Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Total number of books read in September: three. Well, OK, actually it was four, but the Buffy book was borrowed from someone else, and thus doesn't count as having come off of the Book Pile. See how good I'm being?
Damn you, Battlefield Earth! Damn you and your 1,050 pages of hackwork! Or, more accurately, damn me and my compulsive inability to not finish a book once I've started it, even if it is 1,050 pages of hackwork. Sigh.
Monday, September 29, 2003
That's right, it's yet another one of those pointless question memes that's going around! Or, rather, not so pointless, as answering it gives me an excellent excuse -- well, OK, an excuse, anyway -- not to get up from in front of the computer and do useful things with my life just yet.
I snurched these from here, but goodness only knows where they came from originally...
1. Your name spelled backwards: Nagar Ytteb. Sounds like a cool name for an alien, doesn't it?
2. Where were your parents born? Pennsylvania, both of them.
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Um, I think it was Luke Ski's "Everybody's Free to Earn Profit," featuring wise advice from everybody's favorite Ferengi, Quark.
4. What's your favorite restaurant? I'd say the Olive Garden, but I haven't been there in ages.
5. Last time you swam in a pool? On the cruise ship back in June.
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yeah, I played Buzzy the Bear's mother in the first grade.
7. How many kids do you want? None.
8. Type of music you dislike most? Rap.
9. Are you registered to vote? Uh... [hangs head in shame] No.
10. Do you have cable? Yes, but considering that all my favorite shows have been cancelled and I watch maybe three or four hours of TV a month these days, I'm starting to think that it's really not worth the thirty-four bucks a month.
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No.
12. Ever prank call anybody? No.
13. Ever get a parking ticket? No. I've just led a really boring life, haven't I?
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? I've always thought sky diving sounded like fun. Bungee jumping, however, is completely out of the question.
15. Furthest place you ever traveled? Ireland.
16. Do you have a garden? No.
17. What's your favorite comic strip? Probably Calvin and Hobbes.
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Well, like every patriotic red-blooded American who was forced to learn it in school, I know the first verse. I think at one point in my life, I actually knew most of the words to the little-known second verse, too, but I've long since forgotten them.
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Shower in the morning to get clean. Baths at night for relaxation.
20. Best movie you've seen in the past month? One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Which I think is the only movie I've seen in the past month.
21. Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni.
22. Chips or popcorn? Depends on what I'm in the mood for.
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? I've never worn lipstick in my life.
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? No.
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No.
26. Orange Juice or apple? OJ, please.
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? I want to say my sister, but now that I think about it, I believe all the places we went out to were for lunch. I honestly don't remember who the last person I went out to dinner with was. Isn't that sad?
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? I never met a chocolate bar I didn't like.
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? Uh... [hangs head further] Never.
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? I helped my sister pick some when I was at her place, but didn't actually eat any. So I honestly can't remember. It's been a long time.
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Lots of bowling trophies, back in my youth.
32. Are you a good cook? I can put together an edible meal. Or I used to be able to. Living alone for so long and not doing much cooking for myself, my kitchen skills have really begun to atrophy.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Yes, despite the handicap of having grown up in New Jersey.
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Dear god, no.
35. Sprite or 7-up? Oh, either one is fine.
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? Well, when I worked at Lotaburger, I had to wear red pants and a white shirt, which I had to provide for myself, and a red apron, which the company got for me, but which I had to pay for. Oh, and a stupid plastic visor thingy.
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Allergy pills, I think.
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? Love is nice, but in my opinion somewhat over-rated. I'll take the money.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? No.
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? No.
42. Can ex's be friends? Some can, some can't. Me, I bump into my ex in the hardware store or someplace once every few years, and we act like we want to be friends ("Hey, how are you doing? Call me sometime!") and then walk away secure in the knowledge that we're not going to call each other, and that that's probably for the best.
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? You know, I think it was actually my mother's second husband, shortly before he died. That was back in high school. I, uh... I tend to avoid hospitals.
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? I'm told that it looks like I have hair in pictures of me as a newborn, but that it's actually a giant bruise on the top of my head because they had to pull me out with forceps. My mother says she thinks this explains a lot.
45. What message is on your answering machine? "Hi, this is Betty, and I've finally changed my answering machine message from the message that said 'I've finally changed my answering machine message' to a new message that says, uh, that I've finally changed my answering machine message. So leave a message!" Which is probably intensely annoying to sit through, I know.
46. What's your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Oh, that's a tough one... Probably the Church Lady. "Could it be... Satan?"
47. What was the name of your first pet? I think the earliest pet I remember wass a cat named Mittens. My parents got rid of it, though, because I was allergic to it. Not that that's ever stopped me from having cats since.
48. What is in your purse? Oh, geez. What, you want the full list? Got a couple of hours? OK, here we go, let's see... Two tubes of chapstick, one of which is still in the package. A plastic comb. Swiss Army knife. Various random scraps of paper. Keycard to let me in to work. Eyeglass repair kit. Tiny version of my frequent shopper card that's meant to be used as a keychain. Two nail-clippers, for some reason. Loose change (American and Canadian). Several keys that I have no idea what they go to. A peg that came from one of my bookcases. Spare housekey. Wallet. Sunglasses. Two tins of Altoids, one peppermint, one cinnamon. Checkbook. Scientific calculator. Five pens. Coupon for a free car wash. Eyeglass wipes. Two paper folders that once held airline boarding passes. Three travel packages of kleenex, each with just a few tissues left in them. Five tampons. Prescription allergy pills. Tape measure. Cruiseline ID card from the Alaska cruise. Tylenol. Several crumpled used kleenex. Leather tag that was attached to the handbag when I bought it. Spare car key. Disposable camera. Printout of airline itinerary from my recent visit to Oregon. My "Marvin the Martian" address book. Printout of e-mail with directions on how to get to a friend's house. Travel brochure from Mt. St. Helens and map of where the visitors' centers are. Bookmark from Powell's City of Books. Small map of Portland. Postcard from Powell's. Coupon for fifty cents off a new disposable camera. A bunch of sales receipts. Shoppers' guide to Skagway, Alaska. French version of a Canadian customs form and a "health alert notice" urging me to check myself for symptoms of SARS in five different languages. Brochure from the "Washington Forest Protection Agency" telling me all about how great the Washington lumber industry is. And that appears to be it. Aren't you sorry you asked? Oh, wait, you didn't ask. Too bad!
