Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I just realized...

...that it's but 3 weeks to the Inauguration. Gawd, it'll be good to have complete sentences in the White House again. Someone who can say "nuclear" rather than "noohkyaler" and "Social Security" rather than "Sosh' Sekyertee" and who doesn't sound like he's spitting or drooling when he speaks. Someone with a measurable IQ. I have so missed that the past 8 years.

Debriding the office

No, there shall be no photos, as it's rather ugly work. But I am debriding the office, which is a layer removal job. It's working out nicely: I've sifted a huge stack of magazines and put the ones that I don't need into a box. STC magazines are sorted and in a box. (I'm not reading them at the moment, but they're at least neat and tidy.) Piles of mail is in the box for shredding and I've got about 20 Yule cards that I haven't opened yet. And there's floor and desk space opening up.

Best of all, I'm pulling all the bills together for putting together taxes for 2008. That'll be nice to get done.

SpeakerSite.com: a website for professional speakers

There's a new website that I've signed up on, called SpeakerSite.com. It's aimed at professional speakers of all stripes. It's very interesting. I'm enjoying being outside my normal venue. I'd really like to try my hand at more speaking, particularly more well-paid speaking.

I started a SIG within the site for authors, which is about to become the most popular SIG on the whole site. Well, well, well, I tapped into something there!

If you're interested in hanging out online with speakers, sign up. Feel free to ping connect with me when you get there.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Telling the dumbest joke in the world

I was reminded by a "punchlines-only" blog forum elsewhere of something I hadn't thought of for a while. It's a story about the dumbest joke in the world.

In August of 1996, when I was dating the former g/f, I had been at her house and I was leaving late in the evening. She was standing on her porch and I said "Wait, wait, wait, I have a joke to tell you."

"Okay," she said, "Tell me your joke and then go home."

"Two carrots are walking down the street," I say. She looks at me with this look of "You're telling me a joke about carrots?!??" (Trust me, I've seen this kind of look before; I was unfazed by this from her.)

"So, they're walking down the street and they get to a crosswalk. One of the carrots starts to cross against the light--"

"Carrots are crossing against the light??" she says.

"--so one of them starts to cross the street against the light and the other carrot says 'Hey, that's not safe,' and the first carrot says 'Hey, I can see for blocks and there's nobody coming.' The second carrot says 'I dunno; I think I'll wait until the light changes,' and the first carrot says 'Suit yourself.'

"The first carrot makes it halfway across the street and a truck comes screaming around the corner on a left-turn and BLAM! There's carrot juice everywhere. They rush the carrot to the hospital and they're operating on him in emergency surgery. The other carrot is pacing back and forth and back and forth in the waiting room. Five hours later, the surgeon comes out and says 'You a friend of that carrot in there?' and the carrot says 'Yes, I am.' The surgeon says 'I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that we saved your friend. The bad news is that he's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life.'"

At this point, I crack up. This is, after all, one boffo joke and I do tell it well if I say so myself. It's really funny stuff. Said former g/f is laughing some and looking a bit shocked. (Bless 'er, that was a bit easy to do sometimes.) I go home. She did say later that she was appalled that I was telling her a joke about two carrots and tried to claim that she was laughing only because I was laughing so hard. A-hem, yes, well, I didn't believe this for a moment, but I also knew that she'd hate to admit that she'd actually found a joke that dumb to be funny.

Fast forward a couple months. I'm spending the night over there and she's going to drop me at the airport early in the morning. I'm heading out to speak at my first STC regional conference elsewhere in the country. I'm going to be well-received, I know, but I'm still really quite nervous because I knew virtually nobody there at that point except for a few folks that I'd only met at the STC annual conference in May. We're snuggled up in bed and I'm expressing my nervousness about this appearance and the g/f is bolstering my courage.

"You make friends easily and they really want you to be there and you'll be a hit, so don't worry."

"Well, that's true," I said.

"You'll be able to tell them stories, too."

"Yes, that'd be fun!" I said, brightening.

"And you can always tell them the joke about the two carrots," she said. I made a noise of assent, further cheered.

We were okay up 'till that point, but then she ventured onto the really thin ice: "That's got to be the dumbest joke in the world."

"Oh, no, it's not!" I said with great alacrity, followed by "Three strings walk into a bar--"

"You know a joke about STRING??!?!?!?"

"THREE STRINGS WALK INTO A BAR," I said loudly, and I then proceeded to tell her the three strings joke. (I repeat it here only in case you've not heard this but that's not the point of this whole anecdote.)
Three strings walk into the bar. They sat down and they didn't get waited on so the first string walked up to the bar and asked for three whiskies. The bartender said, "I'm sorry, we don't serve strings in here." The string walks back to the table and and tells his friends what the bartender said.

"I've been here before and gotten a drink; I'll take care of it," said the second string. The second sting walks up to the bar and politely asks the bartender for three beers. The bartender says, "I thought I told your buddy we don't serve strings in here." So the second string walks back and and tells his friends what has happened.

The third string says "I come in here all the time. Let me take care of it." The third string unravels one end and then unravels the other end and then ties this big hairy knot in the middle and sorta wobbles up to the bar and says "Gimme three whiskies!" to the bartender.

The bartender looks him up and down and says, "You a friend of those strings over there?"

"No," the string replies, "I'm a frayed knot!"
...And at that point, having delivered the punchline, I was careful to go absolutely deadpan.

There was this second or two pause while the punchline registered with the g/f and then she exploded laughing. After a few seconds of this, the outrage that I'd conned her with what, indeed, was probably the world's dumbest joke, hit her hard and she started growling loudly at me. Then the laughter would hit again. Then the outraged growling.

The laughter and the outrage seesawed back and forth about three times, at which point, she started losing control of extraneous things like her bladder and she leapt out of bed and ran to the bathroom, still alternating between laughing and growling. I heard her peeing in the other room, still laughing and growling.

By this time, I was laughing myself to the point of near unconsciousness. A moment later, there was a flushing noise from the direction of the bathroom, and a large, handsome naked g/f came tearing out of the bathroom and leapt on the bed on top of me and started slamming my shoulders onto the bed, screaming at me "OOOOOH!! OOOOOH!! I am so angry with you!!! You told me a joke about string and I listened to it!!!!"

I was laughing so hard that I couldn't have defended myself against, well, even three strings, let alone a really pissed, muscular woman who outweighed me by about 40 pounds and was slamming me repeatedly into the mattress. I just hooted and laughed until she ran out of steam. I'm frankly rather surprised under the circumstances that I still got laid that evening.

She dropped me off at the airport and I flew off to the conference. Yes, it was wonderful, and we ended up in the bar the first night swapping stories. I told them the whole saga that I've written down here. It was a huge hit and I made friends I've kept to this day.

And for the rest of my years together with the former g/f, people would occasionally meet her and say things like "Oh, you're the one he told the story about the three strings to!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blessed Winter Solstice!

It's Yule once again. A busy year that's had a lot of darkening of the light since the Summer Solstice has now come to rest and a new year has begun.

The God is born and the Light returns! Sing with joy as the new year awakens and unfolds.

Blessings on the Earth, the fields, the forests, and the mountains, and on all the Goddess's children, whoever, wherever, or whatever they may be.

