Friday, December 28, 2007


75 words

Touch Typing for free

I actually found it surprisingly hard to type that string of disconnected words, though. My fingers want to type sentences.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Have opened prezzies! And a most excellent good year for them it was, too! I'd like to call people up and let them listen to me jumping up and down with happiness, but it is kind of the middle of the night, so I'll just express my pleasure here and call them in the morning.

Things I got for Christmas this year:
  • Not one, but two sonic screwdrivers! My friends, who are the best friends ever, got me the full-sized one, with the pen (featuring regular and invisible ink cartridges) and a UV light (for reading the invisible ink). It is an utterly awesome toy; it's very detailed and makes an authentic-sounding "bzzzz!" noise. I've been carrying it around in my pocket for the last two days, randomly pointing it at things. It has made me deeply, geektastically happy. And then my mother got me the little one with the LED flashlight! Which is less cool as a toy, being smaller and lacking the "bzzzz!", but is cooler as an actual tool, which I will carry around in my bag and use at every possible light-requiring opportunity. Dude! Two sonic screwdrivers! Best. Christmas. Ever!

  • A wire cat pin, or clip-on thing, which is really cute.

  • A small toy space shuttle, which makes me way happier than it has any right to. Here I am, 36 years old, and getting all excited about playing with my Christmas toys. Heh. I think I freaked the cats out with this one, because it was tied up with ribbon, which they all wanted to gather around and play with, but they ran off in a panic when I whipped it out and started making blast-off noises.

  • Little snowman ornament with my name on it.

  • Battlestar Galactica: Razor on DVD.

  • Two books: Ursula Le Guin's Tales from Earthsea and I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon.

  • $25 in Australian money, to take on my trip in April.

  • A belt-mounted carrying case for my digital camera, which will also be handy for the trip.

  • A $25 gift certificate to Amazon, and another to Borders.

  • A whole host of edible goodies, including cookies, chocolate, candy, tea, and some Russian cookie/pretzely things that I have no idea what they are, but they're good.

I should still have a Secret Santa book coming in the mail, too, but it hasn't got here yet. I am dying with curiosity to know what it might be, but am attempting to cultivate patience.

So, anyway, yes. Awesome Christmas haul. Made me feel like a little kid again. Also made me gain several pounds, but I'm not complaining! Hugs to all you lovely, generous people, most especially the ones who really, really did not have to get me anything, but did anyway. One day, I will think of a really cool way to repay you in kind.

I'd mention the stuff I bought for other people here, too, but most of them probably haven't opened it yet. So I'll just say that, even for me, it was a really geeky Christmas, on the giving as well as the receiving end. And that I hope the results are pleasing.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Fa La La And All That

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, in whatever capacity. And season's greetings and warm fuzzy feelings to all, without exception!

As I write this, it's about 15 minutes from actually being Christmas, and as soon as it is, I am going to open my prezzies. I can justify this with the fact that my sleeping patterns are so bizarre this week that it's hard for me to tell whether I should consider this day or night, today or tomorrow. (I'm trying to switch from a night shift schedule to a day shift one by rotating forward. With any luck, I'll make it to late Christmas afternoon before succumbing to sleep again.)

I am actually in a surprising amount of holiday spirit this year. I went to a solstice party on Friday, in which we celebrated the season New Mexico style, by eating green chile stew and setting fire to tumbleweeds. Saturday, I hung out with friends, and there were presents and goodies and camaraderie. Today I made myself a holiday meal of a Cornish game hen and indulged in my personal Christmas tradition of watching Blackadder's Christmas Carol (my favorite holiday movie ever). There may even be more socializing on Christmas Day, although the whole going to sleep in the afternoon thing makes that a bit problematical.

I'm even wearing a sweatshirt with reindeer and a Christmas tree on it. That's how non-humbuggy I'm being! Ho, ho, ho!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Moon Is Kissing Mars.

Being willing to look upward once in a while really pays off. I still remember standing in the parking lot of a Las Vegas casino many years ago watching a lunar eclipse, while all around me streams of people passed by without a single one of them taking any notice, leaving me wondering whether I ought to feel more privileged or sad.

Tonight, I happened to look up at the full moon, noticed that there was a bright object very nearly touching it, where no star should possibly be visible, and realized with a sudden jolt that it was Mars. I'm not sure why, but there is something incredibly, unbelievably cool about being able to look in a straight line past the moon and see Mars right behind it, 55 million miles farther away. It gives me a strong sense, I guess, that these things in the sky are real objects, actual bodies in physical space, rather than simply abstract lights, and that the place where I'm standing is a body hanging in space, too.

Awesome. Absolutely awesome. And made all the more awesome by the fact that right now Mars is as close to us as it ever gets, and thus as bright as it ever gets in our sky.

If the moon is up where you are, go outside and look!

I Come Bearing The Gift Of Random Links!

Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007: More of this year's most gorgeous astronomical images, this time from the ever-enthralling Astronomy Picture of the Day site.

Geeks are Everywhere: I think I may be included in several places on this chart.

"The Hopes and Fears of All the Years": A Christmas-themed Doctor Who short story, written by Paul Cornell, who, among other things, penned last season's two-parter "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood."

2007 Holiday Christmas Guide for Slackers Cultural Warriors: Haven't yet done your bit to keep the spirit of Christmas alive via rampant commercialism? Never fear! Matt Baldwin's last minute gift guide is here!

Snowball is a Rockin' to the Back Street Boys Cockatoo!: All right, I don't usually post links to YouTube videos of animals being amusing, especially not ones of animals being amusing to the tune of the Backstreet Boys. But this bird just completely cracks me up. Also, the person who posted it is trying to attract attention for a bird rescue operation, so it's, like, a socially responsible goofy animal video.

So Say We All: Battlestar Galactica Propaganda Posters: Nifty WWII-style propaganda posters for sale. Remember, anyone can be a Cylon!

The Civil War in Four Minutes: The course of the American Civil War, condensed into four minutes on an animated map. Weirdly compelling to watch.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here Comes The Sun

Happy Solstice, all! Even if it technically isn't until tomorrow, my time. (Also, to my fellow Blake's 7 fans: Happy Gauda Prime Day! Even if it was technically yesterday where most B7 fans are.)

While I am traditionally something of a humbug, I am attempting to get into the holiday spirit. I baked cookies! I haven't baked cookies in years! I feel ridiculously proud of myself. Even if I did burn some of them a bit.

And never mind Christmas, I'm perfectly happy to celebrate the idea of the sun coming back. Night person I may be, but I'm getting tired of dark and cold already. Which is kind of sad, considering how short the winters are here.

Mmm! Sounds Like Sci-Fi!

Take the Sci fi sounds quizI received 71 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Guess the Sci-Fi Movie Sounds hereCanon powershot

It told me I was a major sci-fi geek and asked me if I speak Klingon. All I have to say to that is: tlhIngan Hol vljatlhIaHbe'.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

No Place In Time For You.

The desertification of the vast wasteland that is American television continues... Now it looks like The 4400 isn't going to be back. I know I've been a bit guilty of damning that show with faint praise in the past, but I was still watching it, and by the end of last season, I was starting to get really interested again and curious about where the story arc was going. I guess now I'll never know.

With that off the schedule, the only show on USA I'm still watching is Psych. And that's my light-weight, watch-when-my-brain-is-tired-and-I-want-a-laugh show, which isn't exactly something that's all that hard to come by.

Also getting the axe from USA is The Dead Zone, which I haven't been watching, but which I know at least one of my six loyal readers liked. My sympathies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Am Such A Hack.

I stumbled on this even more entertaining variation of the Wikipedia music meme and could not possibly resist:

Go to Wikipedia and hit the Random Article link. This is the title of your book. Now, hit random again, until you get three names. The first is the pen name you published your book under; the second is the name of your protagonist, and the third is the name of the villain.

Hit Random again ten times to get chapter titles (you can go for more if you want, but ten is at least a good minimum). If you'd like, hit it once or twice more to get previous books your protagonist has appeared in. Or a newspaper to list your favorable reviews. :D

Then, write the synopsis/blurb of your book, using the character names and the chapter titles for inspiration.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you:

Jean-Andoche Junot by Madison Dearborn
an epic adventure featuring KK and Ivars

Chapter 1: A Blues for Shindig
Chapter 2: Savage Land Mutates
Chapter 3: Willoughby Spit
Chapter 4: Patriots' Day
Chapter 5: Unit Oketz
Chapter 6: Veterans of the First World War who died in 1999
Chapter 7: Leslie Glass
Chapter 8: Entering the Arena
Chapter 9: Continental Divide (film)
Chapter 10: VraneŇ°tica
Chapter 11: Gladiator (Melvin Potter)
Chapter 12: Gendarmerie Nationale

Cover blurb:

For four years, the near-future super-soldier known only as KK has traveled the Earth, waging a never-ending battle to bring order to a world torn by the bloodiest and most savage wars that mankind has ever known. For four years, KK has followed hints and rumors of a shadowy figure manipulating history from behind the scenes, a man possessed of unimaginable, almost supernatural power. A man whose very name has haunted him: Ivars. Now, in this explosive new adventure, KK comes face-to-face with Ivars at last, but when the ultimate conquerer and the ultimate defender clash, the consequences aren't merely global... they're personal.

