Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Supporting Space

The Planetary Society is asking for signatures on a petition to the US Congress calling for continued government support of the US space program. Here's the text of the petition:
Dear Senator McCain and Representative Boehlert:

The tragic loss of the seven courageous Columbia astronauts should – rightly – force careful review of all of NASA’s procedures. Shortcomings and failures need to be found and corrected to prevent a recurrence, and make human spaceflight as safe as possible.

Traveling into space is inherently dangerous, but each failure can also be a way to advance the cause of exploration. The hearings over which you will soon preside can contribute mightily to this important goal.

But, it is essential that the naysayers – who have long opposed a vital and intrepid space program of science and planetary exploration – not be allowed to use the Columbia disaster as an excuse to cripple NASA, or distract the agency from its core purpose of exploration science and discovery.

I urge you to support thorough hearings, solving NASA’s problems, and going forward with a vital program of human and robotic space exploration.

If you want to add your name, you can do so here. (You don't need to be a US citizen to sign.)
Yet Another Stupid Quiz! Please, Somebody Stop Me!

Japan -
Viewed as the technological powerhouse of the 21st
Century, it has lived a reletively solemn and
singular history.

Technologically Advanced.
Economic Superpower.
Healthy Populace.

Isolated and Sometimes Ignored.
Unlucky with Disasters.

Which Country of the World are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm, why do I feel an urge to watch some anime, then get stomped on by Godzilla?
And Remember, "It Is Inappropriate to Kiss Anyone You Haven't Previously Held at Gunpoint."

Via Snarkcake, it's The X-Files Etiquette Handbook, with lots of wise advice for how to get along in the big, weird world of government conspiracies and alien abductions. I imagine it's probably even funnier if you're a bigger X-Files fan than I am.

Here's a sample, on "introductions":
In this era of blended families, it is permissible to refer to half-sisters or step-siblings, but it is not necessary to detail the exceedingly personal such as "This is my half-sister by my mother and my arch-enemy" or "This is the test-tube human-alien hybrid developed from one of my ova".
Mutiny on the HMS Buffy (WARNING: Spoilers for Last Night's Episode)

Well, the plot is still creeping along... I do wish it'd creep a little faster, though. At only three episodes left in the series, it doesn't really have very much longer to get wherever it's going. And, yeah, the writers are still all but jumping up on chairs and waving their arms and screaming "This is a looming apocalypse unlike any other looming apocalypse! This time things are really bad! Really!" But I have to say, I'm honestly just not feeling it. And that fact makes all the scenes of people panicking in the streets and desperately trying to get the hell out of Dodge seem kind of... odd. I mean, this is Sunnydale, Denial Capital of the World. Six zillion people get eaten every day, and the town motto still might as well be "Vampires? What Vampires?" You'd think it would take a lot to get to these people, but, really, while some of the stuff the First Evil has done has been pretty creepy, I can't think of anything in specific that it's done that would put the general public on edge, at least not any more than anything else they've ever dealt with. OK, maybe there's just a general sense of Evil in the air, but that's no more than business as usual for Sunnydale, so I'm really not buying it.

I will say this for the episode, though: I'm really glad to finally see everyone rebelling against Buffy's "bitch at everyone until they're miserable and then lead them on suicide charges" style of leadership. I'm not sure what her malfunction is, but it's long past time to bring in Dr. McCoy and have her declared unfit for command. Though I'm not exactly sure what kicking her out of her own house is going to accomplish, other than making it extremely likely that she'll go off on her own and do something stupid. Oh, and I'll say it: Bully for Faith! She's displayed a lot more good judgment and emotional restraint than Buffy. And there's a sentence I never would have thought I'd type.

Best Acting award for this episode, by the way, has to go to Nicholas Brendon, who delivers the usual Xander jokes with exactly the right inflection to let us know just how very much he's suffering. Poor Xander. He'd be top of my list of People Who Need Hugs right now, except he got one, and it didn't seem to help a whole lot.

Oh, and I think Spike and Andrew should team up more often. Especially if Andrew gets to be the Bad Cop.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Is It Just Me, Or Do the Quizzes Keep On Getting Weirder?

I found these via Ferro Lad, so, uh, blame him, not me. Yeah, that's the ticket!

My Phase is Olbos

Which Phase of the Greek Tragic Cycle Are You?

Take More Robert & Tim Quizzes
Watch Robert & Tim Cartoons

Uh-oh. Does that mean that the tragedy is still looming in my future. Maybe I should just stay in bed...

I'm an Atheist!

Which Enemy of the Christian Church Are You?

Take More of Robert & Tim's Quizzes
Watch Robert & Tim's Cartoons

Biased, very biased. But accurate, nonetheless.

Narrator - You're not a character at all. You're
the one people come to when they need advice,
when they need loose ends tied up for them,
when they need a peacemaker. You'd probably
make a great therapist or diplomat.

Fairy Tale Lady
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't know why, but somehow, I find that result just too cool.
Another Pointless Update

You'll be pleased to know that I finally got my Dalek fixed. (Hmm, that kind of makes it sound like I'm doing my bit to control the unwanted Dalek population in my neighborhood, doesn't it?) Anyway, as soon as the superglue sets, he should be right back out there crushing the lesser races and pursuing unimaginable power and unlimited rice pudding along with the best of them.

Nice to know I've accomplished something today...

Monday, April 28, 2003

Googlin' Right Along...

Yep, that's right, it's time for still more wacky search requests! What can I say, this ol' blog's been collecting quite a lot of them lately...

  • pictures of Wil Wheaton butt naked: You know, it kind of scares me how many people land here looking for naked pictures of Wil Wheaton. I found this one particularly amusing, for some reason. Yeah, not just naked, but butt naked!

  • castrate boobs: OK, I think somebody's very anatomically confused.

  • smallest boobs ever!! under 11 years old: All right, may I just say, ewww? Most of the weird/perverted search requests I get kind of amuse me, but occasionally they're honestly disturbing. Well, at least I can take comfort from the fact that this person was inept enough at the whole search engine thing that they almost certainly failed to find what they were looking for.

  • WAVEY LINES AND EYESIGHT: If LINES look WAVEY, I'd suggest having your EYESIGHT checked. But it's just a suggestion.

  • Dullest blog: Aw, come on, I don't think it's that bad!

  • free video clips women castrate: OK, it made me wince when somebody came here looking for said video clips involving men, but that one's making me wince and make protective gestures towards my genitals. Yikes!

  • blakes 7 android: Which one? Did you want info on the Avalon duplicate, Vinni, or Mueller's android? (Oh, yeah, I know that show far too well!)

  • tiny angel, naked slaves: Oh, man, now I have this bizarre image in my head that looks a lot like Tinkerbell in bondage gear...

  • xxxxxl boobs: Wow, that's a lot of x's.

  • maximum perverse: Hey, I think some of these other searches qualify.

  • "people from Andromeda" blue eyes: People from Andromeda have blue eyes? Gee, you learn something new every day.

  • commandant grayza nude and Aeryn Sun nude: Yay! Two more to add to my collection of search requests for naked Farscape characters! (Actually, I might have had Grayza before. I can't quite remember. I know I've had lots of hits from people looking for nude pictures of Rebecca Riggs. And typing that phrase out again has probably just guaranteed I'll get more of them, too...) Let's see, I now have Aeryn, Grayza, John, Zhaan, Chiana, Sikozu, and (shudder) Noranti. All right, of the regular characters, that leaves D'Argo, Rygel, Stark, Jool, Crais and Scorpius. (We won't count Pilot, 'cause he doesn't wear clothes, anyway.) I have a feeling making progress may be a bit more difficult from here on out...

