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Archive for July, 2008

That’s a relief. After today’s earthquake, I was scared to death I’d have a destroyed or at least severely damaged aquarium on my hands. Instead, I get home to find not even a drop has spilled, and the fish are doing their usual thing, wondering where the food is.

Whew! 

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Okay, so I have a weakness for online quizzes and I’ve always wanted to be a Japanese demon. Who doesn’t? Anyway, Here’s my result:

Your result for The Japanese Demon Profile Test…

Yuurei

You scored 18 in Malice and 24 in Chaos!

The Yuurei are the lost souls of those whose lives were abruptly ended in the midst of great distress or emotion. They are pale, white spectres nearly indistinguishable from humans, except that they possess no legs, indicative of their detachment from the earthly world. Yuurei haunt the place of their deaths, waiting for the opportunity to fulfil some incomplete purpose.

Yuurei are more commonly female than male, victims of male cruelty or neglect. Those who become Yuurei typically die violent deaths, whether by suicide or by murder; they become trapped on earth until they have taken care of unfinished business. Male Yuurei are less common, although a slain warrior may become one in order to set the record straight regarding the manner of his death, i.e. to clear his name from disgrace.

Although most Yuurei are relatively harmless, some may become “Obake-Yuurei,” or monster ghosts. Obake-Yuurei, instead of restricting their passions to reasonable limits, are wont to loose their rage and sorrow on any people who happen to be unlucky enough to pass by.

Take The Japanese Demon Profile Test at HelloQuizzy

Boo!

Update: Gosh, thanks, WordPress. So I can’t link to outside images? You’re making me really like this service.

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Adieu, mon Earl

I’ve used MS-Office since before there was an “office suite,” since the days of Word 1.0a for Windows. Yep, the days when you hoped Windows 3.0 would at least boot-up before crashing. And, I’m not ashamed to admit, I liked MS-Office. The programs did just what I needed them to do, and the wide-open architecture let me customize it to my heart’s content. I taught myself to make automated templates in Word, macro-laden spreadsheets in Excel, and a fully-functional, VBA-programmed database in Access that kept the UCLA Science & Engineering Library’s reserve system running when our computer system became one of the few genuine victims of the Y2K bug. For all its bugs and gotchas, I was an ardent advocate for MS-Office.

But, not anymore. Frankly, I hate the new version, Office 2007. They needlessly rearranged commands that had been in the same spot since the earliest days, leading me to waste valuable minutes poking around to find something I needed. The “ribbon” format is annoying as can be: toolbars were easily configurable, didn’t take up much screen space when in use, and could be detached and floated for better positioning. Ribbons are none of that. And the new document format? Just a trick to lock one into a proprietary format. I haven’t even bothered trying to learn the new programming language; it just isn’t worth my time.

While I have to use Office 2007 at work, I don’t at home. In fact, I don’t at all. I haven’t “upgraded” since Office 97. Why should I, since it met all my needs? But, it is 11 years old, and there are newer features I need. While I had considered buying a secondhand copy of Office 2003 (aka, “the last good version”), I couldn’t see spending money on an MS product that was going to be unsupported soon. So, I’ve made the switch to Open Office, which is free … and free of those damned ribbons.

The one regret I have is saying goodbye to Earl. You might recall the Office Assistants, animations that would appear (often unwanted) to offer help in some cute (to a Microsoft marketer) way. “Clippy,” an animated paperclip, was by far the most famous and most annoying. Whole web sites were devoted to calling for his death (or at least how to remove him).

In another shameful confession, however, I must admit to a certain fondness for Earl the Cat. Like the Warner Bros. cartoon characters he was clearly modeled on, Earl would engage in various amusing antics in tune with whatever commands I had given. He was my companion during late night, short deadline writing sessions and, no matter how many times that shark ate him when I closed the program, he was there waiting for me whenever I would start it again.

But his time has past, and there is no place for cartoon cats in the ultra-serious world of Open Office.

Farewell, Earl. And watch out for the shark.

earl

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Just some observations from the last couple of days.

Drivers who turn right from the center or left lane, left from the right or center lane, or go straight from a left-turn lane: Do they think they have a “You won’t die from your own stupidity” card?

A women’s clothing line that has the word PINK splashed in giant letters across the buttocks. And yet they get ticked when we stare?

People who order caffeine-free non-dairy cafe au laits. I think the humor is lost on them.

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It tickles!

I love tropical fish. I love keeping aquaria. I love working with a tank to create a natural home for the fish, a beautiful artificial world.

But, somehow, it never entered my mind to stick my foot in the tank for a pedicure:

Flesh-eating fish give pedicures

A novel type of pedicure involving live fish which chomp away at dead skin is catching on at a Virginia beauty salon.

Owners of Yvonne Hair and Nails in Alexandria, a suburb of Washington DC, estimate 5,000 customers have so far tried the unorthodox treatment, in which customers immerse their feet in warm water filled with tiny, voracious carp.

The toothless fish, termed garra rufa but known as “doctor fish”, nibble away at dead skin while leaving healthy flesh untouched, providing what advocates say is a natural alternative to potentially unsanitary razors, clippers or pumice stones.

John Ho, who owns the salon with wife Yvonne, said he was initially sceptical about offering the technique, which is popular in spas in Turkey, where the fish come from, as well as parts of Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.

”I know people were a little intimidated at first,” he told the Associated Press. “But I just said, ‘Let’s give it a shot.’ “

Gives a whole new meaning to “eat me.”

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You might want to keep this in your travel kit for the next time you stop to check your directions: the cannibal map of the world.

You know, I am going to Indiana later this summer….

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Bits and bobs

My writing partner and I had a good morning working together today. Our spec script for Without a Trace I think is in pretty good shape, but now we’re at a point where we need outside eyes to tell us what’s working and what doesn’t. Sadly, our current writer’s group is pretty useless. I wish we could find a stronger one.

The Without a Trace web site has a neat section: a link to this week’s featured missing person. Click here to have a look.

We’re down to five panda cories: another one bit the dust a few days ago. This is frustrating: I can only assume these two were weakened in some way, since I’m 99% sure I’m giving them good care. But still, I didn’t get back into this hobby to bring home fish to die. I’ve just fed them and, watching, three are swimming around searching for food, but two are hanging back, under the driftwood. I hope that’s not a bad sign.

I recently let my membership to the US Chess Federation expire. (Chess has been one of my main hobbies since I was a kid, but I’m an awful player. Anand has nothing to fear.) I just grew tired of the toxic politics and, since I play only by correspondence or Internet, and since the magazine is being gutted by the chuckleheads who dominate the Executive Board (Revenues are declining … I know, let’s cut services! That will bring people back!), I just felt it was no longer worth my dollars. So, I’ve joined CCLA instead. (It’s been around in one form or another since 1897.) Mostly to avoid being dropped from an ICCF event I’m playing in, but I think, with its lower dues, CCLA will be a better value for me.

As long as people don’t cheat by using computers. Waiting

So, I’m taking this Monday and next off. How am I enjoying my two three-day weekends? By burying my nose in books and writing like a madman to meet a deadline for a book project. Whee. Sure, it pays money, but I’d really hadn’t planned to be cooped up at home. Of course, if Your Host hadn’t been a dope and left most of the work for the last minute….

Oh well. At least in this modern age it’s okay for me to take no personal responsibility for myself and instead blame others.

So I blame George Bush. Doesn’t everyone? Winking

Time to get dinner on the table. Steak night — yum!

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