• E-mail me!
  • ...and a happy new year!

    I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you!




    Happy Happy Joy Joy!

    The Well-Known Dutch Author

    From about 4th grade, I'd been a regular feature in the principal's office. This was so not because I was a bad kid, a trouble-maker, or a slacker. No, this was so because I'm a Quoter. I may not ever remember your name or my birth date, but I'll usually be able to lay out some obscure (and not so obscure) movie quote that fits whatever situation I'm in.

    For instance, my first trip to the principal's office was because of a little playground tiff with the kid who sat in front of me in class. He was always pulling my pigtails at recess, which according to my mom was a sign that he liked me. Complete balderdash, but I digress. One day I decided enough was enough and I warned him that if he pulled my pigtails again, I'd punch him. He pulled, I punched, although it was more like a nip than a punch. He pulled again--and then took off running.

    I ran after him shouting, "Come back here, you yellow bastard!"

    Ah, Monty Python! How you'd get me into more trouble throughout the years! And what fun it's been, too.

    There was a later incident when I explained why the castle in my story was named, "Anthrax," and another over a silly little ditty about a lumberjack. In high school, my friends and I were all big fans and so we all went down together my senior year after getting caught in the midst of a rousing "Sit On My Face" during drama club. It didn't help that I was the only female in the, um, "choir," that's for sure.

    (I got our punishments redacted after I blamed my dad--he ran a video store from his home on Main Street, and so the principal inferred we had discovered said 'illicit' material there, which was sort of true since it was he who accidentally introduced his kids to Monty Python in the first place.)

    Oh, and there was the unfortunate Freudian slip my junior year. The entire class read "A Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens. We were all given a specific angle, and using that angle we were to present an oral report of about 5 minutes in length. My report was cut short within the first few moments, and I was sent yet again to the principal's office along with a furiously-written note from my teacher who was so red in the face, I thought she might be having a stroke. Poor lady. She really needed to get out more.

    Being the good parent that I am, of course I have shared my joyous love of Monty Python with my children. Well, not all of it. I do keep it relatively age-appropriate. The last thing I need is for my son to be sent to the office because he announced that he liked peril!

    Now, if they'd only embrace Airplane! as well...

    Wait... What?!

    I'm a news junkie, but I don't watch television news regularly, except for the morning's local broadcast. For "proper" news, I go online. I check Yahoo, BBCA, BBC UK, and others to get my fix. Sometimes it's reassuring while at other times it's shocking or depressing. Today, however, I'm left completely and utterly [insert any synonym for 'gobsmacked'].

    Check this out:

    Israeli officials say the strikes were necessary to force an end to the rocket attacks from Gaza... Palestinian militants in Gaza have long launched Kassam and other rockets at Israeli towns across the border, and in the past six weeks the number of attacks has increased dramatically. After the attack, Israeli officials said the number of Palestinian rocket attacks could now spike to 200 a day.
    Let me see if I fully comprehend what just happened:

    1. Palestine is launching rockets into Israel, upsetting the Israelis. I can see that; I'd be pissed if a rocket slammed into my house and all I was doing was watching the news.

    2. Israel decides to spank them into submission, knowing full well that it won't work and that what they will accomplish in the end is a lot of dead people plus angry families and communities who will demand revenge, causing an escalation of the rocket-launching the mass bombing was supposed to suppress.

    ....?

    I swear by Pete's dragon, the governments in charge of these two countries--yes, the entire governmental bodies: presidents, VPs, legislators, lackeys, the entire lot--need to be removed from office. How do they sleep at night, knowing they are causing their people untold grief and fear?

    I know the standard policy of any nation is to not negotiate with terrorists. I get that.

    On the other hand, if my lax governmental policy towards militants living in my country is causing some other country to pound my country into oblivion, then I should be working towards getting those asshats to knock off the random rocket attacks from my country.

    Also, if some butthead militants from a neighboring country are lobbing rockets randomly at my country, I need to figure out why they're so pissed off (or perhaps they're just bored) and work to fix that. And by "fix," I do not mean "drop enough bombs to cripple the other country's police network thereby increasing the opportunities for those butthead militants to continue lobbing rockets at my country."

    It seems to me that in order to be a politician in the Middle East, one must also be a stubborn jackass devoid of empathy and completely incapable of envisioning the bigger picture.

    ***I added the emphasis in the quote above.***

    Look kids--Big Ben! Parliament!

    Mister's parents presented us with our very own GPS device for Christmas.

    I'm rather disappointed that it doesn't allow you to choose the voice. I mean, why does it have to be a woman's voice? Why not a man's? Or Harvey Fierstein's?

    We're trying to name it. I thought of Majel Barrett, in honor of the late Mrs Roddenberry, but then Mister says it would be more appropriate to just call the thing, "Computer." It makes sense, though. My van is built for long-distance travel, requires regular maintenance, and is silver, just like the Enterprise.

    Unlike Computer, however, my GPS system knows sarcasm. You should just hear it announce its need to adjust the flight plan when I don't go the way it wants me to: "Recalculating." Pure derision.

    The bonus of this device is that I can upload audio books, MP3s, and Google Maps to the thing. The audio files can then be played through my car's stereo system via one of three FM channels. Neat!

    It's just like those bloody peasants

    I'm on a quest.

    I saw a movie on the Sci-Fi Channel which got me uber-interested in medieval fantasy movies. Movies with dragons, swordfighting and such, and more than a touch of medieval themes instantly became my latest mania.

    I currently have an extremely short list of "dragon" and/or "medieval" films. Please help me fill in the list. Surely there's more to Hollywood than "First Knight" or that Kevin Costner travesty, "Prince of Thieves."

    I do have another quest--to watch every Oscar winner ever, along with the other nominees for the year. Yes, that's a lot of films. But I've decided that I watch a lot of crap, and that I watch that crap repeatedly. I felt that perhaps I should attempt a view more like Viggo Mortenson's: that life is too short to watch the same film twice. Obviously, that's not going to work 100% for me, but I'm going to at least watch better films while watching crap less often (but with no less glee). I must give Mister a boatload of credit for working that list for me!

    A clock isn't time

    I met with my new nephrologist yesterday, a Col. So-and-so of the United States Army. Nice guy, appreciates my wit and forthright attitude.

    He gave me a lot of information I already knew, and thanked me for being the most-educated kidney patient on his list. He says most people don't want information, they don't look anything up themselves, they just want drugs and a to-do list. It's my opinion that he's got a chart full of idiots.

    He also gave me some information I didn't know, like my 'number.' It's my GFR, which here refers to overall successful kidney function and not Grand Funk Railroad.

    On a scale of 0-130, with 130 being 'super awesome hyper monkey kidneys' and 0 being 'dead as a doornail,' I'm a 73. There are also 6 stages of PKD, which starts with '0=identified as at-risk and requires education' and ends with '5=trying not to die today.' I'm firmly in stage one, which one enters after kidney function begins to deteriorate. Unfortunately, stage two begins when my GFR number drops below 60. That's 13 points away.

    He also gave me permission to have an occasional glass of wine. As an Italian and a wine aficionado, this is good news indeed.

    But there's the dilemma. In my opinion, 13 is too close for comfort for me to risk doing any damage. On the other hand, I cannot find any evidence to support the hypothesis that one glass of wine a week or even a month does any damage to the internal organs.

    What to do, what to do? On the one hand, I don't want to do anything on purpose that might hurt my survival rate. On the other hand, all they have to do is step through the clock to reach the red bull's lair.

    Now, about that wine...?

    "A man's dreams are an index to his greatness."

    Or so says Rabbi Zadok HaKohen Rabinowitz (1839-1905) of Poland.

    An interesting thought, that. To embrace one's dreams as the guideposts of one's journey to greatness has its appeal. Unless those dreams are mine, in which case I would want to embrace the therapeutic assistance of a really good psychiatrist.

    My dreams, generally, move from one obvious plane of existence to another; they seem to leap from one "movie" to the next with little or no discernible segue. That is hardly new or troublesome in the realm of dream theory. But the stories told by those little 'mini-movies' is a bit troublesome, even for me, if one embraces the notion that dreams are an index to greatness. Let's use last night's joyous dreams as an example.

    My dream ended with me and some small child I did not know living in a bizarre refugee camp, a tall, imposing Army barracks-style facility. There was no furniture to speak of, and no one was allowed to sit down. I'm sure that there is some meaning behind that, but that's not what troubled me at all.

