Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tick... Tick... Tick...

Well, here we are in the waning hours of 2005... Is it just me, or is 2005 kind of a cool, vaguely science-fictional sounding year? 2006 just doesn't have quite the same ring to it somehow.

2005's been an interesting, eventful year, both for me personally and for the world at large, though, in the latter case, I suppose a lot of it's been interesting in the "Chinese curse" sense... With any luck, maybe next year will be a bit less interesting and a bit more peaceful.

Anyway, Happy New Year to those of you in time zones where it's already past midnight, or those of you not reading this 'til after midnight, or to... Well, OK, to everybody, really.

Now if only I could get that damned U2 song out of my head...

Friday, December 30, 2005

I'd Like To Zap Apple With a Fireball Right About Now...

7% Combativeness, 23% Sneakiness, 82% Intellect, 8% Spirituality
Brilliant! You are a Wizard!

Wizards are spells-casters who study powerful arcane magic. While Wizards tend to be pretty fragile, some of those spells can pack quite a punch. Unlike Clerics, Wizards aren't as good at fixing people as they are at breaking them, so watch where you toss that fireball...

Your most distinctive trait is your intelligence. You're probably well learned and logical, if perhaps a bit fragile.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Combativeness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 20% on Sneakiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on Intellect
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 1% on Spirituality
Link: The RPG Class Test written by MFlowers on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
Rotten Apple

So, I did, indeed, decide to buy me an iPod. I just ordered it, in fact. Or tried to... Apple's website says it's processing my payment. Apple's website appears to have been processing my payment for a very, very long time. It is also warning me not to hit my back button. So, fine, I am not hitting my back button. But I'm not getting my order processed, either.

Waaaah! I want my iPod!
End of the Year Meme

As 2005 draws to a close, I find I have nothing better to do than answer a series of random, nosy questions. Well, no, OK, I have lots of better things to do, but there's this whole "procrastination" thing. So...

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before? Bought a house! I'm afraid this is likely to be a recurring theme, actually.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I'm still mostly sticking to my resolution about not making resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No, but I know a couple of people who are pregnant. Oh, and a cat gave birth in my driveway. I'd say that counts as being "close to me," if only in a purely physical sense.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? Only traveled inside the United States this year, and not even very much of that. I think the only place I really went was California.

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? An iPod! Well, OK, for all but the very tail end of 2005, I was perfectly satisfied with my Rio Karma. But I'm getting all obsessive about this iPod thing now.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? April 15th, not because it was Tax Day, but because it's the day I closed on my house.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Hand-raising an orphan kitten, and not killing him.

9. What was your biggest failure? I don't know that I've had any major failures. I suppose I've been a bit of a failure at having a social life (an offline social life, I mean), mainly because I haven't really been trying much. I should spend more time with my friends.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Other than a nasty bout of flu in late spring, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought? A house!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? The BBC's for bringing back Doctor Who.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? The United States Government.

14. Where did most of your money go? House! House! House! Not just the down payment and stuff, but also the damned stucco.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? House! See, I told you there'd be a theme.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005? Probably none of them. I don't really tend to associate songs with years.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or Sadder?
Happier, I think. Getting out of that trailer was a good thing.

Thinner or Fatter? Thinner! I'm down to about 160, and more or less holding steady there. If I could drop another ten pounds or so, I'd be really happy, but I already feel a lot better than when I weighed 195.

Richer or Poorer? Poorer. Much, much poorer. My savings are gone, and I'm in debt again. Sigh. But I own property!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Getting out of the house, I suppose.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Computer solitaire. What a time-sink!

20. How will you be spending New Year's Eve? You know, I honestly haven't made any plans. I may just hang out here and change the calendars at midnight.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005? Do fictional characters count?

23. How many one-night stands? Do fictional characters count? Wait, no, I didn't say that...

24. What was your favorite TV program? Doctor Who! Even if I had to pursue sub-legal means of getting hold of it.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? I don't think so. I'm not big on hating people, really.

26. What was the best book you read? Oooh, so many to choose from! Looking over my list of 2005 books (to be posted here in a day or two), and picking just a few that really stand out: Blameless in Abaddon, Life of Pi, The Sparrow, Candide... And, wow, those are just the first four standouts on the list, honestly, and I have absolutely no idea what it means that, thematically, they're all about the exact same thing (what Christians call the "problem of pain"), but it's interesting, isn't it? Let's see... Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell ought to get at least an honorable mention, and perhaps Spin. Oh, and To Kill a Mockingbird, for certain. On the non-fiction front, The Child That Books Built and Everything Bad is Good for You. I could go on, but that's probably enough.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? I want to say the Killers, but I think that was actually last year.

28. What did you want and get? A house! Ahem. Sorry.

30. What was your favourite film of this year? I don't remember very well what movies I even saw this year. I guess I didn't actually go to very many, and I think most of my DVD-watching was TV series. I suppose I'll say Serenity, just because it's the one that's really stuck in my mind.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I was 34, and I didn't really do much of anything. I'm not that big on birthdays.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Um... Giant heaps of money?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? The same as it's been pretty much since I started dressing myself. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I say, and there's nothing wrong with the jeans 'n' t-shirt look.

