Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Plateau or Canyon of the Auras...or Something

We went to a neighbor's Christmas party last weekend (child-friendly, so we could actually go). As I stood in food-stakeout mode near the spicy guacamole and crab dip, some of the nearby partygoers began discussing one woman's experience with a rash on her wedding ring finger. Which actually is not an unknown psychosomatic symptom of a troubled marriage.

But then the woman in question described how she fixed the trouble, which was that she attended a session with a local psychic who helped her higher self talk to her husband's higher self. Not that he was there in person or even knew anything about it. Somehow during the course of this description she mentioned having taken "some psychology--oh, I don't mean like you have, or anything" (meaning, what? She knew I have a Ph.D. in the subject but she took...Intro Psych? Abnormal Psych? during her undergrad years before getting into the clerical field? Who knows.)

Anyway, apparently this psychic session fixed everything between them, and now she goes regularly, at nearly $90 a pop. Others at the table were asking interested questions and wanted referrals (surprisingly, I quietly demurred).

TheLimey wandered up just at this moment and from what he heard of the conversation interpreted it as "we're laughing at the idea of auras and such," and started in on a humorous tale of someone he knew who had gone to a psychic who---SCREECH! even after a dozen years or so over here, his British sense of social transgression remains acute enough that he correctly interpreted my frozen-eyed expression as meaning "STOP right there for the love of God" and his anecdote quickly trailed off into inoffensive vague mumbling. But I probably should have allowed him to continue.

Because just then, the Higher Self Woman enthusiastically proclaimed to all present that the process works better than....she paused, clearly suddenly remembering who she was standing right next to...and then apparently decided she either didn't care or else had already gone too far, and said that it works a lot better than therapy!

I'm guessing this is not based on actual scientific research, which has not shown similar results. And I didn't hear that she even tried therapy, either.

Later TheLimey was aghast to learn that the apparent premise for this kind of secret psychic communication is that higher selves vibrate on the same plane as each other (even when you don't know it). This has led to all kinds of midnight jokes, such as "My higher self is flipping you off right now--can you sense it?" and "My higher self doesn't so much vibrate as twitch, writhe, or sometimes flop around like a fish."

And really, if someone is actually helped in their everyday life by whatever culturally appropriate tradition they subscribe to, that's great. Sometimes just feeling like someone cares for you, or that you're doing something to help yourself, can lead to useful outcomes. But this whole psychic planes business sure leaves the door open for a helluva lot of charlatans to squeeze money out of gullible persons, and with little or no oversight.

That last bit feels particularly ironic and galling to me right now, considering that even with 16 years of study and practice towards my degree in an actual proven treatment field, the bottleneck to my working with people is that I have to get even more oversight and practice and pay hundreds of dollars to take even more exams before I can be pronounced safe enough for licensure.

But hey. I guess that's because therapy "doesn't work," right? At least according to
the experts who've taken Intro Psych at some point in their lives. Therefore it must be okay to let who-the-heck-ever put out a psychic shingle and charge $90 to stroke your aura, or whatever.

PS: thanks Google, for all the ads for clairvoyant healing, quantum jumping, and so forth in the margins as I compose this entry. That's super-appropriate.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Hold and Have Shame!

I've been thinking about some plays that we did in my elementary school in 5th grade. I probably wouldn't have thought to have 10-year-olds do either one, now that I look at them, but I guess kids are always more sophisticated than we give them credit for.
One was an in-class play with a small cast. I was Clytemnestra. Yes, it was a pretty artsy--or progressive--school, at least in the late '70s. (But who wasn't, in that time?) Upon looking it up now, it appears as though we probably did The Libation Bearers--I do remember that I was gruesomely murdered, which was fun. We didn't have to get dressed up in costumes for this one, but I did, wearing some sort of drapey thing including a white slip of my mother's. I think I went home at lunch to change into it.
The other was Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance, which was a more formal production that we presented in an evening performance for parents and community. I was a mere chorus member in that one; one of the general's daughters.  There were perhaps a dozen or so daughters in our production, as there were three 5th-grade classes combined. I wanted to be Ruth, but alas, was not chosen, though my friends said I sang the audition song better than the girl who got it "just because she did gestures." (Well, loyal friends are good to find, right?) I've always liked the songs from this operetta and they've often popped into my head at completely random moments throughout my life.
I've recently had the opportunity to revisit the experience, as Limelet enjoys pirates generally as well as people singing, so I bought a DVD of the Australian Opera's version of PoP. It's been a hit, and is still funny and clever after all these years. Though part of the humor for me in this production is the Australian accents (the Major General singing "General" in a way that rhymes with "dinner roll.")
I'm surprised at Limelet's level of attention to something like this that a lot of adults can't focus on for long, and he goes around quoting/singing excerpts. (From upstairs: "I sink a few more ships it's true/ than a well-bred monarch ought to do!") He also has been enjoying The Sound of Music. So much for TheLimey's declaration that Limelet can do whatever he wants in life--except become an actor. I told him that attitude would guarantee that Limelet becomes an actor, I told him, but did he listen?
Anyway, our ornate local theater does a lot of family shows, especially at Christmas time. I don't think Limelet is ready yet, as he wants to get up and walk around after 20 minutes tops, but next year definitely. And I hope that this fall we can go without him some time to see a murder mystery type of production. There are some reasons it is nice to live in a city, after all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon
Originally uploaded by gregob
Happy Autumn Equinox / Full Moon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Equinox Approaches, Also TLAP Day

