Monday, February 27, 2006
There was one thing Lucy did that wasn't really my fault--the technical agility term for it is "blowing off the handler": She started heading for an off-course jump, so I said "Lucy! Here!" and indicated the correct jump. Lucy stopped, looked back at me, and then turned around and went right on her merry way over the wrong jump. But I immediately understood why: she's a very smart dog and she knows perfectly well that I am not a good enough handler to succeed at the masters level yet. Normally, I do something that causes us to NQ (not qualify), but on that particular run we had been flawess and we only had two jumps to go. She knew she needed to do something quickly to NQ us and keep us in the advanced level a little longer ... "Hey, look, a conveniently placed off-course jump! Mom's always accidentally sending me over these, she'll think it's her fault. Whee!"
The whole weekend was really rather depressing in a fun sort of way.
2) We got our broadband back Friday night. The Verizon people finally figured out how to turn on whatever it is they have to turn on, but then it still didn't work. So Mr. Pants gets on the phone with yet another supportron, who plods through her support script up to the point where all options are exhausted and supportron says "I guess we'll have to send out a technician to your house." Mr. P thought this was ridiculous because we had long established that the problem was not on our end, so he asked the supportron if this made sense to her. She said it's what her little supportron book told her to say. So Mr. P asked for, and got, a supervisor who agreed that sending a technician would be a stupid thing. Why do they make us deal with dull-minded and poorly trained (and probably poorly paid) supportrons when they never actually solve the problem and we always end up going to a supervisor anyway? At any rate, the supervisor deduced that even though they had figured out the seemingly very difficult task of turning our service on, they had neglected the very simple matter of resetting out modem, which is when they send a signal to our modem telling it that vacation is over and it must go back to work. So they did that and, whaddya know, we have our DSL back. Did I ever mention how much Verizon sucks?
3) Went to the dentist today and got some fillings replaced. The ativan really helps with the dentist anxiety, but it makes me useless. I went back to work and drooled into my keyboard for the rest of the day and then when I got home I went straight to bed for about 2 hours. I think I'll head beack there again ... sleeping is really fun.
Friday, February 24, 2006
We are well into Day Four of no broadband at Casa de Pants. The people at Verizon support claim to be mystified as to why it has taken so long to re-connect us, as well as why we were disconnected in the first place because, as we suspected, it is not necessary to shut us off completely to reconfigure our service. They have assured Mr. Pants that this is not a normal occurrence when someone downgrades their service, but of course they would say that because they can hardly tell a customer "We just can't seem to get this whole 'connecting things' shit right," now can they? Last night a supportron assured Mr. P that she would call over to the service-reconfiguration drones and order them to fix our connection "by hand"--whatever that means--and that she would "try" to do it withing a "few hours" although of course she couldn't promise us anything ...
Coincidentally, folks can go here and vote for Verizon in Consumerist's Worst-Company competition.
In other news, I have an agility trial this weekend. If you're local and you've got nothing better to do you could go here and watch.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Mr. Pants and I are trying to cook more real food instead of just preparing things* or eating a bowl of cereal for every meal. So last night I decided to try Scott's Potato Mushroom Gratin. I had read through the recipe and purchased all the ingredients (refreshingly few of them!) on Sunday, but I never printed out the recipe because I figured I'd just fire up the laptop and, thanks to wi-fi, be able to reference it in or near the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pants had decided that we had gone far too long without a major interruption in our DSL, so on Monday he decided it was time to make a change to our service plan (downgrading us to a cheaper one). Naturally, because Verizon is a gaping chasm of suck, they turned off our service Monday and we still don't have it back. (More on this below.) So it came time to cook my recipe and I didn't have access to it, just a vague memory of the steps involved. I considered putting off the cooking another night, but my mushrooms weren't getting any fresher, so I decided to wing it. Turned out pretty well--there were a few potato bits that didn't get cooked quite through, but that's easily fixed by cooking longer (our oven sucks--we often have to exceed cooking times and temperatures to get things done). Overall, it tasted good. I recommend it, even if you're a lazy cook like me.
