Monday, September 24, 2007


My 13 year old Golden Retriever died in the wee hours of the morning, September 15. I'd post a photo of her but it would just make me cry.

We give dogs our extra time, our affection, a corner of our home. In return, they give us everything.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I was just browsing boing boing and, if you count the entry about a high school of homeland security (think high school of the arts, only to become a member of the homeland security team instead of Jonathan Lethem) there are four articles today on boing boing about airport security. I started thinking about that as a statement of social class. I mean, I fly a lot these days. I'm going to be flying next week and I am way worried about which airport, what connections, and the advisability of flying early in the day before delays build up and cascade through the system. But a lot of people don't.

This isn't a criticism of boing boing, just an observation that there is a certain class of people who travel a lot. They don't necessarily have a lot of money. But they're information rich.

On the other hand, I had saki with dinner and don't have the wit or inclination to think much more about this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wii Would Like To Play, Would I?

I work at the edges of the video game industry these days. It's an interesting gig, when I've got the work. I've been a speaker at the Austin Game Developers Con. I'm on a list serve for game writers. I'm probably doing a seminar at Austin Community College on ARGs in October. But I don't actually play games. I get motion sick watching first person shooters. (Warren Spector told me that one of the play testers for Deus Ex had to take Dramamine. I felt better.) And I never learned to use a controller. So now, at 48, I'm useless. If I tried to play Halo 3 on the easiest setting, I'd probably still be dead in five minutes.

I'm wondering if maybe I should get a Wii? Wii is sufficiently different from every other game console that I'm starting at the same level of klutziness as everyone else. And Caroline Spector says that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for Wii is fun. I keep thinking it would, you know, improve my credentials to actually play games.

Then again, a lot of people who work in the industry don't play anymore because they don't have time. I'm up to my eyeballs in work at the moment, and when I finish, I don't exactly want to be near a computer. At least the Wii would make me move around.

I'm on the fence. Does anybody else have one?

Obit: Alex the Parrot

Alex the Parrot died. Alex was the subject of a long study on avian intelligence at Brandeis. He was thirty or thirty-one, which isn't all that old for African Gray Parrots. They can live to be fifty.

For a long time it was assumed that parrots just 'parroted' and that they would say things that they learned would get a reaction without really understanding what they were saying. Work with Alex showed that parrots have some limited understanding of language. Alex had intellectual skills--he could count and do some relatively simple math. He could do 'which if these things is different.' He was sometimes cranky. He wasn't always thrilled with science because repetition bored him. He'd turn his back on people because he didn't want to work. The articles say that Alex had the emotional level of a human two year old, but of course that's not true. Alex's fellow African Grays survive in the wild, something beyond the emotional skills of any two year old. But Alex had the social interactions of a two year old. He pouted, he preened. When he worked with two other parrots in the lab, his perch had to be higher. He was a complete and utter character.

It's not like I ever saw him except in video. But I was sad to hear of his death.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


This is Bob's new pet. It lives on our house and he 'feeds' it by leaving the outside light on so as to attract insects. Every night Bob and the dogs go out to check on the gecko. Actually, we have a bunch of them, but two of them hang around our back door and he calls them Mama and Baby (based on relative size.)

Bob has an undergraduate degree in zoology and has kept a cayman, a black widow, and a ton of other creatures over the years. I can only count myself lucky that the geckos are outside pets.

(I should not be shocked that Adam has kept a variety of slightly odd pets.)

I am of two minds about odd pets. I love holding Mike and even took him outside for fresh air when I was last at Adam's. (Mike didn't seem to care one way or another.) But it does make travel difficult. It's one thing to have Howard take care of the dogs. I don't know how excited he would be about, say, an iguana. Although if I ever got one I would name it Darwin.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Tooth Fairy--A Cultural Shift?

When did the tooth fairy become a guy in drag?

I was watching TV today (I have a cold, TV is about what I want to do) and this guy wearing a pink tutu and tennis shoes and carrying a wand has a little trouble with a girl's bedroom window. I figure twenty years ago I'd have been thinking it was a pretty threatening situation--some weird fetish dude going after a little girl. But I recognized instantly that the guy was the tooth fairy. (In a credit card commercial, actually.)

I remember the first time I saw a commercial where the tooth fairy was a middle-aged guy. It was funny in a low key, deadpan kind of way. But now, the tooth fairy just looks that way, the way Santa Claus looks the way he looks.

Which is kind of weird. I mean, I get the play on the term 'fairy' but still. Is this what America wants floating into it's children's bedrooms at night and swapping molars for quarters?