Friday, October 31, 2003

Go, go, go!

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow and so I'm going to be keeping blogging to a minimum over the month of November. I have pain in my left shoulder and typing exacerbates it. It's one of the reasons I haven't been online as much recently and why I've been slow to respond to email. It wouldn't be so bad if my job didn't entail so much typing, but it does, and so something has to give. So I'm still going to do my best to do NaNoWriMo and do the bulk of the writing -- between 4,000 - to 6,000 words over the weekends so I can take it a little more easy during the week (goal of 1,800 words/night). Just under 17 hours left to go!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I'm officially crazy -- I've reregistered for NaNoWriMo. So every night, I will have to write between 1,667 and 2,000 words in order to make the 50,000. Stay tuned to this blog for my eventual breakdown success.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Oh Canada!

This just in. The Rock Paper Scissors Championship (Motto: "Where beer is a sporting accessory") has a new champion: A Canadian named Rob Krueger walked away with about $3,825. Read all about this amazing feat here. So, not only does Canada produce international-level curlers and lawn bowlers, they also now have an RPS champion.

In my continued quest to discover new, exciting sports (see "Extreme Ironing"), I hereby give you the World Rock Paper Scissors Championship. The strategy FAQ is especially entertaining, and please, try to stifle a giggle when it talks about hiring a trainer. Wiggling fingers just don't cut it no more.

I proposed the sport of Extreme Writing to jemima, but she says it lacks spectator appeal. Like ironing and 'throwing' random hand motions has all the excitement and drama of a World Series. While it'll be years before we can get Extreme Writing its own stadium, you can still check out NaNoWriMo which is writing masochism at its best (worst?). So go, be a spectator at the craziest show in the writing world -- will these brave, intrepid (read: crazy) writers make their 50,000 words or not in the month of November? Will they give up precious holidays and shopping days to churn out 1,666 words of gibberish a day? Will they ever be able to bring themselves to look at those 50,000 words ever again? Go, go, go...

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Seema round-up

I geeked at the parentals and finally somehow finagled a technician to come to the house on Wednesday to replace the motherboard free of charge even though their computer is no longer under warranty. Go me.

My uncle gave me a new lamp and I've set it up here in the living room. It looks very nice on the glass coffee table and it's only a 25-watt bulb, so the light is very gentle and nice. It may make a nice night light -- I do need one since I usually get up about once a night.

Also, it's cold here. For those of you in the North laughing at me, I'd like to point out that in Vermont, I had polar fleece. So anyway, the mercury dropping below fifty today necessitates a blanket on the bed; the single flannel sheet just won't cut it.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Speaking of being spammed...

Someone at my office -- well, one of them, there are many branches/divisions -- put together a list of people to send a greeting card to for this holiday and so I was pleasantly surprised to get one yesterday evening. This morning I came into to find some 20 messages all from people I don't know, wishing all a happy holiday plus a few asking what the hey as they do not celebrate this holiday; one belonged to the Church of Scotland (I didn't know Scotland had a church separate from that of England), and there were also a Jew and a Catholic. Plus, rather ashamedly, due to that fact that this is a publishing company, the grammar/spelling/punctuation on some of these responses were downright embarassing. Especially when being sent to people the senders don't even know.

The initial sentiment was nice, but man, now it's starting to feel like a fannish ML.
jemima thinks I'm nuts for deleting mail unseen, but I gotta draw the line somewhere. And so, today unbound is no longer a valid email address for me. Same thing applies as info, sales, and webmaster. This morning, I only had one spam message in the TSEA (tm) and it was marked junk and so was appropriately filtered. So yes, I'm a happy bunny today. My yahoo email is beyond hope, but at least I can excercise some control over the TSEA.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Marlins took game five. No extra innings needed. Urbina, no matter what Williams says about him, is da bomb.

My newly found geekiness is wonderful and filtering beautifully. Farewell, dear Nigerians, farewell.

