Friday, October 31, 2008

Is that what they're calling it these days?

THOMAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Police say a Michigan man has been arrested after "receiving sexual favors from a vacuum" at a car wash.

Urk. The rest of the story is here.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Interesting interview

Here's a good interview with my friend and coworker James Comtois. He talks about writing, comic books, balanced characters and blood and guts. He also mentions my own personal superhero as well as my very favorite villains of all time, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. What more could you want in one column?

But there is more, his friend and fellow Nosedive member Pete Boisvert is also interviewed.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote no on question two in Maryland

UMBC has released a study that looks at the possible outcomes of adding 15,000 slot machines to Maryland, a state with fewer than six million residents. You can download the pdf file here.

The results are quite discouraging, even if you are a proponent of gambling. The state's projected income appears to be far too high, counting on regaining every dollar spent by Maryland residents in neighboring states as well as anticipating 150% new gamblers. Pennsylvania has only recouped 20 percent of their residents who travel to play the slots.

Since the money spent on gambling must come from somewhere, other state income falls, whether from lower lottery sales or decreased sales tax.

There there is the cost, including a large initial outlay to get the slots up and running. Once they are going there is the social cost, which can be devastating, including divorce, suicide, addiction, increased crime, etc.

Appendix A of the UMBC report is six pages outlining the social costs and precisely how these numbers were arrived at.

If you're planning to vote in Maryland you should read about what this proposed change to our constitution can do to our society. Don't just listen to the "you know for kids" mantra that's running on the television all the time. Take a good hard look at the numbers and then make your decision.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Very bad day

We took Delirium to the vet today. Her mammary tumor grew so quickly that the blood supply couldn't keep up with the demand and the whole thing, which was about as big as a golf ball, necrosed, abscessed and burst. She's got this awful hole with dead edges which bleeds every now and then.

We could spend a few hundred bucks getting it removed but since our doctor says he wouldn't put her through it if she were his I don't think we will. He says it's almost certainly malignant and she would go through the same thing with a new growth very soon. In fact she already has a new tumor, up on her chest, between her front paws that sprang up just yesterday and is already bigger than pea sized. It's all depressing and awful.

We've got her on antibiotics to keep from going septic and we're going to try and give her a couple more weeks. We've got an appointment on the eighth for the cats' annual checkup and we'll bring her back then and see how she's doing. If she stops eating, looks awful or gets lethargic we may have to put her to sleep sooner but for right now she's doing surprisingly well. He said the wound is about as annoying as an infected mosquito bite would be to us, so my take is it's certainly a pain but we wouldn't put a cancer patient down for that so we'll see how she does.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

How the mighty have fallen


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Poor Terror Bird


What the fuck is this?

This article from the Washington Post is weird and scary.

NORMANDY, Mo., Oct. 23 -- Students at a suburban St. Louis high school headed to the gymnasium for HIV testing this week after an infected person told health officials that as many as 50 teenagers might have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.

How in the hell do fifty teenagers at the same school get exposed to HIV? The only possibilities that come to my mind are too appalling to contemplate for long.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Isolation wards

Researching isolation wards has massive potential for depression. I clicked many a link today that led to blogs posting about babies who had awful diseases and were in isolation. Hopefully they've all since recovered and are all happily recovering at home.

I also looked at some quarentine hospitals that have been shut down. One of the odder wards is found here. It's on the Queen Mary.

I particularly liked this image, which is of a plaque bearing the names and ages of all the stowaways found on the ship. Now that's thorough.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

breeze it buzz it easy does it

Cam is doing a song from West Side Story for his next performance. I ran lights for the show ages ago. If I recall correctly I was running the spotlight. I was also working at the Renn Fest and was in rehearsal for a straight play. Angel Street? Arsenic and Old Lace? I don't remember. I just remember being really, really busy. I think we were also rehearsing for Jesus Christ Super Star.

Plus I was working overtime at my day job and helping a friend with her horses. That's one way to make your week fly - be doing something every second of every day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Looking for a job?

Fans of the new show My Own Worst Enemy will be excited to hear that AJ Sun, the company Henry works for, is hiring. Here's the website,

Not for the weak at heart, life at AJ Sun transcends the normal workspace and thrusts its employees out into the world. We firmly believe that investment is about understanding and not simply about number crunching. An AJ Sun Consultant can find himself in a grain field in Kansas one day, learning about the temperature and soil firsthand, and the next day be touring a nuclear power plant outside Tokyo, Japan. At AJ Sun, we expect our consultants to have a fundamental understanding of all aspects of the product they are putting our shareholder's money into.

