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Archive for March 2010


This was weird. Today, we had to submit our list of four keepers for the 2010 version of the Irrational League.

I kept reaching the same conclusion: I have to drop two guys that have been mainstays of my team for years. Aging sucks. You hurt, you get slower, and you can’t quite reach places you used to. I feel that myself, too.

I’m keeping:

Matt “Summer” Kemp OF LA
David “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a” Wright 3B NY
Matt “Roman” Holliday OF STL
Chris “Karen” Carpenter SP STL

Goodbye, Lance (Berkman). So long, Carlos (Beltran). Please empty your desks and have security escort you to the front door.

The strange thing is that this completes an absolute turnover in my keepers. A year ago, only Kemp was on my team, and that was only his second year with me. I acquired the other three through last year’s draft and a trade (Ryan Zimmerman for Wright).

Zoo keeping up

As part of this series of updates, this one looks at our home menagerie.

We have a sick chinchilla. January had become lethargic and scruffy. The vet told us she had a molar tooth spur that had caused an infection. Two weeks later, after medicines, IV fluids, and a heating pad in her private hospital room (our downstairs bathroom), she is well on the way to recovery.

Various family members have absentmindedly left the bathroom door open at times, but January is the easiest chinchilla to catch even when fully healthy.

Crash is also out of sorts. He’s not ill but Horner’s syndrome has affected his left eye. He looks a little odd but is not in any pain. (Horner’s affects humans, too.)

I noticed that he looked like he’d been hit in the eye with a hammer and took him to the vet. After examining Crash to rule out infection, the vet told me it was either nothing or cancer. She said it almost always goes away by itself after six to eight weeks, but offered me the option of paying for a MRI if I really wanted to. I didn’t. If it’s going to go away, great. If it’s cancer… – well, Crash is already almost 12.

Child Three decided the time was right to find new pets of his own. He’s recovered from the New Year’s Eve grief of losing Momo the guinea pig and we accompanied him to the SPCA to look for more.

He chose a pair of one-month-old brothers, two black guinea pigs with white facial markings. The one with the vertical stripe is Harpo. The one with the eyebrows is Groucho. The one with the pig on his head is me.

Backlog bits

I have some brief observations on some entertainment so I might as well get them out of the way.

“Avatar”: Roger Ebert has codified his Ebert’s Law, which is that a movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it.

What was “Avatar” about? It was a soft-core-porn mash-up of “Pocahontas” and “Return of the Jedi”. But how was it about it? Oh, it was brilliant. I saw the 3-D IMAX version and sat enthralled for every minute. The best movies take me to a new world, although not necessarily as literally as “Avatar” did. Wow.

“Glee”: At the request of Child Two, she, Elvi, and I have now watched the first season (a mere 13 episodes) of “Glee”. Thank goodness for Jane Lynch, who makes the show bearable between musical numbers. When the show takes itself seriously as a drama, it is simply not very good. Ridden with plot holes and characters who act as if simply to move the plot forward, the shows had us rolling our eyes at the predictability and foolishness. Why, for example, if Kurt’s dad knew and accepted Kurt’s homosexuality did he confront the boy in the basement about which dancer was his girlfriend?

Yet when the show embraces the absurd, and that’s brought primarily by Sue and Emma, it can shine.

“Glee” returns soon, and I hope it trends toward fantasy like “Pushing Daisies” did.

“The Pacific”: I’ve only seen one episode and it’s less… epic than the same team’s “Band of Brothers”. So far.

Pass the giant novelty scissors

The second time I tried to import the old blog, everything went as planned, although all the embedded YouTube links have broken. Some image placements are slightly wonky due to a kludge I used at Blogger to get the vertical spacing the way I liked it.

My feed should be working now; let’s see if this shows up at Facebook.

All I have left to do is add my links, categorize my 740 posts (because I like making work for myself, apparently), and create a .htaccess file to 301-redirect the URLs of my old blog to here. That’s important because it tells the search engines that this new blog is the same as the old one only in a different place. I don’t want to lose my inexplicable Google rank for “early senility”, after all.

Anyone who links to the old blog can change the URL – or not. The redirection takes care of that, of course.

This WordPress blog seems to load a bit more slowly than the Blogger version but considering how bloated it is (beauty has its price), that’s not surprising.

I think I can live with the vertically offset legacy images.

For now.

101 is open for business!

Update: I finally got the .htaccess file working after 90 minutes of excruciating frustration. My problem? The file in plain text on Mac OS X uses carriage returns. Linux requires linefeeds. Once again, Tex-Edit Plus comes in handy. I’ve been using it since 1994 and I paid many times the recommended software price when I bought it back then. Thanks, Tom Bender.

