Tuesday, February 28, 2006


There is an anecdote told of a comic book convention where Sergio Aragones was scheduled to be on two panel discussions that were to be held at the same time, on different floors of the hotel. Rather than disappoint any fans, he started off at one panel, and at a convenient moment, slipped under the table, crawled out, took the elevator up to the second panel (doing sketches for fans in the elevator on the way up), and slipped into the second panel. At a convenient moment in the second panel, he slipped under the table and out of the room, did some sketches for fans in the elevator on the way back down, and crawled back up to his seat at the first panel. I have seen Sergio work; I have no doubt he could pull that off. However, when he was announced as a guest at two conventions on the same weekend, I was less confident. He could do panels on two different floors of a hotel at the same time, but how he would manage cons in two different time zones was another matter entirely.

One of the two cons is near me, and we considered going if Sergio was going to be there. So, I sent a message to an email list frequented by ME, who should count Sergio's schedule as one of his many areas of expertise. In the message, I offered to sweeten whatever pot the Motor City Con was offering Sergio by volunteering my services as amateur booth babe, me showing up as one of his characters, and homemade cookies. According to ME, Sergio will be at Motor City, and though this was decided before my offer, I will still make good on the package. I am still waiting on the cookie preference.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Useless Product Innovations

Americans have become so overly bloated that now even our paper products need plus-size accommodations. Charmin has come out with a roll of toilet paper so big it requires an adapter just to fit in the bathroom. The Mega Roll holds the TP of four regular rolls, giving it a girth beyond the capacity of the standard TP holder. Charmin bills this innovation as the answer for those who are tired of changing the roll so often. Really, here. Changing the roll? On the continuum of housework drudgery, changing the roll of TP barely registers. Now, if they could come out with something so I don't have to dust my ceiling fans or clean dead bug carcasses out of the light fixtures as often.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Happy Birthday!

I am a day late wishing my niece Annike a happy birthday, but only because I just found out today, as she was born late last night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Penguin News Creche

Researchers have found a new colony of Emperor penguins, boosting the worldwide Emperor population to about 200,000 birds spread over 46 colonies. The colony featured in March of the Penguins is within earshot of a French research station. By contrast, the new colony is on the edge of an island in a rarely-traveled part of the continent.

The parents of Toga, the Jackass penguin chick peng-napped just before Christmas, have hatched another egg. The new chick is being sent to South Africa, the native habitat of the Jackasses, to be introduced to the wild. Before you pity poor Oscar and Kyala for not getting a break in raising a chick, that was where Toga was headed prior to his peng-napping. Rather than spending life as an exhibit in a zoo, the new chick will be released into the wild to do its part in buoying up the wild penguin population.

Penguins are featured in the current issue of Mental_Floss magazine. A 2-page spread discusses the penguin inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, including their stint as fuel for the whalers' rendering vats (who would have guessed penguins were flammable?) and their current use of minefields as nesting areas. Penguins, unlike humans or sheep, the other two big populations on the islands, are not heavy enough to trip the mines. International treaties call for all minefields to be cleared by next year, but some in the Falklands have proposed clearing an equal number of land mines in a higher-risk area elsewhere on the globe and leaving the well-marked Falkland Island minefields to the penguins. Apparently, land mines are an effective deterrent to tourists getting too close to nesting penguins.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Movies, or There's One Born Every Minute

We went to see the new Pink Panther remake this afternoon. Funny movie, but nothing terribly special except the title sequence, which was among the best in a movie. They brought back the Friz Freleng/David DePatie animated Pink Panther. I must admit, it was a little odd hearing the Pink Panther theme in its native habitat. I've heard it played on a pipe organ in a pizza parlor, on the cartoons, and as the alarm tone on my PDA warning me to get going to appointments, but this was the first time I had heard Henry Mancini in the theater.

About seven minutes into the preliminaries, we realized we had just paid $5 (matinee) for the privilege of watching a 15 minute block of ads, followed by an hour and a half of product placements. The placements weren't as obvious or prolific in Pink Panther as they have been in some movies, but I spotted a few. We got in just in time, or we would have seen the parade of on-screen ads for local vocational schools and real estate agents. Advertisers don't have to worry about us skipping commercials until we stop paying to take our dates to see them.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gimme A Break

The septugenarian shot by Vice President Cheney was released from the hospital today. Upon his release, he made a statement that included, "My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice President Cheney and his family have had to deal with."

