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Emergency Rat
20 most recent entries

Date:2010-01-19 22:07
Subject:Nightmare Revisited.
Security:Public

Because everyone was just clamoring for a detailed review of the Nightmare Before Christmas cover CD "Nightmare Revisited."

Overall it's pretty good. There's an interesting mix of styles which aren't all on the geek-goth-metal continuum, and many of the artists do a good job of making songs from a musical sound like standalone songs in their own right. Nearly every track keeps Danny Elfman's themes intact while adding a good dose of originality.

Track-by-track rundownCollapse )

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Date:2009-11-11 20:52
Subject:Jetpacks would suck anyway.
Security:Public

Today I connected a tiny device I carry in my pocket to an international network containing basically all the non-secret information in the world. I used the network to find a store, which we navigated to by another tiny device that communicates with satellites and knows every road in North America. Then I paid for my purchase by simply tapping my card against a reader. It went "boop."

There is not a goddamn thing I did today that would've been the same even five years ago. There are about three little electronic bricks I carry around (which could be consolidated into one if I had more money), summing less than a pound, that enable a lifestyle completely unlike the disconnected groping--maps! phonebooks! payphones! cash! pointy sticks!--of 2005.

THIS IS THE FUTURE.

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Date:2009-10-23 09:14
Subject:Amazing(ly unfair) Grace.
Security:Public

I've long been bothered by the version of Evangelical Christianity (which I understand is not the only one) that holds that if you accept Jesus it's all good and if you don't accept Jesus it's all bad. Heaven for believers, Hell for unbelievers, a born-again child molester gets a harp and Ghandi gets a pitchfork. Even when it's not just about belief, the idea of such extreme judgement bothers me; I'd rather see murderers in Heaven than petty thieves in Hell.

But I'm not God. Deciding the afterlife I'd "rather" have has about as much bearing on reality as how much traffic I'd "rather" have on my morning commute. The world's not fair, and good people certainly suffer in this one--who promised me the next world would be different?

Still, two issues keep me from just taking Pascal's Wager and falling to my knees right here. (Well, three, if you count "oy vey, you'd break your poor bubbe's heart with such a shandah.")

1) Maybe God is unfair, but I can't take a human's word for that. I'd need to reach some very personal understanding of God as valuing faith over works before I accepted it as truth.

2) If God is that way, I don't know if I can sincerely love God. Believe, maybe, but it's hard to give trust and praise to a force that condemns some souls to eternal suffering. A storm may bring needed water to some and floods to others, but neither worships the rain. Either way it's something to be dealt with, but not something to be loved.



The closest thing to the stereotypical evangelical viewpoint that I can understand right now is that Heaven is God, and Hell is nothing but the absence of God, so coming to God isn't some prerequisite--it is coming to Heaven. I'm still not totally sure that makes sense though.

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Date:2009-10-11 22:11
Subject:Zombieland.
Security:Public

Two thumbs so way up.

Without giving too much away, I'll just say this in its favor: this movie wants you to have fun. It has no interest in killing your buzz or tugging your heartstrings, it's not Joss Whedon. It's just a blast and it doesn't stop being a blast. This is a movie you can trust, man.

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Date:2009-10-07 22:08
Subject:Cleanliness.
Security:Public

The great thing about an enthusiastically licky dog with thick fur is that you can wash and dry your hands.

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Date:2009-10-03 10:09
Subject:Watchmen Fridge Logic.
Security:Public

If the Intrinsic Field thingydealy turned one guy into a godlike superhero, why didn't the military start shoving guys in there by the truckload?

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Date:2009-10-01 08:57
Subject:Either/Or.
Security:Public

A question raised by my new partner, and the answer may depend on what field you're in: who would you rather work with?


A) Someone who is unfailingly nice and pleasant and fun to be around, but is really dumb and makes a ton of mistakes when it comes to the technical aspects of the job

or

B) Someone who's excellent at their job, does things efficiently and correctly every time, but is a condescending and standoffish jerk to coworkers


Our consensus was "A, unless they're so dumb it's dangerous", but I know that in science and computers there are a lot of Bs out there.

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Date:2009-09-24 19:11
Subject:Synergy.
Security:Public

I got a flu shot today. The pharmacist gave me a little coupon booklet, and all the coupons were for flu medications.

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Date:2009-09-19 22:23
Subject:Reverse Dyslexia.
Security:Public

I keep thinking things are misspelled when they aren't. I'll read a sign that says "no smoking on hospital property" and think it says "nosmoking on hopsitial propety" until I look very carefully.