  • cliff notes on "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury: Oh, for crying out loud, it's a short story! Just read the damned thing! You could probably have finished it in the time you spent googling futilely for cliff notes. Sheesh.

  • theories of first man to use of contellation: I theorize that, like me (and this poor soul), he failed to employ a spellchecker.

  • definition of inclined plane: Well, it's a plane that's... wait for it... inclined! Hope that helps.

  • wedding maximum verbosity: I might consider giving my consent if you wish to wed Maximum Verbosity, but only if there is a substantial dowry involved.

  • best aeryn john shippers: Sorry, I ain't one of 'em. I always thought they got a bit too much screentime, personally.

  • manipulation dreams unconsious meaning eating habits: Wow, there are so many interesting ways to parse that...

  • NUDE EXTRATERRESTRIALS: Yes, even in the future, there will be seedy neighborhoods with flashing neon signs... And they will look much like this.

  • Android #18 naked big boobs: It is a measure of how much of a Star Trek geek I am that my immediate thought in response to reading that was: "But I am identical in every way to Alice 57!" Please, tell me I'm not the only one who gets that reference.

  • neil gaiman's cats: I've never met any of Neil Gaiman's cats, but he had a very cool story about one in Smoke and Mirrors, a book which I cannot recommend highly enough.

  • Free Nude Pictures of Male Tripods: I'm not sure the ones in the books had genders...
  • My Imp Has the Mojo!

    Battle Imp

    Who's your battle imp?

    Backstabbing: 1
    Dodgin': 7
    Guts: 8
    Magic Mojo: 10
    Smackdown: 6

    Will your battle imp beat Betty's?
    Enter your name and fight.

    Come on, what're ya waitin' for? He'll take ya all on! Grrr!

    Sunday, April 27, 2003

    I'm So Glad I Have the Internet to Tell Me These Things

    Apparently, in 31 years, I have worn approximately 8060 pairs of socks, and I have owned approximately 930 pairs of socks.
    Well, There Ain't That Much On That's Worth Watching...

    Here's an odd little article boggling at the idea that there are actually people out there who, get this, only turn on the TV when the one specific show they want to watch is on. (Link via Snarkcake.) Ye gods, is it really that bizarre of a behavior?
    In Which I Rectify My Recent Lack of Posts About Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    I'm finally caught up on my Buffy viewing again! Well, OK, maybe "caught up" isn't quite the right phrase to use for someone who still hasn't seen any of the fifth and most of the sixth seasons. But thanks to my sister, who mailed me a tape of the one I missed when I was flying home from California, I've now finally seen the last couple of episodes. Correction: make that the last couple of new episodes. What's with this pattern of showing a new ep and then a couple of reruns, and then a new ep and then a couple of reruns? It's annoying.

    Oh, and I'm going to talk about them now, so here's your SPOILER WARNING. Don't say I never gave you anything.

    Anyway, I'm really glad I did get to see the one I originally missed (it was the Spike-centric one with all the flashbacks involving his mom), because it was easily one of the best episodes of the season. Completely character-driven, perfectly paced, involving, and possessed of some genuine forward momentum (in terms of the character relationships, if not necessarily of the overarching plot). Great stuff.

    The most recent episode, by contrast, was more of a mixed bag... Rather like this season as a whole, actually. Some really great individual scenes/elements: the subtly-acted emotional undercurrents between Buffy and Giles, the scene where Spike and Faith share a cigarette break, a really terrific speech by Xander. But it suffers at least slightly from the pacing problems that have been endemic this season. I can't claim to know exactly what goes on in the writers' minds, but they must be terribly worried about alienating new or sporadic or even just forgetful viewers, because they seem to feel the need to spend large chunks of nearly every episode recapping the Story Thus Far. Often they find fairly clever ways to do it, but it still gets boring very quickly, and it almost inevitably interrupts the flow of the story. It's not actually as bad in this one as in a lot of other episodes this season, but after watching the smooth-flowing Spike ep immediately before it, the problem becomes extremely noticeable.

    I'm not completely sure about this new bad guy, Caleb, either. He seems to have just come out of nowhere, and he's enough of an over-the-top stereotype to be a little bit annoying. On the other hand, there's got to be an interesting story behind him (how the hell does he come to be strong enough to knock out a Slayer with one hand, for cryin' out loud?), and that creepy little role-playing scene between him and the First Evil has a certain twisted brilliance to it. Plus, it's nice to see the cast of Firefly getting work.

    I would say that it's also good to see that the action's moving forward again and the promised apocalyptic conflict is finally starting to heat up, but I'm afraid that the show's suffering from a major case of "boy who cried wolf" syndrome on this one. It seems like every other episode Buffy's standing up and telling us that now, for real this time, they're going to take action, and things are going to get serious, and the showdown is coming, and yadda yadda yadda. And every time, within an episode at the most, we just end up lapsing right back into inactivity again. Admittedly, if a new villain, a catastrophic ass-kicking, and the maiming of a major character (!) aren't signs that this time things really are seriously starting to happen, I don't know what else could possibly qualify. But by this point, I'm finding it extremely difficult to get my adrenaline levels up any more.

    I'm really hoping that there's going to be a major climax to the season (and thus the series) that'll do justice to the crests in this season and make up for the troughs. (She said, keeping her fingers crossed.)

    Friday, April 25, 2003

    An Interesting Miscellany of Friday Five Questions

    1. What was the last TV show you watched? Farscape. Last night's rerun was "Nerve" -- very cool episode -- and I stayed up to zap the commercials while it was taping.

    2. What was the last thing you complained about and what was the problem? Um, it was probably the day before yesterday. I was complaining about the fact that, now that we're so shorthanded at work, and since our work load can be kind of unpredictable, the boss can't and won't guarantee we'll get the vacation time we've signed up for very far in advance. Which really, really sucks when you're trying to plan your vacation and you've got other people bugging you to give them a straight yes or no answer about what you're doing. The complaining apparently worked, though, as I got the approval for mine the next day.

    3. Who was the last person you complimented and what did you say? Umm... A friend of mine e-mailed me a picture she drew, and I told her it was very nice. Which it was.

    4. What was the last thing you threw away? Used kleenex. Eww!

    5. What was the last website (besides this one) that you visited? I think it was the NationStates site, where I was visiting my virtual country (which is now actually a virtual planet).

    Thursday, April 24, 2003

    I'm Sailing Away...

    Just got official word today that the vacation time I put in for in June has been approved. Which means that this summer I am going on an Alaskan cruise! It wasn't something I'd really expected to do... My mom and her husband had made plans with some of her family to take the cruise before he got sick, and he was kind of insistent that if anything happened to him, she should go ahead and do it anyway. In fact, getting out of the house and doing something active and fun is probably a really good thing for her, and I think she's feeling very positive about the idea. Only, well, now she's got an extra cruise ticket, so I've sort of inherited it. I'm mostly motivated by a desire to keep Mom company, to be honest (not that I guess she'll really need it, with the various other relatives who'll be along), but it should be an interesting experience. I've never been on a cruise before. Hmm, I wonder what books I should pack?
    And Yet Another One...