Technical difficulties

With layout in place, I decided to move my blog from Blogger to this WordPress thing the kids are crazy about. That sounds hard, but it’s not difficult in theory. WordPress offers all kinds of import tools. The one that interfaces with Blogger, though, requires the blog to be in the new Blogger format, a change I resisted and continue to resist with all my Luddite mightiness.

That’s not the end of the world, since Blogger lets you export the content all your blog posts as one XML file, which you can then upload with WordPress. WordPress reads the code and reassembles the posts. Unfortunately, WordPress will only do that for the new-style Blogger blogs.

Not all is lost. Google provides a little Web-based engine that will convert the old-style Blogger XML file to WordPress format. WordPress should import its own format.

But that has issues, too.

Still, with some perseverance, I got the thing to work. I watched my Blogger posts get imported, but some of those posts weren’t mine. Somehow, my XML file was infected with blog posts from Jennifer’s Just a Stray Junior Mint. I don’t understand how or why either, but it happened in the conversion process.

I had to manually delete Jennifer’s posts from my archive and in the process I discovered that the import process only snagged my posts up to the end of 2008. WordPress documentation tells me that I can rerun the process without duplicating those posts that were successfully imported.

We’ll see.


I actually have a lot to blog about: hockey, new pets, “Avatar”, “The Pacific”, “Glee”, and a figurative kick in the nuts.

So much for the rule of three, eh?

With Blogger abandoning FTP publishing in a month and a half, I’m at a crossroads. Do I create a subdomain at (hosted at Blogger’s Blogspot) for the blog or do I move to WordPress? I’m trying to limit my posting until I make that decision. Advice?

Where does she get her prescriptions?

(Ad from the Gazette’s My Pharmacist section, March 4, 2010)

When I ask a pharmacist for a drug, I have to wait half an hour and get a buzzer to tell me when it’s ready to be picked up.

Child One invades Germany III and IV

More from western Germany… this first short e-mail from 3:52 p.m. on March 3.

Daz 3 was awesome and full of shopping. On the waz there, S kept pointing out deer that were whiyying past. Well, actuallz we were the ones moving, but i onlz ever caught a glimpse of them, except for the third time. I tried all three times to get a shot (or video), but i gave up after the third time, when at least i had seen the deer. i then handed the camera to S, who waited tenselz. Obviouslz, no more deer went past (because that would be too convenient).

*Note – at this point i left for dinner and got sidetracked, when i came back i discovered that the laptop had mysteriouslz disappeared. It is now 9:45 of the following daz, and i am trzing to tzpe quietlz because the little sister whose room i stole is trzing to sleep. i am using the computer in J#s room, where she has been bunking for the past few dazs. Sorrz for the lateness, but i think i should continue this at a later date. It took me 15 minutes to get this computer working and connected, which used up mz tzping time. i shall continue tomorrow, when zou will have three dazs of stuff to read. Also, mz camera died. Faaaiiill.

She followed up that with this. It’s not clear at first, but she’s describing a trip to Enschede in the Netherlands, virtually on the border and the first Dutch city to fall to the Germans in the unmentionable unpleasantness:

So yeah. Hopefully, this attempt will not end in as much fail as the last one. More monez would have been nice, but it#s not like we can do anzthing about it now, as i do not have mz card with me. So sad. i missed Child Three so much i got him a historicallz significant souvenir! le gasp (der gaspen *question*)! Btw, i can#t get the question mark button to work, though i did find it after zour instructions.

Daz 3 continued into the market after we got off the train. It was kind of flea marketish, and i got a dress and a skirt. Also, I found a sex-kitten shirt, which had a chick posing in a catsuit with cat ears sewn on and omg huge glitterz pink platform heels. I thought about buzing it for K, but decided not to. Also, i saw this awesome shirt. It was kind of spiritual, if that makes anz sense, like the kind of thing a yoga master or ML would wear. Took a picture.

Then, on our waz out, i found a fabric stall full of string and fabric (well, duh) and other things like that. i got some lace. We were then let loose in Enschede and i found a little ankh bead. There was a store we passed that had a shoe convezer belt. It wasn#t an assemblz line, just a little moving belt with shoes on it. We (being S, S, and the sick M, btw) stopped and stared for a bit, almost got run down bz a bike, then moved on. We hopped on the train and went to Muenster. There were manz churches. Well, actuallz, three, but thez were all important (apparentlz). S took manz prettz pictures because mz camera died. The no-name MP3 plazer is still working, though. Hm. i got some church rocks. It would be hilarious if thez were actuallz selling them, but i just scooped some from the ground. Midwaz through the tour, everzone compöained (Wow, isn#t that a cool tzpo *question* How did i do that…. Oh wait, never mind, there#s a button.) of the emptiness of their bellies. I had a bagged lunch, which was two mandarins, an apple, a bottle of (flat) water, and two individuallz packaged muffins. We found a fish place, where everzthing came with tartar sauce (which i have discovered i absolutelz adore, even when it isn#t on a Filet o’ Fish), and i got some of S#s fish and chips. M was complaining about being sick and nausea (sp*question* The spellcheck here is in German, and none of the online dictionaries i#ve tried are working….) from the breaded shrimp and fish and the fries she got. So i gave her one of mz mandarins and ate her food, too.

