Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tool-Using Octopus

Robert sent the link to this video. Priceless.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

O Slightly Liberal Christmas Tree

I spent a shocking amount of my afternoon putting up and decorating my Christmas tree. It is a fake tree prestrung with lights, and I amazed myself by figuring out how to hook up all the strands of lights so that it worked. (This is not difficult, obviously, but it's the kind of thing that I often have trouble doing.) (Click on the photo for a nice close up of part of my ornament collection.)

Groucho looks askance at my tree

Yesterday I finally finished a cross-stitch ornament that I started several years ago (when Katy was still alive). It only needed about half an hour of work. I'm glad that I got it done. There are many varieties of Silly Rabbit Ornaments - this one falls into the "Oh Too Sweet" category.

Katy would never wear a dress

Since the functioning lights were not obvious in previous photo, check out this blurry but lit-up tree. (This is simulates my tree as seen after drinking a couple too many cups of alcoholic eggnog, perhaps.)

Lights camera no action
(Yes, note that the tree does lean somewhat to the left.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I've spent much of this day in a Chuzzle-playing, movie-watching stupor as I try to make sense of the fact that tomorrow is Monday yet I don't have a billion things to do before school because this semester is ovah!

In other news, I have it on good authority that Leopold is wearing a single sock on one of his legs these days. I figure if Michael Jackson could rock the one glove, Leo can rock the sock.

Oh, and no, there was no snow during the exam (or otherwise) on Saturday, though the vegetable pizza during the grading session had a mysterious topping we eventually identified (right or wrong) as battered eggplant. (At least it wasn't lettuce!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We'll Burn the House Down!

I sort of freaked out tonight when I came out from the office where I've been studying into the living room and smelled something like burning wood. It took me a few minutes of looking around for the source of the fire before I remembered, Oh yes, we have wood-burning fireplaces in our living rooms. My neighbor must have a fire going. I must be smelling this from my own (empty) fireplace.

And the title is quoting Dodo from Disney's Alice, the scene in which he and the White Rabbit are trying to figure out how to get the large Alice (monster!) out of the WR's house.

On a related note (since Alice was sent into the house by the WR to get his gloves), I have found that a combination of wearing a flannel shirt over my pj's, pulling the blankets entirely over my head, and starting off the night wearing a pair of thin fleece gloves (which I later remove when I warm up) has made a huge difference in my overnight comfort level. I have also finally relented and turned the heater on, with the thermostat set at about 62 overnight. The last few days during my final exam study madness, I have been wearing a big, insanely warm fleece/felt jacket thing that was a Christmas gift it never got cold enough in Austin to use but that creates instant warmth.

Robert reported that Leo's fur has started growing back on the side where it was missing, but that the one back leg is still bare except for the foot, which is furry again, giving the appearance that he is wearing a fuzzy (bunny?) slipper or has gotten some weird poodle grooming by mistake. Recent Leo discovery: he is mad for dried pear, simply mad.

(Now that's the Cheshire Cat.)

Seriously? A 60% chance of snow on Saturday afternoon while I am proctoring that stupid exam? Great....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Exam Week Countdown

One exam (the easiest one) down, two to go. Plus proctoring & grading an exam on Saturday afternoon.

This evening's cognitive neuropsychology study session is sponsored by Salt n Pepa. (You know it's going to be a weird week when an old hip-hop song comes into your head when you open your textbook to a diagram of the loss of dendritic elaboration accompanying mental deterioration. Let's get retarded, indeed.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Poor Timing

With my final exams starting tomorrow, last night was not a particularly great time to rediscover the joys of Speed Chuzzle. I played several games before bed and had a score that qualified for the high score board, but instead of luxuriating in my win, I went for a costly "hint" to keep the game going (this was pretty much automatic - I didn't think it through or I would not have done it), was unable to execute the play in time, and ended up with a score falling just short of high score board status.

So Nebraska football players, I understand the pain of victory turning to defeat just like that. It bites.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Desk Set, 1957, with Katharine Hepburn as reference librarian extraordinaire Bunny Watson.

Peg: "A glass of champagne has 85 calories."

Bunny: "There's a little place in my neighborhood where I can get it for 65."

Generation Gap


"There can be only one" is the famous line from Highlander.

"Sentimental old fluff" occurs in an exchange in Duck Soup:

Groucho (flirtatiously): "You might think me a sentimental old fluff, but would you mind giving me a lock of your hair?"
Dumont (girlishly): "A lock of my hair? I had no idea you..."
Groucho: "You're getting off easy. I was going to ask for the whole wig!"


I've commented to Tam that one nice thing about being in grad school is that everyone gets my psychology jokes, but I have also run into generation gap issues in pop culture knowledge. This week in my social psychology class, only the professor and I had never heard of this personage known as "Chris Brown" who recently assaulted some other celebrity I have only vaguely heard of and is some singer or actress or model or combination thereof, I believe. In cognitive class, I found myself having to correct my comment about the Pepsi Challenge being "several years ago" to it being from the 1980's.

The professor I TA for, who is about my age, runs into this also - he used a Borg analogy in class that I thought quite apt but that did not seem to connect at all with the kids in the class who, in 1994 when the Star Trek: The Next Generation finale aired, were about 6 years old.

Today one of my fellow students asked me whether there could be more than one something or other in a 3-way interaction in ANOVA. I didn't really hear the entire question because I had no choice but to answer: "There can be only one." He looked at me blankly and I said, sorry, what was that?

OK, people, here's the thing: Please answer in the comments: (1) Do you recognize the source of the phrase "There can be only one" and (2) Would you have felt that same immediate temptation to respond with this phrase?

Sadly, I do have to admit the possibility that in this particular instance, it's less about the generation gap and more that these psychology students are not quite up to the high geek standards set by the rest of my friends and family. (I love you guys.)

Oh, and a special bonus: (3) Do you recognize the source of the phrase "sentimental old fluff" in the previous post?


In the opening scene of the Jane Austen movie Becoming Jane, we see Jane wake up her entire family by playing really loudly on the piano at an early Sunday morning hour, exactly the sort of behavior that establishes the character as an intelligent woman of independent thought toward whom we should have warm feelings and much respect. But it's OK, really, because her minister father takes advantage of this extra pre-church-service time to go down on his wife.

The plausibility of the story goes down from there.

Actually, even the costuming didn't stand up all that well; one of Jane's "walking around, looking wistfully out windows, cleaning house" dresses that she wears very often is a lovely and not-at-all faded blue color that my modern clothes cannot manage to retain past 10 washings. (I guess they don't make them like they used to?)

Two of Jane's suitors either undergo sudden, complete personality changes or are revealed to be completely different from what anyone had believed of them before (it is a bit ambiguous).

It's also worthwhile to realize that any resemblance between the life of the character Jane Austen and that of the historical person Jane Austen is coincidental.

The movie also posits that Austen's most famous line, "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife," was half-written by the "stupid" suitor. It makes sense, though, that she couldn't have written it herself, being only a woman or whatever.

I did "learn" something new from this movie, however: You can tell a man is really heartbroken, depressed, and filled with self-loathing when he goes to a club/brothel as usual but can't bring himself to fuck a prostitute.

This all being said, I enjoyed the movie anyway as a piece of sentimental old fluff. And I am always in the mood to watch 50 British Actor James McAvoy, so seeing him with truly bizarre hair was just a bonus.