Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Popularity

Today marks the day that our shop has officially received more page hits than this here blog thingy. That's pretty neat, considering the blog has been in existence for nearly 4 years. The shop has existed since mid-May of this year, so I guess I'm doing something right as far as online promotion is concerned. We're still not getting 5,000 hits a day or anything, but it averages out to 2,000 hits a month. Boring? Perhaps. Interesting to me nonetheless. So there.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stargazerdesigns.net

http://www.stargazerdesigns.net/

Did I mention... Stargazer Designs? Yeah, I know. Bought a new domain for the shop, and will be working on that for a while. The other links still work, but this will hopefully help with some "brand name" recognition. We hope.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sick

Yep. Sick. So much for me being disease-free in Arizona. Tired, coughing, congestion... the usual. The fever seems to be gone, though. That's a plus. I'm quite tired, yet I can't sleep. That's nice and frustrating. Still, I haven't been sick since we moved, so that was a nice hiatus from feeling like crap.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stuff

Haven't put words on here in a while, so here's a brief recap:

Went to see Bill Cosby for Deb's birthday. Not for a lunch or anything, but an actual concert type venue. He was quite funny, and I learned he has very visible glaucoma.

I've been doing web design work. Sorta. I'm customizing people's CafePress shops. On purpose, you know, because they ask me to. And pay me. That's an important detail. It's fun, and makes a nice break from trying to crank out designs.

Today marks the first day since March or so that I've worn pants all day. No, not because my kilt is at the cleaners. We're sick. Kinda. It's weird. Deb got symptoms first, and actually felt bad for more than ten minutes. I got them late the next day. She's mostly better. I think I'm OK. But then, I've gone to work with fevers and other nasty ailments, so I'm not one to talk. I guess I've been bragging too much about not being sick since moving to AZ. If this is "sick", though, I'll take it.

Nothing much other than that. We're terribly, terribly dull. And we like it that way.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yippikya.com

No, I haven't snapped. Well, haven't snapped more, I guess. I have been spending far too much time at Yippikya.com. No, it's not about cowboys. It's one of them there social networking sites, but with a twist. It's geared towards creative types. Artists, designers, singers, musicians, photographers. I like it so much, I even wrote a yippikya squidoo lens about it. Doing that brought me to the attention of one of the founders of the site. (Yes, really.) I was nervous at first, because I thought he was going to be pissed. I don't know why, that's just the way my brain works. He was actually happy that I wrote the post, and even invited me to visit their offices. Of course, they're in Houston, so it'd be a bit of a long trip just to say "Hi", but I appreciate the gesture all the same.

If you're interested in joining, here's my affiliate link. If you're not interested in joining, that's fine too.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just To Prove Sam Wrong

... and because I'm too tired to think more clearly about it. The meme regarding writing strengths. In no particular order:

1. Relentless, ever-functioning internal spell-checker. The thing that makes me curse and/or twitch whenever I leave the apartment and read something with typos.
2. Not to steal from Sam, but I'm also visual. Probably has something to do with that art stuff. I can see the scene in my head, play it out, pause it, rewind... it's like having a DVD player wedged in my skull. Only without the searing pain. usually.
3. Stories pop into my head nearly fully-formed. I just have to "watch" them, and write it all out. Very little editing required.
4. Completely unnecessarily good memory for trivia. Why does that matter? I wrote a story in 7th grade that my teacher really liked. Want me to tell you about it? I can. I can take the parts that were good then and make them even better now, remember what worked and what didn't. But I can't remember where I left my keys or my hair. Go figure!
5. I have a 19th century vocabulary. By that I mean I use words like "propinquity" and never stop to think that the reader doesn't know what the hell I'm on about. If I write "singular" it doesn't mean "alone" or have anything to do with astrophysics. (Usually.) For me, it means "unique".

There you go, Sam.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Explicit Lyrics

We stopped at our friendly Verizon Wireless store today to upgrade our cell phone. Part of the contract renewal, not because we're phone-happy. (We're decidedly phone-unhappy people.) The transaction complete, the nervous anime-eyed sales rep asked that we fill out a customer satisfaction survey online. I completed the survey, and it presented me with a button to close the window. I clicked on the button, and started to laugh. Why? Because I saw this:


How, exactly, do I close the browser window explicitly? Is there some sort of flourish I'm lacking when I click buttons that make my actions not as explicit as they should be? Do I need to adjust my chair if I'm going to start doing explicit things with my browser? I'm going to have to do some research into this. There's a whole world of internet inactivity that's thus far escaped me!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Half News

I'm really tired of the news. That is, news programs such as CNN. It's annoying not only because it's the only channel we watch with any regularity, but because of the way the news is dished out. Half a story or less, with occasional facts thrown in there, all for the sake of ratings? Shouldn't ratings not matter when it comes to the news? Shouldn't the news be, well, news? Facts? Things that are currently happening around the globe, as well as across the nation? I don't care about celebrity custody battles. Save those oh-so-juicy stories for the entertainment shows. And... hey, media? I know there's a big hullabaloo about the Navy building that looks like a swastika from the air, but could you maybe provide some facts for people? You know, like how that particular symbol has been around since the neolithic, has been used in all manner of religions and cultures the world over, and to focus on its history since 1920 is really just a drop in the bucket and does nothing but feed into the negativity associated with it. Learning from history means all of history. As far back as we're able to go. Not just to when talkies were a novelty. Despite what creationists may think, humans didn't just pop into the scene a hundred years ago. No need to spend $600,000 taxpayer dollars on fixing a building just because it looks like something, OK? There are many, many other things that need fixing first.

Or, the short version: stop being stupid.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Border Potty


On the right side of the image, you'll see one section of our existing border fence with Mexico. It's slightly higher than waist-high on me, which means that most adults can step over it with ease. Those that can't step over it can easily go under it. This is, of course, assuming that they were able to pass the daunting barbed wire fence. It's barbed! Ooooooh!

On the left side of the image, you'll see a convenient port-a-potty. Situated so that illegal immigrants can shit on America right away.

We also got to see the new fence. Well, what is hopefully the early stages of the new fence. They have yet to install the land mines, laser-guided typhoid vultures, and moat of flesh-eating bacteria. I believe those are later stages. I'm not going to post a picture of the new wall, because it makes me angry. I'm also not going to post a picture of the (currently) dry riverbed with all the footprints in it. That makes me really, really angry.

Instead, I'm going to sit in my chair and hum happy songs to myself while I complete the designs of these laser-guided typhoid vultures.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reason # 8,529,458* That My Wife Is Amazing

Why, you ask? Yesterday I had a bright idea. As is so often the case with my bright ideas, it involved one of the computers secluded in one of the rooms of the apartment. I put up a good fight for a couple hours, but eventually the need to try it overwhelmed this "patience" thing normal people seem to have. So, I started my little project. A couple hours later, I was drenched in sweat and cursing. "But that's normal for you", you say. "Bite me", is my rejoinder.

Eventually, I finished, and believe it or not my wacky idea worked. Believe me, I was shocked too. The Mrs. wasn't shocked, though. Go figure.

(*Don't make me list them. I'm stubborn enough to do it.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 - Six Years Later

A year ago, I posted a write-up about Jonathan Eric Briley, one of the victims of 9/11. In the past few days, hits to that post have gone up dramatically. I assume that it's because school kids are doing reports about 9/11 victims. I found it interesting that many of the hits came from the UK. It's more than a little sad that my post comes up on the first Google page of a search for his name. (And Yahoo page. And ask.com...) Sad, because there really should be more out there than just what came from me. I don't just mean about Jonathan specifically, but everyone who was killed that day. We should not be as we are, or at least as a recent survey CNN yammered on about... people couldn't say what date the 9/11 attacks were. Not the year, the date. And the question asked was: "On what date were the 9/11 attacks?" That's atrocious. I also learned that Tucson has a 9/11 memorial. I understand the spirit of the gesture, but I think it's misplaced. Monetarily and physically.