May the Goddess and God watch over you gently and with love, and may your life be filled with the Light that is the dawn of the coming New Year. Blessed be!


My desk is a mess, but it's decorative

My desk is currently a colossal mess. There are all kinds of unpleasant stacks of paper from projects, from taxes, from mail that's stacked up while I finish the ms.... just everything! But Bernie makes it look pretty good and, if not cleaner, then certainly a little cuter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My granddaughter, Raegan

I just got a recent picture of my granddaughter, Raegan, who is preposterously cute, even for a 2-yo granddaughter.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Where the hell's the snow? Oh, there it is!

We've been expecting heavy snow for a couple of days now. We were told that we'd get 3" on Wednesday. Uh, nope. Then we were told that there was a HUGE ENORMOUS storm coming in from Portland (which is suffering badly with snow and ice) Thursday during the day. Not only did it not come, but the weather warmed up into the high 30s and everything melted. It was disgustingly warm for something where there was a lot of snow promised.

It snowed a little earlier this evening and there was mebbe an inch on the ground. Everything had melted off so it looked fluffy and virginal. There's a lot of snow happening now: huge, puffy flakes falling thick and fast. I have no idea how much we're due for, but I think it's going to be quite a bit.

Cool. I'm on vacation and can just watch it snow. :)

Addendum, 8:00am Friday: we're up to 3" now and should have another inch or so.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


The Babe made this incredible chili that was a chili cook-off winner. Wonderful stuff for keeping the cold out.

Banging the keys on so much stuff right now. Vacation coming soon. Hurrah!

Mason Williams concert

I saw Mason Williams in concert with the Eugene Concert Choir the other day. I'd never seen either of them in concert before, but I was very pleased with both. I've been an enormous fan of Mason Williams for 40 years ever since he debuted Classical Gas on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. There was a film that went along with it: 3000 Years of Art. There were also several local high school and middle school choirs, all of whom were really good, too. Their directors were outstanding.

The concert was great. Mason performed several of my favorite pieces of his with the orchestra and the choirs, "What Tune Is This?," "A Gift of Song," and, of course, "Classical Gas."

There were a lot of CDs that I didn't have (I have them in LP form, but not CD) and Classical Gas, a relatively recent book of music that gives complete tablature for a number of pieces as well as a CD so you can hear how the pieces are supposed to sound. I brought copies of two of Mason's original books, "Mason Williams Reading Matter" and "Flavors."

Mason Williams is 70. His voice is still soft, rich, warm, and well-controlled. Amazing and wonderful. I'm pleased to have met him at last.

Monday, December 15, 2008


About 10:15 this morning, the Babe phoned me and said "So, waddaya think about working at home?"

"What do I think about what?" I replied, always quick on the uptake.

"You obviously haven't looked outside, have you?"

"Nope, just a minute." I keep the blinds and shutters closed most of the time because I like it without too much natural light when I'm working. Up went the venetian blinds.

Snow! Lots of snow!

"Pretty impressive!" I said when I got back to the phone. "How much snow is it?"

"The real question," she replied, "is not how much snow, but how much ice."

"Oh, dear!" I said.

"Yes, I made it into the office over the bridge only because I know how to drive on snow. And even then I saw a lot of cars that had gone off the road on Delta Highway. Only a few of the people made it into the office, too."

"Well, I shall revel in the fact that I work at home, then!" I said.

I got the camera so I could take a few quick snaps. It's looking like there's maybe 3-4" of snow so far. It's still snowing a little, so how much more may accumulate by the end of today isn't clear.

When I popped my head out the back door to take shots of the backyard, I could hear kids playing in one of the nearby yards and a father helping them. And the street in front of the house slopes gently, so there are three or four kids sledding and tobogganing down the street.

I'm really glad that I don't have to go anywhere farther than up and down the stairs today, though. It'd be a pain to drive in this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More than 500 posts

No, this doesn't really prove anything, but I noticed that I'm now a smidgen over 500 posts on this blog. I guess it says that there's a lot of stuff about me for the devoted fans. Particularly if you like stories about cats and writing.

A Nobel Peace Prize for Pete Seeger

I stumbled over this the other day and it's a brilliant and godlike idea. If anyone has put in the effort to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize, it's Pete Seeger.

There's a good overview of his accomplishments towards a Peace Prize here.

This was inspired. Sign up now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prison and writing

There are many connections between being in prison and writing for a living. A few of them are good, most of them are not so good, but none of them are the things I'm going to talk about.

Some years ago, I was talking to my stepmother on the phone. I was near the end of a book at that time and I asked her if, as I suspected, she had noticed a stage in the writing of any book that I just became really grumpy with the project and had a hard time working on it, regardless of how much fun the book was and how much money I expected to make from it. She said, "Oh, yes!" and told me a story that I think will be interesting and educational for all of us in this silly business.

(Background: my stepmother was on the police force for 20 years. She was the first woman to graduate first in the class at the Tucson Police Academy and she worked her way up through the ranks to become one of the very few woman police chiefs for a major metro area in this country. I'm enormously proud of her.)

Elaine said that the worst point for escapes and attempted escapes is right before prisoners are due to be released. This has been recognized in incarceration for decades. This is because you've been incarcerated for however long and you can see the end in sight but it's not there yet and it really pisses you off.

What they generally do for prisoners as they get to be short-timers is put them in solitary and lock them up tight so they can't get out. This isn't really done out of any sense of charity for the prisoners, who don't appreciate being put in lockdown at all for some odd reasons. No, the jailers' idea is to prevent escapes because it looks bad on their records. But it's still the best thing you can do for the prisoners, too, who don't need to try to escape and get time added to their sentences.

Elaine said that this can and does happen as close as 2 weeks before release: The prisoners just hit the wall and they say to themselves "I'm due to get out of here and I can't take it any more!" She says that you can see that the end is in sight and you really resent the last effing bit!

Elaine went on to say that this is much the same with any major project. She went through much the same thing, she says, when she retired from the force a few years ago. As she was getting down to the last couple months of her 20, she was having more and more motivational problems with heading to work. However, she had structured it so she had enough vacation time to give her an escape hatch if she just couldn't deal with it, so she could phone in on vacation for her final 5-6 weeks if she needed to. :)

What can we learn from this?

1. Writers will always feel cranky right near the end of a project.

2. Possibly the best kindness an editor or publisher or manager can do for a writer is to tighten the thumbscrews and make sure they don't leave their desks as the deadline approaches.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Something from this time last year

For some reason, I found myself thinking about The Dungeon Master of Lord of the Rings last night. I sent it out a year ago via email to a bunch of people, but it bears repeating on the blog as well. This one takes a little explaining, so bear with me.

The author of DMLoTR has taken photos--lots of them--from "The Lord of the Rings" and redone it all as if it's a D&D campaign. If you haven't played D&D (or hung out with bunches of people who do), this probably won't be very funny. It may be a bit slow at first, but it picks up as you go along. There are a couple of running jokes, notably "Where's the loot?" and "I hate this campaign." There are wonderful comments by the author about DMing below many of the strips and a lot of the blog comments are very funny, too. This will suck up a couple hours to look through the WHOLE thing, but it's worth it.