That is all.
Geekiness

I had it with spam in Top Sekrit Email Addy (tm) so I finally played around with some configurations on the mail server and SpamAssasin. Filtering has now been enabled on the inbox. The email will be flagged and *** JUNK *** will be put into the subject-line and then it'll be trashed, but I'll still be able to check out the mail and see if it's something I need to read. Right now, I've got SpamAssasin set at the default level 3, but if this deluge continues, I may raise the level and risk 'losing' some valid emails.

In addition, I also have three new mail recipes that will cause some emails to be deleted automatically. Since we're talking domain-level, any email sent to info, webmaster or sales will be automatically deleted without me even seeing it or without chance of retrieval. I don't think anyone here sends email to those addies, but just a head's up in case you feel the need to send me email at either of those addresses.

Finally, I've banned some domains -- specifically that stupid Italian Dance Grand Prix and BharathGreetings -- from sending me email. Both organizations got a hold of my TSEA and send me regular updates and emails, but with no way to unsub. Color me annoyed. So if any of you send me a BharathGreeting, it will bounce and I will never see it.

And while I'm glad to see Congress getting along for once, I don't have high hopes for this spam bill making much of a difference.

***

I watched the World Series last night. Right down to the heart-poundingly exciting last inning. Bjorn, feel free to pick your jaw up off the ground now.

That is all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

PSA

I may be changing my Top Sekrit Email address soon as I've been getting more spam than usual. Those of you who do have the Top Sekrit Email address will be informed of the switch if and when I make it.
Burn baby burn

"Actually, my quads feel fine."

This was me, in a moment of delusion. I got home from work tonight in time to make the 6 pm circuit training class held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gym. The complex hired a trainer to lead the class; he's got a dreamy Australian accent -- added attraction. At any rate, I went to this one-hour class today and it reminded me a lot of the muscle-burning abs and gluts and body sculpting classes (motto: when you stop waving, your arm should stop as well) in the Big City to the Northwest, pre-MBA. What I learned in today's class is that 30 minutes of cardio does not equal strength and while I was still going strong on cardio during the whole time, the strength excercises were murder. But man, I forgot how much I enjoy the burn.

The quote from above came in a moment of sheer desperation. We had just finished lunges and squats and then the trainer (all cuteness and Australian accent having lost their charm by this time) said that we should line up against the wall and basically just as if we were in a chair but without the chair. First minute, I was fine. Then came more lunges and squats. And then another minute of the 'sitting'. Trainer adopted me as his special needs student this week and chose to 'sit' next to me. He leaned over and said, "Are your legs shaking yet?"

Through gritted teeth, I said, "Actually, my quads feel fine."

Which was mostly true. My legs are pretty strong and I can hold my own with lunges, squats, etc. It's the push-ups that do me in. I've never been really able to do push-ups, not even in peak physical condition due to my weak right wrist which tends to swell and give out when forced to perform any work more strenuous than lifting a coffee mug. So you can imagine just how embarassing tonight was. I used to sit push ups out in my aerobics classes and do bench presses or arm curls instead. But I gave it a shot.

Anyway, my muscles are reverbrating atm and I really hope my schedule allows me to attend more of these. I was always grateful for my Mondays off when I worked for Very Large Insurance Company as I could go to a morning body sculpting class with this impossibly cheerful instructor ("Lower, lower, lower, now hold, hold, hold, hold..."). I also met some cool people, including a French guy and we had a very nice conversation half in English and half in French. He spoke a little too quickly for me at times, but I also picked up a couple new words, and that's always a plus.

I will address the earlier post (see below, the 1:46 pm post from earlier today) at another time. I've got more to say on the subject, but I've got gather my thoughts when I'm more, y'know, coherent.
I haven't got time to respond to jemima's recent fandom in retrospect post although I admit to being one of the BOFQs ("Bitter Old Fic Queens") she is talking about. I'm all about being marginalized these days. Fandom takes too much time, and man, just way much more effort to go BNF ("Big Name Fan") than in the past (and BNFdom isn't all that it's cracked up to be -- say you're retired and suddenly, you are once again no one; on the positive side, this also means less pressure to write fic other people want to read. I personally got into fandom to write stories I wanted to read. The shift from me to you isn't all that it's cracked up to be).

