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I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow. So how do I prepare for the trip? By mysteriously acquiring a cough and a sore throat, and effectively losing my voice. I guess I'll have some extra buddies to bring with me after all, aheheh.

Also: What do you do when your lungs are rattling, your throat feels like it's gone ten rounds with a cheese grater, and you want to paint something but you know you haven't the time to embark on any big projects? Why, by starting *two* ridiculous projects, which thereby guarantees you'll be able to finish neither before you leave:



What started out as an exercise in low camera angles wound up becoming... this. WTF Propaganda poster? It certainly seems to be leaning in that direction.

[Oh, and that musket's actually based on Montgomery, just with a longer barrel; I haven't an actual musket to model for me. >.<]



I don't know what possessed me to even *think* of doing this. Yes, I'm quite mad, thank you. Or at least I shall be once I start painting the goddamn metals!
darthfar: (Default)
Would anyone like a drawing, or would like to suggest something for me to do? I really need to get my painting muscles going again, but my brain's still frozen thanks to all the meds and peppermint drink.

-----------------------------------------

I actually went out for dinner at a Japanese restaurant tonight. California temaki, and a whole plate of salmon sashimi all to myself. [Yes, I'm greedy. Yes, my degree was in microbiology. Yes, I eat raw fish. Deal with it.] It's officially my first real meal for the week: I'd been eating very poorly before, thanks to the cough (which was clearly opposed to my having anything digesting in my stomach), and everything had been pretty repulsive anyway. So yeah. Score one for me this time.

It's ridiculous how long this cough has been going on. It even got *worse* at one point, if anyone can believe it, and my mother became desperate enough to try the remedy from her friend, which she insisted would get rid of the cough. This was the remedy: coating the soles of my feet with Vicks VapoRub, and then stuffing said feet into a pair of very thick socks. Obviously, I hate having my feet touched more than the rest of me combined, and I protested vehemently that the day it worked was the day our sun rose from the west and set in the south, but she insisted anyway, so we wound up wagering an iPad. The result? Not only did I keep the neighbours up all night with seemingly never-ending paroxysms of violent coughing, the soles of my feet were so well lubricated that I spent the next day slipping, sliding and skidding around the house like a demented dog on an ice skating rink. At least my coughs are now respectable sporadic bursts, rather than the hacking variety with enough power to forcibly pop out my eyes and eject my brain through my nose.

Still waiting to regain hearing in my left ear, though. Left ear currently feels stuffed with sound-absorbent material; I lost a great chunk of my hearing earlier this week, following the ear infection. On the one hand, it's much easier to tune out and *not* hear things I'm not interested in (eg. market noises, horrible music from the radio); on the other hand, if I'm sleeping with my good ear in the pillow, you could detonate several bombs in our neighbourhood and I'd still sleep right through it. That is, if the coughing didn't keep me awake. Haha.

-----------------------------------------

A good friend of mine - whose taste I never had cause to doubt up to now - recently started reading Twilight and, believe it or not, actually liked parts of it. After getting over my incredulity, I decided I would give the book the benefit of the doubt (I did read Harry Potter, didn't I? even though I had no intention of doing so?) and actually read it for myself before I passed judgment. And now, having finished it, I can really, honestly say:

It's not a bad book. It really isn't.

It's unspeakably horrible.

Yes, I know it's a book for teens. Yes, I know it's romance. But even with the knowledge that all teens are angsty and have percolating hormones, and believe in soppy things like One True Love Forever... it's still horrible. And it's not just the romance because surprise surprise, there *is* actually such thing as - thought it hurts me to say this - tastefully written romance. (Which, incidentally, you won't find anywhere in this book). For one, Bella Swan is about the most spineless, lamest, most vacuous and insipid protagonist I have ever come across in the world of teen fic. Apart from her name, which should already send alarm bells ringing (beautiful swan???), she's a Mary Sue who doesn't even bubble and dazzle like her sisters; she's like a Mary Sue with all the fizz and glamour taken out of her. She's supposedly a disaster magnet, an accident waiting to happen - but apparently that adds to her charm because she manages to attract people (particularly boys) like flies, never mind that she's a new girl in a little town where presumably everybody has known everybody forever. Her range of emotions range from angsty/snivelly to needy to blindly enamoured to more-depressed-than-a-wet-mop. And that's just her.

