I know what’s best, dammit!

Sunday afternoon, kellyv and I were on our way to a friend’s house when a very large yellow-bellied slider turtle walked out in the road in front of us, missing another car by inches. She slammed on the brakes, and I darted out in traffic to snatch the turtle out of the road and toss it into the car, to be released somewhere safer.

Let me tell you some things that most people don’t know about turtles.

Turtles are fast. (The slow things aren’t turtles; they’re tortoises. Different animal altogether.)

They’re also aggressive. All the turtles indigenous to North America don’t eat lettuce; they eat meat. Fish, mostly; also, the occasional lizard, other reptiles and amphibians, and even unlucky ducks.

That’s right, boys and girls, adult slider turtles can take down a full-grown duck.

Anyway, this particular turtle–rather a large specimin–was not one bit happy at his sudden rescue. Turtles have very long claws, and did I mention they’re aggressive? He let me know he didn’t appreciate what I was doing, with his claws.

We took him to a protected wildlife preserve, fussing and scratching the whole way. And therein lies the rub.

You see, in spite of all the fussing he was doing, I was acting in his best interest. Had I not grabbed him, he’d have been splattered dead in about three-quarters of a second.

And that, it seems, is the way of things. You’d think by now the world would realize that I know what’s best, and just get the hell out of my way and let me do what I’m doing, instead of putting up a fuss all the time. 🙂

When Technology Goes Bad

Two nights ago, kellyv and i were awakened out of a sound sleep by the smoke detector in our bedroom, which started chirping to complain that the battery was going dead.

The smoke detectors in our house are powered by line voltage and by batteries. They’re “smart” detectors–all of them are networked, so if any one smoke detector detects a fire, they all go off.

And if any one detector has a dead battery, they all start chirping.

This is really, really, really, really, really dumb.

The engineer who designed these smoke detectors, who obviously couldn’t catch a clue if he dressed up as a female clue, doused himself in clue musk, and went out during clue mating season, forgot one teensy-weensy little detail about the way people use technology:

If all the smoke detectors are chirping, you can’t tell which goddamn smoke detector has the dead battery!!

It was 3 AM. We have six smoke detectors, and had two replacement batteries. The onlt way to shut the things up, short of taking an hour to try replacing the battery in each one individually, was to rip ’em all off the walls and bury them under a pillow, which is what I did.

People who work in the field of consumer electronics and computer engineering really piss me off. They never think about how their technology is used.

Like the car stereo in my del Sol–whose controls are unlighted and labelled in six-point type. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Or PCs that have the USB ports and headphone jacks in the back. Stupid.

Or my cell phone, which makes me press six buttons (Menu, scroll, scroll, scroll, menu, menu) to access the phone directory. Phone numbers are seven digits long. Doesn’t really save you very much does it? Idiots.

And then, of course, there’s Microsoft, the undisputed reigning champions of idiotic design and poor user interface. Take, for example, this delightful little gem, an actual screen shot of an error from Microsoft DataLink:


He said, she said

Almost recovered from my state-hopping. Picked up a very nasty cold in Chicago, just in time for the inlaw’s wedding in Virginia.

Word to the wise: Whenever possible, don’t get on an airplane with clogged sinuses. Felt like someone was taking a chisel to my head.

This last week has been an exercise in restraint, and not the fun kind. Sometimes, life just seems to pile on. For example:

What the person running the booth next to ours said, to me and the owner of the company who is my client:
“I know this retired guy in Leeds who lives with his wife…and his girlfriend! And his wife knows about his girlfriend! Can you believe that? And they’ve all been together for twenty years! And…she knows about his girlfriend!”
What I said: “Well, it takes all kinds, doesn’t it?”
What I could have said: “It’s called ‘polyamory.’ If you’d like my own personal take on making it work, check out my Web site!”
What I definitely should not have even CONSIDERED saying: I can relate. Sometimes, my wife likes to watch my girlfriend whip me.

What my mother-in-law said: “You know, you’re every mother’s worst nightmare.”
What I said: “Good thing that changed, huh?”
What I could have said: “And you know what else? You’re every man’s nightmare of a mother-in-law.”
What I definitely should not have even CONSIDERED saying: “You don’t even know the half of it. Bet you don’t know I’ve fucked your daughter while she’s been on the phone with you…”

What my cousin-in-law said: “I don’t really understand why we’re going to invade Iraq. Still, the government must have a good reason to do it, or otherwise we wouldn’t.”
What I said: “It’s getting late. I think it’s time for me to head on out of here.”
What I could have said: “Sure, there’s a perfectly good reason–it’s the economy, stupid!”
What I definitely should not have even CONSIDERED saying: “Do they PAY you to be that naive? Because no human being, or even any organism advanced enough to have a thumb, could POSSIBLY be that naive naturally!”

