January 2005

  • Rabbit Hole


    When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t open my left eye. I didn’t notice it right away, not until I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw that half of my face appeared to be asleep. I screamed like a girl. Laugh if you want, but I’ll bet you’d do the same thing.

    It’s not like my eye is stuck, or anything. I just can’t open it. It’s like there just aren’t any muscles in the lid. I can’t move the eye, either. When I touch my eyelid, I can feel my fingertip. If I pull on the eyelashes, I can feel that, too. When I look left, right, up or down, I can’t feel my eyeball moving behind the lid. And if I gently pull the eyelid back with my fingertip… God, it’s just creepy. It’s like looking into a dead man’s eye. Honestly, when I pulled back the lid and looked into the mirror, I almost threw up.

    I can’t open my eye, I can’t move my eye, and I can’t see out of it, either. It’s still there, but it doesn’t work at all. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I looked at my left eye with my right eye, and my left eye didn’t look back. It just stared off at who-knows-what, and whatever indescribable quality lends life to the ocular organ was simply not there. I couldn’t look at it for more than a second or two before feeling like I’d lose what was left of last night’s dinner.

    Something has happened to my brain, I think. Not a stroke, but that definitely crossed my mind. That and about a thousand other neurological train wrecks. Whatever it is, nothing else feels different. I can talk and move all of my limbs and extremities. Every other part of my body is working as it did yesterday. But my eye… my eye has been turned off somehow, and whatever part of my brain processes visual input doesn’t seem to miss it.

    I’m aware that my field of vision has decreased, but where it seems like there should be this … I don’t know, this black space, there isn’t. Does that make sense? Go ahead, close your left eye, or just put your hand over it. See that? Blackness on the left. Dark. A definite area of darkness. Your left eye, though covered, is still … on. Mine isn’t. There’s no black area. Just as there’s no black area around your normal, both-eyes-open, field of vision. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but I’m not sure how to better explain it.

    My depth perception, which should be shot to hell, is … different. Once I (abruptly) moved from that early morning almost awake phase into full blown, in-your-face consciousness, I started thinking about these things. The world seems to have many layers to it right now. If I focus on what I’m looking at, I’m aware that I’m not really seeing in three dimensions, but it’s not exactly two dimensions, either. Instead, there are layers, like those old plays where the scenery is all cutouts and there are layers of ocean wave cutouts between which the boat cutout moves, and further back there’s a sea serpent cutout gliding between more layers of ocean waves.

    I’m sure that made absolutely no sense, but the point is that I’m not bumping into doors or knocking over coffee cups because I can’t judge how far away they are. If I don’t think about it, everything feels normal. My subconscious has made some crucial adjustment that my conscious mind can’t quite handle.

    Are you with me so far? Because this is where things get weird. This is where you’ll want to call the men in white suits.

    Laura, deep sleeper that she is, slept right through my little panic attack. I shook her awake, and she got out of bed. Well, one of her did. One Laura sat up and put her glasses on, but another ignored me and kept right on sleeping. The Laura who got up was solid and whole, while the one who stayed in bed started out solid, but quickly faded from sight. By the time Awake Laura stood up, I could see right through Sleeping Laura. When Awake Laura asked me what was wrong, Sleeping Laura was almost gone. When Awake Laura asked me what I was looking at, Sleeping Laura disappeared entirely, and I wasn’t sure I’d seen her at all.

    As I explained what was happening with my eye, I kept seeing strange things. When Laura talked, her lips seemed blurry. Sometimes, a phantom arm would reach for my shoulder, only to disappear like smoke in a breeze. When she said we should call someone, I saw her turn to pick up the phone, yet she was still looking at me. After a moment, the Laura on the phone (With who? I wondered. Her mother, maybe?) faded and disappeared. Laura suggested that we go to the Emergency Room, and immediately there was another of her in the bedroom, hurriedly getting dressed, while the first speculated that I might have nerve damage. I wasn’t sure which was real until the dressing Laura started to become transparent. After a few moments I realized that I was seeing Laura’s choices. Everything she might do, she was doing, and I saw every option play out and those that weren’t exercised dissolved like cool mist in the sunlight.

