January 31, 2003
More COOL Cat Stuff!

Another good reason to chuck the dog to the curb and get yourself a cat.

Dog have masters, cats have servants.

Posted by Ellen at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)
Kitty Steals Everything!

A cute story about a kleptomaniac cat.

Posted by Ellen at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)
19 Weeks

According to My Baby Center:

You're halfway there! The top of your uterus now reaches your belly button and will grow about a centimeter per week. Your baby is about 9 inches long and weighs about 8 ounces. (9 inches already!? Wow!)

She has started to swallow amniotic fluid, and her kidneys continue to make urine. Hair on the scalp is sprouting. ( We watched Olivia do this on the ultrasound, she drinks just about as much water as I do. Scott says she's practicing chatter. I punch him when he says this :) )

Sensory development reaches its peak this week. The nerve cells serving each of the senses — taste, smell, hearing, seeing, and touch — are now developing in their specialized areas of the brain. Nerve cell production slows down as existing nerve cells grow larger and make more complex connections. If you're carrying a baby girl, she already has roughly 6 million eggs in her ovaries. But since most of them will disintegrate during gestation, by the time she's born, she'll have about a million.

You no doubt feel the kicking and somersaulting of your growing baby. At times, she may be so mobile that you can't sleep. The next ten weeks or so will be your baby's busiest and most active time, until the womb gets too crowded. (Olivia is most active in the early morning to the point I wake up from it, and again when we are in the evening bath and lounging on the bed after. I actually got to see my belly move from her the other night while in the tub.)

I can feel it, but Scott still can't. For some reason she quits moving when he puts his hand on my belly. Scott says that contrariness just makes her my child. He's actually a little disappointed, but at least he doesn't think it's a big conspiracy to get him to empty catboxes.

At least my taste for chocolate has returned. Ellen not liking chocolate is like the pope not liking Jesus!

Posted by Ellen at 07:09 PM | Comments (1)
Alfa Angst

ARRRG! Unlike most of the dream cars I talk about, this is one I could probably swing. If I had that kind of green around, which I don't. Plus, I don't have that much garage space, and it'd be a shame to leave it out in the rain.

I know I know "what-are-you-thinking-this-is-an-old-hunk-of-junk-you-better-save-up-for-that-kid-mister" kind of thing. So I present it to you out there. If you're looking for a modern superfun 2nd car and live nearby, it don't get no better than this.

Posted by scott at 02:06 PM | Comments (4)
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

This slate article does a good job relating why "they" hate us. No, not the Arabs. The French. It tracks very well with what I've read many times over the years in newspapers and magazines... the French hate us because It's Not Supposed to be This Way. They're the ones who should be powerful, they're the ones who should be feared/trusted/respected, they're not the ones who should be irrelevant. So they do everything they can to make sure we know they're still powerful, and well, we keep forgetting. Dammit.

A bank-shot via Occam's Toothbrush.

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)
Nightcrawler, Eat Your Heart Out

Quantum Teleportation anyone?

Right now this is mostly just scientists tinkering around with expensive lab equipment, but the concept of transmitting information instantaneously over any distance has amazing implications. Communication is just the most obvious angle.

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
January 30, 2003
Power Plays

One of the things that most amuses me about the radical left is how their heads are stuck so deep in the sand you half expect to get a phone call from an irate landscaper somewhere in Beijing bitching about how hard it is to mow around them all. Personally, I blame Lincoln. While the Gettysburg address is a truly inspiring bit of speech writing, it has forever after allowed the more soft-headed around here to actually believe this country, any country, was once "of the people, by the people, for the people", and that today it's not and that this is a Very Bad Thing.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. --Winston Churchill

"The people" have no damned business running a country. "The people" have made Jerry Springer a household name, Ms. Cleo a rich actress, and Benny Hin a beloved (and believed!) preacher. "The people" have given us hanging chads, scratch-and-win lotto, and drive-through windows on liquor stores. "The people" tore down Penn Station and paid out of their own pockets to build Oral Roberts University. Think about it for a second. Do you really want your neighbor in charge of this nation's nuclear arsenal? I think balancing my checkbook drunk is fun. Should I ever be allowed to play with a trillion dollar budget?

What's more, many, probably most, "people" don't really want to be in charge. They want to live their lives and raise their kids, throw darts and shoot guns, learn about the world and travel around to see it. Government is all about boring, nasty, unbelievably petty people trying to get away with boring, nasty, unbelievably petty things, and the vast majority of us are quite happy to let someone else wade around in that particular mosh pit-meets-manure pond.

Really, there are only four kinds of folks interested in government: the greedy bastards, the power hungry lunatics, the rich old farts, and the congenitally pissed off. Good government is a complex dance that constantly tries to play these forces against each other in such a way they don't blow anything up, and still allow them at least a chance to occasionally get something done.

This is why "efficient" governments always sound really good on paper but always end up being more about how fast one man or one group can empty their country's treasury while filling its "re-education facilities" (concentration camps). Because the people you really want to run the place almost never do. Albert Schweitzer is always too busy helping the poor, but boy ol' Albert Speer is just hanging around the beer hall listening to a really noisy Austrian.

Actually, I have no problem with rich old farts running the show, as long as they're being watched. They got rich for a reason, who better to put in charge of making money for an entire nation? I'm not particularly worried about greedy bastards, as long as their interests compliment mine. Power hungry lunatics would at first give me pause, but they'll be protecting me along with themselves. Of the four, I personally find perpetually pissed off people to be the most troublesome. There's nothing more unreasonable than an idealistic 20-something with a cause, but as long as the other three are around they won't get too far.

If you think this is all cynical and heartless and doesn't have to be this way if we'd just all listen, well, I'm sorry but you're still not paying attention. Governments across space and time, history and culture, attract and are infested by dangerous people. Some are garden-variety crackpots and kooks, easy to spot and simple to deal with. There will be others, though, who might mean well, especially at first, but who eventually decide the reason why it's not working out is nobody else is listening to them and it's just a matter of educating these ignorant masses so they'll understand the Rightness of Our Ideals and of course the most efficient way is to send everyone out to be educated at once and anyone who doesn't see this is obviously trying to screw it all up and must be Dealt With Accordingly.

Good government is never really "by", "of", or "for" anybody. Good government is about protecting the citizenry from the predations of evil and the miscalculations of good intent. It's about keeping powerful people busy without allowing them to become unaccountable. It's about building a system that can harmlessly fret away at itself for decades at a time and yet allow quick focus and rapid recalculation in the face of a real crisis. Excellent government provides the bonus of allowing the occasional brilliant leader or exceptional idealist the ability to make their way to the top, while simultaneously providing quick and easy exits when it all just becomes too much for them or, far more importantly, when they decide they've become too much for it.

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that --Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was not a great man because he wrote good speeches. He was a great man because he saw a system that worked, a system that provided more freedom and opportunity than any that had come before or existed in his day. He was a great man because he did whatever it took to preserve that system, and didn't manage to destroy it in the process. He was a great man because he wrote a simple little speech on the back of an envelope that convinced a bleeding and desperately tired nation that if we'd just hang on a little longer, try a little harder, bleed a little more, we'd become the greatest country on earth.

And you know what? He was right.

Posted by scott at 04:06 PM | Comments (4)
Hint: They Just Look Like Kitties

Jeff wins another no-prize by bringing us this unfortunate "stupid-lady-meets-clever-lion" encounter.

Sometimes, though, I think domestic cats and big cats really are a lot alike. It's just that since my cats don't weight 300+ lbs, they're not as dangerous as tigers.

But this could just be me not knowing a helluva lot about big cats, so YMMV.

Posted by scott at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)
Paging Dr. Demento... White Courtesy Phone Please

I want to record for posterity that all these squirrel recipies (be sure to read the comments) were posted by yankees, and that Michele herself is an Italian-American from New Jersey. So none of that "what kind of squirrel did you eat in Arkansas, Scott?" crap from you people anymore. Understand?!?

Posted by scott at 08:52 AM | Comments (2)
It's Called C.Y.A., Dummy

The only thing I find surprising about this New York Times op-ed is that the author seems to find it all so surprising. He says the doves and the hawks are both busy covering their asses for all potential outcomes of a war. I say, "dur, what do you think politicians do best you twit?" Hint: it's not governing.

Posted by scott at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)
January 29, 2003
Rich and Carmen Electra

My brother loves meeting celebrity type people at the shows, just to say he was there and actually met them.

So this time around he met Carmen Electra at some Pussy Cat show. (he will have to explain it more)

Posted by Ellen at 06:39 PM | Comments (10)
Olivia Rachel!

We went for the ultrasound today!!!

It's a GIRL!!!

WoOt!!! I don't have to sell it on E-bay now!

As usual for us, a normal 30 minute appointment turned into 1 1/2 hours of rolling from right to left, left to right, on my hands and knees (I was wearing a thong so I'm sure it was not the most pleasent site), getting up, using the bathroom and drinking ice cold water. Apparently the baby was being stubborn. Scott says that means it's already my child.

Not only did I have to roll around like those chicks on the Miller Light commercial, but the technician wobbled the baby (she called them earthquakes) until it wouldmove. It was the funniest thing. The baby starts flailing all over the place like little rubber baby and then, once everything was still, the baby would punch twice. Scott said that definitely made her my kid.

When the technician first started the ultrasound she noted the baby was a big drinker. It sat there gulping fluid for about 2 minutes before she moved to look at other parts. Scott said if it had a phone in its hand it would even look like me. I punched him. No, I did not see the irony. Why?!? :) The technician went to get yet another tech to see if she could get a certain heart shot. While they were prodding around the other tech looked at the baby and announced it was a girl. The first tech said she thought it was a girl too, but wanted to be sure about it. I looked at Scott and said "See!! I told you it was a girl!"

I got 6 pictures. I was going to scan them and put them on the site today, but when I plugged the scanner in, I burnt it out. I know this because it smelled really funny and the light would not come on anymore. Oh well.

Me, I think I have Ted the Cat to thank. He's the one who has been massaging his baby since the beginning. He told me he would do some magic on it to turn it to a girl. And you know what? Every time he "makes biscuits" on my belly, the baby responds by doing, oh hell I don't know, feels like backflips! We start them early over here at AMCGLTD... this one's going to be a crazy cat chick before she leaves the womb!

Posted by Ellen at 05:19 PM | Comments (10)
I Want One!

While the tone of this article about the latest German craze, the Kartoffelkanone, is more along the lines of "you'll put your eye out kid", I think it sounds cool as all get-out. Anything that can fire a potato at more than 60 mph has got to be a lot of fun! Found via slashdot.

Years ago I read a site that talked about putting together spud guns that had muzzle velocities in excess of 200 mph, but they weren't portable and the potato tended to come apart after just a few feet. These German inventions are way cooler.

Update: Always read the comments, wherein I found reference to a book that gives you easy-to-follow instructions for spud guns and all sorts of other way-beyond-cool pyrotechnical devices. My brother has a back yard that could probably encompass Rhode Island. This has potential...

Posted by scott at 10:00 AM | Comments (5)
Become a UFOlogist!

From, of all people, NASA we bring you your very own "how-to" guide to creating UFO pictures from telescope shots.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (78)
January 28, 2003
More Cat Noises

Thanks to Pam at Fierce Fade-Away we got some more cat sounds for you.

Posted by scott at 08:07 PM | Comments (8)
More Singing Kittens

The Lightsabre song.

It's pretty intense!

Posted by scott at 07:18 PM | Comments (3)
A Book I Could Really Use

(A parody of the 2nd Kinsey book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female)

Posted by scott at 07:09 PM | Comments (1)
This Day In History

Jan 28 1986

Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 74 seconds into its flight, killing teacher Christa McAuliffe and the rest of the crew. Their capsule plunged intact into the ocean, pulverizing everyone on impact.

Where were you when this happened?

Posted by Ellen at 06:54 PM | Comments (13)
Who Watches the Watchmen?

Two no-prizes in one day! Jeff brings us this unintentionally amusing whinefest from the press about how reporters are "wary of pentagon promises" for better access in future conflicts. Some choice comments:

"We got essentially zip, nothing of any value, during [the Afghanistan campaign]," CNN's Christiane Amanpour said.

"It just isn't fair... the press conferences the general gives us don't say anything interesting, the soldiers aren't allowing us to hitch rides on their jeeps, and the coffee is cold!"

Gee, last time I checked it was called "reporting" and "journalism", implying you actually have to get off your ass and nose around. Since when is the military obliged to cart your overpaid careerist machiavellian kiester anywhere? This isn't the President, they're not required to give you free rides like you get on Air Force One.

Amanpour ... said the military needs to balance its security concerns with "what we the press need to meet our responsibilities."

No you dumb twit, the military needs to balance its security concerns with what it takes to win. Your function is literally parasitic to them. Again, get off your asses and take a risk or two. Get dirty, walk around, talk to people. Especially disappointing coming from Amanpour, who has risked her fanny more than once to get a story, and should know better.

Tom Rosenstiel, a professor who directs the Project for Excellence in Journalism at Columbia University, said journalists understand that in war they must decide whether the information they gather might hinder the military.

Ah. Now academia opens its bowls to voice a typical opinion. Last I checked, sparky, it's the MILITARY'S job to decide what information might help or hinder their operations. Remember, they're here to win, not provide you with career opportunities. You see, if you or one of your pressmonkey colleagues make the wrong decision and hamper, say, a politician's secret plans to get some legislation passed, you will hinder that legislation. With most politicians, this is usually a good thing. If you or one of your pressmonkey colleagues make the wrong decision and hamper a battle, people fucking die.

Ah, but since it's not going to be one of your sons or daughters that's OK with you right? I mean, what's a few dumb grunts between friends? Most of these kids've never even been to college. You've got tenure to worry about!

"We can hear things and learn things that we must hold close to ourselves," added Kevin Klose, chief executive of National Public Radio.

No dumbass. If you hear something sensitive enough that it can effect an operation someone screwed up. The military cannot rely on the discretion of untrained civilians to maintain the security of its operations. You might be trustworthy and wise enough to know that reporting a bunch of tanks disappearing in the night might tip off a surprise attack, but do you really think all your colleagues are? Even the young punks who're looking to make a name for themselves? Are you willing to risk your daughter's life on that bet, you elitist freak?

"[The Pentagon] are saying the right things," [CNN news chief executive] Jordan said by video link from Atlanta. "Whether they do the right things remains to be seen."

So, lemme get this straight. In order for you to "trust" the military they must:

  • Give you free access to pre-attack, attack, and post-attack intelligence and planning, and rely on "your judgment" as to what is sensitive and what is not.
  • Provide transportation, lodging to you and your crew to allow you to go wherever, whenever you like, and allow you to talk to whomever you like. Oh, and enough protection to ensure you and your non-combat-trained crew don't have their names etched on a piece of glass.
  • Let you be the final arbiter of what constitutes a successful engagement, battle, or war.

