Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

I got footware, fancy boots and running shoes, from the only person in the world who could possibly buy these things for me without me being there to try them on. I have my mother's feet, right down to our pinky toes. The running shoes have survived two wintery runs of about four miles each, and no blisters. I also got slippers from my sister, who knew I needed them, with wooden floors and my old ones lost and the $1 pink pair I bought at the grocery store not really fitting. And she got me a hat/glove/scarf set that matches the boots, and the blouse and necklace my parents also got. I dressed up in it for the Christmas day Bears game, at Ken's dad's house. And we shared Amazon gift certificate from Patrick, and I got books from Ken's dad, and a shirt, and a chicken soup dinner, at half-time.

I won't list everything Ken got me, but it included oil pastels and grease pencils and a spirograph kit and a globe that goes from earth to star-chart depending on the light level in the room, and a crank-powered flashlight/radio, and a handheld sewing machine, and Nancy Drew's Guide to Life, and a hoodie for those winter runs... He knows me too well, buys better gifts than I would have thought to buy myself.

And I won't list the things everyone else got (even though I think all of it is pretty cool stuff) except to link to the custom M&Ms page, where I ordered my sister's gift, because this possibility is too neat not to share. Unfortunately, they didn't arrive by Christmas, even though I ordered almost a month early, so be warned.

The mood here is pretty good. The Bears are in the playoffs, and we get a semi-vacation from work, because the cooling water is shut down for maintenance which means we can't turn on the lasers. We still have to go in to check on the vaccuum system (which is "baking" -- wrapped in heater wires and tinfoil and slowly heated, to vaporize any microscopic gunk that may be stuck the walls, so that the pump can pump it away) and make sure the building hasn't burned down, but otherwise we are free to spend our days playing with our new toys, books, and video games, watching sports and game shows and mindless reality TV (the guilty pleasures of those without cable), and working our way through "24" on DVD before the start of the new season. We might even leave the apartment at some point! It's like being an undergrad again.

This also probably means more blogging. I promise the next one will be about a topic besides my personal life. The more time I have on my hands, the more opinionated I get.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering -- yes that is the Millennium Falcon on our Christmas tree.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Weird News

I know, a lot of other people already read weird news. But if you don't, you wouldn't know that there has been a weird rash of finger bitings-off this week.

"Woman Allegedly Bites Off Officer's Finger",
"Woman Allegedly Bites Off Beau's Fingertip",
and "Taxi Driver Bites Off Customer's Fingertip".

But in trying to find the URL again for one of those, I did at least find one touching story of people helping to re-unite a woman with her finger. (She didn't even realize she'd lost it, at first.)

With all that finger-biting, you can see where people wouldn't want to encourage our children's cannibalistic tendencies with a hilarious looking zombie video game. (Ken points out, "Zombies aren't cannibals. They don't eat other zombies.")

Other stories I like this week:
The same lottery numbers drawn twice in a row.

Man in traction fleas hospital.

Drunk tank painted pink. (The jailers were inspired by a University of Iowa coach who painted the visitor's locker room pink.)

So anyway... Watch your fingers.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

So Much Sci-FI!

I thought about doing a sciency post today, but it seemed like work. I did a little searching on uninspired topics (in the course of which I did learn that the sky is really violet (scroll down)) but figured I was too confused to write about it. I'm more in the mood for mindless entertainment, so instead, you get an entry about sci-fi television.

I will be the first to acknowledge that not all sci-fi TV is mindless. I do know the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff (I even know the difference between sci-fi and SF). But the thing about me is, I like them both.

So I decided to search for sites about the stuff I grew up watching, first in syndication and then on the Sci-Fi Channel. I figured maybe I could find some hilarious merchandise like this:

and put together a sort of holiday gift list.

But what shows to include? Well, obviously the Bionic Woman, and the Six Million Dollar Man

And Wonder Woman

And MacGyver

(Is that Portuguese?)

And Quantum Leap

(I read all of those!)