It gets worse once Edward the sparkly glampire enters the picture. If you have read Les Miserables, and were annoyed by how Victor Hugo kept reminding his readers about how beautiful and statue-like Enjolras was... well, at least Enjolras was still human, and he did die at the insurrection. Not to mention Enjolras would've looked like a drippy wallflower next to Edward Cullen. Seriously, every few pages we are treated to Bella's fawning descriptions of how devastatingly beautiful and gorgeous and perfect Edward was. It was nauseating. And really? If a boy, in real life, kept breaking into your bedroom to watch you sleep at night, and stalked you everywhere, and claimed that he was nothing until he met you, and that his whole life revolved around you, you'd get a restraining order. But apparently it's perfectly all right if the boy is a vampire? Eh?

The tragic part is that there *are* interesting fragments of the story that, perhaps, in the hands of a much better writer, might have become midway readable (especially, say, if it had been written in the 3rd person rather than the 1st). But this isn't it. It's a jagged mountain of painfully clunky narrative, unrestrained blathering and angst and emo and angst and emo. And major characters so two dimensional they could've been printed on floppy typing paper. And at the end of the day, all there is to he book is a perfect, smouldering, angsty sparkling, stalky vampire, and a girl whose only purpose in life is to be around him, and be rescued from danger by him. It's as if someone collected the dreams of every sad, lonely, overweight, deluded teenaged girl who wanted to be loved by a perfect guy, and distilled it into a 500-page novel. *facepalm*

It terrifies me that not only teenaged girls but also middle-aged women all over the place are reading (and loving) this because, really, what does that tell you about their evaluation of love and romance and desire?
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Caterpillars create cocoons by spinning a casing of silk around themselves from head to tail. Humans do this by wrapping themselves in soft silk floss duvets from head to toe. Well, at least, this human did.


The Martian Debilitating Cold virus has launched another offensive against the Sprawling Nation of Far on Monday, causing another onset of apocalyptic nuclear winter. However, while initial casualties were high, it would seem that Far's body is slowly fighting off the invaders, as suggested by the fact that the cough is now of the "persistently annoying" variety, rather than the earlier "hacking up pieces of lung" one, although commentators have pointed out that this may simply be due to the fact that there *are* no pieces of lung left to hack up. Of course, this is not necessarily an impediment since, as Far currently feels as holey as a giant slab of Swiss Cheese, oxygen can now pretty much be relied on to get into Far's body on its own. Or maybe it's Far's brain that's Swiss Cheese. Kind of hard to tell, really.

In other news, Far has lost mass. It is unlikely that this is due to dehydration as Far has been drinking enough water to fill up a medium-sized reservoir, so it is probable that disgusting quantities of energy are being used somewhere to mobilise the machineries of molecular war. Far is planning to develop this as a new diet regime called "Catch a Bug, Lose Weight Fast!", which is sure to become a viral marketing hit. Stay tuned for the latest updates.
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I am currently harbouring fugitives. Their names are Martian and Debilitating Cold, and they're currently in hiding, probably somewhere in the vicinity of my lungs.