Sound about right sparky? Pardon me, I need to go vomit somewhere.

There has never been a war in history that has been won by the press, but there are several that have been lost by them. The military has a job to do, and it involves killing people and blowing things up and getting killed and getting blown up and when you get yourself in the middle of it all you're just getting in the fucking way.

The military's job is to win wars any way they can. There are no rules, in fact the best skirmishes, battles, and wars are usually won by being the sneakiest, cleverest, meanest bastard on the field. Even you people know at least one colleague that's just a talking head, a pretty face who happened to blow the right producer (and they're not all women) to get their job instead of clawing to the top like you guys.

These are the people the military is protecting itself from, and I'm sorry to say I'd rather the military keep busy trying to win the freaking war than figure out which press monkey is a "good guy" and which is just a lizard looking to get noticed by Peter Jennings.

Should the press be out there? Damned straight they should be out there. If it weren't for the press we'd probably still be in Vietnam counting bodies as success on the battlefield. If a press monkey can find out about excess, abuse, incompetence, and neglect in our armed forces then I damned sure want to know about it.

But it's not the military's job to help.

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (5)

Jeff wins yet another no-prize by bringing us this wire-service report about the discovery of ancient bronze-age road networks in the fertile crescent apparently using, of all things, declassified spy sattelite photos from the 60s and 70s.

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (2)

We're all about fact-checking today at AMCGLTD, bringing you more press-monkey antics! This time Larry over at ATS brings us this less-than-subtle example of just how much of a dumbass the media can be. I mean, normally they're at least a little more careful than this.


Posted by scott at 10:42 AM | Comments (1)
The Importance of Sampling

While this BBCnews report about how earth-like planets may be much rarer than originally thought at first seems disheartening (well, to those of us who'd rather humanity not be the pinnacle of cosmological evolution), there's a fundamental flaw in the study, that of a "sampling error".

We've only detected weird, "hot Jupiter" systems because that's all we can detect. Or, rather, all we could detect when the paper was written (I think astronomers are getting better at detecting other kinds nowadays). Detection of these sorts of solar systems is performed by watching a star "wobble" over time. A solar system containing a close, massive planet spinning like a circular saw blade around its sun is much easier to detect than a solar system without one. The sun in a "hot Jupiter" system, when compared with one without, wobbles like a weeble in an earthquake.

So, while it is true to say "the planetary systems scientists have found so far are very unlikely to harbor earth-like planets", it does not follow that "earth-like planets are therefore extremely rare in the universe".

It's such an obvious flaw that we must be looking at poor editorial practices on behalf of BBCnews rather than a fundamental problem with the paper itself. As always, absence of evidence does not equate to evidence of absence, and the peer review process surely would've caught this. On the face of it, looks like BBCnews engaged in a bit of press-release-regurgitation, something I didn't expect from them.

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)
January 27, 2003
Cyborg Cats

Check out what science can do now-a-days to replace lost limbs to your feline friend.

Not only just limbs, but eyes and endoskeletons!

It's a joke people

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)
Cats In Space!

Well not since the Great Yorkshire Terrier War of 96. (Read The Dragon Reports to find out more!)

Here is an example of one of the space suits modeled by Elliot the Astro Cat

Posted by Ellen at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)
This Day In History

Jan 27 1967

A launchpad flash fire in the Apollo I capsule kills the astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H White, and Roger B Chaffee, at Cape Canaveral.

Posted by Ellen at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)
I've Heard of Toy Cars Before, but This is Ridiculous

Damion wins a skull-stamped no-prize by sending us this, um, well... "car". If Larry over at Amish Tech ever gets his finances going again, I think this would just be perfect.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
You Only Think You Want This Job

Confessions of a Pornographer is another "porn-clerk"-style story about a guy who once worked for a porn magazine. A little "blue", but no pictures to get you in trouble.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
January 26, 2003
Oh Yeah...Scott HATES That I Found This!

A magazine dedicated to the life of a Redneck!

I bring you,Trailer Trash Quarterly

Posted by Ellen at 07:53 PM | Comments (3)
More Weird Stuff

An archive on strange ways people have died.

Can you tell we are on a weird kick tonight?

Posted by Ellen at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)
Giant Squid Update

Thanks to a reader (babygurl), we got the link to the picture and article to the giant squid!

Posted by Ellen at 07:30 PM | Comments (1)
Weird Stuff Sold on Ebay

Some really weird auctions from Ebay!

People will sell anything!

Posted by Ellen at 07:27 PM | Comments (2)

NOT for the faint of heart. Extremely graphic!

This is what happens when some poor bastard gets too close to rotor blades of a helicopter. GO NAVY!

Posted by Ellen at 07:10 PM | Comments (1)
It's Not Chocolate!

According to this company, they can make spooge delicious! *vomit*

An exerpt from their ad:

"Mmmm!" she said, her eyes widening in surprise as she swallowed. "You're... delicious!" She swallowed again, deeply. With a little laugh, she shook her head in disbelief. "It's actually almost sweet! I could really get used to this." A wicked smile crept across her face. "More?" she purred.

Suurree....*gag* I don't think so. Only starting at $24.95

Still, you got to check out the site. They even go into detail on the history of cum guzzling! A history lesson NOT taught in school! (well not in class anyway.)


* OK..I KNOW we are going to get a huge traffic spike because I used the word 'cum guzzling'. - Men are PIGS!

Posted by Ellen at 07:03 PM | Comments (2)
Sound Effects for Your Cat

My cats did not really respond to this.

But I can imitate those stupid doves pretty well and make them all go look out the window!

Posted by Ellen at 06:46 PM | Comments (1)
VW Turtle

Someone had oodles of time on their hands to change their car!

Pretty neat!

Posted by Ellen at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)
Another Fark Photoshop for Maru & Mom

This time, Bush is standing amongst boxes.

Posted by Ellen at 08:55 AM | Comments (1)
A Day On The Ice

Just when you thought ice skating was a fun thing to do on the local pond/river, you wind up finding something like this.

Posted by Ellen at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
January 25, 2003
Damn Straight

See Ellen, I told you monobrows were cool!. No waxing for me now! WoOt!

Posted by scott at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)
Don't You Say a G-D Thing

Really, what else can you say about a monster truck limo conversion except... YEEEEEEEE. HAWWWWWW!

Posted by scott at 09:12 PM | Comments (2)
Ellen will Never be the Same Again

I present to you, a recipe for thin mints. Why am I so happy to find this? Well, you've obviously not read about The Power of Chocolate.

Posted by scott at 09:06 PM | Comments (1)
Unusual Bathroom Goods

You have got to check out Bathroom Mania.

All I have to say is that all of the products are rather unique.

Posted by Ellen at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)
18 Weeks

18 weeks in! I have finally made peace with the belly. OK, OK, my small canteloupe of a belly. My doctor made the comment on how 'small' I was. "Wow, 5 months! Tiny girl you are, it's going to be interesting to watch you for the other 4". Damn, just when I thought I was looking pregnant.

The baby is moving around quite a bit now. Kicks and rolls are felt usually on the way to work in the car, and in the evenings, especially after my bath and I'm lounging in bed. We were a bit worried when I was sick, but it turns out the cold medicines I was taking (sit down, sit down, the doctor prescribed them) zorched the jellybean every bit as much as it did me.

Very interesting: the baby kicks and rolls when I'm hungry, then settles down for quite some time after I'm done eating. How can something that takes its nutrition essentially IV feel full?

I still listen to the baby quite often at work on the cat doppler. Especially after I was sick and was making sure it was still there. I must have totally gorked it on the meds. We get an ultrasound soon. Scott says he'll finally be able to tell whether or not this is just a giant conspiracy to get him to change catboxes and rub my feet. I noted the thumping in the belly but he said he's seen things I could swallow that'd do that. I half expect him to take the thing apart to make sure there's not some sort of tape machine playing someone else's kid!

Kidding! Kidding! It was cute how big his eyes got the first time he felt it.

What's going on this week? (from MyBabyCenter.com): Your baby is twice as big as he was last month, but he still weighs only about 7 ounces. (Meanwhile, you've probably gained as many as 14 pounds, most of which is from amniotic fluid, placenta, and water retention.) Though things may seem calm on the surface, your little one is kicking, flexing, reaching, rolling, and even sucking his thumb now. If you haven't felt him move yet, you will in the next few weeks.

A midpregnancy ultrasound is often done sometime in the second trimester (usually between 18 and 22 weeks) to assess fetal growth and development, screen for certain birth defects, check the placenta and umbilical cord, and determine whether the gestational age is accurate. During this exam, you might see your baby kick, flex, reach, roll, or even suck its thumb. Bring your partner along, and whether or not he's able to accompany you, make sure to ask for printouts of the baby in various poses.

How your baby's growing: Things are really moving into place now. This week, your baby's eyes look forward instead of to the side, and his ears are in (or nearly in) their final spot on the sides of his head. Your little one's skeleton is still mostly rubbery cartilage, but it's about to start hardening into bone. As for size, your baby is about 5 1/2 inches long (crown to rump), about the size of a pickle; and weighs nearly 7 ounces.

How your life is changing: Bigger, more comfortable clothes are a must now. You may also notice that the areola, the darkish area around your nipples, is getting larger. It can sometimes cover as much as half your breast. It's a harmless side effect of pregnancy that may last as long as 12 months after the birth of your child.

Harmless side effect? Half of your breast!?? How big do these damn things get!? Thank god, that side effect has not slapped me in the face yet...I'm hoping not ever. Nipples are not supposed to be the size of a pancake mmkay!? That would mean you are larger than a DD. I'm veryhappy with the little boobage boost I have thank you very much!

Facts are good, scary facts aren't. Cellulite and stretch marks are the next evil on my list to make sure doesn't completely take over the body. Ack! Doesn't evil usually prevail though?

Posted by Ellen at 06:36 PM | Comments (2)
Oscar Nesting

Oscar has a new hobby. Oscar has decided to push rocks. Lots of them. All to one side of the tank.

I don't know what's making him 're-decorate' his tank at this point. He seems to finally be out of his bad mood after scraping him off the floor and is "talking" to me again. Bribery is good. Especially with bits of steak. And chicken. And bacon.

But the rock thing is just funny. He picks them up in his mouth and moves them one by one to the other side of the tank until the bottom of the tank where he gets the rocks from is just glass.

He must be bored with his tank. His tank with the 3 caves and the river rocks and plants and lots and lots of room.

Damn picky fish. Did I mention the steak?

Posted by Ellen at 06:31 PM | Comments (1)
Tattoo U.

I so want this tattooed onto me!

Posted by Ellen at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)
January 24, 2003
The Politics of Dancing

Extremism is so much fun. When hyperbole is just a kind of mint jelly, all sorts of excess becomes possible. It both glues and greases this country's political machine.

When Bill Clinton was elected president I was working at an archeology firm (they do exist, and they paid me $4.15/hr for things I do today) and listening to good ol' Rush Limbaugh every day. That November day it was like the Apocalypse had rolled up its sleeves and given ol' Rush the Noogie of Death. Dirges, mourning, and rants about the country's imminent demise dominated the show, and continued to for the next two years. They all knew, they all knew, it was the end of the world, and Bill Clinton would be the one holding the drain plug with that big goofy grin on his face.

When George Bush was (eventually) elected president, I was working where I am now, surrounded by Democrats so fervent they have yellow dogs tattooed on their asses. That December day it was as if the curtain of the temple had been torn asunder. I half expected my mother to don sackcloth and start throwing ashes. They all knew, they all knew, it was the end of the world, and George Bush would be the one with the drain plug chain wrapped around his ankle trying to figure out where the toilet sound was coming from.

Extremism sucks the sense of humor out of a person faster than Jenna Jameson on crystal meth. Caller after caller to Rush's show demanded Clinton's impeachment years before he failed to squirm out from under a legal oath. I had someone who I otherwise consider extremely intelligent declare with complete sincerity that George Bush was just one judicial appointment away from banning birth control. Both sides insist to this day they're right, and treat the other, again with granite-lined sincerity, as if they were at best deluded fools or at worst apostates and traitors.

It's rather fun to eat popcorn on the sidelines and watch the two sides fling poo at each other, play Cassandra as if Aeschylus himself were writing the lines, or engage in temper tantrums that would make a two-year-old antichrist blush.

Because you know what? In spite of his inability to actually take a stand on something that might piss one or two people off, the country really was better off when Bill Clinton left than when he arrived. You know what else? Everyone said George Bush was a bomb-throwing moron when he called North Korea part of the "axis of evil". It was only after more than a year of digging that the press quietly admitted that, well, yes, those things in that satellite photo do look an awful lot like giant concentration camps after all don't they, and gosh, did you realize they're working on ICBMs that could hit Los Angeles?

I liked Bill Clinton because he really tried his best to make the country easier to live in for the less fortunate among us, and we needed that then. I disliked him because he was too smart for his own good, was afraid of pissing anyone off, and surrounded himself with left-wing zealots who beavered away at separating me from my money. I like George Bush because he's three times smarter than anyone thinks he is and is more decisive and precise than an argon laser, and we need that now. I dislike him because he's surrounded himself with right-wing zealots who are beavering away at separating me from my rights.

Most of all I know that in many ways none of it matters. The founding fathers rightly feared an efficient dictator or lunatic king, and so made the presidency no more powerful than the other two sides of the triangle, in many ways far weaker. The miracle of our country is that anything one government does can be undone by the next if it seems too wonky, right up to the constitution (18th amendment, anyone?) In essence, our country has a giant UNDO button sewn into it, guaranteeing nothing really stupid can stay that way for very long.

But please, don't mind me, I'm just the rational guy sitting in the corner trying to figure out how to breathe in with one nostril and out with the other. Don't let me interrupt your anarchic waltz with unreality and disillusionment. I'm smiling at you precisely because you don't think any of this is funny.

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (6)
Never Thought You'd Use a Printer for That

A super #1 no-prize goes to Jeff for bringing us this completely fascinating article about how scientists are working on creating whole organs using inkjet printers. Printers. Like that cheesy thing sitting next to you at your house.

Are they there yet? No, but did you think of using a printer to make a blood vessel? I didn't think so...

While the Midrasas concentrate on the "important" stuff like how to keep the women in line and the proper way to attack the infidel, we're going to be printing out working human organs.

Eat me Osama... eat me.

Posted by scott at 02:23 PM | Comments (2)
My Wife in 50 Years

Oriana Fallacci lays down the truth again in the NY Observer. Swear to God, behaivior must come from the genes at some point, because this sounds just like my sweetie after she's had a glass or two of wine and really gets rolling. The shocking thing about "Rage", Oriana's book, is that she tends to write in "elipsis" **typing asides like this**, which is exactly how Ellen writes.

