Sunday, July 27, 2008

Random Links: Mostly SF Edition

Illusion Sciences: A blog that presents and explains all kinds of optical illusions, often in nifty interactive ways. Fascinating, if occasionally eye-hurting.

Recent Volcanic Activity: Stunning pictures of active volcanoes.

Watchmen Trailer Breakdown: A frame by frame comparison between the Watchmen trailer and the equivalent panels in the comic book. Man, I'm just getting more and more excited about this. I really ought to find a way to lower my expectations to avoid potential disappointment, but stuff like this really isn't helping me do that.

Moffat Interviews from SDCC: Links to a bunch of interviews that Doctor Who's Steven Moffat gave at the San Diego Comicon this weekend.

First Glimpse of Doctor Who's Christmas Villain: A report on the Comicon Doctor Who panel, featuring grainy cell phone footage of a new trailer for the Christmas special.

O'Bannon to Write Farscape Comic: Also from Comicon, a video of Rockne O'Bannon talking about the upcoming Farscape comic book series, which it was just announced that he's going to write. I'm getting pretty darned excited about this, too. You can also find an article on the subject at CBR News.

Doctor Who Proms 2008 - Music of the Spheres: A short Doctor Who video with David Tennant that was screened at the "BBC proms," a big classical music festival at Albert Hall. Apparently the Doctor writes music, as well as saving planets. Who knew? It doubtless loses something -- or even most things -- when watched on YouTube without what was clearly intended to be a lot of audience interaction, but oh, well.

Cat Update

Fortunately, Happiness appears to have decided that she actually likes what I cannot seem to stop myself from referring to as her "urine food." She seems to be doing OK, too, but then she never did really seem sick. I'm not sure if she's using the litterbox or not, though. Working twelve-hour shifts and having two other cats who are perfectly capable of peeing makes it hard to monitor her urinary activities.

(Yes, I'm sure you were all waiting eagerly to hear more on the subject of cat pee...)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Much As I Love 'Em, Having Cats Can Be A Royal Pain In The Ass.

Bad news: Happiness has a bit of a urinary infection. Last night, for a period of about an hour and a half, she kept going back to the litterbox over and over every couple of minutes, producing at most a tiny little spot of pee. All the cat care books that I own agree that this is a Very Bad Sign.

Good news: I was able to get her into the vet this morning, and they gave her an antibiotic shot. Apparently this particular drug is very new, but they say they've had good success with it, and it means that I don't have to force any medicine into her, which I was frankly dreading.

Bad news: The vet also said that I should switch her over to special cat food for animals who are prone to urinary infections. Which means that now all three cats need their own individual food. I've been having a hard enough time with Vir and his diet food. The last thing I needed was more complications with feeding these critters. And I have no idea whether Happiness is even going to take to the new stuff. I put some in front of her when I got home, and she seemed deeply uninterested. Sigh.

Really annoying news: I had to get up at 9 AM to get the damned animal into the vet's. I have to work tonight from 8 PM to 8 AM. Meaning that, barring a successful nap, which seems unlikely, it's going to be about 24 hours before I can sleep again. Man, I really, really hope work tonight is not going to require a functioning brain.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dear Telemarketers: May You Go Blind, And May Your Seeing Eye Dog Get Rabies And Bite You.

Wow, there is nothing -- nothing -- like telemarketers to instantly raise my blood pressure, piss me off so much I actually get shaky, and bring the raging inner bitch out from behind my naturally placid exterior.

For the record, should you get any phone calls from a company called Protel (phone number 708-418-7486), for gods' sakes do not buy anything from them. They've been accused of various kinds of phone scam, including attempting to sell Wells Fargo customers identity theft protection that they already have, without Wells Fargo's knowledge. They also do not respect the National Do Not Call Registry, which in my opinion puts them about on the moral level of people who rape kittens.

I think they must have some problem with their computers, because every time I'd try to answer so I could call them colorful four-letter names, I'd hear some clicks and get hung up on. And then they'd call again a few hours later. URGE TO KILL RISING!