    Sometimes, it was easy to tell what was really happening and what wasn’t. Minor decisions, those with little or no consequence, appeared as only faint, spectral images, while choices of more importance seemed solid and real. I quickly learned that however real one of the alternate Lauras might seem, they were insubstantial. Trying to touch a choice not made would result in it dissipating into nothing.

    Laura didn’t run when I told her what I was seeing, but I know she thought about it. I saw her phantasmal form jump back, scramble over the bed, and disappear just before it passed through the bedroom door. She saw me watch the ghost dash across the room and said, “I’m not going anywhere, Kris. And I believe you.”

    “I know,” I replied. “I could see right through you.”

    January 27th is the anniversary of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s arrival on Earth. He has since departed, but before doing so he wrote several interesting tales under the pen name Lewis Carroll. The above post is my contribution to LJ Rabbit Hole Day.

    (Cross-posted from my LiveJournal, obviously.)

  • MLRWRFC for short.


    When you tell the guy behind the counter at Caribou that you need (need) a medium light roast with room for cream and he gives you a medium light roast with room for cream and you pay for a medium light roast with room for cream and you leave the store with a medium light roast with room for cream and get in the MVoD with a medium light roast with room for cream and get halfway to work with a medium light roast with room for cream when you realize you forgot to add the cream to the medium light roast with room for cream…well, you’ve got a couple of choices. You can:

    1. present the medium light roast with room for cream without the cream to your boss with your humblest apologies and enjoy your large Va Va Vanilla (which doesn’t need room for anything else).
    2. stop by the cafeteria and steal some creamer for the medium light roast with room for cream.
    3. stop by the cafeteria and buy some half and half for the medium light roast with room for cream.
    4. present your boss with an empty cup which once contained a medium light roast with room for cream and tell her a woeful tale with much tripping and spilling involved.
    5. turn the MVoD around and go back to Caribou with the medium light roast with room for cream and add the cream.

    So, WWKJD?

  • The battle for virtual justice continues.


    If my video game forum is any indication, I loves me the City of Heroes. The game, quite honestly, just keeps getting better and better. Once I sit down and start playing, it doesn’t matter which of my six heroes I choose, I can play for hours on end. (Pity Laura, for she is an MMORPG widow.) Achieving a new level can mean forty minutes of playing around with a new power (like seeing just how high I could get with Super Jump last night). Last night, I spent a good hour and a half looking for Frosty’s evil cousins.

    And that’s when I’m playing solo. When Miscellaneous G™ or Slowhand or Baab join the never-ending battle for justice, time may as well be flying by at warp nine. It’s just that absorbing. I keep playing just to reveal the next cool thing. I’ve seen maybe (maybe) twenty percent of the game areas, and Cryptic continues to add new areas, powers and bad guys. Later this year, they’ll release City of Villains which will kick it up notches unheard of by mortal man.

  • Here in my car, I can only receive…


    The DLO TransPod FM has gotten mixed reviews on Amazon, but I think it’s a pretty snazzy gizmo. Hop in the MVoD, slide the iPod into the cradle, press Play and go. The TransPod charges the iPod and broadcasts on pretty much the entire FM spectrum. So far, I’ve had very good luck on 88.1 and 99.1 MHz. The transmitter appears to be more powerful than the iTrip (which connects to the headphone jack on the iPod and draws power from the iPod’s battery), and there’s no need to install additional software on KJToonz (yeah, you can name your iPod).

    Now, it’s not perfect. There’s not really anything holding the iPod down, so hitting a large bump may jostle it free of the dock connector and cut off the sound. It won’t jump out onto the floor, but it would be nice if there were some sort of restraint keeping it snug in the dock.

    For the most part, the sound quality is very good. On at least one album (Pianissimo by Suzanne Ciani), there’s a lot of static when the music is quite high-pitched. Listening to the same album with headphones I can tell that the rip is clean and crisp. I’m not sure exactly what the problem is, but it’s affecting less than 1% of my music, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

    Another issue I have is the volume. I’ve got Sound Check activated on KJToonz, so there’s some algorithm running to ensure that playback on all songs is at roughly the same volume level. Unfortunately, the volume on the FM broadcast seems a bit on the low side, which means I’ve got to turn the radio up quite a bit to get the volume I like. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that at a high volume there’s a noticeable static hiss between songs. Again, it’s nothing major, but it seems like it could be better.

