Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With The Old. Seriously, Get It The Heck Out Of Here!

So, here we are. The end of the year, again. This time last year, I was reflecting back over the events of 2010 and complaining that, while at least it was free of horrible tragedy, it was chock-full of stressful annoyances, and my plea for 2011 was, "Less of that, please."

Fate, of course, laughs at such entreaties and instead saw fit to give me more of that.

I started 2011 with a spare kitten living in my house, being very cute, but costing me a great deal in vet bills and worry. I ended the year with his sister doing exactly the same things. We started the year with a winter that brought freakish snowstorms and record-breaking temperatures so low that the state ran out out of desperately needed natural gas, followed by a hundred-year drought of a summer, then more freakish snowstorms to round out the year. I spent too much of 2011 in doctors' offices, ending up with orthotics for my feet, pills for my thyroid, and the despondent sense that it really is all downhill from forty. There was, of course, the great pipe leak and all its consequences, which have not been entirely dealt with yet. Work became six different kinds of annoying, as we embarked on the process of switching over to new hardware and still-in-development software. My sister got divorced, my mother became an employment yo-yo, and my father's pancreas tried repeatedly to kill him.

On the other hand, it's hard to knock a trip to Hawaii. Vacationing is its own kind of stressful, of course, but the opportunity to visit a beautiful place and have some exciting new experiences did help to make the whole year a little bit brighter. And, suspicious medical test results to the contrary, I turned out not to have either kidney disease or breast cancer, so that's something to be happy about.

Still. Do you think it will be tempting fate if I once again ask, plaintively, for less of that, please?

Friday, December 30, 2011

In Less Pleasant News...

I think something is wrong with my computer. A few days ago, I tried to install an update for The Sims 3, and it didn't work. It kept giving me error messages about corrupted files. Yesterday, when I updated Malwarebytes, it did the same thing, although reinstalling it worked fine. Today, I ran a full Norton antivirus scan, which found nothing but the usual tracking cookies... but when it finished it gave me an "encountered an unexpected error and had to close" message, and I had to reboot to get it to come back up. My mind has been going through various unpleasant possibilities -- Is my hard drive going bad? Do I have a virus Norton isn't detecting? -- but my vague, half-informed guess is that maybe there's some kind of problem with my registry. Which worries me, since in my mind registry cleaners are mostly things that shady websites try to get you to download so they can infect you with nastiness, and messing around with registries is something not to be done by the uninformed, lest you accidentally screw your machine up beyond all repair. Hell, if I'm honest, I have no idea how the whole registry thing even works.

I don't suppose there are any Windows experts in the audience with suggestions? (Yes, any suggestions other than "Get a Mac!" or "Switch to linux," thank you.)

Sigh. The way my luck has been going, I almost expect smoke to start pouring out of my PC at any moment.

One More Kitten Update

So, I just got Newt back from yet another vet appointment. This time, the news was pretty good! Her ear is definitely looking better. It's still got some crud in it, but the vet says it all looks like earwax, not nasty infected goo, so she may be about over it. Yay! I had seen that her eye was looking a lot better, but I still wasn't sure about it, as every time I found myself thinking, "Ooh, maybe it does look all better!" I would see her squinting it just slightly immediately afterward. But I'm told it does, in fact, look okay, and that probably, after all her troubles, that eye will just always be a little more sensitive than the other one. Having an eye like that myself, I can sympathize.

I was also given the OK for her to be around other cats, so when I got her home, I took her around, still in the carrier, and gave her the very slightest and briefest introduction to the other kitties. The results are as follows:

Nova: Came over, sniffed at her briefly, then trotted off. Nova several times has gone over and stared at the bathroom door, or even caught sight of Newt in there when I opened the door, and he's generally looked more interested than hostile. He's also, of all my cats, the one that gets along most easily with other felines, so I didn't expect too many problems with him. Still, that little of a reaction surprised me.

Happiness: Happiness was lounging on top of a bookcase. I put a kitty treat in front of her, then held up the carrier so she could see Newt. Reaction: She all but exclaimed, "Oh, hell no!" and immediately shot off, leaving the treat behind. Well, after her experiences with Mickey, I can't really blame her. I did follow her and give her the treat, anyway.

Vir: Was lying under an end table in the living room. I sat the carrier down halfway across the room from him, not directly in front of him, but definitely where he could see the kitten if he looked at her. I then gave him treats. He did seem to look at the kitten, but did not react one way or another. This seems very promising, but it's probably a good idea not to put too much stock in it. Vir is the one who occasionally hisses at her door, or even at me, if I come out of the bathroom smelling like her.

Still, all in all that went not too badly. In the admittedly unlikely event that she manages to get along with all the other feline inhabitants of my house, I may be able to keep her, even though four cats really is too many cats. Most likely, I will have to find a home for her elsewhere. The vets said they'd keep an ear out for someone who might want a kitten. Which is a good thing, because Texas Lady never did call me back.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Seasonly Greetings!

Merry Christmas to those who do Christmas, and a very happy holiday season to everyone! We are having a white Christmas here, as the snow still has not melted, but since I don't have to go out in it today, I am feeling much more kindly disposed towards it. In fact, I believe I may have found some of my Christmas cheer. Or, at the very least, I am feeling much more relaxed and mellow after the stressful time I've been having lately, and that in itself is a nice Christmas present. Not that all the actual presents weren't nice too! Lots of books this year, which is not something I'm ever going to complain about.

Later I'm going to watch Doctor Who and make fruitcake, not necessarily in that order. I am expecting both things to be yummy.

Friday, December 23, 2011

This Message Brought To You By-- Oh, God, I Can't Feel My Toes!

Waterproof boots are awesome... right up until the point where you step into ice water deeper than the tops of the boots.

Random Links Are Home For The Holidays

Zombie in a Penguin Suit: And people thought I was strange for worrying about what I might be wearing when the zombie apocalypse comes.

Aliens on Ice: Why is this not being performed where I can go and see it?!

Missing Doctor Who episodes discovered: Kind of old news by now, but I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention this here at all. (Even if there was some discussion about it in the comments somewhere.) Admittedly, these are not the episodes I would have most hoped would be found, but the fact that even now these are still occasionally turning up is awesome. Who knows, maybe someday someone will unearth a complete print of "Marco Polo" from a box in their basement.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer #1: Want to see this now!

Medium Large Comic: The Ebenezer Scrooge Collection : I thought there were no possible variations on A Christmas Carol that had not yet been done to death. I stand corrected.

Timeline of Doctor Who: There's a couple of small oddities here, I think, but generally it's a very cool and remarkably clear timeline of all the Doctors, companions, and episodes, in a spiffy infographic format.

Definitely Ragnarok

Jesus H. Christ on a flying bicycle. It is not supposed to snow like this here! Certainly not repeatedly! Is this what global warming is doing for us? Are the monsoon rains happening in the winter now?

On the latest installment of "ways in which Betty cannot catch a goddamn break," I had to stay at work for an extra hour and a half this morning, because the guy who was supposed to relieve me lives out of town and the highway was closed so he couldn't get in. Then I had to trudge home in snow up to my knees, which needless to say took me longer than the walk usually does, but was no doubt still safer than driving. (Not that I'm even going to try to get my car out. I don't own a freaking snow shovel!) Once I got home, I still had to tend to the kitten, who was now overdue for her dose of eye ointment, so I didn't get to bed until well after 10 AM. Then I slept for all of three hours, woke up, and couldn't get back to sleep, due in large part to the fact that even with an eyemask on and the curtains drawn, it was still eerily, unnaturally bright in my bedroom.

And, of course, I still have to trudge back into work in this tonight. Everybody else where I work is already enjoying a four-day holiday, but not us! We in operations are science's bitches, and neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night keeps us from our appointed operating. (Well, not unless we have to use the highway to get to work.) Come to think of it, that makes me better than the postman, because he didn't show today.

It could be worse, though. I'm told the poor VLA operator got stuck out there when they closed I-60. And at least I wasn't trapped in a snowbank for two days.

Also, given the three-hours-of-sleep thing, at least I don't have to worry about finding time to go the grocery store today. Assuming the grocery store has managed to open. Which I really hope it has, because otherwise I'm going to be eating peanut butter for Christmas dinner.