    I got this one from Occasional Fish, who got it from Thudfactor, whose comment was, "Quiz results are a good replacement for content, right?" Yeah, sounds good to me!

    Fixedsys - You are the person people go to when
    they are having trouble with their computer.
    Geeky but reliable.

    What Font Are You? (Standard Fonts)
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Well, anybody who comes to me for computer help is probably gonna be badly disappointed. "Geeky but reliable," however, is really quite descriptive.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2003

    Now, These Are My Kind Of Stupid Quizzes

    Season 26 - Ace in a Frock
    You are Season 26. You are Dark and Manipulative.
    People tend to paint you as sicker than you
    really are - you're far more subtle than people
    seem to think. Despite that, you're a good
    laugh and fun to be around.

    Which Doctor Who Season Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm. I think I'll regard that as a compliment. Even if I never could make heads or tails of "Ghost Light."

    You are Deep Space Nine. You goth, you.

    What Star Trek are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Whoo-hoo! I'm the intelligent, subtle, sophisticated Trek! You know it, baby!
    An Utterly Shameless Plug

    OK, so, a friend of mine mentioned that a friend of his had this internet animation thingy that he was trying to drum up some PR for, and asked me if I'd give it a plug. It's called Life on the Wedge. I just went and took a look at it, and, y'know, it's kind of cute. My friend describes it as "a south park-esque 'Cathy meets Dilbert meets Sex and the City'." Personally, I think it's got something of a stand-up comedy sensibility. Go check it out for yourself and see what you think!
    A Note to Myself

    This is just by way of being a reminder to myself because I keep forgetting to do it, but hopefully if I actually write this down and post it in public, I'll be forced to remember: I need to bring some glue into work to stick the plunger back on my Dalek. (Heh. Now there's a sentence I bet you don't hear every day!) It's a toy wind-up Dalek, see. It sits on my desk and guards my important papers and emergency food stash. But its arm fell off a while back, and the other Daleks back on Skaro are probably heading out here to exterminate it for being defective even as we speak, poor thing. And we certainly can't have that. Plus, I'm afraid the relevant appendage is going to roll off my desktop and get lost, and, really, what could be more pitiful than a plungerless Dalek?

    Tuesday, April 22, 2003

    Ah, So That's What It Was

    OK, I've finally identified that odd feeling I was having earlier. It wasn't over-caffeination, it was simply the result of substituting caffeine for an adequate amount of sleep. And it's finally worn off. Definitely won't be staying up for the Farscape rerun tonight...

    Caffeine Feind

    I'm in an odd mood today. Kind of edgy for no particularly obvious reason. I'd say that what I actually feel is overcaffeinated, but that can't be it. So far today, I've only had my usual three cups of morning coffee, two mugs of tea, and half a bottle of Pepsi. That shouldn't be remotely enough to have an impact on me.

    Oh, gawd. I really am a hopeless caffeine junkie, aren't I?

    Monday, April 21, 2003


    A friend of mine sent me an e-mail consisting solely of this URL and the subject line "Is this your car?" Alas, it is not, but I'll definitely keep the idea in mind for when I run out of bookshelf space in the house...

    Sunday, April 20, 2003

    Well, I Think I've Found a New Tourist Destination...

    "Science Fiction Experience" museum planned to open next year in Seattle.
    What an Exciting Life, Eh?

    Sorry, no blogging yesterday. I was busy actually Getting Things Accomplished. Well, and then I was busy gaming, but, you know, all work and no play makes Betty something something...

    Things I got done yesterday:
  • Went to post office.

  • Went to ATM.

  • Did grocery shopping.

  • Copied tape full of Farscape Season One episodes as part of my Distribution of Quality SF TV to the Masses Program.

  • Called my sister and left a message on her answering machine. (Where's my Buffy tape, sis?!)

  • Made salad. (Hey, it's sort of like cooking, which is a rarity for me these days.)

  • Rearranged bookshelves. This is always a major undertaking, but it really needed to be done. I'd run out of room for the fiction hardbacks. And the paperbacks, too, actually, since they'd gotten to the point where they were butting up against each other. Fortunately, moving the Deep Space 9 action figures to the top of the entertainment center allowed me to move the Doctor Who books into the kitchen as long as I also relocated the science fiction magazines to... Aw, heck, you really don't want to hear these details, do you? I can see your eyes glazing over from here. Never mind.

  • Took down previous day's laundry from line and put it away.

  • Washed huge load of dirty dishes.

  • OK, compared to the list of things I didn't get accomplished yesterday, I have to admit, that's pretty piddly. I'd work on cleaning the bathroom and stuff today, but, gee, I'm stuck here at work. (Holiday? What is this thing of which you speak?) Oh, well, I guess there's always next weekend... Time enough to come up with new ways to put off cleaning the bathroom then.

    Friday, April 18, 2003

    I Think I May Have Finally Reached Some Sort of Transcendent Level in My Stupid Quiz-Taking.

    SOYGOLD® 2000
    SOYGOLD® 2000:
    You are a water-rinsible solvent that contains no petroleum distillates. Your low VOCs (4.89%, 43 g/L) has been tested by EPA Method Number 24. You have ultra-low evaporative properties—0.005 @ 76° Fahrenheit relative to n-butyl acetate (NBAC) = 1—and are an FDA approved surfactant.
    Find out what kind of industrial solvent you are

    The Famous Friday Five

    1. Who is your favorite celebrity? I don't think I actually know any celebrities.

    2. Who is your least favorite? See question #1.

    3. Have you ever met or seen any celebrities in real life? Umm... I assume this means in a context other than "they were giving a performance/concert/talk and I was in the audience." So, let's see... Several Star Trek actors, briefly, in autograph lines back in my teenage convention-going days. (Come to think of it, somewhat more recently, I went to a (rather lame) Trek con in Albuquerque with a friend, who shook hands with George Takei and apparently caught his cold. I teased her for days about having been infected with "celebrity germs.") Oh, and I don't know if it counts as "real life" or not, but I got flamed by Damon Knight once on usenet! Well, all right, it wasn't really a flame, just a disagreement (and, for the record, I still maintain that I was right and he was wrong: top-posting sucks). But I couldn't help but think it was kinda cool. I mean, a Grand Master of science fiction actually typed my name!

    4. Would you want to be famous? Why or why not? I don't have much interest in being famous, and I certainly wouldn't want to be famous to the extent that tabloids started taking an interest in me and random strangers felt compelled to walk up to me in restaurants. I like my privacy, thanks. On the other hand, there is something very satisfying about doing something that's appreciated by people who don't personally know you... even if it's only a very small group of people.

    5. If you had to trade places with a celebrity for a day, who would you choose and why? Somebody who didn't have to work today and could lie on the couch watching Blackadder DVDs, 'cause that's what I feel like doing right now.
    On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Cat.

    I woke up this morning to find that my cats had gotten the door to the computer room open -- I keep it closed because the room is off-limits to cats -- and, somehow, managed to connect themselves to the internet. According to the computer, it'd been dialed in for over two hours. Now I'm really, really worried. If they managed to get my credit card number, too, there's probably going to be a huge shipment of cat toys showing up on my doorstep any day now...

    Thursday, April 17, 2003

    Yep, It's the Third Season. Somebody Pass the Kleenex.

