Sunday, August 29, 2010

Because Everyone Loves It

I'm writing this because everyone loves it when you write about the weather is like where you live.  The only topic they find more stimulating, in fact, is "What I Dreamed Last Night"-- but I'm saving that one for another time.  ;o)

We've been having drizzle and/or rain for what feels like a solid block of time starting Friday night.  (I'm sure it hasn't been going constantly, but it definitely feels like it has.)  And it rained part of Friday, too.

On the plus side, that means the temperature is only 73°F this morning.  (Trust me, that's cool.  Even though it's not even 8 o'clock yet.  For this area, this time of year, it's pretty cool.) 

On the negative side-- well, you know.  Everything's wet outside.  It's not easy to do much out there without getting wet (not that I was likely to spend more than ten or fifteen minutes out there, had it been sunny and hot, but I guess there are some people who would have).  The dogs don't even really want to go out long enough to do their business (as people say).  And so on.

...Confession:  I actually don't mind a certain amount of this kind of weather.  In fact, I enjoy it.  I'm sure that I, too, have my breaking point when it comes to constant drizzly rain, but it seems to be set at a level higher than that of most of my acquaintance.  It's one of those things you feel a little guilty for enjoying-- as though your enjoyment is somehow making the rain hang around longer, thus sapping the joy from the lives of your friends and family.  (g)  It's also one of the reasons I think I would probably like living in the Pacific Northwest, if only I could magically transplant loved ones to the area (and change the political culture-- apologies to natives).  (On the other hand, I've never been there, so if I ever visit, I may discover that it's nothing like what I envision.)

...Drizzle drizzle drizzle...
Oh yeah.  One more downside of this weather...
It makes people more prone to sleepiness at all hours of the day...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chuck-- The Red Test

There will be some SPOILERish things ahead regarding episode 11 ("Chuck Versus the Final Exam") of season three of Chuck, so if you're not caught up on the show, and think you'll want to watch it later, you might want to skip this entry.  This also applies if you've never watched the show and don't know or care who the characters even are. (g)  (However, if you enjoy spies / light action / comedy / romance / drama-- above all, a show with a sense of humor-- you might want to try an episode or two.)

We're gradually catching up on the third season of Chuck.   I think I like this season less than the previous two, so far.   This is partly because Chuck turning into a "Real Spy" just feels weird.  I think I liked him better-- found the show funnier-- when he was just a regular guy thrust into the (TV version of the) world of spies.  The other main detriments are the introduction of Shaw (whom I don't particularly like) and Sarah/Sam's character development.

The last episode we watched was the one where Chuck takes his "Red Test", in which he is supposed to prove that he has what it takes to kill someone in the line of duty.  How do you prove something like that?  Well... by killing someone-- not just a random someone, obviously, but a specific target-- a mole who is endangering the lives of others.

In the end, he can't bring himself to do it.  (Even though the other dude is about to kill him?  Come on, Chuck.  Or really, come on, writers.  I mean, are we really supposed to believe that he'd rather die himself than shoot the guy who's about to kill him?  I guess we could explain it by saying that he hesitated-- which is understandable-- but would have pulled the trigger if he'd seen the other guy's gun in time... Maybe?  Otherwise, I'm not buying it.)  Of course Casey pops in out of nowhere to do the dirty work-- but the final result is that Sarah (temporarily, I'm sure) thinks Chuck did pull the trigger.  And then, at the end of the episode, there's this implication--well, ok, she just comes right out and says that she no longer loves him, because he was capable of killing.  Even though she herself has killed multiple times as part of her job as Spy Chick.

...Huh?  Maybe there's more to it than meets the eye.  Maybe she's just feeling guilty because she thinks he killed for her (because the only way they can be together --???-- is if he's a spy, and he can only be a spy if he successfully completes his Red Test).  Possibly this is meant to make the character "deeper"-- more "layered".  "See how real she is?  Different aspects of her character are contradictory-- illogical-- just like in a real person!"  To which I reply, "Meh."  Realism is overrated (as this show seems to understand so well, in most cases (g))!   It just feels extremely hypocritical.  She's allowed to kill people if the job requires it, but Chuck is supposed to stay soft and harmless, even if his own survival is at stake?

