24 December 2007

Pretty much it

xkcd comic
[Just click on the image to see it larger or visit it directly on xkcd.]

I've actually been trying to get to bed earlier though. :)

Have a merry merry everybody, and don't forget NORAD's tracking Santa, so you can follow Santa's progress around the world. They've integrated it with Google Maps this year. Or you can call NORAD toll free at 1 (877) Hi NORAD or 1 (877) 446-6723 for an update on Santa's location.

One year ago on TTaT: A Charlie Brown Christmas
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23 December 2007

Rebel icicle

bent iciclebent icicle endWhen I noticed that my bent icicle was tapering up instead of down yesterday, I figured I'd better go ahead and shoot it even though the light wasn't ideal. My instincts proved right as it had fallen off before I got up this morning. There's no sun today anyway, just rain.

I chalk up it's unusual formation to a good bit of wind.

Lit trees
One year ago on TTaT: It's that time of year again..., I'm dreaming of a...
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22 December 2007

Bowties: not so tough

Turns out tying a bowtie is very much like tying your shoes, except with wider fabric that has oddly shaped ends.

Snoopy's bowtie
Snoopy's bowtie for his tuxedo was missing, so I bought some ribbon. Now tying a bowtie that small and cutting it to the precise length needed is a bit challenging. The tie is a little hard to see in the photo as I opted for white tie formal and its ends don't flare out since the ribbon was all one width, but I think it turned out pretty well. I just have to keep myself from fiddling with it anymore in the pursuit of perfection.

(On another note, it figures I'd start to get my blog mojo back just as everyone's unplugging for the holidays. And on another note: Joyeux Noel, Elisabeth, lover of Peanuts!)

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A new favorite

In the realm of ever more inclusive strings of holiday greetings, I just encountered my favorite amidst the list at Mind Hacks.

A joyous non-theist winter holiday to you too!

One year ago on TTaT: I hate my printer
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21 December 2007

This is what happens...

...when you rip out a tag with your bare hands instead of using scissors or a seam ripper:tagless shirt
Seeing as it's not a shirt I wear out anyway, it was quite satisfying to tear out that neck scratcher.

Laundry care tag, consider yourself on notice.

One year ago on TTaT: I thought I only had 2 left, Solstice time
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20 December 2007

Having a brother

(Another element of the Off-Season Vacation.)

"What's that stand for?" Mom asked. She was sitting in the living room of the condo while my brother and I leaned against the counter in the kitchen opposite her.

My brother's eyes were searching the ceiling for the proper sequence of words, so I answered, "Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game."

Not to be outdone, my brother added, "Well, anyone who's been playing them since the beginning just calls them MUDs for Multi-User Dungeon."

"Oh," Mom said, quickly losing interest.

"Besides, MUD is more fun to say," he continued.

"Oh, I don't know," I said, "Mmm morp-ga is kinda fun to say."

"Yeah, I guess so," he shrugged, walking back to his laptop to continue playing his sci-fi space MMORPG.

"What's that one called again?"

Without looking back, he said, "Eve."

"Hmm, I haven't heard of that one." Not surprising with my minimal acquaintance with MMORPGs. "Hey, did you know they're making one based on Firefly?"

He looked over his shoulder at me and said, "Eve already has everything you could want in a space-based MUD, there's no need for another."


"They'll probably base it on Eve's code," he added snidely.

"I was just making conversation."


My brother delights in keeping the intellectual high ground whether it's deserved or not when it comes to me. His modus operandi is to grin and contradict whatever I've just said to get on my nerves. I had become used to letting him ramble as an expert on any topic, but this contradiction business was a new torture.

Only 2 days into our week of vacation together, this same contradictory exchange occurred for the twelfth time as we were all heading to the elevator to go to dinner.

I'd had enough and said, "You're really annoying."

He laughed and said, "You're my sister. I'm supposed to be."

"It makes me not want to see you."

Everyone else was talking as well so it was unnoticed by them, but it actually shut him up as we stepped into the elevator.