After the churches, we saw this huge golden manor-house thingz, then went into a retired courthouse/hall of judgement thing, which was awesome. It had carvings of saints along the walls, the seven disciplines or something; it was the seven things zou should studz at universitz. The ones i remember are music, philosophz, astrologz, geometrz, and literature/language. i was onlz able to see six because there were ropes set up to keep stupid tourists from breaking things. Also, thez were in latin, so i#m just guessing based on mz knowledge of French, etzmologz, and the little instruments carved into each girl#s hand. There were scenes from the First Testament (hohoho, those sillz Christians – sorrz, mom <3); whenever i hear First (Old *question*) Testament, i think Torah. The onlz one i recogniyed was Jonah and his whale (bad Jew, bad Jew). There was also a random slipper that no one knows the origin of and a reallz old hand - like, an actual hand. Zou could see the old dried up flesh and everzthing. There were exposed bones too. It was a punishment from a long time ago. Also, there was a golden jug shaped like a rooster (stop thinking it). The head came off and that was where the liquid was poured. Also, reallz old ass cushions. After that, we wandered around for an hour and a half. I found a Clip Six store (the brand of the things i got the other daz) and went in, where i got a trendz gift for Child Two. We managed to kill an hour, then went back to sit in the museum/courthouse. Luckilz, i had a book and mz no-name. On the train back, i discovered i was ravenous again and wolfed down the fruit and both muffins. I had finished mz book, verz convenientlz, just in time for me to get out of the fire. (Wow, i just reread this sentence and noticed i wrote fire. i meant ride. – me from a few seconds in the future) i was hitching a ride with N and the other M and give N mz book. Then i went inside and started the first, fail e-mail, got interrupted, and went to dinner. After food (which was more bread) we plazed parcheesi (which A won bz a landslide), then started a movie. Note: #The Italian Job# is depressinglz predictable. When J and I realiyed it was getting late, we went back upstairs, and i retreated to mz room. A was sleeping bz then, and i didn#t want to disturb her, so the laptop stazed disappeared, and this update was postponed. On Daz 4 i got in with the dad, who was going to Berlin and will come back when i leave, and we drove to the train station. On the train, we plazed #never have i ever# (i had 37, but we were plazing for a while and were kind of running out of ideas) and truth or dare, which was basicallz the same thing since we were on a train and couldn#t reallz dare each other. Except zou had to saz things out lound, instead of just subtlz raising a finger when no one was looking at zou. It was like a sleepover, onlz we were in public (which in restrospect was not a good idea) and not in pzjamas. Then we reached Köln (that time on purpose) and we found a freaking huge cathedral. It was so prettz though. There was a service going on when we went in, and priestz guzs had collection boxes, big heavz wooden things with little plaques on the front with Latin on them. We proceeded to climb the tallest flight of stairs i think i will ever climb. There were 508 steps, but i onlz counted 506 (damn it!… Sorrz, priestz guzs). I was so terrified for the last 60ish, because there was the floor, then some metal wirez stairs which zou could see through, and periodicallz there would be windows (without anz glass!) zou could sort of see through, through the embellishments, and it was windz and i could see the ground and thez were so tinz and omg. So zeah, i was scared. But once I got up there, it was fine. There was this grating/mesh fencing off all the open areas at the top, where there was a little balconz thing. It was so high it was like i was on a plane or something, so i felt sort of detached and then i wa
s less scared. On the waz down i kept thinking i was going to fall, because everz time i would take a step, it would look exactlz the same, so it seemed like i wasn#t moving. Zou know those icons that just loop, but zou don#t reallz notice because at one point the footage overlaps so zou can#t tell when it actuallz restarts and it just looks like one endless sequence of repetition. That. But in real life.

Sorrz to skip out on zou again, but i just remembered i have to get up even earlier tomorrow and that i suck at waking up. Tune in tomorrow (hopefullz) for the chocolate museum, the Roman museum, and a daz in the life of a German schoolgirl.

Much love and manz apologies.