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? A hot soak in the tub with a good book.
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? That I don't have to go in to work tonight! (I took the day off because I have a wedding to go to this evening.)
Sunday, September 28, 2003
- Herpes:: Simplex
- Freddy:: Kruger
- October:: Rain
- Hunting:: Deer
- MSN:: NBC
- 36:: 24-36
- Hotel:: Travel
- Travesty:: of Justice
- Health:: Insurance
- Conditions:: and Terms
Yup, these responses just get more and more, uh, interesting...
For the record, I've never actually seen an entire Freddy Kruger movie all the way through. Believe it or not. And the 36-24-36 thing was something that I've heard described on TV as the ideal measurements for a female figure, although not recently. I remember measuring my own, uh, dimensions at one point as a teenager and thinking that either Ms. Ideal Female or I must be pretty freakish. And I don't think it was me...
Trivial Pursuit does not work really well as a drinking game. Sure, you get some very entertaining answers out of people, but eventually nobody can focus well enough to read the questions, and they're likely to completely forget about the game long before anybody actually wins.
Not that I was among the ranks of the wasted, I hasten to add. Mainly because I was drinking wimpy girly drinks, instead of vodka shots like the manly (and, er, womanly) types. Which is why they're probably feeling miserable this morning and I'm not. Ha!
Saturday, September 27, 2003
A few months ago, I had quite a few people asking me to explain various things about the characters and backstory and plot points on Farscape, because they'd tuned in mid-season to see what all the fuss was about and liked the show but found it confusing. Man, I really wish I'd had this Farscape Overview to give people then! It seems to be primarily written with the idea of giving people who haven't seen the show enough background to read fan fiction based on it. (Though, personally, I've never understood why anybody would want to read fan fiction for a show they'd never seen. But maybe that's just me.) But it's also bound to be useful if you are coming in in the middle[*], or if you just happen to catch the occasional episode and need a lot of blanks filled in. More than that, I'd say that if you haven't seen the show and reading this doesn't make you want to, you're probably a hopeless case and should stick to watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote.
It's also funny as hell, particularly if you are familiar with the show. It's tremendously amusing to realize that the more insane and bizarre a particular statement about the series sounds, and the more it really needs to be tagged with one of the "seriously, I'm not joking!" asides that are strewn throughout, the more likely it is to be simply, literally true. Heh.
I can't resist a few sample quotes:
"John and Aeryn comprise the Big Apocalyptic Love Story for the series. The two of them have serious chemistry, even in the fourth season when Aeryn turns into a pod person."
"Meet Pilot. Pilot also happens to be the name of his race. They're not a very creative race."
"Sometimes the Muppets will have sex. This is exactly as gross as it sounds."
And an entire paragraph on my boy Stark:
"Stark was John's cellmate while imprisoned by Scorpius. When John escaped, Stark came with them. At first he was all, "My side, your side, my side, your side!" and we thought he was insane. Then it turned out he was only pretending to be insane. Then it turned out he was only pretending to be pretending to be insane. This makes him, in fact, crazier than Brian Wilson on acid."
In other Farscape (non)-news I heard a rumor that there was some interesting news about a rumor about a possible Farscape movie to be found over on the forums at the Save Farscape site, but the site appears to be almost completely non-functional at the moment, so I can't go and look. Some days, I really do think the internet hates me...
[*] As opposed to starting at the beginning, in which case you probably really want to avoid the spoilers to be found here, unless you're one of those people who, for some inexplicable reason, likes spoilers.
Friday, September 26, 2003
Some time back I posted a link to an article on the BBC's website along with a breathless announcement that Doctor Who was coming back as an animated series... only to have a couple of helpful yet sadly bubble-bursting souls post comments enlightening me to the fact that, no, this wasn't a TV series they were talking about, it was simply yet another webcast. Well, I now prefer to think of myself as prophetic rather than mistaken, as it appears that Doctor Who really is returning to television! And as a live action show, not an animation! No info yet, though, on who's going to be playing the Doctor or on much of anything else. I'm choosing to regard this as excellent news since, unlike the still-in-development Blake's 7 movie, I have high hopes that this project will not utterly suck.
I mentioned last weekend when I got back that one of the most interesting things about visiting my sister was spending a week in the company of my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew. Well, at least one person -- Hi, Tamara! -- expressed an interest in hearing my thoughts on that experience, so, in my typical rambling fashion, here they are.
The thing is, I really do have extremely mixed feelings when it comes to small children. Yes, they're cute, they're cuddly, they're fun to play with. But, truth to tell, my main experience with them has been in the form of shrieking toddlers careening around inadequately supervised in public places. And every time I encounter one, I find myself thinking, "Oh, god, what absolute monsters kids are. Why on Earth would anyone willingly choose to reproduce and burden themselves with one of these horrible things?"
