Sunday, December 31, 2006

Deep-Sixing '06

Happy New Year, everybody! Or happy End of the Old Year, depending on exactly where you live. There's still another six or seven hours left of 2006 where I am, and I'm intending to spend the rest of it slacking off; having already made a very poor showing of doing anything genuinely productive today, the only sensible thing seems to be to give up on it completely. So I'm going to go and hang out with some friends, watch some movies, and maybe even have a drink or three... Which, honestly, really does count as a wild party time for me.

Have fun, all, and be safe! I'll see ya in 2007!

Cat Scratch Fever!

Wow, I can tell I'm out of allergy pills. Every time I get cuddled by a cat, my skin feels like it's on fire.

Note to self: go to the pharmacy tomorrow, if it's open.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Set a Course for El Paso, Warp Factor 5!

A friend of mine -- hello and thanks, Captain Chlorophyll! -- sent me an old clipping from an El Paso newspaper (which I was also able to find an online copy of, if you're curious). It's from 2002, when the city was about to host its first Star Trek convention, for which occasion they were commissioning a plaque to mark the site of Gene Roddenberry's birthplace. "We can become a big Trekkie town," said an El Paso city representative. And, honestly, I'm bothering to share this mainly just because that quote, for some reason, cracks me up completely.

I have to say, I haven't exactly heard of El Paso having become "a big Trekkie town" in the last four years, but I admit to having been a bit out of the Trekkish loop lately. And, hey, if it works for Riverside, Iowa...

Sniffle and Blah

I have a cold. Waaaaah!

OK, OK, it's not actually all that bad. Even the wimpy decongestants the government is willing to trust me with seem to be enough to knock out most of the stuffiness. But I still feel like I want to crawl back under a blanket and spend the entire day watching Mythbusters and drinking herbal tea.

But, instead, I will go in to work, like the diligent, self-sacrificing person I am. Probably.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Maximum Verbosity Does Home Electronics

In other news, I did finally buy myself a digital camera. (Or at least I ordered it; it should be here in the early days of the new year.) Many thanks to everyone who offered suggestions and advice! I eventually ended up settling on the Canon Powershot A410, which was recommended to me by someone who said they owned one and were happy with it. The various reviews and customer feedback I looked at gave the strong impression of Canon as a reliable brand, and this particular camera as a good machine that's easy to use for the digital-camera novice and well-featured for the price. So I'm feeling pretty good about it!

It's only 3.2MP, though. My mother tried hard to convince me that anything less than 5MP was undesirable, but everything else I've read and everyone else I've consulted suggests that for normal-size photos 3.2 should be just fine. Hey, it's not the first time I've failed to listen to my mother...

I've also ordered some more memory for my PC, which is currently limping along like a small child trying to carry a Saint Bernard. Here's hoping fumble-fingered me can actually manage to open 'er up and install the thing without any hardware-related catastrophes. But if I suddenly drop off the face of the internet in a week or so, you can probably make a good guess as to why.

Baby, It's Slightly Chilly Outside.

I suppose it says something about the weather here that I only just today realized that I never unpacked any of my winter sweaters...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Joy for the Incorrigible Introvert

A very merry Christmas to all who celebrate, in whatever capacity!

I went out yesterday for a big turkey meal and some socializing (well, OK, gaming) with friends, and that was fun, but I'm opting for a nice, quiet, relaxing day today. I've got presents to open as soon as I've finished up my coffee, I've got apple pie and spiced chai for later, and I've got the Mythbusters holiday special on my TiVo. (Hey, that's my kind of seasonal programming!) And I'll doubtless talk to all my scattered family members on the phone.

Yeah, that sounds just about perfect to me...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I Think It's Past Time For Some Random Links!

Scary Mary: A trailer for Mary Poppins, remixed to make it look like a horror film. I think this one's been linked to by half the net already, but in case you haven't seen it, here it is.

Build a Dalek to Scare Drinkers: A news item about some guy who built a Dalek and uses it to scare drunken students. Hey, I can think of worse hobbies.

Verizon Math: Listen and weep as some poor bastard tries repeatedly to explain to the brain-dead Verizon employees who are providing his internet access that .002 cents and .002 dollars are, in fact, different amounts of money. Or if you can't make it through that because you've rendered yourself insensible from beating your head against a wall in sympathy, you can read the transcript on the VerizonMath blog. Apparently he's running a t-shirt design contest over there, too.

Attack of the Sprouts: Smash the evil brussel sprouts before they force you to eat them! It's a fun game for all right-minded evil-green-vegetable-hating people.

How to Wrap a Christmas Present: Santa teaches you how to wrap your gifts up all purty. Except that, man, he's doing pretty much exactly what I do, and mine always come out looking like they've been wrapped by a half-trained chimp.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tis Still The Season

OK, I'm ready for it to be Christmas now.

For what seems like weeks, I've constantly found myself deciding that whatever it is I'm thinking about doing ought to be put off until "after the holidays." There's something I want to buy for myself? Better put it off until after the holidays, lest someone else has decided to pluck it off my wishlist and buy it for me. There are things I know nobody's going to get for me which I really need to buy? Better put it off until after the holidays, so I don't have to fight the last-minute Christmas shoppers. I ought to make an appointment for the dentist/the doctor/a haircut/the vet? Eh, better put it off until after the holidays, when things'll be less hectic and it'll be easier to schedule.

Geez, isn't it "after the holidays" yet? Besides, I've got presents to open, and they've been sitting there forever.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Half-Awake Weather-Related Post

Oooh. Snow.

Gosh, What a Surprise User Test: The Trekkie Test.

I would say more about this, but I have to go re-arrange my Deep Space 9 action figures. One of the cats has been tussling with Garak again...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In Which I Solicit Consumer Advice

I've got some Christmas money coming, apparently, that's sort of been earmarked towards buying a digital camera, since I've been saying for months that I really need to get one, the better to post pictures of my cats on the internet like any decent, normal person. I know very little about cameras, though, digital or otherwise, so if anybody has any suggestions for good brands or for places to shop, I'll be glad to hear them. I'm not looking for anything remotely professional-quality, just something inexpensive and easy to use. I'm really hoping not to have to spend more than a couple hundred bucks, at the most.

Also, I have at last come to the conclusion that I really, really need to get a laptop. Or at least, I really, really want to get a laptop, which is close enough to "need" for my purposes. So any helpful thoughts/suggestions/comments on what to look for and what to avoid in the laptop department are also extremely welcome.

Mob Opera

There's no particular reason why I haven't updated for a few days. I've just been lazy. Lazy and boring.

But, what the heck, we'll call it time for another installment of What Betty's Watching, I've just finished the latest DVD release of The Sopranos. It's kind of surprising just how much I like this show, because, basically? It's a soap opera. I always used to think I hated soap operas, but I've come to realize that most of the traditional elements of soaps are in fact things that appeal to me. Complex, ongoing storylines in which we get to follow all the intimate details of various characters' lives.... Bring it on! What I actually hate is the kind of people that soap operas -- at least, US soap operas -- always seem to be about. Beautiful, glamorous people who are obsessed with their love lives and get hugely melodramatic about everything bore me. Hell, they actively repulse me. But give me something structured like a soap and make it about gangsters, and I'm totally there. Gangsters are interesting, and, while they're also kind of repulsive, they're repulsive in ways that are entertaining rather than painfully annoying to watch. (Possibly this is because I have had negative experiences with beautiful, shallow, melodramatic people going at least back to junior high school, but, despite living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for years, I have never had any traumatic personal experiences with the mafia.)