    So, I did steel myself and watch the rest of the most recent Farscape release. And I'm fairly happy with the extras on disc 2, as well. The commentary track with Claudia Black is quite good; she always has interesting things to say, and talks quite a bit on this one about both the emotional arcs of the various characters and about the practicalities of filming the series. And the "behind the scenes interview" segment features Paul Goddard (Stark), which particularly pleases me, as I really do think that Stark is a shamefully neglected character. (I still can't get over the fact that he wasn't so much as mentioned on the "Farscape Undressed" special, the main point of which was to introduce the characters and current storyline to new viewers just tuning in.[*]) And, I gotta say, Stark's scenes in "Self-Inflicted Wounds" just absolutely tear my heart out. Not that he's the only one suffering, of course. The entire episode -- hell, the entire season, really -- is pretty much one massive angst-fest. Which I'm certainly not complaining about... Indeed, I think that one of Farscape's great strengths is that it makes us care so deeply about what happens to these characters. Of course, I still feel like a sentimental sap when I start crying over the tragedies of TV characters, but, hey, my self-image can handle it. In any case, I suppose I'd probably better leave the kleenex out. I'm certainly going to need it again later in the season, when we get to [episode title deleted out of spoiler considerations]. Sniffle.

    [*] Hey, speaking of which... Why wasn't the "Farscape Undressed" special included with this set of discs? This would definitely be the appropriate place for it. Hmm, OK, maybe I'm not quite as happy with the extras on these as I thought...

    Wednesday, April 16, 2003

    Yet Again Still More Wacky Search Requests

    The latest batch of odd things people have come to this blog looking for:

  • slouch socks stories: I kind of doubt socks do a whole lot worth telling stories about, really. Though, who knows, maybe the ones that disappear in the dryer really do get sucked into an alternate dimension and would have some amazing tales to tell if they ever got back. And if they could talk, of course.

  • on this date it was discovered that the universe was 13.7 billion years old: You know, when you're talking about those kinds of time scales, I really doubt that a few days either way is going to make all that much of a difference.

  • what is the plot to the story The Wizards' Dilemma by Diane Duane and what is the exciting part of the story in The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane: It makes me so sad to see kids trying to cheat on book reports...

  • Lotaburger checks: Got quite a few of those in my time, but they were always way too small, considering how much burger grease I had to wade through to earn them.

  • raelee hill boobs out: Well, I understand that she did audition for the part of Grayza (aka "Commandant Cleavage"). But, sadly for this searcher, she didn't get it.

  • naked "toughen him up": Or at least make him really cold.

  • Farscape wormhole knowledge screensaver: My first thought was that that sounded pretty cool. My second thought was that I probably don't want wormhole knowledge on my screensaver, as the next thing you know half the galaxy will be after my PC.

  • redneck jokes about swamp coolers: OK, a swamp cooler walks into a country-and-western bar...

  • "farscape" "nude" "which episode": Which episode depends on which characters you want to see nude, dude. If it's Moya, you shouldn't have much of a problem.

  • social interaction activity: I think I may have participated in one of those once.

  • Blakes Seven vs Babylon Five: Apparently B7 won the last match by 80 points.

  • photographs of betty in a jacuzzi: Great, make me all paranoid about hidden cameras the next time I have the opportunity to soak in a jacuzzi...

  • low rated soap operas share no more fear of cancellation: Good for them! I wonder if they'd be willing to share their secret, since all the shows I like manage to get cancelled.

  • psychological analysis on K-PAX: I understand they're very scientifically advanced there, so it's probably pretty good.

  • "super-spider" AND "explorer" AND "homepage": I'm sorry if my post about Spider-Man led you astray in your search for information on webcrawlers.

  • "annoying song" "stuck in head": I feel for ya, buddy. And, tell me, why do annoying songs always seem to get stuck more easily than good songs, anyway?

  • webbed dog "feet pictures": It's the amazing aquatic Duck-Dog! The next step in canine evolution!

  • 60's hair fetishes /pictures: Ooooh, baby, shake that beehive!

  • Robo-Ripper: Hey, I thought I made that up!

  • buffy's new friend frodo baggins: I guess they must have met at a sci-fi/fantasy convention or something.

  • Wil Wheaton nude stories: Once upon a time, Wil Wheaton took his clothes off. Then he put them back on. The End.
  • End of an Era

    Somebody forwarded this article to a mailing list I'm on, and I thought I'd pass it along. Maybe it's just me, but, you know, as cool as modern CGI technology is, I kind of miss those cheesy old BBC special effects.

    Tuesday April 15, 2003
    The Guardian

    Exterminate, exterminate

    "Kenny Everett's giant hands are still knocking about." Nick Sainton-Clark, BBC special effects post-manager, racks his brain. "And there's an animatrated phoenix somewhere."

    The remnants of almost 50 years of the BBC's special effects department are now seeking new homes after the BBC announced that the department is to be tailed off, with no new projects commissioned. Nowadays, demand is for digital effects - actors prancing about before blank screens with the wizardry inserted afterwards by computer.

    The glory days of the special effects department were the late 80s, when more than 80 people were employed to craft finely hewn props out of balsa wood, plastics, fibre-glass and resins. Their creations graced all the big programmes: Doctor Who, Blake's Seven, Day of the Triffids, Red Dwarf, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Today the department has dwindled to 22 special effects creators occupying three large bays in what used to be a lorry transport depot.

    The department was founded in 1954 by Jack Kine and Bernard Wilkie. Their early work appeared on programmes such as Quatermass, a science fiction series which required elaborate special effects scenes such as monsters crawling around St Paul's cathedral. People always want to talk about daleks, says Sainton-Clark. They forget that they don't just make robots and monsters. "Every time you see rain or snow, that's our guys. And we made all the bodies for Silent Witness," he adds, proudly.

    "The gelatin material feels like real skin, and each hair is punched in individually."

    The staff will be moved elsewhere, as will Marvin the Paranoid Android, from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, who for many years stood guard over the department kitchen. "We'll make sure he gets a good home," says Sainton-Clark.

    Laura Barton
    A Really Boring Update

    Well, I did get the leak under my sink fixed, finally. Which of course meant that I no longer had any excuse for not doing the dishes. Man, there's a downside to everything...

    Tuesday, April 15, 2003

    Nope, It Didn't Metamorphose Into the "Season of Living Happily Ever After" While I Wasn't Looking...

    Just got the first batch of Farscape Season 3 DVDs in the mail today, and I have to say, I'm pretty pleased. After the disappointingly skimpy extras on most of the Season 2 discs, this set definitely represents an improvement. There's only one commentary track (on "Wait for the Wheel"), but so far, just on the first disc, I've found episode preview spots, an interview with Claudia Black, several deleted scenes, and, well, some other stuff I'm sort of blanking on just at the moment. They've also redesigned the menu, changed the usual still picture gallery into a slideshow with music, and really jazzed up the character bio screens. So, even if I can't have any new Farscape, I'm at least getting old Farscape in a reasonably attractive package.

    So far, I've already watched "Season of Death" and "Suns and Lovers." I'm looking forward to seeing the two-part "Self-Inflicted Wounds" again, as I haven't seen it in its entirety since my first complete pass through the series a couple of years ago. At the same time, though, part of me is... oddly reluctant. It's not that I don't like the episode (though I don't think it's nearly as well-written as certain other two-parters I could name). It's just that, emotionally, this particular portion of the series kind of gets to me. It's one of those storylines where I find that I keep yelling at the characters in hopes that this time they'll listen to me and not do the ill-advised or self-destructive things they're about to do. They didn't in those first two episodes, though, and I sincerely doubt they're about to start now. I mean, honestly, you'd think I was talking to myself...

