Friday, December 22, 2006


Gone to the land of dial-up. Don't expect a new post until after New Years.


(have a holly jolly christmas)
it's in my head!
(It's the best time of)
Get it OUT!
(the year. I don't know)
(if there'll be snow)
(but have a cup of cheer)
(have a holly)
(christmas. it's the best)
(time of the year)
>wham< >wham< >wham<
(if there'll be snow)
(buuut haaaavvve uhhh cuuuuup uuuuuuuuuuuhf cheeee.....)
[fade to unconscious]

"what's wrong with him, doctor?"
"judging from the severe bruising on his head and the crack in his
skull I'd say he had a christmas song stuck in his head. we get that a
lot this time of year. We're thinking naming the new wing after Burl Ives."

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm getting two conflicting reports about when the Winter Solstice is this year. One calendar says Dec 21 while another says Dec 22. I'm going with Dec 22 since it's the usual date. (Upon further research I find that whether it's the 21st or 22nd depends on what time zone you're in. For the East coast it's early on the 22nd. For the rest of the States it's the 21st.)

Winter Solstice, for those of you who slept through science class or attended DC public school, is the shortest day and longest night of the year...barring, of course, that time when you accidently swapped the Vivarin and Tylenol and couldn't blink until about 4:30 in the morning. The Earth's rotational axis tilted 23° 27 minutes from that of our sun. This means that during some parts of the year the north axis points at the sun and during some parts of the year the south axis points at the sun. The winter and summer solstices mark the extremes of this cycle. The Winter Solstice also marks the beginning of the Dougmas season.

The Solstice has been celebrated by various cultures going back for millenia. Whatever else it may have been, Stonehenge was a calendar for marking the various solstices and equinoxes. There's also the Newgrange mound in Ireland that just marks the Winter Solstice and predates Stonehenge by several centuries.

The Romans celebrated the solstice with the Saturnalia festival that lasted from Dec 17 to Dec 23. During this time they'd dedicate the temple to Saturn, the god of farming. They'd also decorate their homes with evergreen trees and wreaths, deck the halls with boughs of holly, and exchange gifts.

Other cultures use the solstice to celebrate the births of Egyptian Osiris, Greek Apollo and Bacchus, Chaldean Adonis, and Persian Mithra. All sun gods.
Germans built a stone altar to Hertha, or Bertha, goddess of domesticity and the home, during winter solstice.
The Norse had Odin, a big bearded man dressed in red who travelled through fire, who brought gifts to good children. He also brought along a demon to flog, punish, or even take bad children. This demon remains in eastern European celebrations in Santa's companion Krumpus.

The festival of Deus Sol Invictus ("the undefeated sun god") was celebrated on the day that the days start getting longer after the winter solstice. That day happens to be Dec 25. So it could be argued that they just went from celebrating the rebirth of the sun god to celebrating the rebirth of God's son.

In the 4th Century Rome was pretty well Christianized (probably not a word, but work with me here). While the death of Christ was celebrated at Easter (another co-oped holiday) his birth wasn't celebrated. Despite all evidence pointed to his birth in the spring Christian leaders chose Dec 25 to celebrate his birth.

So that's the reason for the season. This Christ guy is just some wanna be Johnny come lately. The season is about celebrating the return of the sun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Check out my other blog at It was started as a place to post old Daria cartoons but I've expanded it to be a general cartoon blog. I've just started going through Invader Zim. Next I'm thinking Clerks or Robot Chicken.

I saw this balloon on Nov 25 as Dad and I started our drive to Kansas City so I could meet my ride back to DC.

Pre-color correction

Post-color correction

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Now on DVD

Tuesday is new DVD day. You can see what's being released on IMDB (

I've seen three of the new releases. Follow the links to my reviews.
A Scanner Darkly
Lady in the Water
My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Monday, December 18, 2006

Warning: Religious blather

I don't usually address news in this blog. I figure there's about a zillion other sites you can check if you want that. But this news article is about one of the touchier religious subjects so, this being a blog about my religion of one I have to have an opinion.
The article in question talked about a group (2 or 7 depending on what you read) of Episcopal churches in Virginia splitting from the US Episcopal church and joining a church in Nigeria. The issue that is driving these parishes from the main church is the issue of homosexuality. See, back in November US Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was installed as the first woman to head an Anglican church. She supports V. Gene Robinson, a gay man elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

Now, you may not know this, but after years of controversial research scientist have been able to determine that gays may actually be human. This has come as a surprise to many people in Christian, Muslim, and various African groups I'll collectively refer to as "Other". Around the world, including America, there have been calls to have all homosexuals rounded up and imprisoned or executed. If you're having trouble finding people with these attitudes you can start by looking for people who think acknowledging that other religions have holidays around the Winter Solstice is an attack on Christianity. But with these recent findings of a common ancestor with you and me homosexual males and females have been able to demand and achieve equal rights. This has pissed off many people. People who, 150 years ago, would likely deny that blacks are also human.
Among the rights the gay community has gained is the previously mentioned right to become a bishop, the right to marry in a few European countries and an American state or two, and the right to serve in the military as long as they don't let anyone know they're gay. It's the issue of gay marriage that I want to address here.

Pretty much all arguements about preventing gays from marrying start with the phrase "The Bible says..." or "In Leviticus..." blah blah God says it's bad. Now, I could go into the history of the book of Leviticus and translation issues, the mutation of the Bible over the last couple millenia, the bigotry of the time reflected in the book, etc etc etc. But I won't. It's pretty clear that the issue is a religious one. Even the so-called scientific studies that talk about the impact on society, the raising of children, and what not are all written by groups with an interest one way or the other. These studies can't be relied on for answers.

Since this is clearly a religious issue I suggest that the government get out of the discussion. Get rid of marriage in a legal context. As far as the government is concerned marriage is just a legal matter to determine taxation, inheritance, and who makes medical decisions. So the government gives the legal documentation a new name and makes it available to any two people of legal age. Heck, allow it to be fine tuned. I may want my wife to inherit everything, but my best friend, sibling, or ex may have a better grasp of my own desires as far as medical care. The point is that since marriage is a legal thing to the government and a moral thing to the religious then only the religious should be dealing with the issue. Grandfather in everyone who is married already and give out Legal Partner status to new people. Then, if they really want to use the title "married" they can find a church to do it for them. Some churches will do it, others won't. Let them fight it out among the congregations, not the courts.

The Church of Dougintology takes the stand that any two people of consenting age who want to spend their lives together should be permitted to get married. The leadership has seen many same-sex couples raising intelligent, straight, well adjusted children in loving homes and has seen many different-sex couples raising illiterate, violent, thugs in homes that neglect them. By the numbers it appears that same-sex couples make better parents than different-sex couples. However, this is misleading because same-sex couples only have kids if they want them while different-sex couples usually have them because of a failure of birth control. But to the faithful the important thing is the love, not the genitals. Married couples are good for a stable economy no matter whats in their pants.

In short, if you're not the one getting married it's not your business who is.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Movie Review: Eragon

Eragon: A New Hope
Long, long ago in a galaxy not to far away...
Once upon a time there were dragons and the dragon riders. Together they kept the piece in the Old Republic. But the dragon riders grew arrogant in their power. They were betrayed and destroyed by one of their own, a young dragon rider by the name of Darth Galbatorix. King Galbatorix has ruled the world with a cruel hand for decades. But there is a legend which speaks of a new dragon rider who will rise up and destroy Galbatorix and bring balance to The Force.
Our movie opens with Darth Durza, Darth Galbatorix's right hand, chasing Princess Arya, who has stolen a precious object from the King. On the verge of being captured she sends this object off to keep it from being captured.
The object lands in the hands of a young farm boy named Eragon Skywalker. His mother and father missing he has been raised by his uncle. He knows of an old man, Obi-Brom Kenobi, who knows of this mysterious object and goes off in search of him. When he returns home the king's Stormtroopers have killed his family.
Together Obi-Brom and Eragon go off to return this object to the Rebel Alliance. But their quest is thrown in jeopardy when they're forced to make a detour into the lair of the Galbatorix's henchman, Darth Durza, to rescue the princess. In the process Obi-Brom gives his life to save Eragon.
Eragon and Arya escape and fly their dragon, the Saphira Falcon, to the rebel base. But they are tracked and the King sends his army to wipe out their stronghold. There's a dramatic air battle between Eragon Skywalker and Darth Durka in which the rebel base is saved and things are setup for the sequel.

The whole thing looks like it was a SciFi Channel production but they actually managed to get a script that doesn't completely suck.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Reprinted from a previous entry:

This is one of the three recipies that I take around with me through my various moves. As Dougmas approaches fudge must be made. I should warn you that in some states they use this recipe to execute diabetics on death row.

