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.