An inspiring lady.

A bank-shot via A Small Victory.

Posted by scott at 01:25 PM | Comments (4)
But Do They Need Mouthwash?

This just in:
Bugs breathe!
In other news, the sky is blue!

Apparently though, scientists have wondered if bugs really breathe for nearly 2000 years. The solution could lead to different kinds of pesticides, as well as new medical diagnoses using a modified form of the x-ray technique developed to find the answer.

Never underestimate "stupid" science. The only thing that separates you from the 19th century is electricity, and that was figured out by a bunch of weenies getting payed to play around with sparks and "swamp gas" (methane). Learning why birds sing lead to important advances in the understanding of brain function.

History has shown time and again letting weird people tink around with dumb things can lead to enormous payoffs.

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)
Oh, to be in College Again

Problem: Your college all-girl wind orchestra needs cash to take a big class trip to perform in Carnegie Hall this spring.

Solution: Take advantage of the fact men are pigs.

Insert woodwind joke here -->.

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
January 23, 2003
Naughty Stuffed Animals

Crazy Aunt Maru in the attic sent us Weenie Babies.

Very well-endowed weenie babies.

XXX No-Prize to Maru!

Posted by Ellen at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)
Ghost Speaks Gaelic!

Ghosts just don't speak english ya know! :)

If I heard a voice in a house telling me to "get out", I would. Fast.

Posted by Ellen at 06:12 PM | Comments (3)
A Real Dragon

Chinese fossil hunters have found a 4 winged dinosaur.

Exerpt from article: The 128-million-year-old animal — called Microraptor gui, in honor of Chinese paleontologist Gu Zhiwei — was about 2 1/2 feet long and had two sets of feathered wings, with one set on its forelimbs and the other on its hind legs.

A really interesting read!

Posted by Ellen at 06:04 PM | Comments (1)
Singing Jazz in Heaven

Nell Carter passed away today. Nice lady, great voice. 54 is way too early.

Posted by scott at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)
W2MW, the Rock n' Roll Edition

(That's Welcome to My World)

Jeff wins a digital no-prize with this collection of really choice technical support stories from around the world. Some of it's old, some of it's new, all of it is funny.

Posted by scott at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)
And Ellen Thought This Place was Bad

After reading Atlanta's reaction to a "dusting" of snow I don't want any of you making fun of how stupid MD/DC/VA drivers are. Unless I do first, that is. Because they stink.

Posted by scott at 09:52 AM | Comments (2)
January 22, 2003
Where's Ali Landry When You Need Her?

Oh, those clever Japanese! Tired of pulling that washtub out when Fido has rolled in the garbage? Sick of having to wrestle with the dog just to get them near the tub? Just don't feel like going through the "YEEEHAW I'MDRYI'MDRYIWANTTORUNAROUNDLIKEACOMPLETEWACKNUT" craziness after a bath? AMCGLTD is here to help! We're proud to present to you the dog washing machine. Yep, dog washing machine. Not a typo. Promise.

Posted by scott at 08:58 PM | Comments (1)
Finger Painting with Your Ass?!?

Here is a guy with some real talent.

Not only can he paint with his ass, his nuts and schlong are good at it too!

Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)
Whore School

Ever wanted to become a whore but didn't know how? Go here for more information!

Posted by Ellen at 08:00 PM | Comments (2)
Preserve Your Parent

Want to remember a loved one in a special way?

One guy did this.


Posted by Ellen at 07:57 PM | Comments (1)
The Chick in the Beer Commercial

Now mind you, it's SHITTY beer. But Scott wanted me to post this up for all pigs out there to ogle over.

Yep, time for all you ladies out there to keep track of the household tissues and towels in the house.

To you men out there, enjoy, and don't go killing kittens*.

* Every time you masturbate, god kills a kitten. --FARK (this is why I don't believe in god)

Posted by Ellen at 07:50 PM | Comments (4)
Didn't Know This was That Much of a Problem

And I thought barcoding kids was just something that happened in bad SF TV shows. As I recall, and this may not be a real recollection, my mom had a friend who had twins and was so obsessed with making sure which was which she drug my mom to the hospital for foot printing several times. Apparently the thing to do is tatoo a small dot on the heel of one of them. *shrug*

Posted by scott at 07:23 PM | Comments (4)
Cloned Cat News

Turns out cloned cats aren't just carbon copies. Want another cat? Head on down to the shelter, there's dozens of great ones just waiting for you. Donate the difference to the humane society of your choice.

Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)
January 21, 2003
Giant Squid Attacks!!

Giant Squid tries to eat boat!

How neat is that!??? The Giant Squid is one of my most favorite sea critters! And one was seen ALIVE!!

Posted by Ellen at 08:37 PM | Comments (6)
It Pays to do Research

This just says it all. $17,280 for an Alfa Spider just exactly like mine. Well, ok, not exactly, mine's not that nice, but it is quite nice. This gives me room to a) wrastle with the insurance company if anything awful ever happens to ours (they only made 700 of them, so this is a valuable datapoint) and b) make improvements without thinking I'm pouring money down a hole.

The Alfa spider guys have been moping a bit lately because an antique insurance company was quoted that these cars were junk because they made so many of them. [Nelson Voice]HA-ha![/Nelson Voice]

Update: Sorry Jeff, no '77 Trans-Ams. Closest they seem to have got was a brown 78, original owner, walked away for $11k and change.

Be quiet mom, go play with your bears. ;)

Posted by scott at 06:08 PM | Comments (3)
Kissing Cousins

What do the aardvark, elephant, hyrax, manatee, elephant shrew, and golden mole all have in common? They're all directly descended from the very first placental mammal. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
Singing Science

Rescued from 50s obscurity by a fortuitous discovery in a basement, I present to you Science Songs! Really great, if admittedly somewhat cheesy, nursery-rhyme-type songs to teach your kids about science. Very cool (at least until the RIAA cops catch up with them).

Found via Silflay Hraka's BigWig.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)
A Different Take on the Protests

Considering the source, I'm not at all sure this unashamedly right-wing commentary on the protests in DC this weekend is any more reliable than the far-less-than-unbiased reports in the mainstream press, but at least this guy doesn't hide the axe he's grinding.

Note to those who live outside DC: We're infected by more than your usual basket full of mixed nuts around here. It's especially easy to find completely delusional and/or inhumanly determined (depending on your point of view) people in Lafayette Park.

Some of the more propeller-beanie driven ideas in the op-ed were probably retrieved from people such as these, or any of the number of homeless mentally ill who wobble off their meds and choose to hang out near the president.

Found via A Small Victory.

Posted by scott at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

We're all about coolness today at AMCGLTD...

Anyway, Pat gets another no-prize for her mantle by sending us this story about the GasBGon flatulence filter, a pillow that, well, helps filter the farty friend in your family (ha!)

Great. Ellen's going to want to duct tape one of these to my butt.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (2)
One Eye?

Larry over at Amish Tech Support is in rare form today with this parody of 'purple people eater'.

He's not biased... why do you ask?

Posted by scott at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)
Why America Really is the Land of Opportunity

I mean, where else in the world can you find guys making a living dropping cars out of airplanes for the hell of it? "Skydriving", they call it. I'd call it a hootin lot of fun, but I'm scared of the stairway in my house, let alone jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

Don't tell Pat, maybe not even Cindy. They both have "donor" cars in mind and might just put together the $$$ to do it!

Posted by scott at 09:54 AM | Comments (3)
It's all Twigs and Gravel to Me

Ellen went on this health breakfast kick once, got nothing but "natural" cereals for a solid year. One day I was out of my normal choco-covered-sugar-bombs and, for lack of anything better, decided to have some of her "Grape-Nuts" cereal. Imagine if a rock quarry sifted their gravel very, very finely, removing both the dust and anything larger than 1/8th of an inch (1-2 mm). Using these shapes for molds, imagine taking the toughest, least-tasty portions of whatever grain you have handy, milling them until they lose all nutritional value, then re-casting them using these new shapes. Now imagine pouring milk over the result and eating it. That's Grape-Nuts, the only cereal in the world that 1/2 cup of sugar won't fix.

No grapes, and not much in the way of nuts either, so I'm glad that now I know why they're called Grape-Nuts.

Posted by scott at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)
January 20, 2003
Talk Sex

This show is laugh out loud funny! Mind you, she gives great sex advice on the air (yes! you can call in with a question!) and has a personality you never thought a granny could! Yes, she is an older woman.

I mean, what other show do you know of that a person would say, on the air " Basically, it's a purple, ridged, butt-plug." With it sitting on her desk! On the tv!

You also get useful demonstrations (no no..she turns them on, not uses them!) of these gadgets. She will even hold them up to her microphone so you can hear it vibrating to!

More fun quotations on the butt-plug thing: " My testers have told me, it felt like a jiggling ramrod, up your butt." *Scott and I howl with laughter*

You MUST check the show out! It airs Sunday nights at 11 pm on the Oxygen channel. We have it season-passed on the Tivo.

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 PM | Comments (6)
Not Tonight Honey..

Apparently people are too busy to have sex.

Posted by Ellen at 05:21 PM | Comments (1)
Battery Safety

Even though I like to work on cars, I have an extremely healthy respect for how dangerous they can be. Jump-starting cars has always been something I'm particularly careful with. This site give you some very graphic photos of why I'm so paranoid (note: no injuries, except to lead cell batteries).

Nowadays I'm just as worried about zorching the electronics of a modern car. If you screw up and hook something wrong up on my Alfa, all you'll get is some burned wire. Do it wrong on today's cars, and you could fry the computer system ($$$).

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (3)
Somehow, I Don't See Him Using Pom-Poms

Seems like Darth Vader is now "honorary directory of third division Exeter City", whatever that is. Sounds vaguely like becoming an honorary member of a country club. UK'ers out there want to clarify?

Regardless, a nice development for Prowse, who from what rumours I have heard is not in very good health these days.

Posted by scott at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)
When Morons Attack

Ok, bad enough we have some weird lady putting a feathered fake owl in her front yard, but we also get people complaining to the game wardens about it.

Posted by scott at 01:41 PM | Comments (3)
January 19, 2003
Credit Card Companies

Here's some neat tricks on how to piss of credit card companies and get away with it.

Found via The Best Page in the Universe.

Posted by Ellen at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)
Toothpaste Recipe

Here's a neat story, including the recipe for toothpaste from ancient Egypt.

AMCGLTD is not responsible for any party that decides to make their gums bleed from this recipe.


Posted by Ellen at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)
Post-It Baby

Is it a Post-It Note or is it an embryo?

Scientists unravel the mystery of how and embryo implants itself to the uterine wall.

Posted by Ellen at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)
Dead Porn Stars

Where are they now.

I'm watiting to see how many Scott knows ;)

Posted by Ellen at 03:27 PM | Comments (8)
Church for Pets

It's just not for people anymore.

The National Cathedral down here has the 'blessing of animals' once a year. I never make it. Ted would literally have a heart attack. What you can do is fill out a prayer slip and then the Cathedral writes back to you and tells you when mass was said in the honor of whoever.

Yeah you know me, Ted got a prayer slip filled out. Ajax too. Along with all the other unloved and unwated pets out there.

Posted by Ellen at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)
Reality Bites

As expected, reality shows really aren't all that real, especially the ones from fox. Joe might not be a millionaire, but he was renting a high-dollar mansion just last year.

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)
Chasing Switzerland

I know from family stories that when you get lost and land at a high-security military airbase, the authorities are... unsympathetic. Unfortunately I don't know enough of the details to actually tell the story, but I think at least one of our readers does. Maybe if you ask nicely we can get Pat to tell us what happened when my grandad decided to land at a SAC airbase...

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)
January 18, 2003
Now That's a Ticket to Ride

Well, I guess on a Nude Flight it'll be easy to spot the air marshall. One stewardess jiggle would all it'd take for me to be a dead man.

Posted by scott at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Ellen used to live and breathe Pikachu, that funny little not-quite rat, not quite teddy bear. Well, now she can eat pikachu!.

Posted by scott at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)
Roomba... On the Inside

Some geeks can't resist. Here's a look inside the robotic vacuum cleaner, the Roomba!

Posted by scott at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)
The Wrong Lessons

I'm sure it would be a revelation to most baby boomers, press monkeys, and pretty much anyone under the age of 40, but the Vietnam era did not herald the invention of the anti-war protest movement. Protesting wars has been part of the American landscape for pretty much as long as there's been an America to own a landscape. From Washington's farewell address of 1796 to the draft riots of 1863 to giant anti-war rallies in 1915 through the conscientious objector movements of World War II and Korea we have always and ever been a country not completely comfortable with waging war. The Vietnam war protests are unique only in the the way its protagonists took nearly every good thing they did and twisted it into something awful.

In many ways the early part of the Vietnam conflict was quite unusual in its lack of protests. It was a time when a staggeringly large number of citizens had been trained in unquestioning obedience to authority (see Transformations for a more complete development of this idea). It was a time when communications technology had not developed to the point where any place on the globe could be reached by any other place in a matter of hours, minutes, even seconds. It was a time when politicians were far more afraid of nuclear conflagration than they were of victory, and generals were more afraid of losing their jobs than losing their men.

So through an unusual combination of forces, coincidences, personalities, and technology the United States took what should have been a three year civil war and turned it into a decade long bloodbath that cost the nation billions in wasted dollars and the lives of tens of thousands of its best and brightest, delivering nothing in return but misery and destruction.

But it could, and probably would, have been worse. It's difficult to understand just how badly the war was run in Vietnam. The President and his civilian cabinet picked targets for lieutenants and captains to bomb the same day. Generals counted success by the numbers of claimed enemy dead instead of the amount of enemy land taken and held. At least as many, if not more, soldiers were involved in making sure colonels and generals were kept in air conditioned, gourmet meal comfort as ever pointed a rifle at the enemy.

The mainstream media should be rightly proud it exposed such horrific waste and unbelievable incompetence. The protest movement should rightly be proud that it caused important and significant changes in the way that war was waged. These are events, achievements, and milestones that are properly celebrated in liberal academia and press clubs to this day. Unfortunately they came with a price, a price far too infrequently noted, in no small part because it was caused by those responsible for writing the history.

Because, as with most large group endeavors, the anti-war movement's and the media's reach eventually exceeded its grasp. Vietnam rapidly came to be seen as the prime ticket required to quickly advance a reporter's (few late in the war warranted the moniker "journalist") career. Fact checking, historical, even tactical perspective, and the ability to separate the story of soldiers from the story of war all got lost in the machiavellian quest to "get the story", "get the sound bite", "get the pictures".

