Sunday, August 31, 2003

More Interview Questions!

This batch comes courtesy of Tamara, of Tamara's Flooby Web Log. Thanks, Tamara! I'm really enjoying doing these!

Again, if anyone else wants to join in the fun, the very simple rules can be found at the bottom of this post. Short version: Leave a comment, and I'll send you some questions, then you answer them and offer to interview other people. Like I said, simple!

Anyway, here we go:

1) Which Buffy character are you most like in terms of your personality? You can draw from all seven seasons and the minor characters (Warren, Harmony, Maggie Walsh, etc.) as well as the major characters. Well, I suppose that really depends on what aspects of the personality you want to focus on. I will say that the character I identify the most with, in many ways, is Andrew. (Note that I'm mainly thinking of 7th-season Andrew here, as I still haven't seen most of the 6th season.) I'm sure the similarities are obvious: he's pretty much the epitome of the geeky fanboy. (And without, I might add, any particular emphasis on the "boy" part, either.) And I do have more than a little sympathy with the way he clearly wants to do the right thing, or at least to do something worthwhile, but often seems to have trouble figuring out exactly what that something is. But Andrew also has same major personality problems that I mercifully don't suffer from. He's got very little concept of the distinction between fantasy and reality, a line that's so firm in my own mind that it seriously bugs me when people refer to actors by their characters' names (or vice versa). And he's very weak-willed and easily manipulated; whereas I can be extremely stubborn-minded, and never so much so as when I think somebody's trying to play emotional games with me. So, in other words, I'm, uh, not really all that much like Andrew at all.

So who else does that leave? Well, I used to be a bit Jonathan-esque back in junior high school but, thank goodness, I grew out of that. I suppose I do identify a bit with Willow, though less the Willow of later seasons as the nerdy high school Willow. But then, she's much perkier than I am, and much more emotional. I've got a few similarities to Giles, I suppose: I'm academically-minded, I love books, I groove on classic rock. But the deeper you look, the weaker the similarities get.

No, I'm afraid the truth is that I don't really bear much of a resemblance to any of the Buffy characters. I'm not the kind of personality that'd work well on the show, I guess. If you dropped me in Sunnydale, I'd probably end up as Nameless Vampire Victim #743.

Oh, and, hey... Maggie Walsh? Warren?! What kind of psychopath do you think I am? *grin*

2) Kira Nerys had several "boyfriends" during DS9's run. Who would be your pick for Kira's perfect mate? You can choose from anyone in the DS9 universe or just stick with her romantic entanglements. Well, I very much liked Bariel. He was a heck of a nice guy, and you could tell he and Kira were totally into each other. But, truth to tell, he never seemed to me to be very much what I would think of as her "type." Possibly because I've never really bought into the old "opposites attract" cliche (or at least into the idea that they tend to make for solid long-term relationships).

Now, I was a huge Kira/Odo 'shipper for years. Not only were those two already very good friends who clearly cared about each other a lot, but it seemed to me that they were extremely compatible on a number of levels. They had the same sense of humor, the same sense of duty, the same straightforward, no-nonsense attitude. I was convinced they were perfect for each other and that the only reason nothing was happening was that Odo's "I am an asexual alien and think humanoid mating rituals are silly and pointless" act was so good that it never even occurred to Kira that he was someone you could have anything other than a platonic relationship with. However, once they actually got together on-screen I found myself rapidly losing interest. How much of it was the familiar Moonlighting syndrome, where resolving the sexual/romantic tension in a relationship robs it of its sparkle, and how much was just that I didn't much like where the writers went with the relationship after that point, I don't know. Probably a bit of both. I was still rooting for them to end up staying together at the end, though.

As for Shakaar, I never thought he was a particularly good choice. Too wrapped up in himself, too little actual personality. I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.

3) What is your favorite 'by the computer' toy or knick knack? I need to find one! As I mentioned a little while back, I just got a new computer desk, and, unlike the old one, it actually has space for toys and knick-knacks. In particular, there's a big shelf over the monitor that isn't convenient for holding anything practical, but which really needs something to make it look less bare. I'm thinking of putting my Farscape action figures on it (I have a Scorpius and a Zhaan), or maybe my DS9 ones (a Garak, a Bashir, and a Sisko wearing the TOS uniform from "Trials and Tribble-ations"). Right now, the only toy I have on the computer desk is a little Tiny Toons car I got years ago out of a Happy Meal. Flip it one way, and it's Plucky Duck in a boat. Turn it upside down and it's Babs Bunny sitting (for some reason) in a vehicle shaped like a giant telephone receiver. It's really very cute.

4) Who would you rather be: Xena or Gabrielle? Hmm. My sister's really the big Xena fan in the family. I've only ever seen a handful of episodes, myself. But from what I have seen, I am definitely more of a Gabrielle. Xena frightens me.

5) Are you ever going to write your Alaska trip report? I wanna read it! Oh, my, I was hoping nobody would actually care enough to notice I hadn't done it... To be honest, I really doubt I'm going to get around to it now. I had notes, I had all kinds of literature from the cruise line, including the schedule of each day's activities, and I was going to sit down and write up a very thorough account... But that proved to be a dauntingly large task, and I very quickly ended up getting distracted by other things that wanted doing... I'm not even sure where my notes have gotten off to now.
And The Interview Thing Just Keeps On Going...

OK, as mentioned a little while ago, I recently asked Greta some interview questions, and now she's returned the favor. So, here we go again! Remember, if you want to play, the rules can be found at the bottom of this post.

1) Who's your favorite author and why? Man, I always have trouble answering this one. There are so many authors whose books I enjoy, for so many different reasons, that it often seems not only difficult but kind of pointless to single out one particular favorite. However, when pressed, there is one answer I usually give. It's Terry Pratchett, who does have the distinction of being, at the moment, the only writer whose books I feel compelled to snap up as quickly as they come out. The appeal of Pratchett is hard to sum up if you haven't read him (and probably not necessary if you have), but I'd say it has to do with his ability to flawlessly do several impressive things at once. His books are generally wonderfully funny, often in an absurdly zany sort of way. They have good, involving plots that keep you reading along wanting to know what happens next. They feature wonderfully three-dimensional characters who practically leap off the pages. And they have genuine depth to them, real thematic content that, if you're so inclined, will definitely make you stop and think. I don't know how he does it, book after book after book. The guy's a genius.

2) Can you remember the first book that made you think, 'Hey, reading is *cool*'? Honestly, I have to say that the answer to that is "no." I've been in love with books since the ones I was reading consisted mainly of brightly-colored pictures and one-syllable words in giant print.

3) If you were a mythological creature what would you be? Well, according to that source of all wisdom, the internet, the answer is:

I took the What Mythological Creature Are you? test by !

How I feel about that result probably depends a great deal on just what kind of dragon we're talking about. I can't see myself as the village-destroying, virgin-eating, gold-hoarding variety of dragon at all. But a nifty Anne McCaffrey sort of dragon... Well, maybe.

4) You've been selected to be on the next episode of Survivor. What one comfort item would you have to take with you? I'm momentarily tempted to say either a toothbrush or shampoo, as there are few things that annoy me more than grungy teeth or greasy hair. But, no, I'm going to have to go with -- wait for the shocker! -- a book. I discovered in college that if I don't get at least half an hour or so of reading-for-pleasure a day, I get very cranky. And the more stressed I am, the more that seems to be true. And if I'm stuck somewhere sleeping in the rain, being asked to eat bugs, surrounded by the kind of annoying idiots that tend to appear on Survivor, I'm definitely going to need a book to escape to. Maybe a big fat fantasy novel. I know I've got a few of those on the To-Read Pile.

5) Was it really a dark and stormy night? I'm not sure I can remember the last dark and stormy night we had around here. So it was probably more like "a night when it got cloudy and everybody got excited because it looked like it was going to rain, but then it didn't."

Saturday, August 30, 2003

I Am Weak. Weak!

Just in case anybody is wondering, yes, I did buy The Two Towers on DVD. Even though there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will want to buy the extended edition when it comes out. Did I mention that I was weak?

Now all I need is to find the time to watch the darned thing...

Friday, August 29, 2003

Readin', Writin', and the Friday Five

1. Are you going to school this year? No, it's been quite a while since I've done the student thing.

2. If yes, where are you going (high school, college, etc.)? If no, when did you graduate? Graduated high school in 1989 and college in 1994 (B.Sc. in physics with astrophysics option).