    Monday, April 14, 2003


    Well, I did go to the talk by Harrison Schmitt, who, for those of you who don't know, was an astronaut on Apollo 17 and, as a geologist, has the distinction of being the first and only scientist to have set foot on the moon. It was a pretty cool talk. He brought lots of great slides and some video (most of which consisted of highly amusing footage of him bouncing around and falling over a lot in 1/6 gravity). He talked a lot about lunar geology, of course. I think the main reason he was here was to speak to geology students -- they got a more technical lecture before the general talk -- and I believe they made up most of the audience. On that subject, he mentioned that he disagrees with the current prevailing theory that the Moon was formed in the impact of a Mars-sized body with the Earth early in its history, believing instead that it is most likely a captured body, like the moons of Mars. He also says that there is a great deal of helium-3 to be found on the Moon, and that he's very optimistic about the possibility of privately-funded Moon missions to mine the isotope for use in fusion reactors. Of course, he also talked quite a bit about what the trip to the Moon was like (the food was good; the spacesuit gloves were extremely hard to work in). And he had lots of amusing Lunar anecdotes, like the accusation that CSM pilot Ron Evans ate all the good food in the command module while he and Cernan were on the surface, leaving them the salmon salad which, apparently, you can see a lot of in museums because nobody ever wanted to eat the stuff. ("Fish doesn't travel well in space.")

    And, no, I didn't get his autograph. He did throw some lunar-cratered rubber balls into the audience which I think were autographed, but I didn't catch any.

    Sunday, April 13, 2003

    Everything but the Kitchen Sink... Oh, No, Wait. There It is, on Top.

    It's amazing the things you can discover when you decide to clean out the cabinet under your kitchen sink. For instance, you might discover that, that time when you were going crazy beause you couldn't find any spare filters for your water pitcher anywhere in town and you hadn't changed the stupid thing in six months and you finally ended up driving 90 miles round trip to Wal-Mart to buy them only to find when you got there that Wal-Mart was out of them too, all that time, you actually had six of little devils sitting right there under the sink! Ha! Or you might discover -- or rather, re-discover -- the existence of that moderately expensive spray-on stuff you bought that was supposed to discourage your cats from scratching the furniture and didn't. Ah, yes, that's good for a laugh, isn't it, as you contemplate your torn-to-shreds sofa arms? Or, just possibly, you might discover a continuous spraying leak that has turned all those spare paper towels you also forgot you bought into a sodden, stinking mess, begun rotting out the particleboard floor, and, oh, yes, probably been costing you a fortune because, of course, it's leaking hot water. And if you're exceedingly blessed, like me, you might even discover all these things at once.

    And people wonder why I don't like to clean...

    Saturday, April 12, 2003

    Further Adventures of a Hopeless Book Junkie

    Just got back from the semiannual Friends of the Library book sale. You know, there's something about a library book sale that gives me a real junkie-with-a-needle kind of rush, but at the same time they're also more than a little frustrating, because even as one part of me is delightedly squealing "Oooh, books! Cheap books! Nifty books!" the more dour and rational side periodically throws water on my happy little fire by reminding me that I've already got more unread books than I have any remote hope of finishing in the next two years. Indeed, looking back on the last book sale (back in October), I see that, of the 13 books I bought then, I've read exactly one of them since. Sigh.

    For the record, my haul this time consisted of:

  • Modern Classic Short Novels of Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois

  • Arrive at Easterwine by R. A. Lafferty

  • Willard by Stephen Gilbert (since I'll probably never get around to seeing either version of the movie)

  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves

  • Ascending by James Alan Gardner

  • Sanctuary and Cross-Currents edited by Robert Lynn Asprin (omnibus volumes of the "Thieves' World" shared-universe series)

  • All Things Wise and Wonderful and Every Living Thing by James Herriot

  • The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold

  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (whose books I have very fond memories of from my childhood)

  • Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

  • The Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson

  • Destination: Void by Frank Herbert

  • Demon Seed by Dean Koontz (thus fufilling the inexplicable tradition that I have to come back from every library sale with at least one book by either Koontz or King, whether I really want any more of their stuff or not)

  • The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution by C. P. Snow

  • World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven

  • Well, we'll see how many of those I've actually gotten around to reading six months from now...

    Friday, April 11, 2003

    Columbia Conclusions

    Well, the Columbia talk was really good (despite the person behind me with the annoying cell phone and the small child somewhere in the audience who seemed to think she was supposed to be the one delivering the speech). The speaker, James Oberg was a NASA engineer for 22 years and is currently the space consultant for ABC news, so the guy definitely knows what he's talking about. He also had really up-to-date information; he said, in fact, that he'd had to replace one of the slides only two hours before as new information came in (though I don't know which one it was). I'd only been following the investigation very sporadically, I admit, so it was really great to have everything that's been learned and done so far laid out for us and put into its proper context.

    It's weird the sort of mixed feelings something like this can evoke. On the one hand, there's something tremendously exciting about the scientific detective story that is the Columbia disaster investigation. Oberg calls it "forensic physics," the putting together of a zillion tiny clues and careful application of the laws of physics in order to determine what happened. Here's an example: By piecing recovered tiles together like a jigsaw puzzle, engineers were able to figure out which tiles much have come from which parts of the shuttle. By looking at where those tiles landed along the debris trail, they could tell that the left wing had broken up before the right one, since its remains were farther to the west. Now, OK, I imagine it might be pretty darned tedious to do a job like that, but I find it utterly fascinating to hear about it. Another great example: Mass and velocity calculations gave a very good prediction as to where one of the shuttle's recording devices should have landed. Search crews failed to find it, but the scientists were so convinced their equations were right that they sent the searchers back for a second look and, lo and behold, there was the recorder, still bearing readable and potentially useful data. Again, regardless of the context, I can't help but find that kind of scientific problem-solving really, really cool.

    The emotional flip side to that, of course, is the incredibly saddening and sobering reason why this investigation has to be done in the first place. What's especially saddening is that, according to Oberg, there's no reason in the world those seven people had to die, if only the problem -- or rather the possibility that there might be a problem, which was all that was known at the time -- had been acknowledged. If it had, all that ingenuity could have been bent on salvaging the situation instead of on analyzing it afterwards.

    It seems this particular shuttle mission was not, according to by-the-book rules, equipped for spacewalks, as it wasn't carrying any of the jet packs that are used to maneuver on EVAs. It did have the suits, though, for use in the event that the bay doors got stuck and someone might have to pop out and close them manually. So someone could have gone out and checked for damage, even without a jet pack unit. Hell, they could have built a ladder -- out of duct tape and rolled up flight manuals! -- and climbed down onto the wing to get a look at it. This sort of thing has been done before, apparently. Barring that, they could have stuck somebody in a suit, shoved him off without a pack, let him take pictures, then swung the shuttle back around to pick him up. Tricky, but apparently doable. Even if they'd actually seen the damage, of course, they might very likely have been unable to repair it, but at least they would have known better than to attempt re-entry. The astronauts, if not the shuttle itself, would most likely have been recoverable. True, it wouldn't have been possible to get another shuttle prepped and launched before Columbia's air became unbreathable (due not to a lack of oxygen, by the way, but to an overabundance of carbon dioxide once the atmospheric scrubbers had reached their capacity). And a Russian rescue mission was out of the question; the orbital dynamics just wouldn't have worked. But, as Oberg points out, there are other rockets in the world. There was a French rocket ready and set to launch. Pay the French enough money, and you could bet they'd be willing to sell you the rocket. Fill it with fresh atmospheric filters, food, and whatever other supplies the astronauts would need to hold out until the next shuttle was ready, let Columbia use the fuel it isn't going to need for re-entry to maneuver around and pick up the supplies, and you're set. It's the stuff heroic Hollywood movies are made of.

