August 2009 minutiae

  • Google translates a review of Narcolepsy from Spanish: "It is more history than anything else, but it makes you think of a couple of parties."

  • So one of the many niggling medical problems I've had lately was a bump on the fifth metacarpal bone of my left hand. I didn't think much of it until I happened to gently press it against the wall while adjusting the shower temperature and was hit with a jolt of intense pain. So I went to a local doctor, expecting that he'd look at me disdainfully and say that it was nothing the way doctors do, but instead he said that, yeah, that was definitely something and I needed to go to a hand specialist ASAP to get it checked for malignancy and most likely to get it removed. (This took him about 30 seconds, for which I was charged $150. Amount covered by my insurance: $0.) This was late Friday afternoon so I had to wait until Monday morning to make the arrangements. While waiting and worrying, I suddenly remembered: two of my favorite students of all time were a pair of sisters up in the North Bay, and their dad was a hand surgeon! So I wrote to their mom for advice and she said I should just come up and have her husband take care of it. Made things a little less stressful.

    Anyway, it turned out be harmless, though I did have to get a couple of needle sticks that killed half of my hand for a while (in fact, I'm typing this with only eight fingers). Small price to pay not to have to wonder whether I have bone cancer or something.

  • While I was in the waiting room a young girl came in with her mother. After they'd sat down, the receptionist asked the mother for the girl's date of birth, and the mother replied, "One one two thousand." I wonder whether she arranged for induced labor in order to secure that birthdate for her daughter.

  • comment: "what a pre madonna"

  • A commenter on Stephen Granade's blog, in the middle of a string of posts declaring that Stephen's post questioning the motivation behind ostentatious Christian jewelry and t-shirts constituted persecution!, declared that "That's between you and God and the final day of judgement"— and then added a smiley.

  • Around the net I saw various parents discussing (and kids complaining about) the first day of school... on August 11th?! When I was a kid school didn't start until a week after Labor Day.

  • Some girl from Spain has a picture of Ditko and Crango as kittens in her online photo album. I wondered how that happened but now I hypothesize that it is because they came up when she searched for "gatos" (or possibly "gatitos").

  • "The National Enquirer is reporting that 'secret DNA tests' prove Rielle Hunter's 18-month-old daughter Frances is, in fact, the spawn of a particular former presidential candidate. (Hint: It's not Dennis Kucinich.)" No kidding. If there's one guy in the world I think we can safely assume is not cheating, it's Dennis Kucinich.

  • A lot of my shirts had become too worn out to be wearable anymore so I ordered some more from It's always kind of a crapshoot, because the pictures only tell you so much and you never know what the texture will be like until the shirt arrives. I just received two shirts, both from not only the same company but also the exact same label, each of them billed as "100% polyester," but one was pleasantly soft and the other seemed to have been made out of a cheap backpack.

  • One problem with using Yahoo mail (as I do for dealing with online purchases) is that Yahoo tries to feed you the most inane stuff. Example: Want to make just the right impression to land the guy you're into? First, find out his astrological sign. And then, approach him in a way that's likely to jibe with his unique personality. Either that's a non-sequitur or the person who wrote that doesn't know what "unique" means.

  • Lizzie posed the following question, which she heard on the radio (and which I've reworded slightly): You have a choice between two travel packages. #1: You can travel through Europe for a year with a stipend covering reasonable expenses. #2: You can spend ten minutes on the moon. Which would you choose?

    When she first asked me, I considered both options, weighed the pros and cons, and decided that on balance I'd slightly prefer #2. But then when I was typing up the same question on another site, as I tapped out the words "ten minutes on the moon" I started to tear up and wondered how I could have considered option #1 even for a moment. To stand on the surface of another world... to look up at the sky and see, with my own eyes, a beautiful swirled disc that constitutes the cradle of every living creature we have ever known... I have to think that that experience would beat the fuck out of a year of repeating whatever this month's tourist phrasebook says translates to "please take this back, I'm a vegetarian."

    (Now, a year in Europe vs. a year on the moon, and I probably take Europe.)

  • The best cheddar cheese I've ever had was a block of Times Past farmhouse cheddar that I got at the Bread & Circus in Hadley, Massachusetts, in 2002; I've never been able to find that type again. The second best was the California mild cheddar I just got at Trader Joe's. I think it's the cheapest cheddar in the store and it's totally great.

  • Geography fun: the entire continent of Europe lies north of where I grew up. All of Europe (including the island of Gavdos, Greece) lies north of 34.8 degrees. I grew up at 33.8375 degrees north.

  • Mandy posted a link to a story about someone at the University of Toronto who claimed to have had a breakthrough in erasing specific memories from the brains of mice. The idea is that rape victims could be relieved of their traumatic memories, etc. Mandy was outraged and wondered whether Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was coming true. I have a fair amount to say about this topic — where do you think the Jewels of Anopt in Evil Creatures are going? — but right now, let me just go on a frivolous tangent:

    What if you could get your memories of your favorite works of art wiped? You could watch your favorite movie for the first time all over again! Listen to some amazing records that you don't remember having listened to a thousand times already! Of course, you might learn that you like them more for your associations with them rather than for the works themselves...

  • fire map: that a volcano?

  • Lisa Maxwell posted a link on her Twitter feed to a clip from Guitar Hero 5 showing off one of the featured songs: "Smells Like Teen Spirit." One problem, though... that's supposed to be Kurt Cobain? That's Scott Lucas in a blond wig! Seriously, what did the developers use as source material, Local H's 1997 Halloween show at the Double Door?

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