Showing posts from April, 2017

Weekly Album: Placebo - Sleeping With Ghosts


Weekly Watch: Return of the BBC Test Tx

Continued from last week.
Still sick. Still losing my ability to cope more and more with each goddamn tissue I throw in the general direction of the wastebasket. Still have to get up and do things anyhow.

I have got to the point of overload where people being nice is now confusing me. The ballroom dance instructor, of all people, has suddenly started talking to me. I had no idea he was aware of my existence beyond the fact that I show up to work and don't burn the building down, but I snarked at him on the phone one day about running around herding cats in a tux, and apparently that got his attention. I had no idea what the fuck, then I thought I did, now I think I don't and I should really just stop thinking about it. I have just enough objectivity left to understand that people who do not like you do not stand around having conversations with you in an empty lobby when they could just as easily have cruised on by with their eyes glued to their phone and done something productive with their time inste…
So I have plague. And it is a nasty one. The premiere symptoms are incessant snot production and a crushing headache. I found out today that one of my coworkers caught it and was hospitalized, mainly because the first day of it features throwing up everything you have eaten since birth, and she couldn't stop long enough to keep down water. On the bright side, since she's been tested, we now know that it's not some weird kind of meningitis. Which is nice, as the headache was a bit worrying. It's all the fun of a migraine, only on both sides of my head. It goes away for a bit if I take enough Benadryl and Bronkaid -- not very useful for getting any sleep, unfortunately, but at least reassuring that it is just swelling in my sinuses.

I was a dumbass and went to rehearsal on Thursday night. My director sent me home. I had to get my roommate to walk me back from the T stop, because I was so out of it I wasn't sure I would make it back to the house on my own. I spent the…

Weekly Album: Aqua - Megalomania


Weekly Watch: BBC Engineering Test Tx

One of my weirder hobbies is digital archaeology. I've gotten oddly good at tracing the provenance of random pieces of media. Pictures and sound follow their own version of Locard's Exchange Principle: Every medium and environment they go through leaves a mark. No part of the signal chain is transparent.

YouTube clips of home recordings of old transmissions are like matryoshka dolls, layer over layer of information on where they come from, and how they got here. This is going to be extremely long-winded and technical, so brace yourselves. Here's the example I'm using.

One of the nicer perks of managing house for events at the dance studio is that, when the stars align just right, I actually get to see some of the show. A lot of them are repertory shows for the various schools that teach in the area, but others are professional deals, and some are Serious Art. I don't always know what it's going to be until I turn up; the permanent staff are responsible for booking things, and all I get is the ad copy, and some sheets of paperwork when I get there.

Whilst channeling the usual amount of chaos a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the staffer whose project it was had wandered off at some point and changed his clothes. It's not strange to have that one roaming the building. Staffers don't have to babysit their shows in person, although he usually does. It's just a little out of the ordinary for any of them to be doing the babysitting in a tuxedo.

I was just like, kessé? I know not wherefore the monkey suit, but now I have got to fin…

Monday Mystery: "Momma Came Back"

When Korrina Lynn Sagers Malinoski failed to report to work on November 21, 1987, her employers got worried. She'd only worked there for about six months, but they liked her, and this was South Carolina, where concern means you go check on your friends in neighborly fashion. Her boss found her car parked, and locked, at the entrance to Mount Holly Plantation, a beautiful 6,000 acre lot where she, her husband, and their three children lived in a small cabin, acting as caretakers.

Her husband's story was that she'd driven off somewhere between 11 and 11:30 the night before, heading for Highway 52, and had never come home. Reports say he claims she "went for a drive"; I cannot find if any reason was ever given for this, but most people seem to think it's because they had an argument, and she needed to cool off. I don't know if this is true, or if it's just the most obvious conclusion to jump to if you assume she's dead and he's the obvious suspec…

Weekly Album: X Japan - Vanishing Vision

I have a hoop student now. Since this is a creative endeavour, I started out by asking her the same irritating question I ask everyone who wants me to help them reshape themselves, which is, "What do you want to look like?"

People react like no one else ever asks them this. I don't know why. They have this idea that there is One True Way to do fashion or makeup or dance or whatever. There is no 'right' and 'wrong'; there's 'I look like I want to' and 'I missed the look and need to practice more'. With dance-y things in particular, I think people get stuck on ballet, which is very famous and does indeed have eighty-seven thousand pernickety rules, because ballet likes being the white-tie-and-tails of dance schools. There's nothing wrong with that, but that mindset is very much ballet, and everything else is very much not. I mean, there are names for things in, like, tap dance, and there are customary ways to do things that makes the…

Weekly Watch: EEV Blog

The entire EEV Blog channel is brilliant; it's some rando Strayan in a big electronics engineering lab, with the occasional intern, who fishes things out of junk piles (or out of his mailbox, where viewers send them) and gleefully takes them to bits in front of a camera. Once in a great while he repairs something, or tries to.