34. What kept you sane? Who says I'm sane?

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't generally make a habit of fancying real people I've never met.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? Disaster unpreparedness.

37. Who did you miss? My sister! I wish she'd been here for Christmas.

38. Who were the best new people you met? Did I meet new people? Maybe I met a few online. Hello, new online people!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005: What I've always suspected is true. People who have babies are nuts, and people who have more than one baby are in-fucking-sane. That baby kitten nearly killed me, and human infants have to be at least ten times worse, as well as being helpless for much, much longer.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: "Our house is a very, very, very fine house..." Well, I have to include the cats to make the plural work, but it fits, anyway.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

House Is in the House!

I at last have my final House disc. Yay! I also have disc 1 of season 2 of The West Wing, which arrived with it, and all of season 1 of Mythbusters, because that was my Christmas present to myself before I realized I needed an iPod.

I think I got my entertainment for the weekend covered.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Don't Make Resolutions, So I Had To Have a Website Do It for Me.

In the year 2006 I resolve to:
Find big foot.

Get your resolution here

But I already have two big feet!
The Ubiquitous "What I've Been Watching on DVD Lately" Post

Most recently received from Netflix: season 1 of The 4400. I originally avoided this when it was on TV, because Sci Fi's ads made it look like the sort of cheesy alien-abduction thing they're entirely too fond of, but hearing various positive things about it later on made me decide to take a chance on the DVDs. And I'm glad I did, because it turns out my first impression was entirely wrong.

The premise is that 4400 people have mysteriously disappeared over the course of about sixty years... and then suddenly reappear in a ball of light in 2004, looking no older, and with no memory of what's happened to them. And, over time, some of them begin to display strange, almost superhuman abilities... It's an interesting premise, albeit one that could have led to something terribly cheesy if executed with a little less intelligence and care. As it is, the result is really interesting, in large part because it focuses as much on the implications to people's lives of suddenly finding themselves displaced in time as it does on anything else. And the first season, at least -- all five episodes of it -- also does a very nice balancing act between revealing too much of the mystery to keep us interested and revealing too little of it to, well, keep us interested. Whether the second season manages to keep that up, I don't know, but I'll definitely make a point of getting my hands on those discs, too, when they're out.

In other news, my last House disc, which I had to re-insert on the top of my queue after it boomeranged back to the warehouse the first time, still has not arrived, despite supposedly having been mailed on the 23rd. Why does the Post Office hate me so? And why does the universe apparently not want me to see the last couple of episodes of House?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday Aftermath

I can't face any more leftovers. I just can't.

Screw it. I'm goin' out for lunch.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Happiness and Happy Merriment!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Good Random Sunday in December to all of you! As mentioned before, my mother and grandmother were out visiting for a few days, during which time they insisted on stuffing me absolutely full of food (and left more behind them when they left, just in case they hadn't succeeded in fattening me up enough). Today was actually Leftover Day, as we did the big holiday meal yesterday. And then opened all the presents last night. (See, what did I tell you? When I was a kid, I was forbidden to even touch my presents before Christmas morning, but now that we're all older, it's all, "What the heck. Prezzies now!") They were originally going to leave tomorrow, but decided to head out today instead to avoid the traffic. Not a bad idea at all, in my opinion, as they had a very long drive ahead of them, and my mother has to be back at work on Wednesday morning. It leaves me with a little more time off to myself than I was expecting, but, hey, I'll totally take it. I'm certainly not going back in to work early!

Anyway, it was a nice, if decidedly low-key Christmas. And I got prezzies!:

- Three books: Finding Serenity, Strange New Worlds III and The Fabric of Reality.

- Serenity on DVD, from the Mystery Blogger, as previously squealed over.

- A reservoir attachment thingy for my cat drinking fountain, to provide them with larger quantities of water (which should be useful if I'm gone over a weekend).

- A set of plastic food containers in a spinning organizer thingy.

- A needlepoint picture my mother made featuring a kitten who looks just like Vir.

- A nice tin full of potato chips of an especially yummy variety which cannot be found here, far from my native homeland of South Jersey.

- Various kinds of candy and other yummies.

- A calendar of kitty-cat cartoons.

- Kitty-cat Pajamas.

- A candle-holder and candle. (Also featuring kitty-cats. There was something of a theme this year.)

- A little snowman doll thingy.

- A set of notepads and pencils and such, in a cool "sun, moon & stars" pattern.

- Assorted bath products.

And I have the dreadful feeling that I'm forgetting something, but that certainly seems like more than enough!

I'd also list the things I gave people, because, somewhat surprisingly, it really isn't All About Me, but not all of them have been received yet, so I won't.

Oh, and the BBC plus the internet gave me the coolest gift of all: A new episode of Doctor Who! And now it's only two more months until the DVD boxed set comes out in the US...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Sloth Is My Favorite Deadly Sin. Hell, I Was almost Too Lazy Too Finish This Quiz.