My favorite time of year. Both equinoxes, but especially the autumn one. For whatever reason.
We had a goof on our taxes last year and just got the bill this summer, so I filled out the many associated forms and sent a check. It was only as I was scanning the documents for copies that I realized the number of the check I was sending was, naturally, 666. I'm sure if someone at the IRS notices that they will think it was on purpose. Are we cursing them, or are we saying they are the Devil? Who knows. They cashed it anyway.
Watching yet another pirate film with a fiddler on deck during the melee, TheLimey said that instead he'd have someone playing a bass. Maybe he meant electric, but I pictured stand-up. Nevertheless, I said I'd have a theremin player. Of course, a theremin player would probably be the first one to end up in Davy Jones's locker during the battle, but that's the risk you take being a pirate thereminist.
Now, I must continue cleaning entire house for Limelet's birthday party on Saturday. I've given up on the idea of steaming the upstairs carpet after we all got sick and lost time this week. I did get the seven bales of hay for the back yard, though. For kids to play on. So far Limelet likes them, and rolls them around the yard although they are larger than he is.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Get-Out Clause

I, like many other non-Amish people, have a particular image of Amish people. (Which perhaps I should research a bit more than I have just for the sake of knowing my fellow humans--not that I'm likely to meet many Amish in clinical practice.)
Anyway, if you're like me, you probably picture them not only wearing bonnets or those flat hats and driving horse carts (which they do) but also having little, if any, truck with technology. Now this part is apparently where I've been misinformed, except perhaps as concerns old-order Amish, which is my stereotype of all Amish. 
Today I was speaking with a gentleman who's lived in these parts for a while, as he described it, surrounded by many Amish neighbors. He claims that the restriction on technology is that one can't have it in one's home, which I guess leaves a lot of wiggle room. He told me that frequently they will construct elaborate garages, with air conditioning, televisions, and whatnot. He told of visiting one household at which, when the mother and daughter opened the door, the entryway was crammed with computers tracking the milking, harvesting, and so forth (which information the mother and daughter were in charge of overseeing). Because the entryway was not in the house, you see, this was okay. Another neighbor had to leave their conversation to run to the outhouse--but not for the reason I'd imagine. Rather, he went to answer the phone, which was in the outhouse and had a very loud ringer.
So the secret is out. Although it is second-hand, and is probably biased to some extent. For all I know, other non-Amish around here already know all this and perhaps even take it for granted. But it certainly shook up my preconceived notions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Long's Park Petting Zoo

As far as I can tell, there is no solid information online anywhere
(certainly not on the Long's Park website) about the petting zoo,
except to say that it exists. So I actually went to the park today to
look at the actual signs at the petting zoo, and thought I'd post it
in case anyone else had the same problem. So here's what I found out:

-open Mid-May through Labor Day
-hours: 10am to 3pm weekdays and weekends
-BUT they close for lunch, 11:45-12:35
-it appears to be free. People were wandering in and out through the
gates and there was no ticket area or anything like that.
-I saw horses, a llama, and veterinary certificates for potbelly pigs.
There are more animals but I was looking at the signs more intently
than at the animals.
-no strollers are allowed inside the fence

Google Voice Transcript Strikes Again

This one was too good.

Message for David. D[xxxx] David, this is Ann with posh
pool squirming marshmallows. We did receive your order as our
exit meeting here to get back to you. I will email you to
let you know though that we are out of a couple of
flavor. Yeah. Okay, so maybe we can still get the order
out. Maybe a gentle with a little bit more of some other
flavors. I'll just email at info to you later than that
long voicemail. Okay. Hi David.

The actual voicemail was not from any kind of squirming anything, but
from Plush Puffs Homemade Marshmallows, and instead of "gentle" she
intends to juggle. Oddly, the transcript threw that "yeah" in there
for no apparent reason.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Heavy, But Not Very Stable / Like Something From the Bottom of the Periodic Table

Gmail keeps showing me an ad for a "4-Year Doctorite Program." (www.carlow.edu - 4-Year Doctorite Program) But what exactly IS Doctorite? Is it
a) an element that strips one of their PhD powers by mere proximity (as my husband insists)
b) a PhD who has fallen through the academic atmosphere & burned down to a tiny fragment by the time s/he lands/graduates (as I suspect)?
Please show your work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Speaking of Predictive Texts...