And my internet has miraculously managed to stay up. I really wasn't expecting it to, since I figured my wireless antenna would be buried under a foot of snow. So, hey, I may be grumpy, sleep-deprived and covered in snow, but at least I get to bitch to the world about it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Since I Have Places To Go

OK, it can stop snowing now. I don't need a white Christmas. Really.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Updates And Whining

Various things:

Just got Newt the kitten back from the vet. Again. It seems her ear has been getting worse rather than better, poor thing. And the eye might be related to the ear infection, or it might be due to the herpes virus, which causes eye and upper respiratory problems in cats. The vet is wondering if there might actually be some foreign body lodged in her ear. He says he can't see anything, but there's so much gunk in there that he's not sure he'd be able to, anyway. He pointed out that she's old enough that she'll need to be spayed soon, and if it doesn't clear up by then, he can wait until she's knocked out for her spaying and dig around in there to see if he can find anything. Which sounds like fun, doesn't it? In the meantime, she has still more and different antibiotics, and some new eye ointment. He also told me to give her lysine supplements, which I felt a little skeptical about, but I looked it up and apparently there is at least some science to indicate that it can help deal with the feline herpes virus, even if it's a little iffy. So, OK, we'll try it. He didn't have any to give me, though, so I had to buy pills intended for humans, crush them up, and sprinkle them on her food. I hope she's willing to eat it. She didn't seem to want to, but I'm hoping that's just because she wasn't particularly hungry. Anyway, stay tuned. The saga of Newt the Kitten will continue!

In addition to having to deal with a sick kitten, my roof is leaking (or leaking more than it has been), I still haven't gotten hold of anyone about fixing my carpet, and my internet has crapped out on me again. (I'm posting this via dial-up, which always seems to be even slower than I remember it being.) Also, my car needs some work soon, and the shoes I bought that I hoped would help with my plantar fasciitis may possibly be making it worse. And I have some more doctor's appointments coming up. Sigh. Sometimes being an adult really sucks. Even if it does mean you can eat cake for breakfast anytime you want to.

Speaking of my leaky roof, I want to know what the hell is up with this weather. After one of the driest summers on record, it now will not stop precipitating for more than a day or two, long after the end of what's supposed to be the rainy season. It's freaking bizarre. On the upside, though, my boss e-mailed me and said that there's no observing tonight, so if I want to take off instead of trudging in through the ice and the rain/snow, I can. Which sounded damned good to me. I had to get up earlier than I wanted to in order to make the vet appointment, anyway, and was not looking forward to doing the night shift today.

And, yeah, I think that's about all I have to bitch about at the moment. If I think of something else later, I can always post again, right? I know you all love listening to me complain about the mundane details of my life...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

There Is Still A Kitten In My Bathroom.

I guess I haven't posted an update on the kitten in a little while, plus I've been informed that I am not meeting minimum standards for the amount of kitten cuteness required to be posted to the internet per unit time during all periods when there is a kitten in your house. So...

I had Newt back into the vet last week, and apparently her ear infection still hadn't cleared up any. Part of that may be due to the fact that I had a really hard time getting the ear drops into her ear properly, so they gave my a syringe to use, which at least makes it a little easier. (Kittens really don't like it when you drip cold, viscous liquids into their ears. Go figure.) I think she may be doing better overall, except that now her right eye is weepy and watery and squinted half-shut, or sometimes all the way shut. Poor kitty. My guess is that it's related to the ear infection, since the problem is with her right ear, but it's worrying me. If it's not magically better by tomorrow, I'll call the vet and see if I can get her back in before they shut down over Christmas. Maybe she'll need more eye ointment to go with the ear drops.

In the meantime, here is a picture in which said eye doesn't look too bad, although if I could figure out how to turn the red-eye-elimination feature on my camera off so it doesn't make her look like she has glowing blue-green pupils, that would probably be a good thing:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Update On Things

The dentist was able to get me in yesterday to glue the crown back onto my tooth. It took them two attempts, because I drool like a waterfall at the dentist, and apparently some spit got under it the first time and made it not stick, but it seems to be back on good and tight now. Yay for being able to chew!

Also, the insurance adjustor just came out and looked at my carpets. They're actually going to cover replacing all the carpet padding in both rooms, rather than just the damaged sections, which is great, because it means I won't have to worry about matching what's there right now. I just need to find someone who will install it. I'm pretty sure there's no carpet places in town, so I might have to find someone who'll come down from Albuquerque. Although when I'm going to be able to do that, I don't know. I'm on night shifts all next week, so that's out. I think it's probably going to have to be after Christmas. Which is a long time to live in the furniture labyrinth. Sigh.

So, how's everybody else doing?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oh, Yeah, That's Just What I Needed Right Now.

So, who had what in the "what bizarre disaster will befall Betty next?" pool? Whoever had "lose a crown off a tooth," you win! Congrats!

(Seriously, WTF is up with my life lately?! Did I piss off a witch or something?)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"These Shoes! They Fit Perfectly!"

Well, I survived the mall. But it was kind of terrible. Man, the older I get, the more claustrophobic I get in crowds. This is not a good thing. I thought I could recover from the ordeal with a visit to the Barnes & Noble, but it was just as bad in there. And they didn't even have anything good on the bargain shelves. Bah.

But then I went to see The Muppets, and that did make me feel better. It was thoroughly awesome, even if I cannot remotely accept the premise. The Muppets became irrelevant and unpopular? Never! Certainly not in my mind!

Oh, and, yes, I finally managed to buy shoes. In fact, I bought two pairs of shoes, which I would consider uncharacteristically girly of me, except that one them were men's shoes. (Waterproof hiking boots, on sale for $50! How could I not?)

I'm not entirely sure about these sneakers I bought, though. There I was, trying on various different sneakers and having immense difficulty, as usual, finding something wide enough for my stupid giant feet and roomy enough for my stupid giant toes. At which point the salesperson recommended the ones with the roomiest toebox they have... which looked great, except that they've got these ridiculous heels, with the little cylinders that look like they belong in the suspension of your car or something, not on your footwear. You've probably seen them. I think they look pretty stupid, but I let her talk me into trying them on, and OMG, most comfortable shoes ever!!! And, unlike far too many, they have insoles that pull out, so I can easily replace them with my custom inserts. At which point, I figured, hey, if you like to consider yourself the kind of person who regards practicality and comfort as more important than looks, it really ought to go both ways, and you ought to be equally accepting of the embarrassingly trendy-looking as of the defiantly no-frills. Plus, the part I can see when they're on my feet looks fine. So I bought 'em. I'm a little nervous now, though, because after walking around the mall in them for a while, I did start to notice a teeny little bit of arch pain. But I think that probably has a lot less to do with the shoes than it does with the fact that I've been inexcusably lax about doing my plantar fasciitis-fighting stretches.

And now I am never, ever going back to the mall again. Certainly not in December.

Wish Me Luck!

OK, I'm going out to brave the mall. On a Saturday. Two weeks before Christmas. If I don't come back, tell my cats... Actually, don't tell them anything. They won't care. Just come by and feed them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wait, What Am I Doing Now?

Current clothes: Light blue slacks. Red sweater. Cthulhu slippers.

Current mood: Not too bad, actually. A fair bit more upbeat, generally, than I have been over the last few days, during which I've been subject to random bouts of annoying self-pity.

Current music: Nothing today. Some random stuff on the iPod again a few days ago. It was playing a lot of Billy Joel, for some reason. (See "current song in head.")

Current annoyance: There are so many. So many. I guess the top of the list is the fact that parts of my house have been turned into a labyrinth of furniture, books, and random closet crap from the bedrooms, and I still don't know exactly when the carpets are going to be fixed. Then the list goes on for, I don't know, five or six feet, at least, and finishes up with the fact that my shoes are all wet from trudging around in melting slush.

Current thing: Not getting to Albuquerque. I really, really need to go up and, among other things, buy some shoes that will not get soaked quite so easily when I'm trudging around in the slush, but every single time I plan on doing it, something comes up. I have an important appointment, or the weather is awful, or something. I think now I'm going to have to do it on the weekend, and I really, really, really didn't want to be going to the mall on a weekend at this time of the year.

Current desktop picture: Still the Hawaiian palm trees. Wow, that looks so much nicer than slush.

Current book: On Language by William Safire. Also Geek Wisdom, which I'm reading in little chunks while hanging out with the kitten.

Current song in head: Billy Joel's "Don't Ask Me Why," ever since it came up on the iPod. Don't ask me why.

Current DVD in player: Just finished disc one of season 1 of Six Feet Under, which is interesting so far.

Current refreshment: Mango passionfruit tea. Mmm.

Current worry: I have become slightly paranoid about my plumbing now. Also, I am afraid of the mall.

Current thought: Man, I need to clean the catbox. I can smell it from here. I also need to put the laundry away, and answer my e-mail, and look in on the kitten...

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

OK, Now I'm Looking Forward To Christmas.

Official prequel to the Doctor Who Christmas Special! It made me go "Hee!" and then "Awww" and then "Ooooh!"

It's Ragnarok. That's The Only Explanation.

Current conditions where I live, as reported on the Weather Channel website:

Feels Like: -13°

You will, I hope, forgive me the following outburst:

Holy fucking shit!!!

Well, at least this time we haven't run out of natural gas. So far.

But, geez. Did I somehow move to Minnesota while I wasn't looking?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Not Going Out Today!