As much as my brother drives me crazy, when I interrupted him and his wife cozily reading books on their balcony, he readily got up to help me with the flat screen TV. I could get the TV stereo on, but the picture wouldn't change channels. I'd found the input but not how to change the setting up or down from where it was. Once he'd gotten it and had shown me what he'd done, I imitated his 4 year old daughter and sing-songed, "Thank you, Daddy!"

He laughed pretty hard at that. I like making my family laugh.

The next day, he offered to open my ginger ale bottle when he saw I was having trouble with it.* What can I say? He's my brother.

*I don't know what Schweppes does, but their caps are damn hard to twist off. Give me some Canada Dry!

One year ago on TTaT: Looking for cheer?
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14 December 2007

Scrooge was more generous on page 1

Yes, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is still on strike. For info on the whos and whys of it, visit United Hollywood's faq page.

And now for a roundup of strike information and entertainment:
Regarding the AMPTP releasing a press release just 20 minutes after storming out of negotiations (again) and demanding the WGA drop six issues or else the companies "petulantly won't even talk," Elisberg writes...

"This is important. The press release appeared after 20 minutes. We're dealing with nine corporations here on the board. To get approvals from nine multinational conglomerates, nine PR departments, nine CEOs - until it's right - this takes more than 20 minutes. It takes many days. Which means the corporations knew before sitting down to negotiate that they had no intention to negotiate. That they knew they were going to blame everything on the "six issues" and then storm out in a hissy fit.

...when one side demands you remove six items before they'll talk...you simply can't do it. If you do, the negotiation is over. You lose. Go to jail, do not collect the $250. The Guild tried that once, removing the 4-cents DVD increase because the AMPTP demanded it. And the AMPTP corporations didn't change one thing. What they did do is walk out of the room. (Sound familiar?) So, that didn't work out too well. And removing six items now because the AMPTP "demands it" would work out worse."
WGA Files Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against AMPTP.

See for yourself the documents filed by the WGA with the National Labor Relations Board.

If the corporate conglomerates are really struggling, I have a notion of where they could save a lot of money. Take a look at the yearly salaries and compensation of some of the major studio and network heads, represented by the AMPTP (not including stock options).

Recipe for a "Striking Writer Martini"

Because "every strike needs a hip hop anthem"

My favorite Speechless videos thus far:
Episode 1: Holly Hunter
Episode 15 aka "Just What's On The Page": myriad actors
Episode 18: Alan Cumming
Episode 19: Tim Robbins

Another Pencils2MediaMoguls perk: win a call from Joss Whedon: "I'm warning you, I'm gonna call late, and probably drunk, and maybe cry. It's gonna be so cool."

On an unrelated note, damn if I didn't lose this whole thing just as I hit publish. At least all the links went faster the second time round.

One year ago on TTaT: 45
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09 December 2007

Words + Rice

I saw a news bit about FreeRice on TV, but since they highlighted it as a vocabulary builder for elementary school kids, I didn't realize how much I'd dig it.

It's not just for kids.

For every word you correctly define from the multiple choice list, the site will donate 20 grains of rice through the United Nations to end world hunger. It adjusts the difficulty level of the words based on what you get right and wrong, so anyone can play. My vocabulary level hovers in the low 40s with a best of 43 thus far [UPDATE: Make that 44], and I'm having to bust out my SAT training from the recesses of my brain. There are 50 vocabulary levels in total, but apparently few people get past 48.

It's set up like The Hunger Site in that it's free for you to participate while the rice is paid for by advertisers whose names appear below the vocabulary question. Unlike The Hunger Site, the advertising on FreeRice is unobtrusive and you can play as much as you want. I've earned a donation of almost 3000 grains of rice so far today.

Pretty damn cool. And I'm picking up some new words. Even better.

(For the skeptical, you can check the program out on Snopes.)

Two years ago on TTaT: The internal war
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08 December 2007

You've seen them

Oh, yes you have. Small groups of forty something friends, parents quite likely, shopping together for the holidays. I'm thinking this should be outlawed.

