Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sidebar:

SavetheInternet.com

I admit that I clicked on the "to take action" link and added my name (and a rather lengthy letter) to the effort. While I understand that folks want some kind of regulation on internet content that can't exist without private owners, I find the idea of businesses/corporations "owning" the internet a bit frightening.

How long before those companies' interests influence the content they allow on their sites? How long before the internet becomes nothing more than another lobbying device for those who can afford to bribe the companies?

Oi. I really, really hate to bring important, serious stuff here, but since I may not have (read: be able to afford) a blog if this legislation passes, I figured I'd better take my chances.

In less important but infinitely more "Letters to Charlie"-like news, I think I'm gonna have to take my new DVD/VHS player back and exchange it. Maybe even for another model. Not only is the stripey thing really annoying (and maddeningly unpredictable), but it won't play stuff that my old one used to. How can that be? It's supposed to play MORE stuff, not LESS.

*facepalm*

So, I'm gonna have to take it back. Dammit.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dear Charlie:

So I left the football game early.

Yup, Ms. Stay-'Til-the-Last-Moment left a perfectly fun and enjoyable football game at halftime...because it was simply too hot. In APRIL. It was too hot for football in APRIL.

What is this world coming to??

I don't handle heat well at the best of times, and if this is a sign of the summer to come, I'm gonna be spending a lot of time indoors, and that does not bode well for The Geeb's state of mind. I like being outside!

Plus, I'm having bizarro trouble with my new DVD/VHS player. My old one was perfectly serviceable, but it was past its prime. Some discs would continually skip -- some coding issue, I'm guessing -- and some wouldn't play correctly. The options would mess up somehow.

So, it was time for a new one. Got the same brand, just a newer model. Paid less than half the price I paid for the other, but that's mostly because DVD/VHS players were fairly new and rare when I got the first one.

Yeah, that's how old that one was. Heh. I keep things a loooooong time.

Anyway, the new one is okay -- now that I figured out how to set the display aspect to the type of TV I have -- except for...well...the lines.

The narrow, vertical, kinda staticky lines allllll over the screen.

They come and go, and they aren't so bad on the viewing surface, but they're annoying as hell in the black bars above and below. I don't do fullscreen anymore, so there's always black space above and below. Except now...it's not black so much as black-n-grey striped.

*facepalm*

I called the place where I bought it. Best Buy has been very good to me, service-wise, so I had no fear of calling for info. The guy was very helpful and suggested that the connecting cables -- those red, white, and yellow A/V cables -- might be old and corroded. He asked if I was having any audio trouble. No. How does the VHS play? I put in a tape. No problem. Yup, it's the video cable -- the yellow one.

Now, funny story, when I got the old DVD/VHS player, I had to buy those cables separate -- the yellow video cable separate from the red and white audio cables. My TV's a bit old, so the video input jack is waaaaay down below. There's probably two and a half feet between the DVD/VHS player jack and the TV jack. Plus, I have a killer theater surround sound system which sits another foot and a half above the DVD/VHS player on another shelf. Combined cables simply didn't reach the separate locations. So, I got separate ones back then and haven't had a single problem with them since.

The cables that came with the new DVD/VHS player were all bound into one handy package, so I kept the old set of two and gave the new one away to a work friend who had a sudden and fortuitous need for a DVD player.

Now, the guy on the phone said that my old audio cable was probably just corroded or twisted inside or just plain too old, so I should try disconnecting one of the audio cables and plugging it into the audio jack. Um...the red and white cables are connected with maybe three inches of reach between them, max. Can't reach. Dammit.

So, I went and got a brand spankin' new video cable. $30 bucks to get it separate, but it's supposed to be the best thing out there and a huge improvement in the video quality, blah-blah-blah.

Not so much.

Still got the lines. I don't know what to do now. I can hook up speakers and components like a pro, but I'm kinda worried that maybe the TV jack is...old. Stripped, maybe. Or even corroded. The audio lines are fine. No static, no buzz.

I can't afford a new TV! Good grief!

So, I may just have to get used to the lines until I can. The Best Buy guy offered to exchange out the new DVD/VHS unit for another, saying that the new jack might be bad, but...I doubt it. Why would the two audio jacks be fine but the video jack be screwed up? It's possible, of course, but....