Anyway, about the crappy Verizon crap: apparently, to change us from one level of DSL to a lower one, they have to turn off our service (or "close the circuit" as Mr. Pants keeps saying) and then turn it back on. They can't just twiddle the dial and turn it down a notch or something, which seems about as stupid as the cable guy having to come into our backyard to bust us down from standard to basic. Anyway, the really gruff and unhelpful Verizon "service" person with whom Mr. Pants placed the downgrade order didn't tell us to expect an interruption in service, so Mr. P figures maybe Verizon has surpassed Time Warner cable in entering the digital age, and thus can switch our service by changing a configuration or two. Silly man! Furthermore, Verizon clearly uses the term "customer service" very loosely, preferring that their representatives bring us surly, unhelpful suck instead.
And of course, Verizon can't turn off your service, make the change, and then turn it right back on again over the course of an hour, or even a day. No no no, this is delicate and complicated stuff and they require days of fiddling to get the new settings just right. And while many companies use a system of "tickets" to track their support calls, with open tickets signifying that a customer's issue is not yet resolved, Verizon seems to think that an "open ticket" is only for customers who are currently on the phone with a representative. Once the phone call ends, they close this ticket to signify that "that pain-in-the-ass customer is not currently bothering us." So when the customer calls back to ask where in the hell their DSL is, they open a new ticket only to signify that the annoyance is back again. And their representatives are trained to blame the customer's end first before going and checking to see if Verizon is even supplying that customer with a circuit. Mr. Pants was on the phone last night for half an hour, testing out connections on various computers under various conditions, when finally the mouth-breather on the other end got the bright idea to go check whether Verizon had even turned our service on. Of course they hadn't. So his answer to our dilemma: sit tight and wait for them to turn on our service. It's still not on, of course. Good thing we didn't get rid of cable TV altogether ...
*My current favorite thing to prepare: "Chick Parmigiana": Bake a vegetarian chicken patty according to package directions, spoon some spaghetti sauce (from a jar, of course!) over it and top with mozzarella. Stick it in the oven until hot and melty. Eat.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
If you would like to join us, the first one's free. Actually, they all seem to be free ... I don't know what the pusher man's angle is on all this. Here's what I read to figure out how to play the damn thing.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Anyway, I had fun last night at Christa's party. I almost didn't go, because when 9 o'clock rolled around I was all snug on the sofa having just finished watiching a mediocre movie (Pretty Persuasion), and I didn't feel like getting up. But I knew that I'd see people I like to see at Christa's (including Christa herself, whom I actually have not seen in the flesh in many months), so I dragged myself of the sofa, put on my party duds and ventured forth (accompanied by Mr. Pants, of course.) Once there I invented a drink that I'm calling the "Sir Isaac Newton" (because that's the first name that popped into my head): Ginger ale, sour apple and rum.
I saw many of the folks whose blogs are listed to the right under "The Locals," including a certain ex-blogger who was done in by a bureaucrat who has nothing better to do than google her own name. His story has an element of irony that makes a certain bureaucrat look like a bit of a moron, but I won't tell it here because it's not really mine to tell. At any rate, his blog is missed and it was good to see him.
I was also delighted to talk about Battlestar Galactica with several people, including the other Lisa.
I was reminded that I need to go try some Locopops. I've been meaning to but somehow I just haven't. Unfrtunately today seems more like a hot chocolate day than a popsicle day ...
Saturday, February 18, 2006
I mentioned previously that there seems to be a bit of shark-jumping going on. Some of my discontent has to do with what just seems to be cheating by the writers, i.e., plot developments are handled in a way that's hokey and unbelieveable even by sci-fi standards. (Warning: spoilerage for Season 2, part 2 coming up.) I mentioned before that the decision to have a cylon rather than Bill Adama (via Starbuck) kill Admiral Cain seemed like such a cop-out. But it was more than that: I found it really hard to believe that on a bustling military ship someone who just escaped from the brig could walk through the hallways with a gun, let herself into the Admiral's password-protected quarters, shoot her and then get off the ship undetected. Do cylons have super powers beyond great strength and edurance and the ability to "download" their memories to other cylons? If so, please inform us before you expect such extreme suspension of disbelief.