Million $ Fudge
given to me by Janet Patterson

12 oz sweet choc.
12 oz semi-sweet choc.
4.5 cups sugar
1 large can evaporated milk
1.5 tbsp butter
1 pt marshmellow creme
2 cups of nuts

Shave or cut the chocolate in pieces. Cook sugar, milk, and salt for 6 minutes at boiling. You will have to watch to keep from scorching milk.
Place chocolate, marshmellow creme, butter, and nuts in large bowl and pour boiling mixture over them. Beat until all are melted and mixture is thick enough to pour into a buttered pan. Cut into pieces - will stay soft for a long time.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

From the Dougintology Aquisition Department

I've rented an SUV to drive home for Christmas. I've got an old family dining room table that is taking up too much space in my house and need something big enough to haul it back. One of the things I could rent to go with it is a GPS navigator. It costs an extra $9.99/day. So it's $100. No big deal. But for some reason my bill jumped by close to $150. At that price I decided I had all the excuse I needed to buy my own.

So I popped out and got me a TomTom One.

The most difficult thing to do was turn it on.

It has all the United States and Canadian maps stored on a single 1GB SD memory card. It can establish a bluetooth connection with your cellphone and download traffic and weather information.
The screen is smaller than the other GPS doo-dads I've played with. But the other GPS thingys have all been preinstalled in a Prius. So the 3.5" screen isn't bad.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Book Review: The Bear Went Over the Mountain

I just finished reading "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" by William Kotzwinkle.

The book starts with a university professor on sabbatical in the wilds of Maine. He's there to write a book. Ok, he goes off into the wilds to write a ripoff of a popular book. But his cabin burns down and destroys his only copy of the finished manuscript. So he rebuilds the cabin and writes another book that isn't a ripoff. Fearing another cabin fire, he keeps his only copy in a briefcase hidden at the base of a pine tree where the low hanging branches hide it. But a bear sees him hiding the final manuscript and, thinking it's food, investigates. He reads the book, thinks it's pretty good, dresses like a human, and takes it into New York to find a publisher.

Thinking him the new Hemingway, the publishers sign him with a generous contract and send him all over the country to promote his new book. He has to learn how to behave in the city, how to fight his instincts, and most of all not get discovered and tossed in a zoo.

Meanwhile, as the bear slowly overcomes his bearlike nature, the professor finds himself slowly taking on the features, instincts, and senses of a bear.

Near the end of the book the professor comes out of hibernation in the middle of winter to find that his book has become a number one bestseller. He goes off to sue the bear for his book back.

This is a fairly light read that won't tax you at all. The story is engaging enough that you won't want to put it down. It's funny enough that you'll spend most of the book stifling laughs if you're reading it in public. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Movie Review: Happy Feet

It's not necessary, but having seen "March of the Penguins" first will help you enjoy this movie.
Mumble is an emperor penguin. But instead of singing like the rest of the penguins he dances. Eventually (that word covers a LOT of movie) he's driven out the rest of the penguins because the elders say that his dancing is the cause of the fish famine. He and a bunch of regular black and white and hispanic penguins go off looking for the aliens (humans) who have been harvesting all the fish in the hopes that they can convince them to stop taking their fish.
Somehow (another half hour of movie in that word) he gets the humans to follow him back to the flock. The flock dances for the humans and the humans start to realize that their overfishing is causing a famine for the penguins. There's a montage where humans fight about what to do about it in the UN and suddenly there's plenty of fish to eat.

Frankly, I think the writers are giving humans more credit than they deserve. I hate the taste of fish, but the economics of providing fish for 6,561,323,592 people (Dec 5 estimate) who like fish is going to win out over some flightless water fowl who don't even vote.

Good soundtrack, good message, good movie, but I'm not getting it on DVD. I only needed to see it once.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Movie Review: The Fountain

The word "trippy" was made for this movie.
There's three intermixed stories in this movie and how they intermingle, or if they do at all, is left as an exercise for the viewer.

In the Garden of Eden there were two trees. The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. We ate from the Tree of Knowledge and were banished while the Tree of Life was hidden in a Mayan temple.

Hugh Jackman serves in the court of Queen Isabella (Rachel Weisz). One of her priests discovered the Tree of Life while exploring New Spain. She sends Hugh to go get some sap from the tree so that she may banish death from Spain and she and he can live together forever.

Hugh Jackman is a doctor married to Rachel Weisz. She is dying from brain cancer. He's trying to find a cure. The most promising results are from a sample of a tree they found in Guatamala.
She's writing a book about the Mayans and how Isabella sent someone to find the Tree of Life. Their creation myth includes the creator's head become a nebula that they think is heaven.

Hugh Jackman is in a interstellar snow globe taking the Tree of Life... or maybe it's his wife... to a nebula where it will be reborn. He's haunted by visions of Rachel Weisz in the form of the doctor's wife and Queen Isabella.

Good movie but it's hard to figure out. Check the comments to see why or go see it yourself.

The flashbacks and visions can lead one to think that these are the same people throughout history but that all gets screwed up when Hugh the Conquistador drinks the sap from the Tree of Life and gets consumed from the inside by flowers.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Movie Review: Stranger Than Fiction

I'm not a Will Ferrell fan. I think most of his work has the entertainment value of a good long fart and less imagination. There have been three times that I found him worthwhile at all.

Once was in this video.

Yes, George Bush really is that scared of horses.
I know he did George Bush impression on Saturday Night Live, too, but the ones that I've seen weren't as well written as this one.

The second time was playing the Hitler loving writer in the new version of "The Producers".

The third time was in the new movie "Stranger Than Fiction".

Cartoon taken from The Comic Critic.

The basic premise is that a novelist is writing a story but the person she's writing about really exists. As she writes the real person hears the novel as narration. In the end of the book she plans to kill him but hasn't figured out how yet. The real person makes some life changes trying to get out of the story. At the same time he's trying to figure out who is writing about him so he can get her to stop.

I won't be getting it on DVD, but it was a fairly good movie and didn't at all make me want to banish Will Ferrell to a nightclub in Arkansas.

Friday, December 08, 2006

New blog to suggest

Check out the blog "Indexed". The author illustrates silly ideas with charts and Venn diagrams.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


GPO (Government Printing Office) sprung three palettes of books on us. Normally we have a couple of days notice before they send us excess books so we can dress for the occasion. And then its a palette and a half or two. This time they sent us three full palettes.
So Ron and I set to it. Took us about an hour and a half to get though them all. Someone left a couple of carts out in the loading area so we used theirs instead of our smaller carts. At least when our carts are filled I can still push them. These wouldn't budge. It took Ron pulling and me pushing to overcome inertia, then I'd run ahead and open doors while Ron aimed for the door as best he could.
My office is the designated dumping area for the boxes of books. Luckily I don't need much besides my desk and computers.

I hurt. Tomorrow I'll hurt more.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Working with plyboo

Written Sunday as a running commentary:

I thought I'd be able to work with the plyboo in my kitchen. That's where it's been stored for the last few weeks. But I'd have to move out the refrigerator. The weather is only in the low to mid 40's so I drag the first piece out to the front yard.
When packing up the house before moving out my jigsaw and circulating saw were the first to get stored. Too bad the tool closet is the hardest part of the house to reach. But I got them out.
My original plan was to put ... ok, my original plan was to buy a collapsing table saw from Home Depot. But getting it home would only have been simple if I were to assemble it in the Home Depot parking lot. Otherwise it was a two person job. Then I'd need help picking up the sheets of wood to feed them through the saw. So I abandoned that idea in favor of either the circular saw or jigsaw.
I didn't want to use them at first because there's too much allowance for human error. The cuts wouldn't be straight. So I thought I'd buy a couple of clamps and clip on a piece of lumber to use as a guide. Too bad lumber doesn't come straight.

You know what does come straight? Plyboo. This is the first time I've been able to work with straight edges and right angles since buying the house. I measured 16" down each side, put on the T-square, drew lines and the lines actually met in the middle. That NEVER happens.

I made the first cut with the jigsaw. The bottom looks great, but the top DID splinter. I'm not sure splinter is the right word. The bamboo fibers did come loose from the sheet. I'll trim them up and see if the paint will hold them in place.
The first length that I cut off can be used as the guide for the next piece. Not the side that I cut. The other side is the edge and it's as straight as my perfectionist (on this project anyway) personality demands.

The second cut is really great. The top splintered again but the bottom looks as perfect as I expected. It doesn't come any straighter. The very end got a bit mangled, but I'm writing that up to not being supported properly. All the weight from the board is focussed on that spot and twists badly.

