Showing posts from March, 2016
I've been awake for four hours and the only thing I have yet managed to do right is feed rats. That's not nothing, but my next plan is to go return things to BPL in the hopes of getting one more entity on the face of the Earth to not be displeased with me.

In the meantime, have this list of podcasts I listen to in an effort to distract myself.

This American Life

Ira Glass' well-known NPR show, investigating the nooks and crannies of life in America. Ranges from individual interesting stories to wide-ranging investigations of culture, community, and occasionally crime.

Radiolab from WNYC

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich host this generally nerdy investigation into... stuff. Of particular interest to anthropologists and cognitive scientists who find their interests often overlap.

A Gobbet o' Pus
Persiflager's Infectious Disease Puscast

Three medical podcasts by Dr Mark Crislip, infectious disease specialist, blogger at Science-Based Medicine, and wiseass extraord…
Boss Lady at Circlet was wearing the one-panel t-shirt version of this when last I saw her.
The main production Macbook at Circlet has had some sort of hypothalamic stroke. It has been thrown into paroxysms, rebooting over and over again. Every three seconds it resets itself and proclaims "Now I am awake for the first time".

The backup Macbook suffered some sort of chronological failure, and would not even connect to Google until its clock was reset correctly. Evidently it was not willing to accept security certificates from the future.

So this is fine.

My phone has decided I don't really need a screen all that badly anyway. It turns on about every third time I try. Sometimes it works correctly, sometimes the video driver is misaligned with the video memory, and the bottom third of the display wraps around to the top. The active touch areas are still in the normal positions, which makes it a challenge to figure out exactly where to tap to activate the correct displaced …

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 13

Occasionally, the generation gap is a good thing.

I follow (read: saw live once, and now vaguely keep tabs on) a band called Tokio Hotel. Have done for years. Why am I listening to German electronic-emo-pop-punk, you ask? Because when Moggie tripped over them, we were both in German classes. The internet had not yet uploaded all thirty years of Aktenzeichen XY... ungelöst! to YouTube, and Michael Ende only wrote so many books. I had to practice on something.

[Michael Ende, for those who don't know, is the original author of Die unendliche geschichte, known in English as The Neverending Story. I have an early edition hardcover, the most expensive book I have ever bought without being ordered to by the university. It's beautiful. All of Atreyu's book-story is printed in green; Bastian's real-world parts are in black, until he crosses over into the book, and the he's in green as well. Each chapter starts with a full page illuminated majuscule, in alphabetical order. T…
I've been trying to practice more with the hoops as late, and I've become rather fond of this song: Placebo's "Purify", off of Loud Like Love.

I find myself in the interesting position of being unsure whether I need to mark this NSFW. The official video almost certainly is, being sprinkled liberally with nuns in lingerie, but the song itself involves no profanity, and doesn't even mention any anatomy you couldn't bring up at holiday dinners with Grandma. Structurally, it's a pretty standard "omg you are incredibly hot, hooking up with you is awesome" pop song, but it's couched in the jargon of Evangelical Christianity. It is nevertheless unrepentantly filthy. This ensures that anyone who would be inclined to pop a sprocket over it will hate it without even bothering to listen to it, which sounds like a great way to filter out anyone who shouldn't be buying Placebo albums to begin with.

You wouldn't think of the back of someone'…

Monday Mystery: The Vanished 727

Usually, when people refer to an airliner as "lost", they mean it's crashed somewhere and is broken beyond repair. Usually. But when Aerospace Sales & Leasing said it, they meant it literally: They had a 727 parked on the runway, they looked away for just a few minutes, and when they turned back around it was gone.

God only knows where it is now.

In February 2002, a South African named Keith Irwin leased a 727 for use in a cargo-hauling venture he had going in Africa. Shenanigans happened, and the venture unfortunately folded. With the company unable to make payments on the lease, the 727 somehow limped along to Angola, where the company was also unable to pay any of the ground fees at the airport where it settled. The flight crew made their way home one by one, but the plane was left stranded in Luanda.

The 727 sat there, quietly disintegrating, until eventually the only part of her worth anything was the engines. The company arranged for a broker, Maury Joseph, to …

Rat Babble

Day Two of Open Cage: No one has fallen out. Success so far! I still close it when I sleep and when I'm not home, just in case, but I can probably quit doing that soon.

Xyzzy is coming out very rex-y. The thing about rex rats is, their coats wax and wane. Their fur comes in straight-ish, then they basically molt, then their fur comes in curlier, then they molt again, etc. It makes them tricky to show, because they spend about 75% of their lives looking like a toddler who's given himself a haircut with safety scissors. Xyz currently has a big thinning patch on his haunches, and a bald spot right on his nose. Jazmin has already started referring to him as a "scruffy little nerf-herder".

It's Xyzzy [zɪ. ziː] and Plugh [pluːx], by the by. There's no official pronunciation for either, so far as I know -- they come from a text adventure -- but Plugh doesn't exactly rhyme with Grue [gɹuː]. Flathead, I should hope, is self-explanatory.

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 12

One: I've finally noticed that I was an idiot and forgot to update the Monday Mystery queueueueueueueueue. Fixng that. Just check the tag to get them.

Two: It is allergy time. Specific kinds of weather don't make me miserable per se; I just suffer when it changes suddenly, or if it goes abruptly from cold to warm and all the things bloom. I ran out of diphenhydramine a few weeks ago and the money had to go to something else, so I just sort of left it on the grounds of "that which does not kill me can be ignored indefinitely if I really put my mind to it." It is both one of my dumbest, and one of my most successful, long-standing policies in life.

