There Is No Cat

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Friday, September 26, 2003

Doctor In The Tardis

Has it really been fourteen years since Doctor Who disappeared from our TV screens? Time flies when you're a time lord. And now, out of nowhere, comes the news that the BBC is going to be producing a new six-episode series of the classic program.

<mumble> years ago, when I first started working in the studio of the PBS affiliate associated with my university, one of the first things I worked on was a series of (really clever) promos to introduce our viewing public to Doctor Who, which the station was going to start airing that autumn. The mucky-mucks at the station had no interest in buying the program, feeling that it was inappropriate for their largely rural audience. But one of my friends who worked in the studio with me was a huge fan and pestered them mercilessly. He even contacted the program's distributors in the US to get information on how much it would cost. As I recall, the program director finally agreed to air the program when the distributor contacted him and asked when they wanted to start airing the program, as they had the boxes for the videotapes already addressed. Or something like that; I may be missing some of the details. In any case, the managers were too embarrassed to say no, so they acquiesced and the station aired the program. They even let my friend write and produce those promos I mentioned earlier, since he was the only person at the station who knew anything about the program. Turned out to be one of the biggest hits the station ever had, bringing in a lot of money, and the station's managers went out of their way to take credit for their brilliant programming move and stellar insight into their audiences during the twice-a-year fundraisers. Although I have to say, they did do something unusual; they asked my friend to appear on camera and pitch when the fundraising was being done around Doctor Who. I don't think I ever saw another instance of a crew member being asked to be on the other side of the camera in my time there.

Posted at 10:48 PM
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Monday, September 22, 2003

Just Pack.

As M-day approaches, my itchy, scratchy brain in its fevered state is reduced to one thought: Just Pack. Whatever I look at, whatever I read, it says: Just Pack. When I close my eyes and try to relax, it's there: Just Pack. Insomnia-induced rantings are reduced to two words: Just Pack. Even a trip to a pan-Asian supermarket (which is how I know I'm not in hell quite yet) results in: Just Pack.

Posted at 3:38 AM
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Friday, September 19, 2003

No slur intended on Perth

There's Philadelphia cheesesteaks, one of the finest foods known to mankind. There's Camden cheesesteaks, which aspire to be Philadelphia but just don't quite make it and never will. And then there's Perth cheesesteaks. The actual antipodes of Philadelphia is somewhere in the Indian Ocean, but I figure that Perth, Australia, is about as far from Philadelphia as you can get on planet Earth and be on dry land. And there's just no way that cheesesteaks made by McDonalds' could be anything but Perth cheesesteaks. It gives the word "travesty" a bad name. The word "appalling" gave up and went home because he couldn't compete. (Found thanks to Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Posted at 12:52 PM
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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Pack a peck of pockled pippers

Have I mentioned how sick and tired I am of packing? We've been packing for two months already. We've moved dozens of boxes to our storage area, and now we're placing boxes in our living room. I spent a couple of hours in the garage this evening packing, then came inside to do some packing from among the couple thousand CDs we own (the landlord was quite impressed with the collection when he was here this past weekend to show the house to prospective renters). Every day seems the same; go to work, come home, spend hours packing. I'm so sick of packing. I don't ever want to move again. I want to live in the same house until I die, and then sprinkle my ashes over the back yard, because damnit, I don't ever want to pack again.

Posted at 11:31 PM
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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Hey hey, no, no, cliched rock has got to go

Laura and I took a break from the endless line of boxes to be packed and joined my brother and his girlfriend Friday night for a concert by Neil Young and Crazy Horse at our local large suburban semi-open-air amphitheater. Young is touring his latest album, a concept piece called "Greendale" about a family in a fictional north California town. The music was pretty good, even if the story was kind of thin, at least until the last two songs, when the story completely fell apart in a mass of incoherence not usually seen outside of major Hollywood motion pictures. The thing I found most interesting was that the use of actors to mime the parts Young was singing about was surprisingly effective. The mix of video and live action worked quite well. But I found myself cringing during the last song in particular, the chorus of which was something like "We've got to save Mother Earth" repeated over and over. If that wasn't bad enough, one of the cast members took the opportunity during the rave up at the end of the song to bring out an American flag and prance around the stage waving it. It felt like a cheap, manipulative gimmick designed to extract the maximum amount of applause from the audience as if the story wasn't enough, and quite frankly the whole display went against the thrust of much of the rest of the story. It kind of soured the entire story he was trying to tell for me, and left me in a foul mood at least a couple of songs into the second part of the concert. Oh well, nobody ever said Neil Young had a coherent worldview.

After they finished playing the album, they went all Spinal Tap on us, playing mostly tunes from the album Rust Never Sleeps. That's a great album, and it's even the only Neil Young album I own. But I found that part of the concert pretty much excruciating. I was disappointed when the drummer failed to explode at the end of the song "Rust Never Sleeps". It seemed like he ought to have. I think I OD'ed on overwrought rockanroll cliches in the second part of the concert. Oh well, now I don't have to go to another such show for another twenty years. (I think my last Big Rockanroll Show experience was about twenty years ago when I saw The Kinks at Penn State. That was a similarly manipulative experience that left me with a desire to only see bands that play clubs from there on out....)

Laura had an interesting take on it. She decided that it's good that musicians like Neil Young exist, since so many of our favorites seem to be influenced by him, but that the ones who fit that description who we really like, like Chuck Cleaver of the Ass Ponys, are much better, so we're probably better off spending more time listening to them than to Young, who was merely OK-to-good Friday night.