Hysteria ruled not only the teenager getting shot at, but also the reporter trying to talk to him. Peter Arnett is world-famous for the quote "the only way Hue [a South Vietnamese city] could be won was by destroying it", yet he never provided a source for it and to this day no-one else has ever claimed to have said or heard it. Eddie Adams's electrifying photograph of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan personally blowing the brains out of a captured Vietcong infiltrator is widely held to be one of the most defining of the war, yet the fact that this was essentially a terrorist who, with his fellows, had just murdered most of the General's security forces (including one officer at home with his wife and children) has never been widely circulated.

The protest movement holds "four dead in Ohio" as the leitmotif of the suffering they went through in the execution of their cause. Yet hardly ever is remarked the pain and suffering their hyperbolic foaming caused thousands of soldiers returning from jungle horror. They caused these men, the vast majority of whom were draftees who never wanted to go in the first place, to be spat on for serving their country. Sean Penn may have visited Saddam in Iraq to highlight his views against the war, but Jane Fonda sat in an anti-aircraft gun used to kill American troops that week, and smiled as they took her picture.

The wounds these events caused on the American psyche were deep. Eventually even Hanoi Jane apologized for the pain she'd caused. As the first in-depth histories, biographies, and memoirs were written in the 70s and 80s the nation learned what it had always suspected... the war did not have to turn out the way it did, and the media and the protesters shared a heaping portion of the blame alongside the politicians and the generals.

It was therefore only surprising to the media, the liberal intelligentsia, and celebrities that, when the Gulf War rolled around, Americans had had a bellyfull of their careerism, myth-making, and sarcastic repartee. Poll after poll applauded the military's tight control of the media (in spite of the weak bleats of complaint heard to this day), and this time it was the protesters standing forlornly in the middle of college campuses, looking lost and out of place.

Because the media, the protesters, and the liberal left learned the wrong lessons from that war. When they should've been learning that no authority is beyond questioning, they instead chose to believe that no authority is worth trusting. When they should've been learning that the death of every American soldier was tragic, they instead chose to believe that preventing the suffering of enemy civilians was paramount. When they should've been learning that status, celebrity, and journalism were powerful counterweights to ensure the proper prosecution of a war, they instead chose to believe any cause they considered unjust could be stopped simply by upping the rhetoric, increasing the heat, attracting more attention.

By learning the wrong lessons, by crowing about the wrong things, they are losing the incredible opportunities they have before them today. Instead of focusing on the effectiveness of our strategies, they're visiting the palaces of those sworn to destroy us. Instead of concentrating to make sure politicians are not allowed to decide the fate of corporals, they're protesting that an economic lynch pin of the modern age isn't worth fighting for. Instead of ensuring our politicians have a workable, valid plan for an aftermath that will make the horrible sacrifices justified, they are instead trying to dredge up or recreate glories long past, and tarnished.

A great man once said, "Let the dead bury the dead." It is a lesson, to their great discredit, that not a single one of the current anti-war protesters seems to have learned.

Posted by scott at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)
January 17, 2003
17 Weeks

Almost halfway there!

Baby facts for this week: Starting to feel like a balloon? You may be gaining weight rapidly at this point, even if you're not eating much. Don't necessarily blame yourself if the pounds are accumulating faster than you'd like, what's important for you and your baby is eating smart. Make sure you eat a balanced diet rich in protein, fruits, and vegetables.

No, I'm not feeling like a balloon. My baby did the disapearing act again. Since I've been feeling like the "cousin of Frankenstein" all week long, I've found I can't keep most food down. Yes, of course I went the the doctor. They said the naseau is all due to the neon-green "You-Can't-Do-That-On-Television-slime" backdrip. YUM! Still, they can't get it through their heads that I can't keep food down for more than an hour. Saltine crackers make me ill. It actually feels good to rest my head on the toilet (mmm... porcelain). I think I have actually lost weight this week. I don't look pregnant again, just when it was starting to show.

Two words until I feel better. Liquid. Diet. That's right. Soup, ginger ale and water.

Developmental Stats: our baby is now nearly 7 inches long and weighs approximately 5 ounces. Her skeleton is mostly rubbery cartilage, which will harden later. A protective substance called myelin slowly begins to enshroud the spinal cord.

With the help of a special stethoscope, you can now hear your baby's heartbeat. Although you probably already heard it weeks ago in your doctor's office, there's almost nothing more comforting or exciting than hearing your baby's heartbeat galloping along. On days when you're worried about how your pregnancy is progressing, hearing the heartbeat lets you know that your baby's developing and growing. For times when boredom strikes and you feel as if you'll be pregnant forever, it can be a pleasant reminder of what will come at the end of 40 weeks of waiting.

Your growing uterus has shifted your center of gravity, and you've probably been feeling a bit off-kilter. Be careful and wear low-heeled shoes. If you haven't had an amniocentesis yet and plan to, do it this week. One perk: You'll get a long look at your baby through ultrasound during this procedure.

17 weeks in, lots to go.

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)
Tool Time

Now that I have a real garage, I'm trying to collect a set of real tools (about the "getting a real car" thing... when your car wins a world championship we can come back and talk. When it wins more than ten I might take you seriously). I've got a pretty decent collection of Craftsman stuff, but there are still places even those wrenches won't get to, and bolts they'll still round off.

After doing a lot of research on it, it would seem the three "makes to have" are MAC, Matco, and Snap-On. These are what professionals use, and they are supposed to be quite noticeably better than even Craftsman (which is pretty good already).

It used to be a bit difficult to get these tools, because they're traditionally sold out of trucks that visit dealers instead of storefronts. Nowadays all three have web-based catalogs, so availability is not that big of a problem anymore.

What is a big problem is price. MAC and Matco tools are about 3-5 times more expensive than Craftsman (which is about twice as expensive as what you get at Wally-world), and Snap-On is around 6-10 times more. It's quite easy to spend $2500 on a Snap-On set of tools that would normally only cost $300 or less from Craftsman.

Enter E-bay. Like all-clad pots and pans, all three brands of tools are readily available on that bubbling pot of an electronic bazaar. Unlike pots and pans, I have no problem at all buying used tools (I don't eat what I fix with a ratchet), and used ones are available at a fraction of the cost of new.

Turns out Snap-On, MAC, and Matco all seem to go for about the same prices used, so I've targeted Snap-On, which is generally considered the best (although apparently not by enough to justify the extreme premium they cost when new, which is why all my stuff is used). Please note this is no slight to the other two. My research showed that at the professional level tool choice can spawn holy wars that make the "Mac vs. PC" stuff look like two kids going at it with rubber-band guns. Any of these three are fine. Also, these are all US made tools. I'm actually quite curious as to what's considered the "best of breed" in hand tools in Europe, South America, Africa, or Asia. If you're from there, let me know!

Anyway, here's what I've found so far:

  • Craftsman tools are very nice, fit-and-finish wise. Snap-On tools are like jewelry. In every respect the Snap-On stuff is lighter, more finely made, and more precise. Think of a Western Sizzlin' steak (cost: $12.00). Now think of your local five star steakhouse (around here that's Ruth Chris. Cost: $35.00). It's that kind of difference.
  • Because of their smaller size, Snap-On's will get in tighter places.
  • The Snap-On ratchets don't seem to have a sprocket mechanism any finer than the Craftsman. I may simply not have purchased the correct ratchets yet, as some have more teeth than others. Not extremely impressed so far.
  • The difference between Snap-On wrenches and Craftsman wrenches is far more dramatic. The Snap-Ons are noticeably lighter, more finely made, and have smaller, more precisely machined working surfaces. This translates into wrenches that fit better, grip better, and don't round stuff off.
  • The difference between the sockets is more interesting. Again, Snap-On is lighter and more finely made, but they're also shaped differently, and have a different interior design. This could translate into better grip, but I'll need to wait until I tackle a few more "nut and bolt" jobs before I can say for sure.

Conclusion so far: Craftsman still makes pretty darned good tools, but they usually aren't in the same league as Snap-On.

Why pay so much? Why not just head down to Wal-Mart or Home Depot and pick something up for a fraction of the price? Don't they all have lifetime warranties?

Warranties guarantee the tool. They don't guarantee the job. The difference between Craftsman and Snap-On may be the difference between a burger and a steak, but compared to either of these the stuff you get at Wal-Mart or a chain hardware store is what you'd find at the bottom of a dumpster behind the restaurant at the end of a long, hot day.

There's nothing quite as satisfying, in its own way, as contorting yourself until you reach that last nut or bolt, getting a socket or wrench firmly on it, pulling really hard, and having it come loose with a smooth "click!" There's also nothing quite as sickening as getting everything just right, pulling hard, and having the nut round off with a mushy "thwop", hurling your knuckles into a pinch seam on the firewall. One gets you closer to your goal of fixing something. The other forces you to get out the power tools and the vice grips, and adds hours to a project that might've only taken minutes.

You decide which one you'd rather experience.

Posted by scott at 11:24 AM | Comments (30)
~Birds Run/Over the Rainbow~ ... Run?!?

I heard about this one yesterday on NPR. An American scientist has come up with a new theory about how birds' dinosaur anscestors learned to fly. In a nutshell, they may have at first used their wings as a kind of "traction control" device to help them run up steep, even vertical, inclines.

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)
Beheading Facts

It's weird, macabre... just plain creepy, but I know some of you out there really are curious about what happens after someone is beheaded.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)
January 16, 2003
Kitty Rap

This is really cute. Thanks to Elizabeth for sending me the Kitty Rap.

Kitty No- Prize to you!

Posted by Ellen at 04:14 PM | Comments (3)
Eye in the Sky

Turns out North Korea is a lot worse than your worst nightmares.

What I consider unprecedented from this is the media finally cluing into the fact that they have their very own spy satellites to use. The commercial stuff available today is said by Aviation Week & Space Technology to be as good as what the government was using in the mid-to-late 80s, which is (obviously) still damned useful.

Really, this is ground-breaking stuff. If the press would just get off their butts, they now have the capability to monitor other country's militaries, look for WMD labs and factories, count airplanes, ships, tanks, and trucks, death camps, execution yards, the works.

I've said it before, but it deserves repeating:

No increase in the ability of mankind to communicate has ever resulted in a loss of liberty.

Even if that communication is the mute expression of unspeakable suffering, observed by cold mechanical eyes miles away.

A bank-shot via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)
Bananas on the Way Out?

This has been making the rounds, but it's the first time I've managed to actually read any of the linked articles. According to this BBCnews article, we may not have any bannanas to eat in ten years.

Sounds a bit chicken-little-ish to me, but still...

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)
Flight Sim Nuts, Rejoice!

AirplaneStuff.com brings you all sorts of nifty control kits you can use to build "near-real" controls for all your various flight sims.

Yeah, really farking expensive I know, but fun to look at!

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)
The Cold From Hell

Scott made me stay home from work today. I was in the process of getting ready for work, since I slept on the couch again, when I started to feel dizzy and a bit green.

You know you and your significant other love each other when one can be in the shower and the other one retching over the toilet. "You OK?", he says? "Yeah, I will be". (hangs head back in the toilet for the second round)

Being sick on an empty stomach is not fun at all. "I want you to call work and call in. You've been sick all week, and I don't want to have to take you home early."

This is my second sick day this week.

My obgyn said my immune system has dropped quite a bit due to being pregnant and it will take longer for me to recover.

I have no appetite whatsoever. But I did manage to make myself eat a piece of toast and drink some grapefruit juice. I have drunk so much tea this week that I think I may be dehydrating myself from it.

Hopefully I'll start feeling better this weekend.

Posted by Ellen at 11:03 AM | Comments (3)
When is a Ghost Ship... Not?

Only the media. Ok, you do the math. A fishing boat wandering around north of Australia and south of Indonesia is eventually discovered abandoned but with a hold full of fish. A few weeks later, one of the shipboard phones is found to have made many calls from somewhere inside Indonesia. The media, not being able to do any actual research since parroting press releases from law enforcement is so much easier, call it a mystery.

It might seem like one until you realize the seas around Indonesia and south China are riddled with pirates, and most commercial vessels, even really big ones like tankers, only have at most a dozen or two crew members.

Can you say piracy? I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
January 15, 2003
I'm So Glad You're Here to Tell Me These Things, Pt II

"AMCGLTD", I hear you all asking us, "just how are we supposed to tell fake UFOs from the Real Thing? I mean, even when I wear my tinfoil hat, sometimes I'm just not sure... I keep getting that 'not so legitimate' feeling... what am I to do?!?"

Well, dear friend, you've come to the right place. Tired of mistaking that hubcap hanging from a wire for an intergalactic starship? Not quite sure if the spaceship coming to take you away is just that damned Stevens kid with his battery-powered frizbee again? Having trouble figuring out which Raelian to trust?

Fear not, fellow believers, for we have found just exactly how to tell a fake UFO from a real one.

And always remember...

Keep watching the skies -- but use caution!

Posted by scott at 07:35 PM | Comments (1)

One of the hardest things about my job is helping to make the decision when to end a life. It's the one thing I hate about my job the most. Cats are supposed to just go to sleep and not wake up one day. Cats are not supposed to get cancer or heart disease or high blood pressure. But they do. When a disease has managed to overcome them, and their small body does not want to make the decision to leave their human, sometimes you need to point them in the right direction.

I had to assist in a home euthanasia today on a cat named Moogi. Moogi was a short haired kitty that looked very much like my Coconut. Moogi, with a big apple head and a short stocky body, had cancer that wrapped around his colon and urethra, preventing him from performing the basic functions required for life. Surgery couldn't fix this, neither could radiation or chemo. The cancer was highly malignant and the oncologist said it would only return in time. So his humans decided that he should just be comfortable until he said it was time for him to go. Today, a cold, windy, clear day in January, and Moogi has not urinated for almost 2 days. It's time.

We arrive at the house, a very nice house. A house any cat would love to live in. His humans had the fireplace going for him, because he loves to lay on his favorite armchair and relax by the fire. We're talking a full-blown wood burning fireplace, not one of those fake gas things. It crackles, and the smell of hickory fills the room.

Of course, they are already in tears about their cat... how could they not? They were waiting for us to arrive to take their cat from them. Moogi is in his chair cleaning his leg, as if nothing in the world was wrong. He looks up at us as if to say "Hello! I did not know we were having company?" I start to tear up right then and there. He has no idea what is going to happen.

We draw up some sedation for him so he will sleep for the entire procedure. I tell his humans that they can go ahead and pick him up and love on him and hold him for as long as they need to. They can let us know when they are ready to let him go. A slight stick, which he didn't even notice, and it's only a matter of moments when Moogi is in his anesthetic sleep.

Both of his humans sit on the couch with him as he slumbers peacefully, his dad holding him like a baby and telling him how sorry he was there was nothing they could do to fix him.

It's over in a matter of seconds when the second and last injection is given I.V. and he relaxes in their arms and takes his last sigh. A tiny, trusting soul, peacefully transformed into a kind of stuffed animal, a container to be respectfully taken care of, now that the soul has moved on to better things.