It's probably my old TV. It's a good 5 or 6 years old, and there's lots of new technology out there now that may well be backwards compatible, but...well....

Sometimes new stuff just works better with new stuff. Which is why I didn't want to get new stuff!

*sigh*

I'll just make do, unless anyone has any suggestions?

[Edit: Um...weirder still, it seems to only do this with my Firefly DVDs. I haven't tried Serenity yet, but I'm kind of afraid to try. What's the deal? The DBZ movie didn't have any problem, but that was full screen. I have a widescreen movie in right now, and it's not doing that weird stripey thing. Someone please tell me it's not just my Firefly stuff!]

Friday, April 21, 2006

My Dearest Charles:

My favorite Dragonall Z movie finally came out!

*dances*

I figured it would be a couple of years before they made this particular one for several reasons, but nope! It's out, and it's FABULOUS!

Fusion Reborn

There's this whole section with my beloved Kakarot at Super Saiyan 3, which is my all-time favorite form for him. Plus, there's that goofy and irritating Fusion Dance, which pisses Vegeta off to no end, which is always fun. Heh.

But to top it all off, there's Gogeta! And lots and lots of killer fighting! And even some cussing, which is half the reason I didn't figure FUNimation would put this one out so quickly. Even uncut, they try not to cuss too much. A "damn" here and a "what the hell?" there, but nothing like what's needed to break through that wall.

Dude, it even has some excellent dialogue to round out the action. Vegeta and Goku verbally sparring is just as fun as all the fighting. Good times.

God, I love this show. Heh. I'm such a little kid!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Funny Sidebar:

Cantaloupe and a pound of strawberries: $10.

Gas to and from my beloved sister's house: $25.

15 lbs of prime rib to enjoy with family: $100.

Discovery of Coke Blak: PRICELESS.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dear Charlie:

So, in my state, it's possible for the weather to be rainy and sunny at the same time. There's nothing quite as amusingly lovely as watching the sun reflect off a torrent of raindrops. Good times.

Dad came up this afternoon to mow my lawn with his big ol' farm tractor of a mower. Heh, took about half an hour. It usually takes three hours with a push mower, and that's if I do the whole lawn in one outing, which I usually don't. That thing is HUGE.

Then, we stuffed two brush piles -- blowdowns, mostly, and some trimmings from low-hanging branches -- into his big ol' horse trailer. I came out pretty clean with only one minor injury that only bled for a minute or two. Got conked a good one on the head, but we all know that that didn't do any harm. Heh.

Of course, I came in immediately afterward and took a cool bath. Can't stand feeling all barky and dusty and sweaty. I'm not a clean freak by any stretch, but I don't see the point in crapping up my furniture or floor any worse than they already are. So I bathed and cooled off and feel pretty damn good.

Spent most of the day outside. Worked decently hard -- not enough for sore muscles, but enough to work up a good sweat. Got dirty. Got clean. Got scraped.

Good times.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Weird day. The migraine is gone, so let the joyous dance of freedom begin.

*dances*

Long day at work, though. I knew I'd be working late, but I still managed to forget to take dinner. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got off work at 8:00 was go grab some food.

I got hit on by one of the cooks.

O.o

For once, though, I was actually aware of being hit on. I've actually been on a date before without realizing it. Yes, I am that oblivious. I just...don't date. Or I don't know it, anyway. Heh.

Here I was, enjoying some gyoza and re-reading one of Stephen King's novels for the umpteenth time, and a cook comes over and sits down, apparently taking my smile of appreciation for the food as an invitation. I don't mind. I have no problem with a good conversation, even with a stranger. I'm not sure I've ever actually met a stranger, now that I think of it.

Anyway....

"I've seen you in here before, haven't I? You always look so happy, always smiling. I noticed you right away."

Now, depending on the context, those words are either flattering or creepy as hell. This time, I'm pretty sure they were flattering. And for some reason, I actually knew what they meant this time.

Sure enough, after a few moments' banter, he popped out with, "What are you doing Saturday evening?"

Um...driving to my beloved sister's house. Though I'm actually doing that Sunday morning.

"What about next Saturday evening?"