Ah well. If you do nothing else today, just remember. That's all. Remember.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

But don't forget, folks, that's what you get, folks...

While watching the news today during our midday repast, we were treated to the musings of Whoopi Goldberg and her take on the whole Vick thing. While I understand the point she was trying to make, she used a lousy example. If she had perhaps said that it would be along the lines of a Hindu being horrified at anyone who ate a hamburger, since eating a cow is right up there with having a Jesus sandwich. Rare. Instead, she said it was a part of his "culture", because he's from the south. Now, I realize I'm no beauty queen, but last time I checked a map "the south" was still a part of the good ol' U.S. of A., and in all of them there states it's illegal to do what he did. Period. If it's part of your culture to engage in human sacrifice, as soon as you do that in a country in which it's illegal your ass is going to jail. Same same. Personally, I think he and his little friends should be forced to fight each other, and then electrocuted, burned, and everything else they did to those dogs. Revived, if necessary, to fight each other all over again. Make it a pay-per-view event, and the proceeds should go to animal shelters across the land. Anything less isn't justice. If you think I'm not being rational, that's a lovely opinion for you to have. I'd tell you where to stick it, but you can probably figure that out for yourself. I've always liked dogs a hell of a lot more than I like people, and the older I get the more that conviction is vindicated.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Verdant

Catalina State Park beckoned us once again. When a state park calls you, you must heed. That's in the state park bylaws. We heeded our way out into the 101 degree temperatures to walk around and take pictures. This is one of several ways you can tell we're not natives of Arizona. We're too stupid to stay inside when it's friggin' hot. The picture is not representative of all the trails we traveled yesterday. It's just an example of a little bit of erosion from all the rain we've been getting. Another example is how friggin' green the place was. It was downright verdant.

Viz:

Remember, this is the desert. Cacti and lizards and stuff like that there. Not lush groundcover ivy that's going all over the place, nor green grasses waving softly in the breeze. (Of which there was very little.) (Breeze, that is, not grass.) It was like a second spring. As if Vertumnus himself came and frolicked a bit in the park before heading off to another party. (You know how those Roman gods are.) (Or Etruscan. Whatever.)

The barrel cacti seemed to like it. They were blooming like bloomers. Without any suffragettes to be found, though. They may have gone south for the winter already.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Zookoda

No, I didn't sneeze. Zookoda.com is an email marketing service for bloggers. It's supposed to help you build your readership by sending e-mails of your posts to subscribers. It's free, so like many free things I checked into it.

For starters, the home page has the word "Yeh". Here's a message for all businesses out there: it's not cool to be illiterate. If you want to be professional, stick with "Yes". If you want to be hip and casual, it's "Yeah". If you want to sound as if you were just hit in the stomach with a wayward elbow, it's "Yeh". It's one small step up from "Ug".

For seconders, the signup page isn't secure. If you want me to type in my personal information, you better make sure that nifty little "https" is up in the address bar. I don't like submitting information in the open. I did anyway for two reasons: even when it's printed, few people can spell my last name correctly; and I want to write a review that's more than five syllables.

The "About" page has the "yeh" as well. I'm reading it as I wait for my confirmation e-mail to arrive. Oh, that's another personal note... I call it "e-mail". Running the letters together, without the dash, makes the word sound like "emale" in my head because that's how English works. So stop it. Use the dash.

It was 10:30 AM when I signed up. I had to wait for an e-mail before I could continue. It's now 8:22 PM, when I got the first confirmation e-mail. I'm now waiting for another before I can actually do anything with the service. Color me not happy.

8:52 PM, and I'm finally registered. Here we go...

Typo on one of the templates. The grey one. "Enter You E-mail". They need to hire a pirate, so they get an extra R. I got a site timeout once, and it loads slowly. The majority of the templates are Blogger templates, with one Zookoda template. Meh. Hopefully they'll have some more templates soon, but as it is it's not bad. Not great, but not bad. There is an option to make a custom template of your own, though. I may revisit it once I actually get going, but for now I'm going with one of the Blogger templates. Different than the one you're currently viewing. It's good if you've got a default Blogger blog, since the e-mail's theme would match your blog. Sort of a brand recognition kinda thing.

I can't send anything yet. Seems I've not been authenticated. So, if I was a spammer, I'd be stymied. (That means "stopped cold", for those of you unfamiliar with slang from 1928.) Your outgoing newsletter things will all have your actual name and mailing address. Well, they'll have whatever name and mailing address you provided when you signed up with the service. As a real person who has gone to some lengths to keep his real name separate from his internet name, I don't like that. However, it's a necessary evil in this age of Spam and roses. Without the roses. Legitimate subscribers will have to be patient before they can send anything. Legitimate subscribers can be patient, so that's OK.

After all is said and done, I don't think this is for me. It may be good for someone, but I'm not that someone. I thought it may be a viable alternative for the default newsletter option for our shop. But I really don't want my name going out like that. If that's the way it has to be, then no alternative is going to suit my needs.

Oh, one last thing... they call the members of their community "Zookodans". As an Arizonan who is a Tucsonan, I say go with "Zooker" or something. That's where you can get your hip, edgy made-up word jollies out all you want.



Lumen Squeak Force! Twist Meat!

This is the funniest spam I have ever received and or read. I present it in its unedited glory for your amusement. I laughed so hard, I had to read it to Deb. It's much more enjoyable if you read it aloud.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

One Of The Healthiest Things I've Ever Eaten

Corn, black beans, red and green peppers, onions, and diced chicken in a flour tortilla. Yes, I made it. It's also as close as I get to eating salad without death threats. (Even with death threats.) See, mom? All you had to do to get me to eat vegetables was move me 2,000 miles away! I'm surprised you didn't do it sooner. (I'm sure you thought about it sooner...)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

PayPerPost


As you can probably tell by the title of the post and the purple button on the sidebar, I have signed up at payperpost. It is not an intentional misspelling of "paper post", but rather it is a service which provides opportunities for bloggers like yours truly to make money. The money is made not through the normal means available to bloggers (i.e. blood donation and black market kidney auctions), but rather bloggers get to give their opinions, thoughts, ideas, and rambling diatribes about a variety of services and products available. In other words, you get to read what I think about stuff. Pretty much the sole purpose for most blogs out there, no? Advertisers get to build "buzz" about their product or service or whatever, and the blogger gets a little extra spending money. (And also gets to keep whatever major organs he or she still had.) Not a bad deal! I think it's an equitable trade for both parties, really. I don't expect it will enable me to buy a mansion or a yacht any time soon, but a few extra dollars never hurt anyone. Well, unless it's in the form of pennies, in bags, dropped from a skyscraper. That'd be bad. Luckily, that's not how they pay. PayPerPost uses the more logical and far safer choice of PayPal to complete transactions. I learned about the service thanks to Sam and her recent efforts to embiggen her blog empire. She has been using a wide variety of tools which have made me look at my blog in a different light. So, thanks to Sam and PayPerPost, you'll be seeing a few unusual posts here from time to time. Oh, I'll still rant and blather on about different things that happen to me in my sheltered life. Brushes with humanity still send me off into Rantville. I'll be writing more, and posting pictures less, as my days are spent up to my bald head in pictures and I really don't seem to find the time to make "unsellable" ones just to put here. So, I'm going to ramble more, and render less. That's good, because my writing has been lacking of late. My typing, I mean. Not my handwriting. That's an entirely different story.

