Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gender Genie

This post isn't nearly as weird as you thought it was. Or maybe it is.

It is not, amazingly enough, about a new approach to sex changes involving a lamp and a lot of rubbing. No, this is about a web site. Put the other thing out of your mind. No, seriously, I mean it.

There is apparently a program called the Gender Genie which will attempt to guess if the author visits the "Buoys" or the "Gulls" room at Cap'n Jack's Fish Shack, Argh. Alas, I'm afraid it's not completely consistent with my writing, although it seems to be right more often than half the time, so it may be on to something. Perhaps the confusion is a sign that some of my favorite writers whom I try to emulate are of the girly persuasion. Or maybe it can just tell I have The Gay.

Of course, if you read this because you're interested in transgendered fairy tales instead, try looking up "The Girl Who Pretended to be a Boy", included in The Violet Fairy Book, which is even available free as a Project Gutenberg etext. I aim to please.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

50 Years of Sitcoms

Lately, I've been watching reruns of I Love Lucy on my TiVo. (This is part of what I think may be a part of the development of a TiVo user: Eventually you see everything you really wanted to see originally, and start trying new things to see if you like them or not. It ultimately broadens your palette, because you never have to miss anything.) It was in fact a darned good show, and Lucille Ball was very talented.

But there's something odd about it. If you watch episodes for a while, you get the distinct impression that you can hear the last 50 years of sitcoms being written. The plots sometimes seem unnervingly familiar, and not just because people like to do "tributes" to famous scenes like the chocolate factory. It's because I think every plot that came to be used in every sitcom may have gotten its start here. Or perhaps earlier. At least according to Wikipedia, many of the plots were rewrites of plots Ball performed earlier on the radio show My Favorite Husband. And who knows how original the material was then. Maybe early humans were sitting around a campfire going "Og think he fool me... me turn tables and fool Og back!" while everyone laughed uproariously. (Who knows, it may have come just days after the first "pull my finger" joke.)

As a downside, it does mean there are few real surprises in the shows, but it's still fun to watch. Sometimes I feel a little like a friend of mine who had never watched It's a Wonderful Life. When I finally got her to watch it, her reaction at one point was "Oh, it's one of these, where he sees what the world would be like without him."

Pennsylvania Registration, Take II

Last year, I thought it was weird that Pennsylvania does auto registration through AAA. (I still do think that's weird.) This year, I notice that either I missed it, or Pennsylvania does not send anything when your registration is about to run out. My stickers expire at the end of the month, but I haven't heard anything. Thankfully all that stuff can just be done on-line these days, so I'm still set.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coke as a Health Food

I noticed this recently, but had an opportunity to try it when I went out to lunch today: Diet Coke Plus, which is Diet Coke with added vitamins and minerals.

Short take is that it tastes fine, although there may be a slightly different taste--I'm not sure if I'm imagining it or not. I actually think the added vitamins and minerals are pretty silly, and I prefer Zero anyway (which is almost as good as the real thing), but there's nothing wrong with it, even if it does sound kind of funny.

And in a related topic, why is it that you always see health nuts going crazy trying to find some way to hate diet soda? There's no calories, it's not really much different than drinking water, except it tastes good. Actually, I suspect that's the objection: If you're not suffering, you must be doing something wrong.

Postscript: The end is in sight. If I finish grading one more final, I can be done with grades for the semester. Yea!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I so take advantage of my students

"I'm happy to go over these problems, review further, or answer any questions you want for the rest of the class, but since some people seem interested in leaving, I won't penalize anyone who decides to leave."

Within 5 minutes, the room is always cleared, no matter that a final or whatever else is coming. Which means I get to leave early.

Well, almost always. Occasionally there will be a small group of 2-3 who will stay, but then I just get to sit down and have a tutoring session, which is fun and easy. For the most part, everyone takes the opportunity to leave, with (I'm assuming) the belief that they'll just study "later".

For some reason, it always makes me think of Calvin's mom telling Susie that "it's mean to take advantage of kids with no common sense" when she finds Calvin about to eat five worms for Susie's nickel.