    The troublesome part of my dream was the mini-movie immediately before the end, the one that still has my oldest child laughing so hard, I fear for her bladder. That segment starred Kim Woodburn of BBCA's "How Clean Is Your House" as the housecleaner in an all-marble mansion, and her sidekick, Daniel Radcliff, who was wearing standard teenager clothes and a knitted cap with string ties.

    After chatting about nothing important for a short while, a pair of skateboards magically appear under their feet. The two gently set off down the hall, where they are stopped by the master of the house. He asks Ms Woodburn what she is up to, and she replies, "Just skating through life, sir."

    He looks at the boy and asks, "Who are you?"

    Daniel tugs the strings of his cap and replies, "Hatty Potter."

    And then the two skate back into the kitchen. As the kitchen door closes, that portion ends and my movie jumps immediately into the refugee camp.

    I do believe I may very well be insane. Either that, or I watch way too much British entertainment for one person.

    It's a jump to the left

    A few nights ago, I watched a documentary about Star Trek. This got me to thinking about the films, in particular "5: Undiscovered Country."

    At the end of this film, the crew are directed to return the battered Enterprise to be decommissioned. Kirk and the rest of the bridge decide to take the scenic route home, delaying the inevitable as long as possible.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't there be a thousand or so other crew members whose opinion on the matter might actually mean something?

    Suppose the Deck 14 replicator repair man has a special party set up for his granny that he'll miss thanks to this decision. Or the coffee hostess in the lounge made arrangements to have a boob job done and put a deposit down already.

    If it were me, I'd be totally pissed.

    W.F.S!!

    Last night, I enjoyed something I rarely ever indulge: a talk show.

    William F. Shatner debuted his talk show last night, "Raw Nerve," with Valerie Bertinelli as his guest. A short 30 minutes later, and I was ever so glad the second episode (featuring Tim Allen) was next. Shatner is amazing, and he was able to get his guests chatting. I really felt like I was sitting in the living room with them, just listening in on a couple of friends hanging out and swapping stories.

    I can't wait to see more episodes, and I never watch talk shows. Who knew?

    You're only making it worse for yourself!

    A week or so ago, the Big Three CEOs got themselves spanked by Congress and crucified by the press for traveling in luxury whilst begging for money.

    This week, these clowns hoped to improve their image by attempting some "good press." One arrived in DC driving a hybrid his company makes. Another brought along a model that is so full of fantastical gadgets and safety features, I can't list them all because it's all just so fantastical and gadgety!

    The problem with all this is that it was for naught.

    The hybrid model not only cost $4,000 more than its non-hybrid brother, but it only got 2 miles per gallon more than its non-hybrid brother. Compare that with a certain non-domestic hybrid model with its 48 city mpg and its rather cheap price tag (under $25k).

    The "loaded" vehicle was rather nice and dreamy, but its fuel economy was actually worse than most models in its class. Also, its price tag will keep it right out of the hands of those who do not meet or exceed "upper middle class" status. These are the very people who need fuel efficient cars for less.

    I wonder what it feels like to have your head stuffed firmly up your own rear end?

    Troll! In the dungeon!!

    I am so bored. I have nothing to talk about, and no desire to do so, even if I did have something to say.

    Many apologies.

    Oh, I know. You can all discuss amongst yourselves in the comments if you think bailing out the auto industry will work or not, with or without an adjusted business plan, and/or what your ideas are concerning this latest ass-up of the Big Three.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    monologum interruptus

    Many, many moons ago, there was this lovely but preachy show about a coroner on the cutting edge of forensic science. In the midst of determining that yet another suspicious death was in fact a murder, he'd monologue a bit, explaining the whyfors and the whatnots as well as occasionally making us all feel bad for generally not being better people.

    During the next two decades, multi-lead formats were developed for dramas and the monologue/diatribe took a back seat to edgy dramatics. At least, until Homicide, Life On The Street. It was a multi-lead drama that where the detective pairs would sound off ideas with each other in order to solve the crime. This was an excellent plot device, and was utilized to the best effect on this show.

    Crossing Jordan expanded on that as Jordan, a coroner, would reenact the suspicous death with her retired-detective dad. Later, CJ expanded again to include other members of the cast in her reenactments and soundings. Because the others were coroners or a very high-strung but not clever FBI agent, it didn't work as well. That did not deter writers on that show or in the future.

    The current crop of dramas has strongly suggested that the monologue requires the services of a coroner, too.

    I enjoy watching dramas, especially when they are not so formulaic. Numb3rs is an excellent choice for me because it blends geeks and detectives. I also enjoy Criminal Minds, mostly because of the excellent cast and gripping plots, but because it's far enough from the CSIs and Law&Orders to be unique. House is formulaic, but not of other shows, only of itself. But they all have the same drawback, and it's one that has gradually grown into a serious peeve with me.

    None of the characters in any of the new crop of dramas seems to get to finish an explanation all by themselves. One will start explaining something, and within a sentence or two a colleague will butt in with the next one or two sentences, and then another will butt in, and so on until the situation has been explained. Oh, and they all seem really pleased that the others chimed in. The thing is, generally, the characters are speaking to each other and they are all experts in the same field. The explanations are obviously for the audience, but bouncing from one to another is downright annoying.

    Please, will someone cast a Resurrection spell on the monologue?

    Legendary Status

    Not once but twice since we've moved to the delightful state of Georgia, USA, I've received some interesting mail from the United States Marine Corps.

    According to the two letters I've received, they want to talk to me about my options. Perhaps I'd be interested in a new career. A new career with the United States Marine Corps.

    First of all, let me say, "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!"

    Secondly, of course they aren't going to know me, or anything about me. It's just a mass-mailer aimed at a person at an address.

    It's just funny. Me, at my age, with my health issues, being recruited by the Marines, an organization I had thought was restricted to just men. :P

    Wii will wok you

    A friend living abroad recently acquired a Wii gaming system. I have one, but I haven't played since The Great Wii Olympics Incident of Christmas 2007. This friend has asked that I link up so that we can share emails via the Wii. We already keep in touch via email and blog posts. However, I'm a giving sort of person, and would do as much as I could to help any friend feel more at home no matter where they are in the world.

    I discussed this development with Mister, because I had no idea how to link up the systems (I have since learned). Our conversation went something like this:

    Soo: Hey, did I tell you Floyd has a Wii now? (I'm calling my friend "Floyd" to protect his identity)
    Mister: No. Doesn't he already have an X-box? How much time does he have?
    S: Well, he plans on maybe keeping in touch with his friends that way. He's already got his Mii up and running. I've got to figure out how to get my Mii out there, so he can see my Mii in the big parade.
    M: You know, I think Nintendo is missing a much wider market. Everyone's got their own Mii online, why not an inflatable Mii?
    S: I don't think Floyd's wife would approve of his having an inflatable me. I mean, Mii. I mean, what?!

    Paging Sarah Connor...

    Here's a pro-tip:

    If you have serious plans for the next day, do not--I repeat, do NOT--stay up way late watching election returns you know--YOU KNOW!!--are going to be talked to death all day long, except for the channels that show soaps.

    Holy crap, I'm tired. And I have insomnia, so it just makes it worse.

    On a normal night, I'll be asleep by around 1 am, if I'm lucky. I get up between 5 and 6 am to start my day. On weekends, I let me sleep until about 8 am.

    But last night, I just had to watch the celebrations and the statistics and such, and didn't make it to bed until still h1 am. I know--you're thinking that it's no different from any other night. Unfortunately, I still had to participate in the required tossing/turning that occurs every freakin' night.

    And don't you know, I just could not make me nap today. So I worked on The Boy's bedroom today, putting his furniture in place and removing junk to take to the thrift store. Five boxes in total were removed from his room and the hallway along with a bag of trash. I've got three more boxes to remove from his room, he's got one to empty on his own, and then his room will be finished. Finally.

    The Girls will be getting a room overhaul starting on Friday. Wish me luck.

    And sleep.

    The Big Throwdown

    We've been friends for a long time. Well, long for me, anyway. We talk about things while not intensely prying into our deepest affairs. I think that's what keeps us civil, don't you?

    But I cannot remain uninformed no longer. I have to know!

    Are you eligible to vote? If so, did you register? If you registered, did you vote?

    If you answered yes to the first two but no to the last, please don't talk to me, I'm mad at you right now.

    If you answered yes to the first but no to the second, please slap yourself rather hard once and then don't talk to me, I'm mad at you right now.

    If, however, you are ineligible, please be patient, your time will hopefully come. And when it does, I hope you do not shirk your single most important contribution to America.