On the fourth cut the blade on my jigsaw bent.

The circular saw reduces splintering on top, but it gets pinched easier and the cut ends more messily than with the jigsaw.

The neighbor kids came by wanting to help. I let them measure a few things and sweep off the excess sawdust. It's amazing how someone can screw up a broom. When they asked to run the saw I just laughed.

After finishing up the second board I packed it in and went to catch a movie.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Heinlein's new book

Robert Heinlein has a new book out. The fact that he's been dead for 18 years has slowed down his production, but he has managed to eak out a couple of novels, some short stories, and some teleplays.
This one was an outline that was discovered shortly after the death of his wife. It was 8 pages long, single spaced, in 10pt font with extra notes on assorted notecards. When the existence of this outline was mentioned at a Toronto sci-fi convention someone suggested that the guy who wrote the forward for another of Heinlein's post-mortem books, a sci-fi writer named Spider Robinson who is often compared to Heinlein, finish the book. So a couple of months later Spider received 7 of the 8 pages of notes.
He went to his office and started trying to figure out how to end the story. He put on iTunes and started going through his entire MP3 collection for inspiration. A few days later it hit an old interview with Heinlein and he told Spider what he wanted.

Variable Star starts with a boy and girl dancing at their high school graduation dance. They're very much in love. He wants to become a musician and she wants to get married. But they can't, for lack of funds. It'll take him years to become successful enough to afford to raise a kid. That's when she admits that instead of an orphan she's really the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. They can get married right away, but marrying into this family means he has to give up music and become a businessman. So he runs. He runs to the only place he can escape that family's influence. He hops on a colony ship and leaves the Solar System completely.

Oh, how much to tell? ...

About 6 years out (ship time. 13 years Earth time.) the sun (Earth's sun) explodes killing everyone in that star system and sending a wave of radiation out that will probably kill everyone on the colony worlds. The ship is travelling so close to C (the speed of light) that they'll get to their new planet with 6 years to spare to bury themselves deep enough to survive. There's only time to warn one other colony.

Yeah, that's enough. I've spoiled all I'm prepared to.

The point is that it's a really great book. You know how George Lucas can tell a good story, but can't write or direct worth beans? ...Star Wars is made better when someone else writes the script and directs? Heinlein is great, but I think having his story written by Spider makes for a better book than if Heinlein had written it himself.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Comics! (part 3)

Today I'm going to point you to some syndicated stuff that you probably don't see in your newspaper.

My Comics Page -- New Page
The official page for the Andrews McMeel Universal syndicate. Create an account for free and then select what comics you like. It puts them all together on one page. It also has archives running back for years. One of the better put together comic sites I've seen. Home Page
The United Feature Syndicate page. Not as well organized as MyComics, but it doesn't require membership.

The King Features Syndicate page is really awful. You're lucky if they update 3 days late and navigation is by dropdown menu. Luckily some of the papers they sell to have better sites. I'll just give you a couple of examples and let you browse on your own.
Sherman's Lagoon Comic Strip
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Zits

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Comics! (part 2)

I'm just gonna start working my way down the list of other comics I read.

The Whiteboard, by Doc Nickel
A comic about a polar bear that runs a paintball shop.

Questionable Content: New comics every Monday through Friday
Despite the name it's pretty safe.

Rockwood: The first great online comic strip of the third millennium.
A comic about some guys living in a space station.

Something Positive - sixteen, clumsy and shy
Well, there's these people and they... just read it.

Penny Arcade
A comic about video games.

Real Life - The Online Comic ©1999-2004 Greg Dean
A comic about the author's life that has strayed a bit.

::Least I Could Do::
A good comic, but don't let your parents read it. They just wouldn't approve.
This one has had three different artists in it's time. As one becomes busy with his job and other projects they have to beg off and the writer has to find a new artist.

Nuklear Power - Home of 8-bit Theatre
This falls under the category of a "sprite" comic. It uses figure captured from old video games instead of requiring the artist to do much drawing. It uses long running stories instead of gag-a-day like the others I've posted so far.

Ctrl+Alt+Del - Tragically l337
Comic about video games.

PartiallyClips - Current Strip
Takes static images from other sources and gives them gags.

Two Lumps
Comic about 2 cats.

Comic about people who work in advertising. There are storylines, but they're shorter than most.

Rob and Elliot Comics
Comic about a couple of guys. It's developed in Illustrator instead of drawn by hand. There are several like this but I'm probably not going to point them all out.

The Robman Show

Theater Hopper
A comic about movies.

goats: the comic strip | by jonathan rosenberg | new comics every monday through thursday
Used to be good, but now I'm waiting for this insanely long and not really interesting storyline to end.

GU Comics by: Woody Hearn
A comic about video games.

A comic about some people who do some stuff.

Dndorks| Dungeons & Dorks WebComic
A comic about some Dungeons and Dragons players.

fragilegravity :: new strips mondays, wednesdays and fridays
Another comic

A comic about a woman who runs a TV station with her talking dogs.

Out There
A comic about a man and woman carpooling across the country. I have to assume this will change at some point.

Gamespy Gallery
Nodwick and Full Frontal Nerdity.
One is about a group of people you would expect to see as characters in a Dungeons and Dragons game. The other is about some guys playing Dungeons and Dragons type games.

An animated comic that updates every other week. Some profanity. I don't really notice it, but the boss's kid did.

The Pet Professional by Jason Salsbury and Matt Kaufenberg
A comic about a hired assassin who specializes in animals.

Ok, I'm gonna call that good for today. Tomorrow I'll do syndicated stuff available online.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Comics! (part 1)

By request I'm going to be talking about and posting some of the online comics I read regularly. Today I'm gonna be focusing on the best stuff. Stuff that's funny and almost certainly won't send parents into shock.

User Friendly (
This is a strip by a guy who works at an ISP about a bunch of guys who work at an ISP. He's making enough off this that he could quit his job and work on this full time, but he doesn't. O'Reilly Books, known for making programming books with animals on the cover, prints only one thing that isn't a programming book and that is the User Friendly collections. The art is nothing special, but the humor keeps the strip going.

Sluggy Freelance (
This strip has changed significantly over the years. It started with rather simple art and the standard gag-a-day strip. This is what is now known as the "Suicide Bikini Frisbee Days" for reasons that become obvious when you start working your way through the archives. Soon the stories became bigger and grander to become whole sagas. For one he even gave up being funny just to tell the story. Now it's all one saga running into the next while still managing to be funny most days.
He has managed to quit his day job and make this his full time business and the art reflects the extra time he can spend on it.

PVP Online (
This started as a gaming strip about a group of people working at a game magazine. While it's still technically about that the gaming side has slipped to allow broader appeal. This author has also quit his day job. He allows anyone to print his strip free of charge just as long as they also publish the source so readers come buy stuff from him.

Schlock Mercenary (
This is a science fiction comic about a team of mercenaries. The author has recently quit his day job. His second book has recently come out. I got mine yesterday. Alas, the first book started several years into the strip so you'll need to read the archives to get caught up.

Kevin & Kell (
Bill Holbrook is a comic producing machine. This is one of three strips that he does every single day. The other two are On The Fasttrack and Safe Havens.

Sheldon (
This guy started off with an online comic and achieved what many of the online cartoonists yearn for. He became syndicated. But despite the quality of his art and humor he wasn't widely accepted. Newspapers are dying off and most papers don't have room for new strips. They'd prefer to run strips whose creators are long dead. So he left the syndicate realizing that they were taking a huge bite of his profits and those profits would be bigger on his own. So a few weeks ago he went back on his own.

Nukees (
The art is simple but the comic is quality. This was originally a strip about the nuclear engineering department at a major California university. It still is, but they don't talk about it as much anymore. The author is one of the grandpappys of online comics. He helped get Keenspot up and running and makes guest appearances in many other strips.

And since I mentioned it...
Keenspot (
Not a comic so much as a place that hosts other cartoonists. Some are good, some are bad, some rely on cartoon nudity and profanity for readers. But going through the daily line up of more popular stuff in the Quickkeen lineup gives you a good idea of what's out there. Some update only on weekdays, some on M-W-F, some whenever they feel like it.

These are some of the better strips. Tomorrow I'll post some of the lesser stuff and then I'll get to some of the syndicated stuff online just to complete the roll.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Tis once again the Dougmas Season and I thought I'd remind you of what Dougmas is all about.

Dougmas is the time of year when we Dougintologists celebrate the birth of the Prophet Doug. Granted, Doug was born in May, but so was Jesus. May or June. Certainly not December. We're just jumping on the bandwagon of religions that have tried to make the ancient solstice celebrations their own. I'm just trying to help convert the heathen Jesus worshipers to the one true religion.