Wrath:Very Low
Sloth:Very High
Envy:Very Low
Pride:Very Low

The Seven Deadly Sins Quiz on
Interlude in Meatspace

Just a quick note to say that my blogging, as well as other forms on online activity, will doubtless be sporadic and light for the next few days since, as previously mentioned, I have family coming in to visit and will thus doubtless be dragged kicking and screaming away from my computer and forced to have face-to-face interactions with actual human beings.

They should be here some time this afternoon... Hmm. I wonder how much of my e-mail I can get answered before then?
Time to Cue Up the Blues on My Playlist (While I Still Can)

So, like I said yesterday, my mp3 player appears to be dying. It's been deteriorating for a while, really. First, the scroll button got jammed and wouldn't function any more, which was annoying, but not fatal. The Karma has a nicely designed interface which allows you to do most things in multiple ways, so there's very little that absolutely requires the scroll button, and nothing I couldn't live without. Then it started to become difficult to get the battery to charge. I'd have to twiddle it back and forth in the docking cradle, often quite a lot, before it'd make the right connection. Which was slightly more annoying, because sometimes I'd put it on to charge and discover that it hadn't. Now... Sigh. Now, it's taken to suddenly cutting out for no obvious reason. In the middle of a song, zzzt!, suddenly it's dead. So far, I've always managed to get it to come back to life again, but it's often taken me several tries. (And I'm not talking about a once-a-week occasional glitch here, I'm talking about not being able to listen to an entire album all the way through.) So I'm really beginning to think this thing's reached the end of its operational life.

I'm not actually complaining, really. I'd say I'd gotten my money's worth out of the gadget, given the sheer amount of use and enjoyment I've had from it. And it's been knocked around pretty badly, even dropped several times, so I'm actually kind of surprised it's still working at all. Plus, I'd been seriously considering replacing it, anyway, as the hard drive is now very close to full, and it'd be good to have something with more memory. I'd just been hoping to put it off until I could actually, you know, afford it, and it looks like I don't have the luxury anymore, if I want to have a functional mp3 player. Which I do. I'm also kind of scared that eventually I won't be able to get the thing to start at all, and I won't be able to get all my music off of it. Because, why, no, I don't have backups, there not being enough space on my PC for all that music and my CD-burner being less than entirely healthy, itself. Or, rather, I do have backups for most of it: they're called CDs, but they're not in a very handy format. I think it took me something like three weeks of nearly constant effort to rip all those discs in the first place.

So, anyway, since Rio no longer makes the players, it looks like I'm gonna be buying me an iPod. The biggest one I can get my hands on, I think, since I really don't want to have to worry about running out of disc space again. (I've actually been avoiding buying CDs lately because I've been worried about running out of room for them.)

There are two major annoyances with this, though. One, iPods are freakin' expensive, and my cash flow situation right now sucks. I suppose I can use that extra December paycheck (an artifact of being paid biweekly), but that money really should go into the savings account or towards paying off the credit card instead. Or possibly into a new pair of eyeglasses.

And, two, the vast majority of the songs on the Karma are in ogg vorbis format, mainly because, I dunno, I thought it was so cool that Rio products supported it. Problem is, of course, that the iPod doesn't. Oh, man, am I not looking forward to the prospect of having to convert thousands of files from ogg to mp3.

Anyway... If anybody has any advice about iPods or about ogg-to-mp3 conversion programs, I'll be happy to hear it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oooh! Nifty Things Arrive in My Mailbox!

OK, fess up... Who's the "mystery blogger" who sent me the Serenity DVD? Whoever you are, you rock mightily, and I offer much holiday-spirit love in your direction!

[Added a minute later: Aha! The mystery is solved by looking at the "billing address" on the invoice. I won't say who it was, just in case the person in question would prefer to remain anonymous, but my holiday-spirit love now goes out in a directly northerly direction! Thank you, "mystery blogger!" That was totally unexpected and sweet (and makes me wish I'd followed your suggestion, myself). A very, very merry Christmas to you!]
Happy Solstice!

Man, I am entirely ready for the days to start getting longer. There've been a lot of days lately when it seems like I've hardly seen the sun at all. Especially when I'm on night shift; by the time I'm up and showered and ready to set foot outside, the ol' hydrogen ball is long gone.

Anyway, in the spirit of the holiday season, here's a Christmas meme I've seen floating about here and there:

1. Do you have a real or fake Christmas tree?

No. I haven't done a Christmas tree in years. I did ask my mother if, since she and my grandmother were coming out this year, they wanted me to put one up, and she said, nah, they didn't really care. And, heck, the last time I went to Mom's for Christmas, she didn't bother putting one up, and we spent the holiday in Death Valley. So I don't think any of us are too hung up on the tradition these days. Anyway, I've had the experience of trying to have a Christmas tree and a small kitten in the same house, and I don't need that much chaos in my life.

I did hang up a spring of artificial holly over the shelf where I have the wrapped presents sitting. (I would have preferred real holly, but I'm pretty sure it's poisonous, and, again, I really don't trust that kitten.) I like it. Even if it's fake, it feels strangely honest. Like it's actually a symbol of life continuing through the dark of winter, and finding something bright and festive in a time of bleakness and cold.