It doesn't impair my reading ability much, but it makes me think that people are illiterate when they're actually not. It's weird.

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Date:2009-08-27 21:59
Subject:ASL.
Security:Public

Today's fascination: American Sign Language!

All of the deaf people I've known personally have been able to speak and read lips, and when I encounter deaf people at work (who often lost their hearing late in life and don't sign) I generally write notes. But today I stumbled into YouTube videos of people signing in ASL and I got interested. This one is kind of sweet, this one is apparently hilarious but I have no idea, and this one is awesome.

And I noticed that the comments were typed funny. (YouTube comments usually are. Bear with me.) Some of the ones from deaf people had a very clipped syntax, with nouns and adjectives sort of flowing together, odd conjugations, and connector words often omitted.

Because Deaf are faulty that normal. i born deaf & YES happy accept it same normal same as hearing people. Deaf will never superior because limited like can't talk thru phone etc etc. Do I'm proud and PRIDE to be deaf ? No I'M HAPPY AS MYSELF :D I don't see myself as Deaf. That my life.
---
i, myself as a deaf and this adore me so much.
---
Yes it is obvious awareness of the deaf culture's way that I had been experience communication of the way from your explanation with three things exactly.

It made me realize: English is a second language for deaf people who sign. A language that they can learn only by reading and writing, which has to compound the difficulty--imagine only speaking English y escribir soló en Español. I had known before but this really drove the idea home that ASL is not signed English. It has its own syntax, and it's a syntax that cannot be rendered in speech or writing.

Check out the fascinating but nigh-incomprehensible Wikipedia article!

Now I want to learn ASL. Not just to communicate with deaf people, but because it's fascinating. I love the idea of a language that is not only practically but conceptually separate from sound. Multiple gestures can be simultaneous in a way multiple phonemes can't, and signs can convey information not just by their form but by their speed and location in space. It seems fantastically expressive and useful regardless of the signer's ability to hear.

I don't think I really have the time or motivation to learn ASL right now, sadly. But it's such a cool language.




EDIT: I had to replace one of my examples when I realized the writer was probably hearing and just illiterate. Sigh. Oh YouTube.

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Date:2009-08-26 20:57
Subject:Alert! Alert!
Security:Public

It seems sometimes like I only write about things that annoy me. So here's two things that I think are excellent ideas!

1) LifeAlert. They're little waterproof electronic gadgets that elderly or disabled people can wear full-time and use to call emergency services. Yeah, we get a lot of false alarms and dumb calls from the LifeAlert people, but they really save lives. I've seen horrible cases where an elderly person fell and had to crawl with broken bones to a phone, or lay on the floor for hours--once even days. (And one who stoically waited several hours to call her daughter because she didn't want to wake her up at an unreasonable hour.) And any cop can tell you about people who never got found at all until it was too late. It happens more often than you think and LifeAlert can prevent it. If someone is physically vulnerable and lives alone, LifeAlert is a very easy way to prevent horrifying tragedies.

2) MedicAlert bracelets. They're just bracelets that have someone's most important medical information engraved on them, and a phone number EMS and ERs can call to get contact information and a more extensive medical record. (They also sell pendants, but I'm more likely to notice a bracelet than a pendant tucked under clothes. Wallet cards are even iffier; we do look in people's wallets to get their ID, but if the medical-info card is in a big stack of supermarket cards and whatnot we're likely to miss it.) A MedicAlert bracelet can help get demented people home, keep people from being given medications they're allergic to, and generally help us know what's going on when people can't speak for themselves. If someone has a condition that's likely to leave them unable to communicate--seizure disorders, diabetes, dementia or developmental delay, severe allergies--those little bracelets can make a lot of difference.

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Date:2009-08-22 17:39
Subject:Even from a distance.
Security:Public

My mom just sent me a package. Inside: some of her boyfriend's old shirts, and some of her boyfriend's dead wife's shirts. (Insult to injury: the wife died of complications of morbid obesity.)

She expects me to wear these.

They happen to also be hideous (yay, a 70s-colored polyester polo in XXXL, just what I always wanted!) but that's almost beside the point.

She sent me her boyfriend's shirts and her boyfriend's dead wife's shirts and she wants me to wear them.

I just...

I guess I'll take them to the Goodwill. But Jesus.