3. What are/were your favorite school subjects? That's actually a tough one. In high school, my science classes were always the most interesting, but they were also the hardest (especially as I've never been any good at labs). English class gave me the chance to do some writing and led to some interesting discussions, but it was also frequently very frustrating due to the twin syndromes of good books being ruined when you're forced into reading them and being afraid to disagree publicly with the teacher even when you're discussing matters of opinion and interpretation rather than fact. In college, I'd have to say my favorite class was psychology, as taught by the inimitable Dr. Frank Etscorn, inventor of the nicotine patch. The guy was a great lecturer, and you could tell he actually enjoyed both his subject and teaching it to freshmen. That's the only class I've ever taken where the big lecture hall was as full of people at the end of the semester as at the beginning.

4. What are/were your least favorite school subjects? P.E. And the less said about that, the better.

5. Have you ever had a favorite teacher? Why was he/she a favorite? Hmm. I don't know... I've had a few terrible teachers, a lot of so-so ones, and a handful of really good ones, but none leaps immediately to mind as a favorite. In fact, if I named one person, I'd feel like I was slighting all the other good ones, and if I named them all, I'd be sure to inadvertently leave someone out. So I think I'm going to pass on this one.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Yet Another SF TV Character Quiz

The First Doctor
You are the First Doctor: Irascible, brusque, and
occasionally condescending and rude. You do not
suffer fools gladly, nor do you harbor any
false modesty about your capabilities. You have
a sharp tongue, though you're first-class
company when you're in a good mood.

Which Incarnation of the Doctor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

This was a particularly interesting quiz, by the way, but I must say, I was totally not expecting that result. I think I see myself as more of a 5th Doctor, really.
Once Again, It's Search Request Thursday!

And here's the latest batch:

  • test psychopath 40 points maximum: Hmm, it doesn't take more than a 40-point quiz to tell if you're a psychopath?

  • Red nose pit bulls wallpaper: Oh, Rudolph the red-nosed pit bull...

  • undertaker slime tv show water: Coming soon to Fox's reality-show lineup!

  • "doctor who" +fifth +angst +fiction: Yeah, the fifth Doctor does angst really nicely, doesn't he?

  • Frodo naked: Hmm, I typed this one, but then I couldn't remember whether it'd been featured on a previous batch of search requests or not. (I try to make it a policy not to post duplicates.) "Hmm," I said out loud to myself, "I think I've had Frodo naked." Then I realized what I'd just said and blushed.

  • pictures of naked straight men and free pictures of naked straight men naked: I thought that first one was amusing enough... I mean, can you tell whether they're straight if you're just looking at pictures of them with their clothes off? Can it in any sense really be said to matter? But then I got the second one, with its stern insistence that the naked straight men be naked, and I really started laughing.

  • poetry lesson plans, The Jabberwacky: Seems like kind of an odd poem to teach a lesson on, but if you're going to do so, you should probably get the name right. It's "Jabberwocky." JabberWACKY is something else entirely.

  • futurama with leela showing her boobs: Oh, come on, the show was on at , like, 7:00 PM!

  • betty's nude pics: Haven't got any. Sorry.

  • "deal with introverts": That's right! We're here, we're introverted, deal with us! Or something.

  • porn fanfic: OK, my first thought was that pornographic fanfic is so easy to find that I couldn't imagine why anybody would end up here looking for it. Then it occurred to me to wonder... My god, people don't really write fanfic based on pornos, do they? Surely not.

  • WHO RANKINGS "HARVEST OF KAIROS": Well, I suspect "Harvest of Kairos" generally doesn't achieve a very high ranking among Who episodes, mainly because it was in fact an episode of Blake's 7.
  • Wednesday, August 27, 2003

    And The Interview Madness Continues...

    Greta over at The Memory Burns asked me to send her some interview questions, and I see that she's just posted her replies! You can read 'em here. I was a little more serious with a few of the questions this time out, just because I seem to be running out of goofiness...
    Does This Make Me Pi-haa-ton?

    Hey, I found a couple more "Which Farscape character are you?" quizzes. This one, which I took some time back, told me I was Pilot. The others do not necessarily agree:

    I'm Zhaan!

    Which FARSCAPE Character Are You? By Nikkki.

    Oh, sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy...

    Crichton - you're a natural born leader who usually
    finds trouble along the way! But you always end
    up the good guy in the end.

    Which Farscape character are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Well, humans are SUPERIOR!

    So, OK, apparently I'm an amalgam of Pilot, Zhaan, and John. That's... actually surprisingly apt, really. I already talked about my similarities to Pilot. I like to think I have my head together like Zhaan (except, of course, when she, uh, didn't). And, like Crichton, I think in a constant stream of pop-culture references...
    Spelling Bee

    I am so proud of myself! I got 9 out of 10 on this spelling test. Although, I must admit, it probably would have been much harder if I'd been expected to spell all those words from scratch, rather than picking the correct spellings out of a multiple-choice lineup. Interestingly, the one I missed was... Well, I won't type it, in case you want to go take the test yourself, but it's the one meaning "relating to, involving, or committing the violation, desecration, or theft of something considered holy or sacred."

    (Link via
    Sobig, Soannoying

    I'd thought maybe it was fading away when I didn't see any copies for the better part of a week, but there have been dozens of mailings of the Sobig.F worm in my inbox in the last 24 hours or so. Geez, people, how hard is it not to spread stuff like this? Update your damn anti-virus software and, for heaven's sake, don't click on the attachments! Who does not know this by now?

    Tuesday, August 26, 2003

    Whaddaya Mean, It's Only 10:30?!

    Damn, isn't it time to go home yet? I made the mistake of glancing at the clock a couple of hours ago and somehow getting the impression that it was a couple of hours later than it actually was... You can imagine what a nasty shock it was when I realized my mistake. It feels like I should have long since been home by now. Worse, I don't have a whole lot of immediate work-related stuff to do, I'm in no mental state to start any big projects, and I've finished the book I was reading. (It was The Science of Superheroes, for the record. And it wasn't all that interesting, because it was mostly a lot of stuff about science, which I know all about, and very little about superheroes, which I'm not really up on. I should have expected that, of course, as the book's target audience is sure to have it exactly the other way around.)

    Revenge of the Return of the Interview Meme

    Fred over at Occasional Fish has been answering a whole slew of interview questions, and I was starting to feel a bit envious, so I asked him to throw a few more my way. Mostly, of course, this just gives me an excuse to ramble on in my typical verbose fashion. According to the rules (see my initial post on the subject for details), I'm now supposed to ask once again if anybody wants me to inverview them, so consider yourselves asked.

    Anyway, I present for you now the results:

    1. If you had a time machine at your disposal, when and where would you go? Well, you don't specify that it has to be one time and place, so this'll be the first few items on what would doubtless be quite an extensive list. I'm assuming, by the way, that I'd be in no danger of messing up the spacetime continuum or something, otherwise I'd just have to stay home. I do not want the responsibility of altering the past!

    So, given that, where/when would I go? Well, I know everybody says this, but I'd have to start with the Library of Alexandria. Not just to rescue books from the fire, either, although I'd certainly do that. I think it'd be nice to just visit the place while it wasn't burning down. Then I'd go take in a performance of Hamlet at the Globe theater. I'm not the world's hugest Shakespeare fan, but I adore Hamlet, and seeing it performed by Shakespeare would be a massive kick. Actually, while I'm taking in shows, I think I'd go see Pink Floyd doing The Wall live, too. Hey, who says time travel should only be used for Big Important Historical Events? Then I might head for July 20, 1969 and watch the Apollo 11 moon landing. Yeah, I know, I'd just be seeing it on TV, and I could do that perfectly well now, but there's something about the idea of seeing it as it's happening that appeals to me. Then maybe I'd drop by July 4, 1054, to watch the Crab supernova go off. After that, I'd head all the way back to the Jurassic to see some dinosaurs in person, then forward again into human prehistory to see how the Cro-Magnons and the Neanderthals lived. After that, I'm not completely sure, except that it would be fun to do the time-tourist bit for a while, walk the streets of ancient Rome, that sort of thing. I'd try to avoid places that were really dangerous, though. It'd suck to have a time machine at your disposal and get massacred by Mongol hordes on your first trip or something.

    Actually, it suddenly occurs to me that the question doesn't specify that my destination has to be the past. In which case, it's definitely the future I'm off to! I'd probably jump ahead ten years or so and spend a few days looking around, then maybe 20, then 50, and so on, in larger and larger jumps, until I couldn't go any further. This is possibly not a wise idea, for a variety of reasons, but I really, really doubt I could resist.