    I voted this morning. I arrived right at opening, and only waited about 45 minutes for my turn. My precinct had 6 running booths and one spare. I wish I could have voted twice, it was so exciting!

    The neighboring county hosted "early voting" last week, averaging over 3,000 voters each of the five days. I'm very eager to read the final national tally. I anticipate that today's voters are going to turn out in record numbers, and, quite frankly, it's about damn time. I've always been of the opinion that as the population grows, so too should the number of people who actually cast a vote. Unfortunately, the opposite happens year after year.

    If you are registered but have not yet made your way to the polls, please go. Brave the weather, wear comfy shoes, take a book, hell--even take a lawn chair. Just go!

    And if you are eligible but did not register, please be aware that in my opinion you have no recourse for complaint if you do not approve of your upcoming government and its policies. You did not help try to shape it, you can't complain about it later if it turns out to really suck.

    But here's to hope that it all turns out well, eh?

    Decisions, Decisions

    I am in a dilemma. I have a choice to make. Do I pick option A, which is a powerhouse but a bit on the reality-challenged side, or do I pick option B, which is smarter but not very strong?

    Politics? What the hell, you say.

    I'm not talking politics. I know who I'm marking down as my candidate. I think I was certain months ago. I'm talking D&D, dammit.

    I gotta make a new character. It's for a 3.5 game, and I can't decide. Not only am I building from scratch, it's got to be L7, to keep up with the others who've been in the adventure for a couple of months now.

    Do I make a Warforged and build him into a Juggernaut, where he'll be uber-strong but rather stupid, or do I create a human defender/fighter who is strong but clever?

    The group doesn't actually have any human PCs, and none of those characters are melee fighters. The DM does not perceive this to be a handicap, although it has caused problems in the past for their other game, which is a standard adventure offered in the 4E book. The 4E game runs different PCs, but no one is a tank and they're regularly starting fresh with new PCs because the dragons are devouring/burning/stomping them to death on a fairly consistent basis.

    And so I ask you, dear readers, to advise me as you see best. Perhaps I should go in a completely different direction. I doubt he'd let me bring in Brenys, with her bag of holding, magical sword, and combat-trained pony, especially since they already have a ranger in the group and my old DM was rather unusual in the goodie-giving department. And so I thought Warforged, since I've never run one, and I am attempting to embrace new experiences.

    What say you?

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be

    I have polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Caused by a dominant allele on an X chromosome, the kidneys (and eventually, the liver) develop water-filled cysts over time. The cysts do not push kidney and liver tissues out of the way; they replace tissue, cell for cell. The cysts can be removed or nuked out through chemo- and radiation therapy, but empty holes left in their place. There is no cure, other than transplant.

    My children will watch me die a slow, painful death, years before anyone really should, unless something can be done about my condition. I have already taken steps to help myself. I was already a non-smoker, and I rarely ever drank to excess, so it was easy to quit alcohol completely. I cut back my caffeine intake dramatically to the occassional Pepsi, limited to one per "event." I eat more vegetables and fiber, had minor surgery to help me get off certain medications, and tomorrow will begin a new gym membership with the help of my oldest daughter in order to shed about half my total body fat (there's more here than I thought!). Without a transplant, however, I will still die of kidney failure, if my bad driving doesn't take me first.

    My sister, who does not have the allele, called me last night. We talked about our father and his sister, who are in advancing and end-stage renal failure, respectively. They are in their early 60s, just a few years older than their mother was when her kidneys failed. My aunt is in far worse shape, requiring dialysis in her home every night. My father, who is older but took better care of his health, is only just starting to "head south."

    Sister told me that Auntie is on the list for a transplant. This surprised me, because Auntie did nothing to adjust her ways once diagnosed nor after her dialysis treatments began. I assumed there were standards for this as well as age limits, but we learn new things every day.

    Sister then told me that Auntie was in fact offered a transplant this summer, but turned it down. I asked if Auntie was examined by a mental health professional, and Sister explained that the kidney came from a deceased HIV patient. I replied, "So?"

    The conversation went something like this:

    Sister: Um, hello... It's AIDS. That'll kill you.
    Me: And the PKD means you're gonna live forever? How long does she want to live, anyway? She's already 60.
    Sister: What do you mean?
    Me: Look, it's easy. At my age (35), taking that particular kidney would be stupid. But at 60, I'd only have 20-ish years left anyway; no one in our family has lived past 84.
    Sister: But you'd get AIDS.
    Me: They've got drugs for that. There's no other cure for PKD. What are you gonna choose?

    And so I started thinking. What would I really choose? If my kidneys failed today, I'd have at most about 15 years left on my life if my body does not reject the dialysis intervention. Dialysis isn't easy, fun, or fast. A transplant would be the best choice.

    But what about that AIDS kidney? According to CDC studies done after the introduction of successful "drug coctails," if I were diagnosed with HIV today, I'd have 11 years before onset of AIDS, and six years after that. Well, provided my treatment regimen was well-tailored to my biology and that I stuck to it with extreme determination.

    Sixteen years without near-crippling dialysis in exchange for HIV/AIDS. I dunno. Seems like a good trade, if the kidney's former keeper was only HIV-pos. I'd be dead anyway, and those HIV/AIDS years are just averages. I could last longer than 16 years.

    Try not to let that thought keep you up at night!

    Daydream Believin'

    This is my dream house. Yes, I know it looks just like the creepy old man's house from down the street where you grew up. That's what's cool about it. Imagine building your own creepy haunted house, but with all the modern amenities and 'green' technology!

    On the market now are solar-cell roof shingles that are practically unnoticeable if you color-match the regular shingles. You can also get solar-power outdoor light fixtures from front porch lights to ornate pole lights. Downspouts can be directed into a rain collection system that stores rainwater to be used later for lawn or vegetable garden irrigation. Tinted low-E windows will help keep the interior cool in the summer time by reducing the amount of sunlight, and warm in the winder by reducing the amount of escaping heat.

    Denim is now being recycled into insulation that is far superior to fiberglass. Bamboo, which grows at an alarming rate all over the US, is being harvested and turned into energy-efficient, impact-resistant, low-cost flooring. Fluorescent lighting fixtures just get prettier and prettier every year. And using recycled building materials, such as doors from demolished homes, also adds to the 'green' value.

    Creepy it will definitely be. But haunted? Only if the kids leave the water on!

    My funny bone is broken.

    Attention People Who Are Smarter Than Me!

    Please, please, please, read this and tell me it's a joke. It seems like a joke, only not funny. I found it on Yahoo news.

    McCain cast self as middle-class guardian --By GLEN JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

    WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Evoking "Joe the Plumber" in his pivotal home state, Republican John McCain on Sunday cast himself as the guardian of middle-class workers and small-business owners who fuel the economy.

    "If I'm elected president, I won't raise taxes on small businesses, as Sen. (Barack) Obama clearly wants to do, and force them to cut jobs," McCain said of his Democratic opponent during a rally at Otterbein College. "I will keep small business taxes where they are, help them keep their costs low and let them spend their earnings to create more jobs. We need that in Ohio. We need it across America."

    McCain was flying from the Columbus suburbs northward to Toledo, near where "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher lives, amid the GOP's push for this pivotal swing state and its 20 electoral votes.

    The Holland, Ohio, plumber was in New York making the media rounds with his family, but McCain has been evoking his spirit after making him the focal point the final presidential debate between McCain and Obama. McCain also mentions Wurzelbacher at his rallies after the plumber was videotaped questioning Obama about whether his tax plan would keep him from buying the two-man plumbing shop where he works.

    While some analyses showed Wurzelbacher faring better under Obama's plan than McCain's, McCain has lashed out at Obama for saying that while his policies may force some workers to pay higher taxes, they were designed to "spread the wealth around" by targeting only families making over $250,000 annually.

    "Sen. Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is in growing the pie," McCain told a crowd of several thousand.

    He drew cheers when he proclaimed he was campaigning "on behalf of Joe the Plumber and Rose the Teacher and Phil the Bricklayer and Wendy the Waitress."

    Earlier Sunday, the senator complained that the vast sums of money Obama is raising risk the post-Watergate financing reforms.

    Speaking on "Fox New Sunday" hours after Obama's campaign reported raising a record $150 million in September, McCain said the overall sum his Democratic rival has raised — $605 million — showed the "dam has broken" for future White House races.

    McCain also complained that the identities of people who contributed more than $200 million of Obama's total take have not been reported, although that is allowable under federal law because the individual donations fall under the $200 reporting limit.