Maybe I'm just nostalgic for the good ol' days and it was just as painful, unrewarding and seamy as jemima says it is today. In other words, the rose-colored glasses are off, and we BOFQs seem to have a high threshold for not only stupidity, but also for squickiness. It's no surprise the RL world thinks we're crazy when twincest and pretty naked boys -- not good old gen fic -- is what's popular, though not necessarily good.
News round-up

In an August survey of Yahoo! users, 77 percent said they would rather clean a toilet than sort through the junk e-mail in their inbox. Article.

Apple Computer Inc. said that Windows computer users had downloaded its iTunes digital jukebox software and bought more than 1 million songs at a cost of 99 cents each from its online music store since their launch for Windows last Thursday. Article.

Man survives plunge over Niagra Falls. Without protective gear. Apparently, he was smiling and just jumped into the water and whoosh, there he went. Crazy.

And this is what happens when "The Next Joe Millionaire" is considered quality television.

And ladies? The men are here.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Every weekend, they have an infomercial here for a Ronco Rotisserie Oven that is bigger than a bread box. You may have seen this infomercial -- the audience routinely yells out "Set it and forget it!" Anyway, I watch this infomercial nearly every week. And here's the odd thing: it literally grosses me out and yet I still watch it.

There's something about meat on a spit that I just really, really, really don't like. When I was in Munich last summer, I saw lamb revolving on a spit less than 5 feet from the busy street and I was completely grossed out. Which is odd, because if people are eating it in front of me, it doesn't bother me at all. But put meat on a spit, twirl it around and add an apple on top for decoration and I am ready to head to the next restaurant.

So it's odd that I even watch this infomercial, with the people sticking meat on to spits every which way. From pork to beef, from ham to lobster, no animal is safe from "set it and forget it." To add insult to injury, the people who invented the rotisserie oven also have this crazy scary needle thing (the one with the yellow handle) that "injects flavor" into the meat, and they keep stabbing at the poor thing with the needle, in which they have put such bizarre concoctions as olives, sundried tomatoes and garlic. So when you cut the meat, there is a little section running through it with these thingies in it.

Anyway, no idea why I watch these infomercial because I'm obviously not going to buy it, but I'm always impressed at the amount of enthusiasm people can muster up for these kinds of things once they've been bribed placed in a studio audience.

Email update: Working on it.

Friday, October 17, 2003

I gacked this link from Sheetal (see her blog in the sidebar): Medil Global Journalism Blog. I just found it interesting and am jealous of the wit and wisdom going on there. Reading blogs like this just reminds me I am really just a hack.
I didn't know what was so cool about Rupert on Survivor until yesterday. Honestly, he kind of has that caveman look going on and it doesn't help that these survivors are the least stylish group since Richard Hatch went buff; Rupert runs around in tie-dyed t-shirt and some kind of sack around his waist. But. Anyway. Last night, Rupert totally rocked. Not only did he helped Morgan win the reward challenge, but then he went back to Drake without sharing in the challenge. He gave up a shower! Soap! Shampoo! He knew how to play it, that's for sure.

And then when it came time for Morgan to loot Drake, Rupert totally took charge. He said he knew Morgan could take whatever, but he wanted them to take food. So he gave them several bowls of rice. Totally sweet, but smart too. Drake didn't lose any of their luxuries, but they still managed to conjure up goodwill but giving Morgan something they truly needed.

I didn't catch any of the playoff games last night, but Boston? I heard your cry of despair from over here. Better luck next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Many of you know I lack the talent to iron in normal conditions so obviously, Extreme Ironing is not the sport for me. More information here.

And I've been remiss in welcoming new subscribers to this blog! Nice to have you here and hopefully you find it enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I was looking for a copy of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien to link here because the story got me in the same way that Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" did and instead discovered a site where I could get copies of essays about the story for free or $14.95. Color me boggled. First, how insanely stupid are students to do this? Yes, I know sometimes you hit a brick wall when it comes to literary interpretation -- I know all about this, I'm a business major, for goodness' sake; I wouldn't know a metaphor from a simile if it hit me on the nose.

But anyway, if you're going to cheat, you should at least do it right and after reading the FAQ, I came to the conclusion you should never buy a composition from a site tlacking a grasp of English language fundamentals. See here: Unlike other essay websites, 123HelpMe does not profit from selling essays to students! In truth, we loose money almost every month of the year!

