Wednesday, January 29, 2003

video games

I really enjoy PC games.

I haven't gotten into online gaming; the few times I tried playing online (things like MechWarrior 4), I kept getting my ass kicked by ten-year-old kids. They have different "arenas" for different skill levels, but there are people (there's probably some unappealing nickname for them, but I also don't do chat rooms so I haven't picked it up yet) who like winning more than they like the challenge of playing, so they play in arenas waaay below their skill levels. I'm pretty good, but even in the beginner arenas I got my clock cleaned. I suspect that a lot of my fellow combatants are the types who have too much free time and free cash, and have serious gaming machines and really fast internet connections. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing to soothe my fragile ego after getting smacked around by some kid who's not even old enough to like GIRLS yet.

On the down side, my computer won't play some of the cool new video games. My first problem was with Mechwarrior: Mercenaries, but the upcoming Neverwinter Nights and Warcraft 3 also require more than my computer has. It might be time for an upgrade, but when I go to the trouble to upgrade the processor I might as well add a new motherboard, and if I'm going to all that trouble I might as well add a new hard drive and video card. So I'm probably just going to wait a while longer and get a whole new computer.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

poisoning pigeons

For those of you not in Indy, here's a news tidbit. One of our public utilities is having a problem with about twelve thousand starlings who live near downtown. There are a lot of them, and all the bird poop poses a health hazard, and they're just generally a nuisance. So the utility put forth a plan to poison the birds. Problem one? They didn't have an adequate answer to the problem of how to collect and dispose of all the bird corpses, which would be quite a nuisance and health hazard of their own. Problem two? The poison they had in mind takes about three days to kill the birds, and during most of that time the birds themselves would be poisonous to the birds of prey or cats that eat the birds. And they likewise have no solution for coping with the dead cats. So far, the poisoning is on hold after much public protest led by a few animal rights wackos in town. A big chunk of the protest that I heard about was organized by the Indianapolis Vegetarian Society and CHACE. I can understand being a vegetarian for health reasons, but if your cause is animal rights your only real ethical choice is to go vegan (a sort of militant vegetarianism that involves not only not eating meat, but consuming or buying no product made from or tested on animals; not only no eggs, but no bread with eggs in it, no leather shoes, no shampoo tested on cute little bunnies). Going vegetarian to support animal rights without going vegan is sort of like being a politician who opposes abortion, but also opposes child care subsidies and sex education (no names mentioned).

Personally, I have no ethical problems with being at the top of the food chain, as long as we're not cruel or evil about it. Try telling the parents of a thalidomide baby about the evils of testing drugs on animals. Industrial cattle feedlots are one of the most inhumane things people have ever tried to foist on animals (though historically we seem to reserve our greatest inhumanities for our fellow humans). Trivia fact: did you know what happens to a lot of the animals killed at shelters? They're ground up whole and fed to cows on feedlots. Not only are free-range cattle cleaner and more disease-free, they give better meat. There are a lot of arguments for the cruelty-free life, and I buy most of them. But I'm still not ready to give up steak and chicken.

Actually, what started me talking about birds and cruelty to animals is our back porch. We put food out for the nine or so strays that wander by in our neighborhood (Salem, Ginger, Etta, Clyde, Trucker, Bertha, Holmes, the unnamed grey cat, and the unnamed white cat). But recently a bunch of birds have been eating the food. This originally seemed OK; I once saw Ginger eat a bird who didn't do the site survey before landing on our porch. I figured that either way we're still feeding the cats. But now there's a whole flock of them. They empty the food bowl in about five minutes. And our back porch is covered in bird poop. (Disgusting side note: the bird poop comes in the same three colors as the cat food.) I was considering getting a BB gun to remove a few birds from the breeding pool, but I don't think the rest of them are smart enough to get the message, and I don't want to kill them all. I think I'll call some garden stores tomorrow and see if they have some product that scares birds away and doesn't look as stupid as the big plastic owl. Suggestions, anyone?

A thought just occurred to me. If money gets tight, BBs are way cheaper than cat food....

That's all for now; I'll write soon!

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

cinnamon crisps -- yay!

While we were in Florida I wrote about some of my favorite foods that no longer exist, and two of the items on the list were variations on the theme of cinnamon chips. Well, I found another one. They're called Cinnamon Crispitas, and I found them at O'Malia's Supermarket. They're pretty good; memory always does weird things, but they're about as good as I remember Chachos.

Funny how often that sort of thing happens. You let the world know you're thinking about something, and it comes to you. The universe is organized around that principle, I'd like to believe.

That's my only deep thought for now.

On the lighter (?) side, I temporarily lost my wedding ring yesterday. I spent all day crawling around under the floor in the Artsgarden, running new cable for the tree lights. There's no footing apart from the catwalks, so you have to a lot of low-grade acrobatics and shimmying across pipes, and it's dark and dirty and everything is coated with spray-on insulation. Ugh. And after I got out of the hole, I realized I didn't have my ring on anymore. So I dove back down and found it after some high-quality looking. Ever notice how much cursing can help you feel better? When I was doing a lot of plumbing, I considered it another tool: when the wrenches and pliers and screwdrivers stop working, you whip out the blasphemies, obscenities, and profanities. :-)