    2. You take a fair number of online personality quizzes, so if you could choose a character from science fiction literature that you are most like (or would most like to be), who would you choose? Well, the question of who you would like to be always seems utterly nonsensical to me, because if I were someone else, I wouldn't be me, obviously. So I'll answer the first one.

    I did take a "which Farscape character are you?" quiz once which pegged me as Pilot, and I have to say that strikes me as surprisingly accurate. Let's see... Has beautiful romantic dreams about sailing the stars, but, in a certain sense, doesn't get out very much. Tries to be kind and accomodating and even-tempered but frequently gets irritable and frustrated at having to deal with people and with the annoyances of day-to-day living. Intelligent, but doesn't always keep his head perfectly well in a crisis. Has become considerably more self-assertive over the last few years. Yeah, that actually sounds quite a lot like me.

    Oh, wait, that question said "literature," didn't it? In which case TV characters probably don't count. Hmm. Suddenly the question seems much harder. None of the written-SF characters who spring to mind seem very much like me at all, and a quick glance over my bookshelves isn't really helping that much. I will say that, if this even counts, I've always felt a tiny amount of identification with Trillian from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's series, based almost entirely on her explanation of why she ran off with Zaphod: "With a degree in maths and another in astrophysics, it was either that or the dole queue again on Monday." And I don't even have the math degree...

    3. What's your favorite holiday? You know, I'm really kind of a humbug when it comes to holidays. I don't have anything against them, but I just don't get into them much. I'm actually tempted to say Labor Day, since there's a mailing list that I'm on that throws a big "party" around then and encourages everybody to post fan fiction and all kinds of fun stuff, which gives me lots of cool things to read.

    4. Who is your favorite Farscape character and why? Hmm, you mean it isn't obvious by now?

    Actually, first off let me say that I really do love all the characters on that show (well, with a couple of exceptions, notably Grazya). They're all interesting, well-developed three-dimensional people, and although John is in a technical sense the "main character," all of them have their own individual stories, and all those stories are fascinating.

    That having been said, yes, I do have a personal favorite character. And it's an oddball choice, but I stand by it. I adore Stark. In part, I suppose, the reason is simply "because somebody's got to." He's really just not a popular character; in fact, he always seems to place pretty high in those annoying "which character would you like to see killed off?" polls. Many fans dislike him, his shipmates often tend to treat him badly, and he's just been dumped on consistently by the universe in general. So I think my fondness for him is, in part, a combination of sympathy for the underdog, fellow-feeling for someone who's basically treated as a social outcast (oh, how well I remember high school!) and perhaps even my latent maternal instincts, which leave me wanting to just step through the TV screen and give the guy a hug.

    I think part of it is also in the way the word "tragicomic" might almost have been coined to fit this particular character. His antics can be funny as hell, but there's nevertheless always the sense of a lot of sorrow and suffering lying beneath them... And the stuff that happens to him over the course of the series is enough to make your heart ache. Personally, I'm a sucker for a good tragedy, and there's something about the juxtaposition of tragedy with humor that I find weirdly appealing. In fact, that may be one of the many reasons why I so love the series as a whole. The show's writers posess a remarkable ability to do comedy and angst simultaneously.

    Then there's also the fact that I often find myself most drawn to characters who aren't fully explored onscreen. There's something I love about the challenge of trying to get into the mind of a character whose motivations and thought processes and backstory are to a certain extent mysterious. Stark definitely fits the bill.

    Plus, that glowing-face thing is just cool.

    5. Thinking up five questions like this is really hard, isn't it? Yeah. That's why when I was doing the asking, I mainly followed Ferro Lad's lead and asked a lot of silly off-the-wall stuff. Serious questions are much harder to come up with!

    Monday, August 25, 2003

    More Silliness

    Your Life: The Movie by mintyduck
    Who will play you:David Spade
    Who will play your love interest:John C. Reilly
    Weeks you will stay in the box office:18
    Song that will play during your love scene:Paula Abdul - The Way That You Love Me
    Song that will play during your death:They Might Be Giants - Dead
    Your name:
    Created with quill18's MemeGen!

    I mainly only even bother posting this because I'm highly amused by the choice of "death" song. Which I am now probably going to have in my head for the rest of the night...
    Nothing Exciting Is Happening. I Will Therefore Post Yet Another Stupid Quiz Result.

    You are the Dead Parrot Sketch. Very funny, a bit
    dark and definitely a classic.

    Which Monty Python's Flying Circus Sketch are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Couldn't have picked it better myself!

    Sunday, August 24, 2003

    How I Spent My Sunday

    I just got a new computer desk and chair. Which is a good thing, because my old desk was not only tiny, it had crappy ergonomics. If you put the monitor on the top shelf, it was too high, and if you took off the top shelf (as I did, leaving some very unsightly side bits sticking up), it was too low. I ended up using an old, dead 486 as a sort monitor shelf, but even that was far from perfect. And the chair was pretty much broken, what with the backrest leaning backward at an angle that would leave you staring at the ceiling if you put your weight on it, not to mention the fact that it was a major household project just to adjust the height.

    The downside of getting a new desk, however, is having to assemble the damned thing. Oh, yes, what a fun day of furniture-assembly I have had! My guesstimate was that it'd probably take me about three hours. Instead, from step one (taking everything off of the old desk) to the point where I was willing to declare myself done for the day (reconnecting all the computer equipment) was just about six hours. And I still haven't sorted through all the crap I had to move off the old desk, and off the little plastic shelves that used to sit next to the old desk but had to be disassembled because they wouldn't fit next to the new one. And that may well take me another six hours. Seriously, this room looks like a tornado's been through it.

    But, anyway, during those six hours I had plenty of time to think about computer desks and the process of assembling them, and since I need to do some typing to test out how I've got everything positioned, I'm going to subject you to all of them. In no particular order, then, Random Computer Desk-Project-Related Thoughts:

  • It seems to me that the assembly instructions that come with this kind of thing could make a really good spatial IQ test. I mean, they never give you enough information to figure out for sure exactly how to orient each piece as you fit them together unless you're capable of visualizing exactly where each piece will go in the finished product. Which, needless to say, I'm not.

  • On a related note, I'm not sure I see the point of providing six different kinds of screws, all carefully numbered in individual diagrams, if you're just going to draw them all so they look almost exactly alike in the pictures.

  • Come hour six of a project like this, when my back is killing me from all the lifting and hammering and my hands are getting all trembly and sweaty just when it's time to do the most difficult bits and I really, really want to just give up, scream in frustration for a little while, and then go and watch some TV or something, I find that I can only talk myself into going on by thinking about Star Trek. Did the guys on Star Trek ever give up, I ask myself? When the Klingons were attacking and the warp drive needed three hours of repairs done in fifteen minutes, did Scotty have the luxury of giving up and going out for a beer? No, he did not. "Be Scotty!" I tell myself. And, lo and behold, this actually works.

  • When it's too damned hot in the house and you're dripping with sweat from your exertions, it may seem like a good idea to strip down to your underwear to finish the project. This is, however, not necessarily a good idea if you are working on a carpeted surface and have to do a lot of sliding around on your knees. Uh, not that I would know.

  • Similarly, it is a bad idea to try to tighten a screw into something from underneath while positioned directly over an open heating vent. Should you foolishly choose to attempt this anyway, it is a very good idea to have extra screws available.

  • Oh, and you should always recharge your cordless drill/screwdriver as soon as it begins to show signs of losing power, to avoid having it crap out on you in the middle of a six-hour project.

  • My mother is apparently not in the least perturbed by sounds of hammering and occasional muffled swearing during a phone conversation. Or maybe she was just too delighted at actually catching me at home for once to care.

  • The cats, on the other hand, start feeling very left out when interesting thumping noises are coming from a room they're not allowed into.

  • While the monitor seems to be in a much better position on this desk, it's also considerably farther away. This is going to take some getting used to, because now all the text looks smaller. I've actually found myself thinking that clearly what I really need now is to get a bigger monitor. Thus does one expensive purchase lead to another, until we all wind up in the poorhouse.

  • I'm still not completely sure how I feel about the placement of the keyboard. I can't decide whether to leave it on the pull-out keyboard shelf or the desktop. I've never used a keyboard shelf before, and it feels awkward, as well as putting me still further from the monitor and giving me a longer reach for the mouse. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm holding my wrists in exactly the right position with it on the desktop. Any suggestions anybody might have about proper keyboard placement will be gratefully welcomed. (You can even leave 'em in the comments, since they seem to be working again! Yahoo!)