(ETA:  In her defense... I guess she doesn't know yet that the other guy was posing a threat to Chuck's survival, since she wasn't there... Unless I'm remembering incorrectly.  That makes a little more sense... But it's still irritating.  She can have relationships with other spies who presumably have passed their tests.  Why is it so unforgivable in Chuck?)

Anyway, gripes aside, there are still plenty of things to enjoy about the show.  I do wonder where they're headed for the rest of this season-- and the next.  They obviously know that the program probably won't survive a Chuck/Sarah happily-ever-after (not until the end of the show, at least), but it doesn't take long for the things keeping them apart to feel painfully contrived.  Ah, the eternal dilemma of the TV writer!  ;o)

Friday, August 20, 2010


Long, drawn-out entry about exercise / dieting to follow. 
Not likely to interest anyone besides myself.  (Sorry!)

For a while now (a couple months? maybe longer...), I've been trying to exercise more regularly.  I'm not doing intense workouts, but I do try to do a little fast-paced walking and/or Wii boxing (Gold's Gym Cardio Workout) almost every day.  (I do occasionally skip a day if I'm feeling under the weather or need a break.) 

Along with the light exercise, I've also said goodbye to soft drinks.  I probably should've taken note of the latest no-more-Coke starting date, but I didn't.  It's been three or four months, probably. 

Anyway, with the exercise and the water-instead-of-Dr. Pepper and a serious effort at not totally pigging out on unhealthy food (without actually forbiding myself a few treats now and then), I've been hoping to see some results. 

The Wii balance board has been telling me that I'm slowly losing weight, but you (probably) know how it is.  You lose a couple pounds, but in a day or two you're back to where you were.  Then you lose a couple more and maybe only creep back up one pound.  It's definitely not a speedy, steady, all-one-direction process. 

So, with the numbers not being particularly inspiring, I look for other sources to confirm that, yes, my not-exactly-hard work is paying off.  My arms feel slightly more toned, thanks to the boxing game.  That's nice, but still not quite what I'd hoped for.  I try to pay closer attention to how my clothes fit.  Maybe something that used to be a bit tight is fitting more comfortably.  (Please?  It'd be nice...)  Nope, no obvious changes there.  (That is disappointing.  I guess I need to ramp up my efforts or cut back further on the less healthy food.  Or just give it more time, maybe.) 

Then.  Today.  This morning.  While getting dressed to go grocery shopping, I put on my wedding ring.  (I'm not one who wears jewelry-- even my wedding ring-- every day.  In fact, I usually only put it on when I leave the house.)  The ring has been a little tight for a while, now-- especially in the hotter time of the year, I think.  Well, despite the heat of August, it was noticeably looser on my finger.  (!!!)

What?  Why aren't you all jumping up and down?  Why do I not hear squealing?  ;o)

This may not seem like much, but it was enough to make me happy!

It's amazing; that exercise / watching your diet stuff really works, huh?  (Even if it takes longer than we'd like.) 

...Now I just hope it wasn't a fluke.  Maybe the next time I go to put on the ring, it'll be back to its former slightly-tight status.  If you hear a distant, furious scream ending in a sigh of defeat, you'll know my fingers have re-pudgified and that I will soon be defiantly stuffing my face with pepperoni pizza (in between gulps of Dr. Pepper).  (g) 

Seriously, though, I'm going to stick to my no-Coke diet for the foreseeable future-- and try to keep up with the exercise and (somewhat) healthier eating.  Getting into the habit is the hard part.  By comparison, staying there with it isn't so difficult. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Brother, Is That You?

From the Telegraph:
"Young will have to change names to escape 'cyber past' warns Google's Eric Schmidt"

"The private lives of young people are now so well documented on the internet that many will have to change their names on reaching adulthood, Google’s CEO has claimed." 

Well, that's debatable... 