    The TransPod seems to be built solidly, though at least one Amazon reviewer said it was a poorly-constructed piece of crap. Go figure. Unfortunately, the location of my power port necessitates blocking the pull-out cup holders, which may be a bit of a nuisance on longer trips. It also appears that my power port remains powered after the MVoD is shut down, and the TransPod doesn’t have a power switch, so there may be some danger of draining the van’s battery.

    There are a number of automobile solutions available for the iPod and I don’t claim to be familiar with all of them, but the TransPod FM has been a very good option for me. Laura made a very good choice (but doesn’t she always?).

  • Here comes Johnny in again…


    That Winnie the Pooh Photomosaic puzzle I picked up recently? Pain in the ass. I’ve got it maybe 10-15% assembled, and Laura has the pieces sorted into about five piles: red, green, blue, yellow and unsorted. The problem is that there are really no details to speak of. You’ve got a mostly blue piece with just a little bit of green on it that could connect with one of a hundred others, either blue or green or both. In working on the puzzle I find myself looking less at the composition of the piece and more at the shape of the piece when trying to match it with others. I spent about thirty minutes putting together a chunk of the puzzle before determining that I was building the section where Tigger’s eyebrow and paw meet the sky.

    So, it’s going to take a while to complete.

    We started on the puzzle at about 3:30 Saturday afternoon, following several hours of watching television or playing City of Heroes after my parents, sister and sister’s boyfriend left. They stayed with us Friday night on their way to Port Canaveral, Florida. They’re taking a Caribbean cruise together. That should be an interesting experience. It’s tough to imagine my father on a cruise ship, but he’s an incessantly social creature, so I suspect that he’ll do much of what my younger brother, Adam, did back in February of 2004. Perhaps not quite so much drinking, though.

    Adam surprised us all on the cruise last year. He’s two years younger than me and turned out to be ridiculously outgoing. By the second day, we were running into people who would wave and call him by name. He attended an art auction and won a bottle of champagne playing bingo. He went to all the shopping lectures. Like my father, Adam will talk to pretty much anyone about pretty much anything, and that’s what makes me wonder if I didn’t see a preview of Dad on a cruise last February.

    My mother recently retired (she worked as a cake decorator for many years) and received an Olympus digital camera as a retirement gift. She tends to be a little shy of technology (she rarely uses the computer), but has amassed hundreds upon thousands of photographs over the years. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that she filled up the entire half-gigabyte XD card while cruising.

    After everyone turned in Friday night, I stayed up until stupid thirty playing City of Heroes with Miscellaneous G™ and Slowhand (AKA Charm X). After a lot of heroics (and too many tactical lapses to count), I managed to get about an hour and a half of sleep before having to get up and run to the grocery store. We needed eggs, sausage, milk, orange juice and raisins. Raisins, by the way, are in the produce department. Not baking needs or canned fruit or even over near the peanut butter and jelly. In produce. Probably good to remember that for next time, so you don’t spend ten minutes running around the whole damn store looking for that chick with her basket. You know the one I mean.

    Anyway, Saturday turned out to be one long day, so I went to bed early (which translates to 11:30) and got up pretty much right on time Sunday morning (which, again, translates to 11:30). After ripping a few CDs, cleaning the driveway, sidewalk and front stoop (It’s a stoop, right? A stoop?) I went down to Miscellaneous G™’s place for some gratuitous nerdity. Our Dungeons & Dragons session began around 4:00 and ended at about 11:30. That might seem like a hell of a lot of role-playing, but it probably amounts to about three hours of playing and a whole hell of a lot of nerdy tangents.

    My dwarven rogue used his wrist harpoon to great effect on two occasions last night, which is a very good thing, as his first attempt at using the thing was something less than spectacular. If you imagine a burly, leather-clad dwarf being dragged down an alley thirty feet behind a shopkeeper carrying a large bell jar containing a tiny, winged snake lady… well, it was terribly embarrassing at the time.