  • Ok, given that most people are right handed, and that most right-handers like to put their mouse on the right-hand side of the desk, and given that mouse cords tend to be pretty short, whose bright idea was it to put the space for the CPU tower on the left side of the desk? I'm just askin'.
  • No Comment

    Thanks to an upgrade at enetation, my comments are seriously screwed at the moment. (Sigh. Is it any wonder I always shudder when I hear the word "upgrade?") Anyway, I'm working on getting the problem fixed. In the meantime, I'm afraid you'll just have to shout fruitlessly at your monitor if you want to comment on this blog. Or, you know, send me an e-mail.

    Saturday, August 23, 2003

    Waxing Nostalgic

    A friend of mine who is also a fellow New Jersey-to-New Mexico transplantee sent me a link to this article, mainly, I think because his dad was rather heavily quoted in it. Which is cool, but, I have to admit, I'm much more affected by the content of the piece.

    It seems a beloved fixture of my childhood is about to be torn down.

    I'm not sure I can convey in words exactly what this place was like... The Pennsauken Mart was -- and, for the moment, I guess, still is -- a sort of indoor bazaar. The article describes it as an "anti-mall," which sounds just about right to me. It was a dirty, seedy, skanky place, frequented by people with interesting tattoos and bodily piercings and filled with a wide variety of tacky and questionable merchandise. It was wonderful. You could spend hours there just people-watching. You could find the most amazing junk. And there was great food, dirt cheap, including the Mart's famous soft pretzels, which I have to this day never entirely ceased to crave. I used to go with my family all the time as a kid, often just to stroll around for a while and buy pretzels. I loved it.

    Man, I really hope they don't bulldoze the place. I don't get back to NJ much, but I'd hate the thought that it wouldn't be there for me to come back to when I do.

    Friday, August 22, 2003

    Yet Another Friday Five

    1. When was the last time you laughed? Um, I'm not completely sure. I laugh out loud to myself so often I usually don't even notice I'm doing it. It's one of the benefits of living alone; there's nobody around to look at you like you're crazy when you do stuff like that. But I think it was shortly before I came into work tonight... I'd been watching some episodes (and parts of episodes) of Farscape on DVD and I suddenly realized that I'd just seen four Major Character death scenes (permanent or otherwise) in the space of three hours. "I'm having an angst-wallow!" I exclaimed to myself, and for some reason that struck me as really funny. Yes, I'm a deeply disturbed individual, I know.

    2. Who was the last person you had an argument with? What, a real argument, as opposed to a playful argument or a civilized debate or a simple exchange of differing opinions? I really can't think of the last time that happened. I've very conflict-avoidant, and almost never get into genuine arguments. I suspect the last time might have been a couple of years ago, when we were discussing plans for changing our shift-rotation schedule at work, and a co-worker and I had a very intense disagreement on the subject. It ended up with me calling him a "mutant," something that to this day my other co-workers still like to tease me about.

    3. Who was the last person you emailed? I believe it was my friend Nico from New Zealand. (Hi, Nico!) She'd just watched the latest Farscape episode to air in NZ (the 2nd season's "The Ugly Truth"; they're way behind there) and we were talking about it. Or mostly I was talking about it. Or, actually, mostly I was using it as an excuse to go into an exhaustive list of reasons why people who don't like Stark are Just Pain Wrong (not that she was one of said people, I hasten to add). Actually, come to think of it, maybe that was actually the subject of the last argument I had. Also, that particular e-mail discussion was the reason why I then went and watched the discs, which was why I was laughing, so, see, it all ties in together.

    4. When was the last time you bathed? I had a shower around 5:00 this afternoon or thereabouts. Which was morning for me, since I'm on night shift this week.

    5. What was the last thing you ate? Just had a big bowl of Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup.

    Thursday, August 21, 2003

    My Own Private Hell

    People who don't turn off their cell phones in the movie theater
    Circle I Limbo

    General asshats
    Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

    Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

    People who park in front of the ATM so nobody else can get out of the bank parking lot
    Circle IV Rolling Weights

    School bullies
    Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

    River Styx

    Circle VI Buried for Eternity

    River Phlegyas

    TV network executives
    Circle VII Burning Sands

    Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

    Drunk drivers
    Circle IX Frozen in Ice

    Design your own hell

    You kow, I think this thing raised the hardest question I've had to ponder in months: "Which is more evil, telemarketers or TV network executives?"
    Search Request Thursday

    Pretty disappointing crop this time out, I'm afraid. Most of the search engine hits I've had in the last week, actually, appear to have been people looking for information on that virus hoax thing. God help them if I'm their main source of information on computer health and safety, that's all I can say.

    Anyway, here's the latest batch:

  • naked pictures of stars: Try here.

  • whack smack emoticon: Poor emoticon. What did it ever do to you?

  • marathon ptui: OK, I can't help but imagine someone trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records for marathon spitting or tobacco-chewing or something.

  • farscape atheists: I may be an atheist, but when it comes to quality science fiction shows, call me a True Believer!

  • scientfic gadgets: Hey, I know a great one! It's called a "spell checker!" (I know, I know. I'm hardly one to talk, given that I must have misspelled the word in the first place.)

  • meaning of eating dreams: Just a guess, but I'd suspect they might mean you're hungry. Although the only dream I remember having that was primarily about eating involved me stuffing myself with cakes and such until I felt really, really sick... And then, when I woke up, I was really, really sick. With tonsillitis.

  • medical checkup fetish: Well, that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "playing doctor." Or, well, OK, a slightly new meaning...
  • Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    Damn You, Book Club! Damn You And Your Bargains!

    Well, I've now reached my 8-book limit on what I'm allowed to buy or order this month... The Quality Paperback Book Club was having a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale, and, well, they were offering William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, which I'd kind of been meaning to get at some point, anyway. And then there was A Traveler's Guide to Mars, which just looked really cool, and, well... I'm weak. When it comes to book-shopping, I am very, very weak.

    Sigh. I was really hoping it'd be a bit later in the month when I finally reached this point, but I am going to stick to my resolution, damn it.

    Depressingly, despite said resolution, the number of books on my To-Read Pile has only gone up this month, mainly because, uh, well, I ordered a whole bunch of books last month. And I've only read four books so far this month, so it looks like my quota for September is going to be even smaller.

    Man, self-control sucks.
    Geekiest Joke Ever!

    Speaking of evil and numerology (and, yes, this will kinda-sorta tie into those subjects in a minute)... I just finished watching through the episodes and commentary tracks on the Futurama season 2 DVDs earlier today. I really enjoy listening to commentary tracks, just for the sheer entertainment value of hearing the people who worked on a show cracking jokes and reminiscing about their experiences, even if there isn't a lot of actual information in them. But sometimes they also reward you with little tidbits that make you sit up and go, "Hey, cool! I didn't know that!"

    I'm still smiling over this one: The setup is that the characters are spending the night in a very Dracula-esque castle, which Bender fears is haunted by "robot ghosts." At one point, bloody numerals appear on the wall in a long string of ones and zeros. Leela asks Bender what it means, and he replies, "I don't know. It's just gibberish." Then, in an obvious reference to The Shining, he catches sight of the numbers reflected in a mirror and screams. "That, by the way," says somebody -- I believe the episode's writer -- on the commentary track, "is not gibberish." He then adds that anybody who knows binary should be able to figure it out. They then go on to basically tell you the answer, but I felt compelled to whip out a pencil and paper and figure it out for myself, anyway. The reflected binary number is: 1010011010. Which, to translate into decimal notation, is 512+128+16+8+2 = (are you ready for it?) 666. Bwahahaha!

    Man, I love the guys who gave us that show. They're huge geeks, they've got a wonderfully warped sense of humor, and they're willing to put a ridiculous amount of effort into a joke that's only on screen for about five seconds and which almost nobody will actually get, anyway. You just have to respect that. Or at least I do.

    By the way, speaking of cool people who worked on the show, there's a fun interview with series co-creator David X. Cohen to be found here, in which, among other things, he reveals the deep, dark secret of exactly what the "X" in his name stands for.
    Gee, I'm So Glad I Have the Incredible Science of Numerology to Tell Me These Things.

    This site is certified 44% EVIL by the Gematriculator

    Tuesday, August 19, 2003

    More Q&A

    We have another participant in the interview meme! Surf on over to Thudfactor, where blogger John Williams answers my questions.

    Monday, August 18, 2003

    Some Lines on Heinlein

    Fred left some comments on that last Heinlein quiz post that I was going to respond to in the comments section, but I realized it'd probably end up being a pretty long reply -- not that that usually stops me! -- so I thought I'd just do it here.

    Anyway, Fred's comment about Stranger in a Strange Land was:
    I still remember with some fondness the local campus sci-fi club meeting when, at the end of the evening, we'd decided Stranger was the worst book of science fiction ever written.