"Mr Schmidt said he believed that every young person will one day be allowed to change their name to distance themselves from embarrasssing photographs and material stored on their friends' social media sites."
Or... they could endeavor not to expose themselves in that way... And why are we blaming the friends?  I thought that "young people" were generally posting embarrassing photos and material about themselves.  They hardly need their friends to help embarrass them.

(Also:  See?  I  knew there was a reason I don't like Facebook.  ...This has little-to-nothing to do with my personal reasons, but all the same...)

And then we get to the creepy part of the article:

The 55-year-old also predicted that in the future, Google will know so much about its users that the search engine will be able to help them plan their lives. 
...Plan my life?

Using profiles of its customers and tracking their locations through their smart phones, it will be able to provide live updates on their surroundings and inform them of tasks they need to do.
 ...Tracking our locations through our phones??  (Oh, lovely.  Yes, I know that "the authorities" already have this ability, but I'm not kooky enough to believe anyone's tracking my phone's movement on a daily basis.)

And "tasks we need to do"?  (According to whom?)

"We're trying to figure out what the future of search is," Mr Schmidt said. “One idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type.

"I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

He suggested, as an example, that because Google would know “roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are”, it could remind users what groceries they needed to buy when passing a shop.
Um, 'scuse me while I take a moment to shudder involuntarily.   ...Ok, done.  --No, wait! Spoke too soon... ~~shiver~~ ...Ok, now I'm done.  (For now.  I'll recommence later in the day, when I realize that I'm once again feeding the beast-- er, I mean interacting via my social media sites. (g))

Where to begin?! 

Searches done on my behalf without me needing to type?  Yahoo! (Ooops, sorry 'bout that, Google-- no harm meant...)  You mean I can finally ditch this irritating keyboard once and for all?!  Yes!  I've been wondering when someone would take the drudgery out of the Internet.  All that typing!  

Hey!  Do you think that maybe someday Google will be able to formulate my blog entries for me, too?!   That'd be aweseome. (As they say.)

And as for this:  "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."

Yes, Almighty Google.  We bow down to thee.  Tell us what to do next!  We are but feeble-minded creatures incapable of self-direction.  Give us the perpetual guidance we crave!

...And I don't know about you, but the day I need Google to tell me what groceries I need (based on who my friends are, among other things) is the day I surrender all pretense of autonomy. 

Near the end of the article was one more little tidbit-- something the same man had apparently said last year, but which I don't recall hearing:  “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

That's not even worthy of a response, is it?

Good grief, that guy has a gift for making your flesh crawl! 

It certainly makes you pause a moment and wonder about the future.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Probably Not to Everyone's Taste...

Here's something I saw someone link to on Twitter this morning.  It's probably not news to most of you, but just in case...

And (on a related topic) as for the "Ground Zero mosque":

No, of course the government shouldn't generally get involved in the legal sale and use of private property (regardless of whether religion is involved)... That's what makes it a tricky subject for a lot of us... But when you come right down to it, this feels like a slap in the face-- certainly not a kind, well-meaning thing to do.  It's not as though there are no existing mosques in NYC-- and no reasonable person is trying to prevent mosques from being built elsewhere in the city-- but come on.  Let's not play dumb.  Why is it so important that the new mosque be built that close to Ground Zero?  If the people behind this project are so respectful and understanding of the situation-- so interested in promoting peaceful relations among religions-- why can't they see that this is being perceived as an insult-- even a flaunting of "victory"?  Obviously they know how the community (and the country) feels about it now, even if you believe they were somehow unable to predict the response beforehand.  It seems like a truly peaceful, respectful group of people would at least consider finding a different location to develop, given the very recent history.  (It hasn't even been ten years, people!)  Why is that specific place so important to them...? 

I assume you've all heard the (at least potential) significance of the name "Cordoba"?   No wonder they've since changed the proposed name from "Cordoba House" to the innocuous "Park51".

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random Topics

(Not likely to interest anyone very greatly, but at least it's not about my driver's license!)

Gulf Oil Leak:
I'm glad it's sealed, obviously, and happy that (so far) it doesn't seem to have been quite so catastrophic as feared-- but I'm still not convinced that we know the full extent of the damage.  I hope and expect that things will continue to improve, but in the meantime I feel like I'm waiting something out...