If you just want a couple of examples of why I think this is so funny, try out these two pages:


There's a comment a while later in this strip (it's really kind of a running observation throughout) about the total lack of loot in the LotR campaign (true). The author in one of his bottom-of-the-page comments said "I can't add much to the stuff on sparse loot. The idea has become a sort of zombie joke at this point. It just keeps getting back up, no matter how dead it is. Sooner or later a cleric is going to cast turning on my loot jokes and half of my material will be obliterated in a blinding flash of holy, humorless light. I suppose the next joke needs to be Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas standing on a corner with a crude cardboard sign, 'Will fight Sauron for food.' "

And this one cracked me up for the best part of an hour and still makes me laugh whenever I reread it:


I simply cannot stop laughing about this one. Couldn't tell you why, but the timing on it's perfect.

Quick Friday notes

I've a ton of things to do today, but I did want to make a few comments:
  • My system is exhibiting a really shocking latency. Part of it may be the mouse that I'm using, which I think is on its way out, so that I can click on something and maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I'll try a replacement for it soon and see if that fixes anything. But part of it is is just that Windows is taking this "Yeah, yeah, I'll get to it" attitude that I find unacceptable in any inanimate object I own. This also happens sometimes when I try to open a link from my email: I'll get a "This application is busy; do you want to retry?" message. Yer damn right I wanna retry; exactly what do you think you're doing if not listening to me? Having Windows go off into mumble mode is one of many really irritating things about it.
  • I'm wrapping up a zillion different things, which is pestiferous.
  • I made the mistake of installing a bunch of Windows updates yesterday. MS has gotten better about not throwing shit out on an unsuspecting market, but when the machine says "Okay, you need to restart to have all these take effect" and I say "No, do it later," I do not want the box to appear every 15-20 minutes saying "How 'bout now?" Particularly when the default is "Yes" and a stray spacebar will trigger the system shutdown with no saving throw. You know, guys, I've got the idea that I need to shut the system down and restart in order for my changes to take effect. Now piss off and let me work. If I wanted this kind of constant obnoxious reminder of my options getting in the way of what I'm trying to do, I'd be using a Mac.
  • I got the unkempt hair and beard trimmed heavily yesterday. I feel much better now without hair flopping all over everything.
  • The Babe comes home from the conference in Anaheim this evening. That'll be nice.
Okay, it's downstairs to whip up a fresh potta coffee and get to it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

World's stupidest laugh

I just saw this. It's a clip from "The Comedy Barn." Wade through the first couple minutes; it'll be worth it. (And stick around 'till the end; it's kinda fun what the schtick was that they were ending with.) The guy with the world's stupidest laugh is the one in the middle. According to the note from the man who submitted this, the man is the submitter's father and that is definitely his real laugh. How he reproduced is a wonder.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bernie and BC

I used to have a 21" monitor here in my office a few years ago. My old cat BC used to sleep on top of the monitor: it was warm, it was big, and it was comfortable. He'd stretch out on top of the monitor and sleep for hours. Paws would dangle over the edge every so often and once in a while I'd have to move a leg so I could see part of the screen.

Yang would do the same thing. His tummy was always a lot bigger than BC's and he'd tend to lap over the edges in some less-than-dignified ways. Once in a while, I'd have two cats curled up on the monitor at a time.
When I went to a flat-screen monitor about a year ago, Yang came into the office once, looked at the flat-screen monitor, and tried to leap on top of it. This had about the result you might expect. He was grumpy with me for a while for having made him look foolish.

Bernie the Fuzzball has never known a CRT monitor. He's spending his time curled up next to the keyboard or halfway on top of it. I'm hoping to get him used to the idea of being charmingly round and somnolent nearby on the desk and not blocking the keyboard or mouse as he seems to prefer. However, he has found a place: stretched out on me, purring, and generally contributing to the writing process.


Cookies and Anaheim

The Babe spent all Sunday baking four different kinds of cookies--fruitcake shortbread cookies, triple ginger molasses cookies (with fresh ginger, candied ginger, and powdered ginger), lemon ginger cookies, and pepper cookies--and a batch of chocolate pecan fudge.

We gave a lot of this away to the neighbors in gift plates, that being our intention from the start, and the Babe took a big tray in to her office for the judges and staff, but there is a disturbingly large tupperware container with leftovers. I think I've already had a full meal's equivalent of carbs this afternoon from nibbling on these things, which is not good for a diabetic who's hoping to do well on his blood sugar test next week.

Unfortunately, the Babe flew off to Anaheim to teach at a judges' conference this morning and she'll be gone until Friday, so it's me and my shabby excuse for willpower. Oy.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Almost out of paper!

Good heavens, the End Times must be near: I'm almost out of printer paper! I was about to start a print of the manual I'm wrapping up and the upper tray was empty and the big 500-sheet tray was almost empty. Might 's well fill 'em both up before starting a print, right?

I've got ~a~ ream of 8-1/2' x 11" left. One. Uno. And that huge stack of one-sided paper I'd been using for drafts that I keep in the upper tray? It's down to about 30 sheets. The box, she is empty.

Sonomagun! I think I need to go buy more printer paper soon. Fortunately, that one ream will keep me for a few days, but only just.



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Yule Cards

It's always a bit of a question whether or not I'll be getting out Yule cards. It's not a small deal, really: the mailing list is about 250 people, so it's a real operation to do so. But I'm thinking that we will be getting Yule letters & cards out this year, but they're going to go out the last week or so before the holiday. Getting everything done that I have to get done prior to getting cards out is going to be the gating factor in all of this.

So there will be something this year... just a bit late.

Friday, December 05, 2008

1929 vs. 2008

During the 1929 financial crash, it was rumored some Wall Street stockbrokers and bankers committed suicide by jumping from their office windows when confronted with the news of their firms' and clients' financial ruin.

Many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them.

In 2008, that attitude may have changed somewhat:


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I like my boss

I'm wrapping up a project at my day job at the moment and I really wanted to say that I am feeling very supported by my boss. She's been very good about supporting me in a number of ways that have helped move the project forward as smoothly as we can and she does a good job of listening when I have concerns. I'm very pleased. Having a good boss makes the day job go a whole heckuva lot better.

Catroy was here!

Bernie has discovered how be a sink-cat. I spotted him in the sink this morning, where he obligingly let me take a few photos.
I'm banging away at a lot of things at the moment, and it occurred to me that everything's on the glide path to finish up about the time I start my vacation in a couple weeks. (Yes, I know, I just got back from a vacation in Palo Alto. I'm about to take a much longer one through the end of the year to take care of a bunch of use-it-or-lose-it vacation.) I'm going to catch up on my sleep, for one thing, and I think I'm going to do some computer restructuring and finish cataloging the baseball cards.

Stop bugging me; I'm trying to sleep!
While we were in Palo Alto, I went to Fry's for their Black Friday sale. I picked up a lot of very nice toys, including a DL DVD burner to replace the DVD burner that I've been using for the last couple years. I also got a 1TB hard drive and an external case. I'm looking forward to restructuring at least one workhorse secondary computer that desperately needs a system reload to get rid of the old, mangled Windows 2003 Server. I've also got a stray collection of smaller hard drives in it. Well, we call 'em smaller hard drives these days, but it's still about .75TB of capacity as it is. But I could sure structure it a lot better.