(Previous volumes in this series include: Laetiporus, Harur and Sikasso.)

Well, somehow I just couldn't look at those results and not see a testosterone-soaked military adventure story of the "visit exotic places, meet interesting people, and kill them" type. Except I am largely unfamiliar with that particular genre, so I had to make it at least sort of SF-ish. I'm pretty sure I'd need a complete brain transplant to actually write that thing, under any name, but doing the blurb was ridiculously fun.

The title, by the way, is the name of a French army officer who served under Napoleon. I figure super-solider KK has doubtless made a study of his career, some aspect of which serves as a running motif illustrating the novel's main theme. Er, such as it is. I'm figuring it probably has something to do with the head wound he suffered in Italy, which Wikipedia tells me may have "reduced the quality of his judgment and made him rash and temperamental." Possibly our hero can relate.

Monday, December 17, 2007

States of Confusion

Yay, me! I would have finished faster, though, if I could only remember how the hell to spell "Massachusetts."

I also did the state capitals quiz, but, alas, I only got 31 of them. There was a very brief period a very long time ago when I could name all the state capitals, so I know that information is in my neurons somewhere. I think I made such a poor showing of it this time for three reasons:

1) I managed to completely blank on the capital of Pennsylvania, despite having been born in Pennsylvania. This fact dismayed and distressed me so much that it was hard to concentrate on anything else. Stupid brain.

2) I was certain I knew how to spell the capital of North Dakota, but I was wrong. And no matter how many times I tried to spell it that way, I was still wrong.

3) I appear to have somehow forgotten the entire existence of Alaska and Hawaii. I'm blaming the Pennsylvania thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Random Links Do Literature, Politics And Science. Also Star Wars.

Thog-o-Matic Random Selector: A random selection of entertainingly clunky or just plain bizarre prose, as featured in the science fiction newsletter Ansible.

10 Strange Star Wars Magazine Covers: I'm pretty sure I actually had a copy of that issue of Dynamite.

How clean is the electricity I use?: If you live in the USA, enter your zip code, and the EPA will tell you where your electricity comes from and what kind of emissions it's producing.

Sciencedebate 2008: A grassroots initiative calling for a presidential debate on the subject of science and technology. That's one debate I would definitely watch.

Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2007: Pretty, pretty space pictures, brought to you courtesy of the Bad Astronomer.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Your Score: The Cat

You scored 58% domestic, 15% gregarious, 21% trickster, and 85% intellect!

Domestic, Solitary, Serious, Intelectual: you are the Cat!

Cat represents a balance of strength in both physical and spiritual, psychic and sensual powers, merging these two worlds into one. Curious, intelligent, and physically adept, cat people tend to live in a world all their own.

This test categorized you based on four different axes of personality, which were then associated with a different animal. The four axes, as well as all possible results are explained below.

Wild/Domestic: This first axis categorizes you based on how much you are drawn to the outdoors, versus how much you are drawn to civilized situations. Domesticity has many shapes and forms, and varies from the joy of dolphins leaping next to a ship to the steadfast loyalty of a family dog.

Gregarious/Solitary: This axis measures how solitary you are. If you scored high, it means that you enjoy the company of other people, while a low score indicates that you prefer a more solitary lifestyle.

Trickster/Serious: This axis measures how well you line up with conventional trickster archetypes. People who fall into this archetype have a sense of humor and an excitable, highly chaotic streak. Scoring low doesn't mean that you don't have a sense of humor; it just means that you probably don't think dynamite is very funny.

Intellectual/Emotional: This last axis determines whether you are more emotional -- acting based on feelings and instinct, or rational and intelectual -- acting more on thought than on your gut feelings.

Link: The Animal Archetype Test written by crumpetsfortea on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Friday, December 14, 2007

Go, T-Cells!

Man, that was really weird. During the day on Wednesday, I felt absolutely fine. Wednesday night, I started feeling really tired, much earlier than I would have expected to, but I just chalked it up to an uncharacteristic reluctance on my body's part to switch to a night shift pattern... right up until I went to get out of my chair and suddenly realized I was experiencing that wonderful achy OMG-don't-make-me-stand-up! feeling. By the time I went to bed, I had full-fledged hot-and-cold chills, which were still with me when I woke up a few hours later. I managed to get back to sleep, and when I woke up again at about 1:30 in the afternoon, the feverish feeling was gone, and I just felt really tired and vaguely unwell. So I spent the day lying on the couch watching DVDs.[*] And today, despite a minor and intermittent sore throat, I feel more or less OK. I feel, in fact, rather like someone who's just spent a day resting and drinking orange juice[**] and getting plenty of sleep. And the reason that's odd is because I think every other time I've had that "feeling good; OK, feeling really tired; BAM! HAVE A FEVER!" pattern, it's been the harbinger of an industrial strength case of flu or strep or something, and has flattened me for a week. Generally, the stuff my immune system manages to fight off within a day or two never reaches the "BAM! HAVE A FEVER!" stage.

Well, hey. I do complain about the overzealousness of said immune system -- it would be great if you could stop attacking the pollen and cat dander now, buddy, really -- but I think I've got to give it kudos for this one.

Am still going to take it easy today, although I do have to go to the post office to mail some Christmas gifts, and I think I might walk up there, since I feel like I could really use the fresh air. But I think I should be fine to work my scheduled hours this weekend, anyway. Um... yay?

[*] I'd advise against watching Spider-Man 3 when you're feeling sick. It's not very distracting, and it seems to drag on forever. Although maybe it's like that normally. I dunno.

[**] I did get some. It was comfortingly juicylicious.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Am sick. Send orange juice.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Bit Belated, But Still Current

Yeah, here's that meme thing again.

Current clothes: Gray t-shirt with a big circular VLBA logo thingy in the middle, surrounded by the flags of all the states where our antennas are located. Long-sleeve blue denim shirt over that, unbuttoned. Blue jeans. Black belt. White socks. Black sneakers.

Current mood: A lot better after having finally had a full day off work yesterday. Ye gods, but I needed that.

Current music: Random playlists on the iPod again, most recently. I don't remember what all it was playing... I recall some Creedence Clearwater and some Bob Marley, and probably some Rush. Actually, I think the last song was something by Coldplay.

Current annoyance: I just got back from the dentist (again), having had a couple of fillings replaced. It wasn't all that bad, actually. When they started drilling, I felt a little bit of pain, so I complained, and they gave me more novocaine. After that, I felt nothing. It was probably the most discomfort-free dental procedure I've ever had, not counting the times I had the nitrous oxide and was actively blissing out. I think I ought to complain more often. The downside, though, is that now the side of my mouth is completely numb. I'm hungry, dammit, and I'm afraid to eat, lest I accidentally chew my own cheek off without noticing.

Current thing: Feline dieting techniques. I've added a daily workout regimen, in the form of a vigorous ten-minute game of Chase the Toy on the String, to Vir's weight loss program.

Current desktop picture: The Elephant's Trunk Nebula.

Current book: William Sleator's House of Stairs. This book disturbed and frightened the crap out of my when I was a kid. A few years ago, I picked up a set of three Sleater books, but while I read the other two, I was so afraid of this one that I kept putting off reading it. Although I'm not sure, honestly, whether I was more afraid that it would frighten me again or disappoint me by not frightening me again. Anyway, I've finally gotten around to facing it. It hasn't disturbed my equilibrium yet, but I'm still only about 30 pages in.

Current song in head: For some reason, I kept hearing bits of "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel inside my head when I was in the dentist's chair. It was strangely soothing. Now it appears to have been replaced by "The Dance" by Fleetwood Mac.

Current DVD in player: Disc 2 of season 3 of Samurai Jack.

Current refreshment: Nothing. And I'm hungry!

Current worry: I've got a bunch of Christmas stuff I'm still waiting on. I've had everything sent to my house instead of direct to the recipients, figuring I could wrap it, consolidate it, and re-mail it. I'm beginning to worry, however, that for some of it I did not leave nearly enough time for this. Oops. There's also still one thing I haven't even ordered yet, because the person I need to see about it wasn't around last week.

Current thought: I'm hungry, my face feels funny, and I think perhaps I'm starting to get the tiniest of headaches. But I still feel better than I did last weekend at work.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Somehow, I Don't Think This Album Is Going To Be Topping Any Charts Anywhere.

My brain is tired, and I have never been in more desperate need of an actual weekend (as opposed to a weekend in which I spend 24 hours out of 48 at work, which is what I'm getting). In lieu of anything remotely creative or coherent from my exhausted neurons, I offer up another silly meme.

Go to the Wikipedia home page and click random article. That is your band's name.
Click random article again; that is your album name.
Click random article repeatedly to name each track on your album.

