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Archive March 2002
Saturday 30 March 2002
I am, once again, UpsideClone, this time with a tale I'm particularly pleased with, entitled Black Rain, inspired by the rain in Virginia, Maryland, DC, and probably most of the rest of America. [00:27] [5 comments]

Thursday 28 March 2002
A test with fairly entertaining questions: The Mazepath Personality Sorter. [10:09] [2 comments]

Wednesday 27 March 2002
Emotions play a part in resolving moral dilemmae - gasp, amazing. Rather suggests, in the same way as my set of kidnapped-by-a-terrorist questions, that I either lack or denigrate the emotional response. [20:42] [2 comments]

Tuesday 26 March 2002
This is one of those few times where the phrase "Fucking hell!" is appropriate. A person who doesn't belong here just walked into the living room, saw me in the adjacent room, jumped, turned, walked away quickly hoping to avoid my noticing him.
"Hello?" I called, then, more aggressively, "Hello?"
I got up, cut him off at the kitchen, bearing in mind the locations of objects which would function as weaponry in case I should need it.
"Er, do you want any work done?" he asked.
"No," I said, looking at him carefully, noting lack of weapons and, also important, lack of carrying anything that belongs to the household.
And he fucked off. Through the basement. Some connection, perhaps, to my finding the basement door open the night before, when I went down to turn off lights that had been left on. Lights that seem to be left on more than one would expect, actually. I wonder if that door has been regularly seeing more use than we think. Regardless, I locked it and also chained it, and I'll be suggesting Mr House Owner stick a proper deadbolt on there. And that he stop leaving doors open, at least 'til we move, since I don't particularly want to be killed by someone effortlessly wandering in off the street. Nor, really, by someone who's made an effort, but at least that would be less annoying.
Ah, the heady combination of adrenaline and indignation. [21:27] [10 comments]

Sunday 24 March 2002
"The death dogs are mine, the fucking leeches are yours." Thus spake the lady, and it was so. [23:16] [5 comments]
The other day, I was sitting, computering, in a cold place, for about ten hours. It was getting progressively colder. For the last six hours or so, I was shivering. It struck me that shivering is composed of involuntary muscle spasms; in that respect, it's rather similar to a TENS unit. Does it, then, have the same effect? If I shiver for six hours a day, will I effortlessly have svelte toned muscles at a fraction of the cost? And if not, why not? [23:16] [3 comments]

Saturday 23 March 2002
How many words would you misspell in this sentence? (Courtesy of the CoV's Hermit.)
Outside a cemetery, an embarrassed oculist and a harassed cobbler sat picnicking on desiccated coconut whilst gazing with unparalleled ecstasy at the exquisite sacrilegious symmetry of a passing lady's ankle. [08:55] [12 comments]

Thursday 21 March 2002
Ah yes, and then there's the post-angst high. Assuming (as it was) that the angst is terminated in a positive way. I had quite forgotten about that. Well worth it. These emotions intrigue me, and I would like to subscribe to their newsletter. Which brings me to a rant I've been meaning to rant for a while.

Luck. People have called me a lucky bastard, because of things I have in my life. I would like to dispel this 'luck' myth. Everything I have that people attribute to luck, I have through some effort or risk on my part. Notably, my wife, who is one of the points of contention - yes, she is very good. Was I lucky to meet her? No. I met her through the channels I choose to live in, through my powers of observation and through my choice of friends. And meeting the friend in question wasn't a matter of luck either, for similar reasons.

Am I lucky to have her? No. My choice of lifestyle, my willingness to drop my entire life to move transcontinentally, my choice of world view, these are the things that bring me to this situation. None of these things are luck. How many people would leave almost every part of their life, throw out most of their belongings, end a perfectly good relationship, and hop a plane to be with someone else?