Which isn't to say there aren't any painfully annoying characters on The Sopranos, but the cool thing about that show is that the characters you keep wishing would die horribly often do. Ah, if only that were the case on certain other programs.

Honestly, the only thing that could possibly be better than a soap opera with gangsters would be a soap opera with gangsters in space. Because I firmly believe that everything is better if it's set in space. (Note: if any network executives happen to be reading this and are interested in this idea, I am easily reachable via e-mail.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Or Possibly I'm Just a Butterfly Dreaming All of This.

I woke up this morning -- too damned early -- to the sound of someone using a jackhammer practically right outside my window. Somehow, despite the noise, I managed to get back to sleep... and proceeded to have a dream about being woken up too damned early by someone using a jackhammer outside my window.

I know dreams tend to incorporate bits of reality, but this kind of turnaround time is ridiculous! (Though, yes, I know, it was undoubtedly the sound that did it. It's hard to interpret a jackhammer as sounding like anything else, even if you are asleep.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Totally Knew the Traveling Wilburys Question.

Rock Star
You scored 98%!
You damn rock star. You know all the basics, and if you got any wrong, I bet it was that stupid Traveling Wilburys question.

Your friends are probably intimidated by your knowledge of classic rock and envy your impressive collection. When a classic rock song comes on the radio, you can probably identify it before the vocals kick in most of the time. You probably get good scores on the "maiden name of Clapton's mom" tests, too.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on notes

Link: The BASIC classic rock Test written by allmydays on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Still The Same Old Blog

So, apparently when it says "Your new version of Blogger is ready!" in large, enthusiastic letters on my Blogger dashboard, it lies. Because I finally conquered my fear of change and clicked the link asking it to switch me over, and it promptly told me it couldn't, because my blog is too big. (Well, yeah, guys, it's not called "Maximum Verbosity" for nothing.) I am feeling oddly disappointed.

Also, the page telling me why I couldn't switch over seems to indicate that the new version still is considered to be in the beta stage, which isn't exactly what "ready" indicates to me, either. Well, never mind. I'll just sit here with my huge-ass blog and wait for the technology to catch up with me...

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Can't Help It If I Fear Change.

By the way, Blogger is now informing me that their new version is out of beta and ready for use and that I should switch to it, but I can't help but feel a little nervous, especially as I recall people who were using it while it was still in beta complaining about it rather loudly.

Is anybody out there currently using the new version of Blogger? How different is it?

I'm a Loser, Baby...

Loser- INTP
20% Extraversion, 66% Intuition, 53% Thinking, 46% Judging
Talked to another human being lately? I'm serious. You value knowledge
above ALL else. You love new ideas, and become very excited over
abstractions and theories. The fact that nobody else cares still hasn't
become apparent to you...

Nerd's a great word to describe you, and I seriously couldn't care less
about the different definitions of the word and why you're actually
more of a geek than a nerd. Don't pretend you weren't thinking that.
You want every single miniscule fact and theory to be presented

Critical? Sarcastic? Cynical? Pessimistic? Just a few words to describe
you when you're at your very best...*cough* Sorry, I mean worst.
Picking up the dudes or dudettes isn't something you find easy, but
don't worry too much about it. You can blame it on your personality
type now.

On top of all this, you're shy. Nice one, wench. No wonder you're on OKCupid!

Now, quickly go and delete everything about "theoretical questions"
from your profile page. As long as nobody tries to start a conversation
with you, just MAYBE you'll now have a chance of picking up a date. But
don't get your hopes up.

I am interested though. If a tree fell over in a forest, would it really make a sound?


If you want to learn more about your personality type in a slightly less negative way, check out this.


The other personality types are as follows...
Loner - Introverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Pushover - Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Criminal - Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Borefest - Introverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Almost Perfect - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Freak - Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Crackpot - Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

Clown - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving

Sap - Extraverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Commander - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Perceiving

Do Gooder - Extraverted Sensing Thinking Judging

Scumbag - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving

Busybody - Extraverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging

Prick - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

Dictator - Extraverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Extraversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Intuition
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Thinking
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Judging

Link: The Brutally Honest Personality Test written by UltimateMaster on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Heh. I have to admit, they got me dead to rights. I was thinking about the shades of definition between "nerd" and "geek." Although, really, I'm not at all pessimistic and cynical! Except when I am...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Meme For All Months

Current clothes: Gray sweatpants. A black t-shirt I just bought at White Sands, with a lovely picture of sunset over the sands. White crew socks. Black sneakers.

Current mood: Pretty good. Kind of hungry.

Current music: The family road trip was pretty much a cavalcade of classic rock, featuring The Who, The Moody Blues, The Grateful Dead, and Jethro Tull. Since then, I've been catching up on my podcasts instead of listening to music, though.

Current annoyance: My computer keeps freezing up at random moments. I think it really needs some more memory. I hope that's all it really needs.

Current thing: Not going to work. Although I'm back there tomorrow, alas. It should be interesting, as they were supposed to be reorganizing everything while I was gone.

Current desktop picture: This picture of lightning at Kitt Peak Observatory.

Current song in head: "Dude Looks Like a Lady." Because I just got a calendar in the mail, but they sent me one with women on it when I ordered men. Don't look at me like that. It's very tasteful and intellectual. Really.

Current book: Adverbs by Daniel Handler.

Current DVD in player: Last weekend's episode of Torchwood.

Current refreshment: Water.

Current worry: That I'm going to end up with diabetes, given that there's a history of it on both sides of my family. Spending time with my dad really reminded me of it -- he and his wife both have it -- but it's something I've been mildly worried about for a while. I'll sometimes find myself feeling really thirsty and thinking, "uh-oh, is this a symptom?" and then having to remind myself that, no, you idiot, you just ate a bag of potato chips.

Current thought: Mmm... potato chips...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Meme For December

Write the first sentence from the first entry of every month.

OK, here we go. The Year in Maximum Verbosity:

January: Since it's sort of become traditional for some insane reason, I hereby present the complete list of all the books I read in 2005.

February: A friend of mine, on having located the relevant anthology and discovered that I had, in fact, correctly identified the author of a science fiction story he'd mentioned in passing to me months ago: "You're a scary, scary nerd."

March: I finished the Doctor Who commentaries today, while I was sitting around being mostly brain-dead from lack of sleep.

April: I wasn't feeling very well for much of the weekend.

May: I dropped a full cup of coffee onto the carpet in my hallway practically first thing this morning.

June: Well, that seems kind of pointless and silly.

July: Oh, god damn it.

August: So, last night -- well, this afternoon, technically -- I dreamed I was part of a group that was unearthing this ancient artifact from a cave.

September: There is very little in this world more intrinsically funny than a cat who's got his head stuck in a box of kleenex.

October: Thanks to the acquisition of the TiVo, my DVD-watching rate has dropped off enough I can practically hear the folks at Netflix breathing a sigh of relief.

November: I suppose it's nice to know that, after spending pretty much my entire adult life in New Mexico, I still haven't lost the old South Jersey accent.

December: Well, the relatives have been safely dispatched to the airport!

Yeah, I think that probably tells you most of what you need to know about me and my year...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Whoo-hoo! I Even Beat Firefly!

