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If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands

Actually, this blog has nothing to do with the title. I was at a loss for a theme, and the above leaped into my mind, and it sounded better than "I have no title for this blog", so there you have it.

I also have no subject today. In fact, I think it's safe to say I have run out of inspiration for the moment. But only for the moment. Perhaps it's because my mind is elsewhere. I'm trying to figure out what to pack for a weekend the like of which I've never experienced, which I will in all likelihood write about when I get back, but which I have no intention of telling you about yet.

So you get pot luck. Hm. That would have been a better title, but hey, I'll use it another time.

While I'm on the subject, I have a request: Howsabout a little feedback once in a while? I know you're reading these things; I see you in the logs. What I don't know is what you're thinking about the site. There's a handy-dandy contacts page, or those of you who already know my e-mail address can use that. You won't see a [email protected] here because too many spiders crawl the webs looking for e-mail addresses to spam, and I'm so tired of spam. Just this week I got a hilarious piece of spam about a penis enlarger that I fully intend to regale you with at a later date.

So in the meantime, have a good weekend, and don't bother renting "Election" with Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. Twenty minutes into it, I turned off the tape.

Wait, wait, wait: I have to say this, I keep forgetting: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, weeknights at 11. It is absolutely hysterical, and it gives you the news better than any news station. Tonight's public service announcement: Before you bury your pet, please make sure it's dead first. Gotta love it. Okay, now go have a good weekend.--MAY



The Naked Truth

You know, it occurred to me today that I get a lot of my great ideas in the shower. Joe Straczynski said he got the entire plotline of Babylon 5 in the shower. This doesn't surprise me in the least. I figure it's because you go on autopilot once you're in the tub--it really doesn't take any brainpower to lather, rinse, repeat, and scrub. You really don't have much choice to do anything but think, unless it's way early in the morning, in which case I sometimes stand in the shower trying to remember if I've already washed my left arm or my right arm. I usually wind up washing them both, just in case.

So while I was in the shower, a few things occurred to me that maybe you wouldn't want to do while naked, and then one thought lead to another, and here goes my sick mind at work. We can make it a game. I'll call it "Things you shouldn't do while you're naked." You can send your suggestions in e-mail and we'll have "Things you shouldn't do while you're naked, Part II." I was thinking of dividing them up for men and women, but then I realized that you're all smart enough to figure out for yourselves which things are more dangerous to men, and vice-versa.

  • Cook any fried food
  • Ice skate (picture falling on your butt)
  • Rollerblade (just imagine the road rash, and WHERE you'd get it)
  • Juggle with knives
  • Make candles
  • Make candy (think of how much pain accidental drippings would cause, and how hot sugar must be when you melt it)
  • Play tackle football
  • Go fishing (ooh, that hook!)
  • Go ice-fishing (need I say more?)
  • Dirt-bike riding
  • Skydive (ooh, that breeze!)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Play dodgeball
  • Go rope-climbing
  • Play catch with cats (this is actually a really bad thing to do while fully clothed, too)
  • Play lawn darts
  • Play indoor darts
  • Archery

Feel free to send me additions to the list. Brainstorming is a good thing. Brainstorming silly subjects is even better.--MAY



What level of discourse?

Every so often, I torment myself by watching so-called news analysis shows, or at least, shows with so-called pundits on them. I wouldn't call them pundits. "Pundit" means "learned man", and frankly, none of the members of any talk panels on the network shows, with the exception of some guests on Nightline, act very knowledgeable--at least not in my opinion.

I really don't know when the American news media decided that Americans are too stupid to figure things out for themselves, but the results are depressingly endemic. I do know that I stopped buying Time Magazine and the New York Times because I got tired of having my news explained to me. I don't read any newspaper or magazine on a regular basis. I get my news from a wide variety of sources, including many on the Internet. Fact is, neither I nor the majority of Americans are as stupid as the media pundits seem to think we are.

So I decided to see what the bloviators (thank you, Frank Rich via another writer whose name I forget) had to say about Timothy McVeigh's execution. I didn't want to torture myself too much, so I steered clear of O'Reilly and Hardball and instead watched the network news, some of Nightline, Comedy Central's The Daily Show, and some of Politically Incorrect.

I missed the beginning of the Daily Show, but the main thrust of what I did see was a hysterical "analysis" of the new Minute Maid commercial where Popeye and Bluto become best friends after drinking orange juice. The commercial has been written about as under-the-radar gay. The skits I saw were hilarious, right down to a Daily Show staffer interviewing a representative from GLAAD and asking her how old she was when she had her first lesbian relationship and would she describe it for him. "It's okay, I'll wait," he said. She refused. "Please?" Alas, that was my only (intentional) laugh of the evening.