2. Do you put up Christmas lights on the exterior of your home?

No. It's far too much work, and, while a simple string of white lights on a house is pretty, an entire neighborhood full of garish lights makes me grumpy.

3. What's your favorite Christmas song/carol?

I generally prefer wild and wacky novelty songs if I'm going to play Christmas music at all, but I do confess an odd fondness for "The Carol of the Bells."

4. What do you like better - turkey or ham?

Turkey. I love turkey.

5. Do you open up any Christmas presents on Christmas Eve?

When I was a kid, it was always strictly hands-off until Christmas morning. Later in life, that metamorphosed into, "Well, maybe just one on Christmas Eve." These days, it's as likely to be, "What the hell, let's open 'em all now and sleep in tomorrow."

6. Have you ever been Christmas caroling?

I think so, when I was very young. I don't remember it well.

7. What was your most memorable Christmas gift(s) that you received?

I don't know. I still remember the thrill of seeing the big ol' Barbie Dream House, sitting there in the living room all assembled on Christmas morning. Even now, when I look back and think, "Barbies? What was the matter with me?"

8. What's your favorite Christmas movie?

The Grinch, all the way.

9. Have you ever built a real snowman?

I think I made a few lame attempts at it when I was a kid.

10. Have you ever peeked into a present and found out what it was before Christmas?

Not deliberately -- I don't like spoilers, damn it! -- but I keep finding out by accident. Sigh.

11. What is on the top of your Christmas tree?

See question 1! But if I had one, it'd be a star. I'm pretty sure I've got one of those somewhere.

12. Do you own a Santa hat?

There wasn't one in my Box o' Christmas Stuff when I last looked, so apparently not.

13. When was the last time you had your picture taken with Santa Claus?

Sometime in my pre-teens, I think.

14. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Started and finished, except for the present for my brother-in-law that got lost in the mail and which they just re-shipped. Grr.

15. Do you put candy canes on your Christmas tree?

If I had a Christmas tree, there would absolutely be candy canes on it. Heck, I might just get the candy canes, anyway.

16. Who is hardest person to buy for?

My mother. She never claims to want anything, or if she does, it's usually something so minor and cheap you'd be embarrassed to get it for her.

17. Who is the easiest person to buy for?

My sister, because we have a lot of similar interests.

18. How old were you when you realized Santa was imaginary?

Seven, I think. I reasoned it out from the available evidence, thus starting myself on the lifelong trail to hardcore skepticism.

19. What does your morning of Christmas routine consist of?

These days, lazing around not doing much. Which is nice.

20. Egg nog?

No, thank you.

21. What do you want for Christmas this year?

A new mp3 player (because mine appears to be dying, which alarms me terribly), a dishwasher, and a complete set of Deep Space 9 DVDs. But I'll settle for a couple of books and a sweater.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Some More Random Links

Apparently you can now play Sim City online. I haven't tried it yet, but if I have some time to waste before my relatives show up for the holidays, I think I know where it's going.

I'd never expect to describe a judicial opinion as "a great read," but Judge John Jones' report on his ruling on the "intelligent design in public school" case in Dover, PA, well, is.

BBC radio has an hour-long documentary on Doctor Who. Some very interesting stuff. (Warning: contains spoilers for the first season of the new series, plus a sneak peak at the Christmas special.)

I normally don't blog about work-related stuff, and especially not complaints about work-related stuff (well, except as it relates to my sleep-schedule). But in this case, not only do I need the cathartic release, but I also regard this as something in the nature of a public service announcement, warning people away from an unbelievably craptastic product. (Also, absolutely nobody at work actually seems to disagree with me on this subject, my boss included, so it's not like I'm worried about them getting mad at me.)

The thing is, the organization I work for is looking at switching over from paper timecards to an electronic timekeeping system, and we got volunteered to be one of the first groups to try out the new system. Now, let me state for the record that I'm all in favor of electronic timecards (assuming the security issues are properly addressed, of course). This is the 21st century, after all, and doing stuff electronically is in theory the most efficient way to go. Besides, I'm in favor of getting a machine to do as much stuff for me as possible. That's why I drive an automatic.

It's a great pity, then, that PeopleSoft's software is insanely inefficient and requires you to put about ten or twenty times as much effort into filling out an electric timecard than you would for a paper one. Here are just a few of the blindingly stupid features of this incredibly amateurish piece of crap:

The table in which you are meant to fill out your hours will not fit on a normal sized screen, requiring you to scroll awkwardly from side to side.

Each employee has a five-digit account number. (A few people have two, because their hours are split between two different departments. ) This number has to be filled in on the time card. By hand. On each line. Every week. Over and over and over. The computer will not remember it for you. It will not fill it in for you. Oh, and if you don't remember which kinds of hours you're supposed to use it for and which you're not, it'll give you a highly misleading error message and then get so confused when you try to correct it by replacing the number with a blank field that the only way to proceed is to delete the entire line and start over.

Speaking of which... There are check boxes so you can select lines to delete from the table, but the "delete" button is nowhere near the table itself. It's tucked up neatly out of the way in a corner with a bunch of buttons for entirely unrelated functions.