Child One invades Germany II

I asked Child One if I could post her e-mail home on my blog. She said yes.

Dad – if you want. Tzpos too *question* (i cannot figure out this friggin kezboard, so there will be no question marks. ever.) Also, pfft OMGLOL.

Mom – love love for mz poor bereft mother. Food is good, and sometimes weird. For instance, i just snacked on carbonated water and sugar popcorn. Apparentlz, water-carbonated here. (Pretend that dash is an equal sign… bloodz German kezboards….)

Daz 2 was a tour of Rheine. First we presented our presentation to grade… 9 *question*. i#m not reallz sure, and it went kind of awfulish. i mean, it wasn#t a BAD PowerPoint, but i reallz have no idea how manz of the students were even passable at English. Anzhoo, we then tramped along the shop street (apparentlz there can be onlz one…) to citz hall where a vice-mazor droned at us through a (human) translator for a while. It was kind of interesting, but then i got sleepz. Luckilz, there was a little thingz of Coke (bliss!) so i had that and perked up. His speech was about the political parties of Rheine, and a little about the administrative process. Then he started talking about Germanz or something, that was when I yoned out.

We then huffed up SIX flights of stairs, which kind of sucked, and the roof was quite blusterz. I could not see anzthing between the sun glaring in mz face and the poofz hair whirling around mz head. We had tramped there in the rain, then it got sunnz so i could get blinded, then it started raining again when we got back down. Ugh. (Zes, i realiye the entire ecoszstem does not have it in for me, but i feel like complaining. So there.)

We walked around the town, seeing historical landmarks and regular landmarks and some churches. There was a building that had been hit bz cannonballs during the — (zou said not to mention it) and thez were still lodged in the wall. It was cool. Another awesome thing was one of the churches (i know, bad Jew, bad Jew). Over the door there was a little procession of animals, which after puyyling over for a bit i realiyed were the yodiac. (Because i#m sillz, i utterlz failed to notice the little zodiac signs under each animal until i had mz great realiyation.) The animals looked cool, thez were all medieval and stuff, like the kinds zou#d find on a coat of arms, or a tapestrz, or an old church. We ended up walking in a huge culturallz significant circle, and ended up back at the school. i nommed on a verz thin and floppz waffle covered in icing sugar (which had also been breakfast) and then i followed Anna to her chemistrz class, where i sat in the back and read about Hill-kings.

After school let out, i went with S and one of the Ms (along with all of our host girls) to a kebab place, where i had a dish of fries and M#s last piyya ball which, as zou might have guessed, was made of piyya dough, and cam ewith tyatyiki, and was also delicious, as zou might not have guessed. Then there was this weird soda called Uludag. It tasted like bubblegum and felt like Sprite, and it came in what looked at first glance like beer can. It was surprisinglz zummz.

The guz at the restaurant did not believe in Canada, Australia, or the US. He figured we should identifz as French (from France) or English (from England). He thought i looked Scottish, and i told him through A that i was in part and also part Dutch and Danish. He told me i needed to smile more, because i was on a holidaz in Germanz and the sun was out (the fickle thing). Well, actuallz, he said #sun, germanz, holidaz#, but i think i got the gist.

After we left, we went to an AWESOME store where i got earrings and a kezchain, both (all*question*) incrediblz cute, then to a supermarket where thez got cake mix (because thez#re baking a cake for some reason…) and i got gummz bears and licorice to bring back. We then proceeded to hop on a bus and go back to A#s house. I was planning to just read until supper, but i fell asleep (omg, that bed is soo nice). When Anna woke me up for dinner, she said, #L, come eat#. I, in mz sleep-addled state, glanced at the clock and saw 16:53. i translated that to almost seven, then got up and rushed to find mz clothes, because Mwas coming to pick me up at 7:15 to go to the train station. Onlz when A#s mom asked #Are zou coming to dinner*question*# outside mz room (i was in the midst of struggling into mz shirt) did i realiye it was not, in fact, the next morning. i checked the clock again, felt stupid, then went down. Dinner was bread with cheese melted onto it (it is sold with the cheese alreadz on at the bakerz) which was soo good, and a croissant with Nutella. In Germanz, dinner is bread, and lunch is the big thing. After we were done, i tried to give out presents, failed because the mom had left for some reason or another, and painted a prettz picture. It had skzscrapers in it, and just about everz member of the familz remarked as thez went past that it wasn#t Rheine. i used oils, which i had never done before, and couldn#t get the paint off the bristles. i gave up, took a shower, then went upstairs to commandeer A#s laptop and write an e-mail. That was about an hour ago, and this e-mail is officiallz waz too long ™.


Bonus quiz answer for Naila:

I bought this at Best Buy.

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