Wow. That's a lot more snow than I'm used to.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Saga Continues

So, my carpets have now officially been pronounced dry and the big, noisy equipment removed. And no more nasty smells! Yay! The house is still in complete disarray, though, and may stay that way for a while yet, because I still need to get the padding under the carpet replaced. Apparently if these guys are the ones to pull it out, they have a policy of not also doing the replacement, that being something of a conflict of interest. Which is hard to argue with. But it means I won't be moving all my books and furniture back in just yet. (They said to talk to the insurance company about it. There's supposed to be someone calling back about my claim soon, so I guess I'll ask then. Heck, it may even be something I could do myself, if I find out where to get the material, except that I'm not at all sure I want to rely on my exceedingly shaky ability to cut in a straight line.)

But at least I get to sleep in my own bed now! At least for the few hours I'm allowed to sleep tomorrow, coming off of night shifts. Sigh.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Wet & Wild

So, the damage control people have now been and gone. They removed the nasty, wet padding under the carpet. The carpet itself they say is OK and not mildewy, which is good. There are now three fans and a giant dehumidifier in the affected rooms to get everything dried out, which will probably take a few days.

Of course, they had to move much of the furniture out of said rooms, including eight bookcases and several hundred books, as well as my dresser and most of the contents of one storage closet, so there's now barely room to walk around here. Both my bed and the spare bed are still in the wet rooms, however, mainly owing to the fact that there was nowhere else to put them, so it looks like I'm sleeping on the couch for a while. Yep, the fun never ends around here!

Someone recently told me that my tribulations reminded them of this. I must say, it's beginning to look more relevant all the time.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


By the way, my insurance guy's name is Chance. It's only just now struck me how amusing that is.

Quick, Men! To The Carpetmobile!

So, after two days of playing phone tag with my homeowner's insurance company, I finally got to talk to the claims guy. They won't cover the plumbing repair, which is what I figured. And they won't cover the damage to my front yard, which I don't care about, because, hey, they filled the hole back in, and my front yard wasn't exactly pretty to begin with. They will, however cover damage to my carpets. Which maybe doesn't do me a whole lot of good, since I have a $500 deductible, but he did put me in contact with a company that cleans up flood damage, who will get the carpets dried out and replace the padding under them, which I think is a very good thing, because right now said carpets smell a lot like damp basement. And I would have had no earthly idea who to even talk to about something like that.

They were actually going to send somebody out from Albuquerque tonight. But then they called back five minutes later and said, uh, actually, could we maybe do it tomorrow? What with the evil windstorm and all? Which, hey, no problem. I mean, it's been this long. I doubt it's going to get worse overnight. Mind you, it's supposed to snow tomorrow, so for all I know they won't be able to make it then, either, but I guess we'll see.

Maybe She'll Develop Superpowers!

Just had little Newt back into the vet again. She's definitely doing way better than she was, all bright-eyed and playful, but she still sounds sort of snuffly or raspy a lot of the time, and there's still a little bit of discharge from her eyes. The vet said it might not even be that the infection is still lingering on; it might just be that there was some damage to her nasal passages from the illness. Which can open the way for bacterial infections, so he gave her some more antibiotics. (In shot form this time, which is nice.) He also said, though, that sometimes these respiratory infections can be chronic, and keep coming back. Joy. Also, one of her ears has a lot of gunk in it, so he gave me some ear drops for it. No vaccinations yet. He said to give it another week. Here's hoping she's all fit and healthy by then. She's a cutie pie, for sure, but I really do want her out of my bathroom and into the home of someone who can actually keep her.

Oh, and, yes, she definitely is a she! There is, however, still some mystery about her age. When I first brought her in, Vet #1 was sure she couldn't possibly be over four months old, since not only was she really, really small for a kitten that age, but she didn't seem to have all her baby teeth in yet. Hence the plausible two-similar-kittens hypothesis. Today, though, Vet #2 looked into her mouth and expressed surprise at the fact that all her adult teeth seemed to be in, which doesn't happen until five and a half months! He said he wondered if the reason why it looked like all her baby teeth weren't in the first time was because some of them had already fallen out. But if that's the case, she is really, really tiny. I don't know. Maybe she's some kind of mutant.

Letters To No One

Dear December,

Please be less annoying than November.

Thank you,



Dear self,

You have to work night shifts this weekend. How is waking up at 6 AM helping?!

Befuddled and groggy,



Dear internet connection,

Ye gods, but you suck. Having to spend five minutes buffering every time I want to watch a goddamn YouTube video is bad enough, but randomly cutting out on me multiple times a day is unacceptable. I'd see about replacing you with something more reliable today, I swear, but I've got too much on my plate right now, so you get a reprieve. A short reprieve.

Much loathing,


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Can Haz Shower!

Hey, my internet is back up! Although I'm still sort of down a service, because I just realized my garbage wasn't picked up today. Probably because the plumbers' truck was parked in front of it.

So, my exciting plumbing adventures... Apparently the hard part with this kind of leak is finding the damn thing. They initially thought it was in the house somewhere, so first they drained and took out my water heater so they could get at the spot where the water lines come into the house. (This also involved cutting a hole in the wall behind the heater. Which, if you have to have a hole cut in your wall somewhere, is probably the very best spot for it. Hey, it's behind the water heater! Who cares?) So, they got in there, cut into those pipes, and installed some valves or something so they could shut off water to the part of the system where they suspected the problem was. But it turned out it wasn't there at all, as evidenced by the fact that the water meter kept running. Apparently that narrowed it down to the pipes coming into the house, though, so they then proceeded to dig a big hole in my front yard. And lo and behold, there it was! Not actually under the house at all -- which is a good thing -- but just outside. I think they spent about three hours troubleshooting and maybe fifteen minutes actually fixing the pipe.

Here's the hole, with the culprit pipe. (I believe this is after they cut the bad section out and before they installed the new bit.) The edge of the concrete slab my house sits on is visible at the top.

And here's a close-up:

That's a lot of mud! At least, as far as I can tell, it hasn't made my house list over any more than usual. So far.

So, anyway, there we go. Kind of a huge-ass mess, but it could have been a lot worse. And my carpets are already starting to dry out.

If It's Not One Thing...

I have water again! But now my internet is out. Because apparently it is wrong for all services to my house to work at the same time now for more than a few hours. But at any rate, the leak is fixed! I will blog about my exciting adventures in plumbing when I can post from a real computer. There may be a picture of the hole they dug in my front yard.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Damn It, I Want A Shower.

So, Sunday night I was without electricity. And today, I get to be without water! The fun just keeps on coming!

Yeah. I seem to have a leaking pipe somewhere. Presumably in the front wall of the house, or maybe under the floor, I don't know. All I know is that I suddenly realized that there's a spot on my bedroom carpet that is absolutely soaked, and we haven't had any rain. Closer inspection revealed more spots of wet carpet along that same wall, and wetness around the front of the house. Joy. And, of course, I discovered this right before bed last night.

Fortunately, thanks to an annoying-but-helpful video on YouTube, I was able to figure out how to shut off the water, so it won't get any worse. Which is good, because I'm stuck at work all day today and probably won't be able to get a plumber in before tomorrow. It was fun trying to do that in the dark, though, especially because my water shutoff mechanism appears to be situated smack in the biggest patch of goatheads in New Mexico. Ow, ow, ow.

Sigh. It's not like I didn't already have a huge list of annoying, time-consuming, and expensive things that needed to be done in the next few weeks, or anything. Or like I was hoping to get up to Albuquerque tomorrow to do some badly needed shopping and maybe treat myself to a movie. Or like I actually need water in the house, right? Naaaah.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Got home from work tonight and the power was out. Man, I hadn't realized how very dark it is in this house without all those zillion LED displays...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Possibly I Should Make This A Tradition.

Aliens turns out to be amazingly good Thanksgiving viewing. If nothing else, it makes me feel profoundly thankful that there are no alien lifeforms bursting out of my chest. And space marines vs. bugs is a way, way more interesting competition than football players vs. some other football players.

Also, man, that's just one of those rare movies that's the perfect combination of highly memorable and infinitely re-watchable. It'd probably been fifteen years since I last saw it, and I can still quote big old chunks of dialog. And yet, it also still feels suspenseful. You have to admire that. Plus, Newt really is the awesomeest kid ever, and deserves to have entire colonies of cats named after her.

There is just one question that bugs me a little. (Well, two, if you count "Why isn't James Horner capable of writing a soundtrack that doesn't rip off any of his other soundtracks?") And that is: if you were going to create an android -- excuse me, artificial person -- why in the world would you make him look like Lance Henriksen? I mean, that dude is creepy looking. Do android designers just have a warped sense of humor? Is there a Christopher Walken model out there somewhere, too?

Mmm, Pie.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow USAians! No big plans for me today, no trips out to visit family or anything. Which, you know, is actually kind of a good thing. I'm still recovering from a stressful week and am fighting off a bit of a cold -- although fortunately I seem to be winning -- and a nice, low-key holiday seems like exactly what I need.

