30 June 2007

Obligatory Picture of a Cat

To avoid breaking international blog law, I now have a post with a picture of a cat. Hopefully the blog police won't mind that I'm ten days late. o.O

This is Poofy. Or rather, his name is Solace now, last I heard. He adopted me when I was a graduate student, but unfortunately I was in no position to take in a cat at the time, so I arranged for him to live with a friend. Said friend eventually graduated and found a job in Massachusetts. I haven't seen either of them since. :(

Quality-controlled portrait galleries on community websites

Well, today's thoughts both ways were taken up by an argument on RPoL about the portraits gallery. Namely, someone wants to be able to link to outside images from anywhere, and insists that this privilege wouldn't be abused with flagrant copyright violations, porn, or otherwise inappropriate material. The moderators disagree. The admin has decided against (at least for now). The arguer is ... shall we say, having a difficult time accepting this decision.

My own idea is to let the discussion drop for the time being. When it comes up again (and it will, because this particular discussion comes up regularly), I'll propose a perk for people who choose to donate to the site when the admin introduces the subscription scheme. That is: have RPoL make arrangements with a dedicated image-hosting server. (At the moment all of the images are hosted by two volunteers, who are footing the monthly bills for them.) Subscribers (or subscribers who are above a certain level of donation) (or subscribers who optionally choose to spend additional money for it) may have space on this server to put images that they can use in games they GM. Anyone found abusing the space will have it removed with no refund.

It's still half-baked at the moment, but hopefully will be thought out more fully by the time it comes up again.

28 June 2007

Gay Marriage

There are people in the world who think same-sex marriage is a non-issue. There are people in the world who don't. It should not be up to the government to decide whether it is or isn't okay. The government should allow everyone to make that choice for themselves. It should be legal for people to marry someone of the same-sex, because that way the first group of people can live their lives the way they choose. Having it be legal does not automatically mean that the second group of people must agree that it's okay; they are still perfectly free to not engage in same-sex marriage.

High School Reunions

My 15-year high school reunion happens in October. I'm in charge of the newsletter again this year, and soon it will be July, when I start collecting update blurbs from people.

I liked the 5-year reunion best so far. We all met up at Drew's farm, which was great for informal picnicking. It had a swimming hole and hiking trails and a tall tower for stargazing.

Also, we all got together as a class over a mailing list and figured it out together. This year, everything was already planned. By the time anything got mentioned to the rest of us, there was nothing to discuss, just registering to do.

This upcoming one is going to include people from the classes of 1997 and 2002. I'm not too excited about that part, since I just want to see the people I know, not bunches of other people I've never heard of. If they had decided to include class of 1993, that would be more exciting, as I actually know them.

Maybe they figure we're all too old to be picnicking at a swimming hole anymore. Now we're supposed to be grownups who dress formally and drink martinis. Oh well. Whatever works I guess.

Assorted Followups

1. Food. Seems that much of the time I think about food while I'm driving. Tonight it was "what should I eat?"

In the fridge I have:
a) at least two bowls left of spinach tofu soup (with rice noodles (which, incidentally, seems to be a misname, because it's actually "bean thread" and not rice)). Unfortunately I have no more clean pots left that I can use to heat it up if I want to also add an egg to it. It's possible to do the egg in the microwave, but it's a multistep process that doesn't work terribly well.

b) the rest of some cold buckwheat noodle soup from the Korean restaurant last weekend. I've already eaten everything that came in it other than noodles, so at this point it's just the noodles in a wasabi-flavored broth.

c) a baking potato, plus the sour cream, cheddar, butter, and fresh chives I could put into it. But I'm not in a potato mood.

d) a bowl of leftover egg noodles that I'd cooked yesterday to go with the broiled salmon, that in turn I made to go with the roadside corn (which was very very yummy, by the way). I also have a lot of the salmon sauce left.
    Salmon sauce
  • one 8oz container of sour cream
  • juice of one lemon
  • two tablespoons dijon mustard
  • four tablespoons maple syrup
  • fresh dill
  • lemon zest (tiny shreds from the lemon rind)
  • salt and black pepper

    Mix together and put over cooked salmon.
It sounds questionable from the ingredients list, but it's very tasty.

I also thought about ordering some hot wings from the southernish diner across the street from my apartment, Carey Hilliards. They're open late. But in the end, I decided to go with making more salmon to use up more of the sauce and also eat the rest of yesterday's noodles.

2. The car ignition revisited.

I figured out how to get around the problem with putting the key into the ignition. As soon as I turn off the car, I remove the key from the ignition, then put it right back in again. Sometimes getting it back in takes some jiggling, but it goes in. After that, when I pull it out the second time, it's still lined up by the time I get back to the car later. Problem solved ... at least for now.

