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.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wait, Who Am I? Where Am I? What Time Is It?

In eleven years of working rotating shifts, I have never lost track of which shift I was supposed to be on and showed up at the wrong time. Until now.

Um... oops.

Man, it's going to be a very long night.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

No Longer A Jungle Out There

I'm pleased to report that the Grass Hog weed trimmer, helpfully recommended to me by my dad, turned out to be exactly what I needed. Thanks again, Dad! I was finally able to hack down the jungle in my front yard yesterday, and the machine did an extremely good job on some pretty nasty vegetation. I gotta say, the wholesale weed-destruction was kind of fun, too, especially given the element of revenge for what the little green bastards have been doing to my sinuses.

Man, am I paying for it today, though. The muscles in my arms feel as if I've spent the weekend weight-lifting elephants. It's not even that the machine was terribly heavy; I'm just that wimpified and out of shape. And I've still got the backyard to do, too. Sigh. I think that's going to have to wait until I can lift my coffee cup to my lips again without it quivering.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Has It Been A Month Since I Did This? What The Heck Happened To August?!

Current clothes: Light gray sweats. My Skeptics' Society t-shirt. (Black, with "SKEPTICS SOCIETY" and "" on the left breast and "SCIENCE RULES" in big letters on the back.) White tube socks. No shoes; I just took 'em off.

Current mood: Eh, I dunno. I was feeling pretty good this morning. Thanks to a bit of rain, I think the pollen count's down. I'm feeling much less crappy than a few days ago, and I've actually managed to get useful things done today. On the other hand, I woke up far too early for some reason, and it's really starting to catch up with me now. I'm feeling tiny stirrings of crankiness, like a toddler who's up past naptime.

Current music: More random songs on the iPod. A few minutes ago it was "5:15" by the Who. The last actual album I listened to was Smoking Monkey by Jonathan Coulton.

Current annoyance: My decrepit damned body. Even if the allergies are slacking off, the inside of my mouth still itches, and I have this lovely post-nasal thing going on. I think I pulled something during the oh-so-arduous process of pulling my TiVo out of the box, and there's been this really unhappy pain in my back for days. My mousing wrist aches a little, despite the fact that I think I've been spending less time than usual on the computer lately, and I must've done something to one of my fingers somewhere, because when I bump it the wrong way or put too much pressure in the wrong spot, it hurts. And, oh, yeah, my eye's bothering me again, probably because all the decongestants and antihistamines are drying it out. Sigh.

Current thing: Playing around with the TiVo and procrastinating on all the things I really, really ought to be doing.

Current desktop picture: This entertaining offering from the Star Trek inspirational posters page.

Current song in head: It's been varying a bit over the last few days, but it keeps coming back to the theme song from The Greatest American Hero. I think that song was stuck in my head for most of the 80's, too.

Current book: Four Frontiers, by Robert Heinlein, an omnibus volume containing four of his early books aimed at younger readers: Rocketship Galileo, Space Cadet, Red Planet, and Farmer in the Sky. I'm most of the way through Red Planet, which I like rather better than the first two, mainly by virtue of the fact that less than two thirds of the book goes by before it develops a plot.

Current video in player: Hmm, the answer to that is very likely to be "none" most of the time now, since I'll be TiVoing stuff rather than taping it. I may eliminate this question, or maybe replace it with something else.

Current DVD in player: It was The Greatest American Hero season 2, disc 4. (Hence the reason for the theme song being stuck in my head.) Man, that was a fun show. Goofy as hell, but fun. It's always nice to go back to a show you enjoyed as a kid and discover that it still entertains you. Next up is disc 2 of season 2 of House, since Netflix sent me that before disc 5 of GAH.

Current refreshment: Lemon-ginger herbal tea from Stash. Which is very possibly the single tastiest beverage known to humanity.

Current worry: All the stuff I'm procrastinating on needs to get done some time.

Current thought: It'd be nice if the weather would dry up. I just got my weed-wackin' machine in the mail, and one of the many things that needs to be done is hacking down weeds. I can probably at least start on that today if the rain backs off. Eh... Screw it. I'm gonna go watch House.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Life With TiVo

OK, it's Day Three of living with TiVo, and already I'm feeling pretty glad that I bought the thing. It seemed like it'd be really useful to help make sure I don't miss the shows I'm heavily invested in, but I'm starting to realize that it's almost more useful for catching shows I enjoy but don't want to go out of my way to watch. It's nice to have stuff like that saved up for when I want to watch something, but there's nothing on and I'm out of DVDs. This came in especially handy yesterday when I came home sick after deciding that, for that day, at least, the allergies had won and I needed to put in some good, quality lying-on-the-couch time. Man, oh, man, I hadn't watched The Daily Show in forever, and that is just a shame.