Boy, it's a good thing they don't have a maximum word limit! I don't call this "Wontar's Ramblings" for nothing. If you're interested in PayPerPost, just click on the purple button with the same name off to the right. If you've got a blog, have time to write about stuff, and don't want pennies dropped on your head, it's worth a look. Share your thoughts and opinions, and get paid for it. Not too shabby!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Calls Are Not Coming From Inside The House

Yesterday was a wee bit strange. I woke up after having a rather bad dream. Remembering a dream is itself unusual, because I normally don't. In this dream, I was back at my old workplace, trying to get from one part of the room to the other. Boring, you say? Oh, did I mention that I was stopped every few feet by people asking me questions, so a trip across the room that should have taken seconds lasted hours? The thing is, with slight exaggeration, that used to describe a trip across the room for me. I may never get over this "don't want to deal with people" thing if I have any more dreams like that to remind me what it's like.

Roughly twelve hours later, we were struck with more weirdness in the form of a phone call. The caller ID said it was from our friend, but the voice that came out of the phone was decidedly not our friend's voice. The biggest clue was that the person on the phone was yammering on in Spanish. Our friend does not speak Spanish, and neither do we, so the sounds coming out of the phone had an even greater level of incomprehensibility than they normally would. We then tried calling her husband's cell phone, but got no answer. We tried their home phone, and got the machine. It wasn't terribly late at night, but when two out of three alternate forms of communication come up empty after the first has been compromised, one tends to worry a bit. Toss in the fact that they live somewhat close to the border, and have had incidents with illegals literally in their back yard, the worry becomes a bit more pronounced. By "pronounced" I mean that we decided to call the cops.

Yes, really. We called the cops.

Not 911, but their town's police department. They redirected me to the county sheriff's office. To both departments' credit, though, they were very good about listening to me blather on about our non-Spanish speaking friends and the mystery phone call. They also got to our friends' house reasonably quickly. They were there when our friends finally got home. They were fine, of course. She just lost her phone, and the person who found it was calling everyone in the phone's book.

None of whom speak Spanish. Unless you count my ability to count to 10 thanks to Sesame Street, but that severely limits communication in anything other than binary. Not terribly popular.

It's nice that the person who found the phone tried to contact people who knew the owner and didn't just abscond with it. However (and here's where the rant comes in), you mean to tell me that you couldn't find one friggin' person who could speak even a little English? In America?!?!?!?!? Call me racist, I don't care. America = English. Speak it. You don't have to speak it well, you don't have to write it well (we got that one covered already). Speak the damn language. Yeah yeah... "America doesn't have an official language!" My rebuttal: bite my hairy ass, it's English. American English, but it's English, dammit.

That's a mini-rant, as I could just type about this for hours on end. I just hope she gets her phone back, even though they have to find a friggin' translator to do so.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Condensation

It's been quite humid here lately. Cloudy, rainy, floody... It has rained on occasion during our time in AZ, but it's been so sporadic that it's really helped me to see that humidity really makes my head hurt. A lot. (Hear that, family?) Sure, our high temperature today didn't get above 79, which meant that we got to leave the windows open and enjoy the cool weather. In August. But I've been eating Advil Migraine tablets and sitting near-motionless with an icepack on my head for two days. Humidity sucks, and this monsoon season can end any time now, thank you.

The cooler weather can stay.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gravity and the News

Four people died in Phoenix when two news helicopters collided with one another while filming a fleeing suspect. I have no idea why the news helicopters were filming it at all. Do people really need to see the live action thrill of a car chase so much that it needs to be covered by five news helicopters? Five? You know who needed a helicopter there? The cops. That's it. If a news station has a helicopter, then it also has a station owner who has severe issues with his penis. Or her penis, as the case may be. There was another big ol' car chase in Texas yesterday. We were watching the news while eating lunch, and the reporter said: "We don't know exactly where this is, or whether it's a man or woman driving, or why they're being chased, but here's the chase." It's like a nation of magpies attracted by shiny objects. Ooooh, a speeding car! Let's watch! Um... why? Maybe it's the NASCAR gene, which I thankfully lack. People like to watch speeding cars for whatever reason. Or speeding anything. Chariot races, cars, whatever. I guess watching things move around in a circle is hypnotic. Toddlers get the same effect watching water (and such) get flushed down the toilet.

You see the metaphor here, right?

Anyway, regarding the Phoenix crash... the driver who was being chased (not chaste) may be charged with the deaths of the four people who crashed in the helicopters. Yes, the person on the ground may be charged with the deaths of the helicopter pilots and passengers who were in the air and crashed into each other. I think that's ludicrous. If anyone should be charged with their deaths, it should be the station owners who sent them out after a friggin' car chase in the first place. (Somebody grew up watching too much CHiPs.) There was another incident a week or so ago where a robbery or some such was committed, and the officer responding to the call died en route. The robber was charged with the death of the officer. If you're going to use that logic, don't just stop with the robber. I mean, come on! This is America! There are many more people to sue, and many more people to blame for your own actions! We can blame the robber's parents for screwing up at their parenting job. We can blame the car manufacturer for not including enough safety measures in the cop car. We can blame the cop's supervisor for not ensuring that the cop take his requisite defensive driving classes. We can blame the cop's parents for not providing good enough genetic material to give the cop superhuman cop reflexes. Of course, if the cop collided with another driver, there's a whole tree of blame to follow. If the cop collided with a stationary object, there's yet another avenue of litigation and finger-pointing to traverse.

Personally, I'm going to blame the city of Phoenix for the helicopter crash. I mean, really... why isn't the entire city covered in soft, spongy foam?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Want To Buy A Ghost Town

Really. How cool would that be? Nice and isolated. Quiet. Scenic. Sure, I'd have to farm. Or have supplies air-dropped in. Satellite internet, of course. Solar and windmill for electricity. Oh, did I mention the land mines? And the giant moat filled with electric crocodiles? See, I want to keep the stupid out. I'm not sure how else to do that. What the hell am I talking about? Deb was taking a break from our marathon shop-maintenance stuff, and she was flipping through channels of suck. I went in to see what she was up to, because my wife can find her way to mischief quickly. (Oh wait. That's me.) She had stopped on the new Candid Camera show. I have no idea what it's called, but it's a hidden camera show, where they set up people with all manner of wacky shenanigans which results in a family-friendly laugh riot for young and old. Feh. I shouldn't call it Candid Camera, because Candid Camera had personality. This one was made by mimes, because nobody talks. Only goofy music that Benny Hill rejected. Anyway, the bit was that an old woman needed help carrying a box of groceries to her door. The unsuspecting victim was carrying the box. The wacky bit came into play when a skunk was released into the old woman's front yard. (See! Comedy gold right there! How could you not love the show?) The part that made me sit up and curse was that they had digitally blurred out something on a woman. Not on her clothing, and not to mask an expletive.

They blurred out the cigarette in her hand.

I'll say it again: They blurred out the cigarette in her hand. I do not smoke, yet somehow I doubt that the wee children watching the funny camera clip show are going to run out and grab a pack of Lucky Strikes because they saw the skunk lady hold one in her friggin' hand! Now there's a push to make movies that depict smoking have an automatic R rating.