Are you about to turn on the water?
While I'm at all of this, I'm likely to consider updating my #1 computer, CLARISE. A reload of WinXP would be lovely on CLARISE, too, but I'm not sure how much I'm interested in doing all of that: a system reload is a lot of work, no matter what. OTOH, I may end up with an extra 1TB of disk space on an eSATA connection, which means data comes fast fast fast. Temp-tinnnng!!!

Quick update

We spent Thanksgiving in Palo Alto, CA, with my maternal aunt & uncle, Marcia and Dick. I also got to see one of my cousins, Beth, and spent a delightful morning with one of my oldest friends, Falline.

I'm up late at night doing a zillion workish things, so I don't have time to write up a trip update at the moment.

The cats were all very glad to see us when we returned.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm getting really busy with a bunch of things here, so I want to wish all my readers a Happy Turkey Day.


How many tenors...?

...does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Three. One to climb up the ladder, one to kick the ladder out from under him, and a third to say, “I thought that was a little high for you.”

(To be fair, how many basses does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. Basses are so macho they prefer to walk in the dark and bang their shins.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vacation, vacation! :)

I'm just enjoying the fact that I'm on vacation. Yeah, I've got a ton of work in any number of venues even so, but I'm on vacation and will be all week. Hurrah!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Within the time that it will take you to read this sentence....

Within the time that it will take you to read this sentence, approximately 4,272 children will have died as a result of inoperable brain diseases caused by the Backstreet Boys. As chilling as statistics like these are, what is even more chilling (cold, even) is the fact that it continues as you read this. Just think, this sentence is even longer.

Now the 4,272 children have died, and 4,272 more have followed them in their ghastly sugar-pop deaths. Carelessly, I typed a third (and fourth) sentence, even using parentheses to extend my linguistic menagerie into more ostentatious levels of grandeur and pomp. Those last few words alone probably killed a few hundred kids outright! And it keeps on... vapid maxi-singles, one after another until there are kids literally dying in the streets, clutching at their little pink headphones, crying as they scream: "Oh, I think Donny has the cutest ---AACKKKK!!", and then they fall over, dead as a doornail.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's not too late for me to up the average

I just took a look at my blog count. I've averaged one post every 3-4 days for the three years since I started this blog, but this year has really been pretty sucky. I've only managed 52 posts (including this one) all year, and that's mostly in the last few months. Bleah. Well, I've been feeling like blogging a lot laterly and I've certainly found things to say, so maybe I'll be up to snuff soon. I'm sure I'll have all kinds of news from the holidays, too.


Natural-born citizens for president!

One of the Babe's cohorts on her bowling league is a history teacher. At bowling yesterday, she related the following happening from one of her classes:

She'd been conducting a discussion about the presidential election and why it was history making and what was interesting about it and so on. One girl got really exercised about the clause that says that one must be a natural born citizen to be eligible and started a major rant about this. The girl was rather impassioned about this, and so the teacher gave her some latitude to express her opinions.

So, the girl was finishing up what she wanted to say about this and, was coming to the end of her five minutes. She finished her speech on the subject with this compelling thought:
And I don't see why a natural born citizen would make any better of a president than someone born by Caesarian section!


Bernie, being helpful

It's difficult to work when you've got a fuzzy growth on your chest. I managed to actually get a couple of pages corrected before I finally had to pause, pet Bernie up a bunch to make him happy, and then remove him gently.

The digital camera was within arm's reach on the desk or I'd not have been able to take this shot. He's now wandering around the office so I can get back to work.


Microsoft memories

I was reminded of something from my very first manual for Microsoft back in 1986. I was updating the Multiplan 2.0 manual to Multiplan 3.0. My 3.0 manual was the first Microsoft manual ever to receive an "Excellent" rating from InfoWorld. I can still quote parts of the review--"documentation compares favorably with any first-rate manual we've seen" and "Because the manual is top-drawer work and has no flaws, we rate it 'excellent'." Happy times.

But I digress here. So, in the previous version of the manual, there was a standard Welcome section in the front that affirmed your wise choice in having purchased such a fine product, and that discussed the features that it had and how they would make your life easier, longer, richer, and healthier. There was a lot of marketing drivel in it, but it ended after 2-1/2 pages with the classic line "You'll soon have a firm grip on a powerful tool."

Naw, it weren't just me.

I ultimately checked with the author and he said that yes, he'd snuck that one in there to see if anyone would notice. They hadn't.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cat heaven: you can see it here in Eugene

We adopted kittens a couple months ago from the Greenhill Humane Society here in Eugene. I'm finally recovered from the flu and all the corollary problems and am a little more on top of things, so I wanted to talk about getting them. I've posted some photos of them already (you can see these at my Flickr site in the Bernie the cat section), but I wanted to tell you about Greenhill itself and how we came to be getting kittens.

Silas, Susan the Wonderchild's orange cat (the one who broke his leg) died suddenly. He turned up in our next door neighbor's yard. I think he got grazed by a car--he never did have any car sense--and then came into the backyard and died. Susan was very upset about this and after about a week announced that she wanted a kitten to replace him. That sounded reasonable to us, too, so we started talking about it.

I've been missing BC since he died several years ago. All the cats in the house are short-haired kitties and I really like longhaired cats. (Yes, it does make a difference, damnit.) Susan and I talked about it and she said that it was fair for me to choose the kitten. The Babe has long stated that we have Too Many Cats (nevair!) and that it would be ONE kitten, that was ONE, everyone repeat after me, ONE, UNO, SINGLE kitten. Yes, dear, I shall bring home but ONE kitten, no matter how cute they all are.

I started shopping for kittens. I definitely wanted a kitten, both for the potential extra longevity and the pleasure of seeing them as a kitten. I looked on a number of the local adopt-a-pet websites and even went to a volunteer cat shelter. They were doing nice things for the cats and trying to place them, but it smelled pretty bad. (It was one couple taking care of about 75 cats at that point, so I'm sure it was getting away from them.)

I was looking for longhaired kittens, but I didn't see many online. After a few weeks, Susan said we should go out to the Greenhill Humane Society and look out there. So, we toddled out there on a Saturday morning to look at kittens.

Greenhill's out a ways from the Eugene city center. I'm sure that it'll be heavily built up around there in 5-10 years, but right now, it's still mostly fields. It quite literally sits on a hill. I believe that it's an old farmhouse and several outbuildings that are now tied together. They handle animals of all kinds there. (I saw lots of cats and dogs, but they also had rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats, too. And birds, lots of birds. (I love birds, but they're just more work than I can manage in a pet these days.)

Susan and I went into the cattery. (Another nice thing: animals are all separated, so you don't have cats having to listen to dogs all the time.)

The cattery is a large room, about 40' x 40'. There's a big central area and then there are four or five side 7' x 9' adjoining side rooms on the left and right walls that have sliding glass doors so you can see into them. The small rooms are for groups of cats that aren't being allowed into the general population yet--families of kittens, for example, or cats who are being quarantined. There's also a wall of recovery cages as you walk in for cats that have just gone through surgery or are not social enough to be out in the main room.