...Um...drawing a blank...no...aahhmmm...dunno. I don't plan that far ahead.

I'm not sure if I side-stepped a date or not. I think I might just not eat there for a while and hope he forgets. Heh.

He's a nice enough looking guy. Polite. Nice smile. Unobtrusive. Seems at least moderately witty. That kind of thing.

But I don't date. Heh. At least, I TRY not to. God only knows what'll happen the next time I go there!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Update:

Guh.

The migraine is slowly and reluctantly loosening its claws from the tender meat of my brain. Not gone yet, only in halting and stubborn retreat. I can think a little better now.

I didn't go to work this morning. Couldn't sleep much last night. Couldn't get comfortable. This migraine seems to be irretrievably linked to my neck, and I simply could not find a position in which my neck didn't feel full of broken glass. And I couldn't lay on my back because the back of my head was so sore that I'd swear I must have knocked it on something, but I haven't.

So when my alarm went off at 6:30 -- and I don't even want to THINK about the bolt of pain that unearthly squalling sent through my poor head -- I reluctantly admitted that I wasn't sure if I'd slept at all, so I called in sick and took one of the prescribed medications my poor Doc gave me when he caught me in a week-long migraine.

Lemme just state up front that I hatehateHATE taking medicine. It's like pulling eye teeth to get me to take an ibuprofen.

I. Hate. Medicine.

The last time I took this stuff, it made me...I dunno...kinda retarded. A little loopy, but not like I hear a muscle relaxer does. It's just like some of my wiring was crossed or just plain stripped. I'd look at my shoes and just...stare at them, wondering what I was supposed to do with them. I'd look at food and not really be able to figure out how to get it to my mouth, let alone what I was supposed to do with it once I got it there.

So I did NOT want to take it again. But even I couldn't handle that kind of pain anymore after suffering with it all day and night. So...I took my dope and tried to sleep off both the effects and the cause.

No such luck. Not only did I only doze in drips and drabs, but the migraine was still very much in effect when I got tired of trying to sleep. And I kept getting stuck on things. My mind kept getting stuck, anyway.

For instance, I spent at least an hour and a half trying to talk myself out of calling work to make sure they'd gotten my message from this morning. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I had actually called or if I'd just dreamed that I'd called. And even though I knew, academically, that I'd called, I could not get out of my mind that I should call just to make sure. I even understood as I was thinking about it that it was stupid because, if I hadn't called, they would have called me just to make sure I was okay. I did NOT look well when I left yesterday, and someone called yesterday just to make sure I'd gotten home okay.

But I couldn't get it out of my mind until I called, just to make sure.

The same scenario occurred over a song lyric that I eventually had to look up. Over whether or not I'd actually slept at all last night. The tater tot casserole I stared at for a good ten minutes, trying to remember if I'd put cheese in it or not. That little debacle cost me ten minutes of my life that I'll never get back. And it was completely POINTLESS.

And my stupid head still hurts. But I'm a little more clear-headed now, thank God.

Amusingly enough, though, the poor [new] secretary called me just after five o'clock. She'd tried to pull charts for tomorrow's appointments (trying valiantly to do even that tiny part of my job, though she hasn't been cross-trained yet), but she couldn't find some of the charts and didn't know what to do with the ones she had pulled. Frustrated, she'd just shoved the mess into the big cabinet, locked up, and left the office because the day had been so bad. The poor thing!

So, despite the fact that my head still ached like a rotted tooth, I pulled on my trusty Chiefs hat to cover the fact that I could barely stand to even brush my hair -- forget styling it! -- and drove all the way across town to spend a half hour pulling charts, attaching the appropriate billing, and filing them in the providers' drawers for tomorrow. Came home with throbbing to join the continual low hum of pain, but it's probably worth it to have everything done right.

Needless to say, I'm going to work tomorrow, migraine or no migraine.

After all, despite all the weirdness of today, I managed to read The Da Vinci Code cover to cover. Understood it and everything. I even got APPLE without any of the further hints.

Hey, that's pretty good for someone who stared at tater tot casserole for ten minutes because she couldn't remember if it had cheese in it or not. And who, now, can't remember why it mattered.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Dear Charlie:

Migraine. BAD.