3 Episodes
( 61 Costs, 27 Reception, and 20 Cult Appeal )
Everything seemed to go wrong with you. You had high hopes and high
expectations, and you poured the money into making sure it happened.
But something along the way went wrong. People just didn't tune in. And
because you tried to go for the bigger mainstream audience, you didn't
inject enough innovative material to make the experts take notice. An
failure in every sense of the word, FOX lets you go after a meager
three episodes.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Costs
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Reception
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Cult Appeal

Link: The When Will FOX Cancel You? Test written by hashtable on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Didja Miss Me?

Well, the relatives have been safely dispatched to the airport! It was a pleasant visit, but they did kind of tire me out. I think I did more driving in this past week than in the past year combined. By New Mexico standards, at least, I guess we didn't actually cover all that much ground: back and forth to the Albuquerque airport twice, down to Alamogordo and White Sands, and then out to the VLA site. But I think that's a reasonably respectable number of miles added to the odometer.

We, um, also did a Doctor Who marathon at one point. Because it seems that it is utterly impossible for me to have any sort of social interaction without that happening, somehow.

In any case, I'm back at the ol' blog now... Although my predictions were correct, and I didn't get much done online while they were here, so I'm pretty far behind on e-mail and such and it may take me a while to get caught up. (Hey, even, I have to step away from the computer sometime! Apparently.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Weather Gods Hate Me.

Most of the month it's been sunny and pleasant here, often warm enough during the day to go outside in short sleeves. Today, when I have to drive to Albuquerque to pick people up at the airport, they're predicting snow. Sigh.

Whiling Away The Time While I Wait For My Visitors...

Ooh, when do I get my solar-powered cabin in the woods?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Afternoon

How in the world did it get to be Tuesday already?

I haven't actually been doing a whole lot over the last couple of days... I took today off work and have been tidying the house a bit in preparation for a visit from my dad and his wife, who should be descending upon me round about this time tomorrow. (*waves to them*) I'm still not exactly going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens or anything, but at least you can now walk through the utility room in your bare feet without getting crunchy stuff stuck between your toes, so I consider that progress.

Anyway, you might not be seeing me around the internet all that much for the next week or so, as I seem to have read somewhere that when one has guests it's considered appropriate to actually pay some attention to them, rather than sitting in front of a computer all day. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mad Cow Addendum

OK, I kind of lost the cheeseburger craving when I got to the part in the book that started talking about suspiciously mad cow-like deaths in exactly the area I used to live in, which seem to be traceable back to a period overlapping with the time that I lived there. I think I only ate at the place they're pointing the finger at once, though, and that was almost certainly a different batch of food, and I'm pretty sure I had chicken, anyway. Still, man, that's never a good context in which to suddenly encounter a mention of your old home town...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Perhaps My Brain's Gone Spongy

There is undoubtedly something seriously wrong with me, seeing as reading about mad cow disease has just given me an incredible craving for a cheeseburger.

Yet Another Problem Solved By The Sufficient Application of High Explosives

I'd been wondering what those even-louder-than-usual booms we've been hearing here in Socorro lately were. According to the local paper, it seems that they're making diamond out on the explosives range. That's right, they're making diamond. Out of carbon. Using about 9,000 tons of explosives. Usually they try to schedule stuff like that when the weather's right to channel the shock wave away from the town, but there was an unexpected weather inversion, so we all got our windows rattled pretty good.

Man, this is such an entertaining place to live.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Am Thankful For British TV Shows.

To the Americans in the audience: Happy Thanksgiving!

To the non-Americans in the audience: Happy Random Thursday!

As it happens, today is also the 43rd anniversary of Doctor Who. I think I'll wear my Dalek t-shirt when I get dressed to go eat turkey.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Random Meme of Boredom

Look, here's a bunch of silly questions I found floating around on the internet:

I see: The computer screen in front of me. Duh.
I need: Oxygen and food.
I find: Remote controls between the sofa cushions.
I want: To go home.
I have: A job that pays money, which is why I am not at home.
I wish: I did not have to work for money, but had it brought to me by the Magical Money Fairy.
I love: Doctor Who.
I hate: Star Trek: Voyager.
I miss: Farscape.
I fear: Horrible fatal diseases.
I feel: Restless.
I hear: Lots of electronic equipment humming away.
I smell: *sniffs armpits* No, I don't.
I crave: Wild sex with Jack Harkness. Or possibly a chocolate bar.
I search: For Christmas ideas for my hard-to-buy-for relatives.
I wonder: "I wonder why. I wonder why. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder" -- Richard Feynman
I regret: That I have but one life to give for... Well, actually, I just regret that I have but one life.

When was the last time you ...

Smiled?: I don't know. I haven't been watching myself. Probably very recently.
Laughed?: I think earlier today when I was watching an episode of Stargate. That Colonel O'Neill's a funny guy.
Cried?: I don't remember, but it was probably over something really stupid, like a movie.
Bought something?: I ordered a sweatshirt yesterday. At least, I think it was yesterday. I figured that'd be my Christmas present to myself.
Danced?: I don't dance. Although I was sort of forced to at my sister's wedding, so I guess it was then.
Were sarcastic?: I don't know. I don't keep track.
Kissed someone?: If I say "do cats count?" I'm just going to sound more pathetic than I already am, right?
Talked to an ex?: I think it was December of '04. I told him it was probably better if he didn't call me again, and he hasn't.
Watched your favorite movie?: You know, it's been a while since I popped The Wrath of Khan into the old DVD player...
Had a nightmare?: I vaguely remember having some kind of disturbing dream in the last few weeks, but not what it was.

A Last time for everything ...

Last book you read: The last book I finished was The Book of Jhereg by Steven Brust, which is actually an omnibus volume of three of his "Vlad Taltos" books: Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla. It's an entertaining fantasy series; I really ought to pick up the rest of it sometime. The last book I read any of was The Family That Couldn't Sleep by D.T. Max. It's about prion-induced diseases, such as "mad cow" and a rare, bizarre kind of fatal hereditary insomnia, as referenced in the title.
Last movie you saw: In the theater, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, because that's when I swore off movie theaters. On DVD, Seven Samurai.
Last song you heard: According to my iPod, "Little Light of Love" by R.X.R.A., from the Fifth Element soundtrack.
Last thing you had to drink: Darjeeling tea.
Last time you showered: Around noon-ish today.
Last thing you ate: A green apple. I think it may have been a Granny Smith, but I don't remember, and I'm not that up on my apples.

Do You ...