What's special about this cattery is how warm and friendly it is:
  • In the main room and all the small adjoining rooms, there are cat perches.
  • There are all kinds of cat furniture--you know, the stuff that's covered with heavy carpet and has hidey-holes and climbing branches and places to peer over.
  • There are comfy chairs.
  • There are cushions to curl up on.
  • There are dangly things to swat at.
  • There are kitty toys of every size, shape, and variety.
  • There are dishes of food and water and lots of clean cat trays.
  • There are windows that let in lots of sun and light.
  • It's nice and warm.
  • There are lots of other cats to play with or curl up against and nap.
  • And through it all, there are half a dozen volunteers who, when they're not helping people pick a cat for their very own, wander around, petting cats, picking them up and hugging them, and making sure that everyone's okay.

It's as close to kitty heaven as anything I could imagine and I tear up every time I think of how nice it is.

Susan and I looked at dozens and dozens of cats. I was thinking of the possibility of a Siamese of some kind, but I was open. I did find a kitten that looked very much like BC and I gave consideration to her for a while--Tiffany cats are very pretty in their own right and have very sweet dispositions--but I decided that I didn't want a cat who looked just like BC because I'd expect her to act the same and I'd be disappointed if she didn't.

But we did find someone else: a half-Siamese, half-Maine Coon fluffball. He had a very kinky tail, which they explained had probably broken in utero. I kept coming back to him and I finally decided that he was the right one.

Susan, meanwhile, had found a dark orange short-haired tabby (very similar to Silas). When I'd decided on my kitten, she said "I'm going to adopt this one."

I said "Your mother's going to kill you, you do know that, don't you?"

"Oh, she'll get over it."

We took care of paperwork and had a very pleasant surprise. Adoptions are normally $95 each for kittens, which covers all sorts of things: a free vet exam from participating local vets (ours is one), first shots, all kinds of miscellaneous this-and-that for kitties. It's actually a $150 deal on the face of it. However, because they were drastically overpopulated, adoptions were costing $35 each, which falls into the Screaming Good Deal category. (I did think very briefly that we should really try to rack up the savings, but I didn't think I'd even be able to say it with a straight face, let alone survive trying to argue that POV.)

We got the paperwork taken care of and brought the new guys home. There was a minimus of hissing and sneering on the parts of the older cats. The kittens explored.

I explained to the Babe on the phone that Susan had gotten a kitten of her own as well. The Babe said "And where am I supposed to live?" I said that Susan had been quite clear that her mother would in fact "get over it," so she really needed to take it up with her. The Babe was not happy. But she came home from the office where she'd been putting in extra time and saw the kittens and did, eventually, kinda get over it.

The kittens told us their names: Sebastian was fairly quick, but Bernie--really Bernard (as in "BERN-erd") but he's a Bernie, definitely--took about 4 days to identify himself.

With Susan out of the house now, we are now down to three cats: Yang, Yin, and Bernie. Yang and Yin continue to be meatloaf cats, frequently perched asleep on top of the matching white armchairs. Bernie's more of a couch cat and he spends a good deal of the mornings romping around my office making little "Prrrmp?" noises (his Maine Coon heritage coming out). I'm very happy with him.

P.S. If you're looking to make a donation to an animal shelter, you could do worse than to pick the Greenhill Humane Society. Donations can be made here.


Quotes du jour

God invented war in order to teach geography to Americans. It wasn't one of His most successful creations.

When I was young I always wanted to be somebody. Now I wish I had been more specific.
--Lily Tomlin

Friday, November 14, 2008

Block party!!!!


Why the printer won't work

A quick bit of Friday fun: Brian just sent me this. Watch it all the way through (it's only a minute). The activity gets progressively more vigorous.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

From StupidSecurity.com

Regular readers will be aware that I've quoted things from StupidSecurity.com before. Today's entry was a corker:
"My brother-in-law went through security at Auckland domestic airport and witnessed a passenger having to fish out her nail scissors from her handbag and leave them behind. He went through security and then boarded his plane. After being seated he could smell petrol. He knew you shouldn't be able to smell petrol on a plane, because planes don't use petrol. The smell got worse and eventually he got the attention of one of the flight attendants.

They started to look around to see where it was coming from. They found in the overhead compartment a chainsaw in a bag that was leaking petrol into the compartment. His plane was delayed as the owner was identified and the chainsaw removed and put with the main luggage. The owner of the chainsaw said security had stopped him but had let him through because it wasn't one of the things on their list to confiscate."


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Men: what a concept!

I was reminded of this by something a lesbian friend of mine said recently.

Every so often, my youngest stepdaughter will start bitching about something particularly stupid the man she's dating will have done. Or, for that matter, she'll ask me to explain what the guy was thinking when he did/said THIS in some situation. I, being a guy, will explain that when her current beau did/said X, he was thinking thus-and-such.

Whereupon, having said all of this, she will look at me and say "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"

"I didn't say it had to make sense or was even bright," I'll reply. "I'm just telling you that that's what he was thinking."

"It's still dumb."

"Yes, it is."

Usually, at this point, she will reef on me about how I'm just not being good to guys (true), that I love dumping all over them about how awful they are (yes, but there's rarely any sport in it), and that I'm a cynical bastard (nolo contendere).

No, no, I say, I'm a guy, I know exactly what the thought pattern is, and looking for higher reasoning in guys that age is invariably a complete waste of time. If she wants to be dating a better class of person, I add, she should be dating women like other people we know, because she's not going to find it where she's looking.

BTW, I usually get an apology within 2-3 weeks and sometimes just a few days when she's checked out my interpretation and discovered I was being charitable even so. I am always happy to say "Told yuh so!"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Latest viral video: Star Wars vocal tribute

I am just dazzled by this.

Star Wars: an a capella tribute to John Williams

The video is actually lip-synching done by Corey Vidal to a tune by a strange Canadian group (I find myself saying those two words together an awful lot, you know) called Moosebutter. Corey's lyp-synching adds a great deal to this. Once you've listened, you may want to take a look at the lyrics.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sold another button

I sold another button to the button company. This one came out of an argument I was having with someone I'm related to. I was suddenly hit with "Even if it's not your fault, it's still your fault." That was so good, I had to write it down. (This didn't help the tenor of the argument, but I made money off the slogan and have sale #33 pinned up on my office bulletin board.)

Jim, who runs the button company, says that he'll sometimes be in the middle of arguments with his wife and she'll say something and rather than responding, he'll say "Oh, that's a good one! I have to write it down!!" This doesn't do a lot for his wife's blood pressure, apparently.


The Pep Boys: Mannie, Moe, and Jack

Bernie, Sebastian, and Yang are posing on the rolled-up Persian rug. I was doing lots of revamping to the network (behind me as I'm taking this photo) and I had moved a huge pile of debris off to one side, hence the rug rolled out of the way and the boxes of debris and so on).

The rug didn't stay rolled up for long, btw. I discovered that all three of these cats were sharpening their claws on the nap, which wasn't doing it a bit of good. There were little bits of rug yarns all over the place. I unrolled the rug asap thereafter.

Bernie and the Babe

Bernie has taken to sleeping on the couch in my office when he's not being helpful. The Babe stopped in the office and was petting him while we talked.

Bernie does make such a good conversation piece....