Moogi had a peaceful exit, a good death. Moogi got to move on at home, in a safe, comfortable place, with the people that loved him surrounding him, touching him, holding him.

As we leave, I tell the doctor I work with that I'm sick of putting on my black feathered wings, holding small kitty paws to direct them where to stand in line for reincarnation.

But then again, I had the honor to share the last few moments of a cat's life.

Posted by Ellen at 07:34 PM | Comments (7)
Secret Diaries of LOTR

Via crazy-aunt-in-the-attic-to-be Maru, I present to you the Secret Diaries of Cassandra Claire, actually being a collection of the secret diaries of many characters from Lord of the Rings. Apparently an oldie, but v. funny nonetheless.

I'd tell you more, but Sam would kill me if I tried anything.

Posted by scott at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)
Voices from TinfoilHatLand

Rural white America scares the hell out of me sometimes. Why? Because guys like this are regularly put in positions of power, especially in the south.

This guy just happens to be in Georgia, but I heard things like this constantly while I was growing up in Arkansas. I didn't go to church, but I found it no coincidence that the kids around me would assume the cadence and phrasing of a protestant preacher whenever race, religion, or politics was brought up.

My mom will probably instantly rise to the defense of all the decency that is the "true" south, and accuse me of apostasy (she's done it before). But really, was Billy Free any different? How about Mike Huckabee?

I like the south, from a distance. I think it provides a valuable, important counterweight to the loopier "rational" ideas that come from liberal yankees and Californians. In their turn, said yankees and Berkely residents provide an equally valuable service by keeping an eye on the loopy paranoaics which seem to infest positions of power at the state and local levels of government in the South.

However, I'm very glad I don't live in a small southern town any more.

Posted by scott at 11:14 AM | Comments (3)
W2MW in comics

(That's Welcome to My World, in case you were wondering)

Wil Wheaton (who needs linkage like a bear needs panties, so look 'im up yerself), brought this cartoon to our attention.

Ellen had something like this happen to her. An apparently very rich, very powerful "Playah" didn't appreciate "having to talk to the help" instead of a "real doctor". Her response was predictable, colorful, and (unjustifiably) required an apology.

Posted by scott at 09:57 AM | Comments (2)
Card on Korea

Orson Scott Card, a major science fiction author, has this extremely perceptive take on the North Korea/Iraq comparison.

A bank-shot via The Lex Files.

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
When the Stars Go... Brown?

BBCnews is reporting the discovery of the closest "brown dwarf" found to date. Brown dwarfs are celestial objects that are much bigger than planets, but not quite big enough to "ignite" and turn into full-blown stars.

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)
So What if It Costs 10x More Than My House... I Got Checks!

For the unbelievably rich person who has everything, I present to you a McClaren F-1 for sale. I think, I think these things go for ~$1.2 million when new. Trust me, they don't depreciate.

Posted by scott at 08:03 AM | Comments (3)
More than Just a Cold

Ok, I'm sicker than I thought. I first thought since Sunday, that I had a mild cold. Just some congestion, sneezing and achiness in my head.

This morning I have been up since 3 am hacking and gaging and unable to be comfortable. Good thing Mama is usually up at this hour surfing the net, since she is really a cat and only sleeps in 2 hour incriments. :)

First sign things are not going good. I took that damn Robitussin because I started to cough. What came up? Green nasty shit. Green=no good. Mama, of course said to watch for rust colored yuck- could indicate pneumonia. Eww.

Secondly, I told you all I yack from Robitussin. Did I yack? Of course. An hour later. Not only that, but being pregnant, I can't sneeze and hold back my bladder anymore despite all the kegals I do. So as I bowed to the toilet god, I managed to pee in my pants. Nice right? I also got banished to the couch (which I don't mind- I love my couch)since Scott drives to and from work so I can cat nap on the way in and back, so the compromise is not bad. I really don't like to wake someone else up being sick. The downstairs is much cooler. The big plus is all the cats come and congregate with me.

Bad thing about cats joining you in the bathroom while I was busy trying not to vomit up my baby, was that Goblin was trying to stick her head in the toilet at the same time to see what was going on. She has been peed on before by Scott in the middle of the night, so I'm sure being hurled on would be nothing special to her. No..I didn't puke on the cat.

So now I have to call my obgyn again this morning and tell them what is going on since they have the most control in the meds I can take. Hopefully they can just call in a prescription for me.

I still a have to go to work this am. I am the only tech on today until 1 pm. Though, I don't know about tomorrow.

Posted by Ellen at 05:05 AM | Comments (2)
Rate Jess a 10!

Ok, one of my co-workers got slapped up on Hot or Not.

So, the plan is this. Everyone click the link and rate her a 10 so we can boost her scores.

Rate Jess a 10

Posted by Ellen at 04:41 AM | Comments (3)
January 14, 2003
Now What?!?

This is the latest baby news on what you can't eat. I might as well just starve myself now.

Can't drink, can't take 'real' cold medication, no recreational herbs-well other than tea (it's a JOKE people!).

Don't mind me, I'll be the one sitting in the corner eating grass and dirt.

Posted by Ellen at 08:42 PM | Comments (5)
Queer Duck

A very rainbow colored No-Prize to Nina!

Queer Duck

Watch EVERY episode in order!

Posted by Ellen at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)
For Nina

My sister's first real present as a baby was the neatest gift (I think) for someone under a year old. It was cute, cuddly, it lit up when you sqeezed it, and she still has it to this day.

I bring you The GloWorm.

My sister has Baby Glo. Baby Glo's body is faded, her cap no longer flips from front to back to switch from awake to sleepy Baby Glo, but she still hangs out with Nina. Along with a pillow case with Dumbo on it that is so faded and thinned out, you can see through the fabric.

Mind you, Baby Glo is 16 years old, and Dumbo Pillow is much older, since it was my brother's and mine pillow case from a sheet set from when we were younger.

Posted by Ellen at 07:50 PM | Comments (5)
Engage, or Entitle?

Ms. No-prize (Pat) brings us this NYtimes editorial (free reg, blah blah) on the North Korean situation. The author's take: yes, it's rewarding bad behavior, but it puts our foot in the door, and it's only a matter of time till they fall apart all by themselves.

I think they're probably a lot closer to falling apart than we think. In the fall the Washington Post ran a couple of articles to the effect that the US shouldn't jostle North Korea too much because South Korea was in no position to pick up the pieces when they collapsed. They are of course, they just don't want to pay for it.

What was remarkable was the tone... it sounds very much like everyone in Asia knows North Korea's number is up. The famines in particular seem to have knocked a serious dent in them (two million people who had so little to eat they wasted away and died really is a horror beyond speaking... it takes weeks, even months to starve to death.) I get the feeling everyone's just watching the tree wobble, trying to figure out where it will land when it falls to make sure they're not under it.

The final death knell of any empire is when it loses control over its own bureaucracy. When the clerks start leaving their offices carrying the furniture, there's just not much left to do. Unfortunately we simply don't know enough about what's going on in there to tell how close they are to collapse.

But they will.

Posted by scott at 01:51 PM | Comments (1)
A Conversation with a Veteran

I found this very interesting interview with a Russian WWII combat ace. Quite good reading!

Posted by scott at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)
Car of the Future

Autoweek has this summary of what GM, at least, thinks a fuel-cell car will eventually look like. No engine compartment!

The more extreme enviroweenies think we'll never see fuel cells because the oil companies will conspire to prevent their production. Hell, before 9-11 they may have been right. Now, though, I think pretty much everyone in places of power around here (not just in the government) have quietly come to the same conclusion about the Middle East that we did about Europe 60 years ago... It's Time for Them to Go.

There are any number of ways to make hydrogen. One of the more promising methods was to "crack" gasoline using electrochemical methods. This would've leveraged the huge petroleum infrastructure we've built over the past 100+ years.

It would've also perpetuated our reliance on foreign (i.e. middle-eastern) oil, and therefore I believe has been quietly deprecated by the powers-that-be. Certainly I'm not hearing any noise about it from any car or oil industry circle. Instead they seem to have decided to just build out a hydrogen infrastructure. This gives the oil companies a buy-in (if they're smart), because that'll be who builds it. It also leverages utility companies, coal, and natural gas industries, because all the other ways of generating hydrogen require electricity (you crack water instead of gasoline). We have plenty of coal and natural gas, thank you.

Oh, we'll still need oil. Nearly all modern materials require it in some form or another, and certain kinds of transportation (aviation in particular) won't adapt well or quickly to fuel cells. But by removing oil from our ground transportation equation, it stops being a single lever anyone can jiggle to screw with our entire economy. The rest of the world, especially Russia and South America, will be able to easily supply our needs, and we get along just fine with them.

At that point, perhaps in ten years, perhaps in twenty, we will finally be able to remove Islam from its aberrent place on the world stage and allow it to continue its historic slide into poverty and obscurity. The f-d up thing is, the Islamofacists rising to power in the Arab world now probably won't mind at all. Abitious, mean, ignorant old men have ever chosen power and easy women over clean water, live babies, and a healthy populace.

"Poor Grendel's had an accident. So may you all."

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (4)
January 13, 2003
Caesar's Paradox

On the razor-lined stage of world politics, the real paradox of national power is it can only occasionally be used directly, increased only by not using it. Without question the most successful states, the ones that lasted centuries instead of decades, were created by those willing to spread their power to the largest number of people as possible. The haves by their very nature fear the have-nots, but it is only by enabling them, empowering them, and most importantly of all just leaving them the hell alone, that the powerful have any hope of succeeding with any consistency.

It seems almost self-evidently obvious that the United States is the most powerful nation in the world. Our economy's gross domestic product is larger than the next three countries combined. We can haul other country’s entire air forces around in our cargo airplanes. We haven't lost a capital ship to enemy action in more than fifty years. Our special forces can be any place in the world in a matter of hours, entire armies can be moved in a matter of months. If a country really pisses us off we can turn it into a glowing plate of glass in a matter of minutes.

Yet everywhere we turn it seems we can't actually do anything. Our European allies think we're a bigger threat to world stability than a guy who shelled his own villages with nerve gas just because they annoyed him. A nation in Asia not much bigger than Alabama, which lost millions of people to starvation last year, claims they'll unleash a "rain of fire and doom" on us if we don't give them the food and fuel and promises not to invade they demand. Countries which make trillions of dollars selling us a product that would otherwise be useless black goo funnel that cash to nutjobs so crazy they can convince college-educated fathers to fly airplanes into buildings.

What's going on? Why can't we do something about these things? We've got all this power, all this wealth, all this glittering, snarling violence at the tips of our fingers. What good is it if we can't use it?

There was a time when I was a boy that I thought shooting turtles off logs was great fun. Now, before you get all hot and bothered let me make clear that my marksmanship was such that I turned more turtles to God from fright than I ever personally put in line for reincarnation.

At any rate, one fine, hot summer day my dad, my brother, and I were prowling the bayous near our deer camp looking to pop some caps into a few unwary turtles' behinds when we came across the mother load. By being very quiet and very cautious (no mean feat for ten and eight year old boys) we had crept up to a bog filled with dead trees so thick with sunning turtles they looked like slumbering beetles in the shimmering distance.

"Now, before I give you this gun," my dad quietly said to us, "I want to ask you just how many turtles you think you can shoot over there."

"Three!" I whispered emphatically.

"SIX!” my younger brother chimed in with defiance, always looking to one-up me in a competition

"Nope, you're both wrong. There's only one turtle out there you're going to get to shoot at."

We couldn't believe it. There were dozens of turtles out there in the sun, gray-black nailheads hammered into the dried, dead wood sticking out of the smelly brown water. How could we not miss?

In truth, I don't remember if Jeff (who's turn it was to shoot that time) managed to plink one into turtle heaven or not, but I never will forget what happened next. At the crack of the rifle every single one of those turtles immediately went into the water, with a sound like scattering a sack full of pennies into a swimming pool, clearly audible from our hiding place thirty yards away.

Before my brother even looked up from the rifle, that pond was empty, with sun-glittered ripples being the only evidence turtles had ever been there at all.

It's not just efficiency that makes the US take the long and winding road to our goals instead of using the laser-straight trajectory of a speeding bullet. Sometimes even nations must sleep.

There's a spot in the ruined forum of Rome that to this day has fresh flowers laid upon it. On that very spot, so tradition holds, a group of weak, argumentative, and greedy old men united in fear and loathing to murder the most powerful man the world had ever seen.

Julius Caesar’s mistake was not to trust the senate, not to ignore the "ides of March", not even to walk into a crowded room without a proper bodyguard. Caesar’s mistake was in demonstrating his power openly in gaudy triumphs, naked power grabs, and ostentatious displays of wealth. It was assuming that because he could command the cheers of thousands, he didn't need to win the hearts of the few dozen people required to make his empire a functioning whole.

His adopted nephew Octavian, whom the world would later know as Augustus, did not make this same mistake. It was true that he commanded the deadliest, most effective army on the planet, could and at times did order the execution of individuals with little more than a flick of a finger, but at root Augustus was just one man. He needed these cranky old bastards to run his burgeoning empire.

So the most powerful man in Rome, and therefore the world, sat in the senate just like the rest of the senators, was berated, wheedled, complimented, lobbied, and debated by them, almost as if nothing had changed at all. Oh, everyone knew it had, these were Romans after all, the world’s best hard-nosed realists. But by allowing these men their petty political games, by accepting (within limits) their need to express their independence, and by carefully cultivating and ensuring their continuing wealth and power, he built an empire whose like would not be equaled for more than a thousand years.

Only the hopelessly naive would think such hands-off policies would be all that is ever required (which is why such things are advocated so loudly by the media and various leftist elites). History is replete with examples of short-lived, poorly run empires that were nevertheless quite capable of dismantling nations unwilling or unable to defend themselves and their interests. However, it's only a little less naive to think that just because you're the biggest, scariest kid on the block you'll always be able to pummel people into seeing it your way.

Fortunately for the rest of the world, in spite of their cynical, self-serving bleats about oppression and injustice, America really does care what they think. Can you imagine the French reacting at all to the news that the rest of the world hates them? Can you picture Kim Jong Il changing his country's policies one iota in response to a press release from Britain? Can any one of you honestly see King Fayyed allowing the Saudi Arabian press to cover Italian protests over his country's "barbaric" practices?

We do. We do all of that and more. It actually hurts our feelings when we hear that one nation or another doesn't like us, even mean nasty ones run by short guys in funny glasses. We hold benefits, send cash, and risk international stability over tiny islands and nations buried so deep in mountains it's a wonder their own residents can find them with a map. We've even given up huge, sparkling military bases because democratically elected legislatures refused to renew our lease... billions of dollars of military might removed over a sheet of paper.