    But none of that happened, of course, because the problem wasn't recognized as a problem, at least not at the level where the actual decisions get made. After the piece of foam fell off the fuel tank and hit the wing, the before-and-after photographs of the shuttle's underside were carefully scrutinized, and, well, nobody saw any damage. (It now appears that the reason for that may have been that the hole was on the black part of the tiles. Hmm, black hole on black tile against a black background... Gee, I wonder why that wasn't visible?) So they proceeded to apply the old logical fallacy that "absence of evidence is evidence of absence," labelled it "not a safety concern," and ceased to worry too much about it. In a way, this is actually quite understandable. It's part of human nature, really: unless you've got hard, solid evidence that something's seriously wrong, it's simpler (and, let's face it, often correct) to assume that everything's fine. But, as my mother used to say (often enough to be really annoying): "assume" makes an ass out of u and me. And in a hostile and largely untested environment like outer space, you simply can't afford to ignore even the smallest hint that something might be wrong. This sort of thing has happened before, too. Oberg cites not just the infamous O-rings of Challenger (assumed to be safe for untested low temperatures simply because there was no evidence to the contrary), but also the near-catastrophic unaddressed safety issues aboard Mir and the ill-fated Mars Pathfinder mission (in which he claims that people who noticed some suspicious oddities in their data were essentially told, "Well, you don't know the spacecraft's off course, so we're not going to do a course correction unless there's a better reason to think it's necessary" shortly before the probe became intimately acquainted with the Martian landscape in a fashion that did neither it nor us any good). His conclusion is that while increasing safety features on the shuttle is a good thing -- they're talking about including tile repair kits and doing visual inspections of shuttles from the International Space Station, among other things -- the most important lesson to take away from Columbia is that it's this complacent attitude that has to change. You should assume, he says, that space is trying to kill you and act accordingly.

    Makes a lot of sense to me.
    It Looks Like It's Designed for People Like Me, Right Up Until the Point Where You Realize It Ain't Designed for People Like Me...

    So, I just saw this rather interesting website (link via Pop Culture Junk Mail): Singlefile. It's a web-based service that helps you keep tracks of your book collection, including lists of what books you own, what books you've bought but haven't read yet, what books you want to get, etc. Which sounds like a really nifty idea, and at first I thought it might be a really cool thing to use if, say, I ever actually broke down and bought a PDA. 'Cause then I could access it from the bookstore and make sure I wasn't buying something I already owned (something that's already happened to me several times), or use it to remind myself which used books I'd meant to keep my eyes open for. Looks like it has some nifty features, too. But then I saw this: "Pricing starts at only $19.95 per year for up to 500 books." 500 books? Bwahahaha! You funny. I think that might just about cover my To-Read Pile. I'm not completely sure about that, though. I've become afraid of counting it. (In fairness, they do have an "unlimited books" option for $39.95. But, for the moment, I think I'm going to stick with my Microsoft database file, my Amazon wish list, and my little scribbled notes to myself...)
    Rock On, Friday Five!

    1. What was the first band you saw in concert? I'm not completely sure, but I want to say that it was The Battlefield Band, an absolutely awesome bagpipes-and-synthesizers group from Scotland. I think the first big-name band I saw in a large venue was The Moody Blues.

    2. Who is your favorite artist/band now? There is now and probably always will be a three-way tie for the title of my favorite band: Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Rush.

    3. What's your favorite song? Oh, geez, I totally fail to understand how anybody could settle on just one favorite song. If I have to pick... Let's say Rush's "Roll the Bones," just to pluck something randomly out of the atmosphere.

    4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be? Probably acoustic guitar, but the likelihood of that happening is next to nil. I'm really not a very musical person. I did study the flute for a year or two in elementary school and actually learned to produce something resembling a tune, but it never came very naturally to me and I've never had any great desire to take it up again.

    5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why? Hell, I dunno. Tom Lehrer.
    Space Stuff

    Hey, so I just got this announcement in my work e-mail that astronaut Harrison Schmitt is going to be giving a public talk here on campus on Monday. And you know, I gotta say something... I am not someone who is easily impressed by celebrity. Drop me in a room with Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Mick Jagger, and the entire cast of Friends (most of whom I probably wouldn't even recognize), and I seriously doubt that there's going to be any noticeable alteration in my heart rate. And yet, upon reading said e-mail, I found my little internal voice suddenly started squealing in a disturbingly fangirlish way: "Oooh! Harrison Schmitt? The Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt?! I have the opportunity to be in the same room with an actual guy who walked on the actual moon? Ooooooh! I wonder if I can get his autograph?" Now, some people might call that being hopelessly geeky. Me, I like to think of it as simply having an appreciation for the right kinds of things. (Not that I'm denying that I am, in fact, hopelessly geeky, of course, 'cause that'd be kind of pointless, wouldn't it?)

    As it happens, there's also another space-related talk on campus tonight, this one by James Olberg, a news-media space consultant who's been involved in the investigation of the Columbia disaster. That should be interesting, I think. The talk falls right in the middle of my work shift, but it's being held right next door, and my boss (who's an even bigger space enthusiast than I am) agreed to let me shift me hours around a bit so I can duck out and attend. I'll let you know how it goes...

    Thursday, April 10, 2003

    And I Did Try to Teach Myself Klingon Once, But I Gave Up Because It Kinda Hurt My Throat...

    I think The Onion is making fun of us. (Says the person who has, in fact, been known to have three-hour internet-based conversations about the story arc of Blake's 7.)
    Look Out, She's Passing Around the Baby Pictures!

    I've posted a new picture of my nephew over on my website, for anybody who actually cares about that sort of thing. It takes a little while to load, but of course, in my opinion, it's worth it.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2003

    Blogger Heard From

    Ah, there we go! It never fails, as soon as I run out of patience and start publicly bitching about something (like not hearing from tech support), that's when it either suddenly fixes itself or finally gets taken care of. Yep, when I checked out Blogger Control today, I found that they have now gotten around to looking at my complaint. According to them, it's not just me, it's a known bug that's affected other people as well, and it is on their to-do list (their exact phrase in fact). Their little blurb describing the bug lists it as "priority 2," which doesn't sound that bad (unless they've only got two levels of priority). It's annoying that there's no fix for the problem -- even public bitching doesn't seem to be working -- but, OK, I can be patient...

    Tuesday, April 08, 2003

    Yo, Blogger!