This is the one that really gets me. You enter one line for each type of hours you have, and on each line you need to tell the software what kind of time you're entering. For this, there is a handy little table (which, if you have many lines on your timecard, is likely to partly scroll off the top of the screen) telling you what to type in for what kind of hours. Regular hours are 1, overtime is something else, vacation is, I dunno, 50 or something. It's impossible to remember, and there's not any kind of logical system to it

Let's contemplate that for a moment, shall we? You have to look up an obscure numerical code to tell the system what category of hours you worked. No dropdown menu with choices. Not even any simple letter codes like, oh, V for vacation. You have to look up an obscure numerical code. What the hell is that?! That's the extreme antithesis of user-friendliness. That's making human beings serve the computer instead of vice versa. That's completely failing to even get the friggin' concept of what computer automation is for. Aaargh!

When I mentioned this to someone, they said that, yes, people has asked the company's representatives about this and were told that it was that way "because the software requires a numerical input for that." To which I responded, "Then the software is bad!" That's so bad, it offends not just my aesthetic, but my moral sensibilities. That's not the way to treat your users. It's just... not. It's shameful.

What else? Oh, yes, this one tripped me up today, and was actually what set off the entire diatribe in the first place, in a final-straw kind of way. When you go to the timecard page, it automatically sets you up with a "card" for the current pay period. Fine. The thing is, if you then select the button for "next period" or "previous period," it does not change the date to the next or previous period. All it does is tell you what the next or previous period is, and you have to go in and hand-edit the date field. Because, gosh, we'd never want someone to be able to do with one click what they can accomplish with a click, a mouse-movement, and some typing, nor would we ever want to lure them into a sense of complacency by having the obvious and expected thing happen.

And all of that, I should mention, is just the stuff I encountered spending a couple of brief sessions trying to do very, very basic things. God only knows what horrors I'll find if I actually go looking. I have to wonder whether they did any user testing on this stuff at all. I mean, surely, if they gave it five minutes with an actual human being, it would have been immediately clear how flawed the damned thing is. Possibly they figure that, if you give yourself a touchy-feely name like "PeopleSoft," then you don't actually need to do anything else to actually serve the needs of people. After all, it's the PR that counts, right, not the actual quality of your product?

I'm told their requisition forms are even worse. I shudder to think. But apparently we're stuck with this system, whether anybody likes it or not, because the mandate to use it cames from very high up. Somebody told me they have some kind of arrangement with the National Science Foundation (aka the people holding our purse strings). I'm not sure if that's true or not, but if it is, I'm seriously thinking of complaining to my congressman.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Another Batch of Random Links

Peter David's "The TARDIS at Pooh Corner": "Once upon a time, on a planet named Gallifluff, which is as far away from Earth as the end of the week is from the beginning of the week (when it's the beginning of the week, of course) there lived a Time Lord named Doctor Pooh."

The Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery: Calvin is, quite simply, a twisted genius.

Penn Jillette talks about his religious convictions: Testify, Penn! Testify!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

7/9 Intellect
You are 73% knowledgable and 88% intellectual.
Excellent! You have a powerful mind backed by a good amount of knowledge. Keep cracking books and nothing can stop you.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 58% on knowledge
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 75% on intellect

Link: The Knowledge vs. Intellect Test written by rattytintinface on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

I'd be really intersted to see what the answers are supposed to be on this one. Quite a few of the "intellect" ones struck me as being trick questions, or as potentially having more than one answer. I also wish to point out that I know for a fact that at least one of the "knowledge" questions is technically inaccurate. (Bonus points to anyone who knows which one!)
In Which I Grow Even More Torqued Off at the Post Office

I have a huge box of stuff to send to my sister for Christmas, and I can't send it, because I'm waiting on one thing that, according to the shipping estimate, should have been here two days ago. Aaargh, I should have just had it sent directly, but it seemed more efficient to mail everything together. I should stop trying to be efficient.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Netflix Update

Yup, I just checked the mail, and, lo and behold, there was a scrap of Netflix envelope with my address on it, inside a plastic bag printed with a long-winded apology from the Post Office. Geez, I know this sort of thing happens, but twice in, what, three weeks? This is starting to seem like more than an "occasional mishap" (their bag-borne words). Fucking Post Office. Sigh.
Out of the House

I just got an e-mail from Netflix saying they'd received disc 5 of House from me. "Wow," I said to myself. "That was fast! I only mailed it back yesterday." Then I got another one saying they'd also received disc 6. Which, um... is more than I ever did. Either they've made some kind of mistake, or the same thing happened to that disc that happened to the Babylon 5 one: the flap on the envelope with my address on it got ripped off, leaving Netflix's address showing instead, and it got sent back to them. Either way, grrr. I want my House, damn it! I've become hooked on this show to an almost frightening extent, given the fact that it's really not the sort of show I normally get hooked on. But they've already got the next couple of discs (from a different series entirely) marked as "shipping today" and won't let me change that to get them to send me House instead. Which means that I'm going to have to wait until my Babylon 5 replacement disc arrives, then wait until I've watched it, then wait until they get it, then wait until they send me my damned House, just to be able to see the last couple of episodes. And by that point, my mother and grandmother will be here for the holiday, and there's no way in hell they're going to let me watch anything without wanting to talk over it. *sniff*

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I Think This Analysis Utterly Proves the Truth of What I Wrote.

