Friday, September 30, 2005

santa ana winds

just when you think you've paid your dues to the heat of summer, the santa ana winds arrive, blowing hot air. it doesn't cool down at night. it doesn't cool down at all. day after day, the forecasts predict the temperature will drop tomorrow.

i hate southern california.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

pig races

Monday, September 26, 2005


i went to see the movie serenity tonight, free as part of a press screening opened to bloggers to seduce them/us into talking about the movie. it worked.

the crowd was something to behold: punkish geeks, sci-fi geeks, martial arts geeks, geeks so geeked out it wasn't even good anymore. geeks prone to inane outbursts during the movie (e.g. dialog on screen: "he can broadcast to 31 worlds simultaneously", guy sitting next to us [apparently sincere]: "wow"). geeks behind us talking (before the show, thankfully) about how great the old sci-fi book-signings were, and how you used to be able to pick up mementos inexpensively.

In the ship's hold.

but the movie itself was wonderful. the design was fantastic: rain's outfit in the escape from the hospital was plausible as something one might wear in a futuristic hospital and also a flattering outfit for action. the design of the spaceship was also lovely. the pre-credit opening, probably a three minute sequence, was a master story-telling event. the dialog was well-written (mostly) and used an interesting dialect, primarily modern vernacular, but including some grammar structure evoking lower-class 19th century england. the story moved along well, the characters were well defined, and the plot was engrossing. the villan was awful and sympathetic. the movie was a tour-de-force.

go see this movie. it's worth seeing on the big screen.

they wanted me to say nice things about this movie. it's no problem saying nice things about something wonderful.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Serenity, the preview

As part of my Buffy obsession, I’ve become interested in the movie Serenity, which was directed by… well, read the synopsis:
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
I’ve registered for the advanced screening for bloggers and media, the organizers of which asked me to include the above and this link to more info. I have to get there 45 minutes early, which I’m not nuts about, but the price is right.

The pretty campus

Thursday, September 22, 2005

diphenhydramine: fun, while you're still breathing

i was watching the tv show "house" tonight, about a vicodin-popping, misanthropic doctor played by hugh laurie. in this episode he has hay fever, and treats it by taking 1000 milligrams of benadryl at the beginning of the show and snorting benadryl further along in the show.

watching that, i thought the writers were idiots. didn't they know that over-the-counter benadryl is only 25 milligrams? taking 40 pills would suck, and i would imagine it's a lethal dose. it turns out that it is a lethal dose for some people, but people are willing to take a lot of pills for a high.

it appears that people regularly take more than 600 milligrams (more than 24 pills) of diphenhydramine (the active ingredient of benadryl) recreationally, with the side effects that sometimes take them to the hospital. it also appears that people are willing to take scores of pills to get high.

the scientific literature doesn't say much. if rats and humans are equally sensitive to diphenhydramine, then 50% of a group of 180 pound humans who took 41 grams (41,000 milligrams, or 820 pills) of diphenhydramine would die. if human sensitivity is more like mice, it would take 2,870 milligrams (58 pills) to have the same effect. erowid notes that "a lower dose will still kill a smaller proportion of the subjects."” there looks like there is some more definitive literature on humans here, but it requires working backward to dosage levels from blood plasma levels, which i didn't take the time to estimate.

the bottom line: i was wrong in thinking that the writers were far outside the realm of reality, but taking that much benadryl is risky.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

With cocaine, fat is bad

Kate Moss let fly with a tirade of foul-mouthed abuse yesterday when confronted about her snorting fat lines of cocaine.
-from the Daily Mirror

Snorting thin lines of cocaine is ok?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Television and crumbs

There’s a new peer-reviewed scientific journal called Cough. What a world.

It’s raining here for the first time since spring. It’s lovely, with a wet metallic tang in the air.

Dominic Purcell at the Blade Trinity Premiere

I’ve been using Windows Media Center as a DVR. I watched Twins, because it has Sara Gilbert in it (she was on Roseanne; Sara’s out as a lesbian and recently had a baby with her partner). It’s not great, but I may watch it again. I’ve been watching Prison Break, which is good suspense with Dominic Purcell (above) and Stacy Keach. I’ve been watching a lot of Buffy, which I blame on my youngest sister who reintroduced me to it on summer vacation. I loved the movie, but I never got into the TV show, even when friends were crazy about it. Until now. I’ve been recording trashy action movies and loving them, e.g. Tomorrow Never Dies, Armageddon. Something I haven’t watched yet but I’m excited to see again is The Heroic Trio, a Hong Kong action movie with three superheroines played by Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung and Michelle Yeoh. I watched Bones, which looks like a keeper, about a female forensic (yawn, of course) anthropologist and her sincere but square FBI handler played by David Boneanaz, aka Angel.

