Monday, June 30, 2003

See, I Told You We'd Now Return to Blogging as Usual...

For the record, I stole all these from Ferro Lad:

You are Meddle - laid-back, free-form, one of the
most incredible albums to date: too bad it
didn't sell big when it came out.

Which Pink Floyd album are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm, that's not remotely what I would have expected... Not that Meddle isn't a good album, but it's far from my favorite.

What rating is your journal?

brought to you by Quizilla

Yeah, that sounds about right. Even if I wanted to answer "none of the above" to a couple of the questions.

Al-shurprais! You shudd speaq ARABIC `as al-

What language are you supposed to speak?
brought to you by Quizilla

Back Where the Land is Dry

Well, I've now arrived safely home in New Mexico... Sad as I am to see my vacation end, I am actually very glad to be home. Although I'd almost forgotten how hot and bright it is here, after spending the last two weeks in cool and cloudy northern climates. Anyway, we now return to blogging as usual. The full and detailed trip report I promised (or possibly threatened you with) will probably be making an appearance a bit later in the week, when I've had time to type stuff up.

Some trip statistics:

Number of miles travelled round-trip on the cruise ship: 2,487.

Books read on the trip: The last hundred pages or so of Altered Carbon, Books One and Two of the Dragonlance Legends trilogy and 126 pages of Book Three. Also the latest mailing of Phoenix.

Number of e-mails waiting for me when I got home: 585. (So if you sent me some and I don't get around to answering it for a while, you know the reason!)

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Back on Dry Land

That's right, folks, I'm back in Vancouver and currently posting from a friend's computer. I'll be back home sometime tomorrow, and at some point, I'll be sure and write you up a laboriously detailed account of how the entire vacation went.

For the moment, I'll just say that I very much enjoyed the whole cruise ship experience. If you haven't been on one, believe me, people who have are not lying about the food thing. I swear, I must have gained twenty pounds on this trip. It seemed like I was eating constantly; I'd finish breakfast, and fifteen minutes later it was time for lunch. And it was all terrific, too. You could get very spoiled very quickly living like that. It's not just the food, either... I won't say the service was always 100% impeccable -- goodness knows, my mother complained enough the day we only got one clean washcloth in our stateroom -- but I did get the rather bizarre feeling that these people honestly did believe that their job was to cater to your every whim and anticipate your needs before you had them. And, you know... I liked it.

The scenery was gorgeous, too. The sight of islands slipping slowly past the ship in the deep blue after-midnight twilight is one I'm going to take with me for a very long time.

It was also nice to see several of my relatives (two aunts, an uncle-by-marriage, and my mother) again, though perhaps the circumstances were not the best. My stepfather should have been on this cruise in my place, had he not died in March, and I know it was very hard on my mother to be there without him. I know she had a few bad moments; I only hope the good moments managed to make up for it.

For myself, I was hugely reluctant to leave at the end of the cruise. Ah, if only I could have stowed away somewhere and done the round-trip voyage again! Oh, well... I supposed they'd be missing me at work next week if I'd done that, anyway...

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Another Quick Trip Update

We're currently sailing away from Hubbard Glacier, which was a decidedly impressive sight. The weather's been kind of chill and drizzly, but they had blankets and hot cocoa available up on deck, and we had a pretty good view of the glacier from the balcony of our stateroom, too. (Though, personally, I haven't minded the cool damp weather much at all. It makes a nice change from the desert. Even if it was actually raining a bit in New Mexico when I left.)

Yesterday we were in port in Skagway, where we took a ride on a narrow-guage railroad through an area featuring some beautiful scenery and rich in Alaskan gold rush history. Tomorrow we're putting into port in Ketchikan (I hope I'm spelling that right; I don't have the info in front of me), which is supposed to be a good place to go shopping, though, unlike my family members, I think I'm starting to get a little tired of looking at the same tourist stuff.

I'm still definitely enjoying shipboard life. Tonight, I'm planning on a soak in the indoor whirlpool tub and probably going to a midnight comedy show. Oh, and stuffing my face with still more excellent food, though that kind of goes without saying...

Monday, June 23, 2003

Juneau Where I Am?

Yep, that's right, we've just pulled into port in Juneau, Alaska! I'd love to give you guys a detailed trip report, but I'm paying 50 cents a minute for internet access here, so you're going to have to wait until I get back for the full "maximum verbosity" version. Here's the short version: Yesterday was a shipboard day. Very, very relaxing. The ship itself is great, and we've passed by some really nice scenery (although it has been a little chilly on deck or outside on the balcony for extended sightseeing). For those who've asked about the food, it's been wonderful. I feel like I've been eating pretty much constantly for the last couple of days.

Much as I've enjoyed hanging out on the ship, I am starting to look forward to getting outside and seeing Alaska firsthand. So I suppose I should get off the 'net and go do that!

More updates later, if and when I get the chance, but if you don't hear from me, you can pretty much assume that I'm too busy enjoying myself to notice the pangs of internet withdrawal.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Trip Update #1

Well, I'm here aboard the cruise ship, currently sitting in the harbor in Vancouver! Yeah, yeah, I know, I couldn't even wait until we left to get back on the 'net, but it's been nearly 4 days, and I'm starting to go into withdrawals...