The car is nearly 10 years old. I guess it's decided it's time to develop some character. I don't want a car with character, though - I just want a car that works. A car that's "invisible" in the same way good writing is. :P

3. Moon. Well, it's a waxing gibbous right now, but there's something more interesting to share from astronomy today. Namely: Earth and Jupiter, as seen from Mars. It was taken in 2003, but I didn't see it until today, so here it is today. :)

27 June 2007

The woman who walks

For years there has been a woman who walks down the same stretch of road I drive on. She has a shock of white hair, a deeply weathered face, and until today always wore the same thing - light blue denim jacket and jeans. Rain or shine, summer or winter, her clothes never changed.

She has hitchhiked a few times. I picked her up twice and drove her to her house. It turns out she walks from somewhere midtown, and she lives in the wealthy gated community on the island where I work. That's a 10-20 minute drive, much of it at 50-60 mph. I can't imagine how long it would take to walk it. But she does it nearly every day.

Today I passed her again. She was wearing a rose-colored blouse and tan pants. No denim in sight. I wonder what has changed about her life.

26 June 2007


The marsh was beautiful this afternoon, what with the sun shining down on it and shadows of cloud patches wandering across the road. It wasn't too hot out. Maybe only low 90s Fahrenheit.

I bought three ears of corn. The man said he'd just picked them this morning. Tonight I'll see about broiling some salmon to go with them. The man also said he'll sell tomatoes later on, so maybe it'll turn into a full-fledge stand with lots of veggies to choose from.

Roadside Corn

I passed a truck at the side of the road selling corn today. I thought about stopping but didn't.

I used to see roadside vegetable stands all up and down the North Carolina coast, back when I drove back and forth between Wilmington and Beaufort, NC, almost every other weekend while doing my masters research (fish ecology). That would've been 1998 or 1999. I thought about stopping then, too, but never did. Back then I had no money. Graduate students generally don't.

Maybe the corn truck will be back sometime when I don't already have too much food in the fridge. Then I'll buy some.

Instead, I have leftovers from a Korean restaurant I went to over the weekend. They aren't kidding when they say their cold noodle soups are cold; mine came with broth ice cubes to make sure it stayed cold while I ate it. The meal also came with five little "side dishes" - kimchee, chili tofu strips, chili cucumber slices, chili radish shreds, and bean sprouts (the only non-spicy item). They go great with plain white rice. Sometimes I wonder if I don't go to that restaurant just to get side dishes.

I like lots of variety in my meals. There's another restaurant, a southern-style diner called Sweet Potatoes that specializes in different things one can make with sweet potatoes, and they have a very wide selection of vegetables. I go there for those. Last time I went, it was for one fish dish (came with two vegetables) and an additional all-vegetable dish (three more vegetables). The leftovers were excellent.

I'll have to go to Sweet Potatoes again sometime soon. In the meantime, tonight's dinner was Korean side dishes with plain white rice.

25 June 2007


Bad writing is where the words get in the way of what the writer is trying to say.

Good writing is invisible.

Great writing is where the words do such a spectacular job of conveying the writer's meaning that the reader must stop to admire it.

23 June 2007


Why should we help the dregs of society?

Because if we help them, they might stop being dregs and start contributing. Most people want to earn their own way in life, given the chance to do so.

It won't be 100% of them. There will always be people who want to cheat the system for their own personal gain. Such is a fact of life. But if we help all those who don't want to be dregs to start pulling their own weight, society as a whole gets richer, and we can then afford the luxury of supporting the few deadbeats at the bottom.

Most people want to earn their own way in life. If denied all options to do so, they will still want to survive. If the only way open to survival is to cheat the system, that's what they will do. That's where dregs come from.

22 June 2007

Stargate SG1

The first six seasons were totally awesome. Every single episode was solid. The plot arcs were spectacularly good, and the characters were wonderfully compelling.

The seventh season was pretty good too.

The eighth season ... had a lot of good episodes in it.

Then ... well, some other stuff happened in seasons nine and ten. *vague dismissive handwaving*


Tonight is the series finale. The show should've ended two years ago. It's definitely going out with a whimper, not a bang. I think TV writers must get cocky about their success right around season 8 or so, and figure they can do no wrong, and therefore it's perfectly okay to take apart everything about a show that made it a success in the first place. That's certainly what looked like happened to SG1.

21 June 2007

The Cost of Living

All that is required of anyone in life is to pay one's bills - to pay for the cost of being alive in the form of food and shelter. Everything beyond that is bonus.

Those pursuing the so-called "American Dream" forget that. Everything becomes about how much can be made by investing in things. I don't want to invest in things. I buy things that I'm personally going to use until it falls apart. I don't need a house when I already have a roof over my head. Rent is not a waste of money. Being alive isn't free.

Thoughts on the way back home

1. Car.

My car has become increasingly cantankerous lately. It refuses to let me put the key in the ignition. This used to be a once-in-a-blue moon thing, but now it does this every other time I get into it.