My goals for the day, some of which I have already accomplished, include the following:

Cooking enough turkey to feed a small army and then eating it all myself. (OK, admittedly, that last part is likely to take a while. But that's what freezers are for!)

Pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Feeding shredded turkey Fancy Feast to a kitten.

Eating Thanksgiving dinner while watching Aliens. (In honor of said kitten.)

And not changing out of my pajamas until after noon, if at all.

I think these are laudable and realistic goals, and I am optimistic about my ability to achieve them all. In the meantime, I shall also contemplate how appreciative I am for various things, like having enough money to buy ridiculous amounts of turkey and being able to rent Aliens via Netflix any time I want it.

All the best to the rest of you, and may you also have many good things to appreciate! And also pumpkin pie for breakfast. Everybody should have pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Useful Random Encounter

So, remember how I said the vet told me he knew a woman who takes rescue cats to Texas and helps get them adopted? I just ran into her in the grocery store! She was standing in my way in the pet food aisle and apologized for taking so much time grabbing cat food because she had all these rescue cats, and we got to talking about that subject, and after a minute or two I suddenly realized who she was. So she gave me her number and told me to call her when the kitten is ready to go, because she knows someone who will probably want to take her (or, as the case may be, him). She also says the next time she's doing the run to Texas will probably be early December, which should be just about perfect, giving Newt enough time to get over the remnants of her illness and get vaccinated and everything. Hooray! Sometimes living in a small town can be handy!

(Also, after we got done talking about cats, she proceeded to geek out about the Doctor Who t-shirt I was wearing. I know that should not automatically make me feel that someone is a good and trustworthy person, but somehow I cannot help myself.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Newt The Cute

Here you go. Obligatory kitten picture! Not only that, an obligatory kitten-with-book picture! You can see that her eyes maybe still look a little weepy, but they're way, way better than they were.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arguably, I Do Kind Of Need A New Coat

Someone please talk me out of buying myself this for Christmas.

Monday, November 14, 2011

State Of The Kitten Report

Just got back from Newt's vet appointment. The doctor said pretty much exactly what I figured: that she's got a virus and it's just going to take her a little while to get over it completely. Her eyes are definitely looking better than they were, her ears aren't too bad, and her chest is clear, but she's still a bit congested. This stuff can take two or three weeks to get over, so I'm just to finish giving her the antibiotics and the eye ointment and see how she does. If she doesn't get all better, I'll make her another appointment. And if she does get all better, I'll also make her another appointment, to get her vaccinations. Also, the vet said that if I'm going to take her to the shelter, I should call him first, because he knows a woman who regularly picks up kittens here and places them in homes in Texas, and she might be able to get Newt adopted. Here's hoping!

Also, it was generally agreed that the kitty is very cute, and the vets' assistant got the reference and liked her name.

I know I still need to post some pictures of her. I did try to take some, but they came out terrible. I think the flash bothered her eyes. I'll try again in a few days.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Very Belated Currentlies

Current clothes: Dark blue sweatpants. A light tan t-shirt that says, "Will Work For Books." White socks. White sneakers.

Current mood: Lately I've been feeling, well... slightly weary, I guess. I've had a lot of stressors in the last week, and while I like to think I've dealt with most of them well, they do add up. And it seems like every time I start to relax, something new comes along to bug me. I desperately need some quiet time, I think, and I don't know how much of it I'm likely to get. At least today hasn't been bad so far. In fact, I'm really starting to relax again. Here's hoping this time I've broken the pattern.

Current music: Not much lately. Random stuff on the radio.

Current annoyance: Right this moment? Well, I must say, while kittens are adorable and often fun to have around, keeping one quarantined in your bathroom is a bit of a pain in the ass. Simple things like going in to take a shower become rather more complicated. And sitting on the bathroom floor for half an hour or so several times a day to cuddle and play with the kitty has begun to take its toll on my back and my knees, which is not only uncomfortable in itself, but also serves as a sad reminder of the fact that I'm not as young as I used to be. And, because I don't want to transfer any germs from her to my other cats, every time I handle the kitten I have to scrub my hands afterward, which has left them dry, scaly, and red. Sigh.

Current thing: Operating Betty's Home for Wayward Felines. Again.

Current desktop picture: Still the same Hawaiian palm trees from last month.

Current book: Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip. Which I fear I have not been doing any favors by reading in my current distracted state.

Current song in head: Right now it's "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Van Morrison, because it was just playing in the supermarket when I was there buying milk and cat food.

Current DVD in player: Disc 2 of season 3 of The Big Bang Theory.

Current refreshment: Nothing at the moment, but I'm thinking a nice mug of some sort of herbal tea is in order.

Current worry: Traditionally, this would be the place for me to be all worried about the kitten, but, oddly enough, I'm kind of not. Partly that's because I really do think she'll be fine, and partly it's because I've pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I'm not keeping her, but I think possibly I just used up most of my supply of kitten-worry on the last one.

Current thought: After another look under her tail, I'm beginning to wonder if Newt is in fact a boy kitten and not a girl kitten. In which case, she's he's not keeping the name, because "Newt" for a male kitten really does suggest Aliens less and Gingrich more. Not that it matters, probably, on account of that thing about how I'm almost certainly not keeping her. Speaking of which... Anybody want a kitten? Free delivery in the state of New Mexico!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cats And Hackers

So, momma cat has successfully been spayed! She's also been vaccinated, de-wormed, and tested for feline leukemia (negative), since I know for sure I'm never, ever going to manage to catch her again, and I wanted to do as much as I could for her while we had her. I released her back into the wild this morning, where she consumed the food and water I left out for her like a very hungry and thirsty kitty indeed, then took off for parts unknown. Hopefully somewhere warm; it's a bit chilly out there this morning. I wish her well. And, no more kittens! Yay!

In less awesome news, my gmail account was hacked last night, apparently by someone in Russia. It looks like they only had access for a few minutes, and managed to send out all of six spams before gmail noticed and locked the account down for suspicious activity. Thank you, gmail! After careful inspection, they don't seem to have changed any of my settings or done anything else nasty to the account, so it could have been a hell of a lot worse. Of course, this has now made me paranoid in ways that the mandatory computer security briefing they made me attend at work this week never managed. So I've now turned on gmail's two-step verification process, where you have to get a verification code sent to your phone (or employ one of a couple of other backup methods) to get into your account when logging in from a new computer. Or even an old one, every 30 days. Which seems like a massive pain, but I guess it's better than being hijacked by Russian spammers. Damn it. Why can't people just be nice? Anyway, if someone spammed you from my account last night, I apologize. Obviously, it wasn't me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Animal shelter guy brought the cat trap around this afternoon, and after maybe 45 minutes of nosing around it, trying to get at the food in it through the mesh of the cage, giving up, then going back and trying again, Momma cat finally got herself caught! Hooray! She is at the vet's office right now. They will either be doing her spaying tomorrow or Thursday, depending on their schedule. (They leave early on Wednesdays, so this was not the ideal time for this, but now is when I got her, so now is when they get her!)

Will post more when I hear back from them. Right now, I have to go get ready for work. And come down off this adrenaline spike. Biting your nails waiting for a cat to walk into a trap, and then dealing with the poor thing flailing around in the cage can do that to you, apparently, especially when you've got somewhere you've got to be. But I'm really glad I got her before I had to leave, so she didn't have to sit out there caged up in the cold. Animal shelter guy said that if I threw a blanket around the cage she'd be fine, but I was worried, anyway.

[ETA: By the way, in keeping with the Aliens theme we've got going on here... Do you know what a reproductively intact adult female cat is called? That's right. A queen. I took out the queen. I am so Ripley.]

Monday, November 07, 2011

In Space, No One Can Hear You Meow

Also, I believe the kitten now has a name: Newt. No, not after Newt Gingrich, thank you very much. After the kid from Aliens. Why? Because she's clearly been through a rough time, poor little thing, but I think she's a survivor, and I'm planning to do my best to make sure of it. Yes, that kind of makes me Ripley, which is awesome. And, no, I do not acknowledge the existence of the third movie, which is not awesome.

I think it's even extra appropriate, given the fact that a creature who will not stop having babies is currently causing me difficulties, and that I fully intend to put a stop to that. (Nuke her ovaries from orbit! It's the only way to be sure!) Now all I need are some space marines...

Kitty Update

OK. Kitten has been to the vet now, with the following results:

First off, it probably is a girl kitty. It's hard to tell at this age, but the vet thinks so, anyway.

Secondly, speaking of "this age," the vet also cleared up something that was puzzling me: namely that I thought this kitty had to be at least four months old, but she sure doesn't look that old. Was she stunted by poor nutrition?, I wondered. Is she just a very tiny cat? Was I somehow mistaken? But it's right there in my blog, on July 7th: "Mickey's mother appears to have another kitten." So what's the solution to this mystery? Well, given how quickly cats can reproduce, she's probably had two batches of kittens in the last few months. I have no idea what happened to the one I saw in July, but this is definitely not the same kitten. The mistaken identity is perhaps understandable, though, since they're both gray cats who look exactly like their mother.

