turned out to be not quite "wild" enough. I think the game's cattle will end up looking more like those shaggy Scottish ones.

But I wanted to give her a home here anyway.
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(no subject) [Feb. 21st, 2018|11:40 am]
Annie
slurrrrp

Sometimes you hear a phrase or even a specific word (e.g. "devour") and a picture pops into your head. And sometimes you examine it and go, "HA too bad I don't have the skill or patience to commit that to paper." But other times it's simple enough that you're like, "you know what, I could get that down pretty quickly if I wanted to."
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Kamikaze KitchenAid [Feb. 8th, 2018|10:07 am]
Annie
Our hefty KitchenAid mixer has been great for the last few years, but the other night, it... I dunno, it got too excited while mixing a dough. The mixer has been known to "hop around" a little bit on tough doughs, but the mix times were usually short enough and I was keeping enough of an eye on it that it wasn't an issue.

This time, though. A ten-minute mix, a particularly dense bread dough, and me being distracted by other stuff—it all ended in a big scary BANG on the floor next to me. The mixer had dance-partied right off the side of the counter.

An aside: it's funny too, with those sorts of things, it always takes me a few seconds to figure out what the hell just happened, which makes me think that I'd be terrible in any actual dangerous situation that called for quick thinking. I'd be that character standing in the path of the oncoming monster with a befuddled expression while the audience yelled and face-palmed.

Anyway, the mixer is still in one piece but very unhappy about life right now, and if you turn it on, it runs, but makes noises in that universal language of Bad News ("grundle-grundle ERGGH greeeee grun-grun skruurrgh"). I'll search around and see if these sorts of things can be fixed.
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