As Dougmas is new we're still getting a few traditions off the ground.
Here's a short list.

1) Instead of putting up trees in the house, either real or artificial, you should plant a Douglas Fir. Considering that the ground is likely frozen and hard to dig it is acceptable to wait until May 25, Towel Day, to plant your tree. The world needs all the trees it can get.

2) Doug preaches against giving money to religious charities. Most of the time religious charities require attending their church services as a prerequisite to being giving. Starting December 1st, put an empty jar near your front door (or wherever you empty your pockets). Instead of dumping your spare change into a Salvation Army bucket take it home and put it in the jar. On January 1st give the money, or a check for the equivalent amount, to a non-denominational charity or non-profit organization.

Doug's preferred charities include:
* Solar Electric Light Fund (
* Trees for the Future (

For Douglas Adams I include:
* Dian Fossey Gorilla Foundation (
* Save the Rhino (

3) Dougmas is not tied to a particular day. It's more of a season that I alter from year to year until I can figure out a good fit. Last year I used December 20 through December 31. I still like those dates even though I'm saying the Dougmas Jar should go out on December 1st.
The reason I'm making it a season is because there are so many holidays with roots in the winter solstice (Dec. 22). There are many families of mixed faiths that will fight over which holiday they'll gather on. Many people have to try to rush to celebrations at the homes of multiple parents and grandparents or have to decide between relatives in different states.
The point of Dougmas is to spend time with family and friends. If your family is getting together for Christmas then be there for that. If your family gets together for Hanukkah then be there for that. Ditto for Kwanza, the Winter Solstice, New Years, Agnostica, or just Saturday night. Don't rush around in the cold and snow and try to choke down several big turkey dinners. Spend the time with the family.
Of course, if you can't stand your family you can still use the old excuses as an escape strategy.

4) Gift exchanges are so common with the other holidays that it can't be ignored. If you work somewhere that requires someone works on Christmas then go ahead and work that day and collect the extra holiday pay. Then celebrate Dougmas after the 25th so that you can pawn unwanted gifts on others or take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Thriftyness is next to Dougliness.

If the subject of religion comes up while visiting family just remember Dougintology bumpersticker number 1. "I'm wrong and so are you." This should help ensure merrier Dougmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


My brother got a new board game that we played on Thanksgiving. Triopoly.

It's for people who think Monopoly is too short of a game. I think the best way to do this is explain the differences between Monopoly and Triopoly.

Monopoly is played on a square board where a count of ten gets you from corner to corner.
Triopoly is played on three nested square boards with a count of 8, 8, and 6 getting you from corner to corner (outside board to inner board).

Monopoly has Jail where you spend 3 turns or pay money to get out.
Triopoly has a parking garage that slowly drags you to the outermost board with one turn lost for each level you get dragged.

Monopoly has Free Parking where you get money for landing right on it.
Triopoly has Lotto which does the same thing.

Monopoly has a Go To Jail space which send you to jail.
Triopoly has an elevator which allows you to change levels at will.

Monopoly has houses and motels you can build to increase rent on a property. You must own the whole set of properties and them must be developed equally.
Triopoly has gas stations, shopping malls, and sky scrapers. A gas station can be built even if you don't own the whole set of properties. The properties are spread over multiple levels and you can develop one property to the exclusion of others.

Monopoly has Chance and Community Chest cards.
Triopoly has Travel cards which send you to specific properties and is the easiest way to change levels. It also has Stock Market cards which allow you to win or lose large amounts of money in a hurry depending on whether the card says the market is bearish or bullish. It also has casinos where you can bet either 10x the roll or 100x the roll and winning or losing depends on rolling even or odd numbers respectively.

Monopoly has you win $200 for passing Go.
Triopoly has you win $300, $250, or $200 depending on what level you're on. But Travel cards practically make passing Go much rarer since you travel direct instead of passing Go (Now changed to "Start").

The names of properties have changed and the pieces have changed.

It's more difficult in some ways but easier in many ways. 4 or more players is really recommended if you're gonna set up all 3 boards. I'd totally play it again.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Pardon my lack of updates. I've been spending the last few days contemplating one of the great mysteries of all time. A puzzle that has dumfounded some of the greatest thinkers of our age. Namely "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS STUPID MACHINE!?!"

Please be patient.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Movie Review: Casino Royale

It's been awhile since I've seen the early James Bond movies so I'm not ready to say that "Casino Royale" is the best but it's right up there.

"Casino Royale" is the last of the original Ian Fleming Bond books that hadn't been made into a movie. It's a prequil to the rest of the Bond movies. Being the first it also has less gadgets than the other movies. I'm pretty sure they stayed closer to the original story and original character than the other movies have. This one brings out more of the inner turmoil that the novels cover but the movies skipped.

In short there's a banker for international terrorists that finds himself in a tight spot. Bond managed to foil a plan that would have made the banker a fortune in the stock market. Instead he loses a ton of money that isn't his. Being a mathematical wiz the banker organizes a big card game with $10 million to play and an option for another $5 million if you get cleaned out. He figures his winnings should recoup his stock market losses and keep him from getting slaughtered by the terrorists whose money he lost. James enters the game planning to take all the winning for Queen and Country.

It's pure action for at least the first half hour, pauses briefly, and then lots more action. Not explosions and stuff. Some real amazing stunts by really amazing athletes. It slows down for awhile near the end as James contemplates settling down but then it's back at it in full force.

Full marks. This will be the first Bond movie I get on DVD.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I shall be travelling to the land of dial-up next week so don't expect an update.

Until then... plyboo.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Construction Day

I took the day off work to take delivery of my Plyboo. (

Being home on a Wednesday I finally got to see the street sweeper pass by this morning. It's pretty much worthless. It drooled water on the street but it didn't appear to even push the leaves out of it's path.

Gandolf and I sat out front and read until the guy showed up with the stuff. I'll post a picture soon but for now you can see some here.

Then we went back on the roof to do some more work on the chimney. I used up the last of the mortar getting 6 more bricks in place. It looks a lot better than my earlier efforts. I'm definately getting better at this.
I'll pick up another bag of mortar next time I hit HomeDepot. I may be renting a tablesaw from them, too. You know, making it easier to cut straight lines.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


This is what the mortar that came out of my chimney looks like. It's also what came out of my back wall when they tore it down. I'm rather afraid that'll be what I find when I open up the walls separating me from my neighbors.

The chimney with one row reconstructed.

This is one of the more intact sections of the chimney. This is mortar in good shape.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Game Review: Lego Star Wars

I'm wrapping up the first "Lego Star Wars" game. I'm just playing to get the last of the hidden stuff and unlock all the toys.

The game plays through Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III with everything made of Legos. You run through the game once in story mode playing the characters appropriate for the scene. Being locked into one character means there's lots of stuff you can't do right away. Once you've solved the level once you can go back as any of the characters you've unlocked and cycle through several of the characters as needed to solve different puzzles. Some characters use light sabers and the force, some have guns with grappling hooks, some jump extra high, and the droids have to be used to open certain doors or fly across particularly wide spans. As you move through the levels you pick up bits of Lego. Collect enough and you get a bonus as you end the level. Each level also has 10 pods to collect. Collect all 10 and you get more Lego pieces. Lego pieces can then be cashed in to buy certain characters that you've fought or bonus features.

The target audience for this game is little kids who are just discovering video games. While your character can be destroyed it reforms in the last safe location before it died instead of resetting to the beginning of the level. While you lose Lego bits when you die there's no limit to the number of times you can die. So you can be really bad and still progress through the game but being good is also rewarded.

The biggest downside is that the game is so short. Experienced gamers can enjoy the game but they'll blow through the whole thing once in a couple of afternoons.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Adventures in Masonry: Day 2

Rain is coming. 70% chance this evening and better tonight. Gotta get as much done as early as I can. So I got up at 10:00. Hey, I may have stuff to do, but it's still a Saturday.
On the roof at 10:30, finished another row of brick in an hour. A whole whopping 6 of them. Then I spent about half an hour repointing the big chunk of chimney that's mostly intact. Somewhere in there I took some pictures to post Monday.
Now I'm giving it time to dry before I get back at it.

Gandolf has good instincts. I was sitting in the front yard reading when I heard a bird scream. I looked up to see Gandolf leaping from the roof as a falcon, a big one, dove at her with claws out. I'd left Gandolf on the roof with her leash tied to a bucket of rocks. She wound up dangling like a worm on a hook. But she was dangling so close to the building that the falcon couldn't get her. I ran through the house, over the fence in to the neighbor's yard, up the ladder to the neighbor's roof, pull the ladder up, put the ladder up to my roof, and as I stuck my head over the edge I saw the falcon perched on the edge of the roof trying to figure out how to get that parrot. Once I was there it flew off. I pulled Gandolf up and she clicked her tongue at me a bunch of times.
We sat there on the roof with her on my lap for awhile until we both calmed down.