Here's an automatically transcribed message I received on my Google Voice a while back (it was a wrong number, anyway, as you might guess.)

"Hi Babe, It's Melissa down the burgers, bagels, I was just calling to let you know are are both possums just gonna have to eat up for a little. I know you said you're not in a hurry to get the bagels. Would you like. If you'd like, I can just give you a call back whenever they're ready. It shouldn't be that much longer than I said but by stuff to wait for the avenue he back up, so just give me a call back down here anytime. Alright, thanks bye."

What she actually said in the voicemail recording was this:

"Hi Dave, It's Melissa down at Bruegger's Bagels, I was just calling to let you know our oven was off, so it's just gonna have to heat up for a little. I know you said you're not in a hurry to get the bagels. Would you like--If you'd like, I can just give you a call back whenever they're ready. It shouldn't be that much longer than I said but I still have to wait for the oven to heat back up, so, um, just give me a call back down here anytime. Alright, thanks bye."

I hope that this Dave fellow got his bagels eventually and wasn't too angry with this Melissa person for not calling him. Instead of me.

But I liked the bit with the possums.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Possibly Outdated Mining Metaphors

There is no such thing as a motherload*. It's a motherlode. It's to do with geology, not the burdens of mothers.
Now about those canaries...
*Or at least not in the way you're using it.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Writing While White

When I taught Prejudice Psych or Women's Psych, one of the exercises/discussions we did in class was to look at who was in power in society by looking at who was in the popular movies of the day. Typically, films "for everyone" featured a heterosexual White male protagonist. If a film had a protagonist who varied from any of those statuses, then the film was considered a niche film.

So if the protagonist was a woman, it was a chick flick. If the protagonist was Black, then it was an African-American film. If the protagonist was Gay, then it was a gay film. I know you're immediately going to think of the exceptions, such as any Snipes flick or...Lara Croft (though "she's" clearly a male fantasy/avatar)...or...some other exception.

But those really are exceptions. If you don't believe me, go right now and look at the films section of your newspaper [note: yes, I'm that old] for this weekend and count the number of heterosexual White male protagonists compared to "others."

And when's the last time you saw a popular, mainstream movie that had, say, an Asian (whatever that means) Queer woman in a wheelchair as the protagonist? And if you did, what are the chances that her being Asian, Queer, or having a disability weren't the focus of the story rather than just part of her profile as she went about the story? Yeah, I thought so.

So the next thing that happens with characters who have a non-dominant status is that they might be included as The Sidekick. Preferably to help out the White hetero guy with some status-stereotypical ability of theirs, like the Gay Sidekick might...I don't know, design something, or the Black Sidekick might kick somebody's ass, or the Female Sidekick might use feminine wiles to sexually lure and then betray some "bad guy" or so forth. So you see how it goes to be relegated to sidekick status. (You get to use your otherwise reviled stereotypical powers in the service of "good" for once.)

This whole phenomenon is pretty standard in literature, too--and by that of course I also mean books that aren't considered "literature" (like really any damn thing you might find me reading these days.)

So what are the possible permutations for fictional situations, then?

1. "Standard": Characters are simply all White, heterosexual, able-bodied...usually there's some gender mixing, if only for background of the male characters. (Because even the most rabid misogynist has a hard time avoiding all contact with women throughout his life, as opposed to the most rabid racial bigot who can likely avoid people of Color nearly all the time, simply because of population statistics.)

2. Also "Standard" but hey now it's "Progressive": Protagonist is as above, but with some peripheral characters being Sidekicks of Subordinate Status.

So given this situation, what do you write, if you're a White hetero able male writer, and don't want to be an ass writing culture-blind material?

Maybe you'd decide to write, for example, a protagonist who does not have all dominant statuses. Someone who would be in Sidekick Land in most "mainstream" fiction. For example, a person of Color for your protagonist.

I'm going to examine this mostly in terms of race, just for the sake of discussion, although psychologically and socially speaking prejudice pretty much works the same across other statuses as well and a lot of the issues would apply cross-status.

When I was thinking about this, I Googled around a bit and found a lot of discussion about this in terms of race. Pieces by the rather adorable Monica Jackson (wonderfully explicit in her criticism), Molara Wood (includes quite a few informative links), Nisi Shawl (I found his piece oddly removed and anthropological about "others"), Neesha Meminger guesting on Racialicious, the Rejectionist, ... and there are more you can probably find yourself.

There are clearly a few pros (demarginalization?) and a number of cons (cultural appropriation?) to writing characters of Color when you're White.

Sometimes it helps me to think in analogies that are relevant to my own life. Though of course there's never any direct parallel, analogy can be very useful. For example, what do I think of men who write women protagonists? (Hmmm...who are those guys, anyway?) Or middle-class/rich writers writing low-SES characters? If you know some good (or bad) examples of these, let me know.

Justine Larbalestier writes on why she, a White woman, writes characters of Color, and her reasoning seems persuasive and positive to me. To me, but that doesn't mean it's right.