I gotta say, I really think I'm gonna like this whole cruise ship deal... They really do seem quite intent on providing something for everyone, not excluding us introverted types, as evidenced by the library, the internet cafe, and the coffee and book lounge. So far, we've had lunch at the buffet (where the food choices were varied enough to be mildly overwhelming), walked around the ship a bit, and took a tour of the spa (generally not my thing, but the massage services actually look very tempting).

We're sailing in a couple of hours, after the madatory lifeboat drill. And much as I like Vancouver, I find that I'm really looking forward to getting under way and off toward Alaska.

I'll try and stop back here a few times through the week and let you know how it's going, so you can all be horribly jealous!

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Well, It's Time for Me to Make Like a Tree and Get Outta Here.

That's right, tomorrow morning I'll be taking off for beautiful British Columbia and six days and seven nights of cruising the Alaskan coastline. So this is likely to be the last blog entry you'll see from me for a while. According to the cruise line's website, the ship does have an internet cafe, so it's quite possible that I'll be checking in once or twice to let you know how it's going. On the other hand, I suspect it's extremely likely that my family members will drag me bodily from in front of the computer and insist that I join in on something "fun" and "social," so I can't really make any promises.

Anyway, if you don't hear from me before then, I'll be back in a couple of weeks. Try not to miss me too hard!

Monday, June 16, 2003

Oh, Yeah, And At Some Point, I'll Probably Pack Some Clothes, Too.

Well, I think I've decided on which books I'll be taking on the cruise. I've finally settled on the following:

  • Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, because I'm almost certainly not going to finish it before I leave. I started it last week and figured I'd be long since done with it by now, but I'm having trouble getting into it. It's got some good worldbuilding, and started out looking like it was going to have a really interesting mystery plot, but quickly wandered off into the realm of gratuitous sex and carnage. Not that I object to that in principle, really -- hey, I bet it'd make a great Schwarzenegger flick -- but it's just not what I've been in the mood for lately.

  • The Dragonlance Legends trilogy by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (Time of the Twins, War of the Twins and Test of the Twins). Undemanding, entertaining, turn-your-brain-off vacation reading.

  • Hellfire Nation by James A. Morone, which I just got in the mail today and which looks like it will do nicely for when I get tired of reading fluffy Dragonlance books.

  • That should probably do me, although, of course, I as soon as I say that I'm hit by the nagging worry that I might finish them all and -- gasp! -- find myself with nothing to read. Even if I don't get a whole lot of chance to read on the ship, those are pretty long plane flights back and forth to Vancouver, after all... Maybe I should add another book or two to the stack. Hmm.
    Blogger Update

    Well, my archive links are back! Better still, they're actually all there now! I'm not 100% sure exactly what the problem was -- something didn't translate over properly when they made the switch -- but the Blogger folks have apparently fixed things, and with any luck I shouldn't have any more trouble with disappearing archives in future. (Well, here's keeping my fingers crossed, anyway!)

    The funky problem I was having where I'd try to edit posts and it kept reverting back to old, pre-edited versions was apparently due to their spiffy new auto-save feature, which they're very proud of. Whatever. I haven't had too much trouble with it since then, so maybe it and I can manage to coexist. Worst comes to worst, they say they're planning on (eventually) enabling the ability to choose the LoFi interface instead of the troublesome one with all the bells and whistles...

    I have discovered another problem, though, which is that a number of the longer posts in my archives have gone missing, replaced with a message that says "BIG POST ERROR." Apparently the new version has some maximum post length limit or something. I really hope that's just another switchover problem and not something that's going to affect future posts. I mean, really, this blog ain't called "Maximum Verbosity" for nothin'.
    An Addition to an Earlier List

    Thinking about the upcoming Alaska trip reminded me of yet another show I'd love to get on DVD if they ever release it: Northern Exposure. Man, I loved that show!
    In Which I Start Bitching About My Sleeping Problems Again

    I went to bed at 10:30 last night and tossed and turned for ages, in part because I'm excited about my upcoming vacation, but mostly because my body thinks 10:30 is far too early to be going to bed just at the moment. I gotta say, I pretty much agree with it on this point, too. Stupid morning shift.

    The last couple of nights, I've had a bunch of odd dreams, most of which I don't really remember but all of which seem to have been at least mildly unpleasant. I woke up after one of them at 6:15 this morning, which was very ugh, but given that I have to be at work at 7:45, it seemed kind of pointless to try and get back to sleep. Sigh. Today's going to be fun. I'm so glad I've signed up for tomorrow off...

    Sunday, June 15, 2003

    This Blog Has a Past

    My archive links are still MIA, and I'm still waiting to hear back from Blogger on this and the other three issues I've reported to them since the switchover. In the meantime, just in case anybody's interested in browsing the archives, I thought I'd repost the links to 'em here. Hey, it'll give you something to read while I'm gone...

    April '02
    May '02
    June '02
    July '02
    August '02
    September '02
    October '02
    November '02
    December '02
    January '03
    February '03
    March '03
    April '03
    May '03
    June '03
    OK, I'm Almost Embarrassed to Post This One, But It Was a Highly Amusing Quiz.