    "I'm saying it's laying a predicate for the future that can be very dangerous," McCain said. "History shows us where unlimited amounts of money are in political campaigns, it leads to scandal."

    The Arizona senator has been limited to spending $84 million for the general election campaign after he accepted federal funds under a program created after the Watergate scandal. Obama initially indicated he would adhere to the same limit, but reversed course and became the first post-Watergate candidate to finance a general-election campaign with private funding.

    McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, also sloughed off Obama's endorsement by one of the country's best known black Republicans and former military leaders, Colin Powell, who was President Bush's first secretary of state.

    Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Powell expressed personal affection for McCain but chided his friend of 25 years for the type of campaign he has run against Obama, who is black.

    McCain said: "I've always admired and respected Gen. Powell," before noting his endorsement by four other former secretaries of state. Asked whether Powell's endorsement undercut McCain's stance that Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, is not ready to lead, McCain said of Powell: "We have a respectful disagreement."

    Halp!

    Nerdasaurus

    My friend, G.O.D., took a nerd quiz and posted his results on his livejournal page. He's what I would call an uber-nerd. He doesn't have to consult a rule book when we're playing D&D, unless it's to shove it in someone's face just how very wrong they are. He's OCD over Batman, and he's a bit socially backward. (He sometimes forgets that other people have feelings, but he's never deliberately mean. Well, not to chicks with boobs, anyway.)

    G.O.D., I love you, but it's the truth.

    Anyhoo, his results were something like this:



    And so I took the test. Here are my results:


    NerdTests.com says I'm a Dorky Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

    Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. wOOt!

    PS--I really need to bone up on my coding. Seriously. I'm totally lame in that department. Time to bust out the Linux, I think.

    Where's the beef?

    I try to live my life with an upbeat attitude, because happiness is just as contagious as sadness, and I'd rather spread joy than pain. But occasionally, I'll come across something incomprehensible that really pushes my buttons. One example is the news articles announcing an imminent announcement, or the contents of an upcoming speech by a celebrity or politician.

    What happened to the mysterious press conference? Why do journalists feel they need to spill the beans? You told me at noon Senator Whats-'is-face would be discussing his affair with the Chilean belly-dancing nun and announcing his retirement from the Senate. Now I have no need to watch his speech at 4:30, but you're going to interrupt my favorite TV show anyway. Why can't the reason be a surprise, dammit?

    I really do get annoyed by this. Back in the early days of CNN, when it was the only 24-hour news channel and The Internet was practically non-existent, I felt rather calmed by the fact that for once in my life I could get "news" any time I wanted it. These days, there is so much news available, it seems that they'll discuss, debate, and infer anything, just to have something to say.

    Just STFU already, and give me back my mysterious press conferences.

    ---

    UPDATE: re--News viewing on TVs in Military offices open to the military public

    Since my last rant concerning the selection of 24-hour news channels for televisions in the lobbies of military-run facilities, I am pleased to notice that miraculously, the number of choices available has risen from one (just FoxNews) to three (FN, CNN, and MSNBC).

    I doubt I had anything to do with that, but I'll take it just the same.

    Some images from Dragon*Con 2008

    Some photos taken during a con in Atlanta that The Girl and I attended this year.


    Sean Astin (we were way in the back)


    DJ Helsing, Gaia Online programmer


    The Dark Side (of the street)


    Kakashi


    I think they're from Bleach


    Voice Actors
    C. Martin Croker, some other guy, and Vic Mignogna (super nice guy, BTW)


    Star Wars costume contest


    lovely Yip-Yip



    geeks after my own heart


    Star Wars Legos

    *Fans: if you want to borrow my photos, please do not use my images for nefarious purposes, and give my website credit. kthxby!

    I'm a pin-up girl. Woot!

    So I took this quiz, and this is what I would be, if fantasies were real.










    Waddah yous knowsit from funny, eh?

    Must... Watch... This...

    Found it on Fark. Lovely site, really. And yes, this is Safe For Work, and you don't need the sound up too loud; it's subtitled.

    I will warn you, however, that the song will get completely embedded into your head, and you'll be pounding yourself in the forehead or trying to poke your eyeballs out, before too long. I would like to recommend a dose of Pearl Jam or a bit from Carmina Burana to cleanse the palate.

    And now, for your viewing pleasure, may I present a "lateral video version" of "Take On Me," by A-Ha, as interpreted by www.dustfilms.com. **The idea is this: What if the song actually reflected the actions of the video?**

    I'll have that in the can

    I'm getting my internet switched from [name redacted]'s most horrible DSL service to [name redacted]'s cable service. We had cable internet and phone from another company when we lived in Virginia, but thought that DSL would serve us better here in Georgia. Not so. At least, not so with the company I chose.

    So the problem we have is that my router is close to the desktops we have in the dining room. The nearest useable cable outlet is in the living room and will require a run of about 100 feet of coaxial cable to make it work. Not pretty and completely out of the question.

    So I delve into the yellow pages in order to find local computer supplies stores so that I may purchase a USB wi-fi adapter for each desktop. Because I'm slightly stunted in the brain, I always look at the right side of any book or magazine before I look at the left. Using the right side of the yellow pages, I found "computers-concrete."

    On the left-hand page, I found "colonic-computers."

    Augusta may be the crackhouse of Hell, devoid of a regular breeze and a 3D Imax theater, but at least you can get your colon irrigated locally.

    If I could turn back time

    I am a huge fan of Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Holy cow, what a guy, don't get me started, etc.

    I toss around a quote attributed to him, because I find that these days it's so very apropos:

    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.

    If he did nothing else in his life, he would still be my hero, just for having uttered those words and in that order.

    Days of Our Lives

    And so time marches on, and I am not yet employed. It's really frustrating. I took about 12 years off to raise my family and then finish my college degree. I felt like it was the right thing to do for my family then, and still do. It has become a big problem, however, because not having a steady work record for a long period of time, no matter the reason, looks a lot like instability to an employer.

    And so I'll be looking for less-conventional work this week. Since these jobs usually pay less than the jobs for which I'm qualified, they'll have to be very local. Gas prices are outrageous to begin with, but since there is an unusual shortage of petrol here in the Great State of Georgia, it's hit-or-miss with the fill-ups. To be caught without gas in the tank would be a nightmare, but storing it is out of the question. I have enough problems as it is; I don't need a fire.

    If anyone has any ideas that would not reflect badly upon me or Mister's clearance, please feel free to offer up your suggestions.

    You think I'm funny? Well, do ya?

    Your result for The 3 Variable Funny Test...

    the Wit

    (57% dark, 35% spontaneous, 32% vulgar)

    your humor style:
    CLEAN | COMPLEX | DARK

    You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

    I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

    Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

    You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
    talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

    PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

    -----
    Okay, but here's what I don't understand:

    If I'm so damn witty, and frat-boy humour doesn't make me laugh, then why do I howl with laughter during The Nutty Professor when the Klump family is assembled for dinner and they're all farting and burping? And don't get me started over that part in The 'Burbs when Bruce Dern falls off the roof of that house! Priceless!

    Oh, and I don't particularly care much for Woody Allen's brand of humour, although I did enjoy that one recent flick of his that he made with Tracey Ulman, although she really is what made that movie awesome. Also, I did not enjoy The Office, either the original or the American version. Sorry.

    I'm so conflicted.

    --------

    That was last week. I took the test again, just now, and these are my new results:

    Your result for The 3 Variable Funny Test...

    the Shock Jock

    (52% dark, 46% spontaneous, 53% vulgar)


    your humor style:
    VULGAR | SPONTANEOUS | DARK

    Your sense of humor is off-the-cuff and kind of gross. Is it is also sinister, cynical, and vaguely threatening to the purer folks of this world. You probably get off on that. You would cut a greasy fart, then blame it on your mom, and then just shrug when someone pointed out that she's dead.

    Yours is hands-down the most outrageous sense of humor; you like things trangressive and hardcore. It's highly likely (a) you have no limits (b) you have no scruples and (c) you have no job. Ironically, it's your type of humor that can make the biggest bucks in show business.

    PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Howard Stern - Adam Sandler - Roseanne Barr

    The 3-Variable Funny Test!

    - it rules -

    Take The 3 Variable Funny Test at HelloQuizzy

    -----

    Talk about conflict! I do have scruples, and I do have limits. And I never found Howard Stern funny. He's like live-action South Park to me, but without all the cute kids. I am inf act unemployed, but it's not like I'm not trying. Perhaps I'll retake the quiz next week and discover that in fact I have no sense of humour at all!