Smoke?: Only when I'm on fire.
Do drugs?: Caffeine. Lots of caffeine.
Have sex?: You mean with other people? I vaguely remember what that's like.
Sleep with stuffed animals?: I have two teddy bears which sometimes sleep in the bed and sometimes lie abandoned underneath it.
Live in the moment?: I live several centuries in the future.
Have a boyfriend/girlfriend?: No.
Have a dream that keeps coming back?: I have several recurring dreams. Or, rather, recurring variations on the same dream themes. For some reason, many of them involve elevators.
Play an instrument?: I played the flute for a few months when I was about ten, but I've completely forgotten everything musical that I was ever taught. Which wasn't much.
Believe there is life on other planets?: It seems extremely likely. It's a biiiiiig universe.
Remember your first love?: My memory's bad, but it's not that bad.
Still love him/her?: Not really.
Read the newspaper?: Nah. I get my news from blogs and The Daily Show.
Have any gay or lesbian friends?: Sure. Although I think most of 'em I only know on the internet.
Believe in miracles?: If by that you're implying something supernatural, then no.
Believe it's possible to remain faithful forever?: Of course it's possible. It doesn't break any laws of physics or anything, does it?
Consider yourself tolerant of others?: I try to be.
Consider love a mistake?: Sometimes.
Like the taste of alcohol?: Not in and of itself, no.
Have a favorite candy?: Chocolate covered pretzels.
Believe in astrology?: No. And despite my answer to the "tolerance" question above, I have to admit that I think less of people who do.
Believe in magic?: I believe in sleight-of-hand.
Believe in God?: No.
Pray?: No.
Go to church?: No.
Have any secrets?: Like I'd tell you if I did.
Have any pets: Three cats.
Do well in school?: I did very well. Which, after five years of college, left me completely burned out.
Go to or plan to go to college?: Every so often I'll think about going back to college and getting a Master's or something. And then I'll come back to my senses.
Have a major?: I majored in astrophysics. Which is a fun thing to tell people, because it sounds more impressive than it is.
Talk to strangers who instant message you?: I don't think that's ever happened. I rarely turn on instant messaging.
Have any piercings?: No. Nobody's ever sticking holes in my body unless it's medically necessary.
Have any tattoos?: No.
Hate yourself?: No. That would suck.
Have an obsession?: Well, there's that all-encompassing sci-fi geek thing I've got going on.
Have a secret crush?: Well, the one on Jack Harkness is clearly not a secret...
Do they know yet?: Sadly, Jack Harkness does not actually exist. So, no.
Collect anything?: Books, books, books, and, uh, more books.
Have a best friend?: I don't know. I have at least one pretty good friend.
Wish on stars?: Like some ball of hydrogen light-years away is going to do me personal favors.
Like your handwriting?: Yeah, kind of. It's distinctive and original, and it's easy to read if I'm actually careful with it. Which, admittedly, I'm frequently not.
Have any bad habits?: Yes.
Care about looks?: I care when my hair gets long enough that it starts to stick out from my face.
Boy/girlfriend's looks?: I couldn't care less what somebody's boy/girlfriend looks like.
Friends and other people?: What about them? Do I care what they look like? Pfeh. They're lucky if I even notice what they look like.
Believe in witches?: I believe in Neo-Pagans.
Believe in Satan?: Only in the same sense that I believe in Count Dracula and Hercules.
Believe in ghosts?: No.

Well. That killed a few minutes pretty darned dead.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Words, Words, Words

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

A decade or so ago, I suspect I would have made obsessive-compulsive. I blame the internet for distracting me from my reading. I also find it highly amusing that the "how big is your to-read pile" question only goes up to "10." I think I deserve extra points for making it well into the triple-digits on that one.

I really can't argue with that description, though.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You Know You're From South Jersey When...

There was a really good episode of House on last night, about which I will not say much a) because I don't want to give spoilers and b) because I don't actually have any Deep Thoughts about it. But I will say this: Man, if I had 24 hours to live, I would so totally want a hoagie.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Vulpine Vicissitudes Of Varos

Speaking of Doctor Who (as I do)... I've been reading a bunch of these old episode novelizations lately. They're kind of fun for when I want a break between "real" books, and some of them aren't bad. Then again, boy howdy, some of them are.

Currently I'm reading the novelization of "Vengeance on Varos", an episode of debatable quality to begin with, although I personally think it does some fairly decent satirical things. But man is the book version bad. A little while back, Fred over at Occasional Fish posted a quote from Jane Espenson about the value to writers of reading bad writing, if only for the sake of encouragement. I totally think Espenson should read this one. It certainly makes me feel pretty good about my own chances of getting published if, you know, I ever actually wrote anything publishable. (Man, I could novelize Doctor Who episodes! I totally could! I'd be way better than this guy!) It also makes me realize that scriptwriting and prose writing clearly do not involve exactly the same skill set, because the guy who wrote the novelization also did the original script.

Here, check this out. It is very possibly the most amusingly awful passage I've read in ages. The setup (which is goofy enough in its own right, although perhaps not unusually so for Doctor Who) is that a couple of women have been captured by a mad scientist who is using some kind of experimental ray to turn them into... Well, I have no idea what, actually, and neither does he. But, here:
'I just won't look!' Peri said, clenching her eyes shut but feeling the stiff vulpine feathers that had now emerged almost fully all over her arms. Peri began to bear less and less resemblance to the attractive girl who, despite all her vicissitudes, had always retained a physical bloom of health. Now she had begun to resemble an ugly vulture-like bird with glossy black feathers that grew longer and longer as she approached final disfigurement.

Areta was a trifle more fortunate than Peri for she retained much of her original body shape though the texture of her skin had turned completely into a lizard-like scale of apple-green.

Dude, if you posted that as fan fiction, people would mock you. And who knew foxes had feathers? They must be mutant space-foxes!

Can't... stop... giggling...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Random Links, With A Whovian Bias

Irritating Game: A really irritating game. Click on the lower left corner for English instructions, such as they are.

The real reason Christopher Eccleston left Doctor Who: A video that should be funny to Who fans and Trekkies alike. This guy's Eccleston impression is frighteningly good.

John Barrowman interviewed on Jonathon Ross, part 1 and part 2: Warning: contains spoilers for episode 4 of Torchwood, and some very off-color conversation. (I'm not sure he'd even be allowed to tell that dirty frat party story on American TV.) But, man, Barrowman is just incredibly funny and charming and goofy and geeky and, oh, god, I am far too old and cynical for a celebrity crush...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Take A Look At The Lawman...

Man, I've got a TiVo full of stuff I'm way behind on watching, but at least I've finally finished the first season of Life on Mars. I think I can really recommend this one; it may not be one of those programs that spurs an obsessive interest from me, but it's definitely worthwhile. The premise is that a modern-day police detective, Sam Tyler, is in a car accident and inexplicably wakes up in the year 1973. Except it appears that he is simultaneously (or actually?) in a coma back in 2006, as he can occasionally hear doctors talking around his bedside and the sound of life-support machinery, as well as other odd things. The result is a show that works on a number of different levels: There's the over-arching mystery of exactly what the heck is going on here, how real it is, and what Sam ought to do about it, and then there's a sort of cop-story-of-the-week format overlaid on top of that. There's also some interesting culture-clash stuff about the differences between 1970s and 2000s policing environments, some moments of real emotional poignancy (especially when Sam encounters faces from his own past), and a dry, witty British sense of humor. What really makes the show, though, are the sometimes absolutely hysterical interactions between Sam and his thuggish 1973 police captain, who is one of those wonderful, uniquely British characters who are so unlikeable that they emerge straight out the other side and into likeability again. Oh, and there's some great classic rock on the soundtrack, which is definitely a bonus in my book.

By the way, I was lucky enough to get my hands on the full hour-length episodes that were shown in the UK. I understand that they were chopped down immensely for airing on BBC America, and it makes me cringe to think how badly they must have been butchered to make room for a full complement of American commercials. If you're in the US and interested in catching this one, I strongly recommend seeking out the uncut versions.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Month, Another Meme

Current clothes: A blue t-shirt with... I dunno, it's not exactly a tie-dye pattern, as there are none of those big circles, but it's something similar. Blue jeans. White tube socks. Black belt. Black sneakers.

Current mood: It wasn't too bad until the "current annoyance" thing popped up a few minutes ago. Now I'm, well, annoyed. But I'm sure I'll get over it soon.

Current music: I haven't actually been listening to much music lately... Mostly my auditory input has been podcasts. Most recently played: Escape Pod, Planetary Radio, Penn Jillette's radio show, Ron Moore's Battlestar Galactica commentary, and The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.