    Your ultimate Farscape sex toy is Stark. But
    remember- that glow thing has the same effect
    as a street lamp. Be careful!

    Who's your ideal Farscape sex toy?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    OK. Huh. I'm not remotely sure how they got that from my answers, but, um... Oh, hell, I honestly can't deny it...

    Saturday, June 14, 2003

    Things I Need to Do Before I Leave on Vacation

    Mostly for my own benefit, but what's the point of having a blog if you can't share your inane to-do lists with the entire world?

  • Do laundry, so I have clean clothes to take.

  • Pack (duh).

  • Give key to the wonderful person who's going to stop in and look after my cats while I'm gone.

  • Buy catfood and litter, so said wonderful person doesn't run out of them.

  • Send out some e-mails letting people know I'll be gone and taking care of a couple of other little bits of business.

  • Call gas company and get them to fill up the propane tank. (What's in there would probably last the two weeks with no problem, this being summer and me not being home, but ever since I came home from vacation that one time to find the tank on "E" and all my pilot lights guttering low, I've been paranoid about running out.)

  • Polish the scuff marks off my black boots, so I'll have something other than sneakers to wear at dinner, during which they apparently want you to make an attempt to look nice. (They've apparently got a couple of nights during which dress is expected to be formal, but I am definitely skipping those.)

  • Put my swiss army knife in my check-in bag so airport security doesn't stop me again.

  • Copy one more Farscape tape, so I've got the complete first season to hand out to my sister and the friend I'm meeting in Vancouver.

  • Set VCR to tape the Farscape reruns that will air while I'm gone.

  • Get rid of all the food in the cupboard that's likely to sprout mold in the next two weeks.

  • Decide which books to take.

  • Pay bills, so nobody's screaming for money or slapping late fees on me while I'm gone.

  • Man, I hope that's everything...
    More Blogger Weirdness

    Hmm, now Blogger's giving me the "LoFi" version of the posting interface here on my PC at home (as opposed to the work one I was using last night). Odd. I'm using Netscape 7.0. You'd figure that'd be up-to-date enough for them. I think I'm liking this upgrade less and less. Maybe I'm less likely to have the weird editing problem I was having last night on this bare-bones version they're giving me now, but it's rather more inconvenient to use than the old version. Deep sigh.

    Friday, June 13, 2003

    Read Any Good Books Lately? How 'Bout Any Bad Book Reviews?

    For those of us who are easily amused by such things, it's a blog which collects really dumb and/or silly reviews. Here's a sample, "reviewing" The Great Gatsby:
    I've tried every diet in the book(s.) But Mr. Fitzgerald has hit upon th perfect balance of low-carb dining and exercise. His insights into plums are unparallelled. Thank you Fitzy, you truly are a "great" gatsby.

    OK, I have no idea what the point of that was, but, hey, it amused me.

    (Link via Generic/Synthetic.)
    Making an Attempt to Answer the Friday Five

    OK, I am feeling really, really pissed off at Blogger at the moment, but, damn it, I initially logged in with the intent of answering the Friday Five, and I'm damned if their idea of a helpful "upgrade" is going to keep me from doing it! I just have to be careful to say what I mean the first time and not make any typos, because apparently once you hit "post," editing the current post then becomes something astonishingly like pushing Sisyphus' rock: you keep getting it where you want it, and it keeps slipping right back to where it was a moment ago.

    Anyway. Right. Friday Five. Here ya go:

    1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have? Visit England. I grew up watching PBS in general, and a lot of Doctor Who in particular, and I thus developed an irrational but deep-seated conviction that London is actually the centre of the universe. I fully intend to make a pilgrimage there sometime before I die.

    2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest? I almost never lie outright, but I don't necessarily feel the need to give a direct and unambiguous answer to questions like that, either. If I genuinely think the person is looking for an honest opinion, I'll give them one, though I'll try to phrase it diplomatically if it's a negative one. Otherwise... There are strategies to employ to avoid hurting the person's feelings without actually lying. Changing the subject often works, e.g. "Hey, where'd you buy it?" Often when asked my opinion on an item of clothing, I'll say something like, "Well, it's not something I'd wear, but hey." Given that I pretty much never wear anything but jeans and t-shirts and that I have zero fashion sense whatsoever, people who know me generally don't take that as an insult. Hell, they'd probably be justified in taking it as a compliment.

    3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn't? What happened? Listen, if it was that horrible that I wish I didn't even know about it, I certainly wouldn't want to tell the entire internet, would I? I mean, sheesh.

    4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why? I think I'd have to say Iain Bank's Culture (which I was initially introduced to in rip-off -- er, I mean, homage -- form in Ben Aaronovitch's Doctor Who novel The Also People, but have since read about in several of Banks' own novels). The setting is a very high-tech one, in which nanotechnology provides all the material comforts anybody could possibly want, and nobody has to work. The basic unit of society is essentially the "interest group." Everything that gets done, from the important to the frivolous (and I don't think the members of this society actually make a distinction between the two), gets done because a group of people who are passionately interested in whatever-it-is gets together voluntarily to do it. There is no such thing as vocation, only avocation. And, man, that is so the way I want to live my life.