The way to solve it, of course, is to turn the steering wheel just right, until it "unlocks." Figuring out how far to turn the wheel and which way, however, can be tricky. Especially if I turn it so far that not only is the key locked out of the ignition, the whole wheel gets locked down so I can no longer turn it at all - which means that when I do finally get the key into the ignition, it still won't crank until I turn the wheel some more. All of this occurs without power to the steering column, so sometimes after wrestling with it for 20 minutes I end up really tired as well as cranky.

2. Food.

Middle of the drive train of thought went something like:
a) What should I eat for dinner tonight?
b) Maybe I could bake a potato.
c) I wonder if my potted chives are recovered enough for another harvest yet.
d) Things that go on baked potatoes - sour cream and chives, cheddar cheese and bacon...
e) Hmm. Bacon. BacOs chips. I used to eat those things straight out of the plastic jar. Sooo unhealthy. Straight partially dehydrogenated veggie oil.
f) I remember when partial dehydrogenation was considered okay. Butter used to be bad. Now it's good.
g) Hmmm. food fads.
h) Clothes fashion trends.
i) Back in the 80's there was a fad about shoulder pads in all the tops - shirts, sweaters, jackets. You couldn't buy a top without having shoulder pads in them. We used to cut them out as soon as we got the clothes home. Later on the fashion dictators up top noticed that nobody liked them, and so then they all came with velcro. Then, a while after that, the whole thing thankfully disappeared.
j) Pants lengths. Bellbottoms back in the 70s, and now we're back to pants all the way down to the floor again.
k) "I could've been a Toreador!" "Not in those shoes, dear." (Jhael, in a WoD game on RPoL, 12 Jun 2007).
l) Good lord, how did I start thinking about all this? *rewind rewind rewind*

3. Moon.

(Actually, I was thinking about this one last night rather than tonight, but it's one of those recurring thoughts that probably won't go away until I do something about it.)

Last night's moon was a waxing crescent, hanging low in the western sky at midnight. It was lovely, sort of a creamy color with faded reds where clouds covered it.

I run a game where the moon comes up a lot. That is, its location in the sky at what time during what phases. I've yet to actually work it all out in my head, and really need to make myself a chart. Basically, though, I've simplified it down to:
a) full moon is directly overhead at midnight.
b) new moon is directly overhead at noon.
c) half moons should therefore be directly overhead at dawn or dusk (or 6pm). Which is at dawn and which is at dusk though?
d) And where does this put the crescents?

20 June 2007

Random Roadside Seeds

By that I mean, my thoughts on the way to work today were seeded by stuff I saw on the side of the road. It was definitely a free association day - every five minutes I would see something new, interrupt whatever train of thought was in progress at the time, and take off in a completely non sequitur direction.

It's been like that all week. I've been paying more attention to the outside world while I drive lately, instead of just musing on whatever is on my mind. Maybe it means there isn't anything on my mind at the moment.

Things I thought about, all seeded from seeing a young Hispanic boy on a bike who was riding along in the grass at the side of the road, with a full plastic bag on the handlebars (probably groceries).

a) It was a narrow road with no shoulder. The fact that Savannah isn't terribly bike friendly, nor pedestrian friendly for that matter. There are places with sidewalks, but those end in strange places. Yet people do manage anyhow. I have one coworker who rides her bike to and from work every day, covering 35 miles. Obviously she's a lot more physically fit than I'll ever be.

b) Being in a safely boxed metal frame rather than right out there with nothing between me and the pavement, like I would be on a bike. Or motorcycle. I got to ride on the back of a motorcycle once, and that was what struck me - how close and immediate the environment around me was. It's part of the attraction of riding on a motorcycle for a lot of people. For me, however, I would definitely need a face shield, because I can't take the wind blowing right at my face at 60 mph. Gas might be cheaper though.

c) Tip jar thieves and honesty. Hispanics have always been honest while in the Chinese takeout where I work on weekends. 100% of all tip jar thieves I've ever seen were young black women. By contrast, young black men are almost always honest, and sometimes they even tip.

d) The fact that I've been planning to write a blog post about thieves at the takeout for my takeout blog. I haven't gotten around to it yet, and it's been nagging at me for weeks.

Thoughts of the Day

Twice a day every weekday, I drive over the most beautiful salt marsh in the world. The drive lasts somewhere between ten and twenty minutes, depending on traffic, and it's a time for a lot of introspection.

Sometimes I think about things happening in my daily life, or the lives of friends and family. Sometimes I think about things going on in the daily news, or about big social or political issues. Sometimes I get highly philosophical. Sometimes it's all just random free association on the days when I'm unable to string together a coherent thought of any length.

This blog will be a collection of those ruminations. When I have time, I'll write out full explanations for exactly what the thoughts are from, what they mean, and why I thought them. Other times I will be too busy to explain, and the posts will be very short and cryptic. Either way, I'll try to write at least one post every day. Let's see how long I can keep this up...