Friday, June 30, 2006

It's Time Once Again For Random Links! Yay.

Now you, too, can be Jackson Pollock! Or at least, you can throw some virtual paint around and make interesting splashy patterns.

The trailer for Spider-Man 3 is out! Looks pretty cool.

The Size of Our World: Very pretty to-scale pictures showing you how our planet's size compares with other stuff in the universe. (And just in case you were wondering, there is a good reason why red giants are called that.)

Animated Doctor Who: Nine all-new seasons of Doctor Who (plus six episodes of the spinoff series CyberDOG and Company), presented as crude .gif animations. Way more entertaining than it has any right to be.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I've Always Said Broccoli Was Evil.

Doctor Unheimlich has diagnosed me with
Betty's Disease
Cause:improperly prepared broccoli
Symptoms:temporary invisibility, drooping eyelids, mild fear of the number thirteen
Cure:click heels together three times
Enter your name, for your own diagnosis:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Meme From Magnus

I think I've done this one, or one very much like it, sometime in the past. But what the heck. Because he tagged me, and because I've got lots of stuff I should be doing and wish to procrastinate on:

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4. "F- and C-lines are the chosen wavelengths. See Fraunhofer Lines." That's line 4, by the way, not sentence 4, just in case that was actually the intent. The book is Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.
2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you reach? A shelf on my computer desk and a bunch of papers thereon.
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? If DVDs count, then an episode of The West Wing. If DVDs don't count, but stuff taped off the TV does, then the season premiere of Venture Bros. If only stuff being watched as it's broadcast counts then, um... I think an episode of The 4400 a couple of weeks ago.
4. Without looking, guess what time it is? 5:25 PM.
5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time? 5:16 PM. I thought I was probably overestimating.
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? The air cleaner that's supposed to remove some of the dust and cat hair from my house and render me less miserably sneezy.
7. When did you last step outside? About 8:00 AM yesterday, when I came home from work.
8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? Um... The computer screen?
9. What are you wearing? A towel. I just got out of the shower.
10. Did you dream last night? Yeah, I had a dream featuring characters from The Sopranos. It was kind of strange.
11. When did you last laugh? I dunno. I laugh out loud to myself often enough that I don't even notice when I'm doing it. Is that disturbing behavior, do you think?
12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? My college diploma, a framed certificate honoring me for having lasted ten years at my job, a calendar featuring cartoons of kitty cats, and several pictures of Farscape characters.
13. Seen anything weird lately? Every day in the mirror, my friend.
14. What do you think of this quiz? I've had worse.
15. What is the last film you saw? X-Men 3. Didn't hold a candle to the first two, but it was watchable.
16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy? Breakfast.
17. Tell me something about you that I dunno. I can curl my tongue.
18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? I'd rig every cell phone in the world so that if it rings in a movie theater, it delivers its user a large electric shock.
19. Do you like to dance? No.
20. George Bush.#43. What?
21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? Alexandria.
22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? Kyle.
23. Would you ever consider living abroad? I dunno, maybe. If offered a lot of incentive.
24. What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates? "I can explain everything..."
25. Five (5) people who must also do this meme in their journal. No one must do anything. You are all free. Be free!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fixing And Splicing, Splicing And Fixing...

Okey-dokey! I seem to have fixed the problem with the archive links... It looks like the issue was due to an out-of-date tag in my template, just in case anybody is actually interested in the technical details. The old code apparently worked just fine everywhere except on the individual post pages, which probably explains why they changed it (presumably when they set up the ability to do individual post pages) and why I never noticed it until I enabled said pages in order to allow comments.

The other thing I've just done is played around with font sizes a bit more, so that comments don't appear in much bigger text than the actual post they way they did before.

I think I'm done fiddling for the moment. Again, let me know if you find anything that looks broken.

West Wing Addendum

OK, despite my earlier comments about not being terribly impressed with season 5 of The West Wing, I have to mention, having just seen it, that the episode where they're picking Supreme Court justices is probably one of the best of the entire series. It's witty and delightful, and all the characters are perfectly back on form. This is what the entire season should have been like. Please tell me they got the person who wrote this one back again. Frequently.

Ahem. All right, I'll shut up about this show now, really. Probably I'll go back to talking about Doctor Who or something soon.