    5. What's one talent/skill you don't have but always wanted? I dunno. The list of useful things which I cannot do is so huge that it almost seems pointless to single one out...

    Whoa, Blogger looks all... different. I guess they've finally done that upgrade. I wonder if my missing archives have come back now. Let's see...

    (Later: No, now they appear to have disappeared entirely. And a lot of things in the way this new interface is working appear to be seriously flaky. Sigh.)

    Thursday, June 12, 2003

    North to Alaska!

    I'm starting to get kind of excited about this cruise I've got coming up! Check it out: this is the ship we're going to be sailing on, and we've got one of these staterooms with a private balcony. (I think that's the right picture, anyway!) We'll be leaving from Vancouver, visiting Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, and cruising by Hubbard Glacier. You know, I've never actually seen a glacier in person, but I guess I'm about to get the chance, huh?
    It's Wacky Search Request Time Again!

    Last week, I complained that I'd gotten a pretty weak batch of search requests and that I really thought you people could do better. And you did! Here's some of the more interesting things people have come here looking for this week:

  • BETTY BAD all skins and boobs: I am not bad, nor could I remotely be described as "all skin and boobs."

  • naked tenctonese: Yes, as with the Trill, those spots do go all the way down.

  • "joke recipes": That wasn't chili powder! It was itching powder! Ha ha ha!

  • what happens in the last episode of buffy: The world ends and everybody dies. (Well, really, like I'm going to tell you...)

  • quicksand sites/mud puddle visuals: It's a measure of just how used I am to getting pornographic search requests that my first thought on reading this one was, "Wow, that's an odd kink."

  • pics of humans having sex: And it's a further measure of the above that my immediate reaction to this one was, "How refreshingly normal."

  • nude grannys: Case in point.

  • levity mood elevation formula: I usually just go and listen to really depressing music, and that almost always cheers me right up.

  • monkey sex: Yeah, I knew I was leaving myself wide open for that one.

  • who would win in a fight, the scarrans or the klingons: Well, there's a question. Hmm, are we talking spaceship battle or hand-to-hand? If the latter... Well, Scarrans are awfully tough, but Klingons are more maneuverable. And they'd undoubtedly do much better under the Scarran heat weapons than, say, a Sebacean would. I think I'd call it about even, but if forced to bet I'd probably marginally favor the Scarran. If we're talking space battles, well, I never did particularly enjoy those heated "U.S.S. Enterprise vs. Imperial Star Destroyer"-type arguments that seem to be endemic among hardcore geeks. It seems to me that it's really impossible to tell who'd win without knowing how the technology matches up. Do Scarrans have the kind of shields that can deflect Klingon disrupter beams? Who knows? They've never encountered them! I say just make up any answer you like.

  • free nude skydiver pictures: Wow, talk about being able to feel the breeze...

  • Do you put the title of a song in quotes?: Yes. (That was much easier to answer than the Klingons vs. Scarrans question!)

  • unstuff your nose naturally: This is generally referred to as "blowing" the nose, and in polite society is always done into a paper tissue or a handkerchief. Hope that helps!
  • Hey, All I Know About the Stock Market, I Learned from Playing Pit.

    Apparently this blog is worth $1,014.29 on Blogshares. Is that good?

    Wednesday, June 11, 2003

    And Then I Can Cancel My Cable and Program My Own Damn TV Station.

    I've decided that my new goal in life is to build up my library of TV shows on DVD until I no longer care about the fact that there's nothing on TV any more because no matter what time it is or what mood I'm in, I'll always have something good to watch. I've already got a good head start on this project, I think. I just need to do a little prioritizing and start making some decisions about what I want to spend my money on and in what order. Let's see...

    TV shows I own complete runs of on DVD:
  • Blackadder

  • Alien Nation. Full run of the TV series, but none of the TV movies (yet).

  • Ultraviolet. Though, it only ran, what, six episodes? So that's not saying much.

  • TV shows I own part of on DVD and still need to get the complete set:
  • Angel. Though how I feel once I've seen season 2 will probably determine whether I feel a burning need to collect the rest of the series or not.

  • Buffy. I'm planning on putting in an order for season 4 as soon as I get back from vacation.

  • Doctor Who. At the moment, I've only got the "Key to Time" episodes. Unfortunately, the idea of collecting the whole series (assuming the whole series comes out on DVD eventually), while highly appealing, is also more than a little daunting.

  • Farscape. I've been buying these as fast as they're putting them out. Currently, they're up to the middle of season 3.

  • Futurama. When is season 2 coming out, anyway?

  • Red Dwarf. Got season 1, and season 2 is in the mail to me as we speak.

  • The Simpsons. Just got season 2.

  • South Park. Just ordered season 1, but don't actually have it yet.

  • Shows I don't have on DVD and am determined to get ASAP:
  • Babylon 5

  • Deep Space 9

  • Shows I'd like to get eventually:
  • Fawlty Towers

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus

  • Star Trek: TOS, which I'm sure I'm going to have to pick up sooner or later, just because, you know, it's TOS.

  • Star Trek: TNG, though mainly for completeness' sake. (I do have most of the series on video, so there isn't much of a hurry.)