It's not "SAUDI ARABIA" or "LIBYA" or "CUBA" stamped on ton upon ton of free food being sent to, and at times even refused by, Africa. Turkish immigrants worry about being deported from the United States. They worry about being burned alive as they sleep in Europe. A South Korean may worry about getting run over by an American teenager in any army truck. A North Korean worries about his whole family starving just because they don't say "Death to America" loud enough when the wrong person is listening.

We're not saints. Half the time we don't seem to like ourselves very damned much. But anybody that says we're the primary threat to world peace today needs to have their head examined.

Posted by scott at 08:18 PM | Comments (1)
Stupid Baby Tricks

Ok, this is kinda stupid (or silly, however you see it), but this is the kind of person I am.

One of my cats (Teddy) loves to sit on my lap and get petted for long sessions. Now that I'm further along in my pregnancy, he has learned he must sit to the side of me with only half of his body on mine. So if you can imagine the cat's torso on my stomach, and his butt on the couch, usually leaning his head against me so I can rub the back of his neck.

Well, Ted likes to 'make biscuits' on me. Always has. Now he makes biscuits on the baby. The funny thing is, now that I'm feeling the baby move more, you can stimulate it to move.

Now every time Ted does the biscuit kneading, (I call it 'massaging his baby') it bobs up and down like a cork for a few minutes. Cute thing is, it only happens with Ted. So now every time he jumps up to get loved for a bit, or I see him contemplating if he wants to come up, you have to invite him up to massage his baby. " Well, are you just going to sit there or come massage your baby Ted?" is the usual question.

Must be something special with him and jelly belly.

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 PM | Comments (3)
First REAL Cold of the Year

I have finally fallen prey to this 'disease' that was being spread at my work. Normally I have no problems handling a cold. The last time I was truely sick was 3 years ago with a 102 degree fever and my boss was livid that I had to take almost a whole week off. Now mind you this was during our annual xmas party and I did manage to get dressed to drop off the present for my secret santa and the cookies I made. Scott, poor him, was made out to be the 'bad guy' because he actually dragged me out of the party within 30 minutes of arriving. I'm reminding you I had a fever at that point.

That was the last time I really got 'sick'. Now I have it again. Except for one small problem. I am limited to what medication I can take.

I call my dr's office this morning for some advice. I'm told a nurse will call me back shortly. 30 minutes later a nurse, from the other office I no longer go to is wondering why I called them for advice and not the office I normally go to. I almost cried. This is the same stupid front desk staff that manages to lose my file every time I walk in the door. The dr's and nurses are great, the receptionists, I dunno what to say other than I am ready to clack their heads against the wall.

The nurse proceeds to tell me I am only to take Sudafed, Regular Robitussin and Tylenol. Nothing else systemically. UGHH!!!! How cruel!

Robitussin is so nasty I want to vomit from the smell of it alone. Sudafed does not take care of stuffy noses very well, and tylenol is not that fantastic of a pain killer.

To make this story even more fantastic, the office I normally go to calls me at 230 pm to say they are returning my call on medication. Apparently what ever receptionist took my message FUBAR'd beyond belief. She still thinks I'm a patient at the other office, so she figured they needed to answer it. How stupid is that?

I have my 4th dr appointment next week, I'm anticipating a lost file yet again.

Posted by Ellen at 04:35 PM | Comments (2)
Mom Always Said They'd Give Me Back

My mom always used to threaten to sell me and my brother to the Gypsies because we were such holy terrors most of the time. "Of course", she'd say, "you two are so awful they'd just bring you back!" To which we, of course, would grin, and then Jeff would go back to throwing the soda cans he'd fished out of the trash at me.

Well, guess what! I now have the 21st century equivalent!

"Maaaa! Daddy's putting me up on e-bay again!"

"Well, hopefully he won't set the minimum bid up so high this time."


Posted by scott at 11:49 AM | Comments (3)
Will That be Hot n' Spicy, or Original Recipie?

There are friends, and then there are friends.

Paging Hannibal Lechter... white courtesy phone please...

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)
In Case You Were Wondering

For those of you who may doubt it, this MSNBC article declares "penis enhancement products" to essentially be worthless. But you should already know that, because if they did work there'd be thousands, millions of American teenage males running around with wangs they have to coil in their pants.

Posted by scott at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)
Own Your OWN Island!

On auction at Ebay.

Got few million to spare?

Posted by Ellen at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)
January 12, 2003
Darwin Fish

Thanks to Josh over at Blue Lens, I finally found out where to buy those nifty Darwin Fish.

There is one of just fish bones! Would be purrfect for "The Beast" to wear. (in case you are that dumb, The Beast is a long time nickname for my car for one big reason. My old license plate # that I did not pick out has 666 in sequence on it. )

Posted by Ellen at 05:38 PM | Comments (4)
Well Duh!

How obvious is this story?

Fizzy drinks? Do they mean soda?

Still no cure for cancer.

Posted by Ellen at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)
Bee Gee Singer Dies

Boy, doesn't it just suck. You go into the hospital for an intesitnal blockage (who knows what caused that), then you suffer a heart attack and die.

My faith in hospitals goes even further down on my list.

Posted by Ellen at 04:10 PM | Comments (3)
Cat Enema

One person's story on how he had to give his cat an enema.

It's funnier than you think it could be. ;)

Posted by Ellen at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)
Feline Future

Here is an interesting site on people who *finally* admit that domestic cats are true carnivors and need to eat like them.

One thing that raises our eyebrows is that there is a site like this out there. Most people are bent on making their cats vegetarians, which is an absurd idea anyway.

So check it out. You can even get recipies for making your own cat food. Me? I like to pop the top of can of cat food for my bunch. I'm too nervous with salmonella and other funky kitchen goblins if I made my own cat food.

Posted by Ellen at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
A Classic Riddle

On a hot July day New York police are called to a site in Central Park where a body has been discovered. On examination, they find that every bone in the man's body has been broken, including his neck. Naturally suspecting violence and foul play, they call the coroner to perform an autopsy. On completion, everyone is stunned to find that the man died of hypothermia. He froze to death on one of the hottest days of the year. What's going on?

I'd always thought the answer was an urban legend, but reading this story (which was probably an unintentional case) makes me wonder.

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (1)
January 11, 2003
Tiger's Exam

I usually hate working Saturdays. The most ungrateful people come in on Saturdays to have their pets worked on. It seems that many people like to wait till Saturday to see the vet with a sick cat, one that has been ill for over a week.

Except for today. Today it was worthwhile to work.

A cat came in for an exam/recheck on her issues with irritable bowl disease (IBD). Not only the owner came, but she toted her 2.5 year old girl with her. This small girl carried small toy cat carrier with her, complete with a small toy stuffed cat in it.

I go over the real cat's issues first, then turn to the young girl, whose name, I found out, was Olivia (really!)

"Is your kitty here for an exam too?" I ask.

She nods her head sagely and yanks out the stuffed toy. "Yes, Tiger needs a checkup". Mind you, her mother said she was only 2.5 years old, and the way she was talking was totally clear and completely determined as to what she wanted.

So I played along.

"Ok, let me weigh Tiger and take her temperature for you. Wow! did you know that Tiger weighs a whole 1/2 of a pound?!? What are you feeding this kitty? She is larger than your moms cat!"

Olivia looks at me and proceeds to tell me that Tiger eats with the other cat at home and shares out of the same dish. I continue doing my exam on this stuffed toy for her, even going so far as looking in its eyes with the opthalmoscope and switching sets to create a otoscope to look in its ears. "Looks nice and clean in there. Are you cleaning Tiger's ears every week?"

She nods again, big, alert eyes laser-locked on to mine. The entire time she was quiet and very serious. Her mom rolled her eyes and kept apologizing for taking up my time.

I pulled out my stethoscope and listened to the stuffed toy's chest. "Well?" she says, "Does his stuffing sound ok?"

"Sounds good to me. No murmur today", I say.

Her mom proceeds to tell me that her daughter came in during the last visit when they found a heart murmur on the other cat and for some odd reason chest sounds stuck with her.

To make this stuffed toy's exam complete for little Olivia, I pulled out an official, for-real exam paper, and a sticker that we use with a check off list of normal/abnormal next to each body function, and checked off what we found normal. After carefully considered consultation Olivia and I both agreed that Tiger needed to cut back on some of the food she was eating.

I return to the treatment room and the doctor turns to me and asks me why I was taking so long. "Well, you see, I had to examine Tiger" I said.

"We don't have a 'Tiger' for that appointment" he said, checking his appointment book.

I shook my head and sighed at him. Now I had to tell him the entire story about why I was late checking in an appointment. Later on, after he came out of the room after finishing the exam with the real cat, he said he was glad I checked over the stuffed toy. It kept the young girl quiet during the other cat's exam, and she got her 'pet' looked at. Her mother told the doctor that it made Olivia feel important.

On request, mind you, we solemnly made an appointment for Olivia and Tiger in six weeks (co-incidentally at the same time as Luna, Mom's non-stuffed cat) to start some vaccines and double-check the weight.

Best patient I had that day!

Posted by Ellen at 04:39 PM | Comments (7)
16 Weeks

Well, I officially hit the 4 month marker.

According to my pregnancy calender, this is what's going on this week: Your baby's about the size of an avocado now, but in the next three weeks he'll go through a tremendous growth spurt — doubling his weight and adding inches to his length. In the meantime, he'll be playing with his umbilical cord and practicing breathing by inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid through his lungs. You're going through a bit of a growth spurt yourself. Your uterus has expanded so much that the ligaments in your abdomen are stretching to make room for it. If you feel any twinges of pain now, that's why.

An avocado? What kind of avocado? One of those nasty wrinkly looking ones or the smooth ones? They're both different in size.

Am I showing yet? No, not really. The pants are getting tighter and the hip huggers I bought are coming in awfully handy.

I'm still able to exercise with no problems. I won't change the routines I had before I got pregnant. Weelll... one modification. I finally swallowed my pride and lowered the aerobic step to its lowest level (hangs head in shame). Ok, so I didn't change my heavy weight routine with the barbells and such, but I did lower the aerobic part so I won't keep getting griped at for raising the baby's heartbeat and making it explode (yes, I was told that, even on how I'm going to bake it by making my body temperature go up- Hmm..makes me wonder how the chicks that ran marathons, and or other while pregnant handle this?- Perhaps a nice 'fuck off' did it?)

Scott says I'm too obsessed with weight gain. Yeah, ok I admit that. I don't want to gain more than I'm supposed to so I'm being careful. I don't want to take an entire year to heal myself. I feel totally shitty if I miss a day working out. I listen to my body and slow down only if I need to.

They say, if you exercise during pregnancy, your labor will be easier. So this is a test to me, or rather a seeking out to prove if this actually works. I'm not talking of starting an exercise program while pregnant to see how labor goes, but for someone that only modifies slightly on what they are already doing.

It's going to be interesting to see.

Posted by Ellen at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)
I Gotta Get Me One of These

Ya know, I think having your own personal flying machine is a good idea on the face of it, but c'mon. Tens of thousands of morons kill themselves on our highways every year, and they're only a few inches off the ground. Imagine what would happen if Buffy tried to drink her latte, talk on her cell phone, and do her makeup two hundred feet in the air?

Posted by scott at 03:45 PM | Comments (5)
January 10, 2003
A Difference in Kind

It has been said on more than one occasion that this nation knows nothing of war. While this statement is a falsehood of such amazing ignorance it does not even require refuting, I would posit that, contrary to the beliefs of most of this country's "left", this nation does in fact know nothing of poverty.

It only takes watching this extremely uncritical 60 Minutes II segment to understand this. People who consider themselves poor and in need of help drive to food banks in this country. They stand in line wearing new coats, new hats, new shoes, and glasses. They return to homes with televisions, VCRs, and microwaves.

And they are all very well fed. Around the rest of the world true poverty is measured by how close you are to death by starvation, disease, or war. It is measured by the number of tiny bodies lying on a roadway, covered in flies. It is measured by the number of beggars sitting on a street corner in a filthy loincloth because they literally have nothing else to wear.

It's no wonder much of the "developing" world considers Americans soft, decadent, and arrogant. What are they expected to think when a 50 year old woman drives to a food bank in clean clothes, jewelry, and freshly styled hair? What are they expected to think when a teenage girl with a double chin weeps openly claiming she can't concentrate at school because she's "hungry"? What are they expected to think when they see a grown man with a tearstained face claiming he can't find work when they see their own brothers and sisters virtually imported by the boatload to work here as field hands, janitors, dishwashers, maids, and clerks?

Our grandparents and great grandparents were the last generation in this country to really understand what poverty meant. In a time before Social Security, welfare, and the "great society", being thrown out of work meant you were quickly on the street. Having a crop fail meant you were quickly going to starve. Many people were so traumatized by these events they never really recovered. I can still remember hearing about friends who had older relatives who didn't trust a bank, and literally stuffed their money in mattresses.

Americans today know no real poverty at all. Getting fired from jobs, evicted from homes, going on food stamps, being hounded by collection agencies, and patronized by people who claim to want to help are poverties of convenience. These people are in no danger of starving, of dying from a curable disease, of being murdered en masse because they happen to have the wrong last name. I find it sickening that we can compare an overweight white kid in a mobile home in Ohio with a naked orphan on the streets of Calcutta.

If you have loved ones around you, you are not poor. If your children are being educated for you, even taken away and raised by someone else because you can't, you are not poor. If you can find help to get you out of the situation you find yourself in through bad luck, bad decisions, or bad blood, You. Are. Not. Poor.

Because there's a difference between needing help and being poor. Needing help means you dug a hole too deep and need someone to lead you out of it. Needing help means you're too stubborn or stupid to stop having babies and leave a man that beats you. Needing help means God decided to bunt a hurricane through your back yard this spring and the insurance company doesn't want to pay. There's no shame in needing help, really nothing remarkable at all. Certainly nothing needing the breathless, chicken-little yammerings of people who claim to know better.

Needing help implies a contract between you and me, one that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, one that provides you with the tools and the responsibility of using them to fix your own situation. Being poor is just something you are, something that cannot be escaped, something that entitles you rather than enables you.

I just wish Americans would look up from their commercials long enough to understand the difference.

Posted by scott at 03:47 PM | Comments (6)
Happy Anniversary, ATS!

Today is Amish Tech Support's 1 year anniversary! Be sure to go over there and wish everbody's favorite tasteless blogger a happy 1 year. :)

Posted by scott at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)
Oh, the Humanity!

NYtimes has this article (free reg req, blah blah) about the booming high-tech hot rodding industry.

I've got a really good friend who is completely into this sort of hot rodding, so much so I've threatened to paint sutures on his car to make it look like the Frankenstein beast it is. His latest gizmo looks to me like a Coleco football game with a blue metal frame, but he swears it's good for much go-fast.