Fortunately, according to the vet, humane cat traps are available from the local animal shelter, and I can bring Momma cat in for spaying immediately whenever I catch her. This is excellent to know, because, honestly, this has just got to stop. I'm going to call the shelter tomorrow and see about picking up a trap. (I'd do it this afternoon, but they're closed on Mondays.)

Anyway, as for this kitten, she's got a very bad respiratory infection, poor thing. Also worms. So the vet gave her a de-wormer, and she now has antibiotics and eye ointment and another appointment for next week. Here's hoping she gets well soon, because I don't mind nursing her back to health for a week or three, but she is not staying in my house for six months like the last one.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Two Temporal Complaints

1. I do not want this "extra" hour. All it means is that we're calling the time I got up this morning "8 AM" instead of "9 AM." This will not be helpful tomorrow when I have to work until midnight (or, the hour formerly known as 1 AM). *insert usual anti-Daylight Savings rant here*

2. I liked Christmas a lot better when it didn't last for two fucking months. Gaah!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Kittens, Kittens Here

Well, I found the kitten when I went out to get my laundry in. So she -- on closer inspection, I think it's a girl kitty -- is now holed up in my bathroom. Poor thing, her eyes really did look terrible, all full of crusted goo, and there were actually big old chunks of gunk falling out of her ears. Aww. She smells kind of bad, too. But I cleaned her up a little bit. Not great, but a little. I also gave her more food and water. She seemed very thirsty, poor kitten. And I petted her a lot, which she seemed to like. Aww. I spent about 45 minutes with her, all told, then figured I should maybe leave her alone for a little to settle in and rest, since she didn't seem too freaked out by her new surroundings. Really wish now that I could get her into the vet sooner, but for another day and a half, she should be OK. Better than she would be outside, anyway. It's supposed to get down to freezing tonight. I'll go and check in on her again in a little bit. The precautionary change-of-clothes and scrub-down to (hopefully) avoid giving my cats whatever she has is going to get old very fast, though.

[ETA: I looked in on her briefly a little while ago, and she was resting quietly in the cubical cat bed thingy I bought for Mickey that he never really used. I think I'm going to try not disturb her too much.]

Kittens, Kittens, Everywhere

So, Kittenworld (aka my bathroom) will have a new inhabitant again soon, probably. You may or may not remember that I mentioned a while back that Mickey's mother had had another kitten, and the the two of them are frequently to be found hanging around in my driveway, where I've been feeding them a bit. Being completely unable to accommodate another kitten, I've spent the last four months or so telling myself that this one would be fine, that she's taking much better care of him (or possibly her, I don't know) than she did the last one. But the poor thing always has runny eyes, and that seems to be getting worse. Plus, it's starting to get really cold out there... So I finally heaved a heavy sigh, admitted to myself that the poor thing would probably need some warmth and veterinary care if it were going have a good chance of surviving the winter, and called the vet to make an appointment. That was on Thursday, and the earliest they could get me in without difficulties was Monday morning. Which I figured was fine, because the kitty'd been more or less OK this long, so how likely was it to get into major difficulty in the next few days? Since I see them pretty much every day, and since the kitten's now gotten to the point where it's comfortable enough with me to let me pick it up, I figured I'd bring it in sometime on Sunday and keep it in the bathroom overnight. Except that I've since realized that the poor critter is in worse shape than I thought. Not only are his eyes runny, but he's got a bit of the inner eyelid showing, too, and his nose is all snotty. The vet being closed now, he's still going to have to wait until Mon. for his appointment, but I figured it'd be better to bring him inside and keep him well-fed and warm.

So, I went out and got some extra cat dishes and cat food, and set up a makeshift litterbox, and made all the other kitten-quarantining preparations I've become so very familiar with. Then I put on some old clothes, figuring I'd change out of them after handling him so as to reduce the danger of infecting the other cats. And then I went outside, to where I'd seen him just a few minutes before... and he'd disappeared. Sigh. Well, I'm sure he'll show up again, tomorrow, if not later today. He always does. I am a little worried, though, because he and his mom didn't finish the food I left out for them. I'm hoping it's because they found something else to eat this morning, and not because they're both deathly ill. We'll see how it goes.

And before you ask, no, I am not keeping this one. I think Mickey proved pretty definitively that I have all the cats I can handle. Not to mention all the cats my cats can handle. No, as soon as this one's healthy, he's going to the shelter. Unless anybody out there wants a kitten now? He (or she) is a cute little gray thing, maybe about five months old, and I'm sure he'd appreciate a good home.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Less Candy For Me Is Probably A Good Thing.

Hey, I just got some trick-or-treaters! I think that's the first time in years.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Random Links Are Here Again

Wow, it's been quite a while since I did this. Let's see... Lots of Doctor Who this time out. Also cats. So, pretty much random links as usual, then.

Where's Wall-E?: Me, I had so much fun trying to see how many of these robots I could identify that I almost forgot to look for him.

If Doctor Who Was Cast Entirely by the Muppets: Exactly what it says it is. And a thing of considerable awesomeness.

Doctor Who Theme (With Lyrics!), A Capella: Wibbly-wobbly, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey! This completely cracks me up.

Simon's Cat in 'Double Trouble' : As with so many Simon's Cat videos, I have lived this. Every bit of it.

Kittywood Studios: Cat Videos Incorporated: If you've ever wondered where all those cat videos on YouTube come from...

Doctor Who: "50th Anniversary" - Ultimate Cinema Trailer (1963 Onwards): A very nice fan-made Doctor Who trailer. A bit on the dramatic side, maybe, but tell me this doesn't make you want to go and watch this show right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 13

And now, the thrilling conclusion of My Hawaiian Vacation!

Our last day in Hawaii was a very long day, thanks to the fact that our plane didn't leave until after 9 PM. Note to self: never, ever again say, "Yeah, you go ahead and make the travel arrangements. I'm cool with whatever." You will end up booked on a red-eye flight, which is not a pleasant experience for someone who is a) currently on a sleep schedule that involves waking up at very early hours in the morning, and b) completely and utterly incapable of sleeping on a plane. Aaargh. Still, I can't complain too much, because it allowed us to squeeze in what turned out to be one of the absolute highlights of the whole trip: a snorkeling expedition to Molokini. (We had wanted to do it the day before, but they weren't able to schedule us then.)

Molokini is a partially sunken, reef-encrusted crater off the coast of Maui, and there are just no words for how amazing an experience it was to snorkel there. The water was unbelievably, impossibly clear and absolutely teeming with fish. And then, just when I thought I was having the most unbeatable underwater experience of my life, we packed up and moved on to somewhere even more amazing, where we had the opportunity to swim up close and personal with sea turtles. Lots of sea turtles. They weren't shy, either; one of them nearly ran into me on his way up to the surface. They're fascinating animals that before this trip existed for me only in nature documentaries and aquariums, and getting to swim face-to-face with them was incredibly cool, and well worth the price of being exhausted and salt-encrusted on the plane going home.

I have no pictures from this experience, alas, as my camera does not function underwater. My aunt's friend did have an underwater camera, though. Maybe I can get some pictures from her later on. If so, I will be sure to share them with you.

And that's it! The end! I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts about whatever the heck I'm usually posting about.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 12

After all that non-stop dawn-to-dusk activity, a certain level of exhaustion started to set in, so the next day or two were blissfully low-key. Well, low-key for some of us, anyway. As previously mentioned, my aunt and her friend did get up in the middle of the night to watch the sun rise from the top of Haleakala. And she was thoughtful enough to send us sleepy-heads a picture:

There's some sort of interesting optical effect going on there, clearly, but don't ask me what it is.

Otherwise, let's see... We did some shopping, although I was disappointed to find that the large bookstore in Lahaina that my guidebook recommended had closed. (A moment of silence, please, for the vanishing American booksellers.) And I finally had the chance to do something I'd been longing for from the start of the trip: lounging around on a poolside chair with a drink in one hand and a trashy novel in the other. Ahh! Adventures are fun, after all, but sometimes you just need some relaxation. Isn't that part of what vacations are for?

We also spent more time at the beach, of course. Unlike the hotel on the Big Island, the one in Maui was located on a sandy beach you could swim at. Well, sort of. There was a very strong undertow that made going too far out inadvisable, but that was fine by me, as I'm not really much of a swimmer, anyway. Mostly, I frolicked in the surf. Frolicking being yet another part of what vacations are for.

In fact, here's a picture of the beach behind the hotel. I snapped this one quickly with my phone camera, somewhere between bouts of lounging and frolicking, when a friend e-mailed me complaining she was bored and stressed, and asked me to "send pictures of Hawaii or something."

We finished up our last full day with a sunset dinner cruise, which was also pleasantly relaxing. I do love the sunsets in Hawaii. Not that ours here in New Mexico aren't also spectacular, but they are notably lacking in ocean.