  • Lexx, though I'm a bit conflicted about that one. The completist in me would insist on getting the whole series, but I'm not entirely sure the ratio of brilliant episodes to terrible episodes is high enough to make it worth it.

  • Daria, although I think all that's out are the TV movies.

  • The Avengers

  • Shows I want to get if and when they come out:
  • Blake's 7. This is supposed to be out soon, but the release date's been pushed back so many times that I don't think anybody actually believes that any more.

  • Firefly. Don't know when this one's coming out, but it's supposed to include episodes Fox never bothered to air. Yippee!

  • Forever Knight. As far as I know, there are no plans to release this one on DVD at all, but if there were, I would most definitely buy it.

  • Hmm, I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Ah, well, that'd be a pretty good TV library to start with, don't you think? Sigh. Now all I need is to hit the lottery so I have enough money to buy 'em all, and quit my job so I have enough time to watch 'em all.
    Warning: Scary Signage Ahead

    Today's featured humorous link: street signs you do not want to see. OK, some of these are a lot funnier than others, but the best ones are decidedly chuckle-worthy. (Via Presurfer.)

    Tuesday, June 10, 2003

    I Know, Way Too Many Stupid Quizzes Lately. But How Could I Resist This One?

    Cyberman. I shouldn't need to tell you to stay away
    from gold, though i will anyway since you
    probably have a deep routed desire to visit
    Voga, the planet of gold.

    Which Doctor Who monster are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Aww. I've no home planet, no influence, nothing! I think I'll go skulk about the galaxy and shoot things.
    Yeah, I'm Sure This'll Surprise the Heck out of Everybody...

    you are a science fiction novel.

    what type of book are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla
    +5 Comic of Rib-Tickling!

    Anybody who's so much as cracked open a D&D manual should find this amusing: The Irregular Webcomic features geeky gamer humor based on D&D, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc., etc., etc. Also much gratuitous mocking of that Crocodile Hunter guy. And it's done with Legos! What more could you ask for? (Link via Angels from Another Pin.)
    Not Just a Genius in France

    Just picked up the new Weird Al Yankovic album. Great stuff, and I'm not just saying that because "Party at the Leper Colony" has one of the most disgusting and groan-worthy puns I've ever heard and I want to spread the misery around, either. I mean, how can you not worship at the feet of a man capable of writing a song composed entirely of palindromes?

    I gotta say, though, it's a rather sad measure of how out of touch I am with the current musical mainstream that I no longer recognize the majority of the songs he's parodying. Still, it is oddly comforting to know that, no matter how much the world changes, and no matter how much musical tastes might alter, Weird Al will always be around, making fun of television.
    Wow, Maybe I Am a "Power Blogger"...

    I see by the sitemeter counter that this blog has just passed 10,000 hits. How utterly, utterly amazing. Of late, I seem to be getting quite a few hits from people other than the six usual suspects and the deluded googlers looking for nude pictures, too. So, howdy, lurkers! Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment and say "hi" if you feel like it. (That's assuming the comments are working, of course. They seem to have kept appearing and disappearing over the last few days...)

    Monday, June 09, 2003

    Yet Another Reason to Bow Before Me!

    [take the test] - [by]

    House Calls from the Doctor

    If you are a Doctor Who fan (even a little bit!), run, do not walk, to this site and listen to everything on it immediately. It's a series of prank phone calls made by a guy doing a very good impression of Tom Baker who calls people up pretending to be the Doctor. Targets include telephone directory assistance, which he attempts to use to look up the Master; a hardware store where he's checking to see if they have sonic screwdrivers in stock; and a bookmaker's, where he attempts to place a bet on a sporting event that already happened a year ago (whoops, got the time coordinates wrong!). He also phones up Sylvester McCoy, who believes it's really Baker and seems rather worried about him ("Have you been to the pub?") and Tom Baker, himself, who takes it completely in stride and proceeds to upstage the prankster completely. I swear, these are quite possibly the funniest things I've ever heard, especially the Tom Baker one. (I have to offer major thank-you's to the friend of my sister's who drew my attention to these by sending me some of them on tape. I finished listening to them half an hour ago, and I'm still grinning!)
    Bow Before Me, Lesser Bloggers!

    Power blogger, you are a voice to be heard! Your
    blog attracts a lot of attention, for what ever
    reason that is. You are a master of your page
    and writing is in your blood!

    What kind of blogger am I?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Not sure what that picture has to do with anything, though.
    That Damned Chicken Sure Gets Around

    I've just been reading Martin Odoni's list of Blake's 7 chicken jokes and laughing my butt off. Admittedly, these probably won't be terribly funny to anyone who isn't a B7 fan, and even if you are a B7 fan, a lot of them are in-jokes about various fans and mailing-list denizens and people who worked on the show and still might not make all that much sense to most of the general populace. But I mention it here mainly because I'm referenced twice. Is this like being parodied by Weird Al and means that I've "arrived" in the community of Blake's 7 fans?