The mortar is drying slower than I thought. I went ahead and put the big clump of bricks in place. It's a little odd shaped. I'm trying to stack this stuff like Legos and this appears to have been build with little regard for right angles. I would be better off trying to take it apart and rebuilding it but that takes time and I'd probably damage the bricks. If there's any intolerances in construction mortar should fill it in.

I may decide to go back up later today, but probably not. I was looking for an old shower curtain, but found the fabric from a broken umbrella instead. It fit nicely over the chimney and my extra bricks should hold it in place.

Rain and cold expected Sunday and Monday with weather in the 60s on Tuesday. My plyboo will be delivered Tuesday so I'll just make a big home repair day of it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Adventures in Masonry

I've had a leak in the roof for quite some time. I've tried caulking what seemed like holes and tried tarring over potential leaks. Those tactics seemed to work at first, but soon I saw that I was just kidding myself.
The drip seemed to be about where the chimney is. I reached the conclusion that the water was getting between the bricks and trickling down to where it could drip on the first floor ceiling. The obvious solution is to repoint the bricks. I got on the roof just after noon and attacked the mortar with a trowel. It quickly became apparent that there were three generations of repair jobs and I'm the fourth.
There's the original 1890 mortar which has turned into beach sand. By clearing this away I was able to see light clear through the chimney in many places.
In some places there's mortar from another repointing. This is still pretty intact which just makes removing it harder. It's a 1/4" to 1/2" layer sandwiching in the sand.
Then there's the tar over the lower third of my half of the chimney and over most of the neighbor's half. The tar actually comes in handy in taking down multiple bricks at at time.
The top two layers are pretty solid. I wound up starting 4-5 bricks down and started pulling stuff out from there. This gave me an opening to dig out the sand and pop out the newer mortar. With the top undermined some of it came down, but several still refuse to move.
I came down around 2:30 with most of the chimney in pieces.

Now I have to figure out how to approach this next. How tall should I make the chimney? As tall as it was? It's not like I have a fireplace. Close it off three bricks up? Should I wait until I can order a new roof antenna and built it into the chimney? It'll be cold by then. I should do this now.
I'm gonna spend the next half hour or more just cleaning all the dust off the bricks so I can secure them.

Another two and a half hours later:
I put the first layer of bricks back in place and repointed the inside of the chimney just as far down as I could reach.
I have a small trough to mix mortar in. It gets about two bricks worth before needing to be refilled. It's amazing how fast that stuff goes from being too thick to too thin.
I'll be back up there tomorrow. About 1/3 of what I took down came off in one big lump. I think I'll repoint that separately and put it back up whole.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blocked flu(e) season

It's that time of year again when the Earth's rotational axis betrays us all and deprives us of our precious sunlight. I'm told that the Axis of Earth is developing weapons of massive detonation with some shortwave radioactive ochre cake that it's borrowing from Atlantis but promises to return just as soon as it's done with it. Dick Cheney said so.
But while we wait for the Sun to lift it's sanctions against us we need some way to keep warm. Here's how.

Go get the filter out of the furnace. Gently. It's probably caked with dust and stuff. You don't want to jostle it and spread dust all over the house. Carry it outside and beat it against some neighbor kid until all the dust falls out. Put it back in the furnace for another 1 to 3 months and repeat.

Close off any rooms in the house that you're not using much. Shut the vents, close the doors, and leave out some penguin kibble. I know you don't have a penguin, but you need bait to draw food for the polar bear.
I've also put a drape over the foot of the stairs to keep my precious warm air from rising up where I'm not.

Plastic wrap the windows. You can pick up a kit at many hardware stores. It's basically double sided tape and a roll of Saran Wrap they stole from the 50' woman. This serves as an additional air barrier between you and the outside.

Check for drafts. Slowly move your hand around the edges of doors and electrical outlets along exterior walls. You're feeling for cold drafts. If you feel a cold draft find the hole and shove a cat in there. You can then seal the cat in with a can of expanding foam. You probably should have picked that up while at the hardware store.
If you feel a warm draft it means your kids shoved their cigarettes in there when they heard you coming.

If you have a house like mine there's a crawlspace under it. Feel the floor. You can probably feel the cold just by putting your hand near it. This means your science teachers all lied. Cold air rises. You can feel it right now. Get all your neighbors to throw their old science books in a big pile. Then get down in the crawlspace and paste the science books against the underside of the floor for insulation.

Get a programmable thermostat. If you have and old round thermostat, or one of those rectangular ones with paint splatter on it, heck, anything with a needle instead of a digital readout will do. Those are bad. Computers are always better.
Oh, the point is that while you're off at work the programmable thermostat will lower the temperature of the house using less energy. The wife may complain about how you keep the house at 50* while you're gone. You just reply that you thought that the extra layer of fat she put on would keep her warm. The fight that results should keep you both nice and toasty.

Get some dogs. Not only do they make sure the cats remain hiding in the wall but they also demand you take them for walks in the wind, rain, and snow. After that even the vegetable crisper is gonna seem warm. Also, they sleep on your feet and start rock groups or something. Grandpa wasn't real clear on that last bit.

Bake. Use the stove all you can. Cookies, cakes, hams, anything that gives you an extra layer of fat. Also, the heat from the stove, combines with the fact that you sealed off the vents to the kids' bedrooms means they'll have to come to the kitchen to do their homework where you can watch them.

Book Review: Gil's All Fright Diner

The author for "Gil's All Fright Diner" was A. Lee Martinez. I've never heard of him before, but I'll be keeping an eye on him.

Duke and Earl are a werewolf and a vampire, respectively. They roam around the country in a pickup truck doing odd jobs as needed to pay for gas. They stop off at Gil's Diner for some supper and get attacked by zombies. After helping the owner fend off this latest attack they decide to hang around to help her end this supernatural problem she's been having and install a new gas line. While there Earl falls for the local cemetary ghost, and they fend off an invasion by some elder gods from behind the refrigerator.

A fun book but nothing to rave about.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Ok, useful tips for keeping warm this time.

If you have a fireplace or woodburning stove you can take old newspapers and turn them into firewood. We used to have this doohicky where you ran a sheet or two of newspaper between a couple of metal dowels. You wrapped the paper around the dowels a few times and then hold the paper tight while turning the dowels. When one sheet of paper gets near the end you shove another sheet under it. The new sheet gets held in place by the old one and you keep going until you have something log sized. Pull out the dowels and you have firewood. If you sprinkle in some iron and copper filings as you make the log then as it burns you can get colors in the fire.

Cotton is a good fabric for drawing heat away from the body. Good for summer wear. To keep your body heat close to your body you want to start with a base layer of fleece next to your body and then layer other clothes on top of that as needed. I refuse to shop at Old Navy because I hate their commercials. So I have some nice hemp shirts instead.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Book review: Fragile Things

Neil Gaiman's latest short story collection is called "Fragile Things". Mostly this is for Gaiman fans. If you like his other stuff you'll like this. If you haven't read Gaiman before there are better books to start with.

The first story alone sells the book. You'll want to have read some Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft. Having seen some Sherlock Holmes shows would be nice, but to appreciate it you'll want to have read the stories. I can't tell you any more about the story without giving stuff away, but if you've read Doyle and Lovecraft you'll love this story.

The book ends with a short sequel to "American Gods", one of Gaiman's other books. It's ok if you haven't read the original, but you really should have the background.

In between there's good stuff, weak stuff, and other stuff. I'm delighted with it, but as I said, if you haven't read Gaiman before this isn't the place to start.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Guy Fawkes Day

I don't recall where I used to hear it.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

It had a beat and you could dance to it. It stuck in my head and I'd make up my own rhymes around it. I had no idea what it was about until I saw "V for Vendetta" and did a bit of reading.

Queen Elizabeth was not fond of Catholics. Truth be told they weren't popular with anyone back in the early 1600's. Religious oppression was brutal. When she died and King James (I of England, IV of Scotland) took the throne they hoped he would be more merciful since his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was Catholic.
He wasn't. If anything he was more brutal.
So Guy Fawkes and a team of others decided to blow up Parlament. With the King dead Princess Elizabeth (age 9) would become the Catholic head of state. Alas, one of the members of the conspiracy was bothered by his conscience and ratted Guy out. So there he was in the tunnels under Parlament, barrels of gunpowder everywhere, when the King's guard shows up and arrests him.

