Word of the day

metricute -- verb 1: to put into effect a system of measurement; 2: to measure as provided or required by an operational procedure; 3: to measure to death in compliance with a standard

Usage examples are solicited
  • Current Mood
    mischievous mischievous

A Territorial Dispute

When we moved in here in 2004, there were a couple of cats living across the street. One (Apollo) has always been super-friendly, and the other (Snowball--you can imagine what she looks like) started out very aloof, and slowly became willing to be scritched on the head, and nothing more.

Last year, another neighbor got a new cat named Princess, who in recent weeks has been out and about for the first time. Of course, there are now some territory squabbles. Princess can mostly defend her front porch and her water bowl, but that's about it. Sucks to be the new cat on the block.

Today, I go for a walk, and see Snowball right outside my house, so I go to pet her. All good. Then I see Princess outside, and start ambling over toward her, because she shows signs of being a possible future lap cat. Snowball--ordinarily just as happy to be ignored as to be petted--positions herself between me and Princess, hissing at Princess. OK...walk across the street, around Snowball, toward Princess. Snowball moves to intercept, plants herself between us, and continues intimidating Princess.

OK. Walk away. Snowball walks with me. Turn around, walk toward Princess. Snowball walks with me. I'm covered.

Go away on my walk, come back half an hour later to find Snowball ensconced in her usual spot in front of her house. (She's kind of hilarious that way. In the middle of the summer, that's behind some very leafy bushes, so she can barely be seen, so it's a fine hidey place. Right now, she's a white cat sitting in a yard full of dirt. Fortunately, no predators in this environment; just people who want to pet her.) As I walk past, she jumps up and escorts me to my house. Not that Princess is even within sight at this point; Snowball is taking no chances.

I'm the territory. Who would have guessed?
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

Ask LJ: Heating Edition

We're thinking it may be time to replace our furnace. It's 17 years old and has been getting more and more cranky lately. (We're not under the impression that it will calm down after it goes to college and learns how hard it is to support oneself.)

The current furnace uses oil, but we have a gas line to the house, so we could go either way. I'm happy to hear opinions on oil-vs-gas heat from anyone who has researched it, but I would also like to know whether anybody can recommend a heating system contractor.

Oh LJ, will you give me your wisdom?
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Election Spam

I recall thinking, back when Arlen Specter switched parties, that having 60 Democratic votes (nominal or otherwise) in the Senate would be a bad thing, because it would encourage unrealistic expectations among liberal voters, it would also encourage Democrats in Congress to overreach, which would in turn rile up the Republican base. I'm satisfied that all of those predictions came to pass. (Too bad I didn't make them in a public forum...)

Calling the 60-vote mark a "magic number" is an apt description, since magic is (in my estimation) in the province of imagination. It created the illusion that the Democratic Party would have a 2-year window to make whatever laws it wanted without having to take into account any pesky Republican dissent. The reality is that 60 Democrats, like any other 60 members of the Senate, have some pretty diverse ideas of what they want, and most of them have a basic understanding of how leverage works. *Any* 60 votes are hard to corral on a high-stakes issue, but once you insist that they be 60 pre-selected votes out of 100, you're basically saying that the sky is the limit on what you'll give away to get them. (The other reality is that the window turned out to be 1 year, not 2.) Furthermore, the illusion of Vast Cosmic Power means that all of your allied interests are screaming "I want it all!" at the top of their collective lungs. Is there any way to have less room to maneuver than the Democratic party had in this supposed period of omnipotence?

So, the illusion is gone. I'd prefer it hadn't happened by having Ted Kennedy succeeded by a Republican, but on the strategic level...good riddance. If the existing health care legislation gets burned down and rebuilt with different compromises, so be it--maybe with 70-80 votes in play, we'll actually get something better than we got with 60 in play. It'll turn out to be a lot of political capital invested by the Democrats for a lot of Republican advantage, but that ship has sailed, and it's time to learn to live with it.

I don't absolve the Republicans in Congress for their obstructionism--for example, it looks like they are planning to drop their holds on Executive Branch appointments some time in the 2013 or 2017--but they are not my problem at this time.
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A Little Time Warp

In this year's incarnation of Double-Secret-Eastern-Orthodox-Christmas*, we are flying to Oakland with a connection in Long Beach. Long Beach is an itty-bitty** airport, where you disembark on the tarmac, and the terminal building has palm trees growing next to it (and also towering over it). Overall, it has a bit of an old-school feel that made me remark to firstfrost, "This is like a '50's movie. I kind of expect to hear some bouncy California-type theme music." Whereupon, as we approached the terminal building, we heard the theme music being played on outdoor speakers.