After carefully selecting two stuffed animals for my niece, one very huggable silly rhino and one nicely sized for carrying everywhere moose, I tried to stand in line to buy them. It wasn't clear if there was a line because two women were standing at the counter asking tons of questions. There were two store clerks and the women demanded the full attention of both.

They were buying stuff, but the questions and jibber jabber were incessant. The woman on the left wanted bigger blocks and sent a clerk off to look for them but decided she didn't want them before the clerk returned. The shopping women compared notes on what games were too old or young for their respective children and how many gifts to buy them.

There was a third friend with them but she was keeping mostly out of the fray. In an effort to be helpful, she announced to her oblivious friends and the not oblivious cashier, "That gentleman's trying to check out."

She meant me. I was a little surprised because my hair was down (though short, it's not a masculine cut), but then I considered what I was wearing and noticed what they were wearing. Me: over-sized black men's corduroy jacket, maroon hoodie, t-shirt, cargo pants. Them: a puffy fuchsia winter coat nipped in at the waist is all that really registered beyond stereotypical femininity- pastels, earrings, makeup. Well, at least I'm a gentleman, I thought to myself.

Pointing out my presence (gender confusion aside) didn't stop her friends from monopolizing all the store help though. Had I not been overheating, my patience would've sustained better.

The first woman finally finished her transaction and since the second was still getting second opinions, the clerk asked, "Are you all set?"

I quickly said, "Yes," while putting the animals in her hands.

The first woman started pulling purchases out of her bag, commenting, "Oh, I need this wrapped."

The clerk handed me my credit card slip to sign when the first shopper interrupted, "Do you gift wrap?"

I just needed ten more seconds of the clerk's time, and she couldn't fucking wait. A little consideration, please! The clerk deftly passed off wrapping duties to her just-returned associate so she could give me my receipt.

Good grief. Allow for a little retail triage, ladies, so the rest of us can get out of the frakking store!

One year ago on TTaT: I must admit, Beauty Parlor Nostalgia (Part 3)
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07 December 2007

Finally, another book

The Good Body by Eve Ensler (4.5/5)

A volume so slim and good, there's no excuse not to read it. If you liked The Vagina Monologues, you'll like this similarly structured book. If you found The Vagina Monologues off-putting or a little too... strong?, I bet you'll still like The Good Body.

Body image concerns are familiar to most everyone, even Eve Ensler. She writes:
It’s as if they’ve been given their own little country called their body, which they get to tyrannize, clean up, or control while they lose all sight of the world.

What I can’t believe is that someone like me, a radical feminist for nearly thirty years, could spend this much time thinking about my stomach. It has become my tormentor, my distractor; it’s my most serious committed relationship. It has protruded through my clothes, my confidence, and my ability to work. I’ve tried to sedate it, educate it, embrace it, and most of all, erase it.
The past few months, I've been a little obsessed with my own stomach. I was fine with it for a long time, even considered it sexy for a spell, and then some switch flipped; my slightly rounded stomach seemed wrong and it wouldn't be right until it was flat. Honestly, I haven't made much progress on that front with my sporadic workout habits and aversion to crunches. Still, every Sunday I measure my thighs and the chubbiest part of my stomach, a record of little change to feed the obsession.

I think it's time to cut back on the measuring and commit to exercising to increase my energy and strength, improve my sleep, and repel depression.

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03 December 2007

Here's what's in it for you

So you know the Writers Guild of America is still on strike, right?

You can show your support for the writers by sending pencils to the media moguls. Read more about it here.

As for what's in it for you, several show runners (of Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, Smallville, Army Wives) have been offering up incentives (phone calls from TV stars and the like) for supporting the writers of their shows. Most are raffle style, each box of 12 pencils you buy (just $1 each) giving you a chance to win. (You need to fill out the "What TV show are you supporting?" box to be eligible.)

For further instructions, check out the list of prizes and stay tuned to United Hollywood for added offerings.

Two years ago at TTaT: Sitting on my desk for months
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02 December 2007