You can view him as a religious terrorist or you can view him as someone fighting the inevitable horror when church and state combine.

Here's the whole original poem. The end has been dropped in modern telling because of the Catholic bashing.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.

Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

Book Review: Breakfast of Champions

I just finished Kurt Vonnegut's book "Breakfast of Champions". It's an odd sort of book in that it's written entirely in factoids. The book is one big bulleted list with the whole of the bullets making a story. Mostly it focusses on three people converging on an arts festival but it also covers strange habits of earthlings, other people met along the way, and a few characters that were in a previous version of the book but didn't make the cut.
It's a strange little book. While good I didn't feel any real drive to keep reading it other than to reach the end. I have several other books that I started while reading this one. There's other, better, Kurt Vonnegut books to read first.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Show Review: Torchwood

"Torchwood" is a new Dr. Who spin-off airing sundays on BBC-HD. It's also an anagram of "Doctor Who".
If you saw season one of the new Dr. Who series then you already know Captain Jack Harkness. Capt Jack is a former time agent who had 2 years of his life taken from him for reasons yet unknown. He went rogue, met up with The Doctor and Rose in 1941 England during The Blitz, and travelled with them for half of season one. He was finally killed by Daleks and resurrected by Rose who had looked into the heart of the TARDIS and absorbed energy from the vortex. Not knowing Capt Jack was alive again The Doctor took Rose back into the TARDIS and left.
Somehow Captain Jack made it back to modern Earth from the distant future and hooked up with Torchwood. If you're watching the latest season of Doctor Who, now airing fridays on SciFi Channel, then you know that Queen Elizabeth founded Torchwood after The Doctor and Rose saved her from a werewolf. It's purpose is to gather alien technology for use against any threat from the stars.
There are 4 Torchwood branches. Captain Jack leads Torchwood 3. Torchwood 4 was misplaced. Torchwood 1... well, I'll leave that a secret for you folks good enough to wait for SciFi Channel to show it legally. Torchwood 3 is located under a big metal monument (Millenium Square) in Cardiff. You've seen it in Doctor Who in season 1. The way in and out is via an elevator that is positioned in a mental blindspot created when that slitheen woman tried taking off using the energy from a rift in space on that point.
Capt Jack has a hand in a jar that he holds in great value. I'm guessing that it would be the hand cut off of The Doctor while duelling with an alien menace in the first episode of the current season (season 2). Some other comments make it clear he's only there to wait for The Doctor.
Torchwood 3 is teamed by 4 people. Jack is one. Another is a new recruit. She's the same actress who played the woman who channeled the Gelf way back in the beginning of season 1. The Gelf tried to come through the same rift that the slitheen woman tried to tap later.
The two others aren't important characters yet.

Is there a connection between the new recruit and the woman who channeled the Gelf?
How did Jack get back from the satellite in the distant future?
Why did the time police take 2 years of Jack's memory?
Is Jack gay or bi or what?
Will this show ever get to the states?
There's another side effect from Rose resurrecting Jack. But I'm not telling you what.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is Halloween

Ongoing notes as the night goes on:
I've set up my decorations. Short, wide candles in a sort of candleabra over the door. I don't know that they've been lit since last year. I had to spend some time recovering wicks. One found something besides wick to burn. It burned fast and wax ran everywhere. There's a nice trail of red and some splatter. My audio track is playing. I adjusted the volume so the background hiss matched nicely with the ambient traffic noise. You won't notice it until the muttering and whatnot kicks in. I put the LED bulb from the bathroom under the steps for a nice bluish glow. Alas, with all the lights from the Howard University building across the street it isn't as effective as it should be. A hollow owl that looks just like the ones Grammie used to have is lit up next to the door. The weather is in the 70's so Gandolf is planted up in a tree to talk to people who come close. She'll probably scare people more than anything.

(sigh) Way too much light. A little time with a slingshot would help a lot.

Well, shoot. Possibly the last nice evening until April and I wanna sit inside so trick-or-treaters have to approach the house. I decided to sit outside and read until the first kids come by then go inside.
Wait, what's that? Ah, the sweet screams of people freaked out by parrots.

Stupid candles. The wicks are burying themselves again.
Seven visitors so far. They've cleverly disguised themselves as black kids. Popular costume this year.

10 kids. 1 adult. 1 costume. A toddler in a fuzzy animal outfit. A bear or a bunny.

12 kids. 2 adults. 3 costumes. Couldn't tell what these two were, but masks were involved.

Two ninja turtle and a princess with their parents.
6 high school students. Gandolf really liked one of the girls.
Two more kids dressed like blacks.

Maybe next year I'll go back to last year's audio track. It got a better reaction from people. A few people have noticed my audio, but no real reaction. Then again, I've been getting a pretty old crowd.
The only candle that hasn't eaten it's own wick is the one that dumped most of it's wax early in the evening.

OH! That was beautiful! Some guy was power walking down the sidewalk when The Voice in my recording said "Weep for me". He stopped dead and stared at the house. Then after a couple of seconds moved on.

Gandolf has been sitting up in the tree for hours. I offered to bring her in and she refused. She wants me with her, but she's not willing to give up her branch.

Ok, nobody has come by in an hour. Time to pack it in.

People in DC don't have the usual hangups about being too old to trick-or-treat but they do have those hangups about wearing costumes. Kids don't trick-or-treat at all.

Valentine's Eve

I've been looking at new holidays for Dougintologists to celebrate. Some time back I decided that Valentine's Day needed an Eve. All Saint's Day has an Eve that we call Halloween or All Hallows Eve. I just feel that Valentine's Day needed it's own eve. But while All Saint's Day is the holy day and Halloween is the costume day Valentine's Day is both holy and dedicated to dressing up. So, after letting my unconscious mull it over for a few month's I've started to figure out how to celebrate Valentine's Eve.

Valentine's Eve will be celebrated by women by NOT wearing make-up and by men by NOT shaving. Halloween is about dressing yourself in a manner you couldn't get away with any other day of the year and I want Valentine's Eve to be the same way. It gives the added benefit of making your significant other more understanding of what you go through every day to make yourself attractive and should appreciate you all the more on Valentine's Day. Granted, no makeup vs not shaving is a rather lopsided concession but I'll leave it to you to decide who loses out.
Another benefit of this holiday is that it gives men a 24 hour reminder that they're supposed to have planned something planned for the next day. Now they just need a similar holiday before their anniversary and wife's birthday.

My only problem now is that Valentine's Eve is a lame name for a holiday. I mean, it'll do. Having the word "Valentine" in it is part of the reminder for men. But I'd like to give it another name. Something that is less Christmas Eve to Christmas and more Halloween to All Saints Day. Any suggestions?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Movie review: Running With Scissors

I went to see "Running With Scissors" because someone told me how much he liked the book. It's a good movie, it is. Just not really my thing.
The main character's Dad left, his Mom's crazy, and he was given up for adoption by his Mom's shrink who is himself nuts. He turns out to be gay and starts dating someone 20 years older than him who hears voices. He attempts suicide just to get out of class. One of shrink's daughters thinks inanimate objects talk to her.

It's a comedy.

Life sucks for the kid, but the ways that the crazy people are crazy is entertaining.
It's a good movie, but too chick-flick for me. I won't get it on DVD.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Movie Review: Tideland

If this weren't a Terry Gilliam movie I wouldn't have gone to see it. Before the movie there's a short clip of Terry explaining how to watch the movie. He'd given the talk to a few audiences in film festivals and sneak previews and it became such an essential part of understanding the movie that they added it to the general distribution.
The message is that you have to watch the movie from the perspective of a little girl. All the stuff that we would see as twisted and just plain wrong are explained away if you can just understand that this is how the little girl thinks things are.

The story follows a little girl whose parents are both druggies. She prepares the needles and helps her dad shoot up, or as he calls it "go on vacation". Her mom seems to hsve her own mental problems as she hugs her daughter too tight, telling her over and over how much she loves her, and then smacking her around when the girl tries to take one of Mom's candy bars.
Mom chokes, on a cigarette I think, and dies. The girl stops Dad from setting fire to the building to cover things up, and they both flee to the old farmhouse where Dad grew up.
Here she meets a man with serious mental handycaps so he acts her age and his sister who dresses in an all black bee protection suit. When her father dies the girl just thinks he's on a long vacation until the woman in the bee suit, who has been pining for the man for all these years, has him stuffed. Taxidermy I say.
I'm not even getting into the inappropriate boyfriend/girlfriend relationships that form.

I'm leaving out a lot, but the point is that the girl thinks it's all normal either because people say it is or because she doesn't understand how age differences affect the boyfriend and girlfriend relationships she sees in movies and storybooks.