Maybe the worst I've had since the one that knocked me out of action for 3 days, and that one was...gosh...*winces and tries to think*...six years ago? Seven?

Guh. I've slept since then. My brain hurts, no nerve endings notwithstanding. Hurts so bad the back of my head and the nape of my neck feels sore to the touch. I have these little flashes of blinding light in my vision, especially when accidentally looking at a light source.

Loud. Everything is loud.

I made myself go to work this morning because it didn't seem any worse than the last one...but it got worse quick. They made me go home because after I mistakenly ate lunch (my stomach was roaring), I felt like puking my guts out. Only the thought of how much it would hurt kept me from yakking.

After a couple of hours of just resting on the couch with my arm over my eyes -- no, I still can't quite manage a nap, even when I need one -- I think I can think...if that isn't redundant.

*winces*

Why is everything so loud??

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dear Charlie:

So last year about this time, I found out that my small city has a semi-pro football team. If I'd been gainfully employed at the time, I'd have gone to every single game. However, I was not, and I had no idea when I would be gainfully employed, so I decided that $5 every week was safer in my pocket.

This year, however, I'd forgotten all about that semi-pro football team until a fellow workmate mentioned that he played on the team. So, I went today.

First off, it was a beautiful day to be outside. Sunny but not hot, a nice cool breeze that didn't knock you over or blow your hair around too bad. Beautiful.

Second, it was only $5 for three hours of entertainment. Can't even get that from a movie ticket, especially not with the nice outside part. And I dunno about you, but I'm already jonesin' for my football fix. This did nicely.

So, the local Crusaders clashed with the visiting Saints. Egads. A holy war on the football field, folks. But in a pinch, I'd pick crusaders over saints. More military strength, I'd think.

That proved the case today, anyway, as my boys in red and silver trounced their bepurpled opponents to the tune of 35 - 16. Don't let that score fool ya -- the Crusaders' first string defense held the hapless Saints to a single field goal.

Now, these are obviously not NFL-caliber professionals. They aren't terribly confident in their passing game, as I'm sure reception statistics would show. I saw an awful lot of dropped balls on both sides. I saw a missed point-after and two missed field goals. However, the Crusaders have an excellent defense and a pretty tight running game.

It was exciting. And it was nice to actually be there, rooting. And it was a helluva lot cheaper than Chiefs tickets, gas to Kansas City, and a couple of Cokes at the stadium.

There are no established traditions, like at Arrowhead, of course. No "that's good for another Kansas City Chiefs...FIRST DOWN!" No "and the hooooome...of the...CHIEFS!!" No KC Wolf dancing in the end zone.

The musical interludes were spotty and a bit abrupt. The game-calling was...adequate, but not much more. Half the time, we had no idea what the penalty was, and the announcer obviously didn't either, if the ominous silence from the booth was any indication. There were a few flubs with the score board regarding yardage and what down we were on.

But keep in mind that most of that stuff is done by volunteers, and most could be solved by a couple of extras, and I'm thinking I might sign up as one. If nothing else, I keep excellent stats and could add a bit of snark and commentary to the game-calling. Heh.

See, even having only seen one game, I saw extreme potential. Detractors of professional football should love semi-pro because these boys are playing for the love. If you think they're making serious money, just take a look at their mended jerseys and their patchy equipment. But they areplaying for love, so they play hard.

Couple of good injuries in there, plus two blocked kicks and some reception tackles that just looked MEATY. Heh. Good times.

And folks like me who don't get much into college ball because it's just not as exciting or as full-stakes as professional ball can really get into rooting for "professionals" while still feeling like we know these guys. It's easy to spot the talent versus the grunts, but that's true in any professional sport.

I enjoyed myself immensely. And while I admit that I'm pretty easy to please, I still see a lot of potential if we could get the crowd a little bigger, get butts in the seats, get folks interested and entertained.

I'm hoping to find some way to help promote these events. I love football, and to have such a close and inexpensive source at hand is just about a dream come true. I hate to think of losing such a potentially profitable and fun resource for this relatively sports-isolated area, so I'm probably gonna stick my nose in and try to drum up some support.