Handwriting Analysis

What does your handwriting say about YOU?

The results of your analysis say:

You plan ahead, and are interested in beauty, design, outward appearance, and symmetry.
You are a social person who likes to talk and meet others.
You are diplomatic, objective, and live in the present.
You are a talkative person, maybe even a busybody!
You enjoy life in your own way and do not depend on the opinions of others.

(And, yeah, that's supposed to say "Graphology is bunk," not "Graphology is funk." Writing with a mouse ain't easy!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Open Letter to a Kitten

Dear Vir,

If you could stop going behind the entertainment center and turning off the power strip the TV and DVD player are plugged into while I'm trying to watch a disc, I would really, really appreciate it.

Your somewhat annoyed human
Um... I Really Kinda Don't Think So.

Your results:
You are Robin
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Young and acrobatic.
You don't mind stepping aside
to give someone else glory.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

I ain't as young as I used to be, I ain't acrobatic, and I wouldn't be caught dead wearing something like that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Yeah, and I Bloody Well Know How to Spell "Asimov!"

Stellar Traveler
Congratulations! You scored 84!
Time travel, alternate dimensions, strange new worlds, aliens, and all the rest, been there done that. Nothing surprises you anymore. You've abandon all sense or normal and really enjoy a dish that looks like writhing worms. A normal day is outsmarting and/or outblasting aliens, saving the female, and looking cool doing it.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 85% on scifi
Link: The v2.0 Science Fiction Test written by xkzy on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Also... "20+" counts as having read a lot of science fiction novels in your life? Please. I want extra points for being in the quadruple digits.

I do have to approve of the choice of picture, though.
State of the Kitten Report

Vir the kitten has now had his final round of shots and received his official tag saying he's not going to infect anybody with rabies. Yay! Assuming he remains in reasonable health, we shouldn't need another vet visit for about four months, when it'll be time to start thinking about getting him fixed. Yeah, we're all looking forward to that.

He's still growing like crazy, too. The last time I had him in, three weeks ago, he weighed just about two pounds. Now he's over four. If he keeps going at this rate, he's going to be the Cat That Ate Socorro, for sure.

I'm pleased to report that he seems to be getting on amazingly well with Nova these days, now that Nova's no longer freaked out by his presence. They do tussle a bit, but it seems to be fairly good-natured. They enjoy doing this thing where they bat at each other's paws, which is pretty amusing to watch. I've even seen them bump noses in friendly fashion a couple of times.

Happiness, alas, is less pleased with the new addition. She's such a sweet, good-natured, gentle cat when it comes to humans, but she seems to have very little patience with the kitten, and occasionally swats him even when he hasn't been doing anything. Well, she's starting to get on in years a little bit, and the vibe I'm getting off of her is that of a grumpy old lady who really wishes these damned youngsters would have her alone. Then again, she never did have much patience with Nova, either, even when she was young.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Out of Curiosity...

Am I the only one who routinely uses Google as a spell-checker? You know, type in some vague approximation to the spelling, wait 'til it asks you "Did you mean xxxx?", and go "Why, yes. Yes, I did. Thank you."? It occurs to me to ask because I did exactly this while I was trying to remember how to spell "Straczynski" a little while ago -- it's especially handy for proper names -- and it occurs to me to wonder if I am brilliantly original and inventive, or if everybody else on the internet has been doing this since the day Google went online.

(Now I just wish Blogger would get a decent spell-checker. The one Gmail uses is great. Why can't they just replace the old Blogger one with that?)
Time to Throw Out Some More Random Links!

An interview with David Tennant. Worth reading, though the first line makes me think the interviewer really hasn't met many female science fiction fans.

Serenity as performed by hand puppets. Hugely spoiler-laden, obviously.

Holy Tango of Literature. This is a work of sheer and utter brilliance, which explores "the question of what would happen if poets and playwrights wrote works whose titles were anagrams of their names." In a move that defies conventional wisdom, it's been made available online in hopes of selling more copies of the ink-and-paper book. It's working, too. I read a couple of excerpts and immediately decided to pick up a copy ASAP, 'cause I much prefer pages to screens.

J. Michael Straczynski is selling stuff imprinted with quotes from Babylon 5.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Go To Your Happy Place

Because my train of thought was interrupted in the middle of this earlier, and I did kind of need it...

A list of things right now today that make me happy:

Yes, the kitten. Even if he is pesky and bitey, when I look at him curled up asleep, I can't be angry with him. He's so tiny and perfectly formed, and I grew him up from a barely-born lump. And he's got an incredibly loud purr for such a tiny guy. When he's happy, he shares.

My DVD collection. As I said a little while ago in the comments, it's nearly impossible to be grumpy while watching Mystery Men.

Getting stuff done around the house. Yeah, I'm very far from the world's most conscientious housekeeper, but even spending an hour or so getting the laundry and the dishes done and picking up trash in the yard or something makes me feel like I've accomplished something, instead of wasting a day.