Current annoyance: I just got this long, incoherent political screed in my inbox, sent to me as a private message from someone I don't know via a non-politically-oriented website I have an account with. I immediately reported their ass to the admins. Now I feel kind of guilty, as it was probably just some stupid kid who felt passionately about sharing that message with people. And I feel really annoyed with myself for feeling guilty, as spamming is never an acceptable option for sending any message, and people who do it ought to be discouraged thoroughly and immediately. Damn it.

Current thing: Turning into a crotchety old netizen, apparently.

Current desktop picture: This depiction of "Supernova 1993J and its fourier transform," which received an Honorable Mention in NRAO's recent astronomical image contest. Not only is it a cool picture, but I feel a certain connection with it, since my job, basically, is to turn one of these images into the other. (Well, OK, my job is more like operating the machine that does the first step in that process, but close enough.) Also, I recall being really, really annoyed by how difficult that particular project was to do, and how many times it had to be done over due to various problems, and saying something along the lines of, "This had better be the most interesting damned supernova remnant in the history of astronomy!" Well, it may or may not be, but at least I have this pretty picture to show for all my grief and hair-tearing.

Current song in head: David Bowie's "Life on Mars." See "current DVD in player" for the reason.

Current book: The Book of the Still, a Doctor Who novel by Paul Ebbs. I am very, very slowly working my way through these Eighth Doctor books, and I think I'm finally getting close to the end of the series. I've only read the first chapter in this one, but it looks like it's going to be really interesting.

Current DVD in player: Most recently watched was Daria: Is It College Yet? I never could stand Beavis & Butthead, but the spinoff was much more appealing, mainly because its protagonist actually had functioning brain cells. Also sitting in a player is a disc with a couple of episodes of the British show Life on Mars, about which I'm sure I will have some things to say when I'm finished watching it (other than the fact that it's resulted in the Bowie song being stuck in my head).

Current refreshment: I finished my morning coffee a little while ago, and am thinking that I really ought to scare up some food.

Current worry: We're going through some reorganization at work which basically requires me to learn an entirely new skillset on top of the old one. I won't say I'm actually worried about this, as I'm sure I'll pick it all up. But I think the transition is of necessity going to be messy.

Current thought: I am hungry. I want a nice, big breakfast, with bacon and eggs and hash browns and juice. Which I probably won't actually have...

After The Politics, It's Time For Religion.

I've just finished Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. It's kind of an odd book, and I wasn't terribly impressed with it at first... He spends 40 or 50 pages talking about why he considers it a legitimate exercise to write the book before he actually gets around to, y'know, writing the book, and then another 150 or so giving me a strong impression of talking a great deal without actually saying very much. But around the 200-page mark either I woke up or he suddenly started being a lot more coherent and interesting, and I enjoyed reading the rest of it.

Anyway, there's a passage (at about page 300), that I wanted to quote, mostly for my own benefit, because I really, really like it and want to look at it more:
In the course of my research on this book, I found one opinion expressed in slightly different ways by people across the spectrum of religious views: "man" has a "deep need" for "spirituality," a need that is fulfilled for some by traditional organized religion, for others by New Age cults or movements or hobbies, and for still others by the intense pursuit of art or music, pottery or environmental activism -- or football! What fascinates me about this delightfully versatile craving for "spirituality" is that people think they know what they are talking about, even though -- or perhaps because -- nobody bothers to explain just what they mean. It is supposed to be obvious, I guess. But it really isn't. When I've asked people to explain themselves, they typically beg off, along the lines of Louis Armstrong's oft-quoted reply when asked what jazz was: "If you gotta ask, you ain't never gonna get to know." This will not do. To see for yourself how hard it is to say what spirituality is, take a stab at improving on this parody, boiled down from many frustrating encounters: "Spirituality is, you know, like, it's like paying attention to your soul or having deep thoughts that really move you, and not just thinking about who's got nicer clothes and whether to buy a new car and what's for dinner and stuff like that. Spirituality is really caring and not being just, you know, materialistic." Along with this common and unreflective view of spirituality goes a stereotype of the atheist: atheists lack "values"; they are careless, self-centered, shallow, overconfident. They think they know it all, and yet they completely miss out on the spirit. (You really can't be a good person unless you have a spiritual life.)

Now let me try to put better words in their mouths. What these people have realized is one of the best secrets of life: let your self go. If you can approach the world's complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only just scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the great scheme of things. Keeping that awestruck vision of the world ready to hand while dealing with the demands of daily living is no easy exercise, but it is definitely worth the effort, for if you can stay centered, and engaged, you will find the hard choices easier, the right words will come to you when you need them, and you will indeed be a better person. That, I propose, is the secret to spirituality, and it has nothing at all to do with believing in an immortal soul, or in anything supernatural.

Honestly, I think the whole book may have been worth reading just for that bit.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Next Time, I'm Writing In "Batman."

No post-election commentary from me (although I will confess myself pleased with the results), but I did want to share this great bit of timely humor: Election Day 2006 - Whose Side Is Your Favorite Superhero On? I'm not even that big a fan of either politics or superhero comics, but this cracked me up completely.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Talk To Myself Often, Just Usually Not By E-Mail.

I received a really bizarre e-mail today, which I am quoting with permission of the author. The subject line was "Ah, there I am! I mean, there you are," because it's from the kind of person who uses Doctor Who quotes as the subject of e-mails. It was kind of surreal to read, although I suspect the effect would have been better if I hadn't encountered it while half-asleep:
Greetings from your past. In the fall of 2005, you agreed to receive this message, which has been preserved for a year in the E-Mail Time Capsule. For more details, visit

Here is the text of your message:

Hello, me from a year in the future! Hope this e-mail finds you well, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is probably pointless as a time capsule, because you can just look back at the blog archives if you ever happen to be wondering, gosh, what was I doing in November, 2005?, but what the heck. I'll send 'em to later yous (uh, mes), too. If I remember.

So right now, well, little Vir the kitten is seven weeks old and cute as a fuzzy little bug. Did you manage to teach him not to bite? 'Cause I can imagine that being a problem, now that he's adult-sized. Not that you can answer that question, of course, lacking a functional time machine. Well, I guess you *can* answer it, just, you know, a year later. And by this time you already know the answer, of course, so it's kind of pointless.

Yeah, I'm rambling. You used to do that, remember? And, a year later, I'm sure you still do.

OK, I need to get back to not-working now. (Nov. 7th, 2005: Dayshift. No queue. Dull.)

Have a good day. Go do something fun that'll be worth telling yourself about a year later.



I vaguely remember doing this now (and apparently I did mention it here), but I have absolutely no idea what it is I said in any of the other e-mails. So I guess it'll be a surprise!

For the record, Vir Catto no longer bites the way he did at seven weeks. He actually grew out of that pretty quickly. And it is a good thing because, yeah, I think that'd hurt a lot, as big as he is now. Of course, he's still a pain in the ass in a lot of other ways. But he's still kind of fuzzy and cute, if no longer to quite the same bug-like degree.

Alas, I fear I shall fail to follow my younger self's instructions about going out and doing something memorable, as my plan for today is basically: chug down enough coffee to offset the fact that I only got about six hours of sleep, watch a couple of things on DVD, go to work. I'm sorry for failing you, younger self! But that's almost an inevitable part of life, really, isn't it?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Today's Random TV-Related Thought

Watching British cop shows is weird. I keep finding myself thinking, wait a minute, why on Earth don't they just draw their guns-- Oh.

I suspect that, no matter how many British cop shows I watch, this is always going to be the case. Which certainly says something about either about the US or the UK. Or possibly just about me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mmmm, Cheesesteak...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?