I won't get this on DVD. I wouldn't really want to see it again. I'm glad I saw it, but anything that needs this much justification to appreciate isn't worth a second viewing.

Friday, October 27, 2006

In the city?

I should really carry my camera around with me more often.

As I was cruising home last night I saw a deer grazing. I was passing through a cloverleaf where 16th street meets some significant highway or other. Standing in one of the loops was a 6 point deer quietly grazing. Cars zipping around it didn't bother it one bit. It did think my Segway was strange. After staring at each other for about a minute the deer decided it didn't like me in it's world, strolled across the road, and disappeared into the woods. I would have liked to see the expression on the face of the person in the car that had to stop for it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

more tiny food

Some time ago the Colonel and I were discussing how pineapples grow. I admit I was laboring under some false impressions. Did you know that pineapples don't sneak into your room and steal your breath?

Anyway, she found someone selling pineapple plants with green fruit and bought one for me and one for her family. I tried growing one for three years. The plant got to be pretty big, but no fruit.

So I watered it and let it be for a few weeks. The fruit didn't seem to get any bigger. Then it changed colors and started to fall over. So I got a knife and harvested it. After showing it around the office for a good laugh I took it home.

I just put the apple there for scale.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Seeing Ear Theatre

You're still here? Uh... here, listen to this. Last episode of Seeing Ear Theatre.

Episode 8: The Alpha and Omega of David Wells
Featuring Peter Gallagher

Description from the site:
A man in search of the Truth undergoes a past-life regression that takes him further than anyone has ever gone before.

"People with no tact, noting my sometimes intemperate nature, have tended to tell me, 'Y'know, you REALLY should have a past-life regression sometime to see where all this anger is coming from.' Which finally (after smiting them, that is) got me to thinking about what I would do in a story with this device...if there was a way to go FORWARD just as well as BACKWARD through various incarnations. When I figured that one out, The Alpha and Omega of David Wells kind of wrote itself." – J. Michael Straczynski

Monday, October 23, 2006

new bathroom

Because so many people asked... ok, nobody asked, but I know you were interested... well, she was... that one, in the red... well you looked interested. Ok, that was a yawn, but it's my blog and I'm posting it.


The button on top of the toilet tank is the flushing mechanism. That little stainless steel can between the toilet and sink is where I keep my toilet paper. Never having to change a roll appeals to my primitive male instincts.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Movie Review:The Prestige

When I went to see "The Illusionist" I thought I was going to go see this movie. Turned out they were both good movies.
"The Prestige" is like a feature length "Spy vs. Spy" but with magicians instead of spies. The whole movie is about events twisting, twisting, and then twisting again. Some of them you'll figure out. Others you won't.
Christian Bale (Batman) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) play a couple of magicians. They started their careers as audience "plants" for a magician played by Ricky Jay (advisor for The Illusionist). Something happens to turn them against each other. As they each start to develop their own careers as magicians they'll each show up to sabotage the other. Then they start to steal the other's tricks. Then things start to get nasty.
The story skips back and forth in time. If you couldn't keep up with "Pulp Fiction" then stay well clear of this. But most of the movie is flashbacks from where Bale is in prison for the drowning of Jackman.

A great movie that I will definately get on DVD.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another trip to the City of Dreams

Episode 7: Samuel Beckett, Your Ride Is Here
Featuring John Turturro and Bill Irwin

Description from the site:

Surrealism. Existentialism. Minimalism. Stream of Consciousness. Spaceships. What, you expected something ordinary in the City of Dreams?

"When you experiment in audio, you can do only so many things with tricks. At some point you have to dive into the form of the narrative itself. So I wanted to try something that played with stream of consciousness, surrealism, minimalism and existentialism, but without losing some SF touchstones. Hence, this week's episode. One long and very weird conversation. And no tricks." – J. Michael Straczynski

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Seeing Ear Theatre

In a dank, dark corner of the Sci-Fi Channel's website lurks a long forgotten directory. In the early days of the channel they played with radio shows. But they never got the hits they wanted. So they stopped development. The pages remained but little by little it became isolated from the main page. For awhile you could still find your way there if you knew where to look. But today nothing remains connecting this to the main page. You have to have memorized the URL.

One of the series they tried was City of Dreams by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. Nine were planned. Six were made. You can still find the complete archive of the Seeing Ear Theatre at but you need Real Audio to listen to it. A lot of people don't like that program. So here are links to MP3s that someone made of City of Dreams. Get them quick. I can't guarantee how long the links will be good.

Episode 1: The Damned Are Playing at Godzilla's Tonight
Featuring Steve Buscemi

The dark, ominous tale of the bigoted owner of a small nightclub in the City of Dreams who faces a new sound, and a band that just won't quit...on either side of the grave.

"For our first story, I wanted something with teeth, something that took one of the more common supernatural tropes and used it in a way that dealt with contemporary themes. It has kind of a Lovecraftian feel, starting at the end, then finding out how we got here, and why. Where else can you get all that *and* a commentary on the state of the music industry?" – J. Michael Straczynski

Episode 2: Rolling Thunder
Featuring Andre Braugher

A father offers to give up anything to regain his lost child...and a certain Someone takes him up on it.

"We all make mistakes. Big ones, small ones, mistakes that change our lives forever. There's our life before IT, and after IT, whatever your IT happens to be. This is the story of an IT: the loss of a child's life, and what one person will endure in an attempt to correct that mistake. I wanted to ask one simple question: what is one person's life really worth?" – J. Michael Straczynski

Episode 3: The Friends of Jackie Clay
Featuring Merwin Goldsmith

Jackie Clay is the caretaker of a small cemetery in the City of Dreams who speaks to the dead and, when a crisis occurs, learns that he has friends he never knew he had.

"Having done two strong, serious, intense stories, I kinda wanted to write something a bit lighter, more redemptive, with a touch of humor. A guy who works at a cemetery and talks to the residents brings in response a logical question: do they talk back, and if so, what do they say? It's a story about friends, polite behavior, and the anger of the dead." – J. Michael Straczynski

Episode 4: The Tolling of the Hour
Featuring Campbell Scott

The clock shows no mercy. Neither does the board of directors or the CEO, who demands more than life can give, and finds himself on the business end of the clock he worships.

"We have become a society answerable to the tick of the clock, the Board of Directors, the CEO...with your average corporate employee daily crushed under the wheels of downsizing, working harder for less money so the stockholders get a ten percent per share boost. I felt there needed to be a cautionary tale about the inevitable result of grinding down people's souls, because sooner or later, the universe downsizes those who downsize unto others." – J. Michael Straczynski

Episode 5: Night Calls
Featuring Tim Curry

Something unusual is waiting for you in the intersection of a conversation between god and a man asked to build a *second* ark...what it will carry, and where it all goes, is not what you may be expecting.

"I told Brian that I wanted to divide CITY into three parts: 1-4 being fairly straightforward stories, and 5-8 being more experimental stories that play with the form of radio drama. Get everybody lulled into a false sense of security, and then start pulling the rug out. This is the first of the experimental episodes. Be sure to listen carefully, because not everything here is what it seems." – J. Michael Straczynski

Episode 6: MCSD 00121J
Featuring Campbell Scott

From: Manasee County
Sheriff's Department
Manasee County, New Jersey

The original audiotape of which this (enclosed) tape is a copy was found near the site of the Clarefield community residence 23 August 2000 by Sgt. Emile Jackson and the original copy was forwarded to the MCSD forensics lab for analysis. A second copy has been forwarded to the FBI Crime Lab in Roanoake VA for more detailed audio study.

In light of the recent tragic events of Clarefield, we appreciate any assistance your office and listeners can provide in establishing any of the identities of the persons recorded on this tape. Needless to say any information emerging from this investigation will be held in the strictest confidence. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.


Captain J. J. Durham
Manasee County Sheriff's Department

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DC Green Festival

I went to the Green Festival last weekend. It was pretty epic. The booths seemed well organized, too. The environmental financial organizations were all clumped together, the foods were clumped together, the coffee sellers were clumped, the charities were clumped, the merchants were clumped. If you knew what you wanted you could just go to that area.
There were a bunch of speakers that I skipped because they said the recordings would be on the website. I'm still looking.

I'm just going to write up a few of the booths that caught my attention.
A full list of exhibitors can be found at,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,53/Itemid,105/.

Filament Free
There's a real market among environmental websites for a decent designer and developers. Most of is under construction. That's ok, because I just want to send you to

ECO supply
Turned out that I had just been to their site the day before. No eCommerce, but they deliver to DC every week or two. I'll be getting my plyboo from them to close up my walls.