So how, and what, should dominant-culture writers write? In terms of race, since I'm White, should I write scenarios 1 or 2 with White protagonists only? Am I not then perpetuating marginalization of people of Color? Or should I write characters of Color, and risk cultural appropriation at best and bigoted ignorance at worst?

There is a lot of information out there about what not to do, but not a lot about what to do in avoiding wielding unearned privilege.

I've focused on race (partly because there is a lot of discussion out there about it) but am always interested in what people have to say about other statuses as well. I'd particularly like to hear from commenters who are not dominant-cultured, writers or not.

Trolling, flaming, and ignorantly prejudiced responses won't be approved or will be removed--whichever way this platform works. I can't be bothered with remedial Prejudice 101 right now when there is so much already out there to inform yourself about it (see included links). That is all.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Originally uploaded by sixes & sevens
The damp is likely to be a problem for the books.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Finding the Loose Ends*

Yes, I'm finding them. Doesn't necessarily mean that I've begun
winding them up yet, but I have at least been able to clear a space
off the coffee table and see some of the loose ends.
For about two weeks now, Limelet has been relatively healthy and
sleeping well. It's had a profound effect on our everyday lives. I
think that for a month or so last autumn this happened, but as I was
still recovering from the whole broken-leg incident I was not able to
take advantage of it or appreciate it as well. It's been three and a
half years that we've been living with some level of sleep
deprivation...from agonizing torture to merely exhausting
Lately, until about two weeks ago, the night usually went like this:
Limelet finally asleep around 10:30 or so after bedtime routine begun
at 8:15. (Mentally shakes fist at daycare naptime that lasts until
3pm). I want to read before bed the entire time I'm putting him to
sleep, but once he's asleep I'm usually too tired. So I fall asleep
shortly thereafter. Maybe three or four minutes thereafter. Limelet
starts tossing and turning at about 12:45, may calm down quickly with
a little soothing from me. Again at about 3:00, and then 4:30, and
then 5:30. At each instance he becomes more awake and has a harder
time getting back to sleep, sometimes five minutes, sometimes two
hours. We may both end up just being awake in bed from 5:30 onwards,
or from 4:30 to 7:00. Which is exactly when I have to get him up for
That routine is still loads better than it was only a year ago, but
still exhausting.
So it is with great relief that I have welcomed this recent upgrade of
his sleeping habits to pretty much staying asleep until 7:00. Now I do
have to still soothe him a bit through the night from time to time,
but only for a minute or two. In fact, Friday night he slept
completely solid all the way to 4:30. Unprecedented!
I can't believe what a change this has effected.
The coffee table is nearly cleared off, my clean laundry and Limelet's
have both been hung up for a week now instead of piled on the floor
near our closets as it has been since we moved here, we got more done
(both work and fun) yesterday than we normally would in an entire
weekend, the dishes are clean, garden's weeded, food is made ahead,
the finances and other paperwork are in order, social obligations are
starting to be met, etc.
It's like what one would picture a "normal" family might be like! You
know, people doing stuff. Not slouching around dispiritedly and
exhaustedly, while we alternate child care for a miserably sick and
tired kid, so that the other might get some urgent basic household
task done. Which is what our lives have been like every day for years.
Solid. Years. This past couple of weeks has felt like escaping some
kind of prison. I literally do not know what to do with myself during
the days! Hopefully I can finally send out those résumés I planned
to...in November.
You know what this means, right? It means I am certain to discover
that I'm pregnant any second now. I just bet.

*With apologies to my husband, as he will be sure doom is headed our way since I dared to speak aloud that anything is going well. We've both become very superstitious about this over the past couple of years. Every time we've dared to say anything like "I'm feeling good" or "things are going well" something terrible has happened nearly immediately. Really!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Changes Are in Order

Now, you've probably already heard (or...read) me rant ad nauseum
about daylight savings and how that should be changed. Ideally,
eradicated. For God's sake let it die already. So, yeah, I've got some
ideas about that.
Anyway, I also have other lunatic fringe ideas about other dearly held
social conventions. Such as the seven-day week. It's not based on
natural phenomena like months (although some claim some kind of
relationship with "four" moon phases, which to me begs the question),
or even like the number of our digits.
Since earlier societies had "weeks" of anywhere from four to ten days,
as I read, we could reasonably still choose something in that range. I
think six days would be better. And we have to maintain the two-day
weekend, too. Five workdays in a row is just too many! So there'd be
five weeks per month and, what, 61 weeks per year? Perfect.
Perhaps we can start a religion that uses the six-day week, just to
get it some publicity.

