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Of course you cannot see me. I am camouflaged.

Uncle B wanted to get me a snuggy, but they were all pink and frufru and really not my style. So he found me one in camo.

A butch snuggy? Bit of an oxydoodah, innit?

Thanks for putting up with a week of lame posts, y’all. I just really wanted to hold onto the Christmas spirit for as long as I could, which meant paying no attention whatever to politics for a week. Next week, I’ll get back to Photoshopping boogers onto Obama and stuff. I swears.

And have a splendid 2011, everyone. Twenty eleven. That doesn’t even sound like a year. It sounds like a stupid made-up number.

Eh. Have a good one anyway!

In the spirit of new beginnings and all that, I’m going to update my WordPress software tonight. It’s been nagging me for a while. So if things are hinky for a bit, not to worry.

December 31, 2010 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 75

Merry Christmas, O Thief of Time!

More present blogging. I have a love/hate relationship with Sid Meier’s Civ series. It would be too simplistic to say I loved 1 and 2 and hated 3 and 4, but it’s not too far off.

Civ is basically two games for me. At first, it’s like an ant farm…exploring, building cities and then making them pretty with roads and farms and things. I interact with my neighbors as little as possible.

Then, when we get to modern-ish times, I look around at the rest of the world. If I’m lucky — due to chance and geography — I’m the most advanced civ on the planet. Then I end the game crushing my opponents like bugs.

Man, I loved that animation at the end, with the guillotine descending upon the heads of my enemies. More smiting!

Well, as of Civ 3, some a-historical lefty idiot got hold of the gameplay. All civs advance technologically at about the same rate (Huh. I guess Firaxis never heard of Papua, New Guinea). This totally ruined the “crushing my enemies like bugs” part of my fun.

Worse, the AI in Civ 4 was so aggressive, you had to build settlers like a madwoman and fling them all over the world or you’d be squeezed right off the continent, so that one even ruined the “ant farm” part of my fun.

So! Civ 5? Very, very pretty. Easier to learn and maneuver. So far, though, it seems to suffer the same aggressive AI and lack of civilizing unevenness.

Ah, but one of the best parts of the franchise is how modifiable it is. The early versions, the text and pictures were simply left lying around where you could get at them and fiddle. I discovered this quite by accident and had a stoat of a time with it.

I would replace my preferred ruler picture with my own face and called myself the Grand Exalted Queen of Clan Weasel or something. Then I’d change the conversations. Instead of, “would you like to trade iron for furs?” I’d make Bismarck say things like, “I say, what fetching panties, Weasel. And how jaunty they look on your head!”

This could be awkward if I forgot what it really meant, but totally worth it for the enhancement to gameplay.

Modifying the new versions is more complex, but there’s much more you can do. Firaxis is wise enough to encourage modding and provide tools to make it possible to get under the hood. There’s even a Civ Mod Wiki going. Stand by for weasel enhancements.


By the way, it’s clearly Patrick Stewart doing all the voiceovers, but he’s not credited on the box or anywhere else I can find. Odd. Must be a contractual thing.

— 12:14 am
Comments: 25

Meet my leetle freend

This is Henry. Oh, and it looks like he’s happy to see you!

Yes, my new vacuum has a name. And a smiley face. And a derby. (Eh. It could have been worse).

Don’t laugh; this is a serious piece of kit. The Numatic Company got its start forty years ago making industrial vacuums for cleaning out boilers.

Six people in a shed kludging together rugged little industrial workhorses. Originally, they made vacuums out of “found” components — oil drums, furniture casters, suitcase handles, kitchen mixing bowls.

I just love that.

You live in a 400 year old house, you have to vacuum. A LOT. In 360 degrees. Spiderwebs, bits of wool blown in from the fields, tiny fragments of oak beams. (Get me! I Hoover up artifacts from the reign of Elizabeth the First!)

It must be said, I’m awful at it. Here’s hoping a decent vacuum will help.