It's started making suggestions for me, too, some of which are... interesting. The first two shows it recorded for me all on its own initiative were Jaws and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. For no reason I can put my finger on, this amuses me immensely. But, y'know, that's not at all bad for a first-guess approximation of my tastes.

I only wish there was some way to tell it things like, "I love this show, so do use it for making recommendations, but I have it all on DVD so there's no point in recording it" or "I am interested in that show, but since I missed the first few eps, I'm waiting for the marathon to catch up, so don't bother until then." I have the feeling it's likely to become a bit annoying to keep weeding out shows that fall under those kinds of categories.

Ah, well. That may be pretty minor. And the gadget does get about a thousand brownie points for the fact that it jumps back a few seconds when you go from "fast forward" to "play," thus accounting for fallible human reaction time. I like that feature.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In Which I Join the Digital Age

My TiVo came! My TiVo came!

Admittedly, I was pretty worried for a while there, because UPS's tracking system had it listed as having been delivered, and yet when I got home there was no package and no note. Eep! When I called UPS for information, I was told that the driver said that he'd given it to a woman, but that they didn't have any information on what address he actually gave it to a woman at, and wouldn't until tomorrow. This was highly alarming, indeed, seeing as there was no one at my house today at all. Mercifully, it turned out the neighbors had it, and they turned it over without even having to be threatened or anything.

Thus, I now have a TiVo! Hooray! I can record the current episodes of House to watch when I'm finished with last season's discs!

So far, it certainly seems to live up to its easy-to-use reputation. The setup was dead simple, and the interface seems pretty intuitive. We'll see how I feel when I've had more of a chance to try it out, but for the moment it looks good!

Monday, September 04, 2006


As stupid internet quizzes go, actually, this one wasn't too bad.

The Oracle

0% Extroversion, 100% Intuition, 27% Emotiveness, 71% Perceptiveness
Heuristic, detached, and analytical to a fualt, you are most like The
Oracle. You are able to tackle any subject with a fine toothed comb,
and you possess an ability to pinpoint nuances and shades of meaning
that other people do not have and cannot understand. Accomplishment and
realization of ideas are, for you, secondary to the rigorous
exploration of ideas and questions -- you are, first and foremost, a
theorist. You hate authority, convention, tradition, and under no
circumstances do you accept a leadership role (although, you will
gladly advise leadership when they're going astray, whether they want
you to or not). Abstraction and generalities are your interests,
details and particulars are usually inconsequential and uninteresting.
You excel at language, mathematics and philosophy.

You are typically easy-going and non-confrontational until someone
violates one of the very few principles that you deem sacred, at which
point you can fly into a rage. Although you possess a much greater
understanding of process and systems than the people around you, you
are always conscious of the possibility that you've missed something or
made a mistake. You don't tend to become attached to particular
theories, and will immediately discard mistaken notions once they're
revealed to be incorrect (but you don't tolerate iconoclasts who try to
discredit validated theories through the use of fallacies and bad
data). Despite being outwardly humble, you probably think of yourself
as being smarter than most other people. That's because you are. In
fact, in your dealings with people your understanding of their motives
is so expansive that you know what they're going to say before they say
it, and in world affairs, you usually know what is going to take place
before it actually does. This ability would make you unbeatable in
debates if only you were a little less pensive about your own
conclusions, and a little more outgoing.

Famous people like you: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Adam
Smith, Thomas Jefferson, John McWhorter, Ramanujan, Marie Curie, Kurt

Stay clear of: Apollo, Icarus, Hermes, Aphrodite

Seek out: Atlas, Prometheus, Daedalus

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 Extroversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Intuition
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Emotiveness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Perceptiveness

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

This quiz is far too kind, though, I'm afraid. It's describing the person I'd like to be, rather than the person I am. (Of course, I suppose I would say that, being all "outwardly humble.")

Mmm, Ice Cream and Brain Surgery!

Note to self: eating while watching House is always a bad idea. You'd think I'd have learned this sort of thing by now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Both the Federal Government And The Entire Plant Kingdom Are Now My Enemies.