I never will forget the first time he saw my Alfa, which only has transistors in the radio, let alone ICUs in the engine compartment. "Where are all the wires?!?" was about the best he could do. :)

And, say what you will about ricers, a mid-10s trap time is damned impressive.

Update: Thought this slashdot comment was pretty damned interesting:

Every team has what is called a "7-post shaker rig". This is an electro-hydro-mechanical device that places a hydraulic ram under each tire, plus 3 more attached to the aero centre for feeding in aero loads. By playing back the loads recorded by the car during operation by the position sensors, load cells, strain gauges, and accelerometers though these rams, the engineers can watch the car operate under real racing conditions in the lab.

Well, the bigger teams transmit the telemetry coming off the car during the race back to the shop in England, where the shaker righ data is played back on a duplicate car on the shaker rig in near real-time, so that they can keep an eye open for problems.

Posted by scott at 08:56 AM | Comments (1)
I'm So Glad You're Here to Tell Me These Things

For your edification and enjoyment, we present to you the weirdest warning label of 2002, brought to you by the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.

Be sure to check the archives, where you'll find gems like:

A box of birthday cake candles says: “DO NOT use soft wax as ear plugs or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity.”

Posted by scott at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)
Squirrel: 1 Gym: 0

Every time the lights go out, a squirrel gets its wings.

Posted by scott at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)
January 09, 2003
Blue Lens

Hey You!! Yeah You!

You need to go check out Blue Lens.

OK, OK shameless plug for some of our friends, but it's a neat site to go check out some pictures and another very twisted mind! We call it "cats, rants, and pixxies!"

Tell 'em AMCGLTD sent ya :).

Posted by Ellen at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)
A Fighting Game Even Richie Would Hate... I Hope.

Just when you thought the Japanese couldn't get any weirder they come out with hentai fighting video games. Hentai, for those not in the know, is Japanese ...erotic... animation, which from what little I've seen ranges from school girls with no panties to super women getting gang raped by giant sticky tentacles. No, really! So take that, then combine it with a fighting video game like Mortal Kombat, and you get hentai fighting video games.

So all of you who bemoaned the decline of youth culture and blamed it on ultraviolent video games, you're all obliged to take it back. We got nothing on the Japanese. Nothing.

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (4)
Tip Jar

As you probably have already noticed, we've added a tip jar. Yes, I know, that takes us down a notch or two in the politics of blogging, but hey, our site, our stuff. If you don't like it feel free to ignore it!

And thanks in advance to anyone out there who wants to jingle some silver at us.

Special thanks to Rachel for giving me the step-by-step on the deeply buried instructions for setting this up!

Posted by scott at 02:40 PM | Comments (3)
Insert Condom Joke Here

BBCnews is reporting the discovery of a 'trojan' object in Neptune's orbit. A trojan object, in this context, is a planetary body that orbits the sun in roughly the same path as a planet.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Crazy Billy

Well, now it would seem someone's protecting their cats from abduction. Ellen owes me $5 if she crys at the picture on the bottom.

Posted by scott at 11:09 AM | Comments (2)
2003 Financially

Another day, another no-prize to Pat, who brings us one money wonk's financial predictions for 2003.

Personally, I consider this an amazingly good time to buy. The stock market has basically been flopping around like a fish for more than a year now, and that makes for great bargains.

And all of you (well, maybe except for Neenah) should be saving something. If you aren't taking advantage of the retirement benefits your employer offers, take time out today to fill out the forms. Start it out at 2.5% of your current salary. If you make $30k per year, will only pull $28 out of your GROSS paycheck. Trust me, you'll never miss it.

If you already participate in your retirment funds, take time out today to bump your 401k contributions by 2.5%. Again, you'll never miss it, and over time it'll make a monstrous difference in your retirement benefits.

If you're already putting 10% or more of your salary into your 401k, or if your employer doesn't offer one, consider opening a Roth IRA (see this and this) and plunking $35 per month into it. C'mon, that's only $8.75 a week. I'll bet you drop more than that on pizza. Already have a Roth? Try bumping your monthly contribution up $35 per month.

Also think about opening up one or two regular mutual fund accounts. These can act like savings accounts, but give you far better interest rates. Well, ok, they used to. But they will again, and if you start now you'll be in a position to really profit when it all starts back up.

And don't think you can't do it because you don't think you need to, or don't make enough money, or are too confused, or just don't like dealing with it. It's easy to set these things up. If you do monthly contributions (highly recommended) you can usually start for as little as $25 per month. There are lots of places that'll let you do it all on-line (do searches for Schwab, T Rowe Price, Ameritrade, and E-trade just to start).

For anyone under 35, starting now, even if you start really small, makes huge differences in what you'll have when you want to retire. Compound interest is an amazing thing!

It's a new year folks. Start it out right by taking control of your own money!

Posted by scott at 09:57 AM | Comments (7)
January 08, 2003
Death Row Roll Call

Here's January's listing who is being executed this month. Texas comes in first with 6 on the list!

Posted by Ellen at 02:51 PM | Comments (4)
So How Does it Work?

Found this short bit while browsing the slashdot comments on an article covering the same stuff as the Post article we linked to below.

It answers a question it simply never ocurred to me to ask... if nothing can escape a black hole, why does it have gravity? How does that get out?

Posted by scott at 02:34 PM | Comments (1)
More Singing Cats!

Can't get enough of those singing cats. Let alone them doing a Destiny's Child parody.

Posted by Ellen at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)
It's Like Operation, Only Funny

Tanika does it again with Boneland Autopsy, a game that's a lot funnier than you'd think from the title.

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (2)
News Flash!

How in the world does an airplane clip the side of a hangar at an airport, killing everyone on board? Doesn't that mean the plane was not taking off on the runway?

This makes me not want to fly even more so then before now.

Posted by Ellen at 12:43 PM | Comments (3)
You Decide

Do you think if this person really worked for the NSA, and published a book on alien existence, he would still be around? Especially if he had certain clearance to information and is now sharing it with the world?

Now mind you, I do believe we are NOT the only ones out floating around in the universe. Hell, I believe in ghosts. But I don't think this book is going to go very far as in making everyone believers). I mean, look at Whitley Strieber and his book "Communion". Huge success, but many people think he is a total whack-nut.

I just may get my hands on that book to see what it's all about. Of course, I will wait for the paperback version.

Posted by Ellen at 12:37 PM | Comments (2)
Gravity Proves Einstein Right... Again

I read this Washington Post story about the speed of gravity this morning. Essentially, by using a rare conjunction of Jupiter and a distant quasar, scientists were able to confirm a prediction of general relativity that states gravity's effects should propagate at the speed of light. Kewl.

Posted by scott at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)
Arab Introspection?

Pat sends us This NY Times op-ed (free reg, blah blah) about how an American journalist in Egypt sees changes in Arabs after 9/11. Personally, I'm of a "believe-it-when-I-see-it" frame of mind.

No-prize to Pat! :)

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
Obesity and Pregnancy

Here's an interesting article I found in one of my favorite magazines.

Now I know this article may be one of those "well no shit" kind of articles. You know you can automatically assume that if you are obese and pregnant you may have some issues with the baby ect.., same goes for the anorexic or the bulemic chick being pregnant. You are going to have some sort of problem in the end.

Damn those McDonald's egg/sausage McMuffins!!(My one and only EVIL Sin on sunday!) Can I be one of those people to sue McDonald's because it may make me fat during my pregnancy?

Posted by Ellen at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)
January 07, 2003
3D Ultrasound Gallery

Here are some really cool pictures of babies swimming around like fish!

In February, I am supposed to go for my first ultrasound with a radiologist. I was told it was a 3D ultrasound. If it's that impressive on the internet, I cannot wait to see it in person.

Of course Scott will be dragged along to this too, since I make him go to every exam with me.

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)
Oscar Oops!

Oscar apparently does not know his strength. He's also too smart by half for his own good.

I came home from work today to find my oscar laying on the floor like a sad, sticky, half-done pancake, in the kitchen 3 feet from his tank. Mind you, I had an armful of packages from the mail, my purse and my lunch tote. All of that went flying into the air and I screamed bloody murder that my fish was stuck to the floor like half melted saran wrap. Still breathing, barely, but dried out and stuck to the linoleum.

How did I get him off the floor? I scraped him off it with 2 tea cup saucers. Poor fish made a sickening suction sound like a jello mold gone wrong. SHLOOOOOP!

Yeah there's fish damage. His right eye is all clouded over and he's missing LOTS of scales on his right side where he was stuck to the floor. All I could do was squirt some fish tank slime coating stuff in it and watch what happened.

One hour later. I have an angry oscar, a cloud of cat hair, and some floating food that was stuck to him when I dumped him back in. He is officially Not Happy with This Situation.

Now I've got to get some velcro or a cinder block (maybe an anvil) to put on top of the tank to prevent him from bumping it up so he can jump out. He normally just taps the top of the tank and stares at you when he's hungry (no, really!) Maybe the cats did something to lure him out.

Damned fish.

Posted by Ellen at 06:48 PM | Comments (23)
I Wonder What the Starting Block Looked Like

ABCNews.com is carrying this article about research into why some people are more comfortable in the cold of winter, while others are more comfortable in the heat of summer. One method: sperm races.

Yes, sperm races.

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)
January 06, 2003
Clutz R Us

Sometimes, you know true love by the look in your lover's eyes. Sometimes, it's by the way they smell. Sometimes, it's the way they complete your sentences before you've even started. Me and my wife, we're not really like that. She and I love each other because of the way we bust our asses.

Now, there are some subtle differences. Take rollerblading. Problem: We both want to work out, but I don't like videos, and she doesn't like sitting on her ass (hey, watching TV is hard work!) Solution: strap eight wheels, four to a side, under our feet and play on the same asphalt as two-and-a-half ton SUVs driven by folks who learned to drive in places where traffic lights happen to other people.

Me, I go for the straightforward, spectacular jackass approach. That parking lot was mostly a shallow, say about 4 degree incline, hill, with a nice flat bottom area to cruise around in. Ellen, who claimed to never have used rollerblades in her life, had been skating backward in front of me talking trash while I was busy trying not to prove how open my mind was by dumping it all over the sidewalk. One too many "c'mwon... whaat ahya, sahm kinda wimp?" was all it took. I decided to Test the Hill.

So up we go, rollerblading on what, during ascent, isn't really much of a hill. It got even better when we hit the concrete of the covered parking... much smoother, easier to manage than the mistuned lawnmower vibration of the asphalt. By now Ellen had gone into damage control mode, knowing this was more about her pushing me just that one extra step too far than about any skill I happened to claim to have acquired.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" she asked, visions of ambulances dancing in her head, "I mean, we can turn around now if you like."

"Let go of my arm, woman, I know what I'm doing!" I said with all the arrogance of my species I could muster, blessed with more testosterone than brains. It was only as I turned the corner, around the top of the hill, that I realized my mistake.

You see, a 4 degree slope is nothing. Your driveway has a steeper slope than 4 degrees. My problem was this particular 4 degree slope was spread out over an easy 100 yards. Worse still, the first fifteen yards was concrete so slick it did a convincing imitation of teflon when the light was right. On every side were defenseless, unsuspecting automobiles, just waiting to be on the receiving end of an uninsured collision.

Really, on the concrete it wasn't half bad. I simply knelt down into my pads as the wind quickly started to flutter past me, like standing in front of a window unit airconditioner as you turned it on. The real problem was when it switched to asphalt.

First, there was this really nasty bounce as I went over the expansion joint. Just enough to throw my arms in the air, but not enough to down me right away. I could just barely hear Ellen yell "you better slow down!" when the asphalt had me.

You get to this point, everyone does, where you know, you know you're going down. It may be on a bike, or on waterskis, or (in my case) rollerblades. Time dilates and you really do get this Scorsese-like heartbeat thudding bass-drum like in your head as you start to plot your final resting point. As far as I was concerned, padded up with kneepads, elbowpads, wrist braces, and helmet, I could heal. It was the deep-ocean blue Mercedes in front of me, so new that I, caught in the throes of my apocalyptic time crystallization, could easily see still had the sticky left from its dealer sticker, that I was worried about.

Someone smart, someone whose brains were not outweighed by their "no, really, you're not too old for this sh*t" balls, would've steered for the soft grass and gone in face first. Me, I decided to do the opposite.

Later, Ellen said I looked exactly like a Scooby-Doo cartoon. My feet flew straight out in front of me (on purpose! I swear!), high and fast enough that I went completely horizontal, and then down I went on my skinny, completely-not-padded-enough-for-this-sh*t, ass. She says I bounced twice before coming to rest with my 'blades underneath that very pretty German sedan.

Of course, Little Miss ProSkate had followed me down just close enough to make a timely entrance. "Are you OK?!?"

"Yeah... Yeah... I'm OK..." It was right about then the adrenaline wore off. "No... no... I'm not OK..."

Of course, my mother-in-law arrived on her annual visit shortly after. Ellen explained why I couldn't sit down properly in the back of the car with great relish.

Ellen is much more subtle about her screwups, but they happen more often. If my screwups are cinema-quality, hers are more along the lines of America's funniest "goddamned you didn't see that" home videos screwups. My mom keeps warning her she'll have a really hard time when she gets further along in her pregnancy. What she doesn't understand is that Ellen trips over carpet. Regularly. Well before she even thought about becoming pregnant, my wife was stumbling over surfaces that would make a pool table look like a Manhatten street.

Many has been the time when I was being the good husband, walking ahead of Ellen to open the apartment door as we hauled in the groceries, only to hear an impressive "thumpady-thwump-crrrunch" around the corner. The evil, short-pile carpet of the hallway reached up and grabbed another victim.

"Aaah... I'm okay!" She'd say.

Now that it's been snowing, dropping her off at work is even better. The street can be clean, the trees can be bare, and the parking lot for all the world looks only a little wet. I'll close my eyes to get my goodbye kiss only to be greeted by air and the sound of two sacks of potatoes hitting the ground... Ellen having found the only patch of black ice in the entire county, right under the car.

"Aaah... I'm okay!"

Having five small, fuzzy, quadrupedal accidents-in-motion just adds to the chaos. In the mornings all five of them will gather around the bathroom like a herd of hyenas waiting for the carcass to be thrown into the pen. As soon as she opens the door they spring into action, a feline example of brownian motion. "Everybody downstairs!" is usually the cry that wakes me up in the morning.

What seems to have developed, however, is a points system, judged by how quickly one cat or the other can send her ass-first down the stairs. Ajax has developed a particularly effective technique. Rather than simply thundering downstairs with the rest of the herd, he goes in an "S" pattern step-by-step, ensuring his entire body blocks the stair, scratching furiously at the carpet with excitement. I know a point has been scored when I hear "thumpadeethumpwhUMP"

"Aahhh... I'm okay!" She says she has plenty of padding for the fall.