Blog Admin Post

As you may have noticed (unless you're strictly reading this via RSS feed or LiveJournal syndication or just surfed in here looking for naked pictures of Wil Wheaton), I've been fiddling around with my blog template again. I've been trying to fix a few things, with varying degrees of success. I did -- I think! -- eliminate the problem some of you have complained about where large amounts of white space appear at the top of the blog, particularly on the individual post pages. Basically, what appeared to be happening is that if the length of the posts was smaller than the height of the (rather substantial) sidebar, it'd come out vertically centered with the text of the sidebar. I did get it to stop doing that, finally. (Hey, my HTML skills are kind of rudimentary. It takes me a lot of flailing around to fix things.) One of the temporary measures I used to make it look better while I was figuring out the problem was to reduce the text in the links list, which I think makes it a bit tidier, so I left it like that. But if anybody has any objections, thinks the print's too tiny to read now, or whatever, let me know. That's if anybody but me actually cares, of course, which isn't really something I'd be prepared to bet money on.

One thing that hasn't been fixed is that if you click on one of the archive links from one of the individual posts pages, you get a "page not found" error because the URL is wrong. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on there, and may have to go crying to one of the Blogger message boards for help. (Unless any of my Loyal Readers have a clue? *looks around hopefully*) In the meantime, I've added a "Home" link to the sidebar under the archive links, which will take you back to the main page of the blog, from which all the links will work.

I'll probably do a bit more poking around on it tonight, so if you come by later and things look a bit different or anything else looks broken (temporarily, I hope), that's probably why.

And I'm open to suggestions about the blog format, etc., so if there's anything about it that's annoying you at the moment, or that you'd like to see, or whatever, feel free to comment. Unless it involves lobbying me to switch to Haloscan, 'cause that's still not gonna happen.

Followup Report From The White House

Well, I'm now six episodes from the end of The West Wing season five, and I think I have sort of changed my opinion. I'm not especially inclined to jump up and wave my arms around and start shouting "Worst! Episode! Ever!" or to make sweeping allegations about sharks, and I'm still intending to watch the rest of the series, but... Yeah, it's lost a bit of its zing. More than that, I kind of get the feeling that the writers read somewhere that good drama involves conflict, so they decided to create some by making all the characters like each other a bit less and resent each other a bit more, and to turn up their general bitchiness and nastiness levels a couple of notches. And since, really, the relationships have always been the heart of the show, and the fact that these people have been able to survive in the harsh realities of the political landscape while still keeping a tiny spark of idealism has been its soul, the result is that the show's lost a little bit of its heart and a little bit of its soul. *sniff*

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hey, It's Been A While Since I Posted Any Random Links! I Wouldn't Want People To Feel Deprived...

So, here ya go:

Hubble Site image gallery: Lots and lots of very pretty astronomical pictures.

Geeks in Love: A music video dedicated to "all Geeks and all lovers of Geeks everywhere."

Joss Whedon accepts an award from the feminist organization Equality Now and gives his answers to the question "Why do you always write these strong female characters?" I heart Joss Whedon.

3 Lines: An online puzzle game similar to that other thing you play with Mah Jongg tiles.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Time Keeps On Slippin'. Also, I Hang Out At The White House.

I have no idea where the heck this week went. See, this is what happens when I go back to work after being off. The days suddenly lose their sweet, freestyle individuality and start disappearing on me into a vague haze of work/sleep/do-uninteresting-random-stuff/work. This probably isn't helped by the fact that I've once again fallen into this weirdly common (for me) night-shift pattern of averaging eight hours of sleep a day by alternately sleeping twelve and four. This actually sort of works, but it's far from ideal. On days when I'm wide-awake I've got no time to do much, and on days when I've got lots of time I have little energy.

Anyway, yeah, I can't think of much I've been doing that's at all interesting. On the entertainment front, I've made it up through season 5 of The West Wing, which apparently is where Aaron Sorkin bailed and people seem to think it quickly becomes not worth watching. I dunno, though. Ten episodes in and I'm not seeing any obvious signs of shark-jumping, even if they haven't been the most memorable episodes of the series. The main thing I'm noticing is that the characters seem, on the whole, to have gotten pissier. But I'd probably be pretty pissy if I had their jobs, too, so, hey.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jan Was Considered A Babe?

You Are Jan Brady

Brainy and a little introverted, you tend to think life is a lot worse than it actually is.
And while you may think you're a little goofy looking, most people consider you to be a major babe.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hang On...

I've changed my mind. I don't want to go back to work.


Mental Health Week Draws To A Close

Well, my vacation is now officially over, alas, as I have to go back in to work tonight. But the time off definitely accomplished what it was meant to. I feel much, much more relaxed, and much less inclined to get irritable or to bite people's heads off. My house is decidedly cleaner... Not that you'd necessarily know to look at it, but, trust me, it is. And I did a lot of low-key fun stuff, some of which actually got me out of the house.

