bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Why do so many of the phone-spam calls involve air duct cleaning?  I'd have thought that the market for that scam was more than saturated.  Not that I want phone spam for carpet cleaning, pet laundering, tree washing, etc., but they might get more business out of the population they're pestering.

At this point, I'm getting some mileage out of pretending that the Indian-accented callers with spoofed local phone numbers are calling for gay bondage phone sex, or trying to rent out their sisters.

Eat me

May. 20th, 2013 08:26 pm
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I have always been somewhat creeped out by commercials that feature animated food or animals urging people to eat them.  See also: Douglas Adams's "Dish of the Day", and Alice being introduced to Mutton and Plum Pudding on the other side of the Looking-Glass; not to mention Paul Gallico's charming children's book Manxmouse.

But recent commercials for M&Ms are even more troubling.  Red M&M doesn't want to be eaten, but people around him talk about eating him, start gnawing on him despite his objections, and eventually stuff him — kicking and yelling — into an oven.

In Larry Niven's World of Ptavvs, there's a line: "An intelligent food animal!  Hitler would have fled, retching."  I've always thought that Niven was a bit of an optimist on that point.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I just had an unpleasant thought: The eviction of "the Necromancer" (AKA Sauron) from his base in Mirkwood, in the Hobbit movie, is going to involve the wizards standing around, zapping the Evil Eyeball with their wands/staves.  Bleah.

ETA: "Expello maloculus!"

In harmony.


Sleep study

Dec. 7th, 2012 02:06 pm
bunsen_h: (Guinea pig)
I had a sleep study last night, the latest step in the ongoing investigation of "find all the things independently wrong".  I'm extremely tired today.  What they tell you before the study and the way things really are are somewhat different.

"You can sleep in any position you want as long as it doesn't involve your face being downwards into the pillow or mattress."  The multiple electrodes, contacts, and sensors on your face make that impossible.

"You can move around into different positions during the night but you have to wake up enough to not get tangled up in the the wires and tubes."

"You can bring a bottle of water to drink but you have to get it between the contacts above and below your mouth."  There are a lot of contacts; these measure teeth-grinding, and breathing through nose and mouth.

They did tell me in advance that they'd wake me up and send me home a little after 6 a.m.  Knowing it in advance didn't help much.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I am not a fan of Peter Jackson's work in Tolkien's mythos.

He changes things that don't need to be changed.  He adds action scenes that aren't internally consistent, nor consistent with the rest of the story; he removes thematic elements and chunks of plot that distinguish Tolkien's work from the generic extruded fantasy product of other writers.

Look, I don't object to his removing Tom Bombadil from The Fellowship of the Ring, as such, though it did lead to a series of plot deviations based on the knives that the Hobbits (originally) took from the Barrow-Downs.  (Those changes could have been corrected early in the story, if Jackson had wanted to.)  Bombadil was somewhat incongruous in the original book.  And there's only so much time and complexity that can go into a popular movie (though Jackson could have refrained from adding some dramatic but incongruous action sequences).

I won't complain at all if the Elves of Rivendell aren't doing the "tra-la-la-lally" thing from Tolkien's The Hobbit.  It's cute in a children's book, but it's seriously weird when contrasted with the Elvish people of The Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit is notionally written by Bilbo, and he's an unreliable narrator — explicitly unreliable, with regard to his taking the Ring from Gollum.  And there's no way that Bilbo's claustrophobic wandering through the tunnels and caves under the Misty Mountains, in total darkness except for a dim glow from his sword and for the greenish glow of Gollum's eyes, could be portrayed in the movie medium.  I accept this; these changes are necessary.

But why do we have to have Gandalf telling Bilbo, in advance, that his sword Sting is of Elvish make and will glow blue when orcs and goblins are near?  Rather than letting Bilbo discover this for himself... and giving him just that little bit more to talk about to himself in the caves in the dark?

"You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets frustrated.  After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor much better, so he buys it." — Jubal Harshaw, in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.  That's what I keep thinking about.