December 29, 2010 — 10:18 pm
Comments: 47

I was brung up around here…

Whoa! Google Earth just totally flipping FLIES on my new computer. I’ve been sproinging back and forth from Tennessee to Rhode Island to England and it’s enough to give you altitude sickness.


Damn near impossible to spot my mother’s farm, though. It’s in one of the little folds in the picture somewhere. No, it’s not any easier in color.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we’re going to test-drive my new pressure cooker tonight. That thing scares me to death, so I want to make sure we’re both good an likkered up before we go anywhere near it.

December 28, 2010 — 11:34 pm
Comments: 22

Any sufficiently advanced technology…

O. Kay. Let’s just back into this posting thing slowly. No sudden moves or loud noises.

Turns out, champagne, anime and videogames are a pretty hangovery combination.

This thing? File it under “something I bought somebody for Christmas because I wanted to play with it” (aw, come on — like you haven’t). It’s called an Echobot. It’ll record up to ten seconds of audio and it’s got a little motion sensor. Something breaks the beam, it plays its message.

Like, “wipe your feet before you come in the house.” Or “keep off the chocolate cake; it’s mine.” Or, “ha ha — I just watched you pee!”

I love that this is possible and only cost a few quid.

Hope your Christmas was as gosh-darned Christmassy as ours. We’re still having it. We’re taking a whole flipping week of R and R.

Expect more present-blogging, because it’s easy and so am I.

December 27, 2010 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 22

Merry Christmas, pretend internet friends!

Y’all are the best imaginary friends EVER, and I’m not just saying that because I have a snootful of Uncle B’s excellent champagne.

Have a lovely day tomorrow, and please remember the true meaning of Christmas — PRESENTS!

December 24, 2010 — 11:20 pm
Comments: 42

ZOMG! ZOMG! It’s here!

I totally didn’t expect them to come through, but my computer arrived this morning. Wheeeeooooo! This thing kicks fifty or sixty different kinds of ass.

I’m a Microsoft hater from way back and I gotta tell you, I love Windows 7 so far. This is an operating system designed for me — the weasel with the short attention span and a bzillion different application windows open at the same time.

Desktop cluttered? Take the one window you want and shake it, and all the others minimize themselves. Shake it again, they come back. Drag a window to the top, it maximizes itself. Drag one window off the left of the screen, one off the right, and they each size themselves to half the screen (fantastic for comparing two documents).

The taskbar has been reworked, too. It’s excellent.

It looks and feels a lot like Linux now — desktop-wise, at least — but that’s nothing but good, sez me. I love Linux, only I could never get all the bugs shook out.

Anyhow, I have a TON of stuff to do, as usual with a new machine. Like fire up HalfLife2 and shoot me some aliens.

Toodle pip!

December 23, 2010 — 10:30 pm
Comments: 57


They’re always telling us that things cost more in the UK (when they’re not denying that things cost more in the UK) because operating costs are so high. Gas is expensive, so moving things around is expensive, heating a shop is expensive, storing things in warehouses is expensive, personnel is expensive.

So how come it costs about $300 more to download Photoshop off the internet in the UK, compared to the US.

I don’t know, but I’m guessing it has to do with VAT. For fuck’s sake, people, don’t let them impose one on the Land of the Free. It’s invisible; it depresses commerce insidiously. Silent but deadly.

So! I’ve ordered my fabulous new dedicated Photoshop machine. It would’ve been here by now, if it weren’t for this stupid snowfall combined with the Christmas rush. It is entirely spec’ed to run one program — Photoshop CS5. The latest and greatest version with the 64-bits and he multiple cores and all that other modern shit I don’t understand.

And it turns out my version of Photoshop is one rev too old to be upgraded.

Well. Huh. Ouch.

What’s this going to cost me? Using today’s exchange rate of $1.53 to the pound, the price of a full Adobe CS5 license from Amazon.co.uk is $928.50. From Amazon.com? $624.99.