Maybe it's because I listen to old radio shows so much. Everyone smoked, everyone drank, and everyone was quick to commit murder. I honestly don't think that everyone who listened to these old shows went out on a killing spree, nor do I think they plotted and schemed in order to get their rich uncle's fortune by pushing him down a flight of stairs/giving him 18 doses of sleeping powder/playing a recording of ghost sounds in order to give his weak heart that final push over the edge in his haunted mansion. In fact, I think a very small percentage of radio listeners ever killed anyone. Fewer still inherited anything. People smoked. People drank. People died. You know what? If you don't smoke and you don't drink, you're still going to die. You might live longer, but you're going to be boring as hell and won't have any good stories to tell. So you'll be boring, dead, and people will smoke and drink over your corpse. That's a life well lived, right there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Why do we care about this?"

I realize I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but it's been jangling about in my head. Time to set it free...

Our television consumption consists primarily of watching the news. CNN Headline News to be specific. Why? Well, it's one of the channels we get that's in English, and does not have Judge Smurfy or whatever the hell their names are on 24/7. It's good for about ten minutes, which is pretty much all of the entertainment news I can stomach. Oh, they'll occasionally hit on a story and not tell you the whole thing, but then they're off on three or four stories in succession about what some Hollywood person is having for breakfast.

Which brings me to this: Last week, the story they were incessantly looping was the one about David Beckham joining a professional soccer team in California. I think. I'm not about to look it up, and I don't care. See, it's soccer. Not "football". We're in America, and it's called soccer. By the same token... we're in America and it's soccer! Why is this on the news? I don't mean the sports segment, I mean the news segment! Building burned down, war going on, school bus full of nuns and blind orphans crashed, and soccer?!? Yeah yeah yeah... most popular sport in the rest of the world... blah blah blah. It's a bunch of guys in shorts and knee high socks who run back and forth. It's great for little kids, as they need to run around and get tired and sleep and shut the hell up. But I mean... really... professional soccer in America? The most interesting thing I've ever seen in a soccer match is when that Zidane guy rammed his forehead into that other guy. (Again, don't care who. Don't care where. Remember: Soccer = more boring than baseball.) Apparently, he wasn't supposed to do that. But I'll tell you, if they made that a play, and had a point system surrounding the move, we'd watch it.

For some reason, the media wants us to care. My better half saw something that sums it up nicely. She was watching newscasters discuss this Brit soccer whosis, and the newscasters started laughing and saying words to the effect of "Why do we care about this?" Exactly. I miss the days when I could get news by watching the news. Now it's just entertainment interspersed with the occasional shooting. I don't think I'm going to watch the news anymore. I'll just read the good stuff online.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Books, Flowers, and Fruit

It was our anniversary today, so we decided to break with tradition and go out to eat. We put on our Hawaiian shirts, and headed off to the local Tony Roma's. We had been there twice previously, and heartily enjoyed our meals. We even had a coupon! We were set for some fine dining. When we pulled in to the parking lot, I remarked: "Gee, there aren't any cars here." Sure, it's a weekday, but it was only a few minutes before noon. There should have been some sort of lunch crowd. The lights were off, and there was a single piece of paper taped to the main entrance. I got out and read it, and came back to the car laughing. The paper did not just inform the reader that the establishment was closed, but rather that the building and all of its contents had been seized. I guess business wasn't booming for them. It wasn't even mildly fizzing.

Luckily, Tucson has more restaurants than cacti, so we trundled off in search of an anniversary meal. We traveled roughly 200 feet and went to another restaurant, had a lovely meal wherein I stunned yet another server with my ability to drink my weight in soda, and left. In another break with tradition, we paid the bill before we left the restaurant. Not as exciting, sure, but there's less running involved. I don't like to run when I'm full. Or empty, for that matter. (It's friggin' Arizona! I won't run unless guns are involved.) (Even then...)

Oh, as for the "Books, flowers, and fruit"... those are the traditional gifts for a fourth wedding anniversary. The modern equivalent is electronic appliances. So, if you're shopping for a guilt gift, get us an electric tomato-flavored page turner that smells of chrysanthemums. Covers all bases.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eight Random Things

OK, Sam, you asked for it...

1 - I started reading at age two. I haven't stopped yet, and it's probably the main reason why typos leap off the page and stab me in the head. Relentless practice.

2 - My hands occasionally shake uncontrollably. Calm or relaxed, without warning. They've been doing so for years. I have no idea why, and I don't want to know. Call it fear, call it stubbornness, call it both. Whatever.

3 - The second thing on this list makes me amazingly angry, because I feel that, if nothing else, I should be able to have at least some control over my own damn hands.

4 - I am starting year three in Arizona, and I still have not made any friends of any natives. I have not made the attempt. I have no desire to. After years of being the guy who heard "Thank god you're here!" from people he never met before, in different friggin' states, I'm enjoying the anonymity.

5 - I don't miss my hair. Really. Though I am a bit annoyed that grey hairs have started to sprout in my goatee.

6 - I saw a UFO when I was about 13. As far as I know, I have no implants. Again, I don't want to know.

7 - I am not religious by any means, but there was a time in my life when I went to church every day. (Only one person who reads this blog knows what the hell that means. Who's ready?)

8 - There was a time that I wanted to draw comic books. Mainly because it's as close as I'd ever get to having actual super powers. (Heroes is a good show. I was pleasantly surprised.) (Hiro.)

There you go, Sam. I'm not tagging anyone else, though. So there.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What Do Vegetarian Zombies Eat?

Graaaaaainnnns... Graaaaaiiinnnssss...

I know, I know. I didn't write it, I just laughed at it.

The above picture is my submission to a contest at J!NX, of which Sam informed me.

In less surprising news, I received two more hits from the IRS this week. Someone looking at the archives. I'm tired of being angry about it, so instead I'll just start posting IRS secrets. Hey, I'm beyond my two year "vow of silence" they make you take. Most people who take it probably don't even remember doing so. I do, because that's the way my brain works. I remember all sorts of crap I don't need, and forget where I left my pants. (Yes, again.) I won't post anything too drastic. Just little things. Like tolerance amounts. Hey... maybe I can post it in code! That'll drive them wild trying to find it, and subsequently decode it! Cool! Better drink your Ovaltine, kids. Gotta get that decoder ring. Not that it'll help, ya bastards, but who can resist rich chocolatey Ovaltine?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Still Tilt

As you know, we're on a CafePress bent of late. (Which sounds painful, but it isn't.) On a whim, and my chair, I searched their site for LEGO-based products. I wanted to see how many people had zero regard for copyright and/or intellectual property. There were quite a few responses. So, I did what any normal LEGO fiend would do... I wrote to LEGO and told them all about it. It took a while for the information to get through to their legal department, but eventually a search for "LEGO" on CafePress comes up with zero results. Unfortunately, a search for "LEGOS" still comes up with something. A follow-up letter to the fine folks at LEGO was sent, and now I'm just waiting.

Can you tell I don't like it when people use someone else's creativity to make money? I still tilt at windmills. I guess that will never stop. I guess the difference is that people are listening now, so I'm actually accomplishing things. It's a nice change.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First Day Of Summer

From the ForecastFox weather alert on my happy browser window:

"THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN TUCSON HAS ISSUED A HEAT ADVISORY.WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 1 PM TO 6 PM MST THURSDAY.

STRONG HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT WILL BRING THE HOTTEST TEMPERATURES TO DATE FROM TUCSON WEST. HIGH TEMPERATURES ON THURSDAY ARE FORECAST TO BETWEEN 108 AND 114 DEGREES...WITH THE HOTTEST TEMPERATURES IN WESTERN PIMA COUNTY AND IN SOUTH CENTRAL PINAL COUNTY. THESE HOT TEMPERATURES WILL HANG AROUND INTO FRIDAY AND SATURDAY.

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS. DO NOT LEAVE
ANYONE OR PETS UNATTENDED IN A VEHICLE."