I have to admit, though, there is a huge difference between enduring the antics of a stranger's bored and restless child in the local laundromat and holding the hand of your own flesh and blood as he excitedly leads you through the zoo to the bat house. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm especially enamored of the bats myself, either, though it definitely didn't hurt.) And my sister's kid really does manage to push a lot of my positive buttons. Examples? Well, once, I retrieved a toy from under a hotel-room bed for him and triumphantly announced my success by exclaiming, "See! Aunt Betty is cool!"... Upon which he happily repeated "Betty is cool!" in the clearest voice you could imagine. And he later remembered that phrase, coming out with it several times quite unprompted on my most recent visit. OK, how could anyone possibly remain unaffected by that? Yeah, go ahead, stroke my ego, kid. It works!
Possibly even more guaranteed to hit Aunt Betty in her soft spot is his habit of grabbing books -- especially the ones I bought him on a shopping trip to Powell's -- and begging me, "Read! Read!" I ask you, how is a bookworm like myself to resist? The kid wants to read! Is there anything cooler?!
On the other hand... There's no doubt about the fact that life in the presence of a two-year-old can be both deeply frustrating and tremendously exhausting. Here's an entity that's every bit as self-centered and curious as a cat, but ten thousand times more demanding. He wants to get into everything. He wants you to show him everything. He demands constant attention, and makes constant demands, often for things it would be impossible or unwise to give him. He needs incessant supervision. He eventually becomes the subject of every single conversation. He makes once-ordinary tasks like a simple trip to the supermaket into an ordeal roughly equivalent to mounting an arctic expedition.
I've now come to realize something that I always knew intellectually but never really understood before: being the primary caregiver for a small child is not just a full-time job; it's damn near your entire life. I have to say, I deeply admire my sister's saint-like patience with the kid, especially given that she's got more than a few other major stressors in her life at the moment, too. I do like to think that I might be able to muster the same degree of patience myself if, heaven forbid, I had a child of my own to take care of. But I know with a certainty that even if I did, I'd be slowly going crazy inside. I know what I'm like when I don't get peace and quiet and time to myself, and it ain't pretty. At all.
All that having been said, though... While I have no desire to take it up as a full-time occupation, myself, there are delights to the toddler-tending experience. And I'm not talking about schmoopy cuddly-wuddly stuff, either, or at least not mostly. While I'll admit that my latent maternal instincts are not entirely unmoved by the experience of having a child sitting on my lap, it's my scientific side that's genuinely enthralled. The human brain, in my opinion, is one of the most endlessly fascinating objects in the universe, and when interacting with a toddler you can practically watch new neural connections forming right before your very eyes. It's amazing. It's downright awe-inspiring, in fact. Constantly when I'm around him I find myself cataloging an impressive list of things that he seems to be learning effortlessly, moment by moment... Often things that it would be hellaciously difficult to teach a computer to do. Examples? Why, certainly!
How about the development of that most profoundly human skill of all: language? Even in the few months since I'd seen him last, the kid's language skills have progressed significantly. He's putting together entire, grammatical sentences now, and even if they're still the exception rather than the rule, he's forming them correctly. And he's learning this simply by hearing other people talk; nobody's handed him a copy of Strunk & White and asked him to diagram a sentence. And, at his age, the human brain seems more than anything to be a vast vocabulary-acquisition machine. He's constantly seeking out new words. Conversations with him tend to consist of endless rounds of "what's this? what's this? what's this?" as he points at everything and gets its name. It's astounding how easily he remembers them, too; often he seems only to have to hear and repeat a word once in order to remember it later on. And, man, some of the words he's learned... He's got a book on fish (a subject with which he seems oddly obsessed), and not only does he know the word "fish" perfectly well, but he is capable of naming fish that I have to read the captions to identify. More than that, it seems reasonably clear that he's grasped the concept of "fish" as a general category, with "catfish," say, as a specific member of that category. This is some fairly abstract conceptualizing for such a tiny brain. And at one point, my sister, showing off just a bit, pointed at a picture in the fish book. "What's that?" she asked. "'Nemone!" he responded instantly. Quite rightly, too; it's an anemone, a creature I'm not sure the majority of adults are actually able to identify. Later, at the zoo, she pointed at an anemone in a tank. "What's that?" "'Nemone!" So he is not just capable of identifying pictures and of identifying objects, he's also perfectly capable of recognizing that the one is in fact a representation of the other. And, OK, OK, maybe that doesn't seem like much of a trick, but that's probably only because you've been doing it since you were in diapers, as well.
Other things he's already capable of? How about this incident: While squirming around on the couch, he accidentally bashes his mother's knee. "Sorry, mommy!" he cries. "Kiss!" And he bends down and kisses her knee, in exactly the kiss-it-all-better gesture she uses on his own boo-boos. Put a couple more checkmarks in the "mental skills developed" column: empathy and the ability to internally model the experiences of other people.
And yesterday, my sister called me on the phone and related the following story: She'd put him upstairs for his nap, but could hear from the noises coming over the baby monitor in his room that he was actually playing, not sleeping. Unable or unwilling to force him to sleep, and probably grateful enough to have a little time to herself in any case, she simply left him to it. A couple of hours later, she came up to get him. Obviously, he heard her coming, and when she opened the door -- despite the fact that he'd been making wide-awake "play" noises only a moment earlier -- he had one foot in the bed and one on the floor, as if he were just getting up. "I wake up!" he exclaimed brightly. My sister burst out laughing. "Why you sly little..." Ah, yes, the art of deception. An absolutely vital skill for any social animal to learn!
Humans are just so cool...
Thursday, September 25, 2003
A friend of mine from Vancouver, Canada recently passed along this story from a local newspaper. Here's the first few paragraphs:
Gunfire rang out early Tuesday morning from the set of I, Robot near Cordova and Burrard, waking up the neighbourhood.