As an upgrade, UK $278.55, US $161.19. (The student version, they just fucking stand in the cafeteria and throw it at people).

So the difference between an upgrade in Rhode Island and a full download in Sussex is $767.31. I kind of get the reason software companies approach it this way, but if they ever wonder why people don’t respect their intellectual property rights dot-dot-dot

Oh, yeah…sorry the illustration is lame. My version of Photoshop is old and retarded.

December 22, 2010 — 11:04 pm
Comments: 28

Fucidin H? *Really*?

I’ve got a nasty rash. Have I mentioned? I really, really nasty poofy itchy bleedy thing. My arms, my legs, top of my feet, back and shoulders and…oohhhh, my sweet Aunt Fanny…on my butt.

I’ve been ignoring it for a couple of weeks now. That’s my default position on any illness: if I can probably survive the night without medical intervention, I’m willing to give it a shot.

But today Uncle B put his foot down (fair enough. Sleeping next to it might even be more disgusting than wearing it). Rather than try to get an appointment with my regular GP this close to Christmas, we opted for a walk-in clinic a couple of towns over.

The doctor there said it was likely either ringworm (which is actually a fungus) or ovoid eczema (which is bacterial, but I think he’s bullshitting me there, because “ovoid eczema” just means “round swollen bit”).

To find out which, all he’d have to do is shine an ultraviolet on it. If it’s fungal, the rash will fluoresce. If it’s bacterial, it won’t. But he couldn’t do that, because that’s technically a “test” and he’s not my GP. NHS rules say only my official GP can order a test.

So he had to give me treatment for both.

And there you have it: socialized medicine. The NHS isn’t terrible. It isn’t Soviet. If you didn’t tot up the eye-watering cost, it’s actually pretty good, at least around here. The doctors are competent, the staff is polite and professional, the facilities are clean and modern. I got to see a doctor within hours of deciding I needed one.

But always the ham fist of government making sure nobody uses common sense.

Oh, and hey — I get to rub myself down with liniment five freaking times a day.

Yay! Sandy Claus brought me ass cream for Christmas!

December 21, 2010 — 11:23 pm
Comments: 31

My secret shame

Yes, that’s a gnarly feral tomcat. And yes, that’s a blankie. And a hot water bottle.

It’s Christmas, dammit!

We call him Asbo. He’s been hanging since Summer. Maybe before. Nipping in the kitchen door when we leave it open. Stealing food. High-tailing it out again if he hears us coming.

Probably peeing on stuff; he’s an intact male.

He’s not completely feral. He won’t let us closer than a few yards, but he seems to like being near us. In warm weather, he’d doze nearby in the grass while we were in the garden. He likes the sound of our voices. He’ll walk up to the window if we speak to him, and sit looking up at us for as long as we do.

At first, he stalked the chickens with apparently evil intent, but somehow he got the idea that would be Trouble. Now, he often lazes on top of the henhouse, alternately snoozing and watching them peck around in the grass.

All growed up, the chickens bully him now. If we feed him near them, they will run him off and steal his Friskies.

Yep. When the cold weather came, I started feeding him. He comes to the back door and calls loudly for his supper. Yowly boy. Like he has some Siamese in him.

I feed him under an old enamel table. He feels safe under there and will come up quite close for his plate. A few times, I’ve reached out and stroked his head, but he doesn’t like that at all. He gives me this horrified look like, “hey lady! You touched my head. With your hand.” Not a stray pet, then.

We worried about him when the snows came. I didn’t have much hope he’d accept shelter, but while he ate, I put down near him an old cat carrier with a blanket in it. He finished his supper and walked straight in.

I suspect he has a real home. He disappears days on end, but he’s getting downright fat now. All things taken into consideration, I believe he’s probably an untame barn cat from the horse farm next door.

A serious working farm animal that we have utterly ruined by keeping him fed.

Heh heh.

December 20, 2010 — 10:22 pm
Comments: 36