And The Incredible Hulk

(This and Quantum Leap were by far my favorites of all the shows listed here.)

And I have to include Knight Rider

But what about all those great Irwin Allen TV shows? Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Land of the Giants, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea?

I'm beginning to think this post is going to be even more work than the sciency one would've been, what with all the searching and uploading and formatting. And I haven't even scratched the surface!

What about Mission: Impossible?

And the shows I never watched regularly, but which definitely belong to the same class, like

Battlestar Gallactica
Forever Knight
Space: 1999
The Powers of Matthew Star

And what about the anthology shows

Twilight Zone,
Ray Bradbury Theater
The Outer Limits

And the British shows?
Dr. Who
Red Dwarf
Blake's Seven
The Prisoner
The Avengers

And the new bad Sci-Fi (I am, of course, not including big, almost mainstream shows like the Star Treks, Buffy, Angel, Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, and Alias -- the last of which Ken and I are currently working our way through on DVD). But...

Stargate (both versions)
Mutant X
Land of the Lost
Cleopatra 2525
She Spies
Space, Above and Beyond
Seaqest DSV/2032
The Invisible Man

I've watched all of these too, some regularly. I have a deep knowledge of the backstory on many of them, and can name cast members... And I don't have the excuse of having been a kid at the time. These aren't old enough to justify watching for kitch value or nostalgia. I just like them.

And I can think of half a dozen others, too, which I'm not listing mainly because either I can't remember the name (what was that show that got cancelled about the guy in Seattle who was an expert in every field, but couldn't remember his name? John Doe? Something like that) or I don't think anyone else will remember them (Nowhere Man?) or I don't really know anything about them (M.A.N.T.I.S? Robocop? Swamp Thing? V? Never watched)

Enough! I must either draw the line, or decide to write a book.

I can't believe how much TV I watch. I can't believe how many shows like this get made. And I can't believe you can find episodes guides and merchandise for all of them on the internet... This is the power of the internet.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Belated November Poem

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Solemnly, mournfully,
  Dealing its dole,
The curfew bell
  Is beginning to toll.

Cover the embers,
  And put out the light;
Toil comes with the morning,
  And rest with the night.

Dark grow the windows,
  And quenched is the fire;
Sound fades into silence,--
  All footsteps retire.

No voice in the chambers,
  No sound in the hall!
Sleep and oblivion
  Reign over all!


The book is completed,
  And closed, like the day;
And the hand that has written it
  Lays it away.

Dim grow its fancies;
  Forgotten they lie;
Like coals in the ashes,
  They darken and die.

Song sinks into silence,
  The story is told,
The windows are darkened,
  The hearthstone is cold.

Darker and darker
  The black shadows fall;
Sleep and oblivion
  Reign over all.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


The season of Advent began last Sunday. I'm sure my mom lit the first candle on her Advent wreath (right, Mom?)

Advent is not supposed to be the same thing as the Christmas season. It's supposed to be more somber, more a waiting hush, bated breath... With the celebrating to come after Christmas morning. If you're already tired of the retail Christmas Carols, the idea probably sounds appealing.

I am one of those apparently rare individuals who enjoys the commercial Christmas carols. For that matter, I enjoy the Christmas commercials. And Christmas episodes of TV shows, and sappy movies, and city lights displays. I'm in favor of all the gaudy, tacky, overblown celebrations that both serious atheists and serious religious people oppose. This is because I am not a serious person. But even I can overdose on all this, and find myself wishing for more understated, sincere rituals of anticipation. Like lighting candles. And opening the doors on an Advent calendar.

I'm easily amused and love surprises, so the tiny pictures revealed behind each door on the traditional calendars I grew up with are treat enough for me. But some offer stickers, chocolate, candy or toys.

Nowadays there are web-based Advent calendars, offering a new page of an illustrated story each day, or facts about Christmas around the world. Or, for an unholy marriage of the secular and religious traditions, there's the advert calendar.

But I think the traditional ones are probably more to the point. Understated, you know. Some can be beautiful.

Happy Advent.