All serving to remind me that my premonitions are not always bad.

Mood has improved markedly over mid-December. I am becoming increasingly confident that a new approach to work is necessary in order to preserve what's left of my mental health.

* firstfrost's family gathers for Christmas in early January, to avoid scheduling conflicts. I add the double-secret modifier because the Eastern Orthodox church actually has other reasons for this.

** My standard of comparison is Madison, Wisconsin, where the airport is pretty small, but they actually use jetways for most aircraft. Anything smaller than that is classified as itty-bitty in my database.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused

Northwest Airlines, PR Genius

I can imagine why you might prohibit seat selection prior to checking in. It irritates me, and I doubt it serves any actual purpose, but I can see a thought process that leads to it.

I can understand, in this oversold/overbooked world, that when you check in, you might check in and select seats late enough that there are no longer two adjacent seats left for you and your travel companion (both tickets bought as part of the same transaction), and hence be forced to sit apart. I mean, if you've oversold the flight, you have an excuse (though not a good one) to not bother to at least pencil in adjacent seats for people who bought their tickets months ago.

But I'm really at a loss to understand why, if I check in 22 hours ahead of the flight and there actually *are* two adjacent seats available, not in a premium row, not in the very back row, or in any other condition (that I'm aware of) which could possibly prejudice me against selecting them, the site would *not* auto-select the adjacent seats, and instead, auto-select two middle seats.

Sure, it's true that I can now change them. But really, once you've started by refusing to allow seat selection until 24 hours before the flight, and you've oversold all of your flights, why put that extra little cherry on top, saying, in effect, "We would really prefer to screw you, if we were given the choice."

We learned about Northwest's seat-selection treachery last year, when we checked in at the airport and got split up, not having selected our seats beforehand. This time, it's true, I chose to go to dinner instead of being at my computer at 5:55pm this evening; but I barely managed to avoid the natural consequence of my irresponsible behavior at around 8 o'clock, with just two adjacent seats left to grab.

I am usually willing to pretend that the airlines are interchangeable, and compete only on price, but I think it actually is time to start selecting against Northwest. I've had it.
  • Current Mood
    aggravated aggravated

It's a screwed-up database, but there is stuff in there...

Was getting a ride home from fredrickegerman, and on the radio, we heard a bit of something that was obviously Wagner, but I couldn't immediately place it. He thought it might be "Ride of the Valkyries", but I didn't think so.

After getting out of the car, thinking ahead through this piece that I barely remembered, I came across the orchestral passage which was attached in my mind to the following lyrics:

Be vewwy quiet...

I'm hunting wabbits...

Which of course means that it was Ride of the Valkyries.
  • Current Music
    Die Walkure

Blackjack is fun...

Tonight, the entertainment at my conference was Casino Night. I went in fairly early, managed to avoid sitting through a product demo to get my chips, and then settled down at a blackjack table, noodling around with the smallest denomination chips, as is my wont, regardless of whether the chips are worth real money. I know the theory of counting, and it's fun to try in a lazy and ineffective sort of way, since I don't have sufficient concentration to do it well. That is apropos of nothing very interesting, except to explain why I find blackjack for worthless chips to be entertaining enough to spend a few hours on.

The dealer, a guy with a name tag of "Mr. Bill", who looks to be near retirement age, does this as a second job because it's fun. He's an Olde Tyme Card Counter, so in addition to the basic blackjack dealer service of telling you what you should do based on the board situation, he was also able to tell us what we should do if we'd been counting. He has many entertainment shticks suitable to this second job, or hobby, as it may be; he would engage us in random trivia questions (and give us free chips if we got them right), and chat about stuff. He also spent some time working in France, so has rusty but functional French with which to speak to some of the conventioneers who are French. And there were the kids of said conventioneers, who he entertained by theatrically tossing chips into their piles when they won, kind of slot-machine style, while trying to explain the game to them in their own language. Once, after a particularly discouraging hand where the players were drawing aces into the mid-teens, and then got beat by the dealer drawing to 21, he picked up all of the aces and shuffled them back into the shoe. When people busted out, he'd offer them some chips if they seemed to want to stay. Anyway, a great guy to have as your dealer at Casino Night.

Drunken network engineers, not so much...Collapse )

Other than that, I actually had quite a good time, thanks to Mr. Bill and his talent for helping everyone in sight have fun.
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    tired tired