Some would not agree (a few might even be furious and say that people of my opinion are hurting their businesses), but personally, I still don't feel completely comfortable with the thought of prolonged time in the water or a diet filled with local seafood.  I'm probably being overly cautious, but what's the point of pretending to feel otherwise?  The fact is that we hardly ever eat seafood, anyway, so my abstinence will not hurt the local economy.

I will admit that for all I know, our local seafood on a bad day may be safer than much that is imported on a good day.  I never said my instincts were right-- just that they are what they are.  The "smell test" doesn't feel like enough to me, at the moment.  I believe that (even if something were to slip past the safety checks) you can probably eat the occasional meal that is contaminated and still not feel any long-term ill effects-- but what's the point of eating something when you have no appetite for it?  (Okay, I think I've made my point, so I'll move on.)

Politics in General:
I'm not particularly happy with a lot that's been going on, but that's not surprising.  I try not to worry about it (not always possible), but I also feel obligated to stay somewhat aware of what's happening.  I wait for my next chance to vote and hope (and pray) that enough of my fellow voters see things the same way I do to effect real Change We Can Believe InTM.

It's those irritating new neighbors of ours.  We're outta here!  ;o)

Alright, not really.  We're not moving.

The blog's not moving, either.

But there's another blogger I follow...  I gather that her husband designs and builds (or oversees the building of) homes-- one at a time.  I haven't seen her ever spell out their lifestyle, but it definitely seems like this is the pattern of their lives:  They live somewhere temporarily while he builds the next house.  When it's finished, they move in-- settle in.  She decorates the home beautifully with their belongings.  She writes about what a brilliant job her husband did on the house-- how much she loves this or that feature.  The house is home and school to their two sons.  (She homeschools.)  Meanwhile, the husband locates another site and begins the process all over again.  If they sell their current house before the new one's done, they rent until they can move into the new place.

I don't know about you, but that sounds fairly torturous to me.  I could look on the bright side and say that life would never get dull-- you'd get to experience a lot of locations-- learn what you really like in a house, etc.  But the truth is that it sounds excruciating to me.  Moving everything in your house every couple of years (or less)?  Just when you're starting to feel "at home" in a house, having it sold and moving on to another?  You could never really put down roots-- never feel completely that this place is yours-- never make and execute long-term plans for a place.  I don't think I'd like that, at all.

Maybe it's an unavoidable situation for them, but I'm doubtful...  They must like it.  To each his own way, of course, but I'm so thankful that's not how we live.  I like a little more stability, a little less moving.  (Or, ok, a lot less moving.)

Tropical Whatever-It-Is-Now:
It's no secret that the "news people"-- and especially the "weather people"--  tend to go a little crazy when there's something unusual stirring in the atmosphere.  You can't really blame them.  It's their time to shine!  I have a greater-than-usual interest in weather, myself-- but lately they've really gone overboard.  I've gotten used to the more frequent "severe weather" watches and warnings.  What I'm not used to is the fuss they make over even the humblest of tropical depressions.

There's one out in the Gulf right now (for those of you who don't live around here-- because if you did, you could barely escape knowing all about it).  There was one a month or so ago, too.  That one turned out to be nothing.  Unless you live right on the water and get a little extra wave action or slightly higher than normal tides, these depressions usually pack less punch than we get in an average afternoon thunderstorm.  But because they're "tropical", we're supposed to be sitting on the edge of our seats.  I do want to know the latest-- but that doesn't require an all-day crawler of information about a tropical depression.  They started yesterday (afternoon? evening?), and we're not even supposed to get rain from it until this afternoon, at the earliest.

Does it hurt anyone to have the news crawler / warning map across the bottom of the screen?  No, not really.  (Though it can be annoying when they cover the important portions of the TV program you're trying to watch.)  However, it does seem excessive, given the weakness of the "storm" and the fact that most people have access to the Internet, where they can go for weather updates 24 hours a day, if they wish.  (Oh!  And there are also two local channels that are devoted almost entirely to weather!)  Worse, when they make so much noise about little, no-account depressions, they desensitize people to the threat of truly dangerous weather.  It's a perfect example of the old "don't cry 'wolf'".  When something big and bad does come along, some people might not take it as seriously.