    I'm still having strange problems with my archive links... Sigh. I reported the problem using the "Blogger control" system, as directed, but it's been just about a week now, and I've had zero response. My issue shows up as "unreviewed," which I assume means that nobody's even bothered looking at it. Anybody out there who's been using Pro longer than I have know whether this kind of response time is normal or not? I understand that the Blogger folks are probably massively busy, but a simple acknowledgment that my issue was at least on their list of Things to Do would be nice. Admittedly, the problems I'm having now aren't quite as bad as the problems I was having before I upgraded, but I'm kind of starting to think that maybe "Blogger Pro" is a little bit of a misnomer...
    Good Discs, Everyone!

    Well, the plan that involved getting up off my lazy ass and doing something other than watching DVDs all day has pretty much fizzled out, I'm sad to say. Although that fact has at least had one benefit: I've now finished watching through all the Futurama Season One DVDs. Man, what a cool show that is: terrific animation, great jokes, great dialog...

    Most pitifully appropriate quote:
    Leela: "It's clever, it's unexpected."
    Fry: "But that's not why people watch TV! Clever things make people feel stupid, and unexpected things make them feel scared."
    Or such is the case with TV execs, anyway, which easily explains why Futurama got cancelled. Sigh. Ah, well, at least I have lots more discs to look forward to... Including, doubtless, a bunch of episodes I managed to miss due to Fox's bizarrely random and unpredictable choices about when to air the show.

    Incidentally, the first season discs are well worth picking up. There's a commentary track on every episode, and they're almost as much fun as the episodes themselves. They also confirm something I had long suspected: that the people who work on Futurama have a much better understanding of actual science than, say, the writers of certain Star Trek spinoff shows I could name. Case in point: when they had an episode which featured aliens watching transmissions of a 1000-year-old Earth TV show, they picked a star for them which actually is about 1000 light-years away from Earth. Come on now, I cannot possibly be the only one who thinks that's really cool!

    Monday, April 07, 2003


    Hey, it has been about a month since I've done this, hasn't it?

    Current clothes: The same Star Trek t-shirt I was wearing when I answered these questions back in August. Jeans. White socks. Black sneakers.

    Current mood: Sort of "eh."

    Current music: Currently in the stereo at home is Jim Croce's Photographs and Memories.

    Current hair: Short, kind of messy.

    Current annoyance: Various stupid things involving the phone company. Ask me later about my experience last night with my mother's phone number and the pizza joint...

    Current thing: Like I said, lately it's mostly been lying in front of the TV like a great big lump of inanimate matter.

    Current desktop picture: Still doin' the Farscape screencaps. This month it's a bizarre shot of Scorpius playing the drums from "Won't Get Fooled Again," an episode which has often (and with considerable justification) been described as "Farscape on acid."

    Current song stuck in head: The theme song to Futurama, which I recently turned to after having finally run out of Angel.

    Current book: Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David.

    Current video in player: The tape I left in to catch tonight's Farscape rerun so I can disseminate it to all my deserving Farscape converts.

    Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment. I had some mint tea a little while ago.

    Current worry: None I particularly feel like sharing...

    Current thought: I love the theme song to Futurama!
    Anybody Got Any Motivation They Wanna Lend Me?

    Well, this was a longish weekend for me, and I still got pretty much nothing accomplished. Truth to tell, for the last week or so, I just haven't seemed to have any energy or ambition at all. I don't think I've done much of anything with my spare time but lie around on the couch like a great big lump watching Angel and drinking endless cups of tea. Which, now that I think about it, was actually kind of nice. But it's probably time I got up off my butt and did something useful...

    Ah, what the hell. Maybe later.

    Sunday, April 06, 2003

    "I Seem to Have Moved the Wall!"

    Hey, check out this short-but-funny Farscape bloopers video featuring Anthony Simcoe (D'Argo). I particularly love the way he keeps doing the D'Argo voice during the whole wall thing...
    I Don't Know About You, But I Sure Don't Feel Like I've Saved Anything...

    I hate Daylight Savings Time. I'm half-convinced that it's really an evil conspiracy on the part of morning people. Yeah, OK, maybe it made some sort of sense back when we were still an agrarian society, but in today's electrically-lit world, it's become pretty pointless, don't you think? I don't mind the "fall back" thing all that much, even if it has occasionally meant I've been stuck working for an extra hour. At least that takes you in the natural direction your body wants to go. But this "springing ahead" stuff sucks, especially as, per Murphy's law, it always seems to happen when I'm coming off the night shift. Like, gee... now. Stupid evil morning people.

    Saturday, April 05, 2003

    For the Comics Fans

    Here's a really good National Public Radio interview with comics author Alan Moore, in which he has lots of interesting things to say about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, characterization, comics as a medium, and the difficulties of adapting works from one medium to another. For the record, I'm not a huge comics fan in general, but Moore's stuff is absolutely brilliant, and I recommend it highly if you haven't discovered it already.
    Happy Blog-Day to Me!

    Stick a candle in a cupcake, guys, because, believe it or not, today marks the 1-year anniversary of Maximum Verbosity! Who would ever have thought that I'd find an entire year's worth of inane blatherings to blog about? Well, OK, maybe that's not actually all that difficult to believe...

    Looking back into the murky depths of the archives, I see that my first post here (well, OK, my first real post, as opposed to the one that basically said "testing") was mostly on the subject of music in TV commercials. Ah, yes, it's good to know that I was addressing the hard-hitting issues of the day right from the very beginning!

    Friday, April 04, 2003

    We're Going to Pluto!

    According to the latest Planetary Society newsletter, funding has been approved for a space probe mission called New Horizons whose purpose will be to investigate the planet Pluto and the Kuiper Belt (a collection of icy objects orbiting the sun in the general vicinity of Pluto which may well provide important clues to the early history of the solar system). This is very cool, because Pluto is the one planet in the solar system which so far has not been visited by human-made spacecraft, something that has always seemed to me to be rather a sad oversight. More information on the project, as well as lots of interesting facts about Pluto and the Kuiper belt, can be found on the New Horizons website.
    And Today's Link Worth Checking Out Is...

    Here's a nifty website I've recently discovered via my referrer logs: All Consuming. This nicely-put-together site presents for your perusal the results of a script that crawls around the web looking for blogs which have links to books on, from which it draws up lists of "what the weblog community is reading at the moment," complete with links back to the blogs themselves so you can see what they had to say. It's also got a feature that will let you set up a list of your own current reading and display it automatically on your blog... Which, OK, I probably wouldn't use, because it'd be too much of a pain to keep it updated, but it's kind of a nice idea, nonetheless.
    Bringing Home the Friday Five

    1. How many houses/apartments have you lived in throughout your life? Oh, geez, a lot. Let's see... I'm told we lived first in a trailer and then in an apartment when I was a small child, but I don't really remember either of them. The first place I remember living is a row house in Merchantville, NJ. Then, when I was between 3rd and 4th grade, we moved to a duplex in Pennsauken. Between 9th and 10th grade, when my Mom got married for the second time, we moved into a split level in Cherry Hill. Then I left for college, during which I lived in two different dorm rooms... I guess those count. Halfway through college, I moved off-campus and into the sprawling, ramshackle, psychotic-roommate-infested House of Insanity for a year. After that, my then-boyfriend and I moved into an adobe hovel where we lived for a year. After that we moved into a nice, new, far-too-small apartment for, gee, another year. Then his dad bought us a trailer, and we lived in that for a couple of years, I think. Then we split up, and I moved out and rented my own trailer. I lived there for a few years until my mother convinced me that if I was going to live in a trailer I should at least own the damn thing and talked me into buying the one I'm living in now (thanks to some helpful financing from the Bank of Mom). So, wow, how many is that? Thirteen, I think, unless I've miscounted somewhere. That means my lifetime average is something like a move every two and a half years (or, actually, a little bit less than that). Yeesh.