The blasts ricocheted through the highrise and hotel district, destroying dreams and generally causing people to rise from their bed, wondering what was happening.
20th Century Fox's $100-million I, Robot, starring Will Smith, is an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's classic science-fiction short story collection.
"It was a huge shock," said Chris Lin, who lives in a Coal Harbour highrise condo.
"If I didn't know they were filming a movie, I would have thought it was a terrorist attack. It was very loud."
OK, now, people being woken up by movie gunfire is mildly amusing, if you're not one of the people involved. But that's not what gets me about this story. What gets me about it is that I'm suddenly very, very nervous about what they're doing to this movie. I mean, I know it's been quite a while since I've read it, but I don't remember any big gunfights in I, Robot. Sigh. I suppose they'll also throw in some gratuitous gore and some exploding spaceships, and Susan Calvin will a be a hot babe in a miniskirt. Right?
Ah, if only they'd filmed Harlan Ellison's version. I've read that, and, judging by the script, it would have rocked.
Whoops, I just realized I had a whole 'nother list of search requests! I thought there must have been more than that. So, the madness continues:
There's a big batch of funky search requests this time, because we've got not just this week's but a bunch left over from before I went on vacation. So, let's get to 'em!
Wow. Is it just me, or were those even geekier than usual?
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Have you guys seen this?:
A federal court has blocked the national "do not call" list -- meant to allow consumers to stop unwanted telephone sales calls -- just days before it was scheduled to take effect.
The ruling Tuesday by the U.S. District Court in Oklahoma was a victory for the Direct Marketing Association and telemarketers who said the registry violated their rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.
What the flipping hell? First Amendment rights, my fat white ass! I don't care what you have to say, you don't have the right to bother me in my home to say it! Does anybody have the phone numbers for these judges? I'd like to call them up and express my freedom of speech at them. Repeatedly. Preferably while they're trying to have dinner or take a nap.
You're a punk unicorn. What can I say? You smoke to
much and you're sarcastic, and I don't
appreciate being called a jerk. Hmmph. But I
made a cute little picture for you, out of the
goodness of my heart.
What Kind of Unicorn are YOU? (no, really..its cool- with graphics!)
brought to you by Quizilla
Hey, I've never smoked in my life! Well, not unless I was on fire. But that is kind of a cool picture, anyway...
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
OK, so, if one of my book clubs messes up or doesn't get my form declining the featured selections and sends the books to me in the mail even though I didn't order them, and if I then decide that they're really cool-looking books and I want to keep them, do you think that they ought to count towards my strictly-limited "books bought per month" tally? 'Cause I'm leaning towards "no," personally.
Then again, it's really kind of a moot point, I suppose, as I've gone and thrown the box away and couldn't send them back now if I wanted to.
Monday, September 22, 2003
You may have already seen this (a friend of mine e-mailed it to me while I was gone, and I've seen it on several blogs today), but it's just too cool not to pass on in case anyone hasn't:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Hey, I have to catch up on all the meme-stuff I missed while I was gone...
1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why? I always have trouble picking one favorite anything. My standard answer to stuff like this is that my top three favorite bands are Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Rush, not necessarily in that order.
2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why? Well, I'd probably name a rap "artist" here, if I knew rap music well enough to single any one person out.
3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? How the hell should I know? I don't know any of these people personally.
4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show? This seems to me to be one of those "apples and oranges" kinds of questions, really. I don't think I've ever been to a concert where the artists put on a bad show. They've just been good in different ways. The most recent concert I went to was Weird Al Yankovic, and he put on a wonderfully fun show, I must say. Though I suppose I might award first place here to Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson has so much energy onstage that it's almost tiring to watch him, but it's impossible not to get caught up in his enthusiasm.
5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online vs. purchasing albums? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from downloading free music? I have kind of mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, yeah, artists deserve to get paid for their work. On the other hand, I think the RIAA has massively over-reacted to a threat that's more perceived than real. Personally, I don't download much music, mainly because I've got a dial-up connection (something that will likely be changing in the near future, though, I hope!). But I don't feel too bad about it when I do. It's a good way to sample new bands if you're not sure whether you'll like them or not. If I encounter something on the internet and decide that I do like it, more often than not I'll then go out and buy the CD. So, at least in the case of people like me, free music on the internet is actually a good thing for the music industry.
The Spirited Leader - You are usually the one who
accepts tasks that others find daunting. You
work hard and are not afraid to make sacrifices
if you believe in the cause. Unfortunately, you
always end up feeling overwhelmed and lonely.
You can keep your chin up however, because
you'll always succeed, no matter how long it
What Type of Storybook Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yeah, right! I am so not leadership material...
be sorted @ nimbo.net
Well, that's pretty much what I would have figured.
You are the Undying Artist. Moody, erratic, and
empassioned, you find art in the darkness. You
cultivate dark beauty and dark artists to
surround yourself and drink of the song in
What Fictional Vampire Archtype are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Now I have this image of me as a vampire, writing Forever Knight fan fiction or something...
If you're in the mood for some disturbingly amusing political satire, check out SNITCH (the Strategic Network of Intelligence on Terrorism in our Communities and Homeland), a helpful website which offers useful tips on how to spot terrorists and instructions on how to search your neighbor's trash for evidence of un-American activities.
There's also a "Terrorist Test," which when offered information on yours truly, returned the following:
Your Neighbor is involved with terrorism.
Your neighbor may appear to be a God-fearing, patriotic, true-blue American, but he or she is practicing terrorism in the form of making un-American remarks or espousing un-patriotic views.
Damn! They've found me out!