    I had some incredibly good luck when rolling up my character, so he’s very capable of kicking the booty (when I don’t blow a strength roll and wind up being dragged down an alley). If you’ve ever played the Dungeons & Dragons, this might be pretty impressive:

    • STR: 18 (originally 17, bumped to 18 upon reaching 4th level)
    • DEX: 18
    • INT: 16
    • WIS: 16
    • CON: 16
    • CHA: 10

    He’s not the most socially adept fellow, but he’s got more than enough in the way of cajones to make up for his lack of savoir-faire. He is also, as has been noted on multiple occasions, swinging some serious dwarven pipe.

    The Old Man is huffing and puffing today. The envy I feel for my parents and sister right now is palpable. Like a layer of guacamole surrounding my soul.

  • You take the Good, you take the Bad…


    The Blockbuster nearest my house is closing in approximately two weeks. Their lease recently expired, and as near as I can tell the owner of the building opted not to extend it. I’ve heard a rumor that the entire plaza is being levelled and replaced with a housing project of some sort.

    I’m not thrilled with the idea of having to drive to Eastlake for my movie and game rental needs. The Eastlake store isn’t miles upon miles away, but it’s far enough away that I’ll be cancelling my GamePass and not renewing my Blockbuster Rewards membership.

    On the upside, the Willoughby Blockbuster is selling their stock of used Xbox games at a 50% discount. A used copy of Red Dead Revolver, for example, would normally go for $22.99. With the discount, it was $11.49.

    I had already made and paid for my DVD selection (Angels in America Disc Two) when I learned about the sale. There were signs plastered everywhere, but I had managed to ignore them. I had actually opened the door of the MVoD when I decided to go back and look at the used games. In the end, I picked up five games for fifty bucks and change:

    1. Red Dead Revolver
    2. Deus Ex: Invisible War
    3. Freaky Flyers
    4. Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes
    5. Goblin Commander

    Yeah, I’ve already got too many games and I really shouldn’t be buying more. But I did. It was a deal I considered too good to pass up.

  • Maybe… maybe not.


    Despite applying the update to phpBB version 2.0.11, the forum still stubbornly insists that it’s version 2.0.8.

    DotEasy has indicated that they will shut down FTP access to any site that hasn’t upgraded to 2.0.11 by Friday, January 14th. Needless to say, I don’t want to lose FTP access to my site, so I’m going to be damned sure that 2.0.11 is installed and installed properly.

    So, I’m going to do a ground-up install of phpBB 2.0.11 at some point today. This shouldn’t delete any old posts or anything, but I’ll be making a database backup, just in case. The forum will probably be down for a while today, and once it comes back up it’ll be entirely MOD free. I’ll get those reinstalled later this week.

    Here we go again…

    [Edit: The forum is up and running again, and reporting version 2.0.11. The problem wasn’t the install, but a single value in the database. Unfortunately, I found this out after I’d completely reinstalled the forum code. Oops. Forum is up. Attachment MOD is installed. Calendar and Profile Control Panel MODs will have to wait until I feel like sitting down and wading through the install process. Again.]

  • All better!


    All previously installed MODs have been restored to the forum. Everything should be working normally now.

  • Fotografix


    I reinstalled the Coppermine photo gallery today, and I’m working on a theme that will hopefully make it feel more like part of the site. I’m going to build a similar theme for the forum once I get the remaining MODs reinstalled.

    There are only a handful of pictures in the gallery right now (just to enough to prove to myself that Coppermine is working properly), but I’ll be adding more as time goes by.

    The reinstall was necessary because I installed a “bridge” between phpBB (the forum) and Coppermine (the photo gallery) that technically worked, but not anywhere near as smoothly as I’d have liked it to. Rather than try to remove the bridge (the purpose of which was to allow the forum and the photo gallery to share the same login) and possibly break Coppermine, I opted to simply reinstall it.

  • Oops, I broke it!


    I installed phpBB version 2.0.11 this morning in order to take advantage of a security fix included in the new release (and so DotEasy wouldn’t turn off my FTP access next Friday). Unfortunately, that means I need to reinstall the MODs (calendar, attachment, profile control panel) in order to get the forum working again. I’ll be working on that over the weekend.

    [Edit: The attachment MOD, which was the primary culprit in making the forum inaccessible, has been reinstalled. Calendar and profile control panel MODs have not, but will be soon. Basic functionality has been restored, as far as I can tell.]