All of this sounds like an anticlimactic note to end on. But, wait! We're not done yet! Stay tuned tomorrow for exciting last-minute underwater adventures!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 11

A while back I alluded to a road trip we took on Maui. Well, this is it! The "Road to Hana!" This is a little road that winds through rural Maui to the small town of Hana. When I say "winds," believe me, I mean it winds. Lot and lots of tight, blind curves, often with steep drop-offs into the ocean on one side of you. And when I say "little," I mean that along much of its length it's maybe a lane-and-a-half wide. Often less. And when I say "road," well, in places the conditions are so bad that the rental car companies don't want you to take their vehicles there, although, hey, what they don't know don't hurt 'em. Basically, it's sort of a scary-ass road. Although I think the worst part was at the end of it, going up hills too steep to see over, with nowhere to get over to if you could see something coming, while the sun shone down at exactly the right angle to completely blind the driver and everyone in the car every time we climbed one. I'm just really glad I wasn't the one driving, although the person who was handled it all like a champ.

If you brave it, though, you're rewarded with a zillion little hidden scenic spots, which are perhaps all the more beautiful because it was a tiny bit of an adventure to reach them.

You've got rocky seashore:


So many waterfalls!

Black-sand beaches:

I rolled my pants up and splashed around a bit there. It was great.

Lush rainforest:

There was a nice little trail you could walk through the rainforest, in fact, which was one of the first stops we made.


That's a mongoose. Those things were everywhere! Also, feral chickens.

And secluded mountain pools:

Well, all right, those weren't all that secluded, as you can judge by the tourists in the picture. Still very pretty though.

Even with all of that, we still didn't see everything. We had an audio guide to the road that we played as we went, which was sometimes helpful and sometimes, well, not -- although it was often unhelpful in amusing ways -- and occasionally it would tell us to stop for something we could not for the life of us find and didn't want to risk trying to turn around for. As it happens, this was pretty much a good thing, as we saw just exactly as much as we had daylight to see, since we left the hotel before dawn and were just finishing up the road at sunset. Believe me, that is not a road you want to be on after dark, and there's pretty much no way to get off it once you're on.

All-in-all, it was a very fun and satisfying day, and if you're ever on the island, I recommend it. Whatever your rental car company says.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 10

After the ziplining, we drove up Haleakala. Yes, that's right, yet another volcano, albeit a considerably less lava-y one. Some marvelous views from up there, too:

Honestly, couldn't you just look at those vistas all day? Well, OK, maybe not all day. Apparently Haleakala helped me to determine the limits of just how far I am willing to go for a great view when my aunt decided to drive up to the summit for sunrise a couple of days later. (I think it was a couple of days. I mentioned how time all blends together on vacation, right?) Sunrise from the mountaintop is indeed supposed to be spectacular, but it's also early. When you factor in a long drive to the mountain from our hotel, the winding drive up to the summit, and the need to get there before the parking lot fills up with other people who have the same idea, that translates to getting out of bed at something like 2:30 in the morning. Now, I may be willing to free-fall down a zipline, hand over something close to a week's pay for a helicopter ride, or trudge up what feels like half a million stairs to get a good view of what Hawaii has to show me, but I draw the line at getting out of bed at 2:30 AM. That's not morning. That's bedtime. So I missed the sunrise, and I can't quite bring myself to regret it. But never mind. It looked plenty good enough to me during the day!

Haleakala, like Mauna Kea on the Big Island (which we didn't visit but did fly past) is also home to astronomical observatories. Me being me, of course I had to snap a picture of that, too:

And I Was Doing So Well There For A While

I went to the Friends of the Library book sale. Correction: I went to the pre-book-sale book sale, where you have to buy a membership just to get in.

I bought eleven books.

I am doomed. Utterly hopeless, and utterly doomed. Somebody needs to lock me in a room for a year and make me do nothing but read. Although even then I wouldn't be caught up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 9

The next awesome thing we did on Maui was ziplining. In case you're unfamiliar with this, it involves putting you in a harness, hooking you up to a cable, and sending you zipping through space high above the floor of the rainforest. I think the biggest appeal here is supposed to be in the thrill of flying down the line very fast, but personally, I really wished it could have been a lot slower. Not because the speed was scary -- although it was a little bit, just on the last and longest line -- but because the views from up there were so wonderful. I never quite felt like I had time to take it all in as I would have liked to. Still, it was tons of fun. And we even got my mother to try it, which if you know my mother is pretty surprising.

I have no pictures of this at the moment, alas. I figured if I brought my camera with me, the odds of it ending up at the bottom of a gorge in the middle of the rain forest were unacceptably high. There is a whole disc full of pictures that exists somewhere, though, as they send a photographer along with you, and we did get copies afterward. I think maybe my aunt has it. When I get my hands on them, I'll be sure to post some here, and you can all see what I look like while airborne.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 8

Apologies to anybody who may have been anticipating a regularly scheduled Hawaii post yesterday. I was busy. Admittedly, mostly I was busy sleeping, but when you work night shifts, you do not knock that as a useful activity.

So, where were we? I think I was just about finished with the Big Island, actually, so onwards to Maui! And practically the first thing we did on Maui was to attend the Old Lahaina Luau, which featured a terrific spread of traditional Hawaiian food. This included a pig roasted -- or, more accurately, steamed -- in an underground oven called an imu. And based on the results, I don't know why we're not all cooking pork that way. Mmmm.

And, yes, I did try the poi. Poor poi. It was generally not well-received. I actually didn't think it was nearly as repulsive as most people seemed to. It was sort of aggressively bland, with a hard-to-pin-down but faintly unpleasant undertaste. But I could imagine getting used to it if necessary, and I'd take it over vegemite any day. Sorry, Aussies! Although, actually, we might all have been doing it a terrible injustice -- the poi, that is, not the vegemite -- as I'm told it's much more palatable if you eat it immediately after it's made.

The luau also featured dancing. Lots and lots of traditional Hawaiian hula dancing, from various historical periods. This came with some commentary about the history and social importance of the dance, so as well as being entertaining and fairly impressive -- seriously, I'm not sure I realized it was possible to move your hips that way -- it was even sort of educational.

I didn't take many pictures at the luau, but here's one of what I think were the first set of dancers. (My apologies for whoever's elbow that is in the corner of the photo. All I know is, it's not mine.)

The people in the foreground there are sitting on the floor, traditional-style, but most of us had chairs. Funnily enough, the old ladies I was attending with didn't even bring up the cushion-on-the-floor option.

Oh, and this also happens to be where I discovered that I like mai tais. Although apparently the luau has really good mai tais -- even the Frommer's guide mentions them specifically -- and now I'm spoiled. The one I had at the hotel beach bar later was disappointing by comparison.

Where's Biblioholics Anonymous When You Need Them?

Oh, dear, I have fallen off the book-buying wagon in spectacular fashion. Again. And the Friends of the Library sale isn't even until this weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thank You, Mr. Mechanic!

My car starts again. Yay!

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 7

Still speaking of volcanoes... The day after the helicopter ride, we went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for a ground-level view of things. And there was, indeed, a lot to see, including lava fields:

And a natural volcanic stone arch, which will probably not last more than another couple of years:

And the smoking caldera, which we didn't get a great view of from the air due to, you know, not actually wanting to get too close:

Actually, that's not smoke. It's steam. Which was pouring out from vents all over the place. Some of them you could walk right up to and stand in, if you wanted to engage in the most awesome example of overkill known to humanity and use a volcano to clear your sinuses.

Want a dramatic illustration of the fact that this is, indeed, an active volcano? How's this: there is a whole section of the national park that is no longer open to visitors, because lava came and covered up the road. Like this:

It must be extremely difficult trying to maintain a national park in an place that nature is not yet done making.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 6

Speaking of volcanoes, here's another very cool thing Hawaii has: black sand beaches.

The "sand" is actually really course and pebbly, and, yes, it is pulverized volcanic rock. Here's a close-up:

Um, yeah, that's all for today. I've been kind of busy.

Car Update

The battery terminals were, in fact, so corroded that I couldn't get the clamps off without damaging them... a fact I realized only after I got them off. Oops. Looks like I will definitely be having this thing towed in to the mechanic for new battery cables. At some point.

Well, at least I managed not to spray myself with battery acid. Given my general levels of mechanical ineptitude, I'm counting that as a win.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 5

Now we come to one of the big highlights of the trip: an hour-and-a-half-long helicopter ride over the Big Island. This was a lot of money, but whatever my credit card debt ends up being next month, it was worth it, because this is the most stunningly beautiful way to see the island you can possibly imagine. We got an aerial guided tour as we drifted past waterfalls, dipped into beautiful remote valleys, and hovered over volcanoes. Correction, make that active volcanoes. Well, one active volcano, anyway. We were told by the guide that in the thirteen years he'd been doing these flights, he'd put that day's lava-flow activity from Kilauea somewhere in the top five. Of course, that guy doubtless has reason to want to make you feel like you're getting your money's worth, but the local paper agreed; it was indeed being pretty darned active. And if you look at Volcanoes National Park's "What's Going on with the Volcano?" page, you might see a note about interesting activity starting on September 22nd. We flew over on the morning of the 23rd.