Bernie being helpful

De Murr asked me a few days ago how it was that I got work done with a cat this cute in the office. Well, sometimes it is a bit of a challenge, I agree, but I muddle through. I am very pleased that Bernie has taken to curling up in the office with me. BC used to do that as well, occasionally on the desk in front of the monitor, sometimes on top of the old CRT (where it was warm), and sometimes on my wrists on the keyboard. Let me tell you: it's difficult to type with a 15-pound cat draped across your wrists. More pix are available in the Bernie the Cat set on my Flickr account.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wonderful political thought

This was cited in The Washington Note as being from a handwritten sign in West Philadelphia
Rosa had to sit so Martin could walk,
Martin had to walk so Barack could run,
Barack had to run so our children can fly.
It choked me up. A lot of things about this election's results have choked me up.

BTW, there's a roster for signing up to help Bush get his shit packed and out of the White House. I've signed up for the 2-8 shift Sunday, but I'm sure we can use a lot more people.


Quote du jour

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
--Napoleon Bonaparte

The Babe is off to visit with family and friends for the weekend. I'll be working. (It'll be fine; I'll have the cats for company.)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Irony alert!! Irony alert!!

An acquaintance on a writer's forum just posted the following picture.

Apparently, a Christian group decided that the economy's in trouble (yes) and that prayer was needed to help it (sure, whatever). They congregated on Wall Street to help out.

This picture shows them praying to help out Wall Street and the economy. They're praying in front of the primary symbol of a healthy economy: the life-sized bronze statue of a bull. There's a life-sized bronze bear close by, but for obvious reasons, you don't want to encourage the bear market at a time like right now.

Okay, it ain't a golden calf they're praying at, quite, but SWEET FREAKIN' JESUS, DON'T THEY GET IT AT ALL??!?!?


"Socialists! Socialists! Run for your lives!!"

There's been a discussion on a writer's forum I'm on about the "perils" of socialism and other such twaddle, as opposed to the purer, potentially more Godly--excuse me, "Gawdly"--values brought about by capitalism.

I am still in complete confusion why people get so upset about socialism, but there it is. I figure this is a fear that can be dealt with like any other irrational fear: talk therapy and mood-elevating drugs for most people; institutionalization and psychotropic drugs for the hard-core cases. It's just a mental aberration and it can be cured; the sufferers have to wanna, though.

But in the middle of reading all the hoorah on the aforesaid forum, it occurred to me that the reason that we have things like Social Security and whatnot in the first place are not because they're capitalist ideals--far from it!--but because the idea of throwing people aside like used condoms finally got to be a bit too much. A properly capitalist/free market state would use people up, then throw them out when they're no longer productive and let 'em sink or swim on their own: Soylent Green, maybe. This is perhaps not the true ideal that most of us wanted for a society and so there are things that protect people and do a few things to prevent them from dying on the streets as often.

With this in mind, the question becomes "How much socialism do we want? What kind of society do we choose to live in and how do we treat its citizens?" Working backwards, we actually make a lot more money as a society in which there is publicly-funded health care, because the citizenry are able to work harder, better, longer, and produce a lot more. They become producers instead of consumers and they don't soak up emergency health care/housing/food resources. We make a lot more money when the citizenry are better educated because they can, again, produce more and they can even help create better solutions for the next generation. We make a lot more money when the citizenry are drinking clean water, breathing clean air, and not fighting a variety of diseases caused by climate change. And in the meanwhile, everyone's happier and the communitas is enhanced and supported.

I feel obliged to point out that a truly Christian society would look a whole lot like an ideal communist state, because everyone would be working for the communitas rather than their own selves. (The goal of Christianity being that you do for others as you would have them do for you--true communism--rather than everyone being in this for themselves--capitalism.) In large portions of Dumfuckistan in this country, I think you can still get beaten by an angry mob for saying that Christianity in politics = communism, but it's not like it's up for that much debate. If'n y'don't like it, find yourself a different religion or pull up your socks and get over it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Susan the Wonderchild is moving out!

I'm busy getting writing done at the moment, but I have to take a moment--mostly because she keeps coming into the office and asking for tools :)--and mention that Susan the Wonderchild is leaving us.

Of her own free will, she decided to rent a house with two of her friends. She'll be out of here in a couple hours, leaving behind a remarkably clean and empty room. She's taking Sebastian the orange kitten and Bo (the not-as-orange definitely-no-longer-a-kitten) with her in a few days when she's settled and unpacked. There will be a considerable quantity of stuff leaving the garage, too. (Hurrah!)

The house shall be ours. The Babe is likely going to move her quilting stuff up into Susan's room and have a work area of her very own.

It'll be quieter and we shall doubtless go through a period of empty-nesting, but it'll be nice to have the house to ourselves, too. And I think Susan's going to be very pleased with the experience of living out in the Big Wide Wonderful.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"My Secret Life as a Muslim"

Stuart Stevens has written an exceptional article for The Atlantic entitled "My Secret Life as a Muslim." Stevens, who worked on President Bush's campaign, said:

"I had to be honest and put myself to the same test as the candidates. Here are the facts..."
It's a great article for those who are screaming about Obama's supposed Muslim connections.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What the heck? It *is* the music of the spheres!

This article talks about astronomers recording the sounds made by stars using the Corot space telescope. There are recordings of three stars, including the Sun.

Professor Ian Roxburgh of Queen Mary College, London is among those trying to work out what the sounds from the stars tell us about processes occurring inside stars.

"It's not easy," he says "It's like listening to the sound of a musical instrument and then trying to reconstruct the shape of the instrument".
Fascinating stuff!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Broccoli of Death, or something like that

This one isn't mine. It's on the Bread and Honey blog. Apparently, the folks at Cascadian Farms are having fun with packaging.

Interestingly, Cascadian Farms is up in Rockport, WA, which is the home of one of my all-time favorite trivia questions from Washington Trivia:

Q. What started a 15-hour fight in the town of Rockport, WA, on May 16, 1973?
A. Tim Roetman drove a cement truck over a whole group of motorcycles.


Monday, October 20, 2008

I got quoted!

I wrote an article for the STC on the benefits of membership in the organization. It's a good article, based on the idea that being a member pays off heavily. Well, what the heck, the STC picked it up and used it for a marketing piece to recruit membership from the ranks of other organizations: the IEEE, mostly, where there's plenty of room for people to belong to two different professional organizations.

Thursday, I found out that my letter has been getting a little buzz: a marketing specialist is quoting it as an example of Really Good Marketing.

Far out!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So THAT'S who McCain reminds me of!

During the campaign, I've seen any number of pictures of John McCain smiling with that kinda plump-cheeked look.

It always bugged me: I knew I'd seen it before, but I couldn't figure out where. I was fairly sure that I knew that smile, but I just couldn't place it. Humph.

Yesterday afternoon, it all finally locked into place: I knew where I'd seen the smile before. It was alarming, but true.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guess which party supports veterans better?

According to data compiled by the million-member organization, Disabled American Veterans, Democrats are beating the cookies out of Republicans when it comes to voting to support veterans issues such as:
  • Budget
  • Appropriations
  • Amendments to increase funding
  • Emergency supplemental funding for VA

I'm a bit surprised, honestly. Take a look at the chart for the statistics. It's very impressive what the differences are.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

News from the Babe

The Babe is having fun right now, drinking, dining, and shopping with a bunch of the other hearing office chief administrative law judge types in the Carolinas. She sent me the following picture from one of her recent forays into the stores around there.

She found a gadget for holding bananas in the kitchen while they ripen, she said on the phone.