The other hokey crap that really bugged me was the hybrid-cylon-baby-blood-cures-cancer-in-seconds bit. I know, it's sci-fi, and weird things happen in sci-fi, so why not have the hybrid blood cure cancer? Because it's too much, too cut-and-dried, too convenient and too much of a cheap trick to pull in what is supposed to be (an had been up until recently) an intelligent television progrm. It just seemed so ... Lost In Space or Land of the Lost. You know, hokey.
Another complaint is that, lately, instead of getting a tension-filled action-drama with characters who act and talk the way real people might in such a situation (the situation being that the remnants of humanity are on the run from insurgent robots who have just destroyed 12 planets), we're presented with "A Very Special Battlestar Galactica," in which some character or another grapples with his or her inner demons. Bleah. It was the same kind of shit that drove me away from E.R.--we'd have an episode in which Dr. Broodypants must embark on a cross-country journey to come to terms with some bullshit from his past that is eating him alive and turning him into a grouchy asshole no one can stand to be around. Never mind that we, the viewers, have also reached the point where we can't stand to be around Dr. Broodypants either and what we really want to see is a blood-spurting accident victim being wheeled down a corridor on a gurney whilst scrub-clad emergency room denizens yell things like "I need a CBC and a gastric lavage, stat!"
Take episode 2.14, "Black Market," for example: here we find Captain Lee Adama in the boudoir of a woman we've never seen before, trying to ingratiate himself with her little daughter by giving her a very scary looking dolly (apparently non-scary dollies are being rationed and are hard to come by). Surprise, surprise, the woman is a prostitute. But he tries to take care of her and, when the shit hits the fan, save her from her sordid life because ... no, not because he's just a nice guy, but because back before the world was blown to bits he loved a woman who was going to have his baby. But he got scared and pushed her away and then ... well she was pretty much blown to bits along with the majority of humanity and now he can never say he's sorry. But he can soothe his conscience by saving this prostitute and her little girl from the evil black marketeers ... except the prostitute tells him she doesn't want his savin', which is quite convenient because now the writers don't have to deal with her in future episodes ...
Anywho, GACK! I did not start watching this program to see some character go all Captain Broodypants and deal with his demons! I also didn't start watching to see little soap-operaesque love triangles, which is what I got in episode 2.16, "Sacrifice." Not to mention that the episode featured smart characters doing really stupid things that weren't believable because the characters were way too smart to have actually done such stupid things ... but the plot revolved around them doing the stupid things, resulting in the death of one of my favorite characters, Billy.
Goddamn, they frakking killed Billy! Shit. I hope he's a cylon so he can come back and kick Lee Adama's ass.
At any rate, Mr. Pants and I just watched last night's episode (which we got from iTunes) and it was somewhat better than the previous five in that this episode actually featured battlestars and other spacecraft as more than just background sets for love triangles and brooding characters. They actually shot at some cylons! So I'll keep watching ... the way I kept watching E.R. for several seasons beyond when I should have stopped, thinking every week "Maybe this episode will be about the emergency room ..."
Friday, February 17, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Anyway, so I'm going to put a "Dentist" playlist on my iPod, with about an hour and a half of music to last through the whole procedure. I need to figure out the best music to include. Probably something engaging yet calming, so maybe Stereolab, Cocteau Twins, Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano ... It needs to be stuff that won't make me feel like dancing because, well, I'll be in a dentists chair, duh. It also can't have catchy lyrics that will tempt me to sing because that might annoy the woman with her fingers in my mouth (So They Might Be Giants is right out ... ever since Georg's post the other day I've walking around singing "not to put too fine a point on it, say I'm the only bee in your bonnet, make a little birdhouse in your soul.")
So anyway, anyone got any good suggestions for dentist chair music?
Oh, and I'll get back to Battlestar Galactica shark-jumping ranting real soon ...
The part that really surprised, and annoyed, me was that the cable guy had to come into our back yard to make the switch (which also meant that we had to go open the gate for him because we keep it locked). It's just weird to me that they are so lo-tech in this day and age. So basically someone who knew what they were doing could manually override their system ... interesting.