I don't really know why this venue isn't being shouted to the rooftops, other than that the team probably can't afford heavy promotion by TV, radio, or newspaper. However, letters to the editor are still free, so I plan to tap that. Plus, I still have a few friends in the radio business who might be willing to at least come see a game so they can talk about it on air.

*machinates*

Yeah, I'm gonna have to get behind my new boys. If I can't have my Chiefs year-round, I can at least have the Crusaders in part of the off-season, ne? Woo-hoo!

Ideas? Suggestions? Thrown objects?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fascinating Sidebar:

Watching the storm come.

It comes with a ponderous silence, an ancient, dangerous quiet like a T-rex stalking a brontosaurus. It comes under the cover of bruised thunderheads bloated and pregnant with rain, flickering constantly with troubled, nervous lightning -- domestic violence in the sky, the violence perhaps already started, perhaps waiting to start again.

We know that this one will come down on us somewhere...somewhere close. Driving home from work a few moments ago, I saw slow driving, sloppy driving, careless, distracted driving. How is that different, you ask?

Touché.

But this was not the normal slow, sloppy, careless, distracted driving. Not when every face peering out of every vehicle's window was turned in the same direction -- toward the storm.

Toward the twitchy, constantly stuttering lightning. Toward the slowly boiling clouds, sluggish with their humid burden but still dangerous, oh yes. Toward the tingling in their nerves, the pressure in their ears and eyes, the smell of ozone in their noses.

It looks as though the storm will pass north this time, with many a baleful backward glance, with many a warning gust and perhaps an irate spate of hail to remind us that, while moving on this time, it will always linger. Our abusive, hulking spouse who only allows us this moment's cringing peace to make the next explosion so much more unsettling, so much more damaging. To remind us that, while we are safe now, that safety is only on its tolerance.

Watching the storm go...and still shivering at the breadth of its stalking, murderous back.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hilarious Sidebar:

I give you the text of perhaps the funniest exchange ever bantered in a gory cop drama.

Danny: Why can't this fruitcake take out her anger like a normal wife? Cut off her husband's wrinkle beast and chuck it in a field?
Paul: *wide-eyed*
Melody: *wide-eyed*
Rebecca: *looks up reluctantly*
Danny: Or...sleep with another guy?
Mel: The revenge screw. Always dependable.
Danny: Yeah, I've been on the right side of a few of those myself.
Mel: Ew!
Danny: What? Doin my part to keep the city rage-free, heheh.
Mel: W-w-wait. Did you say...wrinkle beast?
Danny: Wrinkle beast.
Mel: He said wrinkle beast. Wrinkle beast, everyone.
Danny: Wrinkle. Beast.

*cracks up*

That's from The Inside, Tim Minear's FOX-cancelled FBI cop-drama that was heralded the bloodiest, goriest show on TV. Originally aired in 2005 -- and probably not coming to DVD, much to my and others' dismay -- the show was yanked after 9 episodes aired, though another 4 or so were already filmed.

A crying shame, I tell you. Though I hear they're airing the previously unaired episodes in Europe. Why do they get all the fun??

"Danny" is Special Agent Danny Love, played by the inimitible Adam Baldwin. That's right, folks. Jayne himself, though he's clean-shaven and sporting the inevitable dark suit here. He's just as much fun playing the dead-pan, wise-cracking, gun-and-badge-toting Danny, though. Never doubt that.

The other characters are integral parts of a cohesive wheel that forms around Rebecca Locke, the new girl on a squad hand-picked by the enigmatic Virgil "Web" Webster, the head of this particular branch of the FBI's Violent Crime Unit. They investigate mostly serial killers, but there are occasional forays into, oh, sociopaths, arsonists...that kind of thing.

Mostly, whatever catches Web's fancy.

But the fun part is that, while the series seems to focus on Special Agent Rebecca Locke, the new girl, it would fall completely flat without the supporting characters. There would be no conscience without Paul, who has made it his mission to protect Rebecca from Web, who tends to pick cases based on the personal pasts of his four agents...often to their detriment. There would be no sympathetic humor without Mel, who tries to befriend Rebecca as the other girl on the squad and is not horrified or put off by Rebecca's slowly revealed past.

And there would be no humor at all if not for Danny. While he is usually the front runner for the S.W.A.T. team and is a crucial part of the investigative process -- and dammit, they all just feel safer knowing he has his hand on a gun -- he can also usually be counted on for a perfectly deadpan comment that cracks you right the hell up after a beat.