    Surely you can't be serious.

    I took yet another little quiz, and the results are eerily correct although the data entered was skewed.

    Here are my results:




    You Are Guinness



    You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.

    Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.

    When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.

    But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.



    I am not actually a beer drinker, and proper Guinness scares me. In taking the quiz, I substituted "wine" every time I read, "beer." The results, however, are accurate. Anyone who knew me back in my drinking days can confirm this. For those of you who met me after I gave up the sauce, well, it sucks to be you.

    Honey smoked ham and a gently chilled Italian Pinot Grigio bottled in 1996 FTW! Upon my honor, that was a most excellent evening and the best Christmas ever. Many thanks to Legz for hanging out in the kitchen with me and sharing the joy.

    One-way ticket to Hell, please--coach.

    Oh, Fark. You are so bad, and I totally failed my saving throw vs temptation. You posted a church sign generator, and I went there.

    Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, wicked Zoot!

    This is what I made:




    I borrowed the idea for this from a couple of churches around here in Augusta. I swear, they are just so very over-the-top. One is called "Christ's Sanctified Holy Church." Not just holy, not just sanctified, but both holy and sanctified, because just one isn't enough for them. Oh, no. They get double the Jesus, kindof like a two-for-one, a biblical BOGO, if you will. The other is "Church of the Holy Comforter." I get this image of an oversize, super-fluffy duvet just floating around, waiting to snuggle some poor sap who's having a bad day.

    It makes me laugh, although it's a rather rude laugh, but a laugh nonetheless, whenever I'm feeling a little blue. Which lately is more often than not.

    Actually, as churches go, that "holy comforter" image is a religion I could get into! Is it possible I'm salvageable? Only if I can sleep in on weekends, and come in for sermons whenever I feel like it, and the preacher has a mute button.

    Ar-ar-ar-ar-ar

    That was me, stuttering in 'pirate.'

    Today is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

    So get yer land-lubbing flap a-yapping, you scurvy knave!

    I'll take "Things I've forgotten to mention" for $200

    For President's Day, we took a whirlwind tour of Washington, DC. The other part was published sometime back in February, near the end of the month. Here is a little bit more on that:

    I forgot to mention that on Day 1, we also walked by the J Edgar Hoover FBI building. I explained its importance in the television industry in relation to one of my favorite series, X-Files (I've seen every episode at least once, including the horrid one they won't show on regular TV). They were so interested. :/

    Also forgotten was the ginormous Mason's building. It was quite excellent actually, although I must admit I thought it sort of looked a bit like a penis. Imagine that--a bunch of guys, in the construction business, and their headquarters is penis-shaped. Whooda thunkit?

    Food for thought

    Maturity is often more absurd than youth and very frequently is most unjust to youth.
    -Thomas A. Edison
    What is an adult? A child blown up by age.
    -Simone de Beauvoir

    Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.
    -Anonymous

    'Tis the season (to eat hot wings)

    [American] Football Season is upon us. Let us rejoice!

    Oh, come! All ye faithful!
    To eat and get drunk!
    Oh, come ye, oh, come ye to the stadium;
    Come and behold him
    QB of my fav'rite team!
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Oh, come, let us adore him,
    Christ, what's the score?

    I have been a life-long fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I've never been a rabid fan, keeping stats in my head like a chartered accountant. I don't watch the pre-season games; in fact, I don't normally watch the regular-season games. I don't even know the theme song to Monday Night Football or the names of regular commentators unless they're uber-hawt (Howie Long) or really fuddy (John Madden).

    I'm just a fan. I like the competition and sometimes the guys look really nice in those tight pants. I also like to throw a party, and it's a great way to show off my Hostess with the Mostess mad skilz.

    I do, however, thoroughly enjoy the rabid fans. Those freaks who paint their bellies and then sit through the snow for 4 hours cheering endlessly for their [losing] team; the guys who seriously bunch their panties in the presence of The Enemy; the drunks in the Dawg Pound. Great entertainment!

    For fun today, I read a blog about Cowboys QB Tony Romo and his rescue of an elderly couple with a flat tire. The blog was nice, a bit gushy, and suggested that Tom Brady had better watch out or Romo was going to steal his "Nicest Guy in the NFL" award.

    The comments below the blog, however, were priceless. Almost instantly, a few attacked the Cowboys, and particularly "Tony Homo." The bitch-slapping commenced. After one particularly snotty anti-Cowboys rant, this rejoinder was posted:

    "Hey [name redacted]- do you think that anyone in the Cowboy organization gives a f*** what you think- you queer piece of cheese butt, funky smelling toe jam faced ugly bastard. I hope that you realize that 100 men canot have sex with your girlfriend when your girlfriend is your right hand. I bet you think that Jeremy Shockey has a pretty mouth."


    I swear, I think that's going to become part of my own personal repertoire of smart-assery. I'll editing it for grammattery, and will have to practice it so I can say it without giggling. I'll also leaving out "queer," because that's just not PC.

    I have also learned today that The Haters look down on Cowboys fans as "Romo-sexuals." I has a label! Woot!

    The Fiery Chasm

    Oh, Augusta. How do I love thee?

    Well, the truth is, I don't. You're a muddled, unattractive town that appears to have been left for dead after the CSA surrendered. May I live a thousand years and never see another town like you.

    Why the hate? Well, today I took a wrong turn. Actually, it should have been the right turn. However, a 30-minute trip home ended up taking an hour and a half and I ended up in South Carolina before I could come close to figuring out what street I was on.

    I turned down Milledgeville and then turned neither left nor right for quite some time, but somehow ended up not on Milledgeville but on MLK Blvd, James Brown Blvd, and Twiggs Street. Turning left onto a side street brought me to another Twiggs Street. Turning right onto a spur brought me to a third Twiggs street. Turning left off that Twiggs Street brought me to Laney-Walker, which took me to James Brown and then all of a sudden I was crossing the Savannah River and there was South Carolina.

    Hardly encouraging. Worse, I drove through neighborhoods that reminded me of Patterson Avenue in south Baltimore. How can the town spend so much money on so little ($7000 on a plaque to commemorate James Brown, to be placed at the "civic center") and leave these wretched hovels in their present state? I drove by a legless man in a wheelchair that looked like it was held together by duct tape. Sweet baby Jesus, it's nearly enough to turn me into a socialist!

    Even "downtown" looks a bit like crap. There are small pockets of structural rehab, but for the love of all you hold dear, do not--I repeat, do not--wander off that main strip or you're right back into slumville. How sad and pathetic.

    It's all just so damned depressing.

    attempting to find crow on which to dine

    Mister has decided I may have been a bit harsh in my judgment of Augusta, Georgia, of the United States of America, North America, Earth, Inner Solar System.

    I declared that it was impossible or nearly impossible to find free or cheap stuff to do here that was family-friendly. He pointed out that he found a free symphony presentation, which the kids enjoyed immensely, once we got their grumbly butts into the church and the band started playing.

    Yes, we were in a church. But that's not what's important right now.

    I pointed out that one free event in two months hardly qualified as "misrepresentation." Granted, there is a free monthly newspaper geared towards parents of preschoolers, but it very often does not contain one-off activities that might interest my kids, even if I forced them to do them.

    However, in fairness to Mister and his tender sensibilities, I am embarking on a quest To Discover Stuff For Kids And Teens To Do That Is Free Or Cheap In Augusta. It may be dangerous. I may not return unscathed. I may even be attacked by zombies.

    Keep in touch, and wish me luck!

    Sweaty-palm fanboy squee -edited

    ZOMGIMIBBQ!

    I went to Dragon*Con with The Girl. She got to do stuff she wanted, and even enjoyed one thing I wanted, although most of the stuff we did appealed more to her taste than mine. How could it be otherwise? We went for her benefit--this time. Given the chance, I would have spent most of the time in Trek Trak, Dr. Who, LOTR and so on. Here's how it went down (pics to be posted later) :

    Sunday

    -Arrived, registered, was asked if my name really was "So." Twice.
    -Wandered around a bit until we discovered that Sean Astin was in the middle of a Q&A. !!
    -Wandered some more until time for the Voice-Over Actors Q&A, Vic Mignogna and Clay Croker and some other guy I don't remember.
    -Wandered the Walk of Fame for autographs/photos/fanboy freak-outs
    -------Vic Mignogna signed The Girl's Chinese parasol and let her take his picture (sorry for blinding you!)
    -------I saw Robert Llewellyn, Mickey Dolenz, Robert Englund, and George Tekai (lines too long or too expensive for me to partake)
    -Finished with some souvenir shopping. Spent too much money, but Mister got 3 old comics to fill in the blanks, The Boy got a Nintendo-brand t-shirt, and The Baby got a cute cuddly that blows kisses when you squeeze its belly.