I suppose it's nice to know that, after spending pretty much my entire adult life in New Mexico, I still haven't lost the old South Jersey accent. Even though no one here has told me I talk funny in years.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Plus, Even Pictures Of This Guy Fully Clothed Probably Violate The Sexual Harassment Policy.

Hmm. Possibly putting a picture of Jack Harkness up as wallpaper on my work PC is not the very best idea if I, like, actually want to get any work done.

But, gosh, that is pretty.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Falling Back

Dear Self,

You know that trying to take a nap only makes you groggier. Stop it.

No love,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pretty Much All My Culture Is Pop Culture.

I'm finding myself extremely tempted to actually go to the symphony next week...

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Does Anybody Really Care Whether I Can Post About It?

After a nice, long period of stability, it now seems like every time I try to post here, Blogger's broken in one fashion or another. I've been trying to publish that last links post since yesterday. Sigh. I really do sometimes think that the internet just hates me, but I'm sure it's entirely coincidence that this sort of thing starts happening right about the time I start thinking, "Hey, I have better net access now and will post more often!"

In other things-that-annoy-me news, I know I've ranted about this before, but what the hell: I hate daylight savings time. I hate changing on to it, I hate changing off of it, and I hate everyone who decided it would be a good idea to force the rest of us to arbitrarily mess with our clocks. I suspect them all of being evil morning people -- morning people quietly rule the world, the bastards -- and it's quite clear none of them ever did shiftwork in their lives. Dudes, my body clock gets screwed with enough without the government coming in and deliberately fucking with it twice a year. This time, I get the fun experience of having to stay up for an extra hour at the end of my tiring night shift before I can finally go to bed at a brighter, sunnier hour. Joy. At least I'm not on a schedule now where I ever have to work on Saturday nights. I've also had the fun experiences of being required to work an hour-longer shift and of trying to figure out how not to lose an hour's pay on a shorter one because I was on duty when the time changed.

Also, it seems that half the clocks I own automatically reset themselves during the shift and half of them don't. And since I don't actually know which are which, I can never be entirely sure when looking at a clock today whether it's lying to me or not.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Linkitty, Linkitty!

Yes, it's once again time for me to dump a bunch of random links I've found while surfing about the net on you poor, unsuspecting readers. Thus:

SongTapper: Tap out a tune on your space bar, and a computer attempts to identify it for you. I don't know how good it is, generally, but it guessed my rendition of TMBG's "Theme from Flood" with impressive ease.

Dr. DeBunko: A comics series about a guy who goes around applying reason and common sense to things like, oh, the existence of corpse-eating werewolves. Some nice bits of humor.

Six word stories: I think this has been linked to from pretty much everywhere on the net, but what the heck. There's some wonderful six-word gems here, from some highly talented authors.

Ducktor Who: I totally, totally need one of these for my bathtub.

The book with the funniest Amazon reviews ever: The book is exactly what the title says it is. The reviews are gloriously tongue-in-cheek.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Know Jack

So, I've seen the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who spinoff series, Torchwood. (Don't ask me how. *cough*) I thought I'd say a word or two about it here, for those who haven't already heard me rambling incoherently on the subject.

This show's been described as "a British X-Files," but the setup is much more Men in Black (albeit played much less tongue-in-cheek), and the vibes I'm getting off of it remind me of nothing so much as Angel. In fact, they remind me a lot of Angel.

Anyway, I liked the first episode quite a lot. The second one, not nearly as much so, in large part because it felt far too much like the writers were going, "Ooh, we're on later at night now! We can write sex! Whoo-hoo! Watch us go!" Which, really, is seldom a recipe for genuinely adult storytelling.

Still, I'm finding it highly interesting, and I think it's got a great deal of promise, so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of it. Plus, like half the universe, I seem to have developed a slightly embarrassing crush on Captain Jack Harkness. And an even bigger one on Jack's really cool coat. *swoon*

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's The End, But The Moment Has Not Been Prepared For.

I just got the last Lemony Snicket novel, and I've found myself weirdly reluctant to start it, because I know it'll go very fast, and then I'll have no more of the series left to read, and that seems like such a disappointing thought. I gather this isn't exactly an uncommon type of reaction, but it's not one that I'm particularly prone to experiencing. I find it interesting and kind of amusing that, of all the books and series of books I've read, it's this goofy little kids' story that gets that response from me.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Now that I have nice, reliable internet access again, you may once more have to listen to me wibbling on regularly and at length about gripping subjects such as whatever TV shows I happen to be watching. I'm sure you're all very excited.

I'll start with Heroes, because it's one of the two new shows I've been following this season (and I don't actually have a whole lot to say about Studio 60). I'm having some interesting mixed reactions to Heroes... I find most of the characters and the ongoing, interwoven storylines interesting but not deeply engaging, and there seems to come a point somewhere in the middle of every episode where I starting thinking that, gosh, I'm really not sure how much longer I'm going to bother sticking with this show. And then, in the last few minutes of the episode, they invariably pull out some incredibly cool and surprising cliffhanger that instantly makes me all eager to see the next one. That's some clever-bastard writing, right there.

So I probably will be watching the show for at least the rest of the season, although it doesn't seem like it's ever going to be one of those programs that turns me into a raving fangirl. (Which is probably just as well, really. I've got enough of those as it is.) I think part of what keeps it from getting anywhere near crossing that line is that, for the most part, it lacks any real sense of warmth or humor. I don't know what it is, whether it's the acting or the visual style or just the fact that we spend so little time per episode with each character that it's hard to get really invested in any of them, but I do feel oddly distanced from what's going on most of the time. The single exception is Hiro, the adorably dorky Japanese guy with the ability to bend spacetime, who lights up the show like a ray of sunshine every time he walks on-screen. I'll tell ya, if they dumped the rest of the characters and turned this thing into The Adventures of Super-Hiro, it'd stay on my TiVo's season pass list as long as they wanted to keep running it. Sadly, I'm sure that will never happen. If people listened to me on this particular topic, Voyager would have killed off most of the cast and become a show about the holo-doctor and possibly Seven of Nine.

Anyway. The other thing that bugs me about Heroes -- though I suppose it's really just another aspect of the same thing -- is its tendency to get all pretentious and take itself way too seriously. Which isn't to say that I don't think a show about super-powers can't or shouldn't take a serious tone. In fact, I think that's a really interesting thing to do. But I'll be very, very happy if I never have to sit through another ponderous, buzzword-filled lecture about Destiny and Specialness and the Next Step in Human Evolution. The self-important tone is bad enough, but it wouldn't bother me nearly so much if the content weren't complete and utter bullshit. Evolution does not work the way the show describes it. It just doesn't. Period. And, y'know, I can accept some bullshit premise for the sake of a cool story about superheroes, but, dudes, the more you dwell on the bullshit, the harder it is for me to keep the ol' disbelief in suspension.

But all of that sounds way more negative than I really want to, because it's much easier to put my finger on things that don't work than on things that do. I am enjoying it, on the whole, and am hoping to enjoy it more as the various storylines develop and converge. I think it has the potential to be something very cool and interesting. I'm just hoping it lives up to it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Triumphant Return to the Internet

I've been having really annoying problems with my wireless internet off and on since I moved. My antenna's been adjusted a couple of times, and it's seemed to help a little, but never for very long, and over the last few weeks, things had deteriorated to the point where if I wanted any kind of reliable connection at all, I had to dial in. Which sucked pretty badly, especially when you consider that, normally, I live about three-quarters of my life online. I was so cut off! *sniffle*

I was on the verge of giving up entirely and just switching to DSL (which is available in my area now, but wasn't when I first got broadband), but the folks at my ISP said to hold on and they'd see what they could do with the wireless. The problem, apparently, was that there are trees between me and the transmitter that were getting in the way. In fact, there are trees between me and every transmitter in town, and while I have a nice, clear view of the mountain, they thought I might be too far south to get a good angle on the one up there. But they tried it anyway, and lo and behold, I have signal! I have good signal: the little status indicator icon in my taskbar is green for what I think is the first time ever.