Heh. Priceless.

And then there's Web himself. Paul often accuses The Boss of picking cases specifically to cause his agents the most pain, but Web tells the truth when he snarks back that he picks the cases they can SOLVE.

THIS is why the show succeeds where other cop dramas can fail. This series is not based on the crimes, though they are often brutal and occasionally just as gory as advertised. This series is based on the agents and their boss, on their reactions with and to each other, and on their united front both against and in support of Web. It's based on the premise of "that which does not kill us makes us stronger"...and these guys must be pretty damn strong because they've all almost died. Heh.

Sure, there's profiling, which is fascinatingly hit-or-miss. Sure, there's brutality and gore and tense chases, which are always fun. Sure there's a bad guy/gal who must be caught before others die slowly and painfully.

But there's also witty banter about the wrinkle beast. There's also Mel crouching before a zoned-out and pitiful-faced Danny (who's been listening to many weeks' worth of tapes from a suicide hotline) and asking quite seriously if he wants to talk about it. There's also Rebecca, still hedgy and close about her past, awkwardly trying to connect with a bartender/informer who ends up admitting painfully that she was right because he DIDN'T want to know about her world. There's Web asking Rebecca if she has anyplace else to go after everyone else is gone, then telling her to find one when she admits she has nothing and no one.

It's a nice balance.

The Inside won't have the generalized appeal that, say, Firefly has. It won't appeal to as broad an audience. Those who don't like cop dramas might still like the humor or the character study, but...well...it's a cop drama, for all intents and purposes.

I love it, and I hope hope hope that we get some DVDs with those unaired episodes and some extras. But again, I usually enjoy cop dramas and love forensics and profiling, both the scientific and cerebral modes of investigation, so I'm probably a bit biased.

But I do love it. Heh.

...

Wrinkle beast. *falls over laughing*

Sidebar:

Okay, so I'm a total idiot. *facepalm*

'Kay, remember when my roommate had two cats? And remember when one -- the male (my favorite, if I could be said to have one) -- was put outside for doing his noble tomcat duty all over my house? And remember when Dave, the roommate, moved out and took the inside cat -- the female, the one who drove me insane and survived solely by the fact that when I wasn't trying to kill her, I was trying to keep DAVE from killing her -- widdim?

Yeah, so some friends of ours -- who love cats -- were supposed to come get the outside cat to relocate to their home. They were supposed to do this when Dave moved out. Or shortly after.

Well, I kept feeding the outside cat, Gabe, because I wanted to keep him around so he'd at least go to a good home. But when days turned into weeks while no one had time to come get him, I told myself (and everyone who would listen) that when the current bag of feed ran out, that was it. I wouldn't buy any more -- and it's not like Gabe would have starved because he's an excellent little bird murderer! woot! -- so they could either let Gabe roam free or come and get him.

Well, looks like they'll not come get him because they already have a tomcat "marking his territory" around their house, and the last thing any of us needs is a bloody, vicious tomcat fight on the back porch.

So, what does a heartless Ice Queen like me do?

*hangs head in shame* Buys another bag of cat food. That's right, folks. I guess I'm keeping the cat. He is no longer Dave 's cat.

Gabe...for better or for worse...is...*chokes*...MINE. Dammit.

*heavy sigh*

Thank God he's outside. At least he can't bother me too much out there. DAMMIT.

*mutters darkly...and peeks outside to make sure HER cat has water*

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dear Charlie:

What a beautiful day! I have all my windows open and there's an absolutely heavenly breeze blowing through the house. It's not too hot. Not too humid.

Perfection.

So, I'm thawing some steaks, and as soon as I find the damn missing wheel off my grill -- the poor thing's been leaning drunkenly since, oh, December? -- I plan to fire the old girl up and have myself a barbeque! Woot!

I wonder how many will show up...*nervously checks stock of steak*....

I guess it's a good thing I just visited the butcher and filled up my freezer, ne? Woo-hoo!

God, I love being outside when it's nice like this! I think that's why I hate summer -- I can't stand heat, so I stay inside more than I do in winter. Woot for more days like today!