    Monday

    -Gaia. Do I really need to say more?
    -------Developer DJ something gave The Girl an autographed card with his personal avatar on it.
    -Wandered a different vending zone.
    -------Found Troll & Toad, my favorite gaming-supply website
    ------------>I gagged so dramatically when offered a look at the 4.0 Player's Handbook, the dealer gave me a free Dragonlance book. Bought 2 DM screens and a fuzzy D12.
    -Turned the corner and found myself standing face-to-face with Margaret Weis, co-author of my new Dragonlance book and a slew of novels including the series I'm currently reading, co-creator of the Dragonlance series.
    -------Discovered I was having trouble breathing.
    -------Gushingly confessed to having played the game for 20 years.
    -------Declared that series to be the best ever produced for the brand.
    -------Got the book autographed.
    -------And nearly passed out.
    -Found a book dealer in possession of a volume missing from The Girl's anime collection.

    End of event. A++++++ will attend again!!!!1eleventy!!

    If George Strait had been there, I would have imploded. Except he's not exactly the sci-fi/manga type and would fit in about as well as Jeffrey Ross would at a charm school.

    EDIT: next year, we're all going, and we'll all be in costume. Originally, I was just going to put together a Ren-Fest type costume, like a corsetted pirate or a bar wench. But now I've decided I"m going to go as Domo-kun, if I can work out the finer details, like how to make the costume.

    Your ego--is it 'check in' or 'carry on'?

    This past weekend, I was in the presence of a hundred or few celebrities both major and minor who adore their fans so much, they even hug them if the fan isn't too smelly or strange.

    Today, however, I was reminded of the other sort of celebrity: the one who thinks he's all that and a bag of chips, but in fact is not.

    Check this out:

    Pete Doherty breaks down in tears at airport

    Rocker weeps after missing flight to Austria

    Monday, 1 September 2008

    Pete Doherty was so upset when his hat got creased at an airport that he started crying.

    The Babyshambles frontman, 29, was due to fly to Salzburg, Austria, to play a gig last weekend.

    ‘I informed British Airways of my late arrival,’ he explains. 'I told them I was a kind of minor celebrity and I might get a bit of hassle at the airport.

    'Turns out they are complete arseholes. Even when I fell over and badly creased my hat, I had no assistance.'

    And Pete admits he was so frustrated he started to blub.

    ‘I was crying but I didn't want them to see,' he tells the Sunday Mirror.

    'A cynic might say I missed the plane, an honest man might say I went to the airport a little late.’

    Alison Adey
    I underlined the poncy git-boy bit. I mean, what a turd bag. He could only have managed to be more full of himself if he'd been wearing that t-shirt that says, "I'm kindof a big deal."

    Someone please slap the self-importance out of this idiot. And remind me to never listen to his music.

    And a cynic doesn't say you missed the plane, jackass. Reality says you missed the plane. Get your lazy, self-involved arse out of bed an hour earlier like the rest of us. Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph! Get a life already!

    PS: I underlined the really stupid stuff he said. Otherwise, Ms Adey did an excellent job of reporting this nonsense.

    Open Letter

    Dear Atlanta:

    I sort of had a lovely time in your lovely city this weekend. The part I didn't like wasn't your fault, so please don't take that personally. I'll be contacting the corporate office for the hotel to settle that issue.

    Your Marta trains are quite nice. They were clean and the riders were polite and kept to themselves. The schedules were easy to follow, and the free daily parking at certain prime locations was a marvelous discovery. I did not get to experience the bus line; perhaps next time I will.

    Your citizens are also very nice. From the over-dressed hotel employees (nice tuxedos, Ritz-Carlton!) to the wandering homeless, everyone was polite and/or helpful. The city was filled with delightful restaurants, cafes, and shops.

    I am curious about one thing, however. Is there a regulation or law in place that prevents grocery stores from being seen from a main driving route? I was certain that if I drove around areas that appeared residential, I'd find something like a Kroger's, or even just a little Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, I did not. Perhaps it's just me, which is quite likely. I did not have a "navigator" during that hour and thirty minutes I drove around northern Atlanta trying to locate even one storefront whose words in English--no hablo Espanol--indicated the facility catered to the hungry D-I-Y cooks.

    Thank you again, Atlanta, for a delightful outting. Please consider opening a few grocery stores.

    Warm regards,
    Soo

    Super Duh!

    Some of my readers may wonder at the purpose of Fark.com. One really must read the history of Fark--how it started as a repository of links to the most ridiculous events posted online. It has evolved into more than that. Now it is a repository of links to the most incredibly stupid, obvious, waste of journalism found on the internet as well as just plain ridiculousness.

    Fark missed this one that I found on Yahoo:

    Little-Known Palin May Be Benefit or Bust for McCain's Campaign


    I'm thinking thusly: Are Americans that stupid?

    McCain's record and popularity weren't enough to prevent him from gaining the nomination of his party. One must conclude then that most Republicans would have voted for him on election day. He could have chosen any obscure male politician, just as Obama has done, and still have the same odds for winning the election: 50-50.

    Selecting a female for a running mate may adjust those odds slightly, but he still only has half a chance of winning, since only 2 people have a shot at winning the election: McCain and Obama.

    Sure, one might look back in time to the 1980s and point out that Walter Mondale lost his bid for President in an outstanding defeat, and that his running mate was a female. However, one must remove the rose-coloured glasses and remember that Mondale was running against a most popular president and that Mondale was a major douche. He could have selected Robert Redford and still lost. Hell, he could have been the only one on the ticket and still lost.

    How do I plan to vote? Once again, selecting the lesser of two evils leaves a bad taste. When faced with this choice, I might be inclined to vote for the Green Party candidate. However, I am considering a write-in candidate, but I'm torn: Luke Skywalker of the Jedi Party, or Harvey the Wonder Llama.

    Redemption. Sort of, but not really.

    Recently, I declared Augusta to be the armpit of the state of Georgia, USA. There are few things to do here that are low-cost and family-friendly, and I have yet to find anything free. In fact, there are few public parks outside of the Riverwatch, which is really just a lopsy-daisy, paved sidewalk along the Savannah River, along which are scattered a few benches with questionable integrity and a very small playground at one end.

    We are hard-pressed to find anything interesting for our kids to do here in the tri-county area that doesn't cost a metric assload of money for a family of five. Granted, we haven't tried very hard considering that the kids just aren't used to the levels of humidity here. But now that things are settling in and the area has received some rain lately, we're ready to get out and about.

    For some fun and to do something interesting, we drove three hours each way to go see some rescued bears. That was cheaper than anything we could have done here at the time, even if you factor in the tank of gas and dinner out. Even going to the ballpark to see the local Major League farm team is pricey now that they don't let you bring in your own snacks.

    Augusta has partially redeemed itself. What I have discovered isn't exactly cheap, and while it is family-friendly, it isn't for our girls--The Boy is more adventurous. Mister and I found that the one and only Indian restaurant in the greater Augusta area is still in business and their food is most delicious, as well as an assortment of Thai restaurants that have opened since we left in 2003.

    In closing, we might not be able to get out and get some exercise, but we will not go hungry for intestinally-directed cultural diversity. Good thing there are plenty of pay-to-play gyms!

    Accidentally Retarded

    I am literally a mess of phobias. The short list starts like this:

    • fear of the dark
    • fear of forests
    • fear of wide open spaces
    • fear of crowds
    • fear of falling
    • fear of dark waters

    and continues on until I start looking up therapists again. One thing I'm not afraid of is the number 13. I think that's just plain silly.

    However, of all the things I'm afraid of, nothing--and I mean absolutely nothing--terrifies me more than an eight-legged freak of nature, that thing called "spider."

    I regularly embarrass myself over them. My father-in-law didn't believe in my phobia and pulled a prank on me by picking up a dust bunny, pretending it was a spider, and then tossing it at me. My mother-in-law says that in 40+ years of marriage to him, I'm the first person she's ever known who has been issued an apology by him. Also, in front of friends,--as an adult, mind--I've climbed a trampoline while screaming like Fay Wray to escape the dirty beggars. Don't get me started on how the kids have tortured me.

    So a few days ago, I saw an entry on Fark about a spider lamp. A few days later, my curiosity decides to kill a cat and I click the comments link.