Better apply now, positions will go quickly.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm going to fly on down and fly away


Monday, October 20, 2008

Home from Capclave

Back from Capclave. We had a very nice time. Highlights included listening to Michael Swanwick describe Cory Doctorow's book Little Brother as subversive (which it is) and then talk about taking a box full of the novels to the Department of Homeland Security.

Weirdly I had loads of spare time, mostly spent waiting for Cam to finish up a game after hours, and read How to Ditch Your Fairy in its entirety, as well as finishing the Last Witchfinder. Both are excellent but How to Ditch is much more fun. Not that the Last Witchfinder isn't fun in places, it's just also got lots of dreary and grim statistics.

Next year Harry Turtledove will be the guest of honor. That should be great also.


Friday, October 17, 2008

xkcd nails it again


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mail Goggles from gmail

I was reading this post from Gmail blog about a new feature called Mail Goggles.

When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?


By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you're most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it's active in the General settings.

I can think of a few websites that could use this. I can recall some posts at the old PGL website that the author regretted later. Of course I've seen some posters who probably couldn't do math even when they were sober so maybe it would filter out too many posts. Heck I probably couldn't do simple math problems on a terrible headache day.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The poetry of papercraft

The creator of the glue squared website speaks Japanese and warns that some of his English may not be standard. I think he doesn't give himself enough credit. He's clearly a poet. Look at some of these quotes from his letter bird:

Mail, mail.
When opening the door,
it is fearful if such postman stands.

and his skull:

Quite obvious, when it sees from width.
Sob jaw is not human's frames.
What star people are they?

And always remember:

The PDF file is compressed in ZIP form.

Please use thawing after downloading.
Thawing. Don't forget.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Skunk video

Check out this video of a spotted skunk spraying. It's likely they don't spray the way you've imagined.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some thoughts about Ruth

I was thinking about Ruth yesterday, you know the your God will be my God Ruth, and did a little reading to get some interpretations of her story and what it means. I found this thoughtful, well written essay about what might happen if Ruth and Naomi came to America today.

Here's the beginning. If you're a person of the book you might want to read the whole thing.

In the biblical story, Ruth was welcomed onto the fields of Boaz, where she gleaned what the regular harvesters had left behind. Boaz made sure that even this despised foreigner had a decent job at decent pay. When she went one night to the barn where the barley crop was being threshed, he spent the night with her — and decided to marry her.

But — if Ruth came to America today, what would happen?

Would she be admitted at the border?

Or would she be detained for months without a lawyer, ripped from Naomi's arms while Naomi's protest brought her too under suspicion — detained because she was, after all, a Canaanite who spoke some variety of Arabic, possibly a terrorist, for sure an idolator?

If you're not so much a person of the book, or if you are but you only read bits and pieces, the gleaning refers to God's commands to not wring every last bit from your harvest, but to leave specific parts for those who in need. Especially named are the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. The corners are my favorite part. The first time I remember being really pleased with God was when I was a kid and I learned he reserved the corners for the needy. Go God!

You can read more about that here.

Ruth is very important to Christians because David came from her line, and eventually both Mary and Joseph. That's right, she's the n-great grandmother of Jesus.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Cat Blogging


Friday, October 10, 2008

Ad I found amusing

Chris sent this ad to me today:

Looking for animal friendly strong person who lives in East Village to meet me at front door around 11 or 12 am (negotiable) and carry 60 pound dog up 2 flights of stairs.

  • Compensation: $10....will take 5 minutes
Maybe it will take five minutes and maybe it will take two hours. It kind of depends on the temprement of the dog, doesn't it? Also why is it going upstairs and never coming back down again? Or will this turn into a daily thing?

Fastest way to get the dog upstairs - make it sit. Pull one of those zip up sleeping bags over its head. Flip the bag upside down, knocking the dog to the bottom of the sleeping bag. Sling entire bundle over shoulder. Carry dog and bag upstairs.

Bob's your uncle.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Free book from horror author Douglas Clegg


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What happens when you don't have any dental insurance


Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Dear Senator McCain,

I am not your friend.