    Not that I think it *is* the worst, by any means. But I wasn't terribly impressed and found the whole thing more than vaguely chavinistic and hardly deserving of all its hype ("The most famous science fiction novel ever written."), much less the Hugo.

    Yeah, I have to agree that Stranger is highly over-rated, though it certainly is famous, and apparently a lot of people were pretty heavily influenced by it back in the 60's (for good or ill, I wouldn't presume to say). The sad thing about that book, though, is that it starts out as a really good story, and part way through it turns into, well... something else. I believe the reason for this -- and somebody please correct me if I've got it wrong -- is that Heinlein started writing it, ended up abandoning it for years, and later came back to it at a point where, to put it charitably, he was already evolving into a very different kind of writer.

    That being said, is there a Heinlein book you'd particularly recommend?

    Well, the conventional wisdom when introducing people to Heinlein is to recommend his earlier books, particularly the "juvies," books he wrote for a younger audience. I haven't read a whole lot of them, myself, but let's see... In the past few years I've read The Rolling Stones and The Star Beast, both of which were fun, and Podkayne of Mars, in which there are already hints of his weird later obsessions, but which is still a pretty good story.

    I'd also recommend checking out some of his short fiction. It varied quite a bit in quality, but the best of it was very, very good. I'm particularly fond of "--All You Zombies" and "By His Bootstraps," two stories that take the idea of closed-loop time travel to its logical extremes (but then, I've always been fascinated by the idea of time travel). Heinlein's been pretty widely anthologized, so I don't imagine it should be at all difficult to track down some of his shorter stuff to see how you like it.

    Sunday, August 17, 2003

    Maybe a Stupid Quiz Will Cheer Me Up...

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    You belong in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You
    value freedom above all else. You would fight
    and die for your family and your home.

    Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Wow, it's been a long time since I read that one... The fighting and dying stuff doesn't sound much like my sort of thing, though.

    My roof is leaking again. God damn it.

    Saturday, August 16, 2003

    Virus Warning Warning

    I got an e-mail yesterday from someone who was afraid she might have passed a virus on to me, because she'd gotten a virus-warning e-mail from someone else. It starts off like this:
    Sorry to say I may have given your computer a virus. Please review the following information in case it is in your system also.

    Unfortunately a virus has been passed on to me by a contact. Since you are in my address book, there is a good chance you will find it in your computer too. My sincere apologies. The virus ( called jdbhmgr.exe ) is not detected by Norton or McAfee anti-virus systems. The virus sits quietly for 14 days before damaging the system. It is sent automatically by messenger and by the address book, whether or not you sent e-mail to you contacts.

    It then directs you to look for the file, which is indicated by a teddy bear icon, and delete it to get rid of the virus.

    Well, just in case anybody else has seen this and gotten panicky about it, I figured I'd pass along the real info on this "virus." Truth is, the message is a hoax. The file it's telling you to delete is a perfectly legitimate Windows file, not a virus at all. The good news is that deleting it doesn't really hurt anything, so at least if you've fallen prey to the hoax, you haven't done anything to harm your computer. Which doesn't mean that the hoax is harmless, of course. Spreading panic and getting people to send alarmist e-mails to everybody in their address books is really quite bad enough. Indeed, the e-mail itself is really a sort of virus, just one that requires a little bit of human intervention to spread.

    There's more information on this at Symantec's web site, for anybody who doesn't want to just take my word for it. Which you probably shouldn't. Remember, folks, it's always good to check this stuff out for yourself.
    Last Night, I Saw Something Weird.

    Went to the Weird Al Yankovic concert last night in Albuquerque ("where anyone on the street will gladly shave your back for a nickel!"). And, man, Al definitely puts on a cool show. He did a bunch of cuts from his latest album, a bunch of his fondly-remembered classics, and a little bit of everything in between... complete with about twenty different costume changes! I totally worship that guy, I really do. Not only is he a wonderfully silly person with a real talent for turning out deft, clever, funny lyrics, but, as I've said many times, he actually has a lot more musical talent than many of the people he parodies. Yeah, you know, if I were going to stalk a celebrity, I think it'd have to be Al...

    Friday, August 15, 2003


    It looks like my comment counters aren't updating again... If you've left a comment lately, be sure and click to see if I've replied, because the number in the parentheses might very well be a total lie.
    Websurfing Over to the Friday Five

    1. How much time do you spend online each day? Um... Most of it?

    2. What is your browser homepage set to? My home page, although I always immediately change it to this blog page, anyway, so maybe I should just give in and make it the default.

    3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)? Nah. To my mind, instant messaging negates one of the main advantages communicating on the internet has over the telephone, which is that it doesn't interrupt you in the middle of something else and demand an immediate answer. I much prefer e-mail.

    4. Where was your first webpage located? On one of the servers at work, here, but if you go there now, you'll just see a page saying it's moved.

    5. How long have you had your current website? Current homepage at its current location? Since some time in 2000, I think. It was over at the other site for at least a couple of years before that. Oh, and I've had this blog page since April of last year.
    And the Interview Meme Spreads...

    Fred over at Occasional Fish volunteered to be interviewed by me, the poor man, and you can now find my questions and his answers over on his blog. (He gets many points from me for his answer to the Farscape question, by the way.)

    Thursday, August 14, 2003

    Search Request Thursday

    And the wacky search requests just keep on rollin' in:

  • (gelatin + boobs): Because there's always room for Jell-o, right? (Yes, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.)

  • when eyesight is wavey: ...'tis like a morn in spring!

  • who said "good googley moogley": Apparently I did, at some point. Actually, I think it was Frank Zappa, but don't quote me on that one.

  • downloadable theme song killer clowns from outer space: Ah, it's nice to know people are still listening to the classics.

  • disadvantages of toilet plunger: Well, that depends on what you're trying to use it for...

  • ricardo montalban "back pain": Must be the result of lugging around that incredible chest. (Well, really, have you seen him in The Wrath of Khan? To this day people keep asking him whether that was his real chest!)

  • nude pics of margaret weis: There's a dirty joke involving the word "Dragonlance" in here somewhere, but I am definitely not making it.

  • "paul goddard" october convention 2003: Aw, is he going to be at one? And I'm not going to be there? Phooey!

  • buffy giles fanfic haggis who what when where why: Yeah, now I'm curious about what they were doing to whom with the haggis and why, too.

  • buying balsa wood in large chunks: That's going to be an interesting construction project, I guess.

  • blank computer discs large quantities: Aha! They're looking to build a balsa wood computer! Lots of them!

  • kinks lola backstory: Well, the backstory is that he met this Lola person in a bar in Soho, where they have champagne that tastes just like cherry cola (or possibly coca-cola, accounts differ)...

  • blake's lotaburger menu: Man, it's been years since I worked there, and I could probably still recite the whole thing to you from memory. Except that they've added a couple of items since then. We didn't have any of them new-fangled chicken strip meals when I was schlepping meat patties.

  • "Terry Pratchett" footnotes inspiring origin: I often find Terry Pratchett's footnotes quite inspiring, myself.

  • yoti voice healing: Hmm, I guess that's one multi-talented obscure never-seen Farscape character, if he can do voice healing (whatever that is), as well as VR game design.

  • ridiculous tarrant avon: Yeah, those guys could get pretty silly around each other sometimes. Like that "I'm better than you are, nyah nyah nyah!" speech Tarrant gives Avon in "Sarcophagus," though I suppose we could blame that one on the alien mind-control egg.

  • sneezing sounds video: Wouldn't a sneezing sounds audio make more sense?

  • sam and frodo's relationship with gollum in the two towers movie: Gollum insists that, contrary to the tabloid rumors, he and Sam were just good friends.

  • Aeryn boobs: Well, Crichton certainly seemed to like them... Particularly in the body-switching epsiode.

  • discworld tatoos: I am never going to stop getting hits on that spelling of "tattoo," am I? Well, if you're looking for a Discworld tattoo, may I suggest the Death of Rats? He's just so cute! Go on, I dare ya!

  • how to conseive a child quickly: OK, I wish to state for the record that that misspelling was not mine. It was from a quote I'd cut and pasted from somewhere else. Honestly. And I'm not going to make any other comments on this because, seriously, it'd just be too easy.
  • Ah, Summertime.

    It is a measure of how miserable the weather has been this summer that I was driving around town earlier thinking with relief about how nice and cool it is today, only to discover as I passed by the big thermometer at the bank that it's actually 82 degrees out.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2003

    I'm Being Interviewed! Does This Mean I'm a Celebrity?