    I will never sleep again.

    Land of Milk and Honey

    In the past year, I have had the, um, blessing of being able to visit a multitude of military-run offices, from hospitals, clinics, and personnel administration to identity card renewal and the police department. These visits took place at three military installations, one Army, one Navy, and one Air Force, in two different states.

    The different military branches are not run identically. Each has their own traditions and policies guiding them, and while the Air Force got its start as part of the Army, these days it is quite dissimilar in its approach to many military functions. The Navy is unfortunately too stuck in its traditions, and can be quite archaic.

    The military services do in fact have one attribute that binds them together in a unique kinship: all services appear to suckle the teat of Fox News.

    Each military office which offers a television monitor for its waiting patrons shows the Fox cable news channel exclusively. Certain workplaces reference national media reports in order to keep abreast of what the public knows, and to do this they watch Fox. This bothers me immensely as it appears to be an endorsement of the channel and its point of view, which often comes off [to me] as decidedly right-leaning.

    The least they could do is rotate between the many cable-news offerings, thereby presenting a front that appears unbiased.

    Stairway to Heaven

    The State of Georgia, of the United States of America, is in fact a third-world nation. There are only two IMAX theaters in the entire state, and neither host 3-D movies. We have to drive to Greenb'o, Alabama in order to see Harry Potter in 3-D.

    Augusta, Georgia, is the armpit of the state. As experienced so far, there is nothing to do in the "greater metro" area that is family-friendly while not requiring a large outlay of cash. There is also this pervasive stench of pulp mill. If you've never smelled stale pulp mill, imagine sitting in a half-full porta-potty for about an hour on a warm day, just for fun. And to make it all complete, the entire town appears to be under construction. It's fab fun for the whole fam.

    Tonight, The Boy announces he must have a Spanish-English dictionary for English class. Just kidding. It's really for science.

    So Mister and I head off for the book store. I was expecting it to be a tiny, useless den of inanity. After all, Augusta has always been and will continue to be an utter disappointment. I can't possibly expect local retailers to keep up with "modern times."

    I was wrong.

    The coffee shop didn't overpower you at the door, there were actually sales reps wandering around keeping the snowflakes from running and screaming, and the whole place was massive.

    We had to walk all the way to the back to find the language section, which seemed to take a really long time, and along the way we passed the Manga section. After collecting the required text, we perused the Mangas in search of stuff for The Girl. Another display caught my eye, and I couldn't help myself. I just had to look. It was their gaming gear, and it was packed!

    So many modules, so many options, so many books. Nearly everything ever put out for E3.5 including many items that were older modules that had been updated for the "new" rules. And then, there were the E4 books.

    Wow.

    I'm busy drooling over the collection, calculating how many hours I'll have to work to buy one of everything, when Mister comes along and suggests that I pick a module and then run it with him and the kids. Drooling stops immediately, and the jaw drops. Pick one? One?!

    He's not the geek I thought he was.

    Anyhoo, I can't run a game, anyway. I'm not a rules bitch. And I don't have the bully-boy ball-busting 'tude required to keep the geeks in their place. ... Wait, what was the question?

    EDITED: I must apologize, and I do, most sincerely. It appears that most of the Deep South is culturally deficient, not just Georgia.

    In order to watch Harry Potter in 3-D as we always do, we will have to make a weekend trip of it by driving to either Chattanooga, Tennessee or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. While Alabama does in fact have one more Imax theater than Georgia, none host movies in 3-D.

    I have moved to Hell. At least it's raining today.
    -21 Aug 08

    Aaaaaaand...... Cut!

    It's been a week-long journey, but I may finally be at the end. Just a few more tweaks, and the resume can be turned in today.

    I spent all day Friday just trying to fill out the online application. Holy crap, is that time-consuming. The short story is that I had to complete an electronic form that contained all the information found in my resume.

    So why am I wasting the paper? Because apparently, businesses still want the papercuts.

    Don't they know there's a war on? Save the trees, dammit!

    PS: fellow geeks, if you haven't found "The Gamers" on youtube, find it now--and stop being so lazy. You're already in the basement, you might as well look at something other than porn for a few minutes.

    Yippy-kai-ay.

    So I take the rugrats out for lunch. As we're leaving, I notice this super-jacked-up black pick-up truck in the handicap spot. I check it over and sure enough, hanging on the rear-view just under the really big "Fear This" sticker, is the blue tag.

    Read it again: a jacked-up truck, a 'Fear This' sticker, and a handicap tag.

    ...?

    I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

    Hmmm.

    I am putting together my resume. I've just spent the last hour or so just composing the cover letter. I had no idea this was so very difficult. I certainly understand why there are people out there who are willing to pay others to build a resume for them.

    I also have a couple of hiccups to the business of getting employed, apart from having to build a resume. I don't have official transcripts, nor did I ever think to get references from anywhere that I had either been employed or had volunteered. And now that may hinder my chances of getting a decent job.

    If I am reduced to working at Walmart, I may just decide to stay poor. It's too bad there isn't a watery tart nearby with a scimitar in hand to grant me instant, supreme executive power.

    / facepalm /

    And so it goes.

    Most people deal in "real time." Shortly after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma battered the southern coastlines, gas prices in the US started to climb. This was partially because of damaged pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries in the South. "Big Oil" really didn't seem to be too badly affected by the shortened supplies, however, and posted record profits. Soon, the Middle East suppliers got on board, and prices began to skyrocket.

    While that minority with six-figure-plus incomes continued to live large and larger along with those whose self-esteem is tied into the appearance they present to the world, the rest of us tightened our belts. We seemed to just know what was ahead: higher gas prices over a long time equals higher prices on everything. It was time for change on a massive scale.

    About two years ago, interest in and sales of earth-friendly items began to increase. Compact fluorescent light bulbs have been available at least since I bought my first one in 2000, but only now became popular. New home construction starting offering options previously consigned to the realm of Hippies: solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, construction materials culled from managed forests and recycled scraps, even rain-water reclamation units. And regular folks started looking hard at their vehicles and the prices at the pump.

    Soon, regular folks began trading in their SUVs for smarter choices, occasionally coming out ahead in the deal with smaller car loan payments as well as better fuel economy and cheaper insurance rates. At one point within the last two years, auto dealers were feeling the pinch of all those trade-ins because they were not turning over as quickly as they used to. You see, in the past, one SUV was normally returned in exchange for another SUV, and the traded vehicle would practically fly off the lot. Not any more.

    For regular folks, it was about saving money anywhere possible, which is an acceptable reason to change attitudes. For the hippies like me it has always been about less trash in landfills (CFL bulbs last 8-10 years, incandenscents last 6 months) and less carbon in the atmosphere because of power plants and cars--saving money is just an added bonus.

    Big Business, on the other hand, apparently hasn't figured that out.

    In spite of never-ending high fuel prices and the ever-increasing interest in hybrid and electric vehicles, American automakers continued to design bigger and bigger SUVs and pick-up trucks with horrible fuel economy. Sure, they offer hybrid SUVs and pick-ups, but just check out their so-called fuel economy. The 2009 Chevy Tahoe hybrid gets 20 mpg on the highway, only one mile more than the standard Tahoe.

    The sad thing is, when it comes to SUVs, even the so-called imports fail to impress.

    The buying public had taken notice of the moths in the wallet long ago, but it has taken Big Business too long to wake up. Today, Yahoo News posted this article concerning the incredible losses of one American automaker in its trucks-and-SUVs division. Many Americans are about to lose their jobs because their corporation is being run by knuckleheads who can't see the forest for the trees.

    For shame. Once again, I weep for this nation.

    PS: compare fuel economy here!

    and now for something completely....immature!

    In the military, as in life, you meet a lot of people. Some of them will have strange or ironic names. For instance, the Sailor named "Frost," or an Airman named "Seaman," or that 4'10" lady driving the ginormous SUV named "Midgette."

    Today, I was out with one of the younglings and noticed this name on a soldier: Fuchtman.

    Yeah, I giggled.

    while my piano* gently weeps

    *I don't play the guitar

    I was at the supermarket this morning. At the checkout, my eyes roamed the covers of the various star-stalker magazines and tabloids posted there. One magazine in particular caught my eye, because yet again this magazine is hyper-focused on the family of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They are so often focused on this family, they really ought to change their name from "Star" to "Brangelina."

    On the cover is a darling child with a headline indicating that this child has finally "met" its birth siblings. Never mind that the two celebrities have adopted a herd of munchkins, the only kids of theirs that the magazine really cares about are the ones they spawned. There are sidelines as well, including one that indicates that brad hugged his newborn twins to his bare chest.