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Date:2009-08-09 15:56
Subject:Mandatory Upsell.
Security:Public

My roommates and I wanted to watch a movie, so I went to a nearby entertainment store (FYE) to buy the DVD. I get to the counter and this is roughly verbatim:

"Hi, I'd like to buy this." *Hands DVD and debit card to register guy*
"We have a deal on used movies, buy three and get one."
"Um, no thanks, I just want this."
"Would you like to sign up for our perks card? It's a free trial and you'd get 10% off today and a $20 gift certificate."
"No thanks."
"Are you sure? It's absolutely free and you'd save money right now."
"No thanks."
"If you pay with a Mastercard, then you can get a special deal on any of the movies on this sheet..."
*almost apologetic* "I just want to buy the movie, man."
*nastily* "I just want to keep my job, man."

Then, with five minutes elapsed and an adversarial relationship created, he finally rang up the damn purchase. (And he put an eight-page flyer of ads for Samsung and T-Mobile and Starbucks and Rockstar and Toyota in the bag.)

Dammit, FYE, how did you manage to fuck up the concept of "store"? You buy the discs wholesale. You sell them to me retail. The register guy's job is to collect the money and answer questions. It is an old and proven formula.

If you want to have special promotions, that's fine; put up some big colorful signs, put out a bin of flyers, put stickers on the merchandise--people who want four movies or have a Mastercard will be thrilled. But turning a simple $15 transaction into a goddamn negotiation is incredibly customer-unfriendly. How can their Corporate be professional enough to have worked out all these synergistic win-win special deals, and yet so lacking in fifth-grade common sense that they mandate rudeness to customers? One lost customer has got to be worth twenty of their stupid perks card memberships, and they just lost me.

I'm never shopping at FYE again. I can get the same products other places for the same price, and those places at least have the brains not to stand in the way when I'm trying to give them money.

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Date:2009-08-09 12:07
Subject:Dream ow.
Security:Public

I had a painful dream! I didn't think that was possible. My dreams are always sight and sound only. But last night I dreamed there were a bunch of little tacks in my hand and I had to pull them out one by one and it hurt like a sonofabitch.

I actually examined my hand after I woke up to see if I'd gotten a splinter or something in my sleep that would explain it, but nope.

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Date:2009-07-27 09:28
Subject:Untweeted.
Security:Public

I just deleted my twitter. I was getting too mouthy about my job in a place with no friendslock and rather iffy anonymity. I was also being pretty boring.

I still want to follow my friends' tweets, so I'll start a new account to do that, but I'll keep my own blather minimal and more guarded.


(No, nothing bad happened, I didn't get "caught." But better that I should take it down before then. I shouldn't be going around with something to catch.)

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Date:2009-07-27 09:14
Subject:Turning down the critic.
Security:Public

Sometimes it's hard for me to shut up and accept that someone knows more than me and the best thing I can do is learn from them. There are so many officious assholes out there, I'm used to keeping up a running commentary in my head of ways someone could be wrong. It does me well in asshole territory, but when someone turns out to be intelligent and helpful, I have to be careful that I'm not the asshole.

Usually I need to think for myself. Every now and then I need to shut up, pay attention, and follow directions. I need practice in learning the difference.

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Date:2009-07-26 18:14
Subject:Heat.
Security:Public
Mood: hot

It is a million billion zillion degrees here and it's going to get hotter.

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Date:2009-07-22 21:45
Subject:Nothing but a number.
Security:Public

I went to a group exercise class at the gym today. The guy next to me looked to be about eighty years old. And he was hauling ass. I'm so used to seeing people his age barely shuffling along, doing gentle little "sit and be fit" exercises if they're lucky, it was amazing to see him flexing and jumping around and doing pushups like he was thirty. The instructor would offer "if that's too hard, keep your knees on the ground" easy-way alternatives and some people in the class took them; he didn't.

I almost wanted to compliment him after the class, but I couldn't figure out a polite way to say "you ought to be decrepit and it's amazing that you're not!" to a stranger, so I settled for quiet admiration.

Rock on, amazingly athletic old man.

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Date:2009-07-18 22:47
Subject:Body Mystery.
Security:Public
Mood: gross!

When I walk long distances, especially when it's hot out, my hands swell up a lot. They feel all tingly and stiff and my fingers plump up like sausages.

Does this happen to anyone else? Does anyone know why this happens?

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Date:2009-07-18 00:21
Subject:Window heat problem.
Security:Public
Mood: hot

With the blinds up, the air circulation is better, and my room is cooler. However, I'm visible from the public walkway so I have to keep a certain minimum of clothing on.

With the blinds down, the room is warmer and stuffier, but I can be naked.

It's a tough call. I think I'll go for the nudity though. Clothes get so damn sweaty.

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