I gave up and cadged some from Jazmin this afternoon. My sinuses finally got to the stage where I prefer to sleep sitting up, and the swelling gives me a chronic headache which nothing can stop. Also, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt, my knees hurt, and anywhere I've managed to scratch or scrape myself itches like fuck w…
I'm doing a couple of things right now that involve the terrible sacrifice of going back through YouTube and watching several decades of past performances from bands I'm kind of fond of. Terrible task, I know. There's quite a lot to go through. Bowie was actively performing for thirty-some years before health problems forced him to stop. Joan Jett started with The Runaways in the late '70s and is still active. L'Arc~en~Ciel had their 25th anniversary concert a couple years ago, Placebo is just past twenty years, and even Tokio Hotel has been together for fifteen.

Never read YouTube comments if you want to retain your faith in humanity. If you do anyway, it's shocking how many of them are 'they changed, they suck now'. It's especially prominent on acts that started out young and grew up in front of the cameras. Some part of their audience is very upset that the members of the band no longer sound like angry, lonely teenagers.

I always wonder, why you…

Monday Mystery: Setagaya Family Murders

Just a short one this week. In 2000, in the Setagaya district of Tokyo, the Miyazawa family were found brutally murdered in their own home. Reddit has some excellent write-ups in their Unresolved Mysteries forum here and here -- WARNING: The murders were fairly gruesome, and the writeups are very accurate -- including photos of the scene, and of the models created in 2013 for virtual walkthroughs.

What caught my attention here were some of the clues. When you're solving a mystery, what you're looking for are things that are either indicative or out of place. Which things those are depends to a surprising extent on the surrounding culture.

There was beer in the victims' refrigerator. The murderer snacked before leaving, but took none of the beer. In the US, nobody would even bother to write that down, but in Japan, the drinking culture is so strong -- particularly for young men, which the perp was assumed to be -- that it was specifically noted that he hadn't taken any …

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 11

I steal a lot of my makeup from men, I've noticed.

I've been helping a friend of mine with what was once a homework assignment, but which has now taken on a life of its own. She had to do some documentary photography, so she asked around to see if anyone would let her photograph their jobs/hobbies; I told her she could watch me paint faces, people immediately volunteered to have their faces painted, I rummaged through the internet for interesting face-painting ideas, and somehow this resulted in an afternoon that at one point involved two models -- one in gold leggings and kabuki face, one in a suit with her cheekbone contouring in mica glitter -- in a bathtub, with a single lowball glass of scotch.

This happens a fair amount in my life. I don't know any normal people anymore.

As it turns out, I have a lot of friends who respond to a polite Facebook inquiry about turning them into an outrageous rock star for the camera with a shower of exclamation point and emoticons. (Rep…

Monday Mystery: Titian's Model

I've always been confused by people who talk about redheads getting picked on. It seems to be a Commonwealth thing, perhaps inspired by the constant warring of Celts vs Angles. My personal experience, in the US, has been that most people are completely indifferent, but a noticeable minority will chase me doggedly, either romantically because they've always had a crush on Ann-Margaret/Jane Seymour/Gillian Anderson/Felicia Day, or professionally because they have a thing for a painter who loved them.

One of the most famous redheads of the fine arts was one of Titian's models. She appeared in more than half a dozen of his best-known paintings--

Sacred and Profane Love
Young Woman in a Black Dress
Woman With A Mirror

--and her long wavy hair was so prominently featured in so many of them that its bright coppery color is now known as "Titian red".

And we don't know who she was.

It is a strange but persistent lacuna in art history that the ide…

Saturday Serial: The Count of Monte Cristo part 10

Obligatory Rate Update!

All of the wee little miscreants have names now. The dumbo is Duke Dimwit of Flathead -- His Grace, for short -- the one who spends most of his time hiding in dark boxes is Grue, and the goons with the dark ear tips are Xyzzy and Plugh.

If you had anything constructive to do with your adolescence -- or are just younger than I am -- the Zork Wikia will tell you everything you need to know. tl;dr: The Flatheads are the disastrously foolish royal dynasty, grues are creatures who lurk in the dark and will eat you in a few turns if you don't scare them off with a lamp, and "xyzzy" and "plugh" are magic words, although what exactly they do depends on which game you're playing.

His Grace is of the opinion that he is personally the exact center of the universe, around which all other things revolve. This is not unusual for a rodent. All of them agree that I should really only be paying attention to one rat; they just disagree on which rat that is. Rats do display e…
On my usual trundles through the internet, I ran across a brief tribute penned by Placebo's frontman upon hearing of Bowie's death. There's a photo heading the article, of a 40-something Bowie -- tousled hair, a hint of eyeliner, scattered blond stubble -- with his arm hooked around a very, very young Brian Molko. Molko, in full glamorous face, looks back at the camera, wide-eyed with the exact mixture of excitement, bewilderment, and terror one would expect from someone who'd just learned that his lifelong idol not only knew he existed, but thought he was kind of a neat kid, and wanted to be friends. And had him in a sort of an affectionate headlock. On camera.

I don't think I've ever worn that expression.

There are a lot of people I respect. There are a fair few of them whose skills I think are admirable. But there's no one whose praise means the world to me, and never has been. Back when I was the age where you're allowed to put people up on pedestal…