So, as you may have gathered from the post about plants trying to have sex in my nose, my allergies are killing me at the moment. We've had astonishing, almost freakish amounts of rain this year, and the local plant life is flourishing like crazy. Desert plants are opportunistic bastards; when they're actually getting moisture, they damned well take advantage of it. It's pretty much the Day of the Triffids out there right now.

I've found that the only way I have even a remote hope of managing to get any sleep is to take my heavy-duty prescription allergy pill and then add a decongestant on top of it. Last night, I took the last decongestant in the box, so today I went out to the supermarket to get some more... Whereupon I discovered that if I want to purchase this perfectly legal over-the-counter drug, I can no longer simply take some off the shelf and put it into my shopping basket. I now have to fill out a huge-ass form asking me for all kinds of personal data and get a pharmacist to hand the package to me personally. I'm just glad there wasn't much of a line at the pharmacy window; if I'd had to wait for twenty minutes like I did the last time I went to that pharmacy, I'm pretty sure there would have been some kind of a rampage.

At least the pharmacist was apologetic about it, and took all my ranting and bitching sympathetically. "Now," she said, "I'm required by a new federal law to have you fill out this form..."

"Oh," I said, "It is a federal law? Not just some stupid new store rule?" Damn. There went my brilliant plan to take my business elsewhere in future.

"Yeah. You know why they're doing this right?"

"Yeah, they think I'm cooking up meth in my house."

"They don't think you are," she said placatingly. "But some people do, and the bad apples spoil things for the rest of us."

Actually, I don't agree with her there. The government clearly does think it's a possibility that I'm doing exactly that. After all, they're treating every single person buying a package of Sudafed as a potential criminal, and that most certainly includes me. Instead, I brought up a more practical point. "This is stupid. It's not going to stop people who really want to make drugs. All it does is make things more annoying for the rest of us."

Indeed, while I am hardly a criminal genius, it's pathetically easy for me to see how anyone who really wanted to get their hands on a big stash of pseudoephedrin could. How about getting a bunch of friends to go to a bunch of different pharmacies? And it seems like it'd be perfectly easy to give a fake name. They didn't check my ID or anything. The pharmacist did scan my supermarket card, though I think that was just because she was going to check me out (upon which I asked if I could pay for it with my other groceries instead, which I could). Maybe that was meant to be some sort of ID check, in which case it's a pretty useless one. There's no photo on that card, and I don't think you need a picture ID to apply for one, either. And, hey, worst comes to worst, you can always steal some cards. Or get a fake ID, for that matter. Way to go, Federal Government! You've made some illegal drug-producers' lives marginally more inconvenient at the expense of making millions of innocent citizens' lives more difficult too, not to mention compromising everyone's privacy and perhaps even driving the actual criminals into even more criminal behaviors to get around your rules. But, of, course, it makes it look like you're doing something about drugs, and that's the important thing, right? I'll give them this: at least they're consistent. They're using the exact same strategy on both the War on Drugs and the War on Terror: making the security measures as intrusive as possible in hopes of fooling people into thinking they're actually accomplishing something.

Anyway, the pharmacist gently tried to offer up some alternatives. "There's some decongestants over there that don't have pseudoephedrine."

"Yeah, I looked at those. They're all four-hour pills. That's not enough to let me sleep through the night."

"Oh. Well, there's Claritin."

"I tried that. It does nothing for me." In fact, I attempted to switch to that stuff (or the generic equivalent thereof) for a while, and it was next to useless compared to the Allegra.

She gave up and handed me the form. "I'm not happy about it, either. If it were up to me..."

"Yeah, I know, it's not your fault. I'm sorry for bitching at you."

"That's OK. Really, I understand. I agree with you."

And then she told me that some people did get upset and take it out on her, and that she had one guy get really pissed off and throw his driver's license at her. Which made me feel kind of bad, because it immediately gave me flashbacks to the days when I worked in the campus library, and people would occasionally give me abuse because their professor hadn't put the stuff on reserve he'd said he was going to, so that I didn't have it to give to them. Which clearly must be all my fault.

"Maybe I should write my congressman," I said.

"That's a good idea!" She sounded like she really meant it, too.

So, maybe I will, not that I'd expect it to do any good. But, first, I will bitch about it on the internet, because that, after all, is what I do.

I'll tell ya, though, it's enough to make me want to open a meth lab. At least then I'd be making some good drug money in return for all the hassle.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Comedy Gold

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

I let him flail around with it over his face for a while before I helped him, too. Maybe it'll be a learning experience. Although, realistically, I doubt it.