My mp3 player. I love being able to carry my entire music collection around in my pocket. I love being able to put it on random shuffle and get the coolest, strangest, most eclectic set of tunes to listen to while I'm puttering around.

Books. To Kill a Mockingbird isn't the sort of thing I usually read, and it's rather languidly paced, as befits a book about the Deep South, but I'm enjoying it a lot.

Stash tea. This evening, I've had Darjeeling, and ginger-peach black tea, and lemon-ginger green tea, and it's all yummy and stimulating and soothing, and it keeps me going.

Hot bubble baths. I'm going to have one soon, with a book and a mug of tea, so that's three happy-making things at once.

So, there. And, y'know, I'm a fundamentally happy person, really. It's just that you're much more likely to hear about it when I'm miserable, because I like to bitch. Anyway people who talk about being happy are irritating.

I've been having a really pissy, unpleasant day today. I'm unhappy with myself, and I'm unhappy with everybody else, and I'm unhappy with the world at large. And small things keep going wrong and making me even unhappier.

So I told myself, damn it, it's time to snap out of it. Better to think of all the things that make me happy. I picked up the kitten and was cuddling him, thinking about how he tops the list, not just because he's a kitten and cute, but because he represents one really good thing I've done for a fellow creature.

Then he bit me on the face. Hard.

I think this is one of those "laugh or cry" moments.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Gosh, That's Quite Literally True.

Your 2005 Song Is

Since You've Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

"But since you've been gone
I can breathe for the first time
I'm so moving on"

In 2005, you moved on.
Attention Friends and Family!

OK, who sent me the gift-wrapped package from Amazon with no note on the card?

Hmm. You know how I was complaining earlier about being lethargic and utterly without motivation or energy? Well, it's now 12:30 at night, and suddenly I feel wide awake and perky. Man, there just ain't nothin' rhythmic about my circadian rhythms at all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's That Meme Thing Again!

Current clothes: Jeans. A gray sweatshirt with a zipper that goes about a third of the way down and the emblem of Royal Caribbean cruise lines on the breast. My Science Fiction Book Club t-shirt under that. White tube socks. A pair of Homer Simpson slippers which are easily the most freakish and disturbing item of clothing I have ever owned. You put your foot into Homer's mouth, and his big googly eyes stare up at you.

Current mood: Eh. I'm pretty much over the cold, but I overslept badly this morning and woke up with a headache. Coffee and juice and a nice, hot shower chased it away, but it seems to have come back. Also, it's extremely cold and dark outside, and I haven't been in to work hardly at all this week, first due to not feeling well and then because the equipment I need to do my job with isn't functioning. (They're supposed to have things fixed tomorrow. We'll see.) It's all left me feeling kind of lethargic and blah, like all I really want to do is hibernate.

Current music: A mix disc put together by a friend of mine. If you're reading this, Stars, thanks!

Current annoyance: Enetation is pissing me off royally. It was never the world's greatest commenting system, but lately it's been getting worse and worse, to the point where it's barely usable. Comments don't show up after they're posted, or show up multiple times. The counter never updates unless I go to their website and force it to do a recount. And now when I'm logged in, it won't bring up the comments at all, which means I can't use any of the handy features, like being able to delete or edit stuff, or even report spam. And I can't even be bothered to go and complain, because they never seem to respond to complaints these days. I've been saying for a long time that the only reason I'm not dropping enetation and switching to Blogger's commenting system, now that they have one, is because it would basically mean losing all the years of comments I've accumulated so far (or at least not having the links to them on the posts, which amounts to the same thing). I'm starting to think that's not too big a price to pay, though. (If anybody wants to chime in with an opinion, feel free. I know most of you Loyal Readers are as pissed off with enetation as I am.)

Current thing: Watching episode after episode of House. I don't know why. They all have the same plot.

Current desktop picture: This picture of bright planets in the sunset sky over the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The Astronomy Picture of the Day website is a wonderful source of wallpaper.

Current song in head: "Addicted to Stress" by Jimmy Infantino. Kind of funny, considering that I seem to be having precisely the opposite problem.

Current book: To Kill a Mockingbird.

Current video in player: Nothing at the moment, but most recently a collection of Warner Brothers cartoons, mostly featuring Marvin the Martian.

Current DVD in player: Disc 4 of House, season 1.

Current refreshment: Lemon-ginger tea.

Current worry: I'm not sure I can work up the energy to feel worried about much of anything.

Current thought: "I'm addicted to stress, that's the way that I get things done..." Aargh! Make it stop!
Going Down

I'm not afraid of elevators. I don't get claustrophobic in them, and I don't worry about the cable breaking or the car getting stuck, I really don't. I don't use them as often as most people, I think, but that's only because stairs are healthier and don't involve any standing around and waiting.

So why do I keep having bad dreams involving elevators? It's weird.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Get Me 20 CCs of Television, Stat!