"I've seen those," I said. "They're a little wooden thingie on a stand with a hook to hold a bunch of bananas."

"Not exactly," she said. She sent me the following cell phone picture.


Chasidic Unix

I was in California for work week before last and I mentioned chasidic Unix to someone I work with. He'd never seen it and was very excited. If you think about it, this is a joke with a very narrow intersection on a Venn diagram, but if you're one of those people who fall into that group, it's boffo stuff. Check it out here.

Follow-up on Ugly Sofas

Okay, I posted the picture a few days ago of the ugly sofa kind of as a one-off, figuring that it was just one of those things that shows up on the net sorta like the picture I found years ago on the (now-defunct)
EvilIrishBastard.com of the explosion of the Hindenburg.

All that being said, I got a lot of email from people who were appropriately repulsed by the sofa. Good, good, good.

But the Internet is an amazing thing. Whenever you think there's just one of something, the Internet proves you wrong. You get turned on by, oh, popping pink balloon elephants, let's say, and you go on the net and lo! there are 5000 other people who get off on the same thing and there are websites and newsgroups and webrings and dating sites aimed at whatever this incredibly niche interest is.

All of this is vamping, really. It appears that there's a website ("No!" gasped the crowd), www.uglycouchcontest.com, that is aimed at just this sort of thing. The website leaves a little to be desired for navigation and layout, but the real focus is the pix of ugly couches.

For sheer horror, I think that the 2008 finalists are a good selection. I'm quite repulsed by the current 4th runner-up, also shown as pic #100, but #77, 67, 63, and 45 are horrible, too. FWIW, I disagree with the idea of a sofa or couch that's been beaten up, stained, or generally abused: some of these could've been good or passable to begin with. No, the ghastly ones are those that are repellent from the instant they roll off the assembly floor, such as #44, 30, 26, and 23.

Dear God Almighty....


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Babe's gone for a bit

The Babe is off on the Carolina coast staring at the sunrise over the ocean with a bunch of the other reigning royalty in their respective offices, decompressing and generally having a good time. I am pleased, though I'll miss her for the next few days.

Still got the flu

I've had the flu all week. My stomach's been upset and I'm generally feeling pretty blah. It's not been fun at all. And, as much as I'd hoped to the contrary, I'm still as sick at the end of the week as I was at the beginning of the week.

So, to perhaps share with you my general feelings of stomach queasiness and general dis-ease, I want to share with you this picture of the World's Ugliest Couch. (Cries of "My eyes! My eyes!" are definitely appropriate here.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good yontiff!

Here's a really bad joke to start the week and the new year:

Q: What do you get when you throw two bass drums and a cymbal down a well?
A: "Da-BOMP-shhhhhh!!!"

May the new year bring health, happiness, and prosperity to us all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Windows Vista is the same old deal from Microsoft

Someone on an industry blog was saying that the problem with Windows Vista is that it's running on underpowered machines. I think that's true: if you spend enough money to buy a hot machine, you may have enough resources to run Windows Vista.

This approach has been a mainstay of Windows marketing since the mid-80s. I remember people installing Windows 2.0 on IBM ATs and, even though the 80286 was ~the~ hot chip in those days, an AT would drop to its knees and gasp for air under the resource load Windows presented. "Oh, no problem!" Microsoft said. "Just slip in one of these Mach-10 cards and you'll have all the power you need!"

IOW, you needed to spend $500 (in 1987 dollars) to repair the damage to your system caused by the $50 OS you'd installed. Or, you could keep running MS-DOS 3.1 and save the $550 in the first place. (Guess which I did?)

When I talked to MS developers I knew and said "Windows is really slow," they'd ask what hardware I was running. When I said that it wasn't the latest and greatest, they'd always say "Well, THERE--" with a finger in the air "--THERE is your problem: you need to buy faster hardware!" The idea that, since I didn't see Bill signing a check for me to get a faster machine with each new version of Windows, so maybe MS should try designing for the systems that were out there always failed to register with them.

It's 20 years later, and MS still hasn't changed a thing: they're designing software that requires a premium computer at a premium price to get the same ho-hum processing power we had had to begin with before we thought about upgrading to the next version of Windows.

I'll stick with WinXP, thanks. It works and it doesn't have the driver problems that Vista is renowned for. Judging by what I'm hearing about the upcoming Windows Longhorn, we may all be sticking with XP until about 2011.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hurrah for a little-known scientist: Llewellyn Imbesi!

This just came in from Tom Ciborowski, an old friend who sends great email.

Most of you are probably not aware of the fact that August 13th is the birthday of Llewellyn Imbesi (1854-1928). While he is for the most part unknown, one of his discoveries of nature has been enshrined as "Imbesi's Law for the Conservation of Filth."
"For something to become clean, something else must become dirty."

An interesting note is the fact that in 1937, Merryweather Freeman added the following, known as "Freeman's Extension to Imbesi's Law of the Conservation of Filth."
"Yes, but one can get everything dirty and get nothing clean."


Monday, August 11, 2008

Expanding my LAN

This may not be a big deal to anyone but me, but I've just gotten a few 8-port network switches, which have FINALLY allowed me to expand my LAN. I'm now able to light up all the network sockets in the house and I can connect all the computers and printers to the LAN at once.

This is an incredibly busy summer, between my day job and a bunch of other things. But I'm feeling fairly happy about everything. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

How do you piss off a tiger?

You pull their ears. Repeatedly.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Silas the stupid cat

I've mentioned Silas, Susan's hyperactive cat, on a number of occasions. There are photos of him lurking throughout the blog.

One of the lovely features of our new house is that it has a half-rail on the second floor that looks down into the living room 12-15' below.

Last night, the Babe and I were sitting on the couch around 10pm. All of a sudden, we heard a loud splat. I saw out of the corner of my eye that Silas had fallen from the railing to the hardwood floor. He'd landed on his feet and then his feet spread out and he'd done a chinplant.

I leapt up to get him and he took off. I chased him through the house and he sprinted upstairs and into Susan's room and under the bed. I tried to fish him out from the bed, but it wasn't working. He was really scared and was yowling and not cooperating. I couldn't tell if he was

I got the Babe up there and we fished him out from under the bed... then a little while later, we got him from under the couch in the music room, then the couch in the living room, and finally under our bed. He was very panicky by this time as you can imagine. I'd gotten one of the cardboard folding cat carriers and we put him, semi-wrapped in a towel, into the cat carrier and closed it up. Hurrah! I picked up the cat carrier by its handle... and the bottom fell open. I hadn't folded the darned thing right and the flaps unlocked. Silas ran under the bed again. The Babe and I were laughing at this--poor guy, he was in great pain and scared, but DAMN, that was funny!

We fished him out again, put him in the more-sturdily-constructed cat carrier, and took him to the emergency vet. The Babe and I discussed what might be wrong with him on the way over--broken bones, sure, possibly internal injuries, I hoped not. The Babe said "Brain damage from the impact." I said what we were both thinking: "How could we tell?" Susan and her b/f met us at the vet.

They worked on him for a couple hours and determined he had a clean break of his right radius. His jaw wasn't broken, they figured, but it sure was gonna hurt. (The next day, I could see that Silas's chin was one massive bruise punctuated with a large cut. He may also have a hairline fracture, but it wouldn't be easy to spot and there's nothing we could do about it except not pry his jaw open to give him pills.)

