Friday, April 30, 2010

Thumbs UPS

I try to maintain a tradition of balancing my occasional rants about bad customer service experiences with a recognition of the good ones, so I just want to say that APC's customer service, based on my experience, is pretty freaking amazing. I've been having some problems with my UPS, so I sent an e-mail to their customer service/technical department asking for advice on what the problem might be, and, in particular, if there were any troubleshooting steps I ought to take to figure it out. The website said to expect a reply by the next business day, but they got back to me inside an hour with a long e-mail offering specific, non-boilerplate troubleshooting advice and asking several relevant questions. And then the same person proceeded to reply to each of my follow-up e-mails almost instantly.

It looks like the problem most likely is simply that I've got too much crap plugged into the thing for it to handle properly, which perhaps does not surprise me all that much. But it's very good to have that verified before I tried something expensive, like replacing the battery. I may decide to upgrade to a more powerful model, which is something I'm willing to consider only because nobody put any pressure on me to do so.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

April Showers Bring... Weeds

I was outside yesterday whacking down weeds, a job that desperately needed to be done. Now my yard looks at least slightly less post-apocalyptic, but my wrists and biceps are all achy from swinging that damned heavy weed whacker around. Also, my allergies are much worse today, possibly due to some sort of retaliatory move from the plant kingdom.

Sigh. You know, I'd really like spring if it weren't for everything growing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Deserted. No Island.

Wait a minute, there's no new Lost on tonight?! What the heck? Great, now what I am going to do with my evening?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Installment of Random Links: Doctor Who Edition

Doctor Who regeneration was 'modelled on LSD trips': And here I thought the Doctor was just high on life. I also kind of love this article's discussion of how people have reacted badly to various regenerations. Ah, the more things change...

Ages of Doctor Who actors on their debuts: Are the Doctor's actors getting younger? The answer is "yes," but some of the old ones were younger than you might think.

Everything You Need To Know About Doctor Who: A newbie's guide to what the show is about, including who the heck this Doctor guy is and where he came from. I might have a tiny nitpick or two, and I think anybody who's been watching the new series has probably already picked most of this stuff up by now even if they've never seen the original, but it's not a bad introduction, anyway. Warning: this contains spoilers through the end of Tennant's run, including the specials, which I know several people reading this still haven't seen. Specifically, you should probably skip the last couple of paragraphs in part 3 if you haven't yet seen "The End of Time." Otherwise, you should be okay.

Doctor Who slays Saint George: The Doctor for Patron Saint of England! You know it makes sense.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pass The Popcorn!

I've also been watching a bunch of movies on DVD lately, so here's a few mini-reviews:

Zombieland: Not exactly a groundbreakingly original contribution to the zombie apocalypse subgenre, and not a patch on Shaun of the Dead for humor, but entertaining enough in a quirky, low-key kind of way. Woody Harrelson is particularly fun.

9: A very odd little movie about a group of rag doll robots in a post-apocalyptic world. It's incredibly visually interesting in pretty much the ways you'd expect from something co-produced by Tim Burton -- enough so that I really feel I missed much of the effect by watching it on a small screen. (Alas, I don't even have HD.) The little robots have a certain bizarre charm, and the atmosphere is great, but the actual story is sadly just not very satisfying.

King Kong: I was vaguely interested in seeing the Peter Jackson remake when it came out on DVD, but thought I probably ought to watch the original first, so I stuck it on the Netflix queue and then, typically, took forever to actually get to it. But I'm really glad I did. I can see why this is considered a classic. Yes, the unabashedly sexist damsel-in-distress story invites a certain amount of eye-rolling from modern viewers (and the less said about the embarrassing fake "Chinaman" the better). And I'm always amused by the acting in these very old movies. It's terribly stilted, with people projecting all over the place at random volumes, as if they're still not quite sure how to go about performing for this new medium. But never mind that. The story's actually pretty good. And the cinematography is astonishing. Yes, it's all extremely primitive, but, honestly, I've seen movies made decades later that don't look as good. Kong may not exactly be visually realistic, but he's never laughable, and watching him in action is genuinely, unironically thrilling. Which is more than I can say for most of the modern Hollywood blockbusters I've seen. I can only imagine how fantastically exciting this must have been at the time. I think if I ever get myself a working time machine, I'm going to go back for a first-run screening, just to watch the audience reaction. And I'm not sure I'll bother with the remake, after all. It seems pretty pointless now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Also, My Inner Eleven-Year-Old Wants To Kick People's Asses

Went out with some friends last night to see Kick-Ass, which may be morally reprehensible, but which I found quite entertaining, nonetheless. Or perhaps "nonetheless" isn't quite the right word there. Humans being the perversely wired creatures that we are, sometimes -- perhaps even often -- things are funny precisely because they're also appalling, or would be if they were real, and I think that's true, at least in part, for this particular movie. (Your moral/sense-of-humor mileage, of course, may vary.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Flashforward Burnout