Band name: Ring Latency
Album title: Cormac Breslin

Track listing:

01) John Gill (Theologian)
02) When in Rome DVD
03) Yellow Cake
04) The Very Best of Kiss
05) Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band
06) Milk River (Madge) Airport
07) Old Museum Building, Brisbane
08) Korea@Home
09) Octacross
10) Lehi High School
11) Shaw Centrepoint
12) Haplogroup I1a (Y-DNA)
13) Montevideo District
14) List of Mountains and Hills of Japan by Height
15) Alexandria Troas
16) Carl Friedrich von Ledebour

Friday, December 07, 2007

I Want The Hiro Nakamura Time-Stopping Ability.

Note to self: Never say things like, "Oh, I don't think I'll be too busy this week." It pretty much guarantees that come Friday you'll be blinking like a cartoon owl and asking where the heck all that time just went.

Note to anyone who's asked me to do something recently: It'll happen eventually. Promise. After all, next week doesn't look too bu-- Oh, crap.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Following the last post, it suddenly occurred to me that there is a high shelf up on top of the entertainment center in the living room that only Happiness ever jumps up to. Vir is way too much of a lard-ass to even attempt it. I just put some canned food up there and sat her down next to it, and she is happily chowing down. I don't think it will take her long at all to figure out to look for food there regularly, and I suspect she might prefer eating someplace where the others won't bother her. It's not a spot I've traditionally wanted to encourage her to jump up on -- if nothing else, she uses my video rack as a springboard and frequently knocks a few videos off the shelf -- but I think I can put up with that.

The other two, by the way, stood at the bottom, looked up at her, looked at each other with the most perfect possible WTF? face a feline is capable of, then decided to pretend that they could get up there just fine if they wanted to, but they just really didn't care enough.

I love cats.

My Season One Vir Needs To Be A Season Four Vir.

Also, I got a call from the vet today following up on the latest round of "Let's try to figure out why Vir wheezes like Darth Vader." The current medical opinion, apparently, is that his lungs look OK, and that the biggest contributing factor is probably simply that he's so overweight. (He weighs more than both of the other cats put together.) So, rather than fiddling around with complicated and expensive diagnostic tests to figure out if there's something messed up with his airways, the advice is simply to put him on a diet.


The thing is, I've always kept the cats fed largely by the expedience of leaving some dry Cat Chow out for them all the time. A regular feeding time is impossible with my schedule, and the the other two cats have never had a problem with overeating. Indeed, I worry about Happiness undereating. She's such a skinny little thing, and she'll always immediately stop and runs off if either of the other kitties comes into the room while she's eating.

I don't know how the heck I'm going to put Lard-Ass on a diet without starving out the other two, but I don't think it's going to be fun for any of us.

Anybody have any useful advice?

Word To Your Mother

I've been writing up documentation for various things at work. It's all supposed to be posted on the web, only I've created everything as .doc files, so they now have to be converted to HTML. And, man, I knew Word's handling of HTML was bad, but I am now discovering that it is actually easier to save as plaintext and hand-add all the HTML formatting than it is to use Word's HTML converter (even the "filtered" version, which is supposed to be cleaner) and to remove the crap from it. (This also allows me to practice my highly rudimentary HTML skills, which is not remotely a bad thing, or else I'd be grumbling mightily and looking for a more efficient way of doing it.)

What really got me, though, was the realization that it's actually easier to hand-code complicated outlines with letters and numbers in HTML and have it come out looking exactly the way I think it should than it is to do it in Word. Mostly because Word keeps trying to "help" by anticipating what I want to do, much like a three-year-old hopefully thrusting all the wrong tools at you while you're trying to fix the dishwasher.

*shakes head sadly* Ah, Microsoft, how comprehensively thou suckest.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yes, My Life Is So Difficult.

Things I Don't Want to Do Today:
  • Go to the dentist.
  • Go to work.
  • Things I Have to Do Today:
  • Go to the dentist.
  • Go to work.
  • Sigh.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    That Was The Year That Was

    A meme: Take the first sentence of the first post of each month of 2007. The result is the summary of your year.

    I ignored posts that contained nothing but stupid internet quiz results, and got the following:
    Had a good New Year's Eve.

    I'm trying to convince myself that the fact that I'm having trouble finding some of the BBC Eighth Doctor books, now that I'm within a dozen or so books of finishing the series, does not, in fact, actually constitute an emergency.

    Some while ago, I remember talking to Fred Coppersmith about LibraryThing, which is an online book-cataloging tool that lets you organize your library, compare it with other people's, get recommendations based on it, and all sorts of other stuff.

    Oh great, the clocks I had to set ahead by hand weeks ago have now just spontaneously set themselves another hour forward.

    I feel like I ought to apologize for the recent utterly content-free nature of this blog, not that I imagine anybody ever comes here looking for Deep Thoughts and Meaningful Insights.

    My cactus is blooming!

    Independence Day may be just around the corner, but come July 6th, the British will be back!

    Here's a deeply silly and pointless, but unaccountably entertaining meme:

    My life would probably be much easier right now if I'd just stop stressing about all the things I'm supposed to be doing and started actually, y'know, doing them.


    Thanks to spending nearly every waking hour last weekend at work (and thus missing what was apparently a really good Halloween party, dammit), I found myself with only sixteen random hours to put in over the subsequent seven days.

    Oh, man, it's December now?!

    Hmm. That's probably not a bad summary of my year, actually.

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    Fruit Flies Like A Banana

    Oh, man, it's December now?! I really need to finish my Christmas shopping.

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    You'd Think I'd Have Stopped Being Shocked At These People.

    Note to self: When sitting down to watch an episode of The Sopranos, there is always a possibility that there will be some turn of events on the series that disturbs your emotional equilibrium for the rest of the day. And while this may be a hallmark of quality programming, it is also something that should be taken into account when choosing your lunchtime viewing.

    I've only got a few episodes left, but now I'm sort of afraid of them.

    Stupid Drama-Queen Gasballs. They Only Do It To Piss Me Off.

    It's rather awe-inspiring, in a way, to contemplate how the explosion of a star twelve million years ago can lead directly to me having a really, really annoying week at work. It makes one think about both the fundamental interconnectedness and the fundamental annoyingness of all things in the universe. Or something like that.

    Fortunately, I think it's finally over for now. Hooray! *does a happy dance on the supernova's cooling stellar corpse*

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Hard Labor In The Data Mines

    It would be nice if something -- anything -- would actually frigging work tonight. *kicks expensive pieces of technology petulantly*

    Congrats To Me! And Also To Roger Smith of Grand Rapids, MI.

    I won a prize in Planetary Radio's 5th anniversary trivia contest! I was able to correctly give the escape velocity of Jupiter and the identity of the person for whom Stickney crater on Phobos was named. (I will neither confirm nor deny whether the entity known as Google was involved in this process.)

    To be honest, I was hoping for the grand prize -- a speck of Martian meteorite -- or even the autographed Star Trek poster. But I'm sure I will be able to happily waste many otherwise potentially productive hours with my new Space Station Sim game. (Or at least, I will if it'll run on my pokey old computer. Man, I think every day "new computer" is moving a little higher up on my list of things that I want out of life.)

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    The Latest Batch Of Random Links

    Million Dollar challenge test: Rosemary Hunter: As part of their Million Dollar Psychic Challenge, the James Randi Educational Foundation tests a woman who claims God gave her the power to make people urinate.

    John Edward Ambushed: Speaking of people who don't have psychic powers, here's a couple of Australian comedians making fun of John Edward.

    Atheists and Anger: Moving from parapsychology to religion, this long blog post, I think, says a few worthwhile things even if, being the wishy-washy "can't we all just get along?" moderate that I am, anger makes me mildly uncomfortable. But if we're being angry, personally I'm angrier about Giordano Bruno than I am about Galileo. Still.

    Things We Can Agree On: Similar subject matter, but a very different tone. This guy clearly understands both perspectives well, he's very funny, and he's right. I want to print copies of this and hand them out on street corners.

    Dr Who fan shares his house with 225 Daleks: Watch out for this guy, because that's more than enough for a galactic takeover bid.

    Robots infiltrate roach society: Speaking of galactic takeovers... Can the Cylons be far behind?

    The Nerd Handbook: Practical advice for dealing with your nerdy SO. Really, this only covers a particular subset of nerds, but for that subset, it's pretty accurate.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Whovian Birth and Death

    Today happens to be the 44th anniversary of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, it's not a very happy birthday, as the news has just come out that Verity Lambert, the show's first producer, has died. Those of you who've been watching Who this season may remember "John Smith" giving his parents' names as "Sidney and Verity." Well, Ms. Lambert was the "Verity." She was, in a fairly literal sense, the mother of Doctor Who. She was also the BBC's first female TV producer, and went on from that ground-breaking achievement to have a long and highly distinguished career.