    Sunday, June 08, 2003

    UPS and Downs

    We had a huge windstorm here yesterday, and the power was down for something like five hours. Being the conscientious person that I am, I ran home[*] and shut the computer and everything down before the UPS batteries got drained. When I got home later that night, I booted everything back up, and all appeared to be well. Then, when I got up this morning, I walked into the computer room to find that both the PC and the monitor were completely without power. It seems my earlier UPS glitch was more than just a temporary problem. Sigh.

    I was inclined to blame myself for buying the cheapest UPS system I could find, but the power is hugely unreliable here in Socorro and several friends of mine have told me they've had to replace their own UPS systems on a semi-regular basis. So maybe cheap (and thus more easily replaceable) really is the way to go.

    This annoys me greatly, though, because now I have to go out and buy a new one, and I'm not even sure I'll be able to find one in town. I really don't want to have to drive all the way to Belen today just to buy a new UPS. Grrr.

    [*] From a friend's house, where I spent most of the evening gaming by lantern-light.

    Saturday, June 07, 2003


    The regular monthly update on boring stuff you never wanted to know about me.

    Current clothes: Blue jeans, slightly rolled up at the bottoms. A blue and white tie-dye t-shirt. (No, I didn't do the tie-dying.) White tube socks. No shoes just at the moment.

    Current mood: Moderately upbeat.

    Current music: Let's see, in the stereo right now are the Shrek soundtrack, Pachelbel's Greatest Hit: Canon in D and Jimmy Buffett's Barometer Soup. Currently in the walkman is the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense.

    Current hair: Just got it cut. Nice and short.

    Current annoyance: Having to work for a living.

    Current thing: Oh, the usual stuff. A bit of reading, a bit of writing, a bit of gaming, a lot of web surfing...

    Current desktop picture: This collage of images from the Buffy episode "Storyteller." Which I picked not so much because "Storyteller" is all that great of an episode (it's not), but because it was one of the few wallpapers I could find that featured a picture of Andrew, and I felt like looking at Andrew for a while.

    Current song stuck in head: The theme song to Hong Kong Phooey. Ah, the inside of my head is such an interesting place...

    Current book: The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution by C.P. Snow.

    Current video in player: The Doctor Who tape with the Hartnell episodes on it that I mentioned earlier.

    Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment. I just finished my usual three cups of morning coffee not all that long ago.

    Current worry: I'm a bit worried about some of the details of this vacation I've got coming up, particularly about organizing my time in Vancouver (where I'm spending a few days both before and after the boat leaves). The friend I'm going to be staying with for most of the time I'm there keeps sending me e-mails with vague changes of plans: "Well, I've got movie passes for the night you're coming in, but I should be back by... Oh, wait, I have to babysit that day and I promised I'd take the kid to see The Hulk, but by the time you get into town we should be back... There's this concert the next day, do you want to go?... Hang on, I'm not sure what time it is... They changed my work schedule, so I won't be around most of Saturday..." Etc., etc. Meanwhile, my mother is scheduling tours and wants me to keep her company in the interval between when we get back and when her plane leaves, and my sister and other relatives are coming in a various times... I have the feeling the logistics of it all are going to be a bit difficult to work out, especially without hurting anybody's feelings by cutting short my time with them.

    Current thought: This vacation should be a lot of fun, anyway.

    Friday, June 06, 2003

    Just Shelve Me Under 020![*]

    I want to stay here.

    [*] Really obscure Dewey Decimal reference. Sorry.
    "The Edge of Destruct-- of Destruction!"

    So, I've been watching some old Hartnell-era Doctor Who episodes lately, and happen to have just seen the third episode, "The Edge of Destruction" (aka "Inside the Spaceship," and, no, I do not want to get into a debate about what the proper title is). Man, people say season 26 was strange...

    I hate to say it, but this is probably the single most unintentionally funny Doctor Who episode of all time. A completely nonsensical plot, some extremely silly lines of dialog, and some of the funniest and goofiest of Hartnell's notorious dialog fluffs combine to make it, well, a prime candidate for a good MST3King, actually. Eventually, I just gave in and went with it, thusly[*]:

    Ian [checking the Doctor's pulse]: "His heart's all right."
    Me: "Oh, man, if he's got a normal heartbeat, he's in big trouble."

    Doctor: "A rash action is worse than no action at all."
    Me: "That is so not his motto."

    Doctor [to Barbara and Ian]: "I'm going to have to put you off the ship!"
    Me: "Oh, you've just been looking for an excuse to say that, haven't you?"

    Doctor: "We have only ten minutes left."
    Me: "So, Barbara, if you and Ian want to go have hot monkey sex, as is traditional in these circumstances, you'd better and go do it now."

    Doctor [to Ian]: "We only have five minutes before the end. Will you face it with me?"
    Me: "So they're going to go have hot monkey sex? Ick."

    Barbara: "Perhaps we've been given nothing but clues."
    Me: "Yeah, but unfortunately, none of them make any sense!"

    Doctor: "The TARDIS is trying to tell us something."
    [TARDIS alarm makes a loud "bong!" noise]
    Me: "OK, TARDIS! One 'bong!' for yes, two for no! What's that? Little Timmy's in the well?"

    [The Doctor delivers a disturbingly impassioned soliloquy about solar system formation.]
    Me: "Thank you, Dr. Science! Oh, hey, maybe that's his last name."