    2. Which was your favorite and why? To be perfectly honest, I don't think any of them have exactly been idyllic places to live. Which is fine. I've always been more interested in having running water and a roof over my head than in living in a dream home. I kind of liked the Pennsauken house, I suppose, and the Cherry Hill one would have been fine if it weren't for the hideous decor, but they both had one major flaw: I had to share them with my family. And, dearly as I love them, sharing my living space with them was, um, not well-suited to my personality, let's put it that way. Oddly enough, in many ways, my favorite from that list -- and I'm stressing "favorite" here, as opposed to "objectively best" -- was the single dorm room I had my sophomore year in college. It was a pretty big room for just one person, it had a nice hardwood floor and, because I didn't have a roommate, I had two desks and two sets of bookshelves all for my own. I decorated the place with posters and clippings and such over pretty much every square inch of wall space, which was actually kind of cool, in a slightly visually overwhelming sort of way. The people living in the dorm with me were friendly fellow geeks who didn't generally party too hearty at inconvenient hours. And to top it all off, I was about thirty seconds from all my classes, which was convenient as hell. Having to share a bathroom with everybody else on the floor was a drag, though. And the fact that I was right next to the dorm's common room wasn't a whole lot of fun, either, considering that the wall between my bed and the communal TV wasn't nearly as thick as it should have been. Truth to tell, I probably couldn't stand to live in a place like that now, but at the time I thought it was terrific... probably because it was the first place I ever had all to myself.

    3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why? Stressful. Very, very stressful. For one thing, I've just got too damned much stuff, and moving it all is just a real pain in the ass. For another, there's always a zillion little annoying things you have to attend to any time you move. Did you get all the utilities hooked up? Have you filled out all the change-of-address forms? Do you need homeowner's or renter's insurance? Do you gotta buy furniture? Are you actually going to be home at whatever random time the cable guy finally decides to show up? I hate that kind of hassle.

    4. What's more important, location or price? I'd say it's a tradeoff between the two. I mean, I don't want to live way out in the middle of the desert or something, but it'd hardly be worth having a house right across from work if it was going to bankrupt me, would it? I'm actually a bit farther out of town now than I'd really like, in fact, considering that I prefer to walk instead of drive much of the time, but the trailer park I'm in now is cheap enough to just about make up for it.

    5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)? Oh, it would definitely have one of those giant bathtubs. Actually, the last place I lived did, but the water heater was so small that you couldn't fill it all the way up with hot water, so it was worse than useless. You know, heck, while I'm dreaming, let's make it a jacuzzi bath. Yeah, now we're talking! First and foremost, though, my dream house would have a library. A huge library, actually capable of holding all my books. After that, everything else is pretty much incidental.

    Thursday, April 03, 2003

    Sadly Enough, I Almost Wouldn't Be Surprised to See Some of These on Next Year's Lineup...

    Check out's spoof of "reality" TV shows, featuring such cutting-edge programming as American Embryo, The Most Dangerous Game and Animal Fight Club. Painfully funny stuff.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2003

    It's Google Time!

    Yes, that's right, it's time once again for a look at the wacky search requests that bring people to this blog! I know you were all holding your breath in anticipation, so I won't keep you waiting any longer:

  • "ran out of clean underwear": There are really three possible solutions to this problem: 1) do some laundry, 2) go without, or 3) go buy some new underwear. Sad to say, I have myself sunk to 3 on at least one occasion, but I don't believe I have ever yet been desperate enough to resort to 2. Anyway, hope that helps.

  • trash pics mental hospice: Do mental patients produce more interesting trash than the rest of us, I wonder? Are there lots of battered, threadbare Napolean hats and badly soiled straightjackets?

  • Betty: Just a helpful googling tip: providing a last name makes it much easier to find the person you're looking for!

  • blackadder beard -spain: Actually, I understand perfectly well why they decided to exclude the word "Spain," since there's a Blackadder episode called "The Queen of Spain's Beard," and obviously they weren't interested in that. What I can't figure out is why anybody was looking for info on Blackadder's beard.

  • white socks nude: Put some shoes on those nude socks immediately! Geez, children could surf by this blog, you know!

  • oregon scientific disc jockey: Somehow, I can't help but read this as "a disc jockey in Oregon who plays songs about science," and, man, I want to hire this person!

  • eyeball tattoos: Eww! Oh, they meant tattoos of eyeballs... I hope.

  • scarran stat: Unconventional medicine in the Uncharted Territories: "Nurse, the patient is freezing to death! Get me a Scarran, stat!"

  • Hopeless fangirl politics: Well, the "hopeless fangirl" part is undeniably accurate, but I do generally try to avoid meddling in politics.

  • What kind of tape recorder does john crichton use: Damn, it's a Farscape trivia question I don't know the answer to! I am shamed.

  • emptyspace idiot's guide: You'd have to be a complete idiot to need an instruction book for empty space, I would think.

  • SCARE TACTICS SHOW IS CROSSING THE LINE SCI FI: No need to shout. I'm completely with you on this one.
  • Oh, Dear God, It's Another Stupid Quiz!

    you are agent smith from the matrix

    And What Movie Villain are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Cool. I'm an AI in sunglasses.
    State of the Blog

    I think I've got the blog template looking OK now. At least, it looks fine in IE. I'll have to wait until I get home to check it in Netscape. If anything looks weird to anybody else, please let me know! I do know that there's some funkiness going on with the archive links (some of them are missing, and some of them go places other than where they're supposed to), but that's nothing I have any control over. I've let the Blogger folks know about the problem, and now that I'm a cash-paying customer, they should actually listen to me. I hope!
    DVD Overdose

    Yippee! My Futurama Season One DVDs arrived today! And so did my copy of the Special Edition of Star Trek IV, for that matter. I'd been looking forward to both of those for quite some time, especially the Futurama discs, which only just came out about a week ago. Of course, it immediately occurs to me that I do, after all, still have most of Season One of Angel to watch, as well as three more Blackadder discs, both V miniseries, an entire season of Doctor Who, about half a dozen Alien Nation episodes, and, oh yeah, three movies. Oh, and about two seasons worth of Deep Space 9 episodes, too, though those are tapes, not DVDs. Actually, you know, now that DS9 is starting to come out on DVD, I'm seriously considering trying to unload all those tapes on ebay and switching my collection to discs instead. Yeah, yeah, I know, if I had any capacity for advance planning at all, I would have held off on buying the tapes in the first place... Oh, and speaking of tapes, it suddenly occurs to me that I've got a bunch of Doctor Who episodes on tape that I still need to watch. And a bunch of Forever Knight episodes. (Man, there's a series that I really do wish would come out on DVD.)

    I so need to just take a couple of weeks' vacation time and spend it chained to my TV set until I'm caught up. Of course, I seem to keep saying that, and so far it pretty much just keeps not happening... Sigh.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2003

    A Work in Progress

    I'm still working out a few problems with my blog template. It's not helping that Blogger doesn't appear to be working very well today, either, at least as far as getting me to the page where I can actually work on my template goes. Anyway, if you drop by here and the page looks kinda funky, well, bear with me, OK? Nothing's ever as easy as it sounds like it ought to be when you start out...