    I'll observe a moment of silence for her... And a moment of gratitude for helping to bring the world such a great and iconic TV series. I very nearly included Doctor Who in yesterday's list of things I appreciate in life.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Albuquerque Turkey And Things I Appreciate

    A very happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans! (And a happy random Thursday to the rest of you!) I just got back from turkey and conversation with friends in Albuquerque, for which I am appropriately grateful. *waves to said friends*

    I've never been too sure about the word "thanksgiving" -- it comes with connotations of belief in a capital-P Providence that I don't personally subscribe to -- but I think it's an excellent thing for people of all worldviews to take a moment now and then to appreciate all of the good things in life, and perhaps to nurture a little humility at the thought that none of those things are automatically guaranteed to us.

    I'm wearing a sweatshirt right now that says, "Books. Cats. Life is sweet." The usual stuff about health and friends and family aside, I think that pretty much covers my own top Things To Be Appreciative Of.

    Other random things I'm feeling highly appreciative of at the moment:

  • Gorgeous fall weather, even if it looks like that may mostly be past now.

  • The invention of the mp3 player, which, among other things, makes longish car trips alone so much more bearable.

  • Having a job, and the attendant having of money. There are a number of very expensive things that I'm trying to figure out exactly how to budget at the moment, but the very act of doing that makes me realize how much better off I am than so many other people. I'm (mildly) worried about whether I'm going to be able to go to Australia, get my house painted, pay veterinarians to figure out why Vir the cat makes Darth Vader noises, and maybe buy a new computer, all in the next year or so. That is so much better than worrying about how you're going to buy food and clothing that it's not even a quantitative difference, but a qualitative one.

  • The fact that the universe makes so much sense that human beings can sit here on Earth and actually figure out things about the nature of distant galaxies and the conditions at the beginning of the universe. Even if it is hard to do. That is so freaking cool that I don't even have words for it. (See, the cats may not be interested in reading about cosmology, but I am.)
  • Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    I Want My TV.

    God damn it, Heroes is finally just starting to get really, really good again, and now there's only two more episodes. Just give the damned writers some money, already! Cheapasses.

    And apparently things are getting ugly enough that we might not ever get to see the end of Battlestar Galactica, either. It's enough to make a fangirl cry.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Walk On!

    Apropos of the discussion of walking in the last post, I've just stumbled on a site that computes a location's "walk score", meaning how many of the places you might need on an average day are available within walking distance. My house gets 65 out of 100, apparently, which is definitely on the good end. Although some of the locations they mention as fulfilling my walk-to needs are not exactly very good examples of the things they're purported to be.

    I notice that they only seem to include things less than a mile away as "walking distance." Pansies.

    My Mother Always Told Me I Was The Weird One In The Family.

    It seems I have been tagged to do this "seven weird things about me" meme. I thought that maybe I already had done that here at some point, but I guess not. Anyway, here goes:

    1. I talk to myself. A lot. I try not to do it too conspicuously in public, but when I'm on my own, I can deliver entire 20-minute lectures to myself, complete with hand gestures. I also sometimes talk to the cats, especially when I'm planning out my day. "OK, kitties, I'm going to take a shower now, and then I'm going to go out to the post office..." Like it's more psychologically acceptable to talk to animals who can't understand me than it is to talk to myself, at least if the subject matter concerns said animals the way my comings and goings (and thus my availability for cat dish-filling duties) does. Also, once in a while I'll read out loud to the cats. I was reading bits of Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos to Vir Catto yesterday, but he seemed sadly uninterested in Hawking's ideas about black holes.

    2. I use my car maybe once a month, usually when I have to buy cat litter or drive up to Albuquerque for some reason. Otherwise, I walk everywhere. I live in a small town -- few places I want to get to are more than 15 minutes away -- so this is eminently doable. Walking is the ultimate win-win situation for me. It's good for the world at large, what with not burning up pesky fossil fuels and all. It's good for my body, being the only real exercise I get. And it's good for my mind, as I find it helps to clear my head, lift my mood, and concentrate my thoughts. I do all my best creative thinking when I'm walking. And, if it's light out and I don't have any particular creative thinking I need to do, I can read while I walk. For some reason, people seem to find this strange. I suspect this is mainly because they haven't tried it; it's easier than it looks, honestly. But anyway, yeah, in conclusion, I love to walk. Sometimes -- OK, kind of often -- I'll walk a two-mile round trip at 2 AM to drop a letter in the mailbox at the post office that I could easily have mailed from home, just to give myself an excuse to get out and walk.

    3. I don't eat invertebrates. Shellfish are basically just giant underwater bugs -- ick! And mollusks are squishy, slimy things. Also, while I'm ruling out whole classes of lifeforms, I'll add in an entire kingdom and say the same thing about fungus, with the added point that that stuff grows in shit. You may keep your lobsters, scallops and mushrooms for yourself. Thank you.

    4. I cannot think properly with the TV or the radio on. The sound moves into the part of my brain that I use to think with and interferes with the words I use to think in, and I do not have the ability to tune it out. The effect is lessened if it's soft instrumental music that's not to my taste but also not actively annoying, or if it's something really dull and quiet playing on the TV, like a golf tournament. It's heightened if it's something I find interesting (even if only in the train-wreck sort of way that you get with a lot of TV programs) or something with strong lyrics. But if I really need to concentrate on something, especially something that involves writing, I really need either silence or white noise. Music is for occupying my brain while I do mindless physical tasks, and I only watch stuff on TV that I actually care about enough to devote my full attention to.

    5. I have a book-buying addiction. I had to impose a quota limiting the number of books I buy to less than the number I read, otherwise I would have found myself buried under an avalanche of books. Not that that might not still happen.

    6. My idea of getting dressed up is wearing khakis instead of jeans, a sweater vest over my t-shirt, and boots instead of sneakers. If an event requires getting dressier than that, you're going to have a hard time talking me into going.

    7. I spend eight hours a day at work in front of a computer. Sometimes twelve. So, what's the very first thing I do when I get home? Sit down in front of the computer. Hey, important e-mail might have come in during that 15 minutes it took me to walk home!

    Um, wow. That all makes me sound more eccentric than I thought I was.

    I Believe In Being Open-Minded, But Not Enough So That Your Brain Falls Out.

    You Are 48% Open Minded

    You aren't exactly open minded, but you have been known to occasionally change your mind.
    You're tolerant enough to get along with others who are very different...
    But you may be quietly judgmental of things or people you think are wrong.
    You take your own values pretty seriously, and it would take a lot to change them.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    They May Be On Strike, But Their Sense Of Humor Is Still Working.

    If you're missing your regular dose of The Daily Show and Colbert due to the writers' strike, take heart! The Daily Show writers have produced a very funny video about, well, the writers' strike:

    You know, I'm not sure there's anything more to be said on the subject after that, really. But the Colbert Report writers have produced this, er, rebuttal:

    Good luck fightin' The Man, guys!

    And Yet People Have Been Known To Mock Me For Using Big Words.

    Hey! They were trying to pull an advertising stunt in the alt-text here!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    So There, TiVo! Who Cares What You Think!

    It looks like the program I wanted to see is going to be available on Nova's website on Friday, anyway.

    Man, I do love the internet.

    Algorithms Are Judging Me.

    So, apparently there was an episode of Nova on tonight about the Dover Intelligent-Design-in-the-schools court case, which I was somewhat interested in seeing, except that I didn't realize it was going to be on until after I'd already left for the day. "No problem," I told myself. "I bet the TiVo gets it for me, anyway." Well, it didn't. I'm not really bothered about missing the show, but I find that I do feel rather hurt by the fact that my TiVo doesn't think I'm the sort of person who watches Nova.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    I Also Woke Up With A Headache, But I Don't Think That's Related.

    I woke up this morning -- well, OK, this afternoon, but it was morning for me -- and was going to get out of bed, but there was a cat lying on top of me. So I fell back to sleep and dreamed about waking up but not getting out of bed because there was a cat lying on top of me. Fortunately, the recursion did not continue past that point, or I might still be asleep.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Homeowner's Blues #173

    Great. Now the Mythbusters have made me totally paranoid about my water heater.

    In Case That Last Link Wasn't Random Enough

    The 10 Best Animated Movies for (Traumatizing) Kids: What childhood is complete without a healthy dose of trauma?

    20,000 pounds of sodium being dumped into a lake: It makes a very satisfying boom.

    Outtake from the Doctor Who episode "Human Nature": If you've seen the episode, you'll remember that the Doctor leaves a video with a list of instructions for Martha. We only get to see the beginning and the end of it on the show, because Martha fast-forwards through the middle. But David Tennant had to keep talking so that she'd have something to fast-forward through. The resulting video clip proves that David Tennant is a) adorably amusing when he's babbling and b) really quite a heck of an actor.

    The Writers Strike: Why We Fight: A video presentation explaining the reasons behind the current Hollywood writers' strike. I'm not exactly happy about the strike -- my shows! my precious shows! -- but the stuff they're asking for sounds extremely reasonable to me, and I happen to be a big fan of the people who actually put in the creative talent being the ones to get the money, so I wish them much luck. And not just because I'm going to be annoyed if I only get half a season of Lost next year.

    Genesis, the computer program: Amusing, and as believable as any other creation story.