If the guy hadn't just gotten a face full of birdshot, someone ought to slap his face for that one. He got shot, and he's the one who is sorry? What's that about, mea culpa for being between you and your squab? He's acting like a beaten spouse apologizing for getting in the way of a fist. Shouldn't the guy who did the shooting be the one apologizing? Sure, he said it was the worst day of his life, but that's still not "sorry."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Trained Seal

Well, the puddle didn't stop, and it wasn't the seals. The bottom of the pressure tank had cracked. I now have a brand spanking new pressure tank in a pretty shade of blue.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Other Shoe Drops

I had a feeling I should not have fixed the sink sprayer. It took a while, but the house has settled on what will break next. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is. Water is coming out of part of my well pump that is not an approved H2O exit vector (specifically, the bottom), and killing power to the pump doesn't stop it. I think it is colluding with the water softener next to it, or at least is spying on the water softener's clock, as this started promptly 5 minutes after the plumber's regular business hours. For the moment, there is just a puddle working its way toward a floor drain, so I'll bide time and see if it stops on its own or if I have to call the plumber first thing in the morning.

Valentine's Eve

The floral department of the grocery store looks like someone vomited a gut full of desperation between the produce and baked goods. For goodness sake, they're selling potted orchids in Ohio where it is 27 degrees out. Masses of roses, the likes of which are not seen outside Pasadena on New Year's, sprawl all over the aisles. With all those hearts, I had to double check that I was at the market, not a cardiac ward. Balloons, teddy bears, chocolates, those nasty Necco wafer conversation hearts--oh, what lengths guys will go to.

Note to the guys: while lingerie makes a nice gift, don't mistake it for a gift for her.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Penguin News

Gay Penguins Not Falling For Swedish Hookers

A German zoo with a collection of the endangered Humbolt Penguins ran into a problem when six of its ten males paired off together into same-sex couples, leaving only 4 with any interest in perpetuating the species. Last year, in an attempt to get some chicks born, zookeepers called in some ringers: female Humbolts from Sweden. The resident same-sex couples are having none of the Swedish call-penguins, though. The problem, according to the zoo's director, is that the females are too shy to break into the pair bond between the males. Solution: get trampier penguins.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Best Ad

Didn't watch a second of the Super Bowl. Have managed to catch most of the ads online, though, and I dare say that this one is hands-down the best.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dueling Banjos

Broke out the banjo and started playing around with it a little. So far, I have learned:

1. A banjo is heavier than it looks.
2. Pickin' drives the cats nuts, except for the one who is nuts to begin with. She just sleeps through it.
3. I still can't read music very well.
4. It is impossible to turn pages in the lesson book wearing a thumb pick.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day, and the kickoff of Marmota Watch '06. Phil, over in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania officially says six more weeks of winter. Woody, the groundhog living under my barn has not shown his face yet. I don't expect he'll come out of hibernation for a few weeks yet, and won't start hanging around full time until the fruit ripens. Phil may get all the media attention, but I think Woody has the better gig. Woody doesn't get to be a Beanie Baby, but he also doesn't have to wake up six weeks before winter ends for a photo op.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Headlines that Write Themselves

Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut has signed on as the sponsor for the Kentucky Derby, which will, for the next five years, be knows as The Kentucky Derby, Presented by Yum Brands. Now, a fast food conglomerate sponsoring a horse race is just asking for some distasteful jokes. A fast food conglomerate named "Yum," now, that's even worse. When you add in that Yum Brands also owns KFC, I think we'll just be phoning in the Kentucky Fried Derby jokes for the next half decade.

All The President's Near-Stalkers

So, Cindy Sheehan got arrested last night and hauled out of the House of Representatives chamber shortly before the State of the Union Address commenced. You will forgive me if I lack a much sympathy. Certainly, the handling of the entire situation leaves much to be desired, and the situation was arguably a violation of the Constitutional right of all Americans to get their panties in a bunch in the time and place of their choosing. However, Ms. Sheehan did not just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. She knows, better than many, how this particular incarnation of the government views dissent. She must have realized that there was no way on God's Green Earth they were going to let her sit 6 rows behind the First Lady wearing an anti-war t-shirt, particularly when dress code for the evening was full business attire.

I can't be the only one who has noticed that she's toeing a line about a hair's breadth from the legal definition of "stalking" under the laws of both Washington, DC and Texas.