I haven't seen the movie, though I probably will after the initial rush has finished.  I've seen some promotional clips, and it seems to keep coming back to Jackson's need to change things that were perfectly fine in the first place, and probably better before the changes than after.
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Recent events hereabouts have reminded me of an old comedy sketch by Ronnie Barker, of the Two Ronnies:

The Two Ronnies
was not exactly known for highbrow humour — they leaned more towards vaudevillian, variety-show stuff with a certain amount of satire.  But there's a line there: "Diagnosis is very like diarrhoea only you get it in your gnosis instead of in your rhoea."  And the pronunciation is precise; there's no question that he's saying "gnosis".

And too often, lately, we've been finding that a diagnosis does indeed involve "knowledge" coming out as an uncontrolled spew of feculent sludge.

Food prep

Sep. 29th, 2012 05:24 pm
bunsen_h: (Beaker)
I've noticed that a lot of the ready-to-cook food items now carry warnings about how well-cooked the food has to be to be safe.

But how do I measure the internal temperature of, say, ravioli immersed in boiling water, to make sure that it's at least 74°C?  (Just 73° wouldn't be safe.  Or just waiting until it floats and has a reasonable texture for eating.)  Or the internal temperature of a pizza in the oven?  These would be tricky to measure even with the resources of a well-equipped lab.


Sep. 23rd, 2012 09:54 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
We spent a little while this afternoon at the annual Gem and Mineral Show.  There were many pretty rocks and crystals and beads and such.  But was a bit disconcerting to see how much of the merchandise was being marketed for the paranormal/occult crowd. After a while, I started wishing that the little cards in the boxes of stones said something like: "This is just a rock.  It is a pretty rock, and if having pretty things makes you happy, you should buy it.  But it will neither prevent nor cure illness or injury; it will not affect your "energy"; it will not protect you from harm unless it should happen to get in the way of something that was going to hit you.  It won't increase your wisdom (though reading this card may help) and it won't improve your sex life except possibly if you use it as an appropriate gift.  It won't bring you money except by your selling it."

ETA: I don't think I'd ever seen the mineral 'orpiment' before.  Its pretty golden colour explains something about its popularity in alchemical work, and its composition (As2O3, arsenic (III) sulfide) explains something about the lives of the alchemists.
bunsen_h: (Default)
"... And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking out singin' a bar of "Alice's CEGEP" and walking in. And friends they may think it's a movement.

"And that's what it is, the Alice's CEGEP Anti-Fee-Increase Movement, and all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar."
bunsen_h: (Default)
If you'll forgive a brief cane-shaking kids-today-like-crappy-music comment (of the kind I've been making ever since I first heard music not selected by me or by my parents)...

Science, as a discipline — loaded word, that — requires long-term focus, both to learn a subject and to observe experiments.  You need to notice anomalies, exceptions to an expected pattern; if you're very lucky, they can lead to discovery of something novel and important.  If you're attracted by videos full of hard cuts, in which the longest uninterrupted segment is somewhat less than a second long, you're probably not going to do well in research.

(To say nothing of the bizarre and distasteful assumptions embedded in that video, about which much has been said elsewhere.)

Now imagining Magnus Pyke doing a voice-over: "She blinded me!  With science!  It's a Girl Thing!"
bunsen_h: (Vortalds)
Another molar gone, victim to a raging infection.  I am hoping very much that it was the correct tooth; it was the only one with any reason to be suspect, after a filling two months ago.  "At least there is symmetry."

I am not very confident in my dentist any more.  This is the third filling of his that has "gone wrong" in some way.  I also am not terribly happy with the dentist I saw on an emergency basis last Friday, who gave me a prescription for an antibiotic that (as I learned later) is very effective on some infections of this kind but not very effective against a large proportion of such infections.  He also assured me that he was "sure we can save the tooth".  I admit that by the time I saw him, the infection was probably bad enough that even a more appropriate antibiotic prescription would probably not have let me keep the tooth... but still, he could have saved me some pain, swelling, consequent inconvenience, and recovery time.

