Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Stuff

To my surprise, I managed to stay awake until the Oscars were over.

I wrote up a bunch of comments on this year's Oscars, last year's Oscars, and how to make the Oscars shorter.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Best-Laid Plans...

I was laid off, and immediately started making plans for how I would spend my unemployment. First off is, of course, getting a new job. Then, getting caught up on some household projects. And helping the Interaction folks with the Program part of the Web site and drafting some press releases.


I felt pretty good while we were in Dublin. It wasn't too cold and we walked quite a bit. But, when we got to Boston last week, I had a migraine on Saturday, which pretty much blew most of that day for me (aside from a nice dinner with friends and getting to the Saturday night event at Boskone). By Monday, I had a rebound migraine and started having dizzy spells. My concentration was really shot. I felt a little better on Wednesday, and pushed myself to do an hour of brisk mall walking. I've felt rotten ever since. Finally, I went to the doctor's on Friday, said I thought I had a sinus infection. He took a look at me, decided I was right, and prescribed some heavy-duty antibiotics and prescription Sudafed. I've been on them for two days, and still feel worse, though I'm not running a fever or anything like that. The antibiotic has the annoying sside effect of making your mouth taste like metal. I hope I get over this pretty soon, beause I honestly don't like just sitting in the easy chair in front of the TV all day.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

More Red State "Family Values"

Couldn't help but notice these two headlines on CNN this morning:

It looks like an awful lot of kid murder/rape is going on in those red states. Y'know, those states where people say they are religious, vote Republican and talk about how evil feminists and homosexuals are. The states where people are too busy protesting the physical death of a woman who was brain dead almost 15 years ago to notice what's happening in their own neighborhoods. States where the divorce rate is surprisingly high, particularly when compared against blue states like Massachusetts. States where the social service net is growing ever smaller as the public is being brainwashed into believing that taxation and government intervention are greater evils than having a stable, supportive society.

People in red states will continue to believe their self-delusion that they are somehow more moral than those of us who eschew religion and believe that government services, particularly education and social services, should be well-funded.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Back from Ireland and Boston

When I asked Jim what he wanted to do for his 50th birthday this winter, he said "Go to Dublin." We did the math and figured we could swing it, even with the currently depressed dollar (and, as it turned out, my being laid off).

We had a nice trip with surprisingly little rain (it rains constantly in Ireland during the winter). I'll post some photos shortly.

Boston and Boskone were both a lot of fun, though I had a migraine the Saturday of Boskone, and again once I got home.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Comments on Saturday Night Live - 2/5/2005

I've been a pretty regular Saturday Night Live Fan (except for a few years in the early '80s and again in the mid '90s) for many years. I just watched Saturday's show, and had some comments I want to send along to the show. Unfortunately, the NBC Web site pretty much does not accept user feedback. So...

Paris Hilton is one of the most underwhelming "talents" of the day. She spent most of the show reading straight off the cue cards. That said, she was willing to make fun of her image, so, on the whole, she worked well as a host.

The "Fannish Phone Sex" skit was a gem. While most fannish men I've met aren't into those kinds of fantasies, the people who wrote the skit were quite familiar with the slang and made the most of it.

On the other hand, the attempted "yinzer" skit near the end showed that the Pittsburgh accent and attitude were pretty tricky to pull off. To understand a Pittsburgh accent, Seth Meyers should have listened to Dan Marino, whose yinzer accent is pretty much intact. If you didn't see the skit, Seth played a guy trying desperately to come onto Paris Hilton in a bar. Most people watching the skit probably thought he was from the south, because after he said "How'yinz doin'?" he launched into a southern accent. He went on to try to pick up Paris by talking about Bill Cowher, the Steelers coach. And he ended up the conversation by trying to give her his number, which started with "412." Now, it's true that many Pittsburgh men are into the Steelers the way that Paris Hilton is into fashion, so the skit was a cute idea. When the accents are obvious (Boston/New York/Chicago/Southern), these sorts of skits work well. But most people outside of Pittsburgh don't really understand the accent or are familiar with the slang.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Yet Another Net Test

In taking a break from sending out resumes today, I found a reference to the "What Book Are You?" quiz. Here are my results:

Cover of To Kill a Mockingbird
You're To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you, but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Ironically, To Kill a Mockingbird has been one of my favorite books! The description of me according to the test is really more the way I'd like to be than the way I actually am (except for questioning authority, of course!).

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pilgrimage to Punxsutawney, Part II

To drive to Punxsutawney from Pittsburgh on any day, you have to leave here about two hours before you need to get there. It's really not so far away - about 90 miles or so - but about half the trip is across narrow country roads. And it was very dark. And I'd never driven on 119 during the day before, much less before dawn.

So I got up a little after 4 and was on the road by 4:45 this morning.

By the time I'd gotten to Punxsutawney, it was starting to get light.
Moon over Punxy, 02/02/05

Contrary to what you might have thought from the movie Groundhog's Day, Gobbler's Knob was over a mile and a half outside of town on what looked to be someone's farm. You needed to park your car at a nearby WalMart and take a shuttle bus over to the festivities. I got into the area in time to catch some of the fireworks.

Gobbler's Knob Sign, 02/02/05

By 6:45, it was up to 13 degrees Farenheit, but because there was no wind and about 18,000 people on Gobbler's Knob this morning, it wasn't really all that cold. The crowd was pretty rowdy, reported to be the largest non-weekend crowd ever. There was a raucous rendition of the Village People's "YMCA" and similar music all morning long. Unfortunately, I stood in the midst of some drunk teenagers, one of which kept accusing me of pinching him. Believe me, I've never found drunk boys a turn on!

Eventually, the Inner Circle (the guys in black coats and top hats) dragged Phil out of his tree stump, and, to the surprise of virtually no one, except for the drunk boys in my area, proclaimed he had indeed seen his shadow.

The Inner Circle and Phil, 02/02/05

Nope, that was not a fur muff on the right of the picture, that was Phil himself. Yes, it was blurry as I was probably about 150 feet up the hill from the stage.

Once the weather prognostication was pronounced, the crowd dispersed with amazing rapidity. However, for those of us who hadn't been to Punxsutawney and who might not be there again, it was a time for some close-ups. That's me with Phil, and
me again with a member of the "Inner Circle."

Laurie and Phil, 02/02/05
Laurie and Inner Circle Guy, 02/02/05

Since there was not much to do on the Knob once the pictures were done, I got in line for a shuttle bus back to downtown. That was when I started to get cold! Luckily, I didn't have to wait for long. I bought some groundhog trinkets in downtown, and found a restaurant that cooked I don't think I'd had since I was a kid: Chipped beef! It's a fairly disgusting-looking dish, and about as heart-non-healthy as you could imagine, but it was good and I felt much warmer when I was done eating.

Most of the in-town activities centered around the community center, where craft-sellers had set up tables to sell everything from groundhog woodcarvings to groundhog stonecarvings. I bought some groundhog earrings and a groundhog Christmas tree ornament. One of the town organizations thoughtfully had a big birthday cake and gifts (notepads and pencils) for those of us who celebrated our birthday today.

Afterwards, I went to the one winery on the Groundhog Trail that was on the way back to Pittsburgh, bought some wine (which appeared to be groundhog free), got a little lost, and got home about 1:30.