Hooray! I feel somehow complete again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Dominar Has Arrived!

My plush Rygel came! And, man, he's way more cuddly than anything that looks like Rygel has any right to be.

The cats seem extremely interested in him. Of course, he loftily informed them that he was far too important to be bothered talking to them, and then when they came sniffing around him again, he inquired as to what use they were and whether they might be edible. I think possibly Vir-kitty was wondering much the same thing about him.

(Why, no, I never do plan on growing up. Why do you ask?)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Get Yer Random Links Here!

Updates on this blog have been a smidge sporadic of late, I know. Partly it's due to some problems I've been having with my internet connection, which I'm really hoping will be sorted out by this time tomorrow, and part of it's been due to a lack of time and energy, which should hopefully be less of an issue once I get off the freakin' morning shift again.

Anyway, have some random links:

Mathematics Genius: Amusing student answers to mathematical test questions.

New York Magazine profile of Stephen Colbert: I'm watching Colbert's show a lot more often now that I have the TiVo and don't actually have to remember when it's on, and I think the guy is utterly brilliant. It's not easy to pull off that particular kind of satire that well.

Official Torchwood Website: The BBC's new website for the Doctor Who spinoff series. A lot of the content's inaccessible if you live outside the UK, though, which is incredibly lame.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

So Many Books...

Today was one of my favorite events: the local Friends of the Library book sale. I am pleased to report that not only did I not exceed my book-buying quota, I also did not buy any of the yummy, fatty baked goods they had for sale, either. In other words, I have been very good, and I deserve a gold star.

Actually, limiting the book-buying wasn't nearly as hard as it often has been in the past, as the whole experience kept conspiring to remind me of how many still-unread books I already have. I'd keep stumbling across things and going, "Ooh, that's interesting! I want to read that! I-- Oh, wait. I already have that one." There seemed to be one of those in damned near every box.

In any case, I walked out with six books:

The BFG by Roald Dahl
Longitude by Dava Sobel
Your Eyelids Are Growing Heavy by Barbara Paul
The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
On Language by William Safire.

Looking back to the last book sale, six months ago, I see that I bought exactly six books then, too. I've read exactly one of them since. Sigh.

I did finish a book on the way back from the sale, though, so I suppose that's some kind of progress. Although it's still looking likely that I'm going to die with several hundred unread books.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I told myself I did not need a plush Rygel. I told myself that it was a useless and pointless thing upon which to spend money that I ought to be saving. But the longer I looked at him -- that paragon of greed for shiny things you don't actually need, that exemplar of the unashamed adoration of Rygel XVI -- the less I felt able to resist.

Stupid bad-role-model doll. Ah, well. He can hang out with my Vulcan teddy bear. That could be kind of interesting...

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Current Meme of Mostly-Bitchiness

Current clothes: I'm wearing my lounging-around-in pajamas -- large black pocket t-shirt, Pink Floyd PJ bottoms and Homer Simpson slippers -- because my clothes got all soaked while I was out walking in the rain earlier. (Sadly, that was more or less the high point of my day, too.)

Current mood: It's been one of those days where I pretty much want to crawl into bed, curl up into a ball, and whimper about how much it sucks to be a responsible adult. Well, OK, maybe it hasn't been quite that bad, but that's been a tempting thought, anyway. Although right now, I mainly just feel tired.

Current music: I just got a couple of new albums I've been playing: Weird Al Yankovic's Straight Outta Lynwood (as previously mentioned) and Love, Hope, Loss, Repeat by Carbon Leaf.

Current annoyance: Well, the biggest one is that my roof is leaking again. Aargh. It's been over a year since I last had a problem with it, and a damned rainy year at that, so I thought it was fixed for good, but apparently not. I called the roofers this morning from work... It's still under warranty, and they said they'd come out and look at it, but they never called me back, and when I got home it was still leaking, so if they fixed it, they didn't do a very complete job of it. It's maybe only leaking in one place now instead of two, but somehow that's really not very comforting. (Other annoyances, while I'm at it: my lungs are still full of goo, the same thunderstorm that apparently re-broke my roof also kept me up half the night; my internet connection's still flaky and my ISP never returns my phone calls; my gastrointestinal system is having a bad day, the details of which I won't go into; I just started on day shift, which I never enjoy; and lately I'm tending to feel surrounded by way too much contagious negativity for my own good.)

Current thing: Drinking cough syrup like it was Kool Aid in an attempt to keep from hacking my lungs out.

Current desktop picture: A gorgeous photograph of the Milky Way, taken in Capital Reef National Park in Utah.

Current song in head: Weird Al's "White and Nerdy." Which might as well be my theme song, really.

Current book: Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent. The author disguised herself as a man -- quite effectively, apparently -- and set about joining a men's bowling team, making dates with women through singles' sites, visting strip clubs, and even spending time in a monastery, all for the purposes of the book. The result is way more absorbing, engaging, and insightful than I would ever have expected.

Current DVD in player: Disc 4 of Brisco County, Jr.. And, man, Bruce Campbell really can be astonishingly charming when he has a role that lets him be.

Current refreshment: Lemon-ginger tea. It comforts me in my time of ookiness.

Current worry: The damned roof, I guess, and whether it's going to get fixed and stay fixed.

Current thought: I shouldn't have eaten that fried chicken. I don't know what I was thinking, other than, "Hey, comfort food!" Ugh.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm Walking on Solar Radiation!

I am in an unreasonably good mood today. Which is nice, because I've had far too many irritable, unproductive moods going for far too long.

While the real reason probably has to do with some strange quirk of my brain chemistry combined with what I've eaten, the amount of sleep I've had, and what's in that cough syrup I've been drinking, I am nevertheless inclined to credit it to the cool new Doctor Who t-shirt I'm wearing and the fact that I just got the new Weird Al Yankovic album.

It's the small, nerdy things in life that give me pleasure.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welcome to the Latest Installment Of "What Betty's Watching."

Thanks to the acquisition of the TiVo, my DVD-watching rate has dropped off enough I can practically hear the folks at Netflix breathing a sigh of relief.

But I'm still making progress through the DVD queue, even if it's happening much more slowly. Currently, I'm working my way through The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., which just came out on disc a little while back. For some reason I never really followed this show when it was on the air, even though all my friends did. Which, I can see now, was stupid of me. It's a delightful series, and it deserves a lot better than the cult-show obscurity it got. I mean, I'm watching it, of course, because I'm a geek. Hey, it's got Bruce Campell and random science-fiction elements and pulpy adventures that remind me of my old role-playing days! But what gets me is that I keep thinking, man, I bet my mother would like this show. Heck, my grandmother might even like it, and it's extremely difficult to find something all three of us can sit in a room and enjoy. (I think the only thing we're usually able to settle on happily is CSI, and then probably only if they're not investigating a sex crime.) It's sorta sad that something with the the pontial for that kind of wide appeal didn't last longer than one season.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Bowling Balls Seem Believable, But I Really Don't Know About The Name...