This question from the FAQ cracks me up:

Can 123HelpMe remove an essay from the website?

Yes, we can! We can remove any Red or Yellow essay from the website for 30 days. Since we need to pay someone to manually remove the essay, we are forced to charge $5 for this service. Send payment via Paypal to orders@123HelpMe.com Indicate the number and title of the essay in the Paypal message box.


I found MBA Essays as well. So all of that time I spent honing and writing my three essays first for the MBA program and then second, for the International Affairs program?

But really kids, don't try this at home.

ps. After all that, I didn't find an online copy of this story, but it is available in short story collections and I highly recommend it if you haven't read it. It's a fantastic story about Vietnam and a terrific way of 'showing not telling' character using a unique writing technique.

Monday, October 13, 2003

I've slowly started to catch up on my inbox. I'm now only about a week behind -- I answered an email from last Monday today, so at this rate, I should be all caught up by the end of the week. Again, very sorry.

And just for Bjorn: ICE CREAM!

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Preaching to the choir

Whoo hoo! Everyone get out their confetti, party hats and bugle horns -- it's Marriage Protection Week. Go there to find out why 'marriage' is endangered and what you can do to make sure that this most holy and sacred of institutions remains solely between a man and woman.

I'm amused. Can you tell?

Some choice bits from articles linked:

Talking Points on Marriage

But even childless marriages are a social anchor for children, who observe adults as role models. Besides, childless couples can be “surprised” by an unexpected pregnancy, and they can adopt, giving a child a mother-and-father-based family.

That's if a childless couple actually wants a child; if no, then the 'surprise' won't really be that surprising.

Other groups, such as bisexuals and polygamists, will demand the right to redefine marriage to suit their own proclivities. Once the standard of one-man, one-woman marriage is broken, there is no logical stopping point.

Uh oh.... now I'm scared. Polygamists, bisexuals and gays, oh my!

As society rewards homosexual behavior, more young people will be encouraged to experiment and more will be discouraged from overcoming homosexual desires.

I had to stop right here and put my drink away to keep from spewing all over my keyboard. 'Overcoming homosexual desires'? Please. Continuing on:

Homosexual relationships, which usually lack both permanence and fidelity, are unlikely to change to fit the traditional model of lifelong, faithful marriage.

The stupidity and ignorance of the above sentence speaks for itself.

Then this article is about Questions and Answers: What's Wrong With Letting Same-Sex Couples "Marry?"

I'll just let the arrogance of that article speak for itself (but be warned: it's really, really, really infuriating and I personally just want to smack the author around -- especially when the end of the article becomes an attack of gays and lesbians. I don't usually go around calling people 'idiots' but this author deserve to be so called).

To quote a really cool quote I saw in my blog rounds the other day: If you've got a problem with gay marriage, don't marry a gay person.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I stole this link from jemima, because it's a good one: what's a narrative?. At some point, I want to gather my thoughts on clarity in writing, but today is not that day since I need to think on it a bit more.
Meeting of doom wasn't quite as "finality doomed" (kudos to anyone who can remember where this came from :-)) as previously thought and source of concern has been addressed, action plan created, and we'll see what happens. More in chats o' doom.

Modly beings, how does chat o'doom sound for this weekend? Sunday night, most probably -- say starting at 9 pm my time? (to make allowance for the "Alias" fans amongst us and for Jemima the non-lush who will be busy celebrating Columbus Day doing something other than shopping).
Impending doom

We're having a meeting today. For those of you who know the events of the last few days, you know it's not been an easy week and until yesterday, hadn't even taken lunch in order to keep up. So yeah, we're having a meeting in the next hour or so and I've got this rock-hard knot in my stomach; I wonder how much stress had to do with my upset stomach and headache yesterday (I actually blame the food at the restaurant Sarah and I went to Wednesday night, but, I wouldn't discount this possibility yet). There was Yet Another Incident (tm) at the end of work yesterday and it was caught, fixed, but my guess is that it was the final nail in the coffin.