I'm in the middle of watching Thursday's episode of Flashforward, and it suddenly hit me that I just don't really care about any of it any more. It's a pity... The show has a nifty premise and a decent cast, and if none of the characters ever grabbed me, I was at least interested enough in how the plot was going to play out to keep watching until now, but at this point it's just losing me. Maybe it's that it seems to keep spinning its wheels faster and faster but never really getting much of anywhere. Maybe it's that last week's episode far exceeded my tolerance for improbable plot twists. Maybe it's because the current Major Plot Point seems to me to involve some unforgivably sloppy writing. Whatever. I hate to leave a story without finding out the ending -- it's one reason I never abandon books in the middle, even when they suck. But I'm thinking maybe it's time to reclaim that hour from my week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And Random Links

Choice of the Dragon: A fairly nifty little multiple-choice text adventure game, in which you get to be a dragon.

Geek Art Gallery: Nerdy Easter Eggs: OK, so it's a little late for Easter, but these are still cool, in a nerdalicious way.

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: An announcement about downloadable Doctor Who games which will be available for free from the BBC. Which is awesome, except that I won't be at all surprised if they're only available in the UK.

Bad Translator: Run some text through repeated machine translation and watch the surreal wackiness ensue! I can't remember whether I linked to this one before, or just to something similar, but what the heck. It's fun.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Completely Random Thoughts

Yet another reason to pay for things with plastic: paper cuts on your tongue from licking envelopes to mail off checks.

Trying to whittle my giant pile of unread books down is almost as difficult as trying to lose weight, and for pretty much exactly the same reasons. Willpower? What is this thing of which you speak? But at least reading books is more fun than working out.

The new Doctor continues to make me grin like a little kid. I am liking him a lot. Also the new companion. And Stephen Moffat. A+++, would fangirl again.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Life In The Here And Now

Current clothes: Blue jeans. White socks. Black sneakers. A brown t-shirt with a pattern of ancient petroglyph doodles of the kind that are common here in the Southwest. (I got it at Bandelier National Monument, ages ago.) Blue long-sleeved denim shirt over that. I don't really need the long sleeves right now, but I probably will when I go into work later; that building's been kind of chilly lately. Plus, it'll be much colder by the time I'm walking home.

Current mood: I've been in a fairly relaxed state this morning, somewhere between "mellow" and "apathetic." Though I think I'm starting to come out of it now, which is good, because I have things to do.

Current music: Nothing for a while. I think most recently was Gutter Anthems by Enter the Haggis. I went to see these guys when they played here in town a few weeks ago. I'd never even heard of them before, but they sounded like something I'd enjoy, plus, hey, something to do on a Friday night in Socorro. Turned out they were pretty good, so I bought a couple of their albums on iTunes.

Current annoyance: A Certain Cat seems to have taken it into his mind this week that I ought to be up by 7:30, at the latest. Today, he broke out the baseball bat. Damned cat.

Current thing: Well, lately I seem to have become a teeny bit obsessive about the idea of getting my massive To Be Read Pile under control. My stated goal for the year is to get it down to 400 books. At the beginning of the year, it was at 428. Now it's 424. This is not very exciting progress, even before you figure in the fact that I've already got a bunch more books coming in the mail. Sigh. No Friends of the Library Sale for me this month.

Current desktop picture: Still the same space shuttle picture from last month. I've been too lazy to change it.

Current book: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

Current song in head: "She Moves On" by Paul Simon, which seems to have become one of those songs that repeatedly pops into my head for no good reason and hangs around for days. Which is really weird. I mean, I haven't even listened to that song in forever.

Current DVD in player: Still season one of Deep Space 9. It's taking me a while to finish watching this, because I keep getting distracted by shiny televisual objects. I've only got one more episode to go, though. Well, and six seasons after that, but I don't think I'm going to get to those for a while. Also sitting in a player, disc 2 of South Park season 12, which is my current watching-on-the-treadmill show.

Current refreshment: Nothing, but I'm hungry. I should have had breakfast.

Current worry: I'm not in the mood to worry about stuff.

Current thought: Why is blogger telling me I have an unclosed tag? I thought I closed all my tags! Oh. There it is. Yay! Now I can post.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Various Things

  • So, remember when I broke the carafe to my coffee machine and was ranting and raving about it being impossible just to buy a goddamned replacement for it, and I finally went out and bought a model it was easy to find parts for? (Yeah, it's OK if you don't.) Well, the carafe on the new one lasted less than seven months. And, gosh and golly, that model seems to have been discontinued in the meantime, and the carafe that fits it is no longer available in stores or on the internet anywhere. Gaaah! This sort of thing makes me lose a little hope for humanity. I only wish I were joking about that. Anyway, I now have yet another coffee machine, this one with a metal carafe. If I somehow manage to break this one, I give up.

  • I thought the new Doctor Who was utterly delightful. I have decided that I like the new guy and he is allowed to stay.

  • Happy Easter to those for whom it is relevant! I have no chocolate, sadly, but I heard a rumor there might be ham at some point later on.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Rare, Brief, Work-Related Comment

Aha! This is why we've been so darned busy lately!