* * * * * *

I have been thinking about this, mostly at 3:30 and 5:15 in the morning. Now as far as what day I would remove from the week--it's not the one you'd imagine: Monday. No, with a six-day week no one would need to dread Mondays. And I like the whole "Sunday, Moonday" aspect. In fact, that's what I'd change it to. Anyway. It's Tuesday I'd remove.
You probably think that's crazy (as opposed to the rest of the scheme), but hear me out. So we have Sunday, Moonday, ... Tuesday? I can never for the life of me remember what that's named for. Odinsday and Thorsday, those are pretty obvious. And Freiaday. Since Freia is one of my favorite chocolate companies, I'd make that a day sacred to chocolate-eating. But then we have...ta-da! Saturnsday. What the heck? Sun, moon, Norse pantheon, and then...Saturn? Isn't that Roman? I'm changing that. It can be, let's say...Lokisday. For the sake of continuity.
Now somebody go look up the meaning of Tuesday for me, please, as I have run out of time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

C'mon People.

So, can we be just a little tiny bit less of pains in the ass? Right now I particularly mean all of us White people. Is it really (really!) so excruciatingly hard and painful to get called on your shit, even in a polite way, and even by another White person who's trying to be careful of your gigantic teetering defenses? I mean basic, super-simple stuff like exoticization?
It is? …Well, okay, then can you at least look it up later in private to find out what it means, and how you might be doing it?
I mean, I'm sure not saying I'm perfect about it, either.
And technically, yes, I am an expert on the subject, to answer your unasked question. But expert does not equal perfect. It means I'll own mine, and look into myself if someone calls me on my dominant stuff. I might even apologize. Maybe that'll have to be when I get over feeling crappy and guilty, but I try not to blame the caller-outer for that.
Is that really such a threatening thing to consider doing?
And hey, this also applies to all of us hetero-identified, Christian-raised, cisgendered, non-indigenous, age-privileged, marriage-accepted, ability-approved, all-that-other-stuff people. Whatever our dominant statuses are.
Find out yours.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

My Little Vampire

My Little Vampire
Originally uploaded by doctorlizardo
For no reason. Or just because several people have mentioned that Limelet looks like the sparkly vampire. So what do you think?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Poxford Season Over?

As I review the recent referrers to my pathetic excuse for a blog, I notice that there are no longer 40 viewers per day who are all looking for that dratted Round Table info. So the invitations must all be out and accounted for for this spring. Well, that's good.
What people are finding me with this week: "I hate my Canon scanner", a couple of queries regarding Bert and Mary Poppins's putative romance or analysis thereof; images of Spock; and someone trying to figure out how to get the sound on Putt-Putt to work. Yay for that last one, because it means someone was helped by my struggles. (Unless they couldn't understand the instructions, or didn't want to bother with the fix, in which case: boo!  I made it as simple as humanly possible!)
I am excruciatingly tired after 8 days straight of child insomnia triggered by the time change (last night I slept 12:37 to 5:28, which was the best so far), but I can't fall back asleep yet. I plan to have some breakfast, shower, put in some laundry, then see if I can't nap for a few hours. Oh yeah, also having this stupid bronchitis for the same eight days is not helping me feel any better, either. I have a coughing headache and am really sick of taking cough medication.

Triple Failwhale

Triple Failwhale
Originally uploaded by doctorlizardo
Some errors are prettier than others. I rather like this one.

Friday, March 19, 2010

For Little or No Reason

<a href="http://graphjam.com/2010/03/19/funny-graphs-queens-lyrics/%22%3E%3Cimg class="mine_3284770304" title="funny-graphs-queens-lyrics" src="http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/funny-graphs-queens-lyrics.jpg" alt="funny graphs and charts" /></a><br />see more <a href="http://graphjam.com%22%3efunny/ Graphs</a>

Dangit; can't get this to post properly. Well, later.

Meanwhile, deal with it.

Improvement, or...?

Just realized that I used to have those neglected animal dreams all the time, and I have not had any in years. Maybe because I spend so much of my waking time taking care of an actual (human) critter.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

No Spring Garden is Complete Without Them

Originally uploaded by joujoubee
Maybe a tulip/turnip hybrid?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Life and Letters: Becoming Mary Poppins: newyorker.com

More about Mary Poppins (and mostly her creatrix) than I had ever imagined knowing.

Life and Letters: Becoming Mary Poppins: newyorker.com

Flamingly Awesome

Neat! From Lifehacker. I want to try this Flame drawing tool. I can make that memory liquid from Harry Potter, right?

Right after I finish the other 50 grillion actually necessary tasks on my list for today, of course.

You know I'm mostly on Twitter these days, right? It's all my sister's fault.
Also, why am I saying "right" so much?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dear Courtney--You Already Are Ms. Fixit.

I always have some kind of bizarre problem signing in to Feministing, so I end up simply not posting my comments. Well, I'm tired of that. What is a blog for, if not a personal soapbox?

So here's the original post, about a woman with a doorknob to fix.
I was a little surprised to see so many commenters suggesting she have her boyfriend walk her through it. Or telling her it doesn't matter that much anyway, so don't fix it. Or implying that maybe she's not really mechanically apt, anyway.