Unfortunately, most of the photos I tried to take from the helicopter didn't come out very well, mostly because certain people not in our party did not follow the instructions about wearing dark clothes to minimized reflections on the windows. But that's OK, because 1) there's a DVD of the whole thing somewhere that someone is supposed to make me a copy of eventually, and 2) the pictures I took of the most exciting part came out beautifully. Look! Lava! Actual flowing, glowing lava!

Currently Events

Current clothes: Gray sweatpants. A blue t-shirt that says "I climbed Diamond Head" which my mother bought from some guy on the trail while I wasn't looking. White socks. White sneakers. Well, okay, they used to be white.

Current mood: A little harried, but better than the actual circumstances would seem to warrant. See "current annoyance" for details.

Current music: Nothing, really. I've been trying to catch up on the zillions of podcasts I was already behind on before I went on vacation.

Current annoyance: My car won't start. I got in today to go to the grocery store, turned the key, and absolutely nothing happened. It may be that the battery is dead. I think it's well past its use-by date. But the problem might just be that the terminals are very corroded. So I'm going to try cleaning them off tomorrow. (I would have done it today, but the sun was setting, and light seems kind of useful for an operation like that.) I give it about a 50-50 chance of working. If it doesn't, I guess at some point I'm going to have to find somebody to give me a jump start and/or a ride to the auto parts store for a new battery. In any case, I probably ought to take it to the mechanic to get the battery cables and clamps replaced (again), because those are pretty corroded, too. The "how to clean your battery terminals" guide I found on the interwebs says that this tends to happen a lot with cars that aren't driven very much. So apparently this is what I get for being all green and healthy and walking instead of driving most of the time. Sigh. Well, I guess I didn't need all that many groceries, anyway. I ended up going on foot and probably saved myself a lot of money on crap I didn't buy just because I could. Still, very annoying, especially because these things somehow always happen when I'm on or about to start night shifts. And anything that needs to involve other human beings might have to wait until I come off them again.

Current thing: Posting pictures of my Hawaii trip. Speaking of which...

Current desktop picture: This picture that I took on said vacation. Although I was also considering this one

Current book: Just finished Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine. Next up is A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lidsay.

Current song in head: "What Is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin. I had to look up the title, though. "Stairway to Heaven" aside, I can never remember any of their song titles, ever.

Current DVD in player: Nothing in the living room. I'm still catching up on all the stuff I've TiVo'd and downloaded. In the treadmill one, it's another Pinky & the Brain disc. Last I watched, they'd just started a three-part homage to The Prisoner. Just when I thought I could not love that goofy little cartoon show any better...

Current refreshment: I had some chocolate a little while ago. I think I needed it.

Current worry: What if my car no work?!

Current thought: Stay tuned! The next Hawaii post will have lava!

Friday, October 07, 2011


I've been back exactly one week, and my to-do list, which I keep on Google Tasks, is now finally short enough that I can see it all without scrolling! Huzzah!

My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 4

And so, on to Hawaii, the "Big Island"! We stayed at a beach resort hotel there, and I liked it a lot. It didn't have a swimming beach, being rocky rather than sandy, but the views, including the view from our room, were terrific (as the sunset picture a posted a few days ago attests). You could also sometimes see turtles out on the rocks. Here's another picture. I think I took this one from our balcony:

There are also some old ruins out there that the resort is working on restoring. From what I saw (from my admittedly tourist's-eye view), there's a very strong interest in preserving and sharing traditional Hawaiian culture in modern Hawaii, which is good to see.

One of the things I really liked about this place is that the lobby, the bar, the dining area, and practically everything else was as open-air as possible. (This was true to a lesser extent of a lot of other places, too, including, most startlingly, the Kona airport.) The temperature in Hawaii, it seems, is so nice, and so consistent, that you don't even need walls. So you could just sit there in the bar enjoying the breeze and watching the tide come in two feet away. It was so pleasant, I didn't even mind when a bird flew in at breakfast and stole some of my scrambled eggs.

I'm honestly having trouble remembering exactly what we did on the Big Island when, but the date on my photos suggests that the first day we got there was when we stopped at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, or the Place of Refuge, a historically important site in traditional Hawaiian culture. This is where people who had broken the law or who were refugees from war could come to seek sanctuary and receive absolution from the priests. (Although I admit I'm probably simplifying that horribly. My knowledge of Hawaiian history is still sadly sketchy.) Among other things, there were very impressive carved wooden statues, which you unfortunately can't really see all that well here, because the lighting isn't great. Still kind of striking, though:

Thursday, October 06, 2011

What I Did On My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 3

I'm going to have to abandon this "On day X we did Y" format here pretty quickly. You know how it is when you're on vacation. You enter this weird liminal state where you no longer have any idea what day it is or how long you've been doing any of this, and it all just becomes even more of a blur when you try to look back on it afterward. So, this bit is what we did during the rest of our stay on Oahu, which was about another day and a half.

First, we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a beautiful, reef-encrusted cove. It's actually a protected nature park; they make you watch a nine-minute video explaining how not to molest the coral or the wildlife before they even let you get in the water. It was very pleasant, and I remember being impressed at the time by the clear water and the number of fish, but I'm afraid it got rather badly eclipsed by the unbelievably awesome snorkeling trip we made on the last day of our vacation, so it's faded in my memory a bit. Sorry, Hanauma Bay! Really, you were lovely!

I think we spent most of the rest of that day in the car. My aunt, apparently, really likes driving, and she had this idea in mind that we were going to circumnavigate every island we visited so that she could see everything, OMG! There are a few problems with this, though, namely: 1) It's very time-consuming. These aren't exactly huge islands, but we're still talking hundreds of miles of coastline, often on roads where the speed limit isn't terribly high. 2) It's not in fact possible, as the roads don't generally go all the way around the coast. Little things like mountains and military bases tend to get in the way. And 3) You don't actually get to see very much from a car. So I'm afraid that by the time we were halfway around Oahu, there was a little bit of a rebellion brewing against this plan. (All's well that ends well, though, as we had a road trip experience later on Maui that left everybody feeling satisfied. More on that when we get there.)

We did at least get out of the car at various points to stop at scenic overlooks, pause briefly at beach parks, and make one rather sweaty hike out to look at some old Hawaiian petroglyphs -- rock carvings -- which were rather different from the ones we have here in the Southwest.

After that, I think there were drinks with little umbrellas in them. It's funny. I am generally never one to go for the more girly option on anything, and I am also not much of a drinker, to say the least. Usually, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of alcoholic beverages I consume in a year. But when I'm on vacation, suddenly I'm all about the slushy tropical umbrella drinks. Mmmm, mango and rum!

Then, at some point before we left the island, my mother and I walked down to the famous Waikiki Beach, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. Waikiki isn't really the place to go to admire Hawaii's natural beauty; it seems to be more the place for the hot young things to admire each other's tans and surfboards. Here's what it looks like, though, if you're curious:

It's actually not even a natural beach. They had to cart the sand in from a different island. Unfortunately, I seem to be lacking in pictures of Hawaii's real beaches, which is a shame because... Well, let me put it this way. You know that iconic, stereotypical image of an unspoiled tropical beach, with the warm white-gold sand and the perfectly placed palm trees, and the water so clear and blue that it sparkles? I used to think that image was kind of fake-y. Idealized, at the very least. But it's not. Those beaches exist, and they exist in Hawaii, and I swear, I could spend days at a time just staring at them. I think possibly I was just too awestruck to remember I had a camera.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


I just watched last week's episode of Mythbusters, which featured something very much like the following exchange:

"There's just one problem, though. You're not allowed to fire an RPG in California."

"That's OK! I know where we can go!"

And cut to... here.

Socorro is such an interesting place to live. There was another big, window-rattling explosion the other day, and now every time that happens, I wonder whether it means those guys are in town again. Sadly, however, I have yet to run into them at the local diner.

What I Did On My Hawaiian Vacation, Pt. 2

On the second full day, we hiked up Diamond Head. Which is a heck of a walk, at least for someone as out of shape as I sadly have become. First, you follow an incredibly steep path until your thighs ache, then you climb an even more steep (and approximately infinite) set of stairs, then you trudge upward some more, then there are more stairs, and finally you have to crawl through a cramped old WWI bunker. But when you get to the top, you're rewarded by views spectacular enough to make every step worth it:

After that, I think we went for a swim or something. It's all kind of a blur.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

What I Did On My Hawaiian Vacation, Part 1

All right, writing up this trip for the edification of all you loyal readers is probably going to take me forever, so I guess I might as well get started!