    The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: I think I may have linked to this at some point in the past, but they're currently pushing to hit 30,000 weekly listeners by the end of the year, so I figured I'd give 'em a plug. This is a podcast which examines a wide array of topics from a standpoint of scientific skepticism, featuring some very entertaining and intelligent people. I listen to it regularly.

    From The "Where Are They Now?" Files

    It has just been pointed out to me that a guy I went to high school with has apparently become a musical robot with a giant flame-shooting penis. To repeat my immediate response: I don't think I have ever been so surprised and so utterly unsurprised by anything at the same time in my life. Because I totally would have voted for him for "most likely to become an android with a flame-shooting penis," if such a category had ever remotely occurred to me.

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Currently, I Am Possibly Even More Of A Sci-Fi Geek Than Usual. Amazingly Enough.

    Current clothes: A sort of peach-colored t-shirt with a picture of a teddy bear on it and the words "Oklahoma Bear Hug" underneath, which my mother bought me, for some reason, when she was, for some reason, in Oklahoma. The bear appears to be hugging some letters, possibly an O and a U. My guess would be that they stand for "Oklahoma University." I don't know; I'm only wearing it because I wanted to dirty something bright-colored so I'd be closer to a full laundry load. Over that, a short-sleeved light-blue denim shirt, unbuttoned. Jeans. A black belt. White crew socks. Black sneakers.

    Current mood: Eh, not bad.

    Current music: I think it's mostly been random playlists again lately, nothing terribly memorable. Mostly today I was listening to Escape Pod, which delivers cool science fiction stories directly into my ears.

    Current annoyance: Since I updated Firefox, it's started doing this thing where when I spell-check a word, the spell-check suggestions do not disappear from the right-click menu, but hang around forever, piling up on one another, presenting me with a huge and useless menu of pointless words and rendering it difficult to find whatever menu item (or, indeed, spelling suggestion) I'm actually looking for. This is now annoying me beyond all reason or sanity. And apparently it's only happening on my computer. Firefox on the work machines seems fine, even though it's had exactly the same upgrade. Why have you done this to me, Mozilla? Why?

    Current thing: Last week, it was sleeping ridiculous hours and not working at all. That was nice. I haven't figured out what it is this week, though.

    Current desktop picture: Still the same First Doctor wallpaper as last month.

    Current book: Just finished The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. Next up: Timeless by Stephen Cole. Yes, it's yet another Doctor Who novel. I've been going through these Eighth Doctor novels at a rate of about one a month, and apparently the point where I start thinking "Hmm, it's about time to read another of those Who novels" is about the same as the point where I start thinking "Hmm, it's about time to do that currently meme."

    Current song in head: "Old Country Doctor (The Ballad of Bones)" by Warp Eleven. Which has been flitting into my head every time I've picked up the aforementioned John Hodgman book. Because, you see, it's a song about Dr. McCoy, and it's got this great line: "I have been asked to do many a thing outside the area of my expertise." Because, see, Bones is always complaining that he's a doctor, not a bricklayer or a moonshuttle conductor or something, and, yes, the inside of my brain is an interesting place, why do you ask?

    Current DVD in player: Disc one of Stargate SG-1 season 5. By the way, for those who were worried -- as I'm sure you all were, desperately -- I did manage to get hold of the episodes on disc two that Netflix couldn't get to me. So we can all rest easily knowing the latest science fiction-related crisis in my life has been averted. By the way, while I'm talking about Stargate... I have decided, at this point in my viewing, that what I really want to see is a Stargate: Cool Old Guys spinoff, featuring Jacob Carter/Selmak, Master Bra'tac, and General Hammond.

    Current refreshment: I just had some frozen lasagna for lunch (well, not while it was frozen, obviously) and am now enjoying a mug of tea and some salad.

    Current worry: Eh, there are things I could worry about, but why bother?

    Current thought: Dammit, Jim!

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    It Is Hard To Predict, Especially The Future.

    I've started noticing myself developing a real problem with books written more than a decade or so ago, which is that any time the plot depends on the characters being out of phone contact with each other or on characters not being able to find out some piece of information that I could google up in less than three seconds, I feel weirdly annoyed. Which I know is ridiculous for a book that's set in, say, the 1980s, but is probably a legitimate suspension-of-disbelief problem for books written in the 1980s but set in the 21st century.

    Of course, the rapid march of technology doesn't just mean that science fiction novels might be dating themselves more quickly than ever. It seems pretty clear to me that it presents some challenges to modern storytellers, too. I think that cell phone reception suddenly going out for no good reason is already something of a movie cliche, and disrupting cell phone signals now appears to be a common ability (or intrinsic talent) for supernatural entities.

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    I Would Rather Spend Daylight Than Save It.

    So, I spent a couple of hours last night reading by flashlight. It was a horror novel, sort of, so I guess that made for an appropriate atmosphere.

    And now we're off of Daylight Savings Time, finally. This is also something that sucks for us poor night-shift people. Where everybody else gets to sleep an extra hour in order to keep themselves on the same clock schedule, I have to stay up an extra hour. And then the sun's coming up while I'm trying to get to sleep, and by the time I'm finished my morning coffee, it's set and left me in the dark. I've been known to rant and rail against the whole concept of Daylight Savings, but, really, the truth is that I don't understand why we don't simply go onto it and stay there.

    (And, of course, by Murphy's Law, I always do seem to be on night shifts when we switch off DST and mornings when we switch back.)

    Powerless Owls

    Annoying thing about being a night person #607: When the electric company needs to shut the power down for several hours to replace a transformer, they will do it when they expect most people to be asleep, leaving you with a good long while to spend wide awake in pitch darkness. With no computer.

    *waves goodbye to the internet for the night*

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    An Extremely Useful Thing I Just Learned How To Do

    How to tell Firefox to forget that misspelled word you just accidentally told it to add to its dictionary.


    Thanks to spending nearly every waking hour last weekend at work (and thus missing what was apparently a really good Halloween party, dammit), I found myself with only sixteen random hours to put in over the subsequent seven days. Whereupon I decided that I'd rather have my time off add up to a nice round figure, sacrificed a couple of easily spareable vacation days, and scored myself an entire week to spend not working, which is far and away my favorite thing to spend a week doing.

    But I have not been idle! Well, OK, not entirely idle. Thanks to the time freed up by my hookey-playing ways, I now have accomplished the seemingly impossible: I have cleaned and organized my shed! Yeah, yeah, that may not sound like much to you, but that's only because you've never seen the inside of my shed. It formerly consisted almost entirely of a random, precarious jumble of cardboard boxes left over from when I moved in. More than that, it provided an excellent illustration of the "nature is trying to eat my house" principle. It's extremely easy to see how that structure could end up completely filled with dirt after a few decades because, man, it was already well on its way.

    I'm pleased to report, by the way, that I didn't get bit by any poisonous spiders (as far as I've noticed), and that I only cut myself while slicing up boxes once. This should, I believe, bring my injury-per-household project ratio down a tad. Go, me!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    What Do You Mean, "Very Long Wait?"

    Will whoever has disc 2 of Stargate SG-1 season 5 out from Netflix please just return the damned thing now? Thank you.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    Is It Cold In Here, Or Is It Me?

    Your results:
    You are Mr. Freeze

    Mr. Freeze
    Dr. Doom
    The Joker
    Green Goblin
    Dark Phoenix
    Poison Ivy
    Lex Luthor
    You are cold and you think everyone else should be also, literally.

    Click here to take the Supervillain Personality Quiz

    Time Keeps On Slippin'

    You know, when I bought my alarm clock, the fact that it automatically adjusts itself for Daylight Savings Time seemed like a really nice feature. Now it's not only useless, but actively dangerous. Thanks, Congress.

    Well, at least I actually got one more hour of sleep today than I initially thought I did.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Did I Miss Something Important In July?

    I just found a folded post-it note on the kitchen counter, where it had apparently fallen out of one of the pockets in my handbag. It says "7-25." Underlined twice.

    I wish I had the faintest clue what that was about.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Even More Random Than Usual Random Links

    The 8 Most Common Sci-Fi Visions of the Future (And Why They'll Never Happen): Exactly what it says it is. Rather an entertaining list.

    Lolthulhu: Lovecraft and lolcats, together at last, and frighteningly funny.

    Pirates vs. Ninjas: A careful examination of one of the definitive questions of our time. In powerpoint.

    The Church of Google: This has pretty much convinced me of Google's status as a divinity.

    Free Rice: Addictive vocabulary game that donates rice to the hungry for every word you get right. I made level 49 at one point.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had A Lawnmower

    Current book is The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which is all about what would happen to the world if humans suddenly vanished from the face of the Earth (although, so far, he's spent a lot more time talking about the past than about that hypothetical future).

    I expected to find this book highly enjoyable and interesting, as when I was younger I frequently indulged in guilty but satisfying fantasies of being the last person on Earth, thus enabling me to finally get some real peace and quiet. (Think of Burgess Meredith's character in that old Twilight Zone episode. Indeed, the possibility of breaking my glasses was the only truly frightening part of that scenario for me.) Even now, I still rather like walking down deserted streets at night and imagining what it would be like if they really were deserted, trying to picture what things might look like a year or a century later.