OK, as threatened yesterday, here's some random rambling about my trip to Oregon to visit my sister. I have to say, the visit went by awfully fast. I was there from Sunday afternoon of last week through midafternoon yesterday, so it was actually five full days, but it sure felt like a lot less than that.
Among other things, we took a mini-road trip up to Mount St. Helens. I'm pretty much having to take it on faith that the mountain actually exists, because it was completely obscured by clouds, but the national park area was really cool, anyway, and you could see a lot of evidence of the eruption on the local landscape.
I also had my first experience with ice skating, which I had to be cajoled into trying. I'm horribly uncoordinated, and I had fairly bad experiences attempting to learn to roller skate as a kid (back in the days before rollerblades!), so I figured it was going to be a major debacle of the "everybody point and laugh!" variety. Much to my surprise, though, I found that the skates were really pretty easy to balance on, and it wasn't terribly difficult to figure out how to move around on them. Hey, physics doesn't get much simpler than moving bodies on a frictionless surface! I imagine with a little practice I could have become a reasonably adequate skater. Unfortunately, that is most definitely not going to happen, because even though the skates I rented were pretty close to the correct size for me, shoving my extra-wide, bunioned, generally malformed feet into them and then asking said feet to move in unfamiliar ways turned out to be exceedingly painful. I had to stop after every circuit of the rink, take off the skates, and rub my feet until the agony subsided. So I fear that one experience marks both the beginning and the end of my career as an ice skater, alas.
We did also watch a bunch of Farscape DVDs that I brought along, having long since made Scaper converts of both my sister and my brother-in-law. And I was given direct first-hand evidence of my two-year-old nephew's budding fannishness. The kid definitely knows who D'Argo is. I was wearing my Farscape t-shirt one day, and he came running up to me, pointed at the picture of D'Argo on my chest and shouted "D'Argo!", quite unprompted. He then proceeded to point at all the other characters and get their names, too. I don't think he learned all of them, but he was at least able to identify Rygel after that, and I think I heard him say "Crais" once when the guy was on the screen. And when we pointed at Scorpius he said something I couldn't quite catch, but which his mother translated as "he's scary." We all solemnly agreed that, yes, Scorpius is scary. (Though I should note that his parents are pretty careful about not letting him watch the scary parts of the show if it looks like they're beginning to bother him.) Oh, and when asked "who's your favorite character?" a bit later, he cheerfully replied "D'Argo," so apparently my earlier theory was wrong.
I could go on quite a bit about the experience of living with a toddler for a week, something I find simultaneously fascinating and exhausting. But maybe I'll go into that later...
Saturday, September 20, 2003
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Well, I'm getting on a plane to head out to my sister's place in a few hours, and it's extremely likely that I'm not going to get any internet time at all while I'm there. So this is probably the last post you'll see from me for about the next week. In the meantime, may I suggest assuaging your blog-withdrawal symptoms with one of the many other fine blogs linked to in the sidebar, most of which are written by people much wittier and more interesting than I.
Oh, and since I seem to have made something of a tradition of this, here's the list of books I'm taking on my trip (besides the World of Caffeine one, which I haven't quite finished yet): Halloween Rain by Christopher Golden & Nancy Holder (a YA Buffy novel), Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard, and The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane. Though I doubt I'll even need that last one, given that Battlefield Earth is approximately six hundred thousand pages all by itself.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
It's nice to know that the next generation of science fiction enthusiasts is coming along well! Yes, that's right, my nephew, who's all of two and a half, is apparently already showing signs of growing up into yet another Fan. I can take a certain amount of the credit, I think... Last Christmas, when I was up there to visit, I happened to pick up a copy of the Farscape role-playing game at Powell's, and while I was sitting there looking through it, the little guy kept climbing up on my lap and pointing at the pictures. So, OK, fine, I began naming them for him: "That's a Scarran, and that's a Sheyang, and that's John Crichton, and this is D'Argo. Can you say D'Argo?" Well, yes, apparently the kid could say D'Argo, and pretty soon he was pointing at D'Argo's picture and identifying him quite readily, which I thought was pretty cool.
Well, I was talking to my sister earlier today -- the usual "where should I meet you at the airport?" kind of phone call, mostly -- and she happened to mention that, amazingly enough, her son can still pick ol' D'Argo out of a lineup. She was watching some of the Farscape tapes I sent her recently, she says, and when the Luxan came up on the screen, darned if the kid didn't pipe up with "D'Argo!" Interestingly, he the proceeded to follow it up with "D'Argo bad!" Yep, that's right, not only is the kid a budding Scaper, but he's already got firm opinions about the characters, apparently. I'm not sure exactly what he's got against D'Argo, though. Heh, maybe he's a Stark fan like his Auntie. I know I always get pretty pissed off with D'Argo every time I watch "The Ugly Truth."
Friday, September 12, 2003
So, like I mentioned a while back, I've been reading this book called The World of Caffeine. I don't know that I can really recommend it, by the way... The subject matter's interesting (well, at least it is to me), but the style's kind of dry, and they spend way too much time nattering on about who drank what with whom in which 18th-century coffehouse for my taste. But, anyway, it's got me thinking about caffeine, and about my own intake, which I think has been steadily climbing over the past couple of years.
Today's caffeine consumption, as far as I can remember[*]:
3 good-sized mugs of moderately strong coffee. Probably something like 200 mg each.
Two cups of mint-flavored green tea, and three cups of black tea. Call it 50 mg each.
Two 12-oz cans of Cherry Pepsi. Assuming those are about the same as regular Pepsi, that's about 38 mg each.
One medium Coke from McDonald's. Probably about the same volume as a can, so 46 mg.
Totalling that all up, it comes out to 970 milligrams of caffeine. So far. On a fairly typical day.