    It's the latest goofy fad sweeping the blogosphere: bloggers asking each other silly questions. Ferro Lad's done it on his blog, and it looked like fun, so I told him I'd play. Thus, his questions and my answers:

    1. If you were the wardrobe consultant for a TV series that does makeovers (a la that Queer Eye show), and you had to work with Daffy Duck, how would you dress him? Well, given that what I have is not a "queer eye" but a "science fictional eye," I'd have to go with his "Duck Dodgers in the 24th-and-a-half Century" outfit as a starting point. Now, green is a good color on Daffy, and the shirt is fairly flattering to his avian form, so we might as well keep that. The hat, however, has got to go. If that yellow bobble is meant to be an antenna, it's an unwise idea, as it only leaves him wide open to picking up Martian mind-control rays. But if the duck genuinely feels he is in need of a radio-communications device on his head, modern microminiaturization can provide one that's virtually invisible. On the other hand, if that thing's meant to be decorative... Well, the less said about that fashion choice, the better. Perhaps we could simply replace the whole thing with a nice, shiny space helmet. Silver is making quite a comeback in spacewear these days.

    Of course, Daffy's biggest fashion blunder has yet to be addressed: his unfortunate lack of pants. While one does have to admire the boldness of this particular choice, nevertheless, there is undeniably something disturbing about anthropomorphic figures wandering around sans trousers. Perhaps Daffy's desire is to show himself off for the alien space babes, but if so, he should take heed of the old adage that less is more. A suitable compromise between concealing and revealing might be to adopt the "Next Generation" look and extend the spandex shirt into a skin-tight full-body garment.

    2. What would be your response if you were walking along the sidewalk and a passing motorist not previously known to you honked his car horn in a very 'hey baby' mode? (Optional: substitute whistling construction workers.) I've actually had stuff like that happen to me. The drunken teenagers that cruise up and down the streets here will hoot and whistle at anything. My reaction usually is to startle, because every time I hear a honking horn when I'm walking my hindbrain is convinced that I'm about to be run down by a semi. Once I recover myself, I inevitably try to act cool and ignore them. Unfortunately the panicked start really does kind of ruin the effect.

    3. Are missing socks the result of miniature 'black holes' in the time-space continuum, or are they fleeing to an unspecified third-world country in preparation for a bloody revolt against mankind? (Feel free to offer another alternative.) The former theory is substantially correct, although, contrary to common belief, the wormholes created in washing machines and dryers do not generally lead into alternate universes. Instead, they simply suck the socks through into other portions of our own universe. Many of them end up in other washers or dryers, generally in laundromats. (Scientists have speculated that this may be due to the large concentration of dryer-created wormhole vortices warping the local fabric of spacetime around these establishments.) Many others have reappeared on the planet Fleegle, some 300 light-years from here, where they are regarded as signs from the gods, and where an oracular preisthood devoted to interpreting these signs has become the entire basis of Fleeglian society. It should be very interesting to see what happens when the Fleeglians make first contact with Earth and discover us wearing their sacred oracles on our feet!

    The third-world-revolution theory, however, is nothing but conspiracy-theory silliness.

    4. Who should Leif Garrett face in the next Celebrity Boxing special? Mrs. Garrett, from The Facts of Life. It could be the Battle of the Garretts! Or, wait, is she dead? If so, never mind.

    5. Did you hear the one about the Scottish housewife and the Icelandic pony? No, but I am the proud originator of the world's dumbest and most obscure slightly-off-color Farscape joke:
    A Pa'u, a Stykera, and an Orican were talking. "I'm dying," said the Orican, "but I have no one to perform the Ritual of Passage for me."

    "No problem!" said the Stykera. He whipped off his mask and, glowing brightly, promptly crossed her over to the Other Side.

    "Wow!" cried the Delvian, basking happily. "Frell me dead!"

    And if you actually got that one, congratulations, you're as far gone as I am.

    OK, at this point, you may be wondering, "Gee, Betty, how do I play?!" Well, the way the rules to this go, apparently, is that I'm now supposed to invite people to solicit me for questions.

    The rules, as they appeared on Ferro Lad's blog, are:

    1. If you want to participate, leave a comment saying "interview me".

    2. I will respond by asking you five questions - each person's will be different.

    3. You will update your journal with the answers to the questions.

    4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.

    5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

    Sounds simple enough, no? If, for some unfathomable reason, you actually are interested, be sure and leave your blog/journal URL and an e-mail address for me to send the questions to you. I can't promise to achieve quite the same level of inspired surreality as Ferro Lad, but I'll see what I can do.
    Speaking of Which...

    Just in case you, like Bonnie Hammer, have had trouble following the convoluted plotlines on Farscape, here's a site that's guaranteed to clear up all your confusion by explaining the entire series in just five microts! Well, OK, maybe not, but it is pretty darned funny. (Warning: contains spoilers (duh!) through the midpoint of season 4.)

    Along the same lines, check out The Five-Minute Voyager Site, which features humorous episode capsules for all your favorite SF TV shows. (Oh, yeah, and Voyager, too.)

    And just in case you actually are looking for a slightly more useful summary of Farscape's Story Thus Far, there's a decent page here that concentrates mainly on introducing you to the characters (also spoilery through mid-season 4), and a very biased and funny mostly-plot-based one here which is pretty much guaranteed to make your head spin (and which contains spoilers up through the end of the show).
    Hey, Just Because It's Been Cancelled Is No Excuse For Not Watching It!

    For those who are interested (and who have a lot more patience than I do and don't feel the need to rush out and buy the two-disc sets as soon as they come out), apparently ADV has just announced that the boxed set for Season 2 of Farscape will be available in October.
    There's a Worm in my Wormhole!

    Well, I hadn't planned to spend large chunks of today downloading files, running virus scans, and rebooting Windows repeatedly, but unfortunately some asshole hacker apparently had other ideas. Yes, that's right, my beloved PC, Wormhole[*], came down with a bad case of the W32.Blaster.Worm. This is the first virus I've encountered that wasn't immediately detected and dealt with by the anti-virus software, and I suppose, all things considered, it could have been a lot worse. This thing is deeply, deeply annoying -- its main symptom is that it causes Windows to repeatedly crash and restart itself -- but at least it doesn't seem to trash any of your files or anything. Still, it was a bitch and a half to deal with, I don't mind telling you. First I downloaded and ran the program that's supposed to get rid of the worm, which it claimed to have done successfully. Then I ran an anti-virus scan, which told me, yep, it couldn't find the worm on my system. Great! So I log back on to the net to download the Windows patch that's supposed to keep it from happening again... And suddenly Norton starts yelling at me that I'm infected. I run the worm-removal program again, and it tells me there's no worm. But it's obvious I am still infected, because I'm still getting the tell-tale error message and Windows crash. Deep sigh. Eventually, I ended up having to hunt down the virus program file and delete it my own damn self, but between that and the worm-removal program, I think we did manage to root out all the nastiness from my system. Or at least I bloody well hope so. I stayed online for an hour or so after that and didn't get the error message again, so I'm hoping that's that. (And, yes, I did download the Windows patch. Immediately.)

    In case you're wondering whether you might be infected, if you're getting an error message that says "Windows must now restart because the Remote Procedure Call (RPC) service terminated unexpectedly ," congratulations, you are. I found instructions for dealing with the worm at Gateway's support site, and, of course, there's a lot of info on it at Symantec's website. Good luck.

    [*] Which I'm now beginning to think may have been a poor choice of names.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2003


    By the way, since people have occasionally seemed interested when I've passed stuff like this on in the past, here's a new National Radio Astronomy press release demonstrating that we actually are doing some fairly cool science here. An excerpt:
    Location, location, and location. The old real-estate adage about what's really important proved applicable to astrophysics as astronomers used the sharp radio "vision" of the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to pinpoint the distance to a pulsar. Their accurate distance measurement then resolved a dispute over the pulsar's birthplace, allowed the astronomers to determine the size of its neutron star and possibly solve a mystery about cosmic rays.
    Hey, Remember This?

    Way back in the early days of this blog (yes, back in the dim depths of, uh, last year), I used to play around a lot with this random poetry generator. Then I think it went down for a while, and I sort of forgot about it, much to everyone's relief, I'm sure. You can't keep a good time-waster down for long, though, so it was probably inevitable that I'd find my way back there again eventually. Here, then, are the results of feeding this blog page into the program:

    Maximum Verbosity Oh, do you know, this blog is a
    little less than bizarre.
    unusual thing for
    instance. It posted by
    four to you go? England. since I
    this, episode where Voyager Hmm, maybe they mean that
    I run across
    any case, of these Quizzes
    Yet?Again judging from this
    stuff would Not
    always knew that I
    hope You think?but fortunately,
    some More than
    read in
    posted by the fact that Lolly,
    Lolly, Lolly, Lolly,
    Get my
    head mostly going
    out for the Muppets John Denver
    was really clever
    bit! too cramped. Then
    again, anyway, that washed over me started.