I think they are missing the real issue entirely. So here's my response, not that she'll ever see it:

Oh, Courtney. Maybe you're not mechanically apt as some have suggested. But I doubt it. Most people of average "intelligence" (whatever that is) could surely fix a doorknob if they knew how.

Maybe you can ask your boyfriend to show you how to fix it, as a whole heckuva lot of people have suggested. But I have a hunch this would just perpetuate your feeling of being one-down to men when it comes to this kind of task, regardless of how personally nice and helpful your specific man may be. Teach me, O mechanical one! --I've been there, though not necessarily with this specific issue. If you're already feeling like a hardware loser, it will just make you feel like a (comparative) kid.

Make no mistake: this is not about the immediacy or urgency or importance of fixing the doorknob itself. This is about your sense of agency in and ability to affect your world.

The thing that made me start Doing Stuff like this myself was having a female friend who Did Stuff. Seeing her Do Stuff made me feel that it was a given that I could Do Stuff too, and why on Earth hadn't I Done Stuff before?

If, as you say, you learn best by having a human person help you with it, find a nice hardware-oriented chick to help you with it. I liked the suggestion of finding female store employees if you don't think any of your female friends are into doorknob fixing. Maybe you'll still feel one-down to her, but I doubt it. It won't perpetuate this belief you've acquired somewhere along the line (along with the rest of us) that Men Do, Women Do Not.

It's waiting to come out. Do Stuff.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nostalgia: Namespace EnterpriseBeverageSystem

Speaking of classic posts--of which I have very few--remember the one about programming the Enterprise to dispense the right tea for Picard, and the out-of-control geekfest discussion that ensued? For some reason we ended up re-reading this tonight and laughing about it.
(And just think, we still ended up getting engaged anyway.)

Tragedy / Comedy

The other day Limelet was in a rare mood of hyperness.  He galloped over to his Lego box and tore the lid off, throwing it across the floor to crash noisily on the opposite wall.  TheLimey and I both shouted "Limelet!"* at once. He looked cowed.  TheLimey prompted him: "What do you say?" expecting a brief "Sorry." 
Instead Limelet answered, "Thank you."  TheLimey and I stared at each other, paralyzed with equal parts horror and mirth.  Before we could correct his misapprehension, he continued, "Thank you for shouting."
It was such a smartass thing to say--if he meant it that way, which I'm sure he didn't--that it was really funny.  At the same time, it was so pathetic that it was mortifying.  "Please sir, may I have another?"
With our genes, it'll only be another six months or so before he says stuff like that and means it.
*Not his real name.  I hope this is obvious.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Love / Hate Again

Amazon.com, what the heck is with your search "algorithm"? 
Why is it that you lead me to your subscribe-and-save section, only to subsequently show me a shipload of items that are not subscribe-able or in many cases are not available for purchase at all?  And you have no way to search solely for subscribe-and-save items!
I am frequently forced to use Google to search you for almost anything I want.  It's just too bad that you do, in fact, have many of the things I want, so I keep coming back.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again

That's right, the invitations to pay thousands of dollars to attend a vanity conference must be hitting the mailboxes of academia once again, because my Poxford post is once again getting tons of hits.  That's right, like, twelve.  Or something.
It's kind of funny that that post has been the most popular thing I ever wrote. 
Well, that and the UTI treatment one.  Maybe the sweatpants baby carrier one, too.  There is just no continuity in my contents!

A Low Wreck

Please, people. 
It's not "low and behold," it's "lo and behold."  Also, for the eleventy-xillionth time, one does not "wreck havoc," when one can "wreak havoc."  Wreak!
For Pete's sake please stop it--it's killing me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Changing Email Address and Stuff on Monster

Just FYI, as of this post, every site in the flippin' WORLD says that to change your email address or password or whatever with Monster, you have to go to "your account" under "your profile".  Or some dang thing like that. 
However, I couldn't find it; it must have been like that before. 
Anyway, currently you have to click on "preferences" which is up at the top of the page near the right when you first sign in.  That's where all the good stuff is.

How to Get Old Windows Games (Like Putt-Putt the Car) to Play in XP - Step by Step

Last week when I picked up my son from day care, he and another little boy were playing a little game on the center's computer. It was such a hotly contested activity that tears ensued. The game was one of the Putt-Putt the Car Games, in which a little car goes around and does little activities. It's easy, and there are lots of items to click that do something entertaining and have cute sound effects, so the kids love it.

I decided to see if I could get a copy for home use, and ordered some used game disks on Amazon.com for cheap. The descriptions stated that they would play on Windows or XP.

However, when I tried them out on my laptop, there was no sound no matter what I did. This was a problem, because at least half the fun is the sounds that things make in the game. Also, it's how you know what to do in the game. However, it's not surprising that some things won't work, as the disk states "copyright 1992". (I'm writing this post in 2010.)

I tried lots of things to make it work, including trying compatibility mode, which I guess doesn't stretch far back enough in time for a prehistoric game like this.