Yikes. It's no wonder I've been feeling kind of wired lately. But I've been feeling wired in a good way, really, so, hey, go caffeine!
[*] Note most of these figures are really pretty wild estimates. Apparently the actual caffeine content of an average cup of coffee or tea can vary enormously.
1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? If not, what's changed? Yes, it is.
2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be? Well, I hate to say this, because I know it always hurts my mother's feelings, but I've never liked my first name. "Betty" has a certain wholesome 1950's homemaker feel to it, somehow, that is just so not me. I would have much preferred being named "Elizabeth," which I then could have shortened as I pleased. I could see myself as a "Liz" quite easily. But, I'm certainly not going to change it now. I'm used to it.
3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?) I was named after my grandmother, which is actually kind of confusing, because my grandmother's name is "Marjorie." But she had a twin brother named "William," and, in the grand tradition of Cute Twin Nicknames, they were promptly dubbed "Billy and Betty" as infants, and the name stuck. Everybody's pretty much always known her as "Betty." My mother, by the way, always thought that was really stupid and that you should just name a kid what you were going to call her in the first place, which is why I am a "Betty" and not an "Elizabeth." Well, that and the fact that my mother's middle name is "Elizabeth," and she never liked it because people used to tease her by calling her "Lizard" and stuff. Yeah, like I never got "amusing" variations on "Betty."
4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why? Nah, not really.
5. Is the analysis of your name at kabalarians.com / triggur.org / astroexpert accurate? How or how isn't it? OK, first of all, we all realize that this name-analysis stuff is complete crackpottery, right? That being understood, let's see what they have to say:
The name of Betty contains within it an intense emotional power that could drive you to put forth great effort to accomplish your ambitions and to do something noteworthy and worthwhile.
Nah, I've never been a particularly ambitious person.
There are humanitarian ideals in this name, making you feel the urge to champion the cause of the downtrodden, the victims of circumstances and injustices.
Ah, like the tireless way I stick up for Stark on Farscape and Vila on Blake's 7!
However, it is difficult for you to materialize your ideals because of a restless, unsettled feeling which causes you never to know just what it is that you should be working toward,
Hmm. That's actually kind of true, I suspect.
and the very intensity of your nature makes systematic concentration and application a challenge.
Actually, I'd say it's the laziness of my nature that does that.
You can have intensely contrasting feelings toward people, either you are fiercely loyal or extremely intolerant. There is rarely a happy medium in your feelings.
Very definitely not true. My feelings toward the vast majority of people consist of a laid-back sort of tolerance that borders on apathy.
Consequently, you experience many disappointments in people, tragedy, and the loss of the very things for which you may be intensely striving. Bitter experiences could make you cynical, critical, and argumentative. You find it difficult to see the brighter or humorous side of a situation.
And, man, those statements couldn't get more wrong if they gave me a personality test and then switched every answer to its exact opposite. It's like an analysis of the evil Mirror Universe me.
What fiction genre are you?
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Gasp! Really? What a shocker! I'm sure no one would have suspected that!
By the way, I do feel compelled to mention that I found those "Robot City" books very disappointing. I'm not sure how many of them there were, but I never made it past #4 (and I think I only got that far because I bought several of them at once).
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Quite an interesting batch this time out:
you are the "you suck, and that's sad"
happy bunny. your truthful, but can be a bit
which happy bunny are you?
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Hmm, and here I thought I was pretty tactful. Man, this quiz sucks! How sad.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Believe it or not, I've only finally just gotten around to watching the BBC's web-animation remake of "Shada." I know, I know, and I call myself a Doctor Who fan. Well, what can I say? I'm a Doctor Who fan with a dial-up connection.
Anyway, I'm glad I finally made the time to watch it. I've always regretted the fact that the original Tom Baker version was never completed. Judging from what does exist of it, it seemed like a really fun episode. Certainly it had some wonderfully funny Douglas Adams dialog, as well as one of the show's best guest characters, in the person of the absent-minded Time Lord-in-exile, Professor Chronotis. All of this comes through quite nicely in the adapted version, happily enough, and it's also great to see Paul McGann as the Doctor again, even if it is as a jerky flash animation. I must say, I was a little skeptical about the idea of slotting the Eighth Doctor into the role originally written for the Fourth, but despite the rather different personalities of the two incarnations, it actually works surprisingly well.
You should invite Death to dinner. Why? She's cool,
mellow, fun to talk to, and she'll teach you a
thing or two about life. Remember though, she
is Death, so if she shows up uninvited....well,
it was nice knowing you.
Which of the Endless Should You Invite to Dinner?
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Oh, yeah, she'd make a fun dinner guest. She can come over any time! As long as she isn't on business...
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
OK, now, I am definitely not a political blogger, and I'm not much interested in getting into rants about current events or posting diatribes about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. But I gotta ask, is it just me, or does this proposed new airline passenger screening system terrify the crap out of anybody else?
Here's a quote from the article:
The system "will provide protections for the flying public," said TSA spokesman Brian Turmail. "Not only should we keep passengers from sitting next to a terrorist, we should keep them from sitting next to wanted ax murderers."
Personally, you know, I don't have all that much of a problem with the idea of sitting next to an axe murderer. I mean, it's not like he's going to whip out his axe and butcher me right there on the plane.
Here's another quote:
The TSA will check each passenger in two steps. The first will match the passenger's name and information against databases of private companies that collect information on people for commercial reasons, such as their shopping habits. This process will generate a numerical score that will indicate the likelihood that the passenger is who he says he is. Passengers will not be informed of their color code or their numerical score.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the idea of the government studying my shopping habits, and I'm even less thrilled with the idea of them making decisions about me based on them. And I'm very, very unthrilled with the idea of being singled out as a security threat based on some computer's analysis of my shopping habits. Personally, I'd much rather take my chances with the axe murderer.