Other stuff learned: )

I would like my health back, please.

bunsen_h: (Beaker)
  1. A member of a couple of social groups sends out a message to all the other members, inviting them to a social gathering. [Hmm, I'll have to see if I can get to that.]

  2. One of the other members sends a curmudgeonly reply to all, warning that "crowding several people in a small area is unhealthy.  Regulations are in place limiting the number of people to a given area.  Unless there is very good ventilation, you are breathing a 'primordial soup' of viruses and bacteria that other people carry."  [Sheesh.  It's what we Earth-people call a "party".]

  3. Another of the members sends a reply to all: "The man has definitely lost all his marbles.  Where does he get the idea that he is entitled to dictate the conditions under which a personal party is held?  He is definitely older but in no way is he wiser.  The man deserves to have no friends at all and he still doesn't understand why?  Absolutely impossible."  [Harridan, that's thee.]
Other groups don't seem to have quite such an incidence of pots calling kettles black and other socially-dysfunctional people.  The sad thing is that I was able to guess the general tenor of the two replies just from the identities of the senders.


May. 27th, 2010 10:59 am
bunsen_h: (Default)
I checked my class schedule, and realized with a shock that there's a course that I've completely forgotten about all term -- I haven't been to any of the classes, read any of the material, done any of the essays/assignments/course-work.  It's some kind of history/sociology thing (I can't even remember the details), an arts elective I need to complete for my degree, and everything is now riding on the final exam, which is in just a couple of days.

I picked up one of the thick, heavy course texts, and realized that with my current sleep deprivation / cognitive impairment, I can barely follow the material, let alone cram an entire course worth of uninteresting material in a short time.

Then I woke up a bit more and remembered that I completed the damn Ph.D. something like 17 years ago, and the B.Sc. with the arts electives was finished 25 years ago.

There are times when I really dislike my subconscious, and I think the feeling is mutual.
bunsen_h: (Default)
Loblaws and its affiliated stores have been selling "no name" products for quite some time now.  They're generally cheaper than their brand-name equivalents, and the quality is variable — sometimes it's pretty much the same product as the brand-name stuff but in plainer packaging.  Sometimes, not so much.

Lately, it's seemed to me that many of the "no name" products I've bought have been of much lower quality than they used to be.  For some things I'm fussy about quality — for durable items, I will almost invariably buy something that will last and work trouble-free, and I'm willing to pay extra for something that won't have to be repaired or replaced for a long time.  Other things, not so much.  I don't have much taste for really cheap crappy chocolate any more, but I don't have the palate to appreciate the finest-quality chocolate: I like it, but I'm happy with cheaper decent-quality chocolate.  But a lot of the "no name" items don't meet even fairly low standards.

More grumbling lies beneath... )
bunsen_h: (Default)
Over the last couple of days, I've had a strange combination of depression and housebound twitchiness, enough to push me to go through the list of recruiters and job-search sites provided by my former employer. Given my "eclectic" set of skills, I knew that the effort was likely to be frustrating.

(That's not counting the IT recruiter sites with seriously broken systems, of which there are far too many.)

Some sites have drop-down lists allowing me to identify skills which I have and which are in demand. It's disheartening that out of a list of some dozens of desired qualifications, I'm good at one, mediocre at two more, know nothing about any of the rest, have never even heard of at least half.

And now the automated recommendation messages are starting to come in. "Based on the information you provided us, we think that the following positions are good matches for you!" Let's see, I have no experience at all in any of the must-have skills, and the location is 50 km from here. Why exactly is that being recommended? Unsubscribe...

I've got an interview Thursday with another recruiting agency. I'm not holding my breath, but at least it sounds like they'll be filtering their possible positions to match what I might plausibly be able to do.
bunsen_h: (Default)
Roof vents should be screened with a metal mesh.

The purpose for doing this, O Roofer, is not merely to be able to mark off an item in a checklist, nor merely to be able to add some billable time and a marked-up charge for materials to an invoice.  The purpose is to prevent the passage of birds, small animals, and large insects into and out of the attic space.  This will not work effectively if the metal mesh is crumpled or askew, or otherwise not filling the open area.