    You know what's pathetic about that last line? I practically quoted that.

    Why is it important to know such intimate details about anyone's family life? Mister hugged his babies, with and without a shirt on. One was also a scary birth. I don't see any magazine giving a flying damn about that.

    I can't help but feel sorry for celebrities on the one hand, because everyone deserves a little privacy. On the other hand, I know that in most cases, these celebrities made the choice to become famous, and that loss of privacy was something they were aware was a side effect.

    However, I feel most sorry for the poor saps who buy the rags that delve so deeply into the personal lives of celebrities. Get your own life, people.

    Who's your daddy?

    Just to prove that how you feel at any given moment can skew the results of any one-off survey, I take the Superhero personality quiz every few months or so. My first result set me as Mystique, which was rather interesting, since she's technically a baddie. The only redemption from that particular survey was that Wonder Woman was my #5.

    I've taken it a couple of times since, transforming from Mystique to Spiderman to Green Lantern. Once again, the only thing that kept me from slapping my monitor was that Wonder Woman was in the top 5 for each event. Granted, any female superhero would have done just fine, but there's something special about Wonder Woman. Maybe it's the boots. I dunno.

    Anyhoo, I just completed the test one more time. I'm feeling pretty good right now, even though money is especially tight and the oven is broken (I'm desperate for some cake, you know). Here are the latest results:


    You are Superman

























    Superman
    85%
    Spider-Man
    75%
    Supergirl
    75%
    Batman
    70%
    Wonder Woman
    70%
    Robin
    70%
    The Flash
    65%
    Green Lantern
    65%
    Iron Man
    65%
    Hulk
    60%
    Catwoman
    40%
    You are mild-mannered, good,
    strong and you love to help others.


    Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz



    All I have to say is that thank god Wonder Woman is still in the top 5, or I'd start worrying about the direction in which my personality is heading. Oh, and about that "mild-mannered" thing: it's just a fluke. There's very little "mild" about me!

    And after that.... Spank me!

    The oddities of life are pretty darn interesting.

    You think you live in an okay, family-friendly 'hood. You've got a sheriff's deputy and his family living on your street. That same police force patrols your street every day on its way to do a security check on the nearby elementary school. It's generally quiet during the day and almost silent during the night.

    And then your satellite installation technician gets propositioned by a bored local teen looking, um, a "job."

    Yes, you read that correctly. I had to call the police to report that the [male] satellite technician who was installing my ultra-fancy dishes and lines was propositioned by a teenage boy who offered to perform oral sex for some cash.

    The entire conversation began about 20 minutes before when the boy appeared to be casing the tech's van, so the tech asked the boy what he was up to. The boy responded that he was, um, looking for a job. The tech pointed out he was nearly done, but that the boy might talk to The Homeowner about digging a shallow trench for the satellite cables to be buried in. The teen replies that he wasn't really interested in work, he was thinking instead about a, um, well, "there's a word for it..."

    The tech asks the boy what he's talking about, and so he finally explains. The tech tells the boy to get lost before he calls the police. The boy just sits down on the curb like he's waiting for the guy to change his mind. And so that's where I come in: alerted by the tech, I call the police.

    Strange days.


    PS: the deputy who arrived to my house seemed surprised to see me, and well-pleased when I mentioned that I had just moved in. He was very obvious in his taking in every detail--the different car, the better-kept lawn, me. I really, really hate my ex-tenant more than ever now.

    The continuing story of a quack who's gone to the dogs

    So I've complained before about our horrible ex-tenant, the one who's caused us so much financial pain and who has helped us to learn the evil side of our property insurance company.

    To date, she and her juvenile delinquents are responsible for destroying nine window blinds, an entry door, and a metal shed by shooting them with pellet guns, damaging the lower lawn with vehicles, letting the upper lawn go to waste (it'll take all fall and most of the winter to remove the creeping vines and trash), creating a haz-mat situation resulting in the loss of a perfectly functional refrigerator to mold, ruining an entire house of carpet, damaging bathtub tiles and the attic ladder, damaging several interior doors by kicking them off the hinges, spraying drinks onto the ceiling, losing nearly every overhead light fixture cover, allowing a pest infestation, somehow causing most of the oven range to fail, and causing mass havoc in the neighborhood which resulted in the sheriff being well-acquainted with our address, and not because he lives next door.

    Last night, however, I had a most sinister laugh at her expense.

    I was up late last night doing some sewing when the doorbell rang at 1 am. I located my softball bat and then walked up to the door for a peek out the window. Two guys were standing there, one with a clipboard, the other about the size of a Mack truck with arms like I've never seen. I turn on the light and ask through the door if I can help, and they proceed to explain to me (through the door) that they're looking for so-and-so. I don't recognize the name, so I point them in the direction of the house nearby which has about 12 adults and 5+ preschoolers living there. They say, no, they are supposed to meet this person here at my house, and show me the paperwork.

    Then it hits me--the person they're looking for is my ex-tenant, and they are here to repossess her car. Naturally, I tell them everything I know about her, including the fact that she's a skank and that her kids will most likely try to shoot them. They seemed like nice guys; I wouldn't want to see them get hurt.

    For quite some time after that, I couldn't sleep because of the strangeness of it all. I've never had a car repossessed, but I had heard that if it did happen to you, most often you would wake up one morning and your car would be gone.

    I guess in this case, it's a good thing Mister and I don't drive silver import sedans, or have our cars registered in this state, or they just might have taken the wrong car.

    Discoveries

    I am a tree-hugging eco-freak. I'm not ashamed. Next spring, I'll be planting my own organic garden, our house is kitted out with compact fluorescent light bulbs, our appliances are being replaced with "energy star" rated ones or ones offering the lowest possible energy consumption. We're beginning to discuss the using a solar panel to run the new heat pump/central air unit we're installing in the spring to replace the natural gas furnace and the 30-year old a/c unit that runs on banned freon.

    One of my favorite commercials of all time is the new song routine on Discovery channel. It's so awesome. I really do love the whole world, just not always the humans who've overtaken it.

    My favorite cartoon, XKCD, also loves that commercial:



    Yes, I know it's technically old, but I haven't been online as often as I'd like. I've only got something like 250 boxes/containers to empty, you know. Right now, I'm off to the DIY store to buy tiles and grout to fix the tub and to price a new oven range, since that dozy cow we evicted appears to have broken those as well. For those keeping count, we're up to $3k in repairs, and we haven't replaced the doors yet.

    What's mine say?

    Warning: Not Safe For Work
    *but still pretty darn funny, if you're into that sort of thing

    Found this little gem courtesy of Fark, in the midst of an insanely geeky thread which was debating which would prevail in a fight: the Star Trek USS Enterprise or the Death Star. Hope you enjoy.



    This was posted to youtube by Minniver, and he credits Voltaire's cd "Banned on Vulcan" with the inspiration.

    IT blues

    I moved to another state and had to switch ISP providers. Not wanting to go back to cable ISP because the cable providers which service my 'hood suck to the nth degree, I took on DSL for the first time.

    It's actually working pretty well, at least it will until they shut it off because I haven't paid the bill.

    Why haven't I paid it? Because I opted for online billing, and can't log in to pay the damn bill. I can't seem to recall my username, and misplaced the paperwork on which I wrote it. I am up to my elbows in boxes and papers; I think I can be forgiven. The email I used to register the DSL isn't being accepted by the billpay website, even though other parts of their website (including my ISP email site) accepts the email addy as legit.

    I've called their tech support and eventually got to a human on the third call (and after I tried the online chat feature). Eventually they connected me to "billing," which turned out to be an automated voice which told me to go to their website, log on, and pay the bill there, and then the call ended without warning.

    Go to their website to pay the bill? How novel! I wish I'd thought of that myself!

    The funny thing is, while I was on the phone with a human, she actually told me she could see on my account that I had in fact registered, had in fact completed the bevy of security questions, and do in fact have a user name and password. Can you give me my user name and password, I ask. No. What if you ask me the security questions, I ask. Sorry, I'm not authorized... All she could give me was my new email addy at their ISP--which didn't help me solve my problem.

    Exactly how does one get through this? It appears I'm going to have to telephone the company's collections dept, the one that services delinquent accounts, every month until I give up the will to live and cancel their account.

    And no, this is not some small-potatoes operation. I chose a nationwide service. Perhaps that's where I went wrong in the first place.

    Any ideas, dearest readers?