I'm even feeling reasonably good about going back in to work, which is a heartening sign.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

You Must Now Prove To Me That You Are Human.

OK, as I more than half expected, the amount of comment spam I've been getting here has quickly tipped over from "annoying" to "too annoying," so from now on when you go to leave a comment here you'll be asked why you're not helping the turtle... er, I mean, you'll be asked to type some random letters. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Good Housekeeping

So, if you shampoo your carpet and, when you're done, there's a zillion giant dust bunnies all over it, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Only In New Mexico...

Apparently for this evening they're predicting "thunderstorms with little or no rain." I think this sort of thing is a really, really unfair trick on the part of Mother Nature and should be stopped.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nature Girl

So, for Day Two of Do Anything Other Than Go to Work Week, I headed out to the Bosque del Apache, which is a big nature reserve that, by New Mexico's standards, at least, is right around the corner from me, but which I never actually seem to get to in the normal course of things. Of course, I was there in the middle of the day in the middle of June, which is pretty much the least ideal time to see any wildlife, as the migratory birds have all long since gone north and most of the remaining critters tend to sit out the hottest parts of the day (which is to say, basically any time the sun's up). So it was pretty dead, but it's a nice drive, anyway. I did at least see a bunch of quail, including one momma bird who was surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of baby quailets (in the parking lot of the visitors' center, surprisingly enough). Also possibly more roadrunners than I've ever seen before in my life.

Then I hiked for a couple of miles across loose sand, with no shade, in 95-degree heat. Because I have far less common sense than the wildlife.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


In keeping with my "do anything and everything except go in to work" plan for this week, I went out to the crappy local movie theater to catch Cars. Which, I must admit, I initially thought might have been a mistake, as the first ten minutes or so are basically one long racing scene, and I'm hard-pressed to come up with a list of things that are more boring to me than auto racing. But once they got off the track, it engaged me pretty quickly. It's funny and cute and very technically impressive, with a good story that has a lot of family-movie heart without ever going too far and descending into schmaltz. In other words, pretty much what you expect from a Pixar movie. And, man, it's amazing how far computer animation has come in recent years. Back in the days of Toy Story, it was very much a gimmick, even if what Toy Story did with it was anything but gimmicky. But now it seems to me that we're looking at something that's starting to feel very much like a mature technology. There is nothing remotely visually crude about this movie anywhere.

I do have one complaint, though, which is that I deliberately chose a 9 PM showing to avoid having to sit in a theater full of little kids, and it didn't work. For crying out loud, don't children have bedtimes any more? Seems to me this must be Reason #103 why people increasingly prefer staying home and watching a DVD to going out to the movies.

Alas, Poor Me, Born Too Late

You Belong in 1965

If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Perhaps the Ways Haven't Parted Completely, After All.

So, as of tonight viewers in the United States have at last had the chance to see all of the first season of the new Doctor Who on their cable TV. I'm curious to hear what people who have been watching it on Sci Fi think about the season as a whole, particularly those who are new to the whole crazy thing.

I also wanted to mention, as a sort of science fictional public service announcement, that the show will be on next Friday: Sci Fi is having a marathon, starting at 8 PM Eastern Time, in which they're going to show four episodes, then repeat the first three immediately afterward. They haven't exactly selected the episodes I would have picked, but if you happen to have missed any of those the first time, you're in luck!

Another Month, Another Meme

Yeah, I think most of you know to expect this by now...

Current clothes: Gray shorts. Black t-shirt that says "I'm blogging this." (And, hey, whaddaya know? I am!) White ankle socks. No shoes.

Current mood: I'm incredibly happy to be off work for a while now. I really did desperately need the break. I think I'm only just starting to relax into it, though. I keep finding myself thinking: aargh, I've got this to do, that do, all kinds of other stuff to do... And I have to actively remind myself that, really, I don't have to feel all time-crunched this week.

Current music: They Might Be Giants' Flood to make the household chores more fun, and Jimmy Buffett's Banana Wind to put me into the vacation spirit.

Current annoyance: Crazy fans on the internet who seem to think that holding a different opinion about some stupid TV show is roughly equivalent in personal injury to coming over to their house and beating their family up with a baseball bat. *rolls eyes*

Current thing: Not working!

Current desktop picture: This lovely piece of Doctor Who fan art by Kathryn Andersen, featuring the TARDIS.

Current song in head: They Might Be Giants' "Dead" is now floating in and out of my brain.