Luck. You make your own. [21:10] [18 comments]
Apparently, I have missed angst. I've gone largely without (apart from lesser angst) for over a year. A brief spate of angst - for reasons that are not for general public consumption - has been almost enjoyable, at least in retrospect. It also provides lots of fodder for creativity. Characters in stories I write will be hating me for instilling their lives with stylised angst, and reasons for same. I would be able to use the word 'fey' to describe a character, if it didn't also have that bloody elfy definition. Damn waste of a good word. [07:52] [3 comments]

Tuesday 19 March 2002
I wonder if this is something to do with buying a house. "Hey, this couple are buying a house. That means they have enough for downpayment and closing costs. That's not supposed to be possible, under this government. They must owe more taxes." [22:39] [0 comments] Yay. The IRS have randomly decided that I owe them $10000. In fact, the money they are trying to tax was money paid to me in England. The social security number they're attaching the charge to hadn't even been assigned at the dates of payments. They are correct on one point though - I do owe them the tax on $2 of interest that I neglected to declare. While I'm paying that, I suppose I should claim some of the expenses that I neglected, also. Which do you think will be greater, $2 or the various expenses I can dig up? [22:08] [4 comments]

Sunday 17 March 2002
I am the UpsideClone again, with Soul Trap. Not one of my best, but bearable. Easy to miss aspects of, apparently. [21:19] [6 comments]

Saturday 16 March 2002
Criminy. Resident Evil is really rather a good movie. Astoundingly so. Not astoundingly good, but astounding that it is good. I had expected it to be so horrible as to be funny. It had all the signs; movie from a computer game, zombies, and directed by the same guy as Mortal Kombat. But no, instead of being so atrocious as to be funny, it was good and funny. Only two negative comments from me - the "bang, made you jump" factor was a little high, and there were two or three pairs of lookalike characters. Other than those, and causing my wife to leave the cinema by making her jump and eating her brains, it was really quite low on flaws. While there wasn't a lot of plot, there was a lot more than I expected, and nicely cohesive, with both foreshadowing and backreferencing. In a lot of ways, the movie it most reminded me of was Cube - if you disliked Cube, I think you would probably dislike this. The converse doesn't necessarily apply (my wife liked Cube), but if you liked Cube and you like horror movies, then Resident Evil is probably a good bet. I'm not sure about the acting (it's hard to tell in action movies), but the cinematography was really very good. To summarise: gore, zombies, nudity, zombies, guns, burning zombies, explosions, zombies, jumpy kicking, zombie dogs, evil computers, zombie monsters, magical traps, and double zombie zombies. [18:28] [14 comments]

Friday 15 March 2002
Today, on the other hand, has been a good day. Our offer on the house was the accepted one. I've been doing some behind-the-scenes things for books.ravenblack.net. I woke up willingly, for a change. The CD-writer that I was arguing with the other day, lacking drivers, now has drivers and is working splendidly. And, the icing on the cake, I thought I would have to go upstairs for a drink, then remembered there was a half-consumed nice drink in the fridge. [22:16] [2 comments]
Today has been a bad day. Opening news - someone else has placed an offer on the house we were placing an offer on. No bidding war, I hope. And, because the house is held by a bank, we had to get proof of our having liquifiable assets to the value of the closing costs. Conveniently, most of our liquifiable assets are, or were, in four different inconvenient places. The largest part is in a bank in England, from whom I can't easily get a statement due to being in America. Second was in the form of a cheque from an insurance company, which had to be put into a bank. The nearest bank is an hour of walk away. Then I needed a statement from them. Their at-the-desk statements don't show account information; their ATM statements do. But, for extra happiness, my PIN number no longer works. And the bank won't fax a statement. In the end, I persuaded the guy to accept the previous statement and the deposit slip for the cheque, along with the insurance letter to show what the source of the cheque was. The other two things don't send statements ever, but the guy accepted printouts of web-based-statements. Now I had to fax all these things. Normally, I could fax through the modem of my old machine, using the fax printer driver. But we're in this house, with the crappy wiring - I didn't have a phone cable long enough to run from the machine to a phone socket. So I went out again, to fax the things in a shop, instead. Making matters even more fun was that all this transferring things between machines couldn't be done easily, because we don't have a proper network because of this house being cabled crappily - I had to move a crossover cable back and forth between three machines, two of which have their network socket immediately underneath a wide cable for extra inaccessibility. Once all that was finally done, we find out there's been another offer on the house, too. I shall be quite miffed at having gone to all this effort if we don't get the place. Ours is a good offer, too. [05:10] [1 comment]
My mathematical skills are a little rusty. Does this formula collapse down to something short, perhaps involving exponentials?
((a*m-p)*m-p)... (with the *m-p operation repeated n times)
Or the same formula, expressed a different way:
(It's the mortgage formula - a is the loan size, p is the monthly payment, m is the monthly interest rate (in a form such that 1.007 would represent 0.7%) and n is the number of months the loan is for - the formula given equals zero. [05:09] [3 comments]