I really, really, really hope I'm just being overanxious, as de rigor, and that this is just a debrief and not concerning other people. I guess I'll find out when we have this meeting, huh?
Seema report

I didn't get online last night as planned due to not feeling well. Let me tell you, getting sick at work? Not the way to go. Anyway, I did make it to the restroom before, y'know, it was a real disaster :-) Plus we had six tornadoes tear through here. Honestly, it wa a scary, scary lookin' day all the live-long day. So this is just a short way of saying I haven't really gone through email and my goal is to get caught up this weekend. Also, my Top Sekrit Real Addy has been discovered by spammers -- or rather, one of my addies has been -- so now I'm downloading even more spam than usual. Again. Ant hill in West Texas. Problem solved.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Sarah is in town for work this week, so she spent the night and we were able to catch up. We had dinner late last night, after the writing class, and then she followed me back here. We were discussing being "morning people" and neither of us are, but I thought it was interesting because when I say "morning person," I mean someone who is cranky and requires time to wake up. This is why, despite not being a morning person, I usually wake up by 7 am every morning (also, the caffeine addiction is a major factor -- caffeine heachaches blow big time) and then spend the next 3 hours waking up and getting un-cranky.

Do I owe you an email? Most probably yes. ::hangs head:: I have 12 unread emails in my Top Sekrit Real Addy and I can't even begin to tell you what's going on with the regular email addy, other then I finally responded yesterday to a thoughtful email written to me probably in the beginning of September. Gah. I'm so awful. How do you people put up with me?

I'll be back online tonight and despite having an invitation for this weekend, I'll probably just stay home. I need to do some cooking, catch up on email, find a book called "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien and do my writing assignment for next week. It's should be a listing of a very trivial event of the day -- I'm not sure I understand the assignment without reading the story in question, but already I've decided the three year old ("I'm small now, but when I'm four, I'm going to be big, right?" "No, sweetie, when you're ten, you'll be big then. Okay?" "Yeah...") will be the focus of the story because it has to be slightly comedic and there's nothing funnier than a three-year old cuddling up to her still-sleeping brother and then claiming he kicked her awake :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I was watching the "Today" show this morning and they were featuring little vignettes of people saying who they had voted for in the California recall and why. One woman said she'd voted "for the movie star, what is his name?" three minutes after casting her ballot and another said she'd chosen Schwarzenegger because he would get results. This isn't a movie and no one has scripted the end of this chapter in California history. But I agree with the woman on at least the star-quality aspect of getting results: when one carries a bazooka, one will get results.

The idea of a Republican governor in California is scary. Either way, for Bush, this was a win-win situation. Gray Davis stays and the president campaigns against Davis and gets his brownie points that way. Now with a Republican governor, it might be easier to deliver up California to the Republicans. Of course, it's not like Jeb Bush had an easy time of it in Florida so perhaps handing California to Bush isn't a foregone conclusion. But then again, Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican, so perhaps it's not all bad.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

So. Schwarzenegger. Ain't America great.

Next question: when can we recall the President? Please don't tell me we have to wait until 2004. If Californians can get rid of their governor in less than six months, we ought to have a similar national referendum.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Window washing on a skyscraper? Got to be the worst job ever. I'm watching our window washers now doing our windows. We're on the 38th floor. There are 12 floors above us, 37 below us. In other words, a long, long, long way down. And we're not even the tallest building downtown. Man. How they have the stomach for that kind of heart-in-throat kind of work is amazing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

When it rains, it pours

My car died again this morning. It's either a battery or an alternator problem. Luckily, a nice couple was outside at the same time I discovered this and I asked them for a jump. But man. Talk about timing. I wanted to get to work early today because I leave early for my class so why cut the day any shorter than I already have? Plus, I'm taking 1/2 day on Monday and a little longer than usual lunch on Friday. Why push my luck, right? Luckily, I still beat everyone in this morning. I was 15 minutes late, but everyone else was later. So, it all worked out. The car will be going to the mechanic this weekend (car is in the parking garage so it doesn't know yet that it's going to the doctor) and I'll figure out exactly what the problem is. But gosh, it would happen when I have about 80 million other things on my mind.