It's increasingly beginning to seem to me that Orwell's only mistake was in being off by a few decades. 'Cause this is seriously double-plus ungood stuff.
Frigid. You're page is frigid, and has no
preference for any pages. It's dull boring, and
lacks any charisma or interest. What are you, a
What is your website's sexual orientation?
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Hmm. You know, really, it's the stereotyping of scientists there that I object to... Well, that and the misuse of the word "you're."
Monday, September 08, 2003
Current clothes: Tan jeans. A black "50th anniversary" t-shirt from the Science Fiction Book Club, featuring a very cool picture of a dragon wrapped around a 1950s-looking rocketship. White socks. No shoes.
Current mood: Relaxed.
Current music: In the stereo right now are Brand New Day by Sting, Paul Simon's Graceland, and a disc of Queen songs as played by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Current hair: Still short enough that it's mostly behaving itself.
Current annoyance: The hose that brings water into the toilet in my half-bath apparently has a tiny hole in it and is constantly dripping. I'm getting the plumbers in to fix it tomorrow.
Current thing: You probably wouldn't know it from the lame stuff I've been writing for this blog lately, but I've really had a surprising amount of creative and physical energy for the last week or so, which is a very cool "thing," indeed. I doubt it'll last much longer, though.
Current desktop picture: This picture of the TARDIS sitting in the snow somewhere. Which is pretty appropriate, really, since my PC makes a materializing-TARDIS noise when it reboots.
Current song stuck in head: The "Kyle's Mom Is a Bitch" song from the South Park movie soundtrack, which I was also listening to a couple of days ago.
Current book: A book about my favorite -- indeed, my only -- recreational drug: The World of Caffeine by Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer.
Current video in player: I think it's a collection of old Doctor Who episodes a friend of my sister's copied for me. I was going to watch "The Keys of Marinus" a while back, but the quality of the copy wasn't very good, and I don't really like the episode enough to make it worthwhile watching it anyway, so I ended up not getting very far with it. Currently in the DVD player is the special features disc to The Two Towers. Oh, and I think the extras disc to X-Men 1.5 is in the computer's DVD-ROM drive.
Current refreshment: Coffee. Although the last couple of swallows in the current cup seem to have gone quite cold while I was typing. Not that that's going to stop me from finishing them.
Current worry: Hmm. Well, I'm going up to visit my sister next week, which I'm actually quite looking forward to, but she's going through some complicated personal stuff right now, so I'm also a little trepidatious about landing in the middle of it. We'll see how it goes.
Current thought: Those obnoxious South Park songs really are quite disturbingly catchy.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
- Bookends:: Those brown metal ones you see in libraries, which I have a lot of
- Compliment:: Paying someone a...
- Gutter:: Mind in the...
- Obsession:: The Star Trek (TOS) episode
- Heavy:: Marty Fly
- Real:: ...Life
- Disposable:: ...Razor
- Breeze:: A strong...
- Work:: "Working hard, or hardly working?"
- Sweetheart:: Paper cups
Is anybody but me starting to find these glimpses into my mind kind of frightening?
Thanks to everyone who responded yesterday to let me know they could (or couldn't) see that last post. The problem was definitely Blogger's and not mine. They seem to have had quite a few difficulties of late; I really hope we're over them all now.
Also, my comments seem to be working more normally now than they were a week ago, but I've had a number of problems with comments not being posted, sometimes even after people submit them repeatedly. I can tell this because, even though they're not showing up on the blog, I'm getting the e-mail notices saying they've been submitted. Enetation has always done this once in a while, but it seems to be happening quite a lot lately. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this, too, is just a temporary glitch.
In the meantime, since I have seen comments that people tried to post here and couldn't, I'll be generous and share them with you all. To begin with Fred deserves the Maximum Verbosity Perseverance Award for being willing to post eight times in order to make one amusingly self-deprecating joke. Way to go, Fred! Don't let those bastards at enetation rob you of your freedom of expression!
Tamara posts to say that she'll believe the Firefly movie is going to happen when she's sitting in the theater with a bag of popcorn watching it. Me, too, Tamara, but I've been so pessimistic about so many things on the entertainment front of late that I think this is going to be my thing to latch onto to be optimistic about.
And my dad wants to know what the heck a gluon is, presumably having come out as one on the subatomic particle quiz. Well, dad, a gluon is the particle that carries the force that holds quarks together. Meaning the universe would pretty much fall apart without you, so consider it an honor!
There. Hope I didn't miss anybody. And my apologies for the annoyance.
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Hey, if anybody can actually read this (and, you know, it's not three days from now or something), could you leave a comment or drop me an e-mail? I keep getting "connection refused" messages when I try to look at it, and I'd like to make sure the problem's on Blogger's end and not mine.
Neutron -- You don't take sides, you just sort of
hang out and blend into the crowd. If someone
lets you loose though, you can cause some
serious damage. If you are arround too many
other neutrons you get bored and start to
What kind of subatomic particle are you?
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Heh. I kinda like that one.
Friday, September 05, 2003
1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most? Cleaning the bathtub. We have incredibly hard water here, and it takes insane amounts of elbow grease to get the stains out. I hate doing it so much that I usually end up leaving it until even I, no neat freak by any stretch of the imagination, am too disgusted to be entirely comfortable about the idea of bathing in it. Then I scrub it just enough to trip the disgust trigger back to "off" again. Cleaning toilets is no fun, either, but at least it doesn't take long to do and you don't have to worry about them being clean enough to bathe in afterward.
