Monday, February 21, 2005

Funeral For A Fish

Gilligan gave up his struggles last night.

As I've mentioned before, however briefly, Kristi has made Herculean efforts to keep poor Gilligan alive. She had him for almost five years, and nursed him for most of that time. She spent hours -- many hours -- on the Web sorting through incredible amounts of useless, contradictory information. She visited every freshwater fish store in the Cities, looking for advice on diagnosis and treatment. She did everything humanly possible. Bigger tank, hospital tank, drugs, diet. And at times it really seemed to be helping.

Last night, while Kristi and Em were out shopping, I saw that he was lying on his side on the gravel. Believe it or not, this sort of behavior wasn't terribly unusual for him; he'd often do things that seemed deliberately calculated to scare us, like lying upside-down on the bottom. But this time his gills weren't moving, which (let's face it) is a bad sign. Then Finnigan swung past him and gave him a little nudge, and it was clear that he was stiff.

After Kristi came home, I broke the news to her. Kristi broke the news to Emma. Emma, having no-one to break the news to, simply broke down.

I buried him last night, in the dirt near the dryer vent where it never quite freezes solid. Emma wants me to carve a wooden tombstone, but Kristi's thinking a memorial steppingstone -- a far more permanent choice.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ursula's Tax Dollars At Work

This may be my most prized possession. I could buy another computer, I could buy another car -- but I don't know how I could ever find another of these. What in the world were they thinking?

Monday, February 14, 2005

More on Firefox

Another reason why Firefox completely outshines Internet Explorer: you can't get this extension for IE.

How have you gotten along without it this long?

Stupid Blogger. Stupid Microsoft.

It's been pointed out that when viewed in Internet Explorer, my blog is pushing everything in the right-hand column down below the end of the last post. It works fine in Mozilla/Firefox, and since I never view my blog in IE, I have no idea how long this has been going on (anyone want to help out with that?). In any event, I haven't changed my template for many months, so if something broke recently, it was probably a change by Blogger.

I don't have time to fix it right now. Suffer. Or, better yet, get Firefox.

Superman Is A Dick

This was linked in Worth's forums. I'd seen it before, but had forgotten where. It's definitely worth sharing -- particularly if you're of an age where you might have actually seen some of these with your own eyes.

Friday, February 11, 2005


My friend Scooter is much more knowledgable about the Bush Social Security "plan" than I am -- though he doesn't blog about it. But this -- this just cheeses me.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush told black leaders Tuesday that his plan to add private accounts to Social Security would benefit blacks since they tend to have shorter lives than some other Americans and end up paying in more than they get out.
"African-American males have a -- have had a shorter life span than other sectors of America," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "And this will enable them to build a nest egg of their own and be able to pass that nest egg on to their survivors."
Why am I cheesed?
  1. Black males do, on average, have a shorter life expectancy. But that's mostly because of (a) higher infant mortality and (b) a higher-than-average rate of mortality among teenage black males. Once a black male enters the work force and starts paying into Social Security, his life expectancy is little different from that of his white co-worker.
  2. Assuming, though, that Bush and McClellan aren't completely twisting the data to their own advantage, and that black workers will all drop dead before they're able to draw on Social Security -- does that mean that their Social Security taxes are now all going to pay off white retirees? Hardly. Spouses and children are collecting them as survivor benefits.
  3. Again, assuming that Bush and his pals aren't just telling bald-faced lies (and yes, I know, that's a huge assumption) -- should the focus really be on Social Security reform? Shouldn't it maybe be, you know, on examining and ameliorating the root causes of the disparity between black and white life expectancy?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Control Room

A really interesting movie. Essentially sets out to demonstrate that Al Jazeera isn't at all what the powers that be in the West would have you believe it is, and in that, it generally succeeds. The reporters, anchors and staff appear to be at least as committed to balanced news coverage than, oh, say, Fox News -- and a lot more secular than you might have thought. Although the perspective shown is certainly pan-Arab, it's far from radical.

Along the way, you watch the evolution of a U.S. Marine Lieutenant, a press officer, as he too comes to the realization that maybe there are two sides to every story, and to every war. You get to see how both the Western press and Al Jazeera's staff openly take sides in the conflict, even swallowing the propaganda they're each supposed to be questioning.

Is it an honest portrayal of Al Jazeera? I have no idea. Do I trust it more than I do Donald Rumsfeld? You bet.

Well worth the rental.

Malaysian Stupidity

Today's tidbit from "The 365 Stupidest Things Ever Said" day-at-a-glance calendar comes from the February 4 page.

February 4:
"KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed brought the leaders of the Malaysian Chinese Association, a partner in his ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, down to earth a few weeks ago when he delivered a message to them in the raw."

-- from an article in the Singapore Strait Times

Monday, February 07, 2005

Wacky Week

Emma's school is having a week of wackiness. Today was pyjama day. Tomorrow, dress up as your favorite cartoon character (Emma is going for "Kim Possible", for reasons known only to her). Wednesday is wacky hair day; yesterday Kristi and Emma tried out this 'do (shown with the tie-dye shirt for Thursday's '60s/'70s day). Notice how she's already perfected the "Dad, you're embarrassing me!" look.

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Emma walked into the kitchen with her wacky cat ears, and Smudge threw a fit -- arched back, puffed tail, hissing like mad and finally running behind the stove.

(I often react like that when Emma walks into the room.)

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Better than I expected, though predictable. Viggo Mortenson should have brought his six-shooter to the Lord of the Rings set; he could have ripped Sauron a new one with that.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Gifted And Talented

I was at Emma's school Wednesday morning to help with the Science Fair. That in itself was interesting, but I probably won't be blogging about it.

As I was sitting in the orientation for coaches, I glanced up at the television. Each classroom has one. When it's not being used for other purposes, it displays an analog clock, and below that, the day and date. Useful.

So I look at it. Under the clock, it's displaying the date info:

Wednesday, Feb. 2, 20105

Okay. This is one of the classic Y2K errors. Operating system provides the year as "years since 1900". Perl script programmer thinks he can treat this number as a string, and yes, '19'.$year worked great; for Y2K, we'll just change that to '20'.$year. Only the correct answer, friends, is 1900+$year.

But it's been five years since the Y2K rollover, and they haven't fixed this?