Fortunately, though, I have googling skills, so I can inform you that should this happen to you, you can call the company up at 708-418-7412 to call them colorful names in person and demand that they stop harassing you. Also, if you happen to be on the Do Not Call Registry -- and if you live in the US, there is no reason not to be -- and this or any other telemarketer calls you up anyway, you can file complaint with the FTC here.

Is It Friday Already?

Because my sister just called me on the phone a little while ago and reminded me, here's your Doctor Who discussion post for the episode airing today on Sci Fi: "The Stolen Earth."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What Is Water Doing In My Air?!

I've clearly lived in the desert too long. The humidity rises above 50% and I get uncomfortable and want to whine about it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Note To American Who Fans

In case you haven't figured out by now that watching the Sci Fi channel's "scenes from next week" previews is a really bad idea... Well, it's still a really bad idea, apparently. I haven't seen the one the aired after Friday's episode, myself, but from what I hear it's every bit as bad as the one they did for "Utopia." So if you haven't watched the episode yet and you don't want to be hideously spoiled, be sure and hit "stop" as soon as the episode finishes. Seriously, I mean it.

Random Links: Mostly Video Edition

It came from the 1971 Sears Catalog!: Scans of a 1971 Sears catalog, with amusing commentary. Wow, but the 70s were an, um, interesting time, fashion-wise. I was born in 1971, as it happens, so for all I know it's entirely possible that I might have worn some of the ugly baby clothes featured here.

Dalek Workout: Even evil mutants in armored killing machines need healthy exercise!

HOLY FRAK! Moon transits Earth!: The Bad Astronomer presents some really cool footage of the Earth and the Moon, taken by the Deep Impact spacecraft. He is perhaps a little overexcited, but I can certainly understand why.

Watchmen trailer: Watchmen is, quite simply, one of the single best works of fiction I have ever encountered in my life. Given that fact, the odds of the movie not living up to its source material would seem to be exceedingly high, but I find myself getting all excited by this trailer, anyway.

Simon's Cat in "TV Dinner": I swear the guy who does these cartoons must have a hidden camera pointed at my cats.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: I suspect that pretty much everybody who is interested in this already knows about it, but just in case you don't... This is an independent video project that Joss Whedon produced during the Hollywood writer's strike, featuring Neil Patrick Harris as a dorky supervillain and Nathan Fillion as the superhero who interferes with his evil plans and moves in on the girl he likes. Oh, and it's a musical. I enjoyed it a lot. Note that it's only available to watch on the web through July 20. After that, you can buy it for a couple of bucks on iTunes, and it should be out on DVD eventually.

Friday, July 18, 2008

There's Probably A Cute Pun On "Left" I Could Use Here, But My Brain Just Isn't Up To It.

Before I forget (or before I fall asleep, which is likely to happen all too soon), here's your regular Doctor Who discussion post for this week's episode as aired on Sci Fi, "Turn Left." No spoilers for the two remaining episodes after this, please!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Be A Shift Worker And Travel The World Without Leaving Home.

My apologies to anybody who's tried to get hold of me this week and been unsuccessful. My sleeping patterns are even more bizarre and less convenient for staying in touch with the rest of humanity than usual. According to the xkcd standard, I'm currently stuck in Helsinki. Which is not such a good thing, as I was really hoping to have at least made Rekyavik by now, and I absolutely have to be in Newfoundland by Saturday.

Monday, July 14, 2008

That Whole "Not Believing In God" Thing Might Be A Wrinkle. But Otherwise, Sure, Why Not.

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test...

The Prioress

You are a moral person and are also highly intellectual. You like your solitude but are also kind and helpful to those around you. Guided by a belief in the goodness of mankind you will likely be christened a saint after your life is over.

You scored high as both the Lady and the Monk. You can try again to get a more precise description of either the Monk or the lady, or you can be happy that you're an individual.

Take The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test at HelloQuizzy

Gifts That Keep On Giving

And I now have antibiotics to keep my arm from falling off thanks to the cat bite. Or I will, once the pharmacy gets done.

Thanks, cat! But maybe for my next birthday you can just puke in my shoes or something.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm Older Than I've Ever Been. And Now I'm Even Older.