Posted at 11:52 PM
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

What Cantor and Siegel have wrought

I've been reading some of the rants about how e-mail is dead or dying with a jaundiced eye, particularly the ones that claim that RSS is the answer to e-mail's problems. That seems particularly wrong-headed to me, a classic example of how when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. (Chuq has a nice roundup, so rather than make me find all the posts, just go look at his meta-post.)

I've been thinking about this more in the past couple of days because in addition to my usual USDA-mandated minimum daily requirement of spam, one of my domains has been "borrowed" by spammers to spew their effluvia, by which I mean not that they're actually using said server, just that they're forging e-mail addresses at that domain. That means I'm getting dozens of bounce messages from MAILER-DAEMON every hour, mostly from Feh. This is as bad as those damned virii that were infesting my mailbox a week or two ago. Fortunately for me, the lowlife thief who is doing this had the courtesy not to use my main address at that domain, preferring to created nonsense "logins" like k9jlurb, wwdup1dtfe, and nh72ga, to choose three at random. So I was able to create a filter that saved anything sent to the main address there, and dropped everything else on the floor (rather than bouncing it back, which would just be vicious in this case, not that I would mind causing AOL the grief....)

So yeah, there are problems with e-mail. But I don't think RSS is the solution. High explosives are the solution. Maybe if we could convince the Israeli army that Boca Raton, Florida, the epicenter of spammers, is a hotbed of Hamas, that would fix the problem. In the meantime, I suppose I'll just have to keep bailing this leaky boat out with ad-hoc filters and one-time throw-away addresses that I can shut down when the spammers and the virii find them.

Posted at 5:35 AM
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Saturday, September 6, 2003

Big move

Regular visitors may have noticed a decrease in the number of postings here recently. Nothing bad going on, I'm not getting tired of the blog or anything, it's just that life has been incredibly busy lately. My lovely wife and I are buying a house. In fact, we're not buying just any house; we're buying my parents' house, a house my family moved into when I was 14 and which I lived in until I was in my early 30s. Dad got a job in Florida, so this beautiful cedar-sided ranch on two acres with a creek in the back yard became available just as our lease was running out, and for a great price at a time when interest rates are at historic lows. Yeah, I've been holding out, not mentioning anything here until now although we've been working on this for a couple of months already, because we hadn't informed the landlord on our current place. But now we have, the mortgage application is in, lawyers have been hired, offers made and accepted, and lots of stuff thrown out or placed in boxes. Moving date is in about three weeks, and we have a ton of stuff to do between now and then. This weekend, for example, we have to whip the current house into decent enough shape for the landlord to start showing it to prospective renters. We've been packing for weeks already, and have taken our near-empty rented storage area and damned near filled it, but when I look around the house at this point, all I see is more stuff to be packed or tossed, and very little time left in which to do it. Not to mention all the legal and financial stuff. Hopefully, this is the last time we'll do this for a very long time.

So anyway, that's an explanation of why things have dropped off a bit lately, and of why they're likely to drop off even more in the next few weeks. I know that it's possible to write about packing and moving and be entertaining, but I suspect I won't have much time to do that. This has really been an amazing year. I started 2003 single, more-or-less unemployed, and a renter, and I'll end it married, working, and a homeowner. Yay me!

Posted at 10:59 AM
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Thursday, September 4, 2003

Diseased Pariah News

Someone who visited this site recently, probably today, is infected with the Sobig.F worm. Last Friday, after hitting over a thousand copies of the virus received (and caught in my spam traps), I shut down the address listed at the bottom of the pages on this site, which was drawing hundreds of virus-infested e-mails every day. At the same time, on the main page only, I hid a new e-mail address, damnedvirus at this domain, in comments. Interestingly, the spammers found it before the virii, but no matter. I've received four new copies of the virus this morning, starting at 7:39 am EDT (1139 GMT). The e-mail addresses I'm receiving them from mostly seem to be related to China, coming from the following domains:


All of the e-mails have dates given as GMT+0900, and were received by my SMTP server from a computer known as, which appears to be a Japanese ISP. So if you visited this site some time before 1139 GMT (8:39 PM in Japan) from Japan and visit Chinese-language sites, please please please disconnect from the net, download some virus protection software, and disinfect your computer.

Posted at 11:26 AM
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Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Mmm, tasty

My brother's girlfriend is working on her Master's Thesis in Professional and Technical Communication, and has begun a blog to discuss it. For those who are interested in metablogging, it could be interesting, because Kelly's thesis is about blogs.

Posted at 11:18 PM
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Take one down, pass it around

I love the first two records by Australian group Ninetynine, which at that time was pretty much a solo project by Laura (or is it Lora?) Macfarlane, the original drummer of Sleater-Kinney. There's a great site put together by a fan about the band, and it's got a discography that includes three more records, none of which I've ever seen in a store around here or heard, but which I desperately want. The band was involved in a cooperative distribution group called Choozy, but I can't find them any more. whois says that their domain name is pending deletion, so I assume they've shut down. But I did find their newest release, The Process, on a new label. The news page on the aforementioned fan site says that there's a US release pending for The Process, but it's just below a listing of "upcoming" tour dates for October 2002, so maybe that didn't happen. It also mentions that Ninetynine records are available through Humble Pie Records in Sydney, and through Stickfigure Distribution in the US; they list a vinyl version of the band's third album, which I don't have, and CDs of the first two, which I do. I wish they had CDs of the third. <sigh> What I really wish is that I had had enough money a couple of years ago when Choozy was still around to order the records then....

Posted at 12:10 AM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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