Our first stop in Hawaii was on the island of Oahu, where we stayed in Waikiki. We started off our first full day there with a visit to Pearl Harbor. Which was maybe an odd choice, as it's not exactly a happy, vacation-y spot. I hadn't realized this, but the U.S.S. Arizona memorial is quite literally a graveyard; the bodies of the sailors who went down with her were left to rest where she sank. The mood is appropriately somber, and the experience of visiting the site is really quite moving. They also have some very good little museums there on shore, which are well worth a visit if you're at all interested in that particular period of history. The site is free to visit, if you ever get the chance, but I heartily recommend spending a few bucks for the audio tour, which includes, among other things, commentary from people who were actually there. (I've got no pictures worth sharing from that particular stop, though, sorry.)

Then, in a complete change of pace, we visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation, where you can ride around on a little train past working pineapple fields, as well as samples of a few of their other crops conveniently planted by the train tracks for the admiration of tourists. This includes a little narration about how the crops are grown and about the history of Dole in Hawaii, although, unsurprisingly, it leaves out all the more unsavory bits. (And thank you, Sarah Vowell, for telling me about those.) It's thus rather less interesting than it theoretically might have been, but feed me enough amazingly fresh pineapple and heavenly pineapple ice cream, and I can be induced to cheerfully put up with your corporate propaganda for a couple of hours. Man, that stuff was good. I ate tons of pineapple while I was in Hawaii, and I am still craving more.

They also had what's billed as the world's largest maze. I actually found this kind of creepy, initially, having seen/read one too many fantasy stories, in which labyrinths are never a good thing. They're especially not a good thing for someone with absolutely no sense of direction. Eventually we gave up on solving the thing, but the attempt was at least entertaining.

I don't have many pics from this stop, either, but here's a picture of an adorable baby pineapple. I think this was some exotic red variety they don't usually grow in Hawaii.

Don't worry. There will be some very pretty pictures on the next trip post!

Monday, October 03, 2011

I Really Was There! See?

I've just been quickly looking through the Hawaii pictures I downloaded off my camera, and OMG, they are amazing. There will be more of them to come, maybe with some kind of travelog like I did when I went to Australia, but for the moment, here's one to whet your appetite. You guys, I took this standing outside my hotel.

Being Back

Aww, my kitties were so glad to see me. Vir hasn't stopped cuddling and kneading me since I got back, which is sweet, but occasionally ouchy. (He has sharp claws.)

I am, of course, now massively behind on everything. If I owe you an e-mail -- which, judging by the state of my inbox, I probably do -- uh, well, I'll get to it eventually. There will also be some Hawaii pictures eventually, but getting them off my camera and sorting through them is a ways down my frighteningly long to-do list. (Among other things, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be doing laundry forever.) And I'm trying to take it kind of slow because, while I have mostly vanquished the jet lag by now, I am still very much in that "need a vacation to recover from my vacation" mode. Also, I have Doctor Who to watch, and clearly that gets priority.

Alas, I have to go back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't Wanna Go Home

This morning I was swimming with sea turtles. Now I am sitting in an airport waiting to go back to Albuquerque. Life is so unfair.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hello From Hawaii!

Figured I'd post an update, although posting from my phone is a little bit annoying to do.

Anyway, Hawaii is pretty awesome. Here's a quick list of what we've done so far:

Monday we went to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial, which was rather somber but well worth a visit. Then we visited a pineapple plantation. Fresh pineapple = very yummy.

Tuesday we climbed up Diamond Head, a very steep walk, but worth every step for the view. Then we went swimming at pretty much the most beautiful beach I've ever seen.

Wed. we went snorkling, then drove around Oahu for a while.

And now I am siting in an airport waiting to go to Maui the Big Island.

(ETA: sorry, posted in haste earlier. Maui is next week!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Aloha, Suckers!

Am on the way to Hawaii! And since you're probably not, you have my permission to be jealous. Except maybe not quite so much right now, since at the moment, I mostly feel like someone who had to get up way too early to catch a plane and is thus extremely bleary. Still, it beats being at work!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Apparently They Weren't Lying To Me About This Whole "Going To Hawaii" Thing.

Leaving in a day and a half! And, OK, now I'm starting to get a little excited.

Yep, Totally Ready!

Well, I picked out which books to take with me to Hawaii. That's the important part of the preparation, right?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mommas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Shift-Workers

And, after yesterday's bout of insomnia, today I somehow accidentally slept for 14 hours.

I don't think this is helping.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Current Stuff

Current clothes: Black sweatpants. Brown shirt with a picture of a shelf of books and the words "Life is short. Read fast." White socks. White sneakers.

Current mood: OMG, SO STRESSED. I woke up at 1:30 in the morning, tried and failed get back to sleep, and finally just gave up and got up at 3:00. And my day has just gone downhill from there.

Current music: "Crazy Train" was playing on the car radio when I was out running errands earlier. It seemed reasonably apropos.

Current annoyance: Extreme lack of sleep and other sources of MASSIVE STRESS.

Current thing: Panicking about aforementioned massive stress. Also, trying to get six million things done at approximately the last minute. Which, of course, is the source of a lot of the stress.

Current desktop picture: Still the same lunar eclipse pic as last month.

Current book: Just finished Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson, which was cheesy and ridiculous, but reasonably entertaining. Next up is The House of Doors by Brian Lumley, which looks like it also might be cheesy and ridiculous, in a less action-y, more horror-y kind of way. Apparently, I am starting on my mindless vacation reading early.

Current song in head: Mostly it seems to be "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears. I blame one of the current DVDs.

Current DVD in player: In the player in the living room is season 1 of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, a British sketch comedy show from 1989 starring the great Stephen Fry and the also great Hugh Laurie. Although the show itself is only just okay, really. I keep comparing it to Monty Python or to Mitchell & Webb, and it comes up a bit lacking somehow. But, oh, they are both just so adorably young! Meanwhile, in the player in front of the treadmill is disc 2 of Pinky & the Brain volume 3. When I'm finished with this set, I will have no more cartoons. This makes me sad.

Current refreshment: Nothing. I should have some soothing tea or something. Except that I have to dash out soon to get my hair cut. Because everything needs to be done today, for some reason. Sigh.

Current worry: There are many, but the biggest and most recent one is that apparently my dad's pancreas has decided to attempt to explode again. Get well soon, dad!

Current thought: I am leaving for Hawaii in five days. How is this possible?! I am not remotely ready! Help!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Functioning Within Normal Parameters

I had another doctor's appointment today, and I'm pleased to report that my thyroid levels are now -- and I quote -- "perfect." Yay, tiny little doses of hormone! My kidneys also appear to be functioning properly, which is good to know. The doctor thinks maybe the high readings the first time were due to me being dehydrated or something, although, being painfully thorough, she still wants to have it re-re-checked again in three months. So I have not entirely escaped the curse of the vampires yet.

It was rather entertaining, by the way, watching her look through my lab results and get all confused about which samples were taken while fasting. "But this was done at 4 PM!" Well, yes. 4 PM was also known as "too damned early in the morning" for me that particular day, and I most certainly had not had breakfast yet.

Actually, there are lots of practical issues with medicine and shiftwork that doctors and pharmacists don't even remotely seem to be aware of. Like, my thyroid medicine is supposed to be taken on an empty stomach, so the instructions for it say to take it when you first get up, at least half an hour before eating breakfast. They also say to take it at the same time every day. Um, yeah, which is it, guys? Because those two things are mutually exclusive for me. Fortunately, the compromise I came up with for that seems to have worked fine, based on the empirical evidence. But, still. This sort of thing can be a huge issue when it comes to medications you have to take every day -- or, much worse, twice a day -- and in all the stuff I've read about the health effects of shiftwork, I've almost never seen it addressed.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Well, That Could Have Been Bad.

I just pulled about three feet of used dental floss out of the mouth of one of my cats.

WTF, kitty? WTF?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Well, at least today they were considerate enough to leave the water on until after I had a shower and did the dishes. That's something, right?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Water, Water Nowhere

Dear City of Socorro,

I know you've been working on pipes or something for the last couple of days; it's been impossible to miss the fact that the street is all torn up. But it sure would be nice if you'd give some kind of notice before you shut my water off. Or, hell, even after you shut my water off. A note on your website indicating how long it's likely to be off, maybe? I would really like to get a shower sometime before I have to go to work. Also, it's supposed to get up to 96 today, and my swamp cooler doesn't work without, you guessed it, water.

Dryly yours,

[ETA: Well, looks like it's a sponge bath for me. Sigh.]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Geez, Look At That Weather Forecast.

Not for the first time in my life, I feel very glad that I got the hell out of New Jersey.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Awesome Video For Today

I just bought the album this comes from yesterday, and have been listening to it at every opportunity since. For spreading pure, unadulterated happiness, there is nothing in this world like the Muppets. I firmly believe that if only we could somehow bottle Kermit the Frog, we could cure depression forever.