However, after spending hours and hours clambering through the tubes of the internets and experimenting with stuff, I found something that did work and is pretty easy once you know what to do.

Basically, you install what I think of as a "viewer" for old games on your current computer, and play the game "through" it. If that makes any sense to you, you probably think the internet is tubes like I do.

If, like me, you may be technologically very ignorant (but not technologically stupid!) you can still do this. The application you want is called ScummVM and is freeware or maybe shareware...actually open-source freeware or shareware. (But I was so excited when it worked that I donated some money to them anyway in thanks.)

Their description of the procedure can be found here. Anyway, hang on with it: we'll get to that in a minute.

The descriptions of what to do were confusing to me, as they were written for people who know what the heck they're doing, and I had to figure it out piece by piece. For example, it may say "copy the blah blah files into your hard drive." What does that mean, exactly? What are those files, and where are they? And where in my hard drive do they go, in what form? And how does one do all that, anyway?

So here's my step-by-step translation of what I did. If something's unclear, please comment and I'll see if I can clarify. But unless you're doing pretty much what I was doing, I may not know either. My PhD's in another field!

I'm sure there are other (and probably better) ways to do a lot of these procedures, but I'm just going to tell you what I did that worked for me. So here's what I did to get Putt-Putt up and running:

1. Have the disk of the game. I'm using "Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon" for this demonstration.

2. Go to this page and look up the game you're using. You must do this part in order to know what files to copy. [Note: I used ctrl-f to search the page for "putt" since the page is so huge.]

3. Within the "Putt Putt" title I'm looking at, there are several section headings: 3DOS, DOS Demo, Windows Demo, and Windows. We want to know the names of the files listed under "Windows." As you can see, for this game, those would be:


  • 4. On your start menu, open "my computer" and then open Disk C. Create a new folder (right click, new, new folder) right there in your C drive. I called mine "puttmoon files".

    5. Put the disk in your computer's drive. Select "quit" not "play" if the little screen comes up.

    6. On your computer's start menu, select "search." (Heck, use the search companion if you want--I did!) Search under "all files and folders" within the drive where your game disk is. Probably Drive D or Disk D. I searched for all files with "puttmoon.he" in the title, since most of the required files for my game started with puttmoon.he.

    7. Some files came up in your search box, right? Called puttmoon.he or whatever your game requires? Good.
    a. Okay, now under the edit menu of your open search box, select all the files that came up by using "select all", then--
    b. --copy them using "copy". If there are doubles then copy both--it won't hurt anything. (And I don't know which ones you're supposed to use, do you?)
    c. Now paste them all into the empty folder you created ("puttmoon files"?) in your C drive. Answer "yes" if it asks to copy over any doubles or whatever.

    8. There was one other file the list mentioned that was not a puttmoon.he (PUTMOON.BRS), so I repeated the procedure with that one, searching for "putmoon.brs". Make sure you've got ALL the file names in your new folder that are listed in your game listing.

    9. Now we need to get the "viewer" or virtual monitor, which is ScummVM (description here.)

    10. Google "download scummvm for xp". (What came up for me was Softonic.) (I hope you have a virus checker installed so you know if the page is safe!) Click on Download Free. Softonic gave me a choice to download a $2.99 version (from their guaranteed source or whatever) or a free version; I risked the free version and it was fine. There may be lots of pirated ScummVM out there, but I doubt it, considering its attributes. Anyway, an install wizard should come up that will install it pretty easily. Just run it all when it asks, and make sure it IS pinned to your start menu when it asks.

    11. Once it's installed, open your start menu and you'll probably see "new program installed." Go to "all programs" and open the folder. I copied the shortcut (a green "S") and pasted it on my desktop, because I like easy access.

    12. Okay, we're almost ready. Run ScummVM (click on the shortcut if you made one). A little ScummVM black window will come up, and then a yellowish one with actions.

    13. Select ADD GAME.

    14. It will probably start looking for games by opening Drive C, but if it doesn't, then browse to Drive C. Select your folder name ("Puttmoon".) Then click CHOOSE and any other acceptance button that comes up.

    15. There will now be a window with names of the games you've loaded into ScummVM (maybe only one game if this is your first.) Select the game you want, and click START.

    16. Putt-Putt is going to the moon!! Yippee for old-game geeks!

    17. If you're as happy as I was with the results, then give the nice geeks some well-earned support in their hard work here at this page, bottom right ("Support this Project").


    I played with the options a bit. I tried making the game window bigger as it seemed small to me, but it just created screwy and also huge graphics that wouldn't allow me to escape the window. I had to turn off the computer to get out. I also tried fullscreen mode*, which had different yet similarly bad effects. We now use the small window and it's fine.

    I tried the sound options, and turned down that loud background music (but not the speech and sound fx), and that worked great.

    I had to get a kitchen timer like they had at the day care to limit game play to 15 minutes at a time, because my son is already addicted and would probably not eat, sleep, or go potty if I let him play as much as he wanted. (What have I done?! Such a bad mother!)