Due attention and care during the installation of said vents will prevent the homeowner — that's me, by the way — from having to execute damnfool stunts like parallel-bars gymnastics to ascend the roof rafters and straighten the metal mesh.  In both vents.

Again, "millennium" has two 'L's and two 'N's, and companies whose names are misspelled should be avoided because their owners are thereby demonstrating that they are too sloppy to be competent.


May. 20th, 2007 05:08 pm
bunsen_h: (Tuxbert)
So what is this "chocohol" I keep hearing about?  What about "shopohol"?  "Workohol"?  And so on.

Implicitly, they're things that one can be addicted to, just as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol.  At least, that's what I assume is the implication when I hear people referring to workoholics, shopoholics, and so on.  But as a form of word retroconstruction, this "[X]oholic" really doesn't make a lot of sense when one is describing a compulsion for [X].  An alcoholic isn't addicted to alc.

Please: "shopping fiend".  "Chocolate fanatic".  "Compulsive worker".

I have the same twitch reaction to "[Y]gate" being used to refer to "a scandal involving [Y]".  The Watergate scandal had nothing to do with water; it's the name of a hotel.


May. 5th, 2007 10:35 am
bunsen_h: (Default)
I've recently been watching Battlestar Galactica, after a friend loaned me the DVDs.  I'm about half way through the first season, and I think I'm going to stop.
  • Poor prop and stage design.  The series is supposedly set some thousands of years in the future, at a time when Earth is only a legend.  But most of the props look like they were purchased from contemporary sources.  Maybe a 2005-style whiteboard is the most efficient conceivable way of displaying information quickly and informally on a wall, but would it have been that difficult to find or make a board, markers, and eraser that looked at least a bit different from current standard office equipment?  Why is the doctor smoking current-standard filter-tip cigarettes?  (Apart from the issue of his annoying his patients by doing so...)  The only props that seem to have had some stylistic evolution don't make sense for having done so.  The playing cards have weird glyphs.  All printed material -- papers, cards, books -- has large corners chopped off.  It looks silly.
  • Low tech.  A lot of the technology we see on the show isn't even up to real-life standards.  Telephone handsets are big and clunky.  MRI should be able to detect differences between Cylons and humans; they have different chemical compounds and different brain structures, and they've demonstrated greater strength and peculiar vulnerability to some form of radiation.  And it would be nice to think that sometime in those thousands of years, better tests and treatment for cancer would have been developed...
  • Plot inconsistencies.  In the pilot episode, a character was abandoned because (faked) tests showed that he was really a humaniform Cylon.  A few episodes later, much is made of the difficulties in coming up with such a test.  But it's never brought up that either those first tests could be extended, or if they could never really work, that that character should not have been left.  Oh, and that stuff about "there are only twelve models of Cylons, so we can instantly recognize someone as a Cylon once we know about that model"?  There's an ancient concept that I'd like to remind you about: "disguise"..?
  • Bad relationships.  We've seen some romantic/sexual relationships, in some detail.  All have been disastrously bad.  The flight instructor was involved with one of her trainees, gave him passing grades which he didn't deserve, and directly led to his death.  And there are no fewer than three female humaniform Cylons who have been seducing human males -- the sadistic relationship between "Number Six" and Baltar really makes me twitch.
  • The Plan.  We keep being told that the Cylons "have a plan".  But if so, it seems to be baroque, and it doesn't seem to be intended to wipe out humanity so much as to cruelly toy with humans.  Given that the Cylons have already effectively infiltrated the fleet, and have superior technology in pretty much every respect (and why have they used nuclear weapons and conventional explosives etc. rather than an engineered plague or two?), if they wanted humans gone, humans would be history.  But I don't get any sense that there really is a more complex goal, and the characters don't seem to be thinking along the lines of "what are they really after?".

The show is probably not worse than, say, Star Trek or Doctor Who.  But it's also pretty much completely lacking any sense of joy or fun -- perhaps unsurprising, given the plot, but there's very little positive stuff even in small details.

Bottom line: I'm not enjoying it very much, so I'm going to find other ways of spending my time.

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