Anyway, I haven't even noticed the difference yet, but I guess I will Friday: I won't be able to watch Battlestar Galactica. There's always iTunes, of course. But I'm already questioning my committment to the show because the last four episodes have seemed a little shark-jumpy to me. It's very strange that the same writers who have brought me some of the best TV I've watched in I don't know how long, have suddenly brought me four episodes of crap. The first episode of the second half of season two was breathtakingly awesome. It ended with (spoiler alert! Go away now if you're waiting for this to come out on DVD) two characters (Commander Adama and Admiral Cain) plotting each others' assasinations. But then the next episode has them both chickening out ... even though it is completely out of character for Cain not to go through with the assasination of Adama. She's the assassinating type (or was, at least). But of course, Adama can't die because he's our main protagonist. In fact, even though from his perspective Cain desperately needs to be assassinated, the writers apparently don't want to make his character do it because assassination is typically thought to be a very bad thing to do. So what do the writers do? They find the most convenient cylon around and have her kill Cain. What a cop-out. I felt ripped off.
Anyway, the following three episodes have been more like soap opera installmants rather than action/sci fi/drama episodes--full of love triangles and people overhearing conversations and other bullshit. I have much more to say about it but I have to go get some painful dental work done now. I'm so nervous I think I'd like to throw up.
| You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.|
Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
Even if the dog isn't a mutant like a Pekingese or US-bred German Shepherd, closed registries and the the high degree of inbreeding done by "reputable" breeders have created genetic cesspools in so many breeds. Plus the "beauty pageant" nature of conformation shows have ruined many a working breed, which is why the United States Border Collie Club opposes AKC registration of BCs and the Jack Russell Terrier Association of America has fought American Kennel Club recognition of their breed (the AKC has to call its version a "Parson Russell Terrier" instead).
I think I'll stick with owning mutts ...
So yeah, I ratted on a guy today. I feel a bit conflicted about it because ratting is shitty, but he frightened me (in fact I'm planning to go check on my car at lunch to make sure dude hasn't done anything to it.) I told his supervisor that I didn't want this to affect his employment at all, but that somebody needs to tell him not to follow women to their parking spots and harass them after almost causing them to wreck. I said I don't even care about the stop sign part of it--that kind of stuff happens all the time, but dude needs to not scare people, at least while he's on the job.
I think I may start carrying pepper spray, just in case ...
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Now our regularly scheduled programming: Aside from being a bit chilly, today started as a lovely day, with skies of blue and sunshine (dark clouds are starting to form as I write, but I'm going to pretend they aren't there for now) Yesterday, however, was about as ugly as a day could get without actual sleet or freezing rain. It was gray with an almost constant cold rain--fluctuating from a slightly annoying sprinkle to a determined drizzle--all day long. Most weather-forecasting types advised people to curl up on a cozy sofa and watch movies all day, so what did I do? Dog Agility! Outside! In the rain! And the mud!
(Warning: I'm going to talk about dog agility, waterproof clothing and other niche topics. Click away now if you feel you have better things to do.)
Fortunately, I was more-or-less prepared for such a day. I had invested in an inexpensive but decent set of waterproof outerwear, and I was delighted to discover that it did indeed keep the parts it covered dry. I was also pleased to discover that the wide-brimmed waterproof hat Mr. Pants got me for x-mas did its job perfectly. The one weak link was my footwear: because it was spposed to be cold, I had decided against wearing my super hi-tech Vasque Gore-tex trail-runners (they don't keep my feet warm) in favor of some cheap-but-warm-and-comfy hiking boots that I had treated with brush-on silicone waterproofing. They worked wonderfully from 7 am until about 3 pm when, as I was walking my last course of the day, I started feeling a cold wetness spreading across my socks. "Ack, my boots just started leaking!" I said to no one in particular. Some guy who was also walking the course replied that his had just started leaking too. Perhaps it was a lot to ask of the boots--parts of the field had become little mud bogs.
The good news is that I did not slip in all the mud--usually in class I'm the one who will completely wipe out when the field is even slightly damp. I would love to find a shoe that combines a supportive (and waterproof) hiking-boot style upper with a field-hockey style sole. If anyone knows of such a beast please advise.