    Now that's a work of art!

    Monday, August 11, 2003

    I'm Starting to Think This Might Actually Work!

    I'm really very proud of this fact: my earlier resolution that I'm not allowed to buy or order more books in one month than I've read in the previous month has successfully prompted me to resist most of the sale book in this month's Book-of-the-Month Club flyer. "Sure, these books look kind of interesting," I found myself thinking, "But they're only a little interesting, and what if something a lot interesting comes across my path before the month is out and I've used up my quota? Better skip 'em." OK, OK, I did order Laurie King's Justice Hall, despite the fact that I've been a little disappointed with the last couple of books in that series. Hey, I'm an optimist, and it was really on sale. Anyway, that leaves me four more books for the month. With any luck, I won't run across any irresistible volumes in the next three weeks, and will actually end up with a deficit for the month. It could happen.

    Sunday, August 10, 2003

    The Meme That Would Not Die

    I tried to do this yesterday, but bloody Netscape crashed on me in the middle. Which it almost never does... I might be inclined to take that as a sign, but, fortunately, I don't believe in signs. So you're getting this thing once again, anyway, lucky you.

    Current clothes: Gray sweat pants. My Farscape T-shirt. White socks. No shoes just at the moment.

    Current mood: So-so. I woke up this afternoon with a moderately nasty headache, doubtless caused by a combination of dehydration, heat, not having had any caffeine in over 24 hours, and a sudden shift in my sleeping schedule from day shift to nights. Having consumed lots of water, coffee, and ibuprofen, I'm now feeling considerably better, but it wasn't exactly the most pleasant way to start off my day.

    Current music: Currently in the stereo are Queen's Greatest Hits, Space Metal by Star One and the soundtrack to This Is Spinal Tap.

    Current hair: There isn't much of it. I just got it cut a few days ago.

    Current annoyance: More than having to do this stupid "currently" thing twice just to get it posted once, more than the remnants of my headache, my current annoyance is the heat. The sweltering, oppressive, inescapable heat. Fortunately, we're getting some rain showers today which seem to finally be cooling things off slightly, but it's still utterly miserable here inside the house.

    Current thing: Wondering where all my time goes when I'm not paying attention.

    Current desktop picture: This nifty computer-generated picture of the Liberator from Blake's 7 being chased by a trio of Federation pursuit ships.

    Current song stuck in head: It's mostly been various Schoolhouse Rock songs for the past few days. Right now "Three Is a Magic Number" seems to be predominating.

    Current book: Stephen King's Night Shift.

    Current video in player: A Farscape tape I was copying for my sister. I've just finished dubbing the complete second season for her. Most recently in the DVD player was one of the aforementioned collections of Muppet Show episodes.

    Current refreshment: A can of store-brand black cherry soda.

    Current worry: At this point, my only worry on my own behalf is whether I'm going to get my Phoenix zine done in time for the deadline on Friday. But I've got lots of other people whose worries I can borrow...

    Current thought: The sudden realization that I somehow left off the "current thought" and ought to go back and put one in.

    Saturday, August 09, 2003

    This Is What We Call the Muppet Show!

    I recently picked up a couple of DVDs featuring old episodes of the original Muppet Show and have been watching them with great enjoyment. I was a huge fan of the Muppets as a kid, so I've been getting a hit of nostalgia from this not entirely unlike what I got from the Schoolhouse Rock discs. I've also had the following rather interesting thoughts:

  • Hey, the Muppets are actually just pieces of cloth with hands and rods inside them! I know, I know, this sounds incredibly obvious, but it's interesting for me to think back on how utterly convincing I found them when I was a kid. Yeah, I always knew they were puppets, but I just sort of accepted them for the individual personalities they were and never actually thought about the men behind the curtain. I think this mental habit stood me in good stead later on when dealing with the rubber monsters in Doctor Who.

  • I've seen so many interviews and things with Brian Henson about Farscape that when he came on and introduced the Muppet Show episodes, it was oddly like being greeted by an old friend. "Hey, it's Brian! How ya doin'?"

  • Gonzo is still my favorite Muppet, but I'd almost forgotten how great those two hecklers in the balcony were.

  • So, I'm watching this episode where Miss Piggy gets upset over the fact that Kermit has a crush on Linda Ronstadt (and vice versa, apparently), and she locks him in a trunk full of fungus. And I'm thinking, aw, poor Kermit. The guy just never has a chance. Nobody ever asks him if he wants Piggy, it's just that Piggy gets what Piggy wants. Then it suddenly hits me where I've seen this dynamic before: Miss Piggy = Anya! Who knew that the roots of Buffy's characterization roots lay with the Muppets?

  • John Denver was actually a really cool guy. You can tell he's having the time of his life clowning around with Kermit and company.

  • Yeah, who says this isn't educational television?
    Are We Getting Tired of These Quizzes Yet?


    The ULTIMATE personality test
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Yes, well, fortunately for those around me, I generally only use my incredible perceptual powers to pry into the lives of fictional people...

    Friday, August 08, 2003

    So Many Books...

    For the record, I finally did go and count how many books I've got sitting on my ludicrously misnamed To-Read "Pile." The total, in case you're curious, is 523. Which is actually a little less than what I'd estimated, but still... Eep.
    Going Places with the Friday Five

    1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country? Vancouver, thence to Alaska on the cruise, and back to Vancouver.

    2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling? I don't know that anything bizarre has ever happened to me. The first incident that leaps to mind involves a sudden, explosive case of diarrhea while touring a cathedral with no bathroom, but I don't particularly want to talk about that, and in any case, it was more embarrassing than bizarre.

    3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go? England. I've wanted to visit England since I was a teenager getting hooked on British shows on PBS.

    4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car? They all suck. I like going places, but getting there is not half the fun, mainly because I hate sitting in one place for long periods of time. I suppose I might say car, if I'm not the one who's driving and if the car isn't too cramped. Then again, planes, while less comfortable, at least get you there faster, and I usually do fly when given the option. I haven't had much experience with trains.

    5. What's the next place on your list to visit? I might be going out to California to spend Thanksgiving with my mother, but I'm not sure about that yet. My sister has expressed a strong desire for me to come up to Oregon and visit her again, so that might be next on the list, otherwise. Assuming it counts when you're mostly going to visit people rather than places, that is.

    Thursday, August 07, 2003

    And The Quizzes Keep on Coming...

    Which Buffy The Vampire Slayer quote are you?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    Except that I'm neither dead nor pretty. Couldn't I have a funny Xander quote or something instead?
    Rockin' the House!

    I've been taking a break from my usual SF TV DVD watching the last couple of days and instead have been watching Schoolhouse Rock. Yes, that's right. Schoolhouse Rock. I happened to catch a few of these on disc at a friend's house a little while back, and I was absolutely astonished at how warm and happy and pleasant the feeling of nostalgia that washed over me was. Needless to say, I had to pick up the DVDs for myself, and I've been enjoying them immensely.

    And not just for the nostalgia value, either. Revisiting these as an adult, I suddenly realize that, unlike many things I thought were good as a kid, they actually are good. If nothing else, the songs are incredibly catchy, as the fact that I can still sing some of them twenty-plus years later certainly attests. (And as the fact that "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here" has been looping around in my head for the past day and a half can also attest.) The animation, though crude by today's standards (and, yes, very 70's-ish), is clever and cute. And the cartoons' creators get major points from me for not talking down to kids. They're perfectly willing to throw in words most elementary schoolers might not be assumed to know (like "quadrupeds" in the song about multiplying by four to find out how many legs the critters in the zoo have) and to trust kids to understand the concepts being thrown at them. ("I hope you see the pattern!" concludes the multiplying-by-eleven song, obviously expecting that the kids actually will without having it spelled out for them.) They do a good job of keeping things on exactly the right level, too. I'm pretty impressed by the song about gravity (a highly amusing 50's love ballad), for instance. It draws an analogy between gravity and magnetism (oversimplified, but valid), explains that everything in the universe pulls on everything else, and goes on to mention that gravitational attraction is bigger the heavier the objects and smaller the greater the distance between them. That's more contentful than a lot of elementary school textbooks, I think, but it doesn't go so far as to swamp unsuspecting kids with the details of the inverse-square law. I'd say that's an impressive balance to be able to strike, particularly when you're faced with having to make everything rhyme.