My first clue that my body had been invaded by rogue microorganisms was when, following lunch on Thursday, I developed an annoying persistent cough. By Friday, said annoying cough had blossomed into a conspiracy to keep my erythrocytes from effectively transporting their little oxygen passengers to the gazillions of cells populating the Sprawling Nation of Far, and thus just as effectively kept me out of the gym. Said pathogens apparently seized control of my communications centre yesterday, which probably wasn't hard to do at all since I practically handed it to them on a plate, having spent two consecutive hours burning a hole in my throat by talking non-stop at Biology class like a Chatty Cathy on stimulants. Meanwhile, my respiratory tract, sensing the inevitability of war, was busy stockpiling mucus and phegm in some remote part of my throat that no amount of throat-clearing or coughing could dislodge. Come evening (and my aunt's party) I was viewing the food served at dinner as unspeakably vile little buggers that would, if given the opportunity, cheerfully invite the contents of my lunch to join them on the serving plates; indeed, vile little buggers with the general appeal of large lumps of celery-flavoured booger. Left in time to get to orchestra practice, where we spent a very merry night playing Various Christmas Songs With A Liberal Sprinkling of Phlegm, and then returned home to play my own Death Rattle Concerto, Opus 44, featuring a very impressive Hacking Cough Solo. To add to the mood, the local temperature dropped to several degrees above absolute zero - and when I say "local" I actually mean, "restricted to the area confined by my skin", since outdoor temperature was registering a nice balmy 27 degrees Celsius - thus necessitating the application of a long-sleeved denim workshirt, socks, one very warm silk floss duvet *and* one comforter the thickness of several loaves of bread. Which, as you may have guessed, did absolutely nothing to bring the perceived local temperature back up to normal, while actually steaming the covered person (ie. me) to palatable tenderness.

However, am very pleased to report that my internal thermostat was fixed by very grudging molecular repairmen early in the morning, and, after spending most of the day comatose, I am reasonably back up to speed (though pieces of my lung are still coming up with each cough...). Except that I was astonished to find, upon waking up today, that I had been transformed into a frog, and thus can only utter the words *croak* and *ribbit* - something that will probably require a kiss from some member of royalty to rectify.
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Dear Far,

We have tried to put this off for some time, but at this point we unanimously feel that we cannot dodge the inevitability of bringing up this subject any longer. To put it very kindly:

It is really not necessary for you to try and outrun every last person who gets on the treadmill next to yours. Seriously. Everyone else has their own workout timetable independent of yours;  just because they start up the machine next to yours does not mean they are striving to challenge your running record, nor should you attempt to string them up like pearls and forget that they're really just individuals, and not a relay race from hell that you absolutely have to beat. At the rate you're going, you're practically running around the whole damn country on your treadmill. Also, you're seriously wearing out the soles on your sneakers.

We have summoned the courage to tell you all this because the truth is that we are tired. Tired and fed up with supporting you thanklessly, while you use and abuse us and completely disregard our personal needs. We simply cannot maintain a selfish, one-sided relationship such as this. Should you persist in this outrageous behaviour, we will be forced to take drastic measures, such as forcing temporary disability, or walking out on you for the weekend. We will be sure to take your sneakers with us to the Day Spa.

Sincerely,
Your leg muscles.
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MOULDY BREAD - Fitness experts are baffled by the spontaneous migration of multiple workout machines around a local gym last night. The phenomenon, dubbed "Sailing Machines", left only deep gouges in the flooring, and no eyewitnesses.

"We don't know exactly what happened," says an unnamed employee at the gym. "When we locked up for the night yesterday, everything was where it should be. But when we punched in this morning, we discovered that all the machines had changed places."

Adds her colleague, "It was just dead weird. There was no sign of a break-in, or any kind of human activity. It was as if... the machines just got up and rumbled around in the middle of the night."

Already, panic is spreading across the city as locals speculate about the possibility of the gym machines acquiring sentience. "Just think about it," presses a concerned citizen. "We keep giving these machines bigger and better electronic brains; it's only a matter of time before they develop artificial intelligence. What we've just witnessed may be the first manifestation of self-awareness and free will among machines. And then what next? My coffee machine refusing to let me drink any more decaf? My car deciding that it wants to come into the house at night? It's pandemonium, I tell you!"

Experts are quick to scoff at these rumours and speculations as "uneducated, hysterical rambling." 

However, there may be a scientific explanation for the phenomenon: A local fitness machine expert points out that drastic episodes of unexplained machine movement tend to coincide with the shifting of the Earth's magnetic pole. "We weren't expecting this phenomenon until next year," he admits. "The last time this happened was some 780,000 years ago, during a period geologists called the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal. As you can imagine, there was widespread disaster when the poles spontaneously reversed: we've found fossils of sabre-toothed tigers and glyptodons crushed under heavy gym equipment, and there's evidence to suggest the mammoths went on a rampage and tore down fitness centres in a bloody fit because they couldn't find their programmable steppers."