If you need us, we're going to be spending a couple days in the freezer. I'm not sure if the computers will work in there, but I really don't care.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pirate Gecko

I woke up at 5 A.M. yesterday. While that is considered "sleeping in" by my family, it's really friggin' early in my book. So early, in fact, that for a long time I considered 5 A.M. as "almost time for bed". My early rising had nothing to do with the hippie with the leaf blower. If that were the case, the hippie would have gone from gardener to mulch in a hurry despite my attempts at becoming a more mellow member of the Arizonan populace. (Oh, and I still dislike the terms "Arizonan" and "Tucsonan". They're very boringan.)

The point of the matter is that I seem to come up with anthropomorphic non-mammalian critters when I've been awake for great swaths of time. I don't know if it's just the heat, or some deeper psychosis. If anyone out there would care to study this, I'll happily take grant money so that I can be studied. There may be a direct inverse proportion to the order of the species compared to the number of wakeful hours. I came up with a squid last time, and this time it's a gecko. If I stay up longer, who knows what could be next? Goldfish? Dragonfly? Or if it's a really, really long time, maybe a dinoflagellate* cowboy. That'd sell like hotcakes. Or paramecium cakes. (Not as filling, but you get more maple syrup that way.)

*Unrelated to anything: Blogger has no problem with the word "paramecium", but it doesn't understand "dinoflagellate". Don't make me test your spell checker, boys. I know phyla.

Friday, June 08, 2007

No Cursing This Time

For the curious as well as the indifferent, our CafePress store has moved. It is now located here: http://www.cafepress.com/stargazerdesign.

If you're reading this from work, you're required to go to the store and buy something. Unless you work for a governmental agency. If that's the case, you're required to buy ten things. Or more.

Lots more.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Don't Look, Mom.

Dear DoD: Stop fucking wasting my fucking tax fucking dollars and get the fuck back to fucking work instead of using fucking StumbleUpon on my goddamn dime.

(If you delete all the curse words, this post is four letters long. It's math in action!)

My apologies to my legions of fans for the foul words. This kind of thing really, really, really pisses me off to no end.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Moment of Power

You know how it is... you're driving along, and another car makes a special effort to pull out and get in front of you... only to drop down to a speed so slow you could be passed by a parade of Shriners in their Hoverounds. In reverse. Or perhaps you're in the supermarket, and another shopper has combined the witdh of their cart and the width of their person to block the aisle completely. Are people just that self-absorbed? Do they truly exist in such thick bubbles that they are blissfully unaware of any other people around them? Maybe some of them are, but I think that most people do it on purpose. Why? Power. For that moment, however fleeting, that person is in control of someone else. Their actions directly impact the daily lives of another. They are in control, and they have your attention. Sure, the attention may be in the form of a string of expletives shouted at ear-shattering volume, but it's an affirmation of the degree of impact they have made. They may be the bottom rung of the corporate ladder, or the parent of the kids who never listen, or the one who is always compared to the more successful member of the family, but in that moment they are the ones who make the decisions. They know it, they revel in it, and it may be the only time they actually get to feel anything approaching control. It may not be a good feeling, but it's something other than powerlessness, so it'll do in a pinch.

With this line of reasoning in place, I find it much easier to deal with these encounters. Don't get me wrong. It certainly does not mean that I curse any less. (I'm from New York, baby. Cursing is an art form, not to mention a law.) It just means that the footnote of my reflexive expletives is laughter. After all, if the best they can do to feel good is inconvenience others, that's pretty pathetic. Mockingly so.

Maybe I'm wrong, and people really aren't doing it willfully. Maybe they are just rock stupid, and so deeply mired in their own little worlds they have no idea that anyone else exists. I'd rather accept evil in its most minor form than stupid, even though I've had more than my fill of both.

After all, I used to work for the government.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Winter



This one has annoyed me for one simple reason: I cannot stop typing the title as "Wintar". That's what happens when a nickname collides with reality, I guess.

Autumn



It doesn't really show up on these, as I had to make them relatively tiny for the sake of my family and their steam-powered internet connection, but I really liked how the skin came out on her.

Summer



She looks a trifle miffed. Probably because we've reached the stage where we get consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures. In other words: her flowers are screaming as they burn to cinders.

Spring



I realize I'm a little late in the season, but "Spring" is the title that popped into my head after this image was made. It's almost certainly going to turn into a traditional series, so prepare to be confused as to which equinox is closer.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Death Upon Death


We went on one of our excursions today. Actually, this was a "do over" of a previous excursion, because we really screwed up the first time around. We were looking for the ruins of Sasco, and despite internet resources aplenty we missed it by a good 20 miles or so the first time around. The "roads" we were driving the first time were more like ideas of general direction which didn't have quite so many plants as the other bits of the desert. (I don't care what the "Ironwood Forest National Monument" signs said. That's a friggin' desert. It's a "forest" like I've got hair on my head. Sparse, short, and depressed in its singular loneliness.)

Today was different, in that we looked at one of them there newfangled things called a "map". Perhaps you've heard of it? It's a cartographic dream! Thanks to the map, we found Sasco with no difficulty whatsoever. The ruins are in relatively good shape. The cemetery had a headstone with a date as recent as 2006, which took some of the mystique out of the whole thing. A cemetery for a ghost town shouldn't have anything more recent than the early 1900s to be chill-worthy. Most of the markers had no names or dates. They were apparently somewhat mass-produced, in a homemade sense. Concrete crosses formed in a mold, and placed at the heads of the graves. Some were original, though, so that made up for the recently departed. This particular image is of a nameless tomb that had a nameless cactus take hold and grow in the concrete. The fishhook barrel cactus, though small, was still strong enough to crack open the concrete in search of nutrients and moisture. It found enough of both for a while, but eventually it died as well. Now, an unmarked grave in the desert in a ghost town has only a sun-blackened cactus to distinguish it from the other graves.

Death doesn't fool around in Arizona.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Smite, Smote, Smottled



7:05. A.M. That was the time I heard the sound of the gas-powered leaf blower. The earliest time to date. When you've been having trouble sleeping for a few days and finally drift off a little after 3, the last thing you want to hear is the grinding whine of a two-stroke engine right outside your window. Well, maybe in the top ten, in the general vicinity of Mariah Carey in a yodelling competition.

In other news, I've been dabbling in alchemy. No, not because I've got gold fever, or even Saturday Night Fever. (Though I did wear the suit once.) It's because some of our plants have a bit of an infestation. They're impatiens. So I had to hurry. (Ba-bing!) It turns out that the infestees, spider mites, don't like garlic or hot pepper. Since we live in Arizona, it's a state law to have both on hand. Not literally, of course, but in the kitchen. So the little buggers have been subjected to "Wontar's Mist O' Delicious Death" for two days now. I think it's working, but it's still too early to tell. All I can say for sure is that the balcony smells fantastic.

If it works, I may fill a few water balloons with the stuff and chuck them at the maintenance monkey the next time he wakes me up with that damnable leaf blower.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Graphic Graphic



This looks rather graphic, doesn't it? I guess it's a carryover from watching murder-type shows on TV. I guess it'll have to be banned, because I'm so darned impressionable. Nothing but interior decorating shows for me from here on out. That way, all the images I make will be people killed by swatches and uncomfortably-placed paint rollers.

Actually, the background is the result of some random filters in Photoshop and is completely artificial. I just changed the accent color to red because green that originally came up was too... otherworldly. In an X-Files kind of way. I know she looks a bit decomposed and all, but don't worry. She isn't. (She's not real.) The texture on her skin is actually from a rock next to a little shack in Saguaro Mountain Park. So the background is artificial, and her skin is somewhat natural.