    Admittedly, some of the American history ones are, in retrospect, a little disturbing. They do tend to portray the myths of American history rather than the facts, which I suppose is only to be expected. Gravity is bad enough, but trying to convey the subtle nuances of history in a three-minute cartoon has got to be pretty much impossible. So I'm not really inclined to nitpick them on the details. On the other hand, a piece like "Elbow Room," about the Lewis and Clark expedition and the settling of the American west, is downright... unsettling. No pun intended. Aside from a mention of Sacajewea and a breezy admission that "there were plenty of fights/to win land rights" there's nothing in the song whatsoever to acknowledge the fact that, you know, there actually were people already living there when the settlers came and kicked them out. And any song that can include the lyrics "the West was meant to be;/it was our Manifest Destiny" with a perfectly straight and unapologetic face just kind of creeps me out a little. I suspect it's the title that really does it, though. "Elbow Room" sounds way too much like Lebensraum for my comfort. I'm not exactly thrilled about the extremes to which political correctness often gets taken in our own day, but I do at least find some comfort in the fact that this stuff would assuredly get thought twice about before making its way onto the air today...
    Is It Thursday Already?

    Then I guess it's time for the latest batch of interesting search requests...

  • betty's mad thumbs: Man, I really did have mad thumbs back in my old Atari days. (And I've just completely dated myself, haven't I?)

  • bad timing sci fi channel thank you message: Oh, do not get me started.

  • rotten boobs: I really hope they didn't mean that literally.

  • BILOID UTERUS: I'm not sure biloids have uteruses. Unless maybe they meant those capsule thingies they're grown in.

  • lite brite commercial theme: Can't say as I remember it, but I do still remember the slinky one perfectly well. ("It's fun for a girl or a boy!")

  • nude a: Hmm, last time I had "nude p." Now I'm wondering if I should be looking out for the rest of the alphabet.

  • funky verbosity: Oh, yeah! This blog is funk-kay!

  • the actor who plays velorek: Oh, hell, I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I don't remember his name.

  • free nude alien sex pics: You know, I really kind of suspect that actual aliens would be so alien that pictures of them having sex would just not do very much for your average human. Then again, judging from some of the more bizarre search requests I've gotten, there would almost certainly be people who were interested anyway.

  • naked picture gallery of nude android 18 -hentai -porn -xxx -lesbian -pussy -teen -sex: Hmm, someone who's looking for nude pictures but doesn't want anything dirty... Good luck to 'em.

  • scientfic name of transport: Beats me. When in doubt, I say call it "Fred."

  • sims skins "obsessive fan": What would a skin that's meant to represent an "obsessive fan" look like? The Comic Book Guy?

  • tos betrayed fan fiction: Personally, I feel betrayed by Voyager. Hmm, maybe I should write some fan fiction set in an alternate universe where Voyager didn't actually suck. Too far-fetched, do you think?

  • eccentric characters watchmen Alan: All of the characters in Alan Moore's Watchmen are pretty eccentric, really.

  • "chris boucher" "how to": Oh, man, if you do find out how to write like Chris Boucher, share the secret! I worship at that man's feet.

  • naked: Naked what? Ah, who cares, as long as it's naked!

  • tranquilizer dart rifle catalog: Now that's what I call a specialty catalog!

  • Wednesday, August 06, 2003

    Yet Again Still More Stupid Quizzage

    "You must remember this, a kiss is still a
    kiss". Your romance is Casablanca. A
    classic story of love in trying times, chock
    full of both cynicism and hope. You obviously
    believe in true love, but you're also
    constantly aware of practicality and societal
    expectations. That's not always fun, but at
    least it's realistic. Try not to let the Nazis
    get you down too much.

    What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Hmm, that's actually... kind of accurate. Except for the Nazis. And, coincidentally, I am in fact wearing a fedora at this very moment.
    See, I'm Being a Good Girl.

    All right, while I was over at last night indulging in my regular monthly DVD-shopping -- new batch of Farscape discs, whoo-hoo! -- I ended up succumbing to my other weakness and ordered three books. Now, since I read eight books last month, according to my recent resolution that means I'm only allowed to purchase a maximum of five books for the rest of this month. I can stick to that. Sure I can. Right?

    Tuesday, August 05, 2003

    I Am a Mechanical Genius! Praise Me!

    A while back, I was lamenting the fact that the CD player on my stereo had quit working, and I'm sure you were all waiting in an agony of suspense to find out how that situation would resolve itself. "Will she ever be able to play Zenyatta Mondatta again?" I'm sure you were asking. "Will she have to go out and buy another crappy stereo system that will break down in less than a year? Tell us!"

    Well, worry no more, loyal readers, because your humble blog-keeper is on the case! Yes, that's right I was, able to fix the stereo my very own self, by -- and this is the really clever bit! -- removing the cover and re-seating the jammed disc! I know, amazing, huh? Scotty and LaForge are going to be calling me any moment for engineering tips...
    Gee, Look, Yet Another Stupid Quiz...

    I know, I know... My blogging lately has been pitiful. I'll kick myself back into maximum-verbosity mode sometime soon, I promise. In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with this:

    You are Cap'n Crunch! You like to dress up in silly looking naval attire. You probably have a thing for pirates. You might have been out to sea just a bit too long...

    Take the Which Breakfast Cereal Character Are You? quiz.
    Published by JC.

    Monday, August 04, 2003

    Good News, Everyone!

    Season 2 of Futurama is finally out next week!

    OK, OK, I know, it's not like I need more DVDs to watch. But I get excited about stuff like this, anyway.

    Sunday, August 03, 2003

    Political Incorrectness on the Internet

    Apparently Bill Maher now has a weblog. Looks cool, so I've added it to the sidebar. Thanks to Ferro Lad for pointing it out.

    Saturday, August 02, 2003

    Something Fishy

    Yesterday was one of those hot days where it's humid enough for the swamp cooler not to perform well, but it just steadfastly refuses to ever actually rain. Eventually, I was only able to defeat the weather's evil machinations by getting into my air-conditioned car and taking a long air-conditioned ride to an air-conditioned movie theater, where I watched a movie that was almost entirely set under water. Take that, evil weather!

    For the record, Finding Nemo has incredible animation, a fun story, and more than a few good laughs, on the basis of which I can definitely recommend it. But, OK, maybe it's just me and my big overeducated brain, but am I the only person in the world who is very slightly bothered by the oddity of taking this heartwarming story of parental devotion and having it played out almost entirely by r-strategy critters? I feel like a big humbug saying this, but some tiny part of me is actually ever-so-slightly annoyed by this fact, apparently on the theory that encouraging people (especially kids) to think that human "family values" are universal is bound to cause major problems if we ever meet aliens whose biology and behavior are radically different from ours. I'm just sayin'.

    Friday, August 01, 2003

    I Suppose This Is Very Naughty of Me, Really...

    Look! Look! Return of the King trailers! The person who sent this URL to me says that New Line Cinema is not at all happy about this being up on the web and wants it taken down, but until that happens, hey, free sneak peek!
    Good Morning, Friday Five!

    1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings? That depends entirely on what shift I'm working. When I'm on mornings, I have to be up before 7:00, which sucks mightily. On midnight shift, it varies a bit, but generally averages out to around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. When I'm on evenings (4:00-midnight shift), I'm usually up around 10:00 or 11:00 AM, but that varies a lot, too, depending on how much I want to get done before work and how long it's been since I switched off of midnights.

    2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late? Um, well, when I'm on mornings, I definitely sleep later. E.g., I'm currently in the middle of two weeks of morning shifts, and today (which is a weekend for me), I didn't get out of bed until 9:30. Which is a much more civilized hour than 6:45. When I'm on one of the other two shifts, I usually keep roughly the same schedule on my weekends, except that every other weekend I have to transit from one shift to another, in which case I try to make appropriate changes. Hmm, this all probably sounds a lot more complicated than it really is.

    3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning? Put my glasses on, otherwise I won't be able to see to do anything else.

    4. How long does it take to get ready for your day? In a pinch, I can be showered, dressed, and out the door in half an hour. Whether you'd count me as "ready for my day" at that point is highly doubtful, though, especially if I haven't yet consumed my requisite amount of caffeine.

    5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast? A local 24-hour diner. They serve breakfast all day, so if I want bacon and eggs at 6:00 PM or at 3:00 in the morning, they don't even look at me funny. And the service is way better than Denny's, which is the only other place around here where you can get breakfast at odd hours.