As of today (or as of just over an hour ago if you want to get really technical) I am 37 Earth years old. Go me, for getting this far, I guess!

I'm not exactly inclined to get wild and crazy when it comes to birthdays, so I'm not really doing much to celebrate today. In fact, I spent most of the day sleeping, since I've been on night shifts lately. I figure maybe I'll take myself out for a meal, putter around the house a bit, and then go into work for a few hours. I know, exciting! Although, really, I've already done the celebratory birthday dinner. When my buddy and fellow blogger Captain Chlorophyll was in town briefly earlier this month we got together for a meal, and since it was not long after his birthday and not long before mine, we decided to declare it a birthday dinner for both of us and indulged in some high-calorie dessert.

By the way, Vir the cat, after having forgotten last year, gifted me with another attempted maiming this year. He's so thoughtful. If the arm he bit me on gets infected and falls off, I'll be sure to let you know, although obviously it'll take me a while, since I'll have to type one-handed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

After "Midnight"

Because my dad just reminded me in the comments for the last post, here's your regular Doctor Who discussion thread for the episode that was shown tonight on Sci Fi, "Midnight." Usual spoiler policy, yadda, yadda, yadda...

I'm Currently In Melbourne. Or Possibly Tokyo.

Sometimes, xkcd sums up my life eerily well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Book Meme!

As you probably know by now, I can never resist a book meme. So... Book meme!

1. A favorite book!

Um, man... I guess I'll go with a nerd staple and say The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

2. A book that affected you in your YA years.

More little-kid than YA, maybe, but I remember reading Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time over and over and over.

3. A favorite fantasy novel.

This is hard. I keep wanting to name entire series. Like Discworld. Or even Sandman, and now we're seriously stretching the definition of "novel."

4. A favorite sci fi novel.

Can I be lazy and just say Hitchhiker's again?

5. An awesome book (possibly a favorite) you think not many people around you have heard of/read.

Man, I don't know. OK, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go to my LibraryThing library, sort in reverse order by popularity, and mention the first awesome book I come across that way. And the winner is... The Real Roswell Crashed-Saucer Coverup by Philip J. Klass. If you read one book about UFOs, ever, I suggest reading this one. And if you read lots of books about UFOs, I definitely suggest reading this one.

6. A book you own more than one copy of.

I have two different editions of The Star Trek Compendium. Does that count?

7. An author whose every single book you own/will buy.

Terry Pratchett. There are a few of his early books that I don't have, but I have a complete set of Discworld novels... which is kind of saying something.

8. The worst book you've ever read.

Well, the one book I've ever read and then immediately wished I could un-read was Avon: A Terrible Aspect. But that didn't actually ruin the TV series it was based on for me forever, as I thought at the time that it might, and I can look back on it now and laugh. So I'm going to say Battlefield Earth instead.

9. A book you dislike that lots of other people you know like.

I can't think of any particular books, so I will instead mention the deep-seated antipathy towards Jane Austen that was instilled in me in high school. Many people have tried to talk me out of this. Please, don't bother.

10. The most difficult book you've ever read.

I don't know. Maybe Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind? I'm sure his conclusions are wrong, but he totally blinded me with science.

11. Tell me what kind of books your mom reads/read.

A lot of mystery and suspense, I think, with a fair smattering of science fiction. Actually, I think she's been reading a lot more SF in recent years, which is kind of nice, as it gives us something to talk about.

12. What have you read so far this year?


13. What are you reading now?

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

14. What are you reading next?

I'm not sure. I've only just started this one, and haven't even really picked out any possibilities for what to read next.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Am The Humblest! I Rock! In Your Face, Less Humble People!

Your result for The Best Thing About You Test...


Humility is the defining characteristic of an unpretentious and modest person, someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others. And you? When you do the right thing, you're doing it for all the right reasons. All 7 virtues are a part of you, but your humility runs deepest.

It is likely you're a quiet type. But if not, then you just have dark, secret side that loves to give.