Full Circle Industries
Their products are made with "paper" that is made from 100% sugarcane fibers-Bagasse. This material is an agricultural by-product from sugar mills. Their factory uses these materials to make disposable paper products. Their bowls are oven safe and can be reused or composted.

Mr. Ellie Pooh
Somehow I missed their booth. I just picked their card up off the ground and it made me laugh.
From their website "Since an elephant’s diet is all vegetarian, the waste produced is basically raw cellulose. Thoroughly cleaned and processed, the cellulose is converted into a uniquely beautiful textured product, marketed as “Ellie Pooh Paper”. This acid free, linen-like papyrus-type paper can be formed into art and construction projects, notebooks, cards and assorted gift items where the only limitation is ones imagination."

Recycle Place
Sell them your used printer cartridges instead of returning them to the printer.

Greenline Paper Company
Sells a variety of environmentally friendly office, school, and food service supplies.

Green Earth Office Supply
WARNING: See my earlier comment about bad website design.
Sells a variety of environmentally friendly office, school, and food service supplies.

Kwytza Kraft
Products made from recycled chopsticks. I wouldn't buy anything, but I'd start saving my chopstick so I could make my own.

Eco Strip
I got to see their product in action. They had windows that looked like they were pulled off an old barn and stripped them. They put an infrared heater over the area to be stripped. The head causes the resins in the wood to rise to the surface so that the paint practically wipes away.

Healthy living TV and radio. Starring some woman who stares at all her interviewees like they're saying the most interesting, important, and serious thing in the world. Four hours and that woman didn't appear to have moved an inch or changed her interested scowl in the least.

EcoVision Partners
Environmentally friendly printers.

Standard Solar
DC area solar panel installers.

Their site has a calculator to determine your carbon footprint.
They'll offset your carbon emissions for $5.50 per ton.

Community Forklift
The retail arm of a deconstruction company. They tear down houses and preserve the outlet, vent covers, siding, cabinets, etc. and resell them. They work with Habitat for Humanity a lot.

Naturally Creative
All natural craft products. Lots of yarn.

Environmentally friendly cafe and home improvement store.

Cafe Campesino
Fair trade coffee merchant.

My Organic Market
A DC area organic market. This one uses 100% wind power.

Sort of like the Solar Decathlon but with low energy use products.
The next show is 24-25 April 2007 on the National Mall.

New Society Publishers
Too many nifty books to really give them a fair shake. Browse their book list.

The Wilderness Society
They have job openings.

Fuel Cell Store
I can't get to the website right now, but they sell a bunch of fuel cell educational toys. Good for classroom use or toys for child and cubicle.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

test, test

I installed a phone jack downstairs on Sunday. I had to do a belly crawl under the house to do it, but it works.
So now that I have internet access downstairs I've connected my computer to my TV. That's right. I have a 44" monitor.

From the Dougintology aquisition department

I recently picked these up in a yard sale. No, I don't really have room for them, but I couldn't pass them up.

Monday, October 16, 2006


The US Census Bureau estimates that tomorrow morning (Oct 17) just before 8:00 the population of the United States will reach 300 million.

This is up from 100 million in 1915 and 200 million in 1967.

NO! You were supposed to be DEAD!

"7th Heaven" is still on TV! A new season! They were cancelling it! They made a huge deal of it. There was a countdown to a final episode. Not a season finale, but the series finale. But it's BACK!

If you haven't seen an episode consider yourself lucky. I've only seen a few and it's awful. It has THE worst dialog, THE worst acting, and when it comes to the wholesome, heartwarming message they try to teach the exact opposite of a good message.

One episode in particular had the youngest daughter supposed to write and read a report about George Washington along with everyone else in class. 20-some-odd kids each reading nearly identical reports. So their daughter digs a bit more and goes beyond the legend of George Washington into who he really was. She gets the dirt on him. And she gets in trouble for it. Her parents get called in and told what she did. Then she's in trouble with them, too.
That was the message of that episode. Don't think, don't investigate, don't look beyond the surface, don't question the teacher. It's your job to be exactly like everyone else.

The other episodes don't stand out as clearly, but it was more of the same. I was pretty happy when it was being cancelled.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Game review: Destroy All Humans!

I just finished playing "Destroy All Humans!"
You're a member of a warlike alien race. Uncontrolled radiation from your weapons have caused your genitals to shrivel up. For centuries your people have survived and made yourself effectively immortal through cloning. But the genes are degrading and the species faces extinction. Luckily, some of your race, returning from an ancient conquest, took shore leave on Earth and bred with the proto-humans. Some of the alien DNA can still be found in the human genome. We're here to harvest the gene fragments from the human brainstem and rebuild our chromosomes.

You can disguise yourself as a human but it saps your concentration to keep up the illusion. To recharge your concentration you scan people around you and read their thoughts. The thoughts are hilarious, particularly if you know much of anything about the 1950's. One of my favorites was "They say Jimmy Hoffa is buried under here. Wait, he's not dead yet. Forget I said anything."

You start with some telekinetic powers you can you use pick people up. As the game progresses you can buy upgrades so that by the end of the game you can toss tanks around.

You get an anal probe gun. A full blast given to average people or police causes them to run around grabbing their butts until their brains pop out. You then collect the brains. They run between 10 and 100 depending on the person.
All around are hidden probes that served as an advance team. They're worth 75 DNA each.

You also get a lighting gun, a ion bomb, and a disintegrator. Oh, then there's your flying saucer which starts with a death ray and gains a sonic cannon and a quantum disruptor.

One of the final levels is called "Attack of the 50 Foot President" where a 50 ft tall robot controlled by the brain of the President (who you killed in a previous level).

As s bonus, the game comes with the movie "Teenagers From Outer Space."

I got through the game in a week. For the $20 I spent on it I think it's pretty good. A co-worker borrowed it before I played it. It took him several weeks with the cheat codes on. He was totally hooked, too.

Anyway, I highly recommend this game.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

More Segway

After further diagnostics it would appear that my Segway was suffering from low tire pressure. If one tire gets low you notice it right away. When both get low at the same time strange things start to happen. The gyroscopes can handle you tipping back and forth, but if you take a corner too fast when the tires are low it tips to the side and confuses the circuitry. It also lowers the milage. On the plus side, you don't feel the bumps as much.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Book Review: End of an Era

Robert J Sawyer. He's my man. He's one of the few science fiction authors writing today who actually make sure their science checks out. But he sticks mostly to 10 years from now instead of several hundred. So far I haven't read one of his books that made me think "boy, was he off his game there."

In "End of an Era" two palentologists climb into a time machine and go back to see what killed the dinosaurs. There's a bit of uncertainty in the mechanism so they go back knowing they could a few thousand years too early or too late. They find an Earth with two moons, roughly one-third of modern gravity, and with many of the dinosaurs being occupied by an intelligent blue sludge from Mars. Simce Mars is dead in our time they have to make a decision about whether or not the martians should be brought forward in time to prevent their extinction.
Meanwhile, in an alternate timeline the time machine project never was. The main character finds strange entries in his diary written by him 65 million years ago and starts to investigate.

Spoilers can be found in the comments.

He does a wonderful job of explaining the different theories about what killed the dinosaurs and what's wrong with the asteroid theory. He does a Jurassic Park quality job of talking about the dinosaurs. Except for the time machine and martians he plays it straight and has done the research to keep it accurate.

I highly recommend this and anything by Robert J. Sawyer.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Book review: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

About the time I moved to DC I Gregory Maguire's book "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". Now it's a popular Broadway musical. It's a good book, too. You recognize all the characters immediately and see a long, rich story, which Dorothy is dropped in the middle of and acts as a Deus Ex Machina to solve much of Oz's problems.

Gregory Maguire put out another book with the same idea of telling another classic from the villain's point of view. This time he tackles Cinderella. Since Oz had so much source material to pull from than Cinderella this book isn't as familiar or engaging until near the end.

The story starts with a mother and her two daughters arriving in Holland after fleeing England from accusations of witchcraft. But their relatives in Holland are dead. The mother gets a job cleaning house for a painter, eventually moving up to housekeeper for a wealthy businessman. When the wealthy businessman's wife dies she marries him.
The businessman's beautiful daughter is spoiled and has never had to do any work other than look pretty. Her new stepmother and stepsisters actually makes her do menial labor like stirring pots, waving flys away from food, and other chores. By her perspective this is hard labor and she hates it.
The fairy godmother is reduced to a tale she tells the stepmother after the stepdaughters help her get to the ball to meet the prince.

It's not a bad book, but if I were to recommend one of this authors works it wouldn't be this one.