As for Lucy, she was as much of a gamer as a prissy little dog who doesn't generally like rain or wet feet can be. We have class in all kinds of weather, so she's become accustomed to doing agility in less-than-ideal conditions. Her ethos seems to be "I'm with you as long as I receive lots of delicious treats." She ran fast and acted very enthusiastic about the whole thing ... so enthusiastic that the slightest miscue on my part put her over the wrong obstacle before I could open my mouth to call her off. So we didn't qualify in any of our runs. We did win two first place ribbons and one second, by virtue of the fact that the other dogs in our height class either didn't show up (wimps!) or did about as poorly as we did. I am very happy that I didn't enter her in Standard (in USDAA that's the "everything" course, and I didn't enter because we've been having problems hitting our contacts) because I don't think I would have gotten Lucy to "down" on the table. It was wet and cold, and lots of dogs did not want to lie down on it--one little chihuahua just stood there and quivered as her handler got increasingly frustrated. About the fourth time she said "DOWN!" (sounding a little angrier each time), I almost wanted to jump into the ring and yell at the handler to stop. All she was doing was scaring her cute little dog.
At any rate, the agility trial was, as always, a learning experience. I've added several things to my lengthy list of Stuff We need To Work On. Oh and I learned another important lesson: don't lock your keys (and your dog, cell phone, wallet, etc.) in your car at an agility trial. Especially when it's cold and pouring rain and the car was your only place to stay warm and dry. Because not all agility trials will be in a location where your husband, who has the only other key to you car, is only about 45 minutes away.
Friday, February 10, 2006
And this is a good junture at which to link onece again to Bert Krages' photographer's rights page. I came across another page about photographer's rights by a guy named Andrew Kantor.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
However, I'm suspecting something fishy ... her car is there but I haven't actually laid eyes on neighbor lady for weeks. I've seen another car frequently parked in front of her house, and once I saw a guy park it, get out, and let himself into her house. I thought he was a houseguest, but now I'm wondering if he's got her buried in the backyard or something ...
But, to make myself feel better I've been listening to some crazy cool soundage I found via Rummage Through The Crevices.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Meanwhile, one of the divisions in our building--the division that takes itself most seriously--has a generator because they are the people who would be called upon to act like they are helping people in the event of a hurricane or (entirely more likely, of course) a terrorist attack. So they fired the thing up because, you know, it's not hurricane season but we can't let the terrorists catch us with our pants down. The generator is located in a courtyard six stories below my window. Because out building is old and falling apart (literally--there is always plaster dust all over my desk because the walls are crumbling) the windows are leaky and I heave been treated to what smells like diesel fumes all morning. My head feels lighter from all the brain cells that have died and gone to heaven. That's good because from what I've observed, stupid people are generally happier.
But before I become too stupid to care, I'm going to think about sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda). I've become convinced over the past couple of years that avoiding aspartame might not be a bad idea, no matter what the FDA says. Now I'm wondering about whether I should think the same of sucralose. Of course one can google the terms "sucralose" and "safety" and come up with sites that claim it will kill you or at least make you stupid, but so many of those sites are trying to sell me someone's book or shoving pop-up ads in front of me that I can't really take them seriously. Could sucralose be any worse for me than the diesel fumes infiltrating my office?
I gotta go take a walk now ...
Saturday, February 04, 2006
by Timothy B. Tyson) is also the subject of a documentary on PBS: Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power. It will be on Tuesday, Feb 7 at 10 pm Eastern. You can read more about Williams here and about his Radio Free Dixie program (including audio) here. I don't have many heroes, but Williams is definitely one of them.
In other TV-related news, I have done what I never thought I'd ever do: downloaded a few TV programs from iTunes for $1.99 each. When they first came out with the service I thought it was stupid and I would never partake because I'm just not all that into TV and I couldn't see myself paying for programs. Then I got hooked on Battlestar Galactica, via DVD. Only half of the second season is out on DVD--the other half is still airing. By the time I got interested in the show I was behind in the on-air episodes, and I couldn't stand the thought of waiting until the DVD was released to see more. So I turned to iTunes. The drawback is that we have to watch on the 'puter screen because it looks like crap when we hook the 'puter up to our 33" television, but otherwise the viewing experience is a pleasure. Totally worth $1.99 each to me, and I'm a notorius cheapskate.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
ADDENDUM: The title of this post is actually meant to be sarcastic ... or something. I do not advocate or celebrate the act of going postal. It's just been a while since anyone's gone postal in this country, that's all ...