"Quite a bit of luck nobody was around when this thing happened last night," he says, almost as an afterthought.

Or was there? Suspicious dark smears on the linoleum floor suggests that there may have been at least one witness, but that they will not be talking anytime soon.

In the meantime, gym regulars are appalled with the abrupt rearrangement of equipment, which, as one regular points out, "has no rhyme or bloody reason. I mean, if those damned things had to go and move themselves around, why the hell didn't they group themselves by type, instead of scattering themselves haphazardly throughout the damn pla-- *BONK* OW! Who the hell put that lat bar there?"

Experts are hard pressed for a reasonable answer at current time.


--------------------------

Because it's obviously more fun making jokes about our gym's peculiar tendency to keep shifting machines around, than ranting outright about it.
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I am only slightly less mimsy than a borogove,1 thanks to a string of very amusing (minor) events that are at least partially my fault:

1. After the stress of the previous night's rehearsal, I decided to go jogging yesterday afternoon, to take the edge of said tension. Which was all well and dandy, and left me absolutely refreshed... until I started walking to the car, and Mr. Sky decided I was saturated with salt (and thus exerting high osmotic pressure in my immediate locality), and that I NEEDED TO BE DILUTED BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Score 1 for Mr. Sky, 0 for this sorry, soggy borogove.

2. The clarinets, who have been keeping silent all this while throughout this one utterly nefarious little passage of our finale, suddenly decided last night, OHAI LET'S JOIN IN THE PAR-TAY!!! - and proceeded to crash said party by coming in wrong. And because yours truly the soggy borogove has been practicing to a concert recording at home (in which the clarinets rightly led the passage), I also managed to screw up my first entry in the most spectacular manner, for the first time *ever*. Which is a hideously embarrassing thing, when Enjolras!Conductor is staring at you, knows all your notes and entries, and undoubtedly knows you blew it.

3. Oh, and I think I inhaled a rather healthy lungful of carpet fibres in the hall, because

4. Today I woke up sniffling and sneezing, with a nose that admitted even less air than the late Douglas Adams' honker.2 And the concert is tonight, and I have all these garlands of pretty, pretty, and deadly nefarious harmonies and countermelodies to play. What ho!

Uh... wish me luck? LOL.


NOTES

1 And probably as slithy as a tove as well, particularly if you go by Sir Arthur Eddington's likening of Jabberwocky to quantum physics. Har de har har.

2 That is to say, no air at all.
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MOULDY BREAD - Following the abrupt southward drift of the Far islands into the chilly region of Mère, its capital, Mouldy Bread, has been plunged into what the city's spokesman, Cere Bral, called a "deep-shit crisis" as melatonin production plummets to an all-time low. This is just the latest of a string of disasters that has swept through the city over the past few months as first, enemy forces took over the capital by storm, doing immense damage to the Lower Respiratory System and killing off several platoons of general infantry before Special Forces finally wrestled control back three weeks later; and later, microscopic terrorists released toxins into the Nutrition Processing Centre, causing massive loss of liquids from the centre's reservoirs. It is hardly surprising, then, that there is an oppressive air of panic in the city.

"It's a nightmare!" wails the production manager, Pine Al. "Melatonin has always been an integral part of our city's economy; with its collapse, all the industries, even government sectors, have been toppling like dominoes! I've been getting nothing but frothing phonecalls all this month from ministers and heads of  industry about how our failure to meet the city's demands has screwed them over. It's chaos, I tell you, CHAOS!"

Indeed, with the acute melanin shortage, the city is tottering on the precipice of failure. One of the areas hardest hit is the Ministry of Power, whose Nutrition division has yet to recover from the last assault.

"Melatonin shortage leads to disruptions in nutrition acquisition," grumbles department head Mito "Mighty" Chondria, "And how the hell are we supposed to generate energy for the city, if there's nothing to generate it from? We can't just pull ATP out of thin air, you know! There have been riots in the Electron chain gangs the past month, something about wanting to transfer out or that kinda crap. And of course, when we got no juice for the city... well, the shit really hits the fan."