Fire Crotch

People Iced:Forty One
Car Bombs Planted:Nineteen
Favorite WeaponBowling Balls
Arms Broken:Thirty Two
Eyes Gouged:Twenty Nine
Tongues Cut Off:Two
Biggest Enemy:Cross-Eyed Chris

Get Your HITMAN Name


Friday, September 29, 2006

I'm Sorry, But Internal Organs Should Not Itch.

We have now reached the point where my allergies have been making a hell out of my upper respiratory system for long enough that the lungs have gotten jealous and decided they're not going to be left out any more. Sigh. Once this starts happening, it usually settles in for months. I feel like I should open up a betting pool on how long I'm likely to be coughing and horking up phlegm this time.

I hate my body.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Out of the House

Damn it, I was just starting to really get into the current season of House, and now apparently it's going on hiatus for a while. I love how the network doesn't even bother telling us what date it'll be back on, just that it will return "after the World Series." Like I'm supposed to know when that is.

I ask myself, as I frequently do, why it is that the whole world seems geared to cater towards sports fans but not fans of, you know, interesting stuff. When I am Emperor of the World, I am going to act like I assume that everybody knows when, say, the anniversary of Star Trek is, and there will be extensive coverage of it on the major networks, pre-empting any sporting events that might otherwise be scheduled.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The TARDIS Is Landing!

Just a reminder for those Americans who are interested: Doctor Who is starting up again on the Sci Fi channel this Friday. They're going to be showing the 90-minute -- well, 90-minute when you add the commercials -- Christmas special at 8 PM Eastern, followed by the first regular-length episode of season 2 (or, if you're a diehard traditionalist, season 28).

Also, it's recently been announced that the season is slated for DVD release in the US on January 16. I'll be saving up my pennies!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Well, At Least I Tried...

Betty points gun at George W.

George W. freaked and had his bodyguards beat up Betty
'What will your Headline be?' at

Friday, September 22, 2006

Your Irregularly Scheduled Post O' Random Links

A bunch of these come courtesy of various friends this time. Thanks, friends!

"Don't Download This Song" by Weird Al Yankovic: Go on, download the song. You know you want to.

Mike Nelson's RiffTrax: MST3K veteran Mike Nelson provides downloadable snarky DVD commentaries for sale at a few bucks apiece. The sample clip from Star Trek V is well worth watching.

Airport Security Game: Can you keep up with the ever-changing arbitrary rules and confiscate the correct items from hapless airline passengers? There's more fun in the satiric concept than in the actual game play, but it's still amusing. (Note: You'll have to sit through a commercial before you get to play the game.)

Metal and Magic: Very cool and imaginative fantasy artwork with a playful sensibility. Be sure to read the artist's comments under the pictures; they're often as much fun as the pictures themselves.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

House In My Home

Thanks to several days of spending way too much time watching DVDs, coupled with three weeks' worth of TiVoing, I am now at last all caught up on House. Which honestly feels like some kind of major accomplishment. Hey, I'm watching a show while it's still on the air! Go, me!

What's really strange about this is that House totally does not seem like the sort of series I ought to like at all, and certainly not the kind that'd prompt high levels of enthusiasm from me. I've never cared much for medical shows, and I find procedurals of any sort at best only casually interesting. But there's just something about the character of House that gives this show a weirdly addictive quality. Like crack. Or, perhaps more appropriately, Vicodin.

I will say that, while it's the characters I'm watching for, the medical mystery stuff is kind of cool, too, even if it does tend to be formulaic enough that you can practically set your watch by the plot points. And I'm feeling all big-headed and full of myself right now because I figured out what was up with that kid from last week way before any of the characters did. Boo-yah! My knowledge of weird scientific trivia pays off! That by far beat my previous (and only) record of figuring the disease out about two seconds before House announced it, too. Usually, all I know is that it ain't vasculitis. Mind you, I don't actually know exactly what vasculitis is. But I do know that's never it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Pretty Kitty

OK, because several people have asked me elsewhere why there were no pictures of birthday boy Vir (and didn't seem to be too impressed by "because I don't have a camera" as an answer), I broke down and took a shot of him with the camera on my phone. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate mobile phones and their clunky interfaces and the way they insist on having so many bells and whistles (like, say, cameras) that they're hard to use for their intended purpose as a phone? Well, I guess I have now. And, as your reward for reading through that mini-rant, you get cat pictures!

Here's the one I took today. Apologies for the quality. You know... phone.

For comparison's sake, here he is at two and a half weeks:

And at about six weeks:

And at about six months:

Isn't cell division amazing?

He's An Adult Now! I Feel Like I Ought To Take Him Out Drinking.

Happy first birthday to Vir-the-no-longer-a-kitten! Actually, his birthday is either today or yesterday, depending on exactly how long he was out there lying in my driveway before I found him a year ago at half past midnight, but I think we can call it today.

I find it almost impossible to believe that that tiny, two-ounce scrap of nearly-unidentifiable lifeform I once held in the palm of my hand with room to spare has grown into a strapping and definitively feline cat, but he has. For those of you who know my cats, I think he's actually a little bit bigger than Nova. Or probably quite a lot bigger than Nova, if you take off Nova's hair, which makes up a good percentage of Nova's bulk. He's about thirteen pounds, I think, and pretty solidly built.

And, while he's frequently an ornery pain in the ass, as pretty much all cats are, he's also the single cuddliest, purringest cat I've ever met, so at least I got a return on my investment for all those nights of broken sleep when I was nursing him. (To be honest, I'm still kind of surprised that he lived. But I'll happily take the credit.)

What I find really interesting about Vir isn't that he's so friendly and affectionate to people. You'd probably expect that, given that he was raised by a human and handled a lot from the time he was born. It's that he's so completely catlike, despite the fact that he never even saw another cat until he was six weeks old, when he was finally allowed out of bathroom quarantine to interact with my other cats. By that time, he was already grooming himself, using a litterbox, stalking and pouncing, and basically doing all the things cats normally do. It's an amazing testament to how much pre-programmed behavior animals usually come with.

Anyway, happy birthday, Vir! I'm afraid you're not getting any presents, though. I think you've already been spoiled enough for one year.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Aargh, I feel like crap today. Stuffy nose, stuffy sinuses, headache... It's probably just allergies and lack of sleep (again), but I've had this sore throat that's been bothering me off and on for nearly a week, so I dunno, maybe I'm actually sick on top of it all.

And, note to self: while lying on the sofa watching TV is a reasonable activity when you're not feeling well, watching The Daily Show is severely contraindicated when laughing too hard makes your head throb. Damn you, Jon Stewart! Damn you and your painful, painful funniness!

If you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to crawl into bed with a book now. A non-humorous book.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's Random Linky Time! It's Random Linky Time! News, reviews and fascinating analytical articles on "sci-fi, fantasy, and cult media for the discerning geek."

Pseudopod: This is the recently-established sister podcast to Escape Pod, featuring audio horror fiction to complement Escape Pod's science fiction offerings. I've listened to a couple so far, and they've been high-quality stuff.

Supervillain motivational posters: We may reach a time when the "humorous motivational poster" thing has run its course and ceased to be fresh and funny, but, for my money, that time is most decidedly not yet. I'd probably have gotten more out of these if I were a bigger comics geek, but some of 'em made me laugh out loud, anyway.

Social Security Denies Gregor Samsa's Disability Claim: Funnier than anything derived from a Kafka story really has any right to be.