Bill Maher and Politically Incorrect reminded me why I refuse to watch this crap. Ill-informed, yet full of opinions, he blathered on about things that didn't happen (McVeigh looked the victims' relatives in the eyes, and the victims' relatives couldn't maintain the look, he claimed, causing more damage to the victims--not true; they were hidden by a one-way mirror, McVeigh could only see the media representatives) and why people were wrong to watch the execution, why it was right to execute him, why people were right to watch the execution (you really couldn't tell which side of the issue he was on, only that he was loud and obnoxious). I was particularly tickled to see Jean Smart live up to her last name and very evenhandedly tell Maher that people are entitled to do whatever it is they think is right for them (watch him die, don't watch him die) and it isn't up to us to tell them yes or no.

Last week I watched a few minutes of Hardball with Chris Matthews, who yells a lot--just enough to realize how incredibly stupid he really is. He was discussing McVeigh and the death penalty with Christopher Hitchens, and brought up "this liberal psychobabble concept of closure." Ahem. John Ashcroft, the right-wing Republican, was the one who ruled that the victims deserve to see McVeigh die to give them closure. He even used the word "closure". Hitchens refused to be drawn down to Matthews' level, which greatly amused me, and caused Matthews to change the subject in disappointment.

What he and Maher and Limbaugh and O'Reilly and Hannity and Tim Russert and Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts and William Kristol and John McLaughlin all have in common is this: The level of discourse in American analysis has sunk to the level of schoolyard children taunting each other before getting into a fistfight. They call each other names; they misinform; they shout over anyone who disagrees with them; they refuse to apologize for the multitude of errors they make; they simply act like idiots--childish idiots at that--and they think that they know what is best for America. And the most aggravating thing is that even after their abysmal failure to read the mood of the country during the Clinton impeachment hearings, they haven't changed at all. They just told us what assholes we all were for not agreeing with them. Hell, our former Drug Czar, William Bennett, even wrote a book telling us about the death of morality in America. Because we didn't agree with him about Clinton.

I think what keeps me from really worrying about all these morons is that if you add all of their audiences together, and allow for the crossovers--hell, don't allow for the crossovers, it doesn't really matter--their audience amounts to a tiny minority of the citizens of this country. Let's be generous and imagine that some 20 million people listen to at least one of these analysts every day--that leaves 260 million Americans blissfully unaware of who Bill Maher is, and why he seems to be so pissed off all the time.--MAY

Who says I'm stupid?

I called Panasonic this morning after doing another cursory search for the DVD player manual. I was on hold less than five minutes, and the problem was solved immediately. This is one of the reasons I swear by Panasonic products. Not only do I find their products to be superior, but their customer service is the best. I'm still waiting for Sony to do something about my defective Windows recovery CD for my Vaio.

Oh, the solution: I had to hold down power on the remote and stop on the player. Perfectly logical, and I'm sure it would have been in the manual under "Remove Tray Lock"--not. So I asked the nice man on the other end of the phone if this was a bug with my player, and he said that he couldn't really say. Then I asked him if the solution would have been in the manual had I found it, and he said "Probably not." Neither he nor I have any idea how the tray got locked to begin with. Hm. Drawing my own conclusions, I'm thinking it just might be a bug in my player. Just might.



It's the manual, stupid

I was thinking that this blog was going to be about the evils of technology, or at least the evils of being ignorant about technology. But that would be dishonest. Or hypocritical.

I borrowed a DVD from the library and was trying to watch it today, when for some reason I decided to skip to scenes rather than start from the beginning. I wound up fast-forwarding, too, and even hit the "display" button because I had forgotten to wear my watch, the time on my VCR needs to be about twice the size for me to be able to see it from the distance where I watch TV, and I couldn't see my wall clock. So evidently one of the things that I did caused the DVD to be locked. Which means when I try to eject it, I get a stupid picture that supposedly represents a lock, and the word "LOCKED" flashing at me. When I try to turn the DVD player off, the same thing happens.

Now the real problem is that I can't find the manual. I know if I could find the manual, I'd be able to unlock it in a second, and I have a pretty good idea where the problem is, but I don't know how to clear it from the display button, and haven't seen a help button. My brother's suggestion of unplugging the DVD player isn't working, since it still comes back to locked. I'm hoping that its battery backup only lasts so long, but knowing what I know of computers, I suspect it isn't a battery backup, but a form of stored memory, in which case I'm S.O.L.