Planes and trains and snipers, oh my…

Aries: (March 21—April 19)
Thursday will usher in a new era of love and prosperity for Aries, which is only fair considering what happens Friday.

So I’m no longer in Chicago. Now I’m in Fredricksburg, Virginia, not ten minutes from where another person was shot and killed by that DC sniper this morning.

I’m not convinced this is a step in the right direction.

The last day of the convention in Chicago was Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before closing, a Microsoft rep came sniffing by our booth. He claimed to be at Graph Expo trying to talk to prepress industry experts about improving Microsoft Publisher, which is the laughingstock of the prepress world; most professional service bureaus and print shops refuse to even talk to anyone who uses it.

I talked to him for a while about the numerous bugs, design blunders, and general stupidity that makes Publisher such a pathetic joke of a program. He half-listened, but already knew everything I was telling him.

Clearly, he was lying. It was so painfully obvious that he was there for reasons that had nothing to do with Publisher that it was almost insulting. He was also entirely ignorant about even the most basic aspects of professional prepress.

I wonder why Microsoft really sent him there…

You know, I wish that once, just once, Microsoft would actually show some honesty and integrity about something.

Some thoughts on free will

So a few weeks ago, I had a choice to make.

On the one hand, I could go to a local science-fiction convention, where I would be surrounded by freaks and weirdos and other very cool people, and watch all the half-naked chicks running around, and stay up partying all night, and demonstrate sex toys.

On the other hand, I could fly to Graph Expo in Chicago, and hang out with salesmen and print shop managers, and stay in a booth until my feet hurt, and wake up VERY early in the morning, and demonstrate page-imposition software.

Seems like a simple choice to make, no?

So here I am in Chicago, where it’s more windy than any sane person would think possible.

One silver lining, though: My sinus infection, which has been bugging me for the past three months, and which I’ve been unsuccessfully treating with antibiotics that cost eighty bucks for seven, disappeared completely less than a day after I arrived in Chicago.

Florida weather…feh.


So here I am, stuck in Chicago, tired and bored…is there anything to do in this town?

I had such a great time meeting altenra when I was in San Francisco and spending time with lacaba in Costa Mesa that I’ve been spoiled; I’ve forgotten what a drag it is to be in a strange city by myself.

Think I’ll go to bed.

I figured it out!

Something weird came over me last night–don’t know if it was the phase of the moon, or Mad Cow disease, or what–and I watched an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” on TV. Normally, I’d sooner stick pins in my eyes; I have no idea what possessed me.

I’m no big fan of Star Trek, but Voyager in particular has always especially annoyed me, and I’ve never been quite able to figure it out.

Until now. Watching Voyager last night, it suddenly hit me: I’ve seen all this before! So here it is, boys and girls, the Big Secret. But shh! You have to promise not to tell.

Star Trek: Voyager is nothing but a techie remake of Gilligan’s Island.

No, really. Think about it. Did you ever see that one episode–you know, the one where they almost figured out a way to make it home, but in the end, they didn’t?

And it’s not just the plot. the characters are the same, too.

Captain Janeway: The Skipper. The cool, in-charge character who’s never really in charge at all. Well, I mean, she is, but only in a democratic sort of way, and only when it’s important to this week’s plot, you know?

Neelix: Gilligan. The mostly harmless, goofy sidekick who once in a while interjects a Pithy Thought to make that episode’s Big Point.

Tuvok: The Professor. With ears.

7of 9: Ginger. A tech-head reinterpretation of the Glamorous, Unavailable Woman; techies don’t go for movie stars, they go for techie chicks with big—um, spare parts.

Chakotay: Thurston Howell.Stay with me here, this isn’t a stretch. He started out independent and powerful (remember, he was a captain of his own vessel), and now he’s slumming with the other castaways.

Torres: Mrs. Howell. Opinionated, stubborn, and Chakotay’s bitch.

Kes: Maryann. Obvious, really.

And now you know the truth.