This particular entry of Teardown Tuesday, I highlight because he is taking apart the front bits of a 1985 Sony Video8 camcorder, which unexpectedly turns out to be a work of origami wonder. Despite being packed almost solid with boards and parts it is entirely, beautifully, technician-serviceable. I think I'm even a bit too young to remember the days when you could take consumer electronics to a shop and have someone fix them when they got sad, but we're now past the days when even my father, the pig-headed professional circuit-board designer, could do it. Everything's irrevocably glued together now, because you're just supposed to throw it…
One of the little boogers (Plugh, for the record) has developed a head tilt. There are a few different things this could be, but the only fixable one is 'clogged ear', so I ordered some amoxicillin on the theory it was infected. (The differential is stuff like stroke, tumor, or torticollis. The official treatment for those is 'Tylenol for discomfort, and love your slightly-tilted rat until he expires.') The MSPCA clinic has a compounding pharmacy, in case your cat needs to violently refuse liver-flavored meds instead of generic pills, but it turns out that mail-order AmoxiDrops are the exact same sugary pink bubble gum-flavored goo I got when I had ear infections as a kid.

Well, I do keep telling people the rats are basically tiny furry toddlers.

I feel like a terrible monster holding an animal down and jamming a syringe in his mouth, so I've developed a much more roundabout method for medicating small spoiled critters:

Remove rat from cage.Stuff rat into front of s…

Monday Mystery: The Tylenol Murders

I recently found myself reduced to swearing and tears during a bad headache, when I discovered I had to break into a new bottle of medication to make it go away. If you've ever wondered why you have to gnaw your way through six layers of packaging to get at your painkillers, you can thank one particular homicidal twatwaffle in the Chicago area in 1982. If you can figure out who it was.

On the 29th of September, 1982, a 12-year-old girl named Mary Kellerman stayed home sick from school. She felt lousy, and her parents gave her some Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules. She collapsed within minutes.

Adam Janus, a 27-year-old postal worker, died the same day, in much the same fashion. Adam's family gathered at his house in the aftermath of his sudden death. His brother Stanley (25) and sister-in-law Theresa (19) took capsules from the very same bottle that evening. Neither survived.

Mary Reiner, also 27, had just had a baby a week before. Paula Prince (35) was a flight attendant who s…

Weekly Album: Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run

As I write this, I have just come back from a dance audition. It went... badly. I learned three things today.

One, when a dance call says 'no ballet background required', they are lying. They do not mean no ballet background required. They mean they don't do pointe work and don't mind if you use jazz hands when you spin. Casting calls for all things are often like this -- they're a lot like personal ads, where people say 'height and weight proportional' because it's not considered appropriate to say 'no fat chicks'. Translation is a bitch sometimes. Lesson learned!

Two, I am still totally unable to learn choreography on the spot. I keep hoping it's because I'm nervous, in much the same way I keep hoping my inability to get up early is because I'm a lazy sod. Laziness can be fixed by applying more effort, and situational anxiety can often be reduced with habituation. Anxiety is not the problem here; I wasn't particularly nervous a…

Weekly Watch: Deanne Love

If you'd like to learn the basics of hooping, but classes aren't for you, try Deanne's instructional videos. They're where I started. She's mildly bonkers, as most hoopers seem to be, but pleasantly so. There's no substitute for actually trying these things, so I'd recommend setting up with a laptop or a TV in a room clear enough for you to use a hula hoop without whacking into furniture, and just having a go at it while no one else is home to laugh at you.
It seems to me that my continual argument with psychopharm providers is down to a difference in paradigm that they do not like to recognize.

I've been reading a lot about the history of pharma and mood disorders, most notably Bad Pharma, Generation Rx, and Before Prozac, off my Goodreads list, if anyone wishes to look those up. They're all badly histrionic in their own special way (Goodacre is a lot more entertaining to read as a pop-sci author, for what that's worth); The Man Who Couldn't Stop isn't -- it's an acceptably science-lite, very human memoir, written by a science journalist with OCD, who seems to have a level head -- but it was enlightening nonetheless.

The thing I have noticed is that when people ask for treatment for their depression or anxiety problem, they talk about their thoughts. They keep having these terrible thoughts that won't go away. They have the thought that they're worthless, the thought that disaster is about to strike, the

Monday Mystery: The Girl In The Furnace

No one really wants to go down to the basement to re-light the furnace. The employee sent to do the onerous task in the police station of Lake Bluff, IL, in October of 1928, probably grumbled about dust, dirt, darkness, and inconvenience. And he probably forgot all about it when he found the girl, naked and burnt down to the bone, leaned up against the furnace downstairs.

Her name was Elfrieda Knaak, and at first she insisted, "I did it myself." It seemed conceivable that she'd started on her own -- metal clasps and bits of her dress were found inside the furnace, when it was examined, so she might have fed them in herself -- but both the doctors at the hospital and the police who found her were doubtful that she could have managed to get all of her limbs, and her face, into the furnace without someone to help hold her up. The furnace door was not large, and rather high off the ground. She might have gotten three out of four major limbs fed in one by one, but what would …

Weekly Album: Rob Thomas - ...Something To Be