But you know what? You can have your moonlit nights of passion, your swelling orchestras of eye gazing, your breathless kisses in a summer meadow. I'm happy as can be with my girl kissing me as they load me, strapped to a stretcher, into the ambulance.

Well, as soon as she picks herself up off the pavement, that is.

Posted by scott at 09:12 PM | Comments (5)
Need a Drink?

The Weird and F*&ked up NO PRIZE goes to Dawn


Posted by Ellen at 06:06 PM | Comments (3)
Pets for Food

Jennifer sent us this link! NO PRIZE! :)

Pets For Food.

Need some hamsters for an appetizer? Or how about some whippets for the main course? Find your new style of 'dinner' there!

Posted by Ellen at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)
Shuttle Launch!

How's this for a way cool shuttle picture?

A double-bank-shot from trytry via Amish Tech Support (who has thankfully fixed the way his site looks in Netscape 7.x).

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)
I'm not Sure What Ours Says Anymore

Sometimes a crappy phone connection can lead to just a bit more than a garbled message.

Posted by scott at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)
Shameless Plug Time

Nominations for Bloggies are open right now... [hint-hint].

I know I know, "this is just for fun why care what other people think if you really need outside approval just pack it in wow does it even count if you have to ask people to nominate you", kind of thing. GO NOMINATE US ANYWAY, DAMMIT!


Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
Doing Restoration Right

It is axiomatic in the collector car field that it is always cheaper to buy a car that's already been restored than to buy a "beater" (as in "beat up nasty old car") and do or have the work done yourself. This site, which (big surprise) chronicles the restoration of a 1960 Alfa Rome Guilia Spider, graphically shows why this is so very true. To do it right requires an amazing amount of work, all billed at ~$40-$80 per hour depending on where you live in the US.

The car in question is particularly rare and hand built in ways that would become uncommon less than ten years after its manufacture, so there's a bit more to it than restoring, say, a 1970 Chevelle SS, but it's a difference only in magnitude, not in kind.

Still, the results were quite impressive!

Posted by scott at 11:48 AM | Comments (8)

This is the coolest multi-exposure pic I've seen in a good long while. Too complicated to explain here, just click through and see it. :)

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)
It's Life, Jim, but Not as We Know It

Putting a car up on cinderblocks in your front yard not annoying your neighbors? Sitting on the front porch in a lawn chair with a beer in your hand not getting enough stares? Just can't seem to find another pink flamingo lawn ornament? Well, how about holding funerals in your front yard?

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
January 04, 2003
Belly Pix

Yeah, no, I'm not on this at all. This was sent to me via Elizabeth and her kitties.

And I quote: "Ellen, I found this website today and thought you might be interested. It's a Belly Photogalley of various womens bellies during pregnancy. It's a little scary, but pretty cool."

Ok, I'm scared to look! No- Prize to Elizabeth!

Posted by Ellen at 05:46 PM | Comments (3)
Concored + Chicken = BOOM!

So you're France, it's the early 1970s, and you want to build a supersonic transport. Trouble is, nobody knows what, exactly, will happen to people on the ground when this thing goes roaring by. So what do you do? Well, sometimes ya gotta crack some eggs to make an omlet.

I like this part the best:

[The sonic boom test] was characterised by sudden and complete immobility of all the chickens. There was a simultaneous cessation of all the cheeping for a maximum of 40 seconds - whereupon normal activity resumed.

Posted by scott at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)
15 Weeks OR Attack of the Shelf Ass

I got a rude awakening yesterday. I was getting ready to work out when Scott said: "Hey! You got shelf butt!" Shit!

"I do?" I go look in the bathroom mirror, yep, it's definitely a shelf. Looks like a drink tray. A round one. The funny thing was the look on his face... he'd forgotten Rule #1: Never notice anything until I want it noticed. But the funny thing was, I think I really did want it noticed. It didn't bother me at all. I keep asking him to write it up from his perspective but he's all like "no way, no way, every woman who reads this is going to drop an 800 lb. anvil on my head." So I want to go on record here that I, Ellen, thought his comment was funny. So all you gals out there just leave my big stupid husband alone!

But of course I let him stew for awhile before I told him. I got flowers and M&Ms the next day!

So I continue to work out. Step aerobics, weights, ect. I'm done with sitting down and taking it easy for nearly a year. If I feel shitty during my workout, I slow down, if not, I keep chugging away.

According to my baby calender this is what is going on this week: At around 4 inches long, crown to rump, and weighing in at 2 1/2 ounces, your baby's still small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. What's new this week? Light sensitivity, taste buds, and a bad case of the hiccups, which is a precursor to breathing. You can't feel or hear them, though, in part because the baby's trachea is filled with amniotic fluid rather than air.

Also: How your life is changing: You've probably gained at least 5 pounds by now, maybe as many as 10. Your uterus is growing, and you might feel pangs of pain caused by the ligaments stretching in your abdomen. You and your partner may be feeling a little stressed out now, too. Many pregnant couples worry about the baby's health, what labor will be like, how they'll cope as new parents. It's perfectly normal.

There is really no baby to look at yet. I think it's laying against my spine or something. Movement? I can't tell. I don't know if it's baby or my intestines gurgling away.

Anything else interesting happens in the next week, I'll keep ya posted.

Posted by Ellen at 12:09 PM | Comments (4)
Something for Richie

What do you get when you combine a slightly obsessive-compulsive Star Wars nut who likes to fold paper? Why, Star Wars Origami of course!

Posted by scott at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)
If the Sopranos Made Washing Machines

Note found in laundramat washing machine:

fEeD uS moRE wHiTe, unMaRkeD SoCKs toMMoRoW aT 10:30 oR wE CUT tHe OThEr oNe oFf.

Posted by scott at 06:37 AM | Comments (1)
I've Heard of Flappin' in the Breeze Before, but This is Ridiculous

Ok, Germany's funniest home videos is way cooler than the American version. The MPEG might take awhile to d/l on your system, but trust me, well worth it. Apparently an oldie, but I'd never seen it before.

Posted by scott at 06:21 AM | Comments (2)
January 03, 2003
A Blog for All Seasons

Brit blogger Phil Gyford is going to serialize Samuel Pepys's diary in its very own blog. For those who do not know, Pepys was a normal guy living through the extraordinary times of London in the 17th century, and chronicled it from a first person, day-by-day perspective that is simply unequaled in its level of detail and authenticity. More background and introductory material is here. A voice from the past using 21st century technology. Way, way cool.

Posted by scott at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)
Hmm... Ahh... Well... Yes...

Ever wonder if the Fukuoku 9000 was really worth it? If that Hello Kitty device really made you say "HELLO!"? Whether a vibrator equipped pen actually works for more than just writing? Wonder no more, your sex toy reviews are here!

Posted by scott at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)
Criminality, Thy Name is Moron

Not only could these teenage morons not drive a stick shift when they tried to steal a pizza delivery car, they also gave their home address to lure the pizza guy in.

Swear to god, most 18 year old men are simply hairless chimps.

Posted by scott at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)
January 02, 2003
Check the Damn Sign!

OK, before you got to a protest, PLEASE make sure any posters, banners ect. are spell checked!

Or you will wind up with a dumb shit like this. This must of occured in the south ;) (lol)

Posted by Ellen at 06:38 PM | Comments (5)
Ah-HA! Finally I Found You!

I found the link but lost it, now have found it again. The weenies over at fark always used this image of what looked an awful lot like a college chick after just a few too many hits of the ol' recreational herbs in their photoshop contests. It took me ages (which shows how lame I am, because this is totally last year's news to most geekoids out there) to figure out that 1) this was a macintosh ad, 2) what that ad looked like, and 3) Steve Jobs has finally gone off his rocker. Jobs has his fingers in everything over there now, I'm convinced of it, so he had to know.

You be the judge... stoner, or not?

Posted by scott at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

Tenika over at Butterfly Wings showed great intelligence but somewhat questionable taste by linking us up on her weblog. Our thanks!

While poking around over there I found this goofy ditty for your enjoyment.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome to My World, Part III

Sometimes my users aren't the ones who are dumb. Sometimes it's me.

So I have this new off-site executive from an affiliated organization (AO) crawling up my butt trying to get into our intranet, a funky slash-coldfusion hybrid. Since he's a) pushy, b) just smart enough to be dangerous, and c) picking up the pieces from a big political meltdown somewhere else, everyone else is crawling up my butt to make sure it gets done too.

Of course, as expected, he can't get in. The guy used to work for a different AO in a different state, so he was already in there, but de-activated. I wipe out this old record, and then try to log in using his information. No luck.

So, I had a user who should be able to log in, but couldn't, and all the logical things that would be keeping him out aren't there. At times like this I drop back 10 yards and punt, moving on to other projects to let my brain rest for a while.

A few hours pass and yet another executive comes by asking how's it going getting this guy on. Well, it's not going on at all 'cos I don't have a clue what's wrong (which is what I say on the inside). Instead I say, "Working on it, should be fixed soon" and turn back to the project.

So there I am with my little database tools trying to get a look inside the files that contain the user information. What I wanted to do was get a look at the entire contents of that file, which would require me to run this technical command (called a 'query'):

select * from users

I had a query already very similar to that, "blah blah blah where user = [username]". So I just erased the "where user" line and ran the query.

It was only after a few seconds with no results that I realized what was going wrong. Sitting in front of me was not

select * from users

Instead it was

delete from users

Those of you used to SQL will already be slapping your head. Those of you who don't, a brief explanation:

SQL is a language used to talk to databases, giving you access to the information in their files. You use it by typing commands and pressing ENTER (a "command line interface"). Like all command line interfaces (CLIs), it's very powerful, very weird, and very unprotected. CLIs were designed by geeks, for geeks, and geeks don't need safety nets.

The DELETE command is about as powerful a command as you can get. By default it wants to get rid of everything. You have to tell it special conditions to stop it from doing this. Imagine a bomb that is powerful enough to blow up a city, but sophisticated enough to erase a pencil mark as long as you twiddle the knobs correctly. Now imagine the designers of that bomb making sure that by default it does the former, not the latter, without so much as a f*ck you on its way out the door.

What I had done was told it to delete everything in the user table. All the names, all the e-mail addresses, all the passwords, everything. Kaplooie! BeepBeepZipBANG! One second, a computer file full of information about the most technically clueless users on the planet. The next millisecond nada, nothing, a big empty warehouse with just shadows on the floor where the shelves used to go.

Any sysadmin worth a dime knows the greatest danger to his or her network is not weather, electrical problems, or software glitches. It's users. You may judge an admin's quality by how quickly he or she fixes your computer, but we judge each other's quality by how difficult it is for you to blow sh*t up in the first place. This means locking you out of all sorts of amusing and fun-to-play-with toys like system files, certain (in my case most) utilities, even some kinds of data files like... you guessed it, user database tables.

But of course there's little to protect a system from the admins, who need all these tools when a user has been extra-special clever and managed to fark it all up anyway. Normally we're smart enough to know where the cables are buried in the back yard, but every once in awhile we go ahead and dig anyway.

So after saying oh-Sh*t a few times (out loud, to judge by the looks out my door), I went into damage control mode. The rest of you sysadmins are saying "no problemo, just restore it from backup". Ah, my friends, that means you are not inflicted with Arcserve, the (IMO) Worlds Worst Backup software. I'd just spent the past month banging my head bloody on it trying to get it to back up anything, and all it did was merrily give me the finger and fling boogers on the wall. I hadn't managed to get it backing up the slash box yet. It was barely backing up even more important stuff.

In other words, I was the front man on one of those flying Wallenda pyramids and had just sneezed a hundred feet in the air, nothing below me but a nice hard concrete slab. The pole was swaying, and falling off meant taking everyone and everything with me.

It's times like these where the design decisions you made laying out the network either make you or break you. At that point you can't save the network, but sometimes it can save you. And, actually, it did.

See, the slash site is just part of where user files "live" on this network. The core information is stored somewhere else, in an "LDAP Tree" (fancy technojargon for "other, safer, place"). Without even missing a beat the LDAP Tree started to synch up the slash site as if nothing special had happened. The phone didn't start ringing off the hook, people didn't start showing up to my door with pitchforks and torches, really nothing special happened at all.

The account that triggered this whole mess even started working again, but that kind of felt like watching your linebacker fall on a fumbled football after it rolled across the first-down line... you'll take it, but that's not normally a real good way to get it done.

So there ya go folks, a brief look at what happens behind the scenes WHEN SYSADMINS ATTACK.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (5)
January 01, 2003
Armored Truck? Bah, I Want to Knock Over one of These

Now that I've got nearly all my pots (just looking for a 6 qt saute pan now, when I get that I'm done), I've decided to see if Snap-on tools are really "all that". Since they have a lifetime gaurantee, I have no qualms buying the things on e-bay, and like all-clad you can save tons. My first ratchet head should be arriving any day now. We'll see.

While puttering around I found this short article on what it's like to actually be a snap-on dealer. Being your own boss, driving from place to place, talking with mechanics, sounds like fun!

Posted by scott at 07:12 PM | Comments (2)
Now Why Didn't We Think of That?

Even with all the Bunnypantsing, I'm not sure Maru ever thought about just booting him out of the country. Wow. I just thought of a kind of reverse-survior style game. Each time a celebrity does something stupid, whines about something they're not even remotely qualified to comment on, or takes a trip to a country in the name of "international relations", they're name goes on a list. At the end of the year, we vote on the list, and the top 10 get to take a one-way cruise to Antartica.

Who would I vote off the country? Let's see...

  1. Michael Moore
  2. Trent Lott
  3. John Ashcroft
  4. Noam Chomsky
  5. Sean Penn
  6. Barbara Streisand
  7. Madonna
  8. That stoned chick on the MacIntosh commercial
  9. Al Gore
  10. Michael Bloomberg

Who's on your anti-survivor list?

Posted by scott at 05:58 PM | Comments (6)
If it Were Cat Shaped, I'd Have 3 by Now

Seems that Aibos are catching on as the perfect "elderly" pet. I'm sure I'd end up tripping over the dratted thing. Of course, by the time I'm ready for the old folks home, it'll probably be a lot smarter than I am (not too difficult even now).

Posted by scott at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

Seems there's a new game in town for fingernails. For when a French manicure just isn't enough, they'll now be able to put pictures of your kids, your dog, or really any other colorful design you can think of. Ellen will want cats, of course. We have a friend who'll be happy with bats & skulls. I'm not sure what mom would want... diamonds probably.

Posted by scott at 05:31 PM | Comments (2)
The Morning After

Ever wanted to know how to cure a hangover ?

Posted by Ellen at 09:43 AM | Comments (3)