    [The Doctor explains that the whole thing was caused by a switch being stuck, and proceeds to demonstrate to Susan at great length how this happened, using the button on his flashlight.]
    Me: "Ah, yes, that amazingly advanced Gallifreyan button technology! I despair of ever mastering it."

    [*] Note that I don't have a transcription of the episode in front of me, and my memory is far from infallible, so a lot of these quotes are not verbatim, and some of them are pretty broad paraphrases. So sue me. I should probably also point out that I love this show deeply, and probably wouldn't bother making fun of it, otherwise. And also that the episode is partially redeemed by a couple of really good character moments, especially a very sweet scene between the Doctor and Barbara at the end.

    Thursday, June 05, 2003

    The Friday Five in Love

    Because I'm intensely bored, here's the Friday Five, a bit early:

    1. How many times have you truly been in love? Once. It's a great experience, but, in my humble opinion, a bit over-hyped.

    2. What was/is so great about the person you love(d) the most? He got all my pop culture references. And wasn't afraid to be silly.

    3. What qualities should a significant other have? What, for me? None. I don't have an S.O. and don't want an S.O. I'm very, very happy going solo and intend to continue doing so for the indefinite future. And I wouldn't presume to dictate what traits should be most desired by anybody else. If I were going to generalize, though, I guess I'd have to say the most important thing is respect. Not any kind of putting-the-partner-on-a-pedestal stuff, or any of those stiff and outmoded forms of behavior that often get called "respect," just a genuine appreciation for the other person's status as a fellow human being. But then, I'd say that's the most important thing in any human relationship.

    4. Have you ever broken someone's heart? God, I hope not.

    5. If there was one thing you could teach people about love, what would it be? I'd have to learn something about it myself first, wouldn't I? And I'm pretty clueless.
    Another Stupid Quiz, Dammit

    How much of a pottymouth are you?

    Mind you, I think I lost a couple of points on the foul-mouthitude scale because I wasn't sure whether being able to cuss fluently in made-up alien languages actually counted as an ability to swear in a foreign language or not...
    And It's Time, Once Again, For Those Ever-Popular Wacky Search Requests!

    Not a huge crop this time out. You people really do need to try harder!

  • fuzzy sweater porno DVDs: OK, I've heard of people being into shoes, but... fuzzy sweaters?

  • dwarf sex(pics)(non+nude): Looks like some kind of demented equation, doesn't it?

  • interrogated female spy sex fiction: Yeah, not hard to figure out what forms of interrogation they're thinking of...

  • kemper farscape mantle piece: OK, I may regard Farscape's David Kemper as being a fairly major deity in the pantheon of scriptwriting gods, but even I don't feel the need to have his bust on my mantelpiece.

  • "extremely cheap" matrix reloaded phone: Assuming you can find a phone capable of transmitting you out of this pseudo-reality, I sincerely doubt it's going to end up being "extremely cheap."

  • Bizarre Vac Sucking Things Up Movies: That actually sounds kind of amusing, in a Fox "funniest videos" sort of way.

  • "sexy klingons": Sorry, Klingons just really don't do it for me. Though I do remember thinking that Michael Dorn without the makeup is sorta cute.

  • "nude farscape characters": It seems that I am the only Google result for this exact phrase. I feel so special!
  • Better than the BBC's Props!

    I've known about the Blake's 7 lego gallery for ages, but I feel compelled to call the world's attention to it now because I've just seen the recently-added Scorpio model at the bottom of this page, and it is a thing of intense and geeky beauty. (There's a bunch of Scorpios on the page. Don't stop looking before you get to the good one; it's past the Space Rats. And it's awe-inspiring.)

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003

    An Update

    For anybody who actually likes listening to me wibbling on about Farscape, I've just made a rather lengthy response to some comments on this post concerning the latest batch of DVDs. Since it's gone and scrolled off into the archives, I thought I'd mention it.
    Things I Should Have Learned By Now, #953

    It is generally a bad idea to read books about Jack the Ripper while eating.
    Sometimes We Humans Get a Little Too Overenthusiastic with the Pattern-Matching.

    Here's a worth-reading Scientific American article by professional skeptic Michael Shermer (who, by the way, has written some pretty good books, including Why People Believe Weird Things and How We Believe) debunking the so-called "Bible Code." If you're not familiar with this particular bit of silliness, it involved a guy called Drosnin using computer software to look for hidden messages in the Bible, which was supposedly found to predict -- correction, to have predicted, which is a critical distinction -- various assassinations and other important world events. Here's an extract from the article, which I found highly amusing: 1997 Drosnin proposed this test of his thesis: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them."

    Australian mathematician Brendan McKay did just that, locating no fewer than nine political assassinations secreted in the great novel, along with additional discoveries in War and Peace and other tomes (see American physicist David E. Thomas predicted the Chicago Bulls's NBA championship in 1998 from his code search of Leo Tolstoy's novel. He also recently unearthed "the Bible code is a silly, dumb, fake, false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax" from Bible Code II (see

    (Link via Boing Boing.)