That is all.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Owls vs Daleks

Here's a funny article about how awful it is that more children recognize a Dalek than a barn owl. I think part of the problem is that barn owls aren't exactly running around in the open where a kid would see it. Not that Daleks are either but you can find them pretty easily on TV and they're awfully fun to imitate. Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

The col also says kids can't tell the difference between a bee and a wasp. I think that's kind of hard. The reptile brain only needs to know that it's a stingy thing that can kill you. Does it really need to know the details? News flash - I can't tell a jaguar from a leopard either. They're both big spotty cats to me.

I would be curious to how kids did identifying animals they might encounter in the closest wild areas to them. For me I see quite a lot of raccoons, bats, foxes, a skunk, a couple of porcupines, stuff like that. In the bird area we've got loads of turkey buzzards or vultures, I can never remember which (but I can identify a Dalek!), falcons, sparrows, starlings, mourning doves, woodpeckers, robins, cardinals, cranes, egrets, a blue heron occasionally. Of course sea gulls, opposums, rats, squirrels. I've seen very few owls in the wild in my time and I've spent loads of time outdoors. I was once hiking in Yosemite with my sister Megan when she thought she saw a bear. Anyway, I'm not going to fret about the kids of England not knowing an owl when they see it. I do think it's kind of funny given the popularity of the Harry Potter world. I would have thought all those Rowlings fans could identify an owl and a Dalek.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Jude Law as Watson?

This is an interesting article. My mother was an enormous Holmes fan and I grew up thinking of Watson as a sort of Captain Kangaroo shaped fellow and Holmes as the whip thin greyhound type, quivering at the lead, ready to chase clues. Sort of the Mr. and Mrs. Jack Spratt of the detecting world.

If I'd first heard that Jude Law was going to be in a Sherlock Holmes film I'd have thought he'd play Holmes, not Watson. I heard it the other way round, at another site and was quite surprised. Casting against type can be invigorating so I'm quite curious to see how this one turns out.

I'm also wondering if Conan Doyle described Watson as a plump fellow or if that's just something I got stuck in my head. After all Watson was a soldier, injured in Afghanistan, so perhaps he was lean, trim and fighting fit, at least until his injury.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

This is pretty nifty

Free antique washing machine if you're in the Baltimore area. The owner says it belonged to their great grandmother. If you're making a period film or you want to convert it into a robot you'll want to get it.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Love is quite dangerous

Shakespeare has just informed me that it kills sheep. (The most awesome thing about being a writer is the time travel aspect which lets you speak to people hundreds of years after you're dead.)

From Love's Labour Lost:

BIRON The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing
myself: they have pitched a toil; I am toiling in
a pitch,--pitch that defiles: defile! a foul
word. Well, set thee down, sorrow! for so they say
the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well
proved, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as
Ajax: it kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep:
well proved again o' my side! I will not love: if
I do, hang me; i' faith, I will not. O, but her
eye,--by this light, but for her eye, I would not
love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing
in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By
heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme
and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme,
and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one o' my
sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent
it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter
fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care
a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one
with a paper: God give him grace to groan!

There you have it. Love doesn't just make you melancholy and rhyme, it also kills sheep! Poor little things.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Very quick post

I'm stupidly sick with a cough, hives, aches and pains, blah blah blah. Very boring. Meanwhile I've got three columns due, kids to feed, bills to pay, novels to write, a job to do and no energy at all. So here you go, a short post from me linking to a lovely post from Google blogs about energy - not the kind I don't have but the kind we all need. Just one more reason to love Uncle Google.

This year Google has invested more than $45 million in startup companies with breakthrough wind, solar and geothermal technologies through our Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative...

I absolutely agree. On a small scale my dad and stepmom's house when they lived here in Maryland had solar heating for the water and it was deluxe. Look at what Germany's doing with solar power for starting ideas. So much energy falling on our little planet and so much of it wasted.

From what I've read geothermal energy is the way to heat and cool your house. Wouldn't you love a smaller electric/gas bill? I know I would.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good news for bacon fans

This story says that eating bacon can stop a heart attack. And no, I didn't read it in the Onion or the World Weekly News.

Take a look at the story. It's quite badly written, as though whoever edited it randomly yanked out every other sentence. Bizarre.

The image at the top of the page is quite foul. I think I'd rather starve than eat that piece of "bacon."