They splinted his leg with bright green Koban and then added a neat little red Koban heart, which was very cute. I'd predicted it was going to cost us $500 for our little adventure. It turned out to be $514. (Gawd, I'm good....) Susan and b/f came home with us to get Silas settled in to Susan's room, then they took off for the coast near Portland to spend the week at her b/f's parents' place.

Even though whacked out on a painkiller cocktail of what the ER vet referred to as "kitty magic," Silas was still pretty hyper. Not surprising, I suppose, but I do say that I'd neuter him again if I thought it'd do any good. We finally got to bed at about 1:30am. Bleah. We'd been told we had to give Silas painkillers every eight hours, so the Babe got up at 6:00am to do so. She came back to bed and said "You have to take him to the vet today."

"Why?" I asked. We weren't supposed to need to do this for a week.

"Because he's pulled his cast off."


I phoned our regular vet that morning and got an appointment for 1:00pm. At the appointed time, I rounded up estúpido gato and put him in the cat carrier, and took him over to the vet.

They were very nice and gave him a new splint (this one in red Koban with white Koban letters applied down the side that said "O U C H"). They taped that one up around his armpit, so that'd keep him from getting it off this time. I also got an Elizabethan collar, the lack of which they figured was why he had gotten out of the other splint. You could see kitty teeth marks all the way down the splint. Not bad for someone with a mighty sore jaw, I must say. The vet also gave me some free pain pills for him, all for $81, which was a lot less than I expected to pay. And while I was there, I entered a contest with HomeAgain microchipping services that will give me Silas's 10 lb, 6oz weight in silver if I win. Good: maybe he'll earn his keep on this one.

I came home, gave him his 2:00pm pain meds and went back to work. Just because other creatures in the house were on pain meds and grumpy, somebody has to pay for it.

The Babe got home from work and I went upstairs to check on Silas. He was sitting in Susan's room, his Elizabethan collar on, pissed off... and I realized he didn't have his splint on, again. Sure enough, it was elsewhere in the room. Aw, shit, this was not fun.

The Babe took him to the vet this time. They did an incredible job for us: re-resplinted him, added a supporting network of bandages around his torso, built a t-shirt of Koban so he couldn't hook his hindlegs under the part on his chest, trimmed his toenails so he couldn't even get purchase on it, and charged us a mere $21. They're doing a lot for us, they are!

The Babe ran out and got moist food (it was painful just watching him try to eat the dry kibble he normally inhales like a furry vacuum cleaner) and later this evening he ate a bunch of it. We also fed him a powdered kitty trank hidden in a couple of balls of Greenies (which are pure kitty heroin if you haven't tried them on your cat). That worked and we got most of an acepromazine dose down him.

At this point, the young Houdini is in a large animal crate so he can't run around a lot. He's already bashed off his Elizabethan collar. I'm REALLY hoping he doesn't rip the splint off again, because this is getting seriously expensive. We'll see what he's like tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

How to deal with climate change skeptics

Someone posted this on a forum recently and there's been some good discussion about it. I wanted to post a few thoughts here on the subject.

I actually didn't think there was a lot you could do to get the people who don't think global warming is real/human-caused/really, really serious/more than a liberal or socialist plot other than wait 30 years, then slap the shit out of them, and say "Okay, now do you fucking believe me?"

The idea that humans have the power to dramatically alter the face of the earth and its climate shouldn't be a surprise. For example, look at Ireland: up until 2500 years ago, it was a completely different country. There were trees and topsoil. But after humans had logged off enough of the trees, there weren't enough left to support the topsoil and the ecosystem, and you now have huge chunks of Ireland that are nothing more than bleached limestone fields. Limestone doesn't break down into anything fertile, so it's really hard to do anything with it. In another 10,000-20,000 years, the slow accretion of dirts, bird droppings, dust, and what-not that work to create soil may ultimately provide a new layer of soils, but this is a "not in your lifetime and not even in the span of any civilization" kinda deal. As part of this, an entire group of birds and animals, a whole country-worth, was wiped out. As one example in thousands, there used to be Irish species of squirrels. Nope, dead, gone, extinct: no trees. You can probably guess at the thousands of animals, birds, insects, and fish that aren't there anymore. Similarly, the Sahara desert is largely man-made (though ~not~ exclusively, I want to add). The despoiling of oases through overuse and overgrazing has extended the Sahara hundreds of miles in every direction in recorded history.

However, epiphanies do seem to happen. I know a VP of Faux News who is (not surprisingly) a staunch conservative. (I'm waiting for his pictures and stories from his month in Baghdad in March, as a matter of fact.) His parents live in Des Moines, IA. It seems that he's woken up to the idea that Things Are Changing as a result of this recent round of floods. (I've a sister and b-in-law in Des Moines, myself, and it's really clear to the locals how much worse the floods are there.) Said VP has been making the sounds of a new convert about how awful this is and we've got to do something and so on. We're sympathetic to him, but there's a certain sense of "Welcome to the party, pal!!" along with some of this when we talk to him about it.

I think there are a number of people who will go so far as to give lip service--though they don't really believe it, I think--to the idea that this is 'normal' climate change and we're just seeing variations in the climate that (emphasis mine) human beings aren't responsible for. Okay, let's suppose that this is totally natural and that the incredible consumption of oil, deforestation of whole countries (Ecuador is a fine example, but there are many others), overfishing of most food fish, and just the pounding impact of too many people on the face of the planet doesn't mean anything at all. It's a big leap, but bear with me on this one; we're supposing: "Humans had nothing to do with this 'natural climate change' that seems to be occurring."

Okay, then, good to know.

But we're still gonna get fucked.

As the oceans rise (documentable) from the ice caps melting (documentable) and the Midwest dries out (documentable) and water supplies dry up (documentable) and all the other documentable problems that are on the list, I am sure that as we're dying in a dustbowl or watching Florida and parts of Texas submerge for the rest of human civilization under the sea (who said global warming was all bad?) and dehydrating to death that it wasn't our fucking fault.

I saw a bumper sticker recently that said "Imagine if global warming were real." That part's not really hard. I'll let yuh skate on the idea of what's causing it for right now, but just imagine it as real. Now imagine what it's going to mean to you. We don't know what a lot of that is going to be, because it's catastrophe mathematics and we just don't know enough about this to predict yet, but we're going to see it unfold.

We're running out of oil (documentable). Whether you believe in peak oil having past or peak oil now or peak oil soon, it's incontrovertible that we've got a finite amount of oil and we keep using it. We're going to die of thirst in the dark, but I'm sure we're all going to be saying "And thank you, Jesus, it wasn't our fault!" Yes, that will be a comfort, I'm sure.

I think global warming is real. I don't think we know much yet about how it's going to affect humans and the world we live in, but that it will is not in question. If you don't believe that it's real, I encourage you to go buy a house on the beach in Florida. Or the Texas gulf coast line. Sink all your money into it and make it look really, really nice. Take out a second mortgage if you like; property values are going to rise after this current bubble in the real estate market. Of course I'm fulla shit and couldn't possibly know anything about this because it's alllll junk science. So go prove me wrong. I fucking dare you.

Me? I'm living in an area that's not expected to warm up above the living point and I'm planting a lot of fruit trees that prosper in warmer weather.