Current book: I just finished Jules Verne's Mysterious Island. And, oh, man, I'd forgotten how dull Verne could be. This one's about a handful of men marooned on an island, and I swear, every rock, tree, animal and mineral on that island got its own paragraph. And I'm not talking about lively lectures in natural history, either. I'm talking stultifyingly dry lists of names and properties. The main thing that's interesting about this book is the glimpses it gives at certain worldviews that existed a century and a half ago and have changed or faded since, in particular the idea that nature exists solely for the use of Man, and that humanity has a manifest destiny to tame and civilize it.

Current video in player: I don't think there's been anything in there for quite a while. Probably the last thing was an episode of the weird Doctor Who not-quite-a-knock-off, The Stranger, which a friend lent me some time ago.

Current DVD in player: The Doctor Who episode "The Aztecs", definitely one of the best of the very early episodes. Sure, it's kind of stilted and the camera work is shaky, but when you know the conditions under which they filmed it, it's actually quite amazing that it looks as good as it does. But it's got a good plot and an interesting setting, it's very well researched, and it provides an unusually strong and meaty part for one of the companions, Barbara. Actually, I find going back to these old episodes and seeing Babara and Ian again is very much like greeting a couple of old friends. They were great, those two. And given the show's later tendency to go with very young and immature companions, it's nice to see people travelling with the Doctor who are mature adults and act like it. Oh, and, just for the record, anybody who thinks the Doctor being flirtatious is a new thing should be required to watch this one.

Current refreshment: I just had some dried cherries. I didn't actually mean to buy dried cherries; I was aiming for the dried tropical fruits next to them and must have got the wrong bag by mistake. But they're pretty yummy, anyway.

Current worry: I feel surprisingly worry-free at the moment.

Current thought: I must remember to mail my dad his Father's Day card next week. Actually, as I recall, one of the things I was thinking about posting yesterday was a rant about greeting cards, but I think I'll either skip that or save it for later.

And in Other "People I Know Who Are Blogging" News...

I'd like to welcome my good old friend "Captain Chlorophyll" (friend to plants everywhere and my self-styled Satanic Brother From Hell) to the blogosphere! The good Captain's new blog is Anhydrous Wit, and I'd say that describes his style pretty well.

It's good to see him joining the bloggish ranks. Here's hoping he sticks around for a good, long while!

Local Blogger Makes Good!

Damn it. Yesterday, for the first time in ages, I kept having all kinds of thoughts about things I wanted to talk about here... and Blogger was broken for most of the day, so I couldn't. Well, probably most of them weren't all that interesting, anyway, so maybe you guys should consider yourselves lucky.

I did want to say "congratulations" to my buddy JK Parkin, though. JK's the guy who got me into blogging in the first place, way back when. He's also had a small comics-oriented group blog he's been heading up for a while, and he recently announced that said blog has been "adopted" by Newsarama, which I'm told is the largest comic book news site on the web. Go, JK and friends! You can find their newly relocated blog at blog@newsarama. Not the world's catchiest title, I guess, but very easy to remember. It looks pretty spiffy, too. And I must say, I'm not a big comics fan, but even I found some of the stuff over there interesting. So go and check it out!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

iPod, Take Me Away!

After all that bitching and moaning yesterday, I have to say, my iPod is absolutely saving my sanity while I desperately wait to start my vacation. I've been downloading a lot of podcasts lately, and having a good science fiction story and some fanboys geeking entertainingly about Doctor Who to listen to today while I was working really helped the time pass relatively painlessly.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Working for the Weekend

My god, I need a vacation.

Really, my job is easy enough. I go in, hang out for eight hours interacting with a few computers in the name of Science, and come home. If there isn't some kind of crisis, anyway, which most of the time there isn't. It's sort of boring work, except for the periods where it's not, but it's laid-back, and I like that. But lately... I just hate the thought of having to drag my ass in. And it keeps getting worse.

I'm taking some time off next week, actually. Call it a mental health break. I would have done it earlier, in fact, but I wanted to time it so I'd be skipping my second week of day shifts. Because it'd get me out of a week of day shifts, which I loathe, and it'd also mean I wouldn't have to worry about shifting on to days while I'm gone, which is difficult for me.

So I only have four more days, but the wait is killing me. Gaaah. I do not want to go in today. See, the problem with day shifts (in addition to the fact that they muck up my sleeping patterns) is that a) they involve mornings, and b) they involve being around people. Neither of these is my favorite thing, individually, but the two in combination... Ugh.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I Have The Weird Feeling I've Taken This Quiz Before.

After you die...
Reincarnated as Yourself

After death, you will be reborn again as yourself. You will live the same life, unbeknownst to you. However, you will have vivid moments of deja vu, as you probably have now.

Take this quiz at

Well, that seems kind of pointless and silly. Unless it's actually a profound statement about the cyclical nature of time.