I know that wasn't exactly riveting. I'll blame it on the insomnia. We've been getting our sleep in two or three hour intervals lately. Very annoying, to say the least. Luckily (I guess), we're experienced insomniacs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Malachite



101 degrees yesterday, 104 degrees in the forecast today... Hooray for air conditioning and less than 10% humidity!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Umbra Aurum

Lamont Cranston, fallen on hard times, digs in the dirt looking for precious metals and loose change. Or interesting rocks, at the very least.

We went prospecting. (Yes, really.) Somewhere in Arizona. (Maybe.) I will say with unrestrained certainty that we found neat looking rocks. And since the title of this post isn't "WOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" you can pretty much guess we didn't find our weight in gold. Or even loose change. Still, it was fun, and we're going to do it again. I guess that's the official definition of "gold fever".

In other news, thanks to Sam's sleeplessness I get to pitch Contactify as well. I tried it, it works, it's linked on this very page. Not that people were clamoring to contact me or anything, but I like nifty little things like that. Thanks Sam!

In other, other news, today marks the anniversary of the date we arrived in Arizona. Goodbye year two, hello year three. Tempus fugit and all that.

Finally, I have learned something annoying from our recent gold-hunting excursion. See, it was very, very quiet at night. Quiet enough to hunt wabbits. That means that the only thing I could hear late at night were the noises in my own head. Since I normally fall asleep with the TV on, I did not know that the noise count is up to two distinct frequencies: one high, one low. They do not harmonize well at all. All that means is that it's nearly impossible for me to fall asleep in silence without drugs or extreme exhaustion. Sucks for me. (Yeah, I know. Boo hoo.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Not Who You Think It Is

It's not Gillian Anderson. Really. It's a Poser figure.

On a totally unrelated note, I'd like to start a movement. Not the musical kind. I hope that I can get Al Sharpton involved, mainly because I wouldn't be bothered if some people got fired over this particular bee in my bonnet. See, I'm a night person. Always have been. Today I was forced to greet the day courtesy of one of the maintenance monkeys here at the apartment complex using a leaf blower. Before 7:30. A.M. Because of this,I learned that Tucson's noise ordinance ends at 7 so I couldn't even throw that at them. But still... a leaf blower at 7:30? I know my family is laughing at me, because they get up at about the time I'm thinking of possibly going to bed. Regardless of the time zone difference. (If I didn't look like them, you wouldn't know we were related based on their diurnal habits.)

So, I'd like to start a national movement. Or even an international one. Why not? The rights of the nocturnals have been trodden for far too long. We may be a minority, but that doesn't give you diurnals the right to just bang pots and pans together when the sun comes up. (You selfish bastards.) I'm quiet when you're asleep, and I should be afforded the same courtesy. Your laws have a decidedly anti-nocturnal bent, so I say that infringes on my rights. Not to mention my lefts. I'd like to call it something like "Everybody Shut the Hell Up" movement. But that's mainly because I'm no good at coming up with slogans. And having a movement called "ESHU" will just make people say "Gesundheit" in confusion, and that doesn't even begin to address the issues.

So? Who's with me? Down with daylight oppressors! We want meridian equality and we want it now! (Or something. I said I was no good with slogans.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Benefit Of Insomnia is a Squid Ninja



This is the other thing that came of my sleeplessness. Call me shallow, but I dig the way this came out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What Do You Do When You Can't Sleep?


The Mrs. and I seem to be alternating our sleepless nights. At least we're creative during our rest-free episodes. Yeah, I know, this is just a variation on a theme. But it's not a shop-related image, and that's what's important.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's Just The Way My Brain Works

Don't get me wrong... despite our present pet-free lifestyle, the whole pet death/pet food recall thing has struck a nerve. I get along with animals much, much better than I get along with most people. The lovely late night ASPCA spot that runs with Sarah McLachlan as a spokesperson rekindles my desire to be the superhero that beats the crap out of people who mistreat animals. Got it? Good. Just making my point for the following thought that came into my head when I heard about all the dog and cat deaths from the tainted food:

Isn't that how the apes became human pets in the Planet of the Apes mythology?

Turns out I was wrong, at least as far as the cause is concerned. The dogs and cats of the world were wiped out by a space plague, so humans naturally used apes to fill the pet niche. Which, I'll grant you, is a much greater leap than the pet to slave, slave to master leap. I mean, if the "traditional" pets really were wiped out, humans would be more likely to switch to something like a ferret as a pet. And "Planet of the Ferrets" just isn't as menacing a title. More like a straight-to-DVD Disney offering, with Tim Allen being contractually obligated to be a ferret.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

There May Be A Story Here

But not at the moment. In case I haven't mentioned it lately, Photoshop is pretty friggin' cool.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Watching Words Vanish

With all the legal-themed brouhaha in the news of late, I've noticed something unsettling. The proliferation of the phrase "pleaded not guilty". Apparently it's in fashion to give statements of innocence while wearing a skirt. (Think about it for a minute, you'll get it.) I remember quite vividly the word "pled", and how people "pled not guilty". Now, after a quick search, that word barely registers on the intertubewebs. In fact, the blogger spell-checker is underlining it. Thankfully, dictionary.com has it, albeit tangentially. I know the language changes over time, and I know it's inevitable. I just would have rather it changed a generation after me, so I wouldn't have to twitch all the time. Either that, or have it swing back the other way so we could start tacking "e"s on everything, and spell words like "happiness" with flourishing f-like characters. Viz:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

She's Got Layers, Despite Being Nude



I've made so many CafePress shops in the last few days I've literally lost count. A gaggle, perhaps. Or a pod. Creating all those stores and (hopefully) eye-catching images has reminded me just how nifty an application is Photoshop. So today, I'm shying away from T-shirt-themed art to something a bit more... odd. It's an exercise in the functionality of layers. Something with which I've rarely dabbled, despite having experience with the program since version 1.5 or so.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Try Looking Out The Damn Window Instead

In reviewing my site logs, I saw an interesting IP address from a visitor. No, it's not from my former employer or anyone associated with that lovely organization. This visitor was part of the Department of Homeland Security (unwgsgs2.cbp.dhs.gov). The funny part is that this visitor came to my site from Intergalactic Stacey's site. It just struck me as funny that a DHS governmental employee went to a site called "intergalactic" anything in his or her quest for finding illegal aliens. Not funny as in "ha ha" funny, but funny as in "ah, more wasted money and if I don't laugh I'll scream" funny.

In case the DHS person returns, I've got a free hint for you to scribble into your job aid: the intergalactic alien is the kind we need. They'd bring advanced technology, and I might even be able to bypass the whole "flying car of the year 2000" (which I'll never get, and about which I'm very upset) to get my very own USS Jenolen. Pre-crash, that is.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Punctuation Is Important, As Is Shameless Self-Promotion

While driving around scenic Tucson today, I spotted a sign that made me guffaw. Normally I try not to guffaw while driving, but we were stopped at a light so it was OK. (Deb hadn't seen the sign, so she just thought I had finally snapped.) The sign, crafted from fine stone-ground cardboard, was tacked to a telephone pole. It read: "Shit-Zu Puppy's For Sale". I gave them credit for the hyphen, as I thought that the word required one. (Turns out it doesn't.) Not in that part of the word, of course, but I thought it was there. The woefully inappropriate apostrophe s would normally have me enraged, but the first part of the sign really took the sting out of it. There's a word of advice to those of you who are a tad shaky on some of the more fundamental rules of grammar: make the first mistake really funny, and the others will be glossed over by your reader.