Minister of Transport, Myo Sin, agrees. "The city's transportation system is on the verge of collapse. Fuel prices have soared to ridiculous heights, and as a result, nobody's going anywhere." His deputy, Ac Tin, adds, "You should've seen the locomotive muscle construction sites. The foremen were flogging the workers to carry on, even when it was obvious they didn't have the strength to. Might as well have been flogging dead horses, if you ask me."

The Neural department has been similarly affected. With the sudden closure of the Arts & Creativity section due to discontinued funding, tempers have been running high as rumours of retrenchment and closure run rampant and departments vie for scant resources. "Blame it all on Kulchitsky!" rants one unhappy neuron. "He's the one responsible for our shortage of serotonin funds!  It's amazing we haven't all torn each other's throats out yet!"

"It's not just the serotonin; there aren't enough endorphins and dopamine to go around either," says a colleague sadly. "As you can tell, we're all feeling a bit depressed."

The Minister of Communications has declined to comment on the situation.

When asked about how the neighbouring region of Mère is faring in comparison, the city spokesman, Bral, says distractedly, "Oh, it's fine, absolutely fine. The southwest region took a direct hit, but a couple of other nations have sent help, and rebuilding efforts are going well, and their army's doing fine and dand.... er, what were we talking about again?" When reminded he was commenting on Mère's economic and political climate, he mutters, "If you ask me, I think it's draining our resources plenty."

Bral's assistant, Sulci, is more diplomatic about the situation. "Of course, we're not blaming anyone - least of all Mère - for the upheaval, y'know? There's no black and white in this matter, only shades of grey. Shit happens, and sometimes you just get caught in the vortex. You just ride it out as best you can."

There is some concern that the capital may take another hit from enemy forces while its home forces are still weak, though optimists guardedly believe that there is hope for recovery in the near future, as Mère's transportation sector is restored. In the meantime, the citizens are simulating normalcy as best they can, although they are understandably prone to hostility at the slightest provocation. "I got every right to be grouchy at this time of crisis," snarls one Paul Acorb, brandishing a pitchfork, "So if ya stick yer nose where it don't belong, I'll stick this into ya!"
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Another of those ridiculous emails masquerading as health warnings...

In the past, every time my mother forwarded me one of these, I'd fire off angry rants to all the recipients on her list, dissecting the hoax to kingdom come and attacking each point with fact and basically insinuating that everybody who believed crap like it were several hundred neurons short of a nervous system. It was only after my mother repeatedly begged me not to keep spamming her friends, I gave it up as a bad job. Lately, though, I've been feeling the urge to write long, scathing replies again because seriously... the hoaxes just keep getting worse and worse.

Electronic avalanche follows )

EPIC FAIL


So I just completed my first... uh, complete acrylic painting.



(You don't want to see the other portrait I tried. Seriously).

Remind me again why I don't work with traditional media. Oh yeah, they get all over the place, and cameras can't get the damn colours right. Because I swear, the original didn't have THIS much yellow in it. It's supposed to be a gift for a good friend, although now I can't make up my mind whether to give it, or to do another one with Corel.

On the other hand, I did learn some very important lessons from this exercise in new media. Namely:

1. It's a bad idea to put your coffee cup next to your dirty (washing) water cup.
2. Forgetting to cap your paint tubes is only marginally less stupid than drinking out of the wrong cup.
3. Acrylic paint, being paint, gets on everything. Like tables and keyboards and shirts. And it doesn't come out either.

Ah well. There's always next time, I suppose.
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My mother's orthopaedic surgeon wins the award for the Fastest Admission/Surgery/Discharge EVER. When we brought her to his office at ten yesterday morning, he took one look at the x-rays and declared without hesitation, "This needs surgery." (Because the tip of the tibia - which, together with the fibula, forms a socket joint with the foot - had fractured, and shifted inwards). So she had another x-ray done, and was checked into her room by noon, was in the operating theatre by half past one, and back in her room by four. (Because they'd only given her a caudal anaesthetic, she was fully conscious during the procedure, although I believe she got tired of listening to the drills and fell asleep for about an hour, and woke up just before they finished). Visitors started coming in at three in the afternoon; the last batch didn't leave until a quarter to eleven! LOL.