Monday 11 March 2002
Why must all the mortgage-offering websites have a form which takes information and returns none; "We will email you within 24 hours". I gave you the information you ask for, why can't you automate a response? Are your programmers so incompetent? And I should trust your computer systems to get my mortgage right? Damn you all. [01:51] [5 comments]

Sunday 10 March 2002
I can smell your brains. [04:58] [5 comments] My wife was talking about horrible spellings; she inquired what I would think of getting a really good house, on RavenBlack Road, but in a town called "Cheez Towne". I laughed for many minutes. I would utterly love to live in Cheez Towne, on the condition that the road have a good name. I carried the idea into even funnier realms, with the idea of taking the night city suggested in an earlier entry, and naming it, with all its mopey gothy darkloving people, Cheez Towne. You can't beat irony like that, even with a crowbar. [03:27] [3 comments]

Friday 8 March 2002
Hoorah! Final INS interview was today; I am now a proper resident doodad. I can be employed, or visit other countries, without giving up my right to remain silent, or whatever it was that I would be giving up if I did those things when I wasn't supposed to. And, even better, I am still not American, and never shall be. Splendid. [00:39] [4 comments]

Thursday 7 March 2002
I read Zodiac, by Neal Stephenson. Despite having liked other Stephenson things, I was still surprised to enjoy Zodiac. It says "an eco-thriller" on the front cover, which didn't endear it to me at all. The author's-notes style intro, in which it is revealed that the main character is "an asshole" was the first thing to suggest that maybe I would enjoy the book after all. And indeed, it was that, primarily, which made the book enjoyable; asshole is used in the nicest possible sense of the word. It's the first story I've encountered which glamorises ecological activism without tying it in to, and also glamorising, terrorism. Also without skimming over the fact that it really isn't glamorous to spend your time analysing filthy scum, unless you're a political reporter. Also, it should be noted that Stephenson didn't make that joke just there. It was me. I claim full responsibility. [02:55] [2 comments]

Tuesday 5 March 2002
And a rather less beautiful television advertisement - end IRS abuse, it says, by telling you that you can pay off your vast back-taxes that you've accumulated as a result of being inept or fraudulent, at a fraction of what you actually owe. So doesn't that mean that all the honest people have to make up the difference, by paying extra tax? And doesn't it mean that I'd be better off not paying taxes for five years, then paying off what I owe at a fraction of how much I was supposed to pay in the first place? It's quite tempting. [23:39] [0 comments]
Another vaguely political thing - a beautiful television advertisement here, which runs something like this...
[to the perpetual sound of screaming child in the background]
"A child is born to a Maryland teenager every 72 seconds. Aside from getting on your nerves, a single child costs an average of $785 per month, for the next 18 years. That's a total of $170000. You play, you pay."
Oh how long I have wished for a stop-breeding advertisement of that calibre. [08:13] [3 comments]

Monday 4 March 2002
How does money get into useful circulation? To clarify the question, I'll explain the train of thought that led to it. I was wondering how workable it would be for a town to form around night people - such that all the shops would be open at night, and so forth. Which is to say, everyone works at night, farmers and all. I pondered what happens if the town is self-sufficient - at first glance, it would appear to be a simple construct. The problem is taxes - about 60% (apparently) of all the money in the town, each year, would end up in the grubby mitts of the government. How does that money get back into the town? Extend the scenario to apply to a normal city, and thence comes the question. I know some money comes in from the government-employees spending, but does that mean it's not possible to sustain a city that doesn't cater to government people? Feh. [23:34] [7 comments]

Sunday 3 March 2002
Apparently I am Perfectly Perfect. [01:18] [1 comment]

Saturday 2 March 2002
Romeo Looking For Juliet: Man seeks woman with no sense of humour, ideally from feuding family who will forbid our union. I am psychotically dependent - you should be too. Self-sufficient and non-suicidal women, or women who are not entirely owned by their family, need not apply. [20:46] [0 comments] Another wife-quote, in the context of my wanting to kill things, and her having just played a game of killing zombies. "Zombies are sort of alive." "Shopkeepers are alive." "Only in Nethack." [20:44] [1 comment]

Friday 1 March 2002
Polymorphism: the shape of things to come. [20:10] [1 comment]