In other news, I've been a CafePress madman of late. Eight new stores and counting. If you're interested, click me. If you're not interested, that's fine too.

*sniff*

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Different Than Other Years

The day, that is. In that my apartment hasn't burned down, and I haven't decided to move to the other side of the country. Thankfully, a relatively uneventful March 31st for a change. The only other semi-interesting thing of note which happened today is yet another in a long litany of character flaws, the fault for which I place squarely on the shoulders of my parents.

I went out to the wall o' mailboxes today to get the mail. I saw that someone had left their keys in their mailbox. I looked around, but inside my brain the personalities were already bickering even though the outcome was predetermined. The antisocial, anti-samaritan, apathetic, anti-unfeathered-biped in me just wanted to leave them there. Not my keys = I don't care. Screw the idiot who didn't know they were missing their keys. I mean, how the hell can you close and lock your mailbox and not take your keys with you?

Despite all my efforts to nurture this aspect of myself, it keeps losing these internal struggles.

I took the keys out and walked over to the corresponding apartment whilst my internal sociopath kept ranting and raving at having lost another argument. I knocked on the door, and it was answered by Hume Cronyn's father. I explained twice that I found the keys, once to him and once to his equally ancient wife. They both thanked me, he shook my hand, and I left.

I guess when you're someone who goes to great lengths to keep face-to-face human interaction to its barest minimum, it could have been worse. I mean... they could have been nudists. But you would have known about that by now, as you would've heard me screaming.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Noisy As All Get Out

No, that's not a title. That's disgust. I liked this image, but it's noisy. And, since I did so much tweaking to get the colors the way they are, I wasn't about to re-render the thing. Oh well.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Roaming Out West

We saw something interesting the other day. An older man, sitting on the median at an intersection. He was 60-ish, thin wispy white hair, no shirt but wearing an orange reflective vest, khaki pants, and sandals. He had a piece of cardboard upon which were scribbled in his finest Sharpie penmanship something about how he was both homeless and hungry, and his god would bless those who gave him money. (For reasons I have yet to figure out, but that's not the point of my ramble.) He was seated, and hunched over. Not from weakness, hunger, or overwrought despair at his lot in life as you might think from the words on his sign. He was slouched, as he was talking on his friggin cell phone. Granted, I'm assuming he was talking to a human and hadn't just picked up a discarded cell phone and was finally engaging in a less obvious communication with the voices in his head. I guess that's possible, but the posture was a partial attempt to block the noises of traffic. Something not really necessary when the voices are internal. Which leads to a more puzzling question: do you have to pay roaming charges when you're talking on a cell phone to the voices in your head? Sure, they sound close, but if they're extra-dimensional, that would add up to a hefty phone bill at the end of the month.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'll Never Learn How To Mosey

Our apartment complex is installing a series of gates. (The parking lot "gated community" kind, not the logic kind.) They started at the beginning of February, before my birthday. They're not done yet. Oh, they started with a flurry of activity. Holes were dug, cement was poured, they were just speedy little construction monkeys! Today, the workers were out bright and early at 8 A.M., with jackhammers and industrial-strength air compressors literally right outside the bedroom window. (If I had vats of boiling oil, they would have been utilized.) (So would the webcam.) Needless to say, I had a headache most of the day. However, the noise and disruption were not all in vain, as there is now a shining example of Arizonan workmanship out there! A ditch. That's it. About 20 feet long, and maybe 6 inches deep. It's not even straight.

So, if you're in construction or the general contracting business and you want to step up your business and slow down at the same time, consider moving your operation to Tucson. Even if you move at half speed, you'll fly past the competition. This laid back, slow pace nonsense is ridiculous. Hell, they make some government employees I know look like friggin' speed demons! At this rate, the gates will be done by August. Well, at least one of them will be. The other three... they'll be done when they're done. Meantime, I'm fixin' to get ready for break. Eventually.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Schematic Dream

Oh, before anyone has a conniption, that's not a real person. It's a Poser figure. Fake nudity won't corrupt anyone. Of course, real nudity doesn't corrupt anyone either. Power corrupts, though. I guess naked power would corrupt. Those who are in power should not be naked, unless it has direct bearing on an emperor's new set of clothes. If someone from the power company shows up to your house and is naked, you should call the authorities.

Hmm... where did I put my medication?

(I can't wait to see what my Google Ads will look like after this posts!)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Party Paramecium

Even single-celled organisms need to get a little funky now and then. (I could've gone with "Dinoflagellate Disco", but sometimes I'm even too nerdy for me.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Falling

It looked better in my head. But then, many things do.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Initials Notwithstanding

This was more fun than it should have been. The background was done by yours truly, since they were kind enough to export it as a .png. I don't know if the rings are supposed to represent my ability to telepathically communicate with fish, the signals I'm receiving from extraterrestrials, or me wandering onto a rifle range in the fog. I just know I liked the way it looked, so I went with it. If you click on the link, you too can render your own self-portrait in candy.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Infinity's Teeth

Intergalactic Stacey's post regarding "Tweak Tag" taught me a couple of things. This is what I came up with, and while it's not nearly as nifty as hers are, I kinda like it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I Love My New Computer

Because it can make things like this. I can actually max out settings in Apophysis. The old one was incapable, and the next step down resulted in very, very long renders. Of course, I couldn't do anything else while it was rendering. But with the new computer, I'm rendering as I'm typing! No lag! No churning noises coming from the CPU! Woohoo!

Oh, and I have no idea what to call this. It is, however, a new favorite. I really, really like the way this came out.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'm Thirty-Seven. I'm Not Old

No, I haven't been called "old woman", nor have I been called "Dennis". Today does, however, mark the day that I finally fit into the remainder of that particular Monty Python quote. So far, the birthday events have been pretty darn fantastic. I received a case of JAX (regular, not the icky crunchy kind) from my parents. Sent because that particular snack food item cannot be found in Arizona. If you're saying "Why don't you just eat Cheetos?", then go bash yourself in the head with something. Plush or otherwise, as I'm feeling generous. They're not the same, dammit. And you can't truly call yourself a geek without a predilection for a fake cheese puffed-corn snack that turns everything in a ten-foot radius orange. In a slightly larger scale, I finally broke down and got a new computer. Not the break down in the curled-up-in-a-ball-and-weeping-uncontrollably sense, but stopped resisting the notion to buy one. Seeing as I'm on the computer for more hours than most people are awake in a day, every day, it's justified. Plus, my old computer was making a rather un-computerlike noise that I couldn't figure out, so it was better to get a new one than have the other one melt. (I would have had a breakdown, then.) It's a nifty dual-core XPS, and it's ridiculously fast. However, my only option was to have Vista pre-installed. I'm not terribly thrilled with that, but I've decided to give it a chance and see how it goes. Initial impression: meh.
Deb has made me (us) a chocolate cake with chocolate and vanilla frosting, and tomorrow's special meal will consist of a free steak dinner from the fine folks at Black Angus Steakhouse. (I provided that link primarily for the people who read that name too quickly and were shocked by what you misread. You know who you are.)
So, I'm one year closer to 40, one year closer to seeing something like this:

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Drano For Our Intertube-webs

Our friendly neighborhood Comcast tech stopped by today. We had an appointment, and he showed at the allotted time, which is a plus. I may have mentioned that our cable internet kept dropping off whenever it rained. Granted, that's not usually a huge problem in Tucson, but it's been pretty rainy lately. No internet connection makes me angry. (What, like I'm going to read a book or something?) Timmy the Tech informed us of something rather alarming... we've got signal loss. Outside, it's an eight, but inside we're getting a zero. I'm assuming that's on a scale of 0-8, but I was not presented with a pie chart or anything. Or a cookie graph. No sort of baked goods-related visual aids whatsoever. When Comcast gives you bad news, they really know how to make it hurt!