    Unfortunately, though, although it's perfectly good and readable, the book's main effect so far has been to forcibly remind me of the disturbing fact that nature is trying to eat my house.

    I think life was more enjoyable before I became a homeowner.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Not Exactly Who I Was Hoping For...

    Your Score: Rose

    You scored 25% strength, 44% intelligence, 73% friendliness, and 21% escapology!

    So you're in love with The Doctor. Who wouldn't be, with a gorgeous mug like his? But how much do you actually help him out? Not a whole lot. You're not the one who figures things out, and you're certainly not winning any awards for kick-assery. Even your solutions seem to cause more problems - remember the whole "swallowing the time vortex" thing? Yeah, that worked out well. Smooth.

    Still, your pleasant enough to be around, and exactly what the Doctor needs to start getting over his emo side. It helps that you know how to dance.

    Link: The Doctor Who Companion Test written by lobotomy42 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

    Nerdy in 'Querque

    The Weird Al concert was awesome. I think Albuquerque may now be the best place to see Al, as this time it led to him doing, like, seven encores. The audience kept chanting for him to do "Albuquerque," and he kept pretending to not have a clue what we wanted, and coming out and playing random cover songs. He does a rockin' rendition of "Smoke on the Water," for the record. Finally he said, "Oh, you want me to do the song I wrote about the town we're in?" which led to what I am quite sure was the world premiere of "Rio Rancho" (that being the Albuquerque suburb the concert was technically in, as well very nearly the entirety of the lyrics). And then he did, in fact, do "Albuquerque," one and a fraction times. With extra doughnuts.

    Also, there were Imperial Stormtroopers (although not during the encores). And I now have a "white & nerdy" t-shirt, which should serve to give people around me fair warning.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Yes, I Am White and Nerdy.

    I think this is officially Albuquerque's Geekiest Week Ever, between the Mythbusters on Saturday and the Weird Al Yankovic concert tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to the concert, but, man, I am not used to having a social calendar this full. Three fun trips into the city in the past month, and I'm starting to get that overstimulated introvert thing going on. I think I'm close to reaching the point where I just want to crawl into a hole with a stack of books and not talk to anybody for a week.

    Saturday, October 13, 2007

    I Think Sleep Is A Myth.

    Good thing today: I'm going up to Albuquerque to see the Mythbusters! Live! Man, those guys are my TV heroes. Right up there with the Doctor, but, y'know, slightly less fictional.

    Bad thing today: I knew I was going to have to cut myself a bit short on sleep to make the show, but I expected to at least get some sleep. Hello, insomnia, my old friend. Why do you always pick the least convenient times to drop by? I blame work, as things last night were annoying and complicated, and left me rather keyed up at the end of the shift. Fortunately, I'm not driving, but my friends might just have to carry me out to the car when it's over.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Dr. Betty's Healthcare Insights

    Once again, I am forcibly reminded how much difference an adequate amount of sleep makes to my general well-being. Also, remembering to take my allergy medicine on time is helpful.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    A Tiny Bit Of Self-Promotion

    On the off chance that there's anybody out there who is not tired of hearing me go on and on about Doctor Who, I will point out that, for a mere $4 (or possibly $6.50, depending on where you are), you can now obtain a copy of the latest issue of Fred Coppersmith's Kaleidotrope, featuring about 3,000 words worth of me yakking on about how Doctor Who is perhaps the single greatest thing since the invention of oxygen. And, oh, yeah, also a lot of fiction and poetry by people who are not me, but who I am sure are all very nice folks, too.

    See? Even with massive bouts of procrastination, I do finish things.

    We Are Living In A Material World, And I Am A Material Girl.

    Your Score: The Empiricist

    You scored 100 Materialism and 30 Phenomenology!

    There are those who say that the truths of the universe can all be spun from a person's own head, but you know that knowledge is founded in sensory experience. You are the Empiricist.

    The Empiricists presented the first true challenge to Rationalist dominance in Europe. Though they never achieved the sort of contorted reasoning found in Descartes, the Empiricists started a major shift in Western philosophy and the eggheads have never looked back. You live life by trial and error and don't believe anything is true without good reason. However, you leave more room for the internal world of personal experience than some, because after all, how can you truly know you aren't splotches of paint?

    Thinkers you may agree with: John Locke, David Hume, George Berkely, Richard Dawkins
    Thinkers that may challenge you: Immanuel Kant, St. Thomas Aquinas, Carl Jung

    Link: The Metaphysician Test written by Jaylhomme on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007


    Happy surprise of the day: going to check the expiration date on my passport and discovering $50 in Canadian currency stuck inside it. I need to go and exchange those suckers, now that they're actually worth something!

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    Currently Meme, Featuring Two Whos For The Price Of One

    Current clothes: Gray sweats, black Farscape t-shirt, white socks. No shoes.

    Current mood: Lazy and procrastinatory. Last night's zombie-comedy-and-Indian-food expedition notwithstanding, this has felt very much like the kind of weekend for lying around watching DVDs and maybe doing random very small tasks around the house, rather than working on any of the more ambitious projects I ought to be doing.

    Current music: The Who, The Ultimate Collection, disc one. I read an article a few years ago where some teenager who'd barely heard of any band formed before about 1990 was sent to various classic rock concerts and asked to report his opinions. He seemed fairly lukewarm towards most of 'em, as I recall, but he thought the Who rocked. I regard this as objective proof that the music of the Who is of timeless, ageless awesomeness. As if any such proof were actually needed.

    Current annoyance: The fact that aforementioned unproductive mood has persisted for over a week now.

    Current thing: Doing damn little, as per above.

    Current desktop picture: A black-and-white Doctor Who wallpaper I found somewhere on the internet. It features the First Doctor standing in a wood looking, well, very First Doctor-ish, with Barbara and Ian (and the TARDIS) looking on.

    Current book: The Last Resort by Paul Leonard. Yes, it's yet another Doctor Who novel. I do read books without the words "Doctor Who" on the front, honest. But I'm trying to get through these Eighth Doctor novels sometime before we end up on Doctor Eleven. I'm only a few chapters into this one. So far it's kind of confusing, but interestingly imaginative.

    Current song in head: "Don't Let Him Go" by REO Speedwagon. Oh, the embarrassment.

    Current DVD in player: Disc 1 of Crusade. I've actually seen five episodes of that now, though; I was told to watch them in a different order from the one on the discs. Sadly, the best things I can say about it so far are that it has one appealing character, and that sometimes it comes very close to being good. In the other DVD player is disc 2 of season 2 of Farscape. (Hi, Dad!) And in the VCR is a tape with a couple of episodes of Cosmos. I stumbled across the boxed set somewhere for $14, new. Even for a semi-obsolete format, you can't beat that with a stick. And, man, call me a sap -- a nerdy sap, even -- but I still find that show incredibly stirring. Dr. Sagan isn't exactly telling me anything I haven't already known for most of my life, but I still keep sitting up, leaning forward and going, "That is so cool!" Cosmos, to be honest, is probably responsible for me being where I am right now, as reading the companion book in the 7th grade was highly inspirational for making me want to study space science in the first place. I actually find myself vaguely tempted to pick up a copy for my nephew, as all kids ought to have the opportunity to let Carl Sagan inspire them to grow up and study science. And, Carl's wardrobe choices aside, the show is, all things considered, remarkably un-dated.

    Current refreshment: Mint-flavored tea.

    Current worry: I'm feeling too lazy to be worried by anything right this very second.

    Current thought: "Don't let him go. Don't let him go!" Aargh. *bashes brain* Play some Who instead, damn it!

    Good, Clean Zombie Fun

    I went out last night to the local -- OK, semi-local -- indie theater with some friends to see Fido, which I believe was billed as "the heartwarming tale of a boy and his zombie." Very, very funny movie; I definitely recommend it. It's probably not coming soon to a theater near you, but I believe it's out on DVD very soon.

    Apparently horror comedy is a bit of a theme right now, because a couple of weeks ago they were showing Black Sheep, which is both gorier and goofier than Fido, but which has, among other things, zombie were-sheep. I imagine you probably know whether that's the sort of thing that holds an appeal for you or not, but, if it does, this movie definitely delivers. That one's out on DVD this Tuesday, actually. (Hey, the fact that we get weirdo movies in Albuquerque at all is impressive. Nobody expects us to get them quickly.)

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    I Guess This'll Be The Last Doctor Who Discussion Post For A While.

    Now showing in the United States: the Doctor Who season finale, "Last of the Time Lords." You may now talk about it here, if you so wish! I suppose the usual no-spoilers-for-future-episodes warning isn't exactly relevant anymore. I'll figure you can use your own judgment when it comes to discussing anything you may have heard about what's coming up next season.

    I will also point you back to my earlier post about deleted scenes for this episode. If you're watching on Sci-Fi, I strongly recommend checking them out.

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Me and Sarah Jane

    The wrist feels quite a bit better today. Hooray! I can type!