    Tuesday, June 03, 2003

    Talk to Me

    Check out this demo of a new speech synthesis program by IBM. You give it text, it gives you speech. I tried it with part of the prologue to Star Trek, which the "US female 1" voice made sound quite surprisingly natural, and part of the prologue to Farscape, which "US Male 1" rendered rather more stiltedly, but with major bonus points for pronouncing Crichton's name correctly. I think Stephen Hawking is going to feel jealous. (Link via Transterrestrial Musings.)
    Environmental Control Systems Functioning. Wormhole Collapse Avoided.

    Well, I got someone here to work on the swamp cooler this morning. Turns out the problem was simply that the side panels weren't seated right. This is what happens when you have a complete incompetent setting up your swamp cooler. Sigh. The guy politely suggested that, you know, they have a swamp cooler start-up service to get them running for you in the summer. Fifty-five bucks. I'm thinking next year I'm going to be taking them up on it.

    The other problem I had today was much more distressing (and considering how hot it's been here the last couple of days, more distressing than not having a working cooler is really saying something!). Actually, it started yesterday. I went to work in the afternoon, leaving my computer turned on, as I usually do. When I got home at midnight, I figured I'd take a quick look at my e-mail, went to wake the ol' PC up, and got... nothing. Or rather, I got a message from my monitor saying, basically, "Hey, buddy, it's not my fault! The PC isn't talking to me!" I checked the monitor cables, cycled power on the computer and the monitor a few times... Nothing. The computer was obviously on. I could hear it working. But it wouldn't speak to me.

    I went to bed feeling considerably troubled (and probably wouldn't have gone to bed at all until I figured out what was wrong, except that I had to be awake bright and early in the morning for the swamp cooler guy), and immediately tried it again as soon as I woke up. No dice. I tried hooking it up an old monitor I had sitting in the closet. No dice. Thus, I resorted to the last refuge of the desperate: I called tech support. The tech support person, after ascertaining that, yeah, I'd already checked the connections, told me to unplug the computer and monitor from the UPS power strip and plug them into the wall. Dubiously, I did this... And lo and behold, there came my bootup screen on the monitor! May the gods of computers bless the Gateway tech support people, that's all I can say, since this would probably never have occurred to me to do. I mean, after all, both the PC and the monitor obviously had power, right? Afterward, I tried plugging them both back into the UPS, and they worked fine then, too. I have no idea what the problem was, presumably some kind of temporary glitch, but my relief is deep and profound.

    In fact, I'm kind of taken aback by the strength of my emotional reaction over the whole incident. I mean, I wasn't at all surprised by the existence of the desperate monolog inside my head that went something like: Oh, god, my computer's dead. My whole life is on that computer! I'm gonna have to drive to Albuquerque to take it to a service center, aren't I, and leave it, maybe for weeks, and I'm going to have no internet, no e-mail, no word processor... I won't be able to look up information or communicate with anybody or write anything or... Aaargh! And the fact that I was very nearly shaking in what felt exactly like an anticipation of withdrawal symptoms perhaps ought to bother me, but that's not terribly surprising, either.

    Here's what did surprise me: I felt terribly worried, not just for myself and my anticipated lack of computer access, but for the poor machine itself. It felt almost exactly as if one of my cats was sick and I didn't know what was wrong with them. I could easily imagine myself at the service center saying, "Oh, Doctor, please tell me, will my poor little Wormhole be all right? I'll pay anything, just make him be all better!" I hadn't realized I'd gotten that attached to the machine. Ever since I totaled the very first car I've ever owned (thus suffering terrible guilt feelings on the unfortunate vehicle's behalf), I think I've made something of an effort not to invest my emotions in machines. Guess it didn't work as well as I'd thought.

    You know, while I was talking to the tech support person, she tried to talk me into buying an extended warranty. I told her I'd think about it; in my experience, they're usually not really worth it. But if my heart's gonna stop like this every time poor Wormy has a glitch, I think maybe I ought to consider it, after all...

    Monday, June 02, 2003

    ...And Another One

    You're Hobbes!
    You're Hobbes. First of all, the makers of this
    quiz would like to congratulate you. You have
    our seal of approval. You are kind,
    intelligent, loving, and good-humoredly
    practical. You're proud of who you are. At the
    same time, you're tolerant of those who lack
    your clearsightedness. You're always playful,
    but never annoying. For these traits, you are
    well-loved, and with good cause.

    Which famous feline are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Allow me to just say: cool.
    Time For Another Stupid Quiz...

    You are... Shrek - "Well I have to save my
    You walk tough and talk tough, but inside you're
    just a gooey ball of mush. Your friends are
    important to you (whether you admit it or not)
    and you'd do just about anything for them (but
    you wouldn't like it). Trust is important to
    you, and so is respet. Looks don't matter to
    you; it's the gooey ball of mush inside that
    really counts.

    What movie quote are YOU?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    You know, I always did kind of identify with that ogre...

    Sunday, June 01, 2003

    An Important Public Service Announcement

    Well, maybe you don't need to hear this, but goodness knows I do. (As evinced by the fact that I'm back and posting on here again, despite what I said earlier.)

    You probably shouldn't expect too much blogging from me today. I woke up in a funny position, and now my neck muscles are one vast knot of pain. So it kinda hurts to sit at the computer... Owie.