I started looking around for the manual, but had no luck. I went online, but gee, surprise surprise, there is no help available on the Panasonic website. I wrote them e-mail, but I won't be holding my breath on an answer from them to my problem. So what I'm going to have to do is bring the case into the library tomorrow when I return my videos, renew the DVD (which I haven't yet watched), and then find the manual and figure out how to unlock the player.

Boy, this is aggravating. Let this be a lesson to you all: Put those manuals in an easily accessible place, or you'll be feeling as aggravated as I do right now.

A friend as lovely as a tree

My friend in Richmond is in the early stages of building a new house on the lot across the street, which is, at the moment, a wooded lot. The gentleman we've been calling "The Tree-Plucker" arrived on Friday, over a week late. He was supposed to show up while I was there, and we were looking forward in horrid fascination to watching him remove the hundred-foot-tall pines and oaks that have to be moved to make way for the new house. She's trying to have this done with as little death to the trees as possible--only the trees on or right next to the site of the house will be removed. So today, we were discussing the Plucker's progress, and got on the subject of how neither one of us likes to see any tree die, and how sad we feel when a 200-year-old oak lies in pieces on the ground. And once again, I mentioned how my absolute favorite tree is the willow, and that my ideal home would have willow trees all around it. So she said to me that she wants to look into planting willows down near the edge of her property, which is marsh and wetlands. She's going to check with an ecologist to make sure it wouldn't damage the wetlands, and if she gets the green light, she's going to plant willows. For me. Because I love willows so much.

No one has ever done anything like that for me. No one has ever suggested doing anything like that for me. I can't begin to describe the joy I'd feel watching those trees grow over the years. Think about it: Every single time I visit, I'll be able to see my friend's sign of affection for me growing down the hill from her house. And even if the ecologist tells her that willows would be a bad thing for that particular ecosystem, and she winds up not planting them, still--the thought is out there, and the gesture has been made.

No wonder she's my best friend.--MAY



Along came a spider

There's this monster spider that's been in my apartment for the past two days, and I can't decide what to do with it. Yesterday, Tig kept complaining to me that he couldn't reach it, so I knocked it off the ceiling, and I thought that would be that. But apparently this spider is smarter than my cat, because today, after I switched off the TV, Tig was complaining to me that something was out of his reach again, and I looked up and there was the spider. He's on the ceiling now, right above my usual reading/TV-watching chair. But this time, I decided that my cats can damned well amuse themselves, and I'm not going to knock any spider of the ceiling for them.

I don't generally mind spiders, as long as they're not, say, crawling on me, or in my bed. I like critters that eat bugs. My cats do a really good job keeping down the flying creatures in the house, which is fine, except that they--well, mostly Tig--leave dead flies on my windowsills. And they tend to come running to me and meow when they kill their bugs, because now the bugs aren't any fun any more--they've stopped flying. And it makes me feel vaguely annoyed that they can't seem to understand me when I say, "What do you want me to do about it? You killed it." This must be what our parents had in mind when they told us not to play with our food.

Gee, I hope nobody is reading this over breakfast.

Hm. This may not be a good thing. The spider is no longer in view. I hope it's not on my chair. Well, I'm sure I'll find out next time I sit in it.

Oh. Really funny line from Robin Williams tonight about cloning sheep. Something like, "They've cloned sheep. Made an exact duplicate. Who could tell the difference?"

Shepherds, I'm sure.--MAY



Ohmigod, it's an image!

I had to do this. I love irony. So below is a screenshot of a headline with a technical error on a story about a technical error. You gotta love technology. gif

The <-0 is either an incomplete tag or, more likely, a misinterpreted tag from whatever program loads the Reuters files into's format. Either way, I got a giggle out of it.

Sorry about the blurriness. I've forgotten most of what I knew about Photoshop. That would be because I hate doing graphics. Well, you can't have everything.

Walk like a glacier

Interesting piece in the news today. Tokositna Glacier in Alaska, near Mount McKinley, suddently started moving. It's moving at the incredible speed of eight feet per day. Laugh if you will, that's a lot for a glacier. But I was just thinking--how hard do you think it would be to try to limit your entire motion in one day to eight feet? The only way I could accomplish that would be if someone tied me to a chair that was also tied to an eight-foot leash. But I think that if my movement was restricted to eight feet per day, I would probably be far more able to comprehend the mind of a serial killer--MAY