    Wish the rest of me felt nearly as much improved, though. My muscles are all sore from yesterday's yardwork activities, my allergies are acting up, my bunions hurt, and my sleep patterns are severely messed up from switching off of night shifts after a couple of months on them. Also, I appear to have become whiny.

    In happier news, though, I've obtained the current episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the new Doctor Who spinoff for kids, from the UK, and, oh, my, but Sarah Jane rocks. The show is excellent kids' TV, intelligent and fun. Watching it makes me feel like a happy seven-year-old again, which is pretty much exactly what I needed this week.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    I Should've Bought A "Wrist Awareness" Bracelet.

    Ow. I fell on my butt while doing yardwork today, and landed badly on my wrist. Fortunately, it's not my mousing hand, but it's a little painful to type. Possibly no one should expect any long e-mails from me for a couple of days.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    My iPod Answers All Your Questions.

    These random musical memes are always good, stupid fun...

    1. Put Your itunes, windows media player etc on Shuffle
    2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

    If someone says "is this okay?" you say,

    "Dreamcatcher" (Secret Garden)

    And then they look at me really funny.

    How would you describe yourself?

    "I Know Now" (James Galway)

    I know, but I'm not going to tell you!

    What do you like in a guy/girl?

    "Journey of the Sorcerer," aka The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy theme song.

    Yes, I like someone who can appreciate Hitch-hiker's. In fact, this may actually be my biggest criterion for liking someone.

    How do you feel today?

    "Forty Lashes" (Winton Marsalis)

    It's not that bad!

    What is your life's purpose?

    "Being Boring" (The Pet Shop Boys)

    *snerk* 'Nuff said.

    What is your motto?

    "Fragile" (Stringmansassy, covering Sting)

    Don't hurt me! I'm fragile!

    What do your friends think of you?

    "The Last Resort" (The Eagles)

    Is that bad? That sounds like it might be bad.

    What do you think of your parents?

    "Two Faces" (Bruce Springsteen)

    Well, there's two of them, and they both have a face...

    What do you think about very often?

    "Cavity Search" (Weird Al Yankovic)

    It's about going to the dentist! Honestly.

    What is 2 + 2?

    "Magic" (Pilot)

    Always a difficult-to-refute answer to anything.

    What do you think of your best friend?

    "A Day in the Life" (The Beatles)

    I have no idea what to make of this one.

    What do you think of the person you like?

    "The Wild Wild Sea" (Sting)

    Or this one, to be honest.

    What is your life story?

    "Movin' Right Along" (Kermit the Frog & Fozzie Bear)

    So, my life story is The Muppet Movie? Cool!

    What do you want to be when you grow up?

    "Crossroads" (Gordon Lightfoot)

    Unfortunately, there aren't many job openings in that field.

    What do you think of when you see the person you like?

    "Civilized Man" (Joe Cocker)

    I do prefer civilized men.

    What will you dance to at your wedding?

    "I Started a Joke" (James Galway)

    A few minutes later, I will sue for divorce. Ha-ha!

    What will they play at your funeral?

    "Stop Talking About Comic Books or I'll Kill You" (Ookla the Mok)

    Bwah! If it's attended by my friends, this is entirely likely.

    What is your hobby/interest?

    "Suzanne" (Peter Gabriel, covering Leonard Cohen)

    I don't know any Suzannes, but I supposed listening to Leonard Cohen covers is something of an interest of mine.

    What is your biggest fear?

    "She's Got a Way" (Billy Joel)

    I fear her ways!

    What is your biggest secret?

    "Southern Rain" (The Cowboy Junkies)

    It's so secret even I don't know what the hell it means.

    What do you think of your friends?

    "Vulture Culture" (The Alan Parsons Project)

    But I mean it in love. Really, guys.

    What will you post this as?

    "Gimme Three Steps" (Lynyrd Skynyrd)

    Following Lynyrd's example, I will post this and quickly depart.

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Deleted Scenes

    It seems the Canadians have already had the Doctor Who season finale, so I figured I'd post this now. I'll post a reminder link to it when the episode airs here in the states, too. Just to be clear, US people, this is referencing the episode that airs on Sci-Fi on Oct. 5, not the one that aired on Sept. 28.

    Anyway, this is in the way of a public service announcement, to let you know that if you watch, have watched, or will watch the season finale ("Last of the Time Lords") on television outside the UK, what you're getting is a rather heavily edited version, as it ran long on the BBC and was then chopped down a full seven minutes for the international release. Fortunately, you can see at least some of the bits you're missing on YouTube. Thus:

    This should come right after the scene with Martha at the beginning. In fact, if you're watching a recording of the episode, I recommend hitting "pause" and watching the clip right then. Because this bit of sheer and utter insanity should not be missed. It, um, certainly sets a mood...

    This, on the other hand, is an extended version of, erm, a scene near (or possibly at) the climax. And the bit that was cut out of it is a rather terrible thing to have cut, for a couple of reasons. Note: DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN THE EPISODE. I mean it.

    Several other small things were cut, and all of 'em are a damned shame to have lost, especially when I consider that there are other parts of the episode that I honestly think could have benefited from a good trim. But I don't think any of them were nearly as signficant.

    If anybody wants a copy of the full version (as an .avi file or on VHS), let me know.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I'd prefer if Canadians who want to discuss the episode in general hold off and comment on the regular thread for that next week, people may want to talk about the cut scenes here, so I will warn right up-front that the comments to this post are not a spoiler-free zone. Unspoiled Americans, you really want to stay unspoiled, so beware! Wait until you've seen the episode, and then you can come back here. (If you're looking to request a copy of the uncut version, you can contact me by e-mail.)

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Drumroll, Please! It's Another Doctor Who Discussion Post.

    Today's Doctor Who episode here in the US is "The Sound of Drums." You may now talk about it here! And there's only one episode left now to avoid spoiling.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Possibly I'll Be Less Grumpy After More Coffee. Much More Coffee.

    I have this annoying urge now to ring the doorbells of day people at 4 AM to ask them if they want their lawn mowed, and see how they like it.

    I Told You I Was a Tortured Genius.

    How smart are you? - Are you dumb?

    I like the fact that this test claims to tell you how dumb you are, not how smart you are. Judging by the questions, I'd say that's the correct way of looking at it.

    Thought of the Day

    I really ought to get out of the habit of answering my e-mail on a last-in-first-out basis.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Since I Missed "Talk Like A Pirate Day"

    My pirate name is:

    Black Bess Flint

    Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
    Get your own pirate name from
    part of the network

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Up The Waterspout

    It's nice when work can provide you with a bit of a chuckle on an irritating day. I am thus grateful to find in my inbox today the following amusing work order:
    Work Requested: Failure - LA - Rain gauge not recording rain.

    Corrected Action: Removed spider and spider webs from rain gauge.
    Insert your own joke about bugs in the equipment here. (Fun trivia fact: I think the original "bug" that lent its name to the whole phenomenon was, in fact, a moth.)

    Show Me The Money!

    Well, I think I've gotten the stupid bank thing straightened out, or at least on its way to being straightened out, but, aargh, was it annoying.

    I called the bank's customer service number, navigated their labyrinthine phone menu system, and, after giving my account number (twice), social security number, name, date of birth, street address, blood type and shoe size, I was finally permitted to discuss my problem with a human being. (OK, I made up the last two. But, honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd asked.) Said human being listened to my tale of woe, pulled up my records, went, "Gosh, yes, that's clearly a mistake!" and cheerfully informed me that it was no problem, they could get the double-deduction and the overdraft fees removed for me right away, you betcha! "Hooray!" I thought. "Good bank!" And then she said she'd have to transfer me to the "check department," so they could deal with it.

    So, OK, I get the "check department" -- which turns out to be the check fraud department -- and give them my name, rank, serial number, six-thousand-digit account number, etc., etc. all over again, and once again launch into the Tale of Woe. Another person pulls up my records and, while I am in the process of explaining about the overdrafts, interrupts to inform me that I have the wrong department. My mortgage company submits their checks electronically, so I need the department that deals with electronic transactions.

    So, I am transferred again, and again give six pages worth of identifying info, all the while thinking, Jesus Christ, how many departments does this bank have, and are none of them capable of communicating?! I recite the Tale a third time, whereupon I am informed that, why, no, the bank cannot and will not help me, as the mistake was made on the mortgage company's end, and is their responsibility, overdrafts and all. Indeed, as far as they are concerned, the overdrafts are perfectly legitimate, because my account was negative, end of story. All of which was explained to me politely enough, but I'm afraid I got pretty snippy at this point, leading the person I was talking to to explain how those first-tier phone-answering people like to tell you things even when they don't know what they're talking about. Which just made me snippier. I feel kind of bad about it now. I imagine the electronic-department person is as annoyed about this kind of thing as I am, and it wasn't her fault person #1 was a lying idiot. But from a customer-service standpoint, that kind of shit is just plain unacceptable. Telling me that the problem is on the other party's end and that they're responsible for refunding my money is reasonable (and, in this case, perfectly true). Promising me it'll all get cleared up right away, making me play phone tag for fifteen minutes and then telling me I'm S.O.L. as far as you're concerned? Bullshit. I'm still annoyed about it, and even more annoyed that I took it out on somebody who was only trying to do her job.