    *Update: you can use alt-enter for fullscreen (on Putt-Putt anyway). Just make sure to toggle it off before you let your computer sleep, or your cursor will have disappeared when it wakes up.

    Also, for some people (including me) the topiary creatures song is not triggered when the hedge animals are clicked. However, it does work at my son's daycare, so...not sure why. Could be a licensing issue or something like that.

    Monday, February 01, 2010

    Anony Mouses

    You probably know that it is a point of honor with me to keep my anonymous blog comments function open. 
    After all, I am annoyed when I have to go through various sign-ins and also swirly-printed passwords just to make some tiny inconsequential smartass comment on a blog. My comments are of such little value that it's not really worth it.  I get most annoyed when a given sign-in looks simple but ends up in some weird technical loop that won't allow me to comment anyway, which happens more often than you might think, thanks to the cross-wired perambulations of Google and Blogger and LiveJournal and so forth. 
    So, I'm sorry, but it's true.  I'm annoyed by it, and think you are all paranoid.  All of you!
    Nevertheless, perhaps there are people whose blogs truly are well-read and who really do get so many irritating anonymous spammy comments that it takes a lot of time to delete them, in which case it's understandable. But for me, it's usually one or two spammy robot comments a month, if that. However. Lately, I've been getting weird dumb spam comments like [read using DUH voice] "Nice fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you as your information."  That was to a post in which I complained about Mensa, and it couldn't possibly have "fill someone in" on any dang thing at all.
    Sometimes these comments are obviously spam and have a link in them, but a lot of times it's just some general comment about how fantastically great that particular blog post was, which is obviously complete BS.  I'm not sure what they are doing with those comments; possibly trolling for blogs that allow anonymous comments?  I can't think of anything else.

    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Of Great Importance

    FInally, after literally decades of striving, I have succeeded.  That's right, for once I have a haircut I like. 
    I am pleased* with how it looks whether up or loose, parted side or middle, after wash-n-wear with no styling, or even upon waking the next day.  I'm going to celebrate it now because it is certain to grow out and look bad again within 3 days or so.
    *That's not to say anyone else would necessarily approve, but I don't really care about that.

    Human Sacrifices for Science! Be One.

    If you haven't already heard about the Mass Homeopathic "Overdose" campaign, then look into it.  Whether you remember from high school science class what "molarity" or "the Avogadro's Constant" is,  or you simply understand what "extreme dilution" means, you should know what's going on.
    Note: many participants in this protest will be ingesting high concentrations of dihydrogen monoxide.  Also known as DHMO or hydroxyl acid, it is the primary component in acid rain.  DHMO is found in nearly all recently deceased mammal bodies in North America, and is known to be present in mothers' milk worldwide.
    (If you think this is scary, then please edify yourself by clicking on the links!)

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Terrible Fanfic Across the Fourth Dimension

    While looking for references to an old song I wanted to hear, I accidentally found this fanfic of--wait for it--Buckaroo Banzai. 
    It's a real Mary Sue of a tale, in which Peggy gets killed off immediately and the writer gets to comfort BB (I'm strongly guessing with more to come, or at least in the writer's head).  Of course there are plenty of errors in the piece (I think Devine is my favorite), but I admit I was surprised to see cummerbund spelled correctly.  Probably used spellcheck.
    Gosh, I miss Godawful Fanfic!

    Friday, January 22, 2010


    I've been doing little in the past three weeks other than trying to manage Limelet's sleep disturbances, plus some basic cooking and cleaning.  And some occasional vegetative escape-websurfing.
    However, while cooking and cleaning, I've been watching Torchwood from the beginning on Netflix.  I expected to enjoy it somewhat, but in point of fact I am totally hooked.  I'm sad now because it's the weekend and I won't be able to watch any more until Monday! 
    I had not heard much about it before, although we caught maybe one static-y episode on PBS a few years ago late at night.  Some of the video editing and camera work is too aggressive and choppy for my taste, but not so that I can't overlook it. If forced to compare it to something, I'd say it's more or less CSI: Star Trek X-Files, in Cardiff.  For some reason.
    I am also happy to see actors who, although attractive, are not entirely made of plastic, as in US programs.  (I am charmed by Eve Myles's teeth gap.)  And I want her hair now.
    I'm not saying this is fine highbrow material, but I am certainly having a good time watching it.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Edith Keeler Must Die!

    Greatly enjoyed seeing City on the Edge of Tomorrow, a Season 1 Star Trek I must have missed back in the day.  Didn't know that a) Joan Collins was in it, and b) Harlan Ellison wrote it.  Neat-o!  Now must research whether he wrote any other of the Season 1 episodes.

    Monday, January 04, 2010


    I think the non-grocery column of my shopping list eloquently sums up my family's life recently:
    Cough syrup
    Vitamin C
    Red Wine