Humble famous people: JD Salinger, Isaac Newton, Harry Potter (pre-puberty)

Your raw relative scores follow. 0% is low, and 100% is perfect, nearly impossible. Note that I pitted the virtues against each other, so in some way these are relative scores. It's impossible to score high on all of them, and a low score on one is just relatively low compared to the other virtues.


20% Compassion

67% Intelligence

75% Humility

44% Honesty

38% Discipline

29% Courage

17% Passion

Take The Best Thing About You Test at HelloQuizzy

(Wait... Isaac Newton?! Didn't he, like, get into a knock-down-drag-out with Leibniz over who invented calculus and stuff?)

Monday, July 07, 2008

How Are We A Week Into July Already?! Oh, Well. Have A Meme.

Current clothes: Black "Skeptics Society" t-shirt, with the words "SCIENCE RULES" in big letters on the back. Blue jeans. White socks. Black belt. Black sneakers.

Current mood: Not bad.

Current music: It's mostly been random tracks and podcasts lately, really.

Current annoyance: The first thing that pops into my head involves Doctor Who spoilers, so I'll instead mention the second thing, which is that my back and neck muscles keep stiffening up while I'm asleep. I'm inclined to blame the giant cat, as I frequently find myself waking up contorted into strange positions around him.

Current thing: I'm... not sure I have one.

Current desktop picture: The M81 Galaxy Group Through the Integrated Flux Nebula. Man, the Astronomy Picture of the Day is still the very bestest place to find pretty wallpapers.

Current book: The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. I'm only a few chapters in, but I'm enjoying it a lot. Houdini, apparently, was a really interesting guy who led a really interesting life. And he could do the most astonishing things. He's got to go on the list of performers to see when I get my time machine working.

Current song in head: It appears to be "Solsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel.

Current DVD in player: Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs. Which I enjoyed, although mainly, I think, because I went into it with lowered expectations, friends having warned me that it wasn't as good as the previous Futurama DVD movie (which it wasn't), and that it had some weird characterization discontinuities with the previous one, too (which it did). Still fun, though.

Current refreshment: Tea.

Current worry: You know, right now I can't seem to be bothered worrying about even the stuff I probably ought to be worried about.

Current thought: Hey, it looks like we might be getting rain!

Friday, July 04, 2008

It's Nice To Think That, After 232 Years, America And England Can Reconcile Their Differences Through A Mutual Love Of Doctor Who.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! And a happy generic Friday to the rest of you!

I don't have any particular plans for the holiday, myself. (Well, OK, that's not quite true. I do have plans, but they mostly consist of "do all the dumb stuff I didn't get done during the week, since I don't have to go in to work.") I am getting together with some friends tomorrow, though, for a bit of a BBQ and the watching of the Doctor Who season finale. Because we're geeks, and when it comes to celebration, we have our priorities.

Speaking of which, there will be no Doctor Who discussion post today, as the Sci Fi Channel has decided to honor the holiday by expelling the British from its schedule. The regular discussion will resume next week, when those of you watching it on Sci Fi will be four episodes from the end. In the meantime, I will (metaphorically) bite my fingers hard to keep any spoilery exclamations from spilling out through my keyboard.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I Really Do Have A Problem, Don't I?

And reason #98 why I will never get caught up on my reading: I promised myself a mini-shopping spree at this month for my birthday. And if you can't keep the promises you make to yourself, how can you expect to keep promises you make to other people? Hmm?

For Some Of Us, "Free Books!" Is What "Free Beer!" Is To The Rest Of You.

And speaking of reasons why I will never be caught up on my reading, I just found out I've got me a free book coming from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program, in which publishers offer free review copies to selected LT-member volunteers. (You're then expected to review the book on the site, but it doesn't have to be a long review, and there's no obligation. You're just less likely to get more books in the future if you don't.) Looks like I've scored a copy of Is Christianity Good for the World?, which promises to be a no-holds-barred debate between "leading atheist Christopher Hitchens (author of God Is Not Great) and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson (author of Letter from a Christian Citizen)." Competition for these books is pretty high, so I'd like to thank all the cranky atheist authors in my library who helped make LT's selection algorithm think I was a good match for this one. Mmmm... sacrelicious!