In any event, it seems that there's a bent and possibly broken cable outside, so someone else is going to come and work on that tomorrow. I guess the guys who work on the outside cables have bigger trucks or something. They only work with a referral. Timmy did improve our cable TV reception, though, so he actually did do something. Of course, the only reason we have cable TV is so we can get cable internet service, so no great shakes there. Still, it is nice to see the non-Spanish channels without interference. Even if they're just country music and religion. (Two things so very, very near and dear to my heart.) If they can get my cable modem to give me 6 megs per second consistently and without an umbrella like it's supposed to, I'll be happy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Infinite Purple Disco Galaxies

Horrifying to contemplate, but interesting to look at. Thanks to Dzeni for the inspiration. Her fractals look infinitely better than mine, but it's giving me something else to explore with Apophysis.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Typos Doth Vex Me

It's a good thing I'm not a proofreader by trade. My head would have blown up by now.

From an internet radio site: "so you can listen in the future without the hastle". Yes, the little red underline thingy just means that I'm spelling it with emphasis!

From the footer of a Yahoo! e-mail: "Don't get soaked. Take a quick peak at the forecast". Because everyone knows that weather comes from mountains. The tops of the mountains, or "peaks", tear holes in the clouds. That's where rain comes from. Ripped clouds.

I really don't get it. I mean, I understood it (to some degree) when people didn't have spell checkers to do it for them. But even this blog writing applet underlines the words that aren't words! So, I've decided I'm going to speak in typo from now on. I'm joining the masses. When I meet people, I'm going to say "Heee" instead of "Hi". "Shoe" instead of "sure", things like that. Changing vowels here, stretching consonant pairings there... if I'm consistent I'm pretty sure I can get some sort of pity funding. At the very least, I'll get people to leave me the hell alone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Legs and I Are Not On Speaking Terms


We went to Peña Blanca Lake today, as the first stop on a day planned with much enjoyment for all. It's south of us, nearly in Mexico, but a short drive to reach. We took the unpaved road to a parking area (marked with an "X" on the right side of the map), and walked down a trail to the lake. Once there, we decided to walk around the entire lake. Yes, you read that right. Walk around the entire friggin' lake. The trail was narrow, rocky, Bullwinkle, and had patches of snow here and there. We weren't going for any land speed records, though, as we stopped now and again to take pictures. Naturally. It wasn't bad at all, as it was refreshing to be outside and still be chilly rather than feeling all hot and incinerated. When we finally reached the spot on the map marked with a "Z" (center left), we decided to just walk up the road rather than continue our off-roading ways. By that time, hiking had lost its appeal, and sitting in the car became very enticing.

I'd like to pause to point out that we had initially stopped and parked at the "X", and did not know how far the road went between the "Z" and the "X". If you were to draw a semi-straight line between the two on an overhead map, you'd say: "Gee, if you keep hiking, you'd get back to the car much, much quicker than if you go all the way up on the road!" If you were to say that, and you had an overhead map with you at the time, I would heartily agree. However, you and your damn map were nowhere to be found, so instead we walked on the road. Did I mention that the inclination of the road was up? Uphill really sucks when you're sick of walking. Paved or unpaved.

My head is sunburned, my legs hurt, and I'm going to ceremoniously destroy my boots for being ridiculously uncomfortable. But it was worth it, because we got to experience this:

As for the rest of the trip... eh. We were supposed to go see some ghost towns. Old Glory was on the map, but no road existed for it. Despite there being a road on the map. Ruby was closed. Yes, closed. It's privately owned now, and the owner only has it available on Thursday - Sunday. Plus, he charges $12 per person to see the place. Expletives were shared by all when we finally got to Ruby. Partridge was gone, Arivaca was there, but nothing to write home about. So, all in all, it was a good day. My legs may even forgive me. Probably by about Tuesday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Screams of Panic in the Desert

Yep, snow. Not where we are, but there's apparently snow on the ground just to the north of us in Oracle. The little forecastfox toolbar on my browser shows snow for today and tomorrow, and there's supposed to be about a foot or so of snow in the higher elevations. An interesting side effect of this is that our cable has been out for a few hours today. Not sure why, as it has really just been a cold rain for us. I guess the bastards at Comcast have a panic button that shuts everything down as they prepare to hibernate and hide from the scary cold stuff. I am a little disappointed that the snow hasn't, and most likely won't, hit the ground here. I'd just like to see how the locals would react. I guess I'll have to console myself that they're freaking out just a bit that it's currently 32 degrees outside. And I'll be looking back on this day with great fondness around July 1st when it's 2,000 degrees in the shade...

Update!

Shows how good I am at forecasting. Snow actually landed on the ground! Schools were either closed, or delayed for a half day in the hopes that the scary, evil white stuff would hurry up and melt away so that the darling children wouldn't have to be mentally scarred by its presence. How much snow was there? Well, this is what I saw when I looked outside:

And there's more snow in the forecast! What are we going to do?!?!?!?!?!?

Sheesh. In the wilderlands of upstate New York, we call this "June".

Friday, January 19, 2007

You'd Think The Missing Roof Would Be The Bigger Problem

Taking pictures of adobe ruins is enjoyable. Manipulating those pictures so that a window in an old adobe fort becomes a portal into another dimension where spectral firefly things use their green flame energy to rip their way into our world is also enjoyable. Just in a different kind of way. I guess it's just my way of saying that no matter what your weather is like outside, it could always be worse. Wind, rain, snow, heat... they all pale in comparison to an interdimensional invasion.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Have No Idea

... what to call this. I like it, Deb likes it, and that's good enough for me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Can Make Real Things Look Fake

Since we discovered these nifty toxic plants on New Year's Day, I've been itching to do something creative with them. Because, really, what else would one do with strange toxic plants? This one got a kind of rose treatment, just because I felt like it. We're thinking of something more Halloweeny for the others, though. I mean, a creepy plant like that belongs on some sort of Halloween decoration. The flash made this look more like plastic than plant, though. It looks fairly good in natural light.

Oh, and I was thinking of something more along the lines of this for the Halloween thing:

Thank you Photoshop for making my color choices easy without me having to get paint all over everything.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year Spooktacular


One of the great things about living in Arizona is the plethora of ruins. Towns that were once booming have now crumbled and have been mostly reclaimed by the desert vegetation. Fairbank is one of those towns, and we were fortunate enough to visit it on New Year's Eve. Of particular interest, for us at any rate, was the fact that the Fairbank cemetery was readily accessible. Most of the graves were like the one pictured above. A simple wooden cross, and a pile of stones. They were scattered without rhyme or reason on a hilltop a half mile away from the town. One grave, presumably that of a child, had had some recent visitors. Evinced by the toys left at the base of the weatherbeaten (weather-blasted, really) little wooden cross. With no name on the cross, I doubt the visitor was a relative. But it just goes to show you that graves and markers are made for the living much more than they are for the dead.

Today, we drove along some very... interesting... roads in order to visit Camp Rucker in the Coronado National Forest. ("Interesting" = the kind of dirt road you're better off walking on than driving on) Not only did we get to see ruins from 1880 or so, but we got to see something we haven't seen in quite a while: snow on the ground! Yep, it's been cold here, but we were at about 6,500 feet. That's above the snow line, apparently, and we got to trudge around in the stuff for a while.

It's nice to visit, but I'm glad I don't have to shovel it. Makes for some cool pictures, though. (No pun intended.)