So, as I alluded to a couple of days ago, I've been watching the first season of House on DVD. And I've definitely been enjoying it. It's a smart show about scientific problem-solving, which appeals, and I've always been kind of a sucker for the deeply damaged, snarkily sarcastic, lovable-bastard characters. I'm also rather proud that I seem to have picked up enough layman's medical knowledge over the course of my lifetime of random reading to actually be able to follow the biobabble reasonably well. Sometimes I even chip in with a diagnosis. Like, today they had a nun who, in the middle of a medical test, suddenly complained of a nonexistent bad smell and started hallucinating that she was seeing Jesus. "Whoa," I thought to myself from my comfortable seat on the sofa, "that's definitely a brain thing. Sounds like something involving the temporal lobe." Sure enough, up comes one of our heroic medicos and immediately concludes that she has an inflammation in the temporal lobe (although this was a symptom of what was actually wrong with her, rather than the cause). Whoo-hoo! I am smart! I coulda been a doctor! Well, except for that whole not being able to stand the sight of blood thing, which I admit would be kind of a barrier.

I think it can be a dangerous show to watch, though. Somebody said to me the other day that it's probably not a great thing to see while you're sick. "He might give you ideas." And it's true. You can contract a serious case of hypochondria watching this stuff. I mean, I was just thinking about this cold I had, and the fact that, in the last few years (with the exception of a couple of nasty bouts of flu), my illnesses seem to have followed a strange pattern: I feel kind of listless for a couple of days, then I wake up one morning with a very mild set of cold symptoms but a profound feeling of unwellness and a desire not to move much. Then, a day or so later, I'm completely better. I like to think of this as an indication that my immune system is intelligent and healthy. It shuts my body down to give itself more resources to fight the invaders and beats them off handily. Yay, immune system! 'Cause that's much better than coughing and sneezing and being miserable for days. But, y'know, at the moment I'm half expecting to end up in a hospital some day with some horrible, mysterious disease and see Dr. House glaring down at me saying, "Why did you lie to me about your history of previous symptoms?" because I hadn't thought to tell him I'd had a weird pattern of what I'd thought were mild colds, but were in fact the key to diagnosing some rare, scary disease.

I occasionally think that nobody should be allowed to watch medical shows at all.

In other DVD-related news, Netflix was supposed to send me one of the Babylon 5 movies along with the next House disc, because I figured after twelve episodes or so, I might really need a break from the medical talk. And apparently they did send it to me, but all I received was the part of the envelope with my address on it and no disc attached. Grr. The annoying thing is that Netflix won't let you report a disc missing until it's been MIA for a week. Well, gosh, guys, I think we can pretty fairly say that it's not going to turn up in my mailbox, given that it must be floating around without an address on it. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Maximum Verbosity: The Year in Review

Here's an utterly pointless meme I picked up somewhere: Write down the first sentence of the first blog entry of each month of 2005. String them together to make a singularly pointless paragraph, and, lo, 'tis your blog's Year in Review!

Here's how mine came out:
Well, for the last couple of years on January 1st I've posted a list of the books I read in the previous year, and as far as I'm concerned that's enough to count as a tradition, so I figured I'd do it again. February has sort of taken me by surprise. Remember my computer problem that turned out not to actually be a problem with my computer? A couple of April Fool's Day links. I took yet another break from the moving thing last night and went up to Albuquerque to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was having an e-mail discussion with a friend a while back that really got me thinking. I'm getting kind of bored with this again, which is why there wasn't one last week. You are Seven of Nine. According to the Washington Post, the VCR is now a dead technology. Aargh. I just got this really odd e-mail from Here it is, December already, and most of my Christmas shopping is still undone.

Wow, that year went fast, didn't it?

Actually, I initially started doing this wrong and taking the last entry from each month, and was getting something that seemed almost startlingly coherent (albeit pretty inane). Maybe I'll do that as a variant when the year's actually up. Assuming I remember which, admittedly, I probably won't.

Monday, December 05, 2005

And What Did I Get All Those House, MD Discs for Last Week, If Watching Medical Shows Doesn't Keep You Healthy?

I woke up this morning feeling so chilly that I thought the pilot on the heater must've gone out again. (Well, it did the night before last.) But, no, it wasn't the heater. It was me. And, upon discovering that I also had a sneezy, runny, itchy nose, and that, despite having attained a more-or-less adequate amount of sleep, I felt a desperate desire to curl back up in bed and never move again, I realized why.

Gosh, I have a cold. Yay.

Decongestants have helped quite a bit with the nose, but I still feel like one big, inert, vaguely-achy lump of unwellness. Which is why I'm lying on the couch drinking lemon tea and watching cheesy 80's sci-fi instead of going to work today.


Friday, December 02, 2005

He's Watching Me Write This, Too.

Dear Vir,

I know that, being an eleven-week-old kitten, one of your greatest needs is for more-or-less constant attention. I understand this. However, I respectfully submit that the best way to get the kind of attention you actually want is not to jump on my keyboard and close my browser while I'm trying to surf.

Thank you,


Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Beginning to Look Too Damned Much Like Christmas

Here it is, December already, and most of my Christmas shopping is still undone. Eep! I'm usually pretty much finished by now. Which is a good thing, as I do a lot of my shopping online, and need to allow time for shipping and stuff. I'm starting to get seriously nervous, not least because, for several people on my list, I don't even have any ideas yet.