    Fortunately, when I called the mortgage company, I immediately got somebody who seemed to both know what he was talking about and to have the authority to do something about it. He instantly agreed that it was all their fault, was friendly and sympathetic, and assured me that they'd credit me for the whole thing ASAP, overdrafts and all, and that if I faxed them a copy of my bank statement (or even the online records, since I hadn't gotten a paper statement for the month yet), they'd have it taken care of in a couple of days, maximum. (This as opposed to my bank who told me that I'd have to sign an affidavit saying the debit was wrongly applied, warned me that if I didn't mail it back promptly it would be ignored, and then told me it would take them ten days to do anything about it once they got it.)

    To attempt to balance out my bad-customer karma or something, I gave that guy praise and a high customer-survey rating. I just really hope he doesn't fall down on the follow-through. In the meantime, I've transferred some money over from my savings account to make sure nothing that clears in the next couple of days sends me into the negative again. Man, I'm just really glad this happened now, when I've got an actual financial cushion, and not back in my starving-college-student days. Because, in that case, I actually would have starved. (Erm, not that I had a mortgage then, of course.)

    Oh, and the craptacular icing on the craptastic cake? Today I get a whole slew of overdraft notices in the mail. Thanks, bank. It's real helpful to be informed of that after I've been bouncing stuff for over a week. *rolls eyes*

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    No One Understands My Tortured-Genius Pain.

    You Are 65% Tortured Genius

    You are smart. Brilliant in fact. And while it's a blessing, it's also a curse.
    Your head is filled with everything - grand ideas, insufferable worries, and a good deal of angst.

    Home, Sweet Home

    Your home is a

    Time-Lord's Manor

    Your kitchen consists of dilithium-powered food replicators, manned by obedient robot slaves, who are sure to never, ever rebel. I mean, it's preposterous to even consider it. There's a pantry with emergency backup caffeinated beverages. You also have some breakfast cereals in there, but you haven't had breakfast since last Spring. Your master bedroom is decorated to look like the treetop village of the Galadhrim. Your study has every science fiction title ever written. One of your garages contains a life-sized X-Wing fighter, and KITT. (KITT was a gift from a well-meaning uncle.)

    Your home also includes a robot repair bay, where your mechanized servants are routinely fitted with new restraining bolts. (It's just a precaution.) Your guests enjoy your working holodeck. Outside is your radio telescope, listening constantly for alien transmissions. Especially invaders. They'll come eventually, even if nobody believes you. (Nobody does.)

    And, you have a pet -- a neutered tribble named "Worf".

    Below is a snippet of the blueprints:

    Find YOUR Dream Home!

    Sweet! With a setup like that, I would easily be the most popular person in my social circle! And I already know how to operate a radio telescope, even.

    I'm not sure why my Time Lord's Manor is more Trekkish than Whovian, but, hey, that's OK. Although it would be even better if it were bigger on the inside than the outside. And traveled through time and space.

    Saturday, September 22, 2007


    Well, there's nothing quite like glancing at your ATM receipt only to realize that it shows you as having about a thousand dollars less than you should have. Or, if there is, it involves going online to check your transactions and discovering a crapload of negative numbers glaring at you in bright red text and about nine overdraft fees because the stupid frelling bank deducted your mortgage check TWICE.

    Guys! One check number = one check = one deduction! A six-year-old child could figure this out!

    Sigh. Wish I'd caught this before, y'know, 2 AM on a Friday night. But come Monday, they will feel my wrath. Oh, yes, they will. And they'd damned well better refund those overdraft fees.

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    It's Friday! You Know What That Means!

    Today's episode of Doctor Who here in the US: "Utopia." Which means you may now talk about it here. Or about anything else you like. Just remember, no spoilers for later episodes, yadda, yadda, you know how this goes by now.

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Damn You, Ayn Rand!

    I swear, four times in the past month or so I've put my iPod on random shuffle and had it come out at some point with Rush's "Anthem." I'm beginning to worry that it's converting to Objectivism and soon will refuse to play anything for me unless I pay it.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Leap of Logic

    Amazon's recommendation engine often comes up with some cool and useful suggestions, but sometimes it makes some incredibly amusing blunders. Like this e-mail I just got:
    As someone who has purchased or rated books by Jon Stewart, you might like to know that Kierkegaard and His German Contemporaries: Philosophy (Kierkegaard Research: Sources Reception and Resources) will be released on September 30, 2007. You can pre-order yours by following the link below.

    Kierkegaard and His German Contemporaries: Philosophy (Kierkegaard Research: Sources Reception and Resources)
    Jon Stewart
    Price: $124.95
    Somehow, I really doubt that's the same Jon Stewart. But, y'know, if I'm ever looking for a $125 book on Kierkegaard, now I'll know where to go.

    An Open Letter

    Dear crappy discount store,

    If you don't trust me with your stuff, why on Earth should I trust you with mine? Also, the statement "you have to leave your backpack here" is both rudely phrased and demonstrably false. I do not have to do anything, including shop at your crappy store.

    No love (and no money),

    These May Turn Out To Be Surprisingly Revealing Questions.

    That "interview questions" meme that periodically circulates around the web seems to have popped its head up again, and Andrew Ironwood has thus posed me the following questions. (Actually, he gave me a set of "easy" questions and a set of "hard" ones, and invited me to mix'n'match. Which I cheerfully have.)

    1) What book have you most recently finished reading?

    I just finished Reckless Engineering by Nick Waters. It's um, a Doctor Who novel. Not that I'm obsessed or anything. It was okay. Not great, but okay.

    2) What would I most likely find in your refrigerator on any given day?

    Coffee. 2% milk (for use in the coffee). I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Fruit. Possibly some cheese. Well-past-their-sell-by-date eggs. Assorted condiments, most of them left there ages ago by visiting relatives who failed to share my complete lack of interest in condiments. Maybe some orange juice, if I'm lucky.

    Gender is an incidental issue; basically, I'm a bachelor. And the fridge, sadly, reflects this.

    3) Let us assume a fully grown, completely healthy Clydesdale horse has his hooves shackled to the ground while his head is held in place with a thick rope. He is conscious and standing upright, but completely immobile. And let us assume that-for some reason- every political prisoner on earth (as cited by Amnesty International) will be released from captivity if you can kick this horse to death in less than twenty minutes. You are allowed to wear steel toed boots. WOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO DO THIS?

    Probably not, although whether the failure would be due to a lack of faith in my physical strength or my extreme tender-hearted squeamishness is an open question. I can't even help feeling slightly upset about killing cockroaches.

    4) You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: every three years, someone will break both of your soulmate's collarbones with a Cresent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: you must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear-for the rest of your life- sound as if it's being performed by the band Alice In Chains. When you hear Credence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it's being played by Alice In Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it's being covered by Alice In Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you). WOULD YOU SWALLOW THE PILL?

    Bah. That would really suck. But I suppose, being the altruistic, non-horse-killing soul that I am, I would feel honor-bound to put another human being's physical welfare over my own aural enjoyment. And at least I'm getting a non-broken soulmate out of the deal. Not that I actually wanted a soulmate or anything, but if I'm gonna have one, one with functional collarbones would probably be preferable. Also, man, they're gonna owe me, aren't they? That could pay off. Not that I'm basing my decision on such selfish concerns, of course. Not at all.

    5) A visitor from the future gives you one free use of a functional holodeck, which he has programmed to be able to simulate *any* sci-fi 'universe' from literature, TV or films. You can choose the location in both space and time, but this holodeck has two peculiar bugs: 1) you have to pick a precise length of time you will be in the simulation before starting (which you cannot change once you are inside and the program is running); and 2) the Mortality Safeguards are, well, not *entirely* reliable. WOULD YOU STILL USE THE HOLODECK, AND IF SO, WHEN AND WHERE (IN WHICH CONTINUITY) WOULD YOU GO?

    Aargh. OK, maybe I am obsessive. Because, yeah, how could I resist? And I would go with Doctor Who, not simply because I am obsessive, but because the mortality rate among Doctor Who companions -- the role I assume I would be playing -- is actually very low. Not non-zero, but low. It'd be a hell of a lot safer than, say, Farscape. Hell, I'd feel reasonably safe giving it a few weeks. You know, assuming I had vacation time and someone was feeding my cats, or whatever. Because that would be the single coolest vacation ever. Possibly I would hang around with the Eighth Doctor. (Pre-Time War, obviously. Well pre-Time War. I have no desire to be exterminated by holo-Daleks, although, really, it would be a very me way to die.) And I will steadfastly maintain that my reason for picking number Eight is entirely because he was a cool Doctor who got very little screentime and would thus be interesting to see more of, and not at all because he is incredibly hot. Ahem.

    OK. That was... sort of interesting. Anybody want me to ask them questions, now? Because, as I recall, that's how this meme is supposed to work.