Does everything have to be Big-Huge-Awful, these days?  It certainly feels like it, sometimes.  If it's not potentially The End of the World, no-one will care, so let's hype it up!

The Guy Who "Escaped" Down the Chute:
(I'm referring the bizarre flight attendant story that's been in the news for the past day or two.)

What?  Is this guy really being hailed as some sort of folk hero?   I just don't get it.

Look, I'm sorry that the man's mother has... lung cancer, is it?  That's truly awful.

I'm also sorry that the passenger he was dealing with was behaving like a spoiled brat.  Maybe if the flight attendant hadn't made such a spectacle of himself in response, she would have been the one facing legal troubles.

However--  There's a right way and a wrong way to deal with life stresses and unruly customers.  Cursing someone out over the airplane's intercom system is not the right way.  Opening the emergency exit and fleeing the plane (with beer?!) wasn't the right way, either.

I keep hearing about how the man will be sure to get some money for his story, because obviously everyone wants to hear all about it.  Honestly, I don't.  It sounds like he was being a bit of a diva.  I don't know if he should face the exact charges that have been pressed against him, but yes, some sort of reprimand is in order.  Did he put the passengers in danger?  I don't know.  It seems unlikely, but possible.  Certainly I wouldn't handpick him to be a flight attendant on any plane I ever fly on.  (I prefer someone with a cooler head, thank you very much!)  He definitely didn't behave in a professional manner, and there's no telling how much his little outburst will end up costing the airline and society at large.

All in all, not very heroic, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What a Surprise!

My new driver's license came in the mail today. 

What a surprise!  I look positively awful in it. 

(Of course they gave me a temporary print-out the other day, but I never even looked at the thing.  Delaying the inevitable moment of shock and disgust.)

Why can't they manage to get a decent photo at the DMV?  Why can't they let you bring in a photo of your own (for the worker to look at and ascertain that, yes, that is an accurate photo)?  I know it's probably not practical, but I really don't care.  I'm tired of being ashamed to show my hideous license photos! 

Seriously, DMV.  I may not weigh a mere 115 pounds, but neither am I truly that fat and round-faced.  I look in the mirror every few days, and I would know if I were.

I know it's not that important-- or important at all--  but it's simply not necessary for the photo to be this atrocious. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Two Pet Peeves

Pet Peeve #1:  
The term "pet peeve".  I have disliked it since the first time I recall hearing it.  I'm not sure why (or why I still use it on occasions such as these...).  The same goes for "fav" or "fave" instead of "favorite" (though in the time of Twitter, one may be excused for using the abbreviation under duress-- stupid 140 character limit!).

Pet Peeve #2:
Introductions (or cover/jacket-flap blurbs) that give away the story (in a book, but spoilery blurbs on DVDs are just as annoying).  Personally, I've rarely read an introduction that didn't give away something-- and frequently, everything-- so why do publishers insist on putting them at the front of the book?!  These days, I know enough to carefully skip introductions, so I'm safe-- but it's still irritating.  Maybe they think that so few people actually read introductions that it won't be a problem, but in that case, why bother with them at all?  It feels more like they assume that you've read the book before-- a dangerous and baseless assumption.  Either that or they delight in ruining things for other readers.

It's a temptation:  "Hey, you!  Yeah, you with the book!  I know you're a reader.  (You've got a book in your hands right now, haven't you?)  I know you're the type who'll read anything-- cereal boxes, toothpaste labels, even the occasional piece of junk mail.  Why not try a nice, juicy introduction, eh?  {sly smile}  What's that?  Spoilers?  No, no, nothing like that here.  What, you think we'd be rude enough to put spoilers in an intro?  What kind of sense would that make?  No, I assure you, you're safe reading this one.  In fact, if you don't read it, you'll be missing out on all sorts of relevant information about the author's history-- things that would make reading the novel so much richer an experience.  Here.  Why not just try the first paragraph?  If that one turns out ok, you can read further..."