2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing? I kind of like doing laundry. I don't know why. And I don't mind doing the dishes, because it gives me a good excuse to listen to music. My brain works in such a way that I simply cannot play the stereo when I'm trying to think, but it makes a great accompaniment to mindless physical tasks. I sometimes think that if it weren't for needing something to do while I listen to music, I'd never get any housework done at all.
3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed? I have nothing remotely resembling a routine, though I don't know that I could be accurately said to clean as it's needed, either.
4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules? Um... I suspect most people would consider everything about my housekeeping to be a bit quirky.
5. What was the last thing you cleaned? I cleaned a bunch of junk off the kitchen table earlier today. There's still a huge pile of bank statements and receipts and bill stubs and such sitting there, but at least they are in a pile now. And you can actually see most of the surface of the table, so that's a big improvement.
My inner child is ten years old!
The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
How Old is Your Inner Child?
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Yeah, that sounds just about right.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
I just wrote a long bitchy post in which I did a lot of complaining about how lately I'm sick of work after five or six hours and how I think I'm getting old because I used to do ten- and twelve-hours shifts standing on my head and yadda, yadda, self-pitying yadda. But Blogger ate it. Do you think maybe they're trying to tell me something?
I thought I'd finally try this Unconscious Mutterings thing I keep seeing on other people's blogs. So, here's some free-associating for you:
- Kiss:: ...The princess
- Nothing:: Vacuum
- Reach:: Grasp
- Late:: Early
- Stump:: A tree stump that used to be in our backyard when I was a little kid and which I haven't thought about for years
- Dreams:: The way I keep having geeky dreams with appearances by various TV characters
- LOL:: The desire to put square brackets around that, the way I usually do in my e-mail
- Ornament:: Image of a red ball-shaped Christmas ornament
- Neck:: ...Line
- Guitar:: String
Well, that was... interesting.
The latest batch of misguided search requests that have led people here:
It's looking like the Firefly movie really is going to happen! On the big screen, no less! Man, I seriously hope it's going to resolve the story arc from the TV show. I'm still desperately curious to know what those guys with the blue hands were up to and what the real story is with Book...
Wednesday, September 03, 2003
Three days into the month, and I've already ordered the first of the seven books I'm allowed to buy this month: Michael Shermer's The Borderlands of Science It wasn't even a book I felt a huge, burning need for, but, dammit, it was on sale.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
I am in geek parody heaven! Just got a batch of CDs from The Great Luke Ski, a guy whose stuff I first encountered on Dr. Demento's Hits from Outer Space and quickly decided I needed to hear more of. Anyway, I just finished listening to his album Carpe Dementia, which consists of song parodies in a variety of musical styles, mostly involving movies and TV shows from South Park to Star Wars. The quality varies a bit, but the best ones really are very funny, and I gotta say, it's worth the price of the album just for the hysterically funny Jeff Foxworthy-style "You Might Be a Trekkie" routine, which literally had me laughing so hard I was gasping for air, and which I am immediately intending to mine as a source of .sig quotes. Some samples:
If your dice have more sides than a Denny's menu...
If you refer to your wife and mother-in-law as "the Duras sisters"...
If the bingo caller yells "B5" and you say, "Shoot, I forgot to set the VCR!"...
...you might be a Trekkie.
If this sounds like your sort of thing (as opposed to making you want to shout, "oh my god, get away from me, you geek," in which case I can only assume you googled in here looking for naked pictures and haven't actually been reading this blog at all), be sure and check out his web site, which features a lot of song samples and a number of complete songs for download.
Thanks to everyone who sent me info on what's happening with the comments. I still haven't seen the problem, myself, but several other people on enetation's help forum report that they're seeing problems only when they're not logged in as the blog's owner, so that may well have something to do with it. I'll have to try it from work, where I don't have any cookies. Anyway, I've now added my own voice to the chorus of complaints over there, and there isn't really much else I can do except to hope they address the problem soon.
In the meantime... If you desperately want to read the comments and you're getting nothing but a blank comments box where it says there should be a bunch of comments, try killing the window and clicking again. At least one person has said he's gotten this to work at least once. Also, even if you can't see any comments showing up, you can still leave a comment if you want, and it won't be lost. Or at least, that seems not to be the case so far, as all the comments people have left saying "Hey, where'd the comments go?" are perfectly visible to me, if to no one else.
Sigh. Why does this sort of problem always seem to crop up during times when there actually are interesting discussions going on in my comments sections?
OK, I've had several people complain to me in the last couple of days that my blog comments aren't showing up, or that they can't post any comments... All I can say is, as far as I can tell, they seem to be working OK now, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. A quick look at the user forum over at the enetation website does indicate that I'm not the only one having problems... Which means there's almost certainly nothing I can do about it on my end, but I'd like to get an idea of whether it's still happening and exactly what the problem is. So, tell me, guys: are you having problems reading/posting comments? If you are, what exactly are you seeing? (Obviously, if the comments are truly hosed, you'll have to tell me via e-mail.)
Monday, September 01, 2003
Hey, it looks like they caught the asswipe who created the "Blaster" worm. If you ask me, this guy needs to be severely beaten about the head and shoulders. I volunteer.
(Link via Transterrestrial Musings.)
Whoa, it's September! When did that happen?
For the record, on the near-zero chance that anybody besides me is keeping track, the number of books I finished in August was... drum roll, please... seven. Mainly because at least half of them were under 200 pages. Sigh.
I have the feeling that it's going to be very difficult to keep my resolution not to buy more books than that this month, as I'm going to be heading up to Oregon to see my sister later in the month, and the temptation to go to Powell's and indulge in a massive shopping spree will doubtless be great. Must... be... strong!