Get off my beach and out of my wallet. Or not.

Photo by Jim Powers in the Inky Mirror
Dennis Kozlowski's house off the Squam Road in 2002.

Former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowsk was sentenced Monday on grand larceny, securities fraud and other charges. He got eight to 25 years in prison, and was ordered to pay a total of $167 million in restitution and fines.

This is of personal interest to me because part of his crime was impropertly taking Tyco money to buy
what used to be my family’s beach on Nantucket. He has what the SEC complaint calls “a palatial estate” on the property (pictured above), which had only a decrepit one-room shack without water or electricity when we sold it. According to the complaint, he improperly used loans from Tyco to purchase the property and then improperly forgave himself the loans. Kozlowski also directed millions of dollars of charitable contributions in his own name using Tyco funds. Recipients mentioned in the complaint included the Nantucket Historical Association and my undergraduate alma mater. In the Nantucket Inquirer Mirror, Michael Sullivan, who was the director of development at Nantucket Cottage Hospital during the years Kozlowski donated millions to the facility, said “His [Kozlowski’s] personal generosity is scattered across the island and we should never forget that.” It doesn’t sound like it was exactly personal generosity.

I’m not sure if he bought the property directly when it was sold by my family, but my current homeownership is possible because of that transaction. I don’t doubt that someone else would have bought the place if he hadn’t, but it still makes me queasy. I guess I feel better that he has to pay a lot of money back, but I'll wait until that particular event has happened before I put too much stock in it.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm a sucker for my dog.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hollywood forever (cemetary) movie night. I don't know who these people are.

The headless walk-man

Sunday, September 04, 2005

A little piece of Katrina heartbreak

from the New Orleans Katrina Recovery Back to Work website:
Textron Employees go to this site for information General questions – Call Human Resource in Wilmington at 1-800-313-3703. Help us locate and track our employees – Please email us,, or call us at 978-657-1063 and let us know your status. Send your full name, badge number, how to best contact you if possible and your situation (loss of home, injuries, etc.)

Paychecks – Employees will be paid until further notice. Electronic/direct deposit checks will be made automatically. We are working out the logistics for getting live/paper checks to employees. Please let us know if you would like us to mail it to a temporary location for you. Call 1-800-313-3703.

Returning to work – At this time, no TM&L employee should attempt to travel to the facilities, until they are deemed safe.

If anyone knows the status of Ann Quick Davis, Brad Anderson, etc...


Cherryl Ball

Frisco, TX

Friday, September 02, 2005

Is Bush to Blame for New Orleans Flooding?

FactCheck.Org covers this question nicely. Basically, they say that money for protecting New Orleans from hurricanes has been significantly reduced by the Bush administration. The Army Corps ("which is under the President's command and has its own reputation to defend") says the hurricane was too strong, implying that it was so strong that the levy would have been breeched even if the funds hadn't been decreased.

"At a fundamental level, America's current leaders just aren't serious about some of the essential functions of government." - from Paul Krugman: A can't-do government, NYTimes

i am outraged

this morning i donated 5% of my monthly income to the red cross. whatever failings they may have, i've become convinced that they are the best recipient for immediate aid in a situation like this. on the other hand, here is something i find appalling:

'FEMA is directing Katrina donations to none other than the Rev. Pat Robertson. FEMA has released to the media and on its website a list of suggested charities to help the storm's hundreds of thousands of victims. The Red Cross is first on the list. The Rev. Pat Robertson's "Operation Blessing" is next on the list.' From Boing Boing and Bill Scannell
here's my protest, albeit not very eloquent, to
Hello -

Please remove Operation Blessing from your list of "Organizations Accepting Donations and Volunteers." As I am sure you would not list the charitable arm of Hamas, it is unacceptable to list an organization whose chairman is Pat Robertson, a fringe political figure, one who advocates the assassination of the head of a sovereign nation, among other things.

Thank you.