[My mother's roommate - they didn't have any single suites left - was an elderly Chinese woman who'd suffered a mild stroke but was already up and about as if nothing had happened; her visitor for the better part of yesterday and today was another elderly Chinese Energizer-bunny woman (it keeps going! and going! and going!) who seemed to have mastered the art of circular breathing while talking, and whose opinions could be heard from... the carpark, probably.]

Spent the night with my mother, just in case she needed help fetching things etc. My nasal passages decided that they'd had just about enough of working, and, declaring holiday, shut down my entire nose, with a giant stockpile of mucus locked inside.

My mother got x-rayed again after lunch, was pronounced fine by the surgeon, and discharged soon after. My mucus wasn't.

LOL.

Anyway, she's back home now, and has been banished to the ground floor. Aside from mobility issues, she's in pretty good spirits, so her recovery should be pretty smooth. I foresee six weeks of drama and excitement, as she gets a severe case of itchy foot from not being able to step inside her kitchen...
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ROGUE MICROBES

I awoke yesterday to the startling realisation that some heavy-duty construction work (involving what seemed like a jackhammer and a piling machine) was taking place somewhere deep inside my skull. Today, the goblet cells lining my nose decided once again to increase performance in an attempt to meet this year's mucous quota (and perhaps next year's as well), and effectively clogged up my nose, with the result that today's run was not exactly pleasant, given that said honker was only good for honking, and that the mouth, being an excellent opening for inserting food and exhaling carbon dioxide, was also a highly efficient suction pump for not only oxygen but smoke, small airborne creatures and random suspended debris.

I very much suspect this to be the fault of the maid who, instead of staying home to nurse her cold, has been bringing her viruses to work like highly unruly, destructive children.

WATCHING THE WEIGHTS

Today at the gym, I watched with some amusement as two decidedly overweight guys who knew squat about routines attempted the lat pull machine. Guy 1 (aka the spotter) set the resistance to some arbitrarily high number, and spent yonks adjusting the position of Guy 2(the one sitting down)'s hands on the bar, as Guy 2 visibly sweated from the exertion. Guy 2 tried pulling down the bar. Did two reps very badly. Guy 1 stepped behind and grabbed the bar at the centre. Between the two of them, they managed under a dozen reps before Guy 2 (whose head looked as though it would explode from the first rep) called for a halt.

[It reminded me of this one girl who came *one* time, and who was obviously clueless in the ways of gym machinery. After observing me at the cable crossover machine (I was using only one side) for a spell, she decided that she too would try tricep presses - and set her weights to the same as mine. (I think her line of reasoning was, I'm kind of small, the girl was much taller and somewhat bigger, so - hey, I bet I can manage that). After watching her struggle to force the bar down, subtract 5kg, struggling again, subtract another 5kg, I suggested, "Why don't you try it the other way around? Start at something much lighter, say, 10kg and work your way up." She said, "OH!! okay!" *facepalm*]

Seriously, if you don't know how to operate a machine, you should try locating the trainers, or approach one of the veteran bodybuilders, before you wind up hurting yourself badly. (I mean, hell, we have *four* defending champions who're there almost every day. They're pretty easy to spot, because they're the ones with biceps big and hard enough to drive nails in with). *chuckles*

DATA MISREPRESENTATION

I've been reading these big fat supplementary reports that were included in my research material, and scribbling very rude remarks all over the margin that hopefully boss guy will never see. (I don't even know why I'm reading it, since the project will not include said product). Because, seriously, it's downright hideous how all this data is being misrepresented by the opposing party. Without alluding to what the product in question is, specifically, I shall say this:

1. If there is one case of disease for every 12 million units of Product A consumed, and one case for every 19 million units of Product B consumed, it does NOT mean that you can safely consume an additional 7 million more units of Product B without risk of infection. It's just that for every unit of Product A consumed, there is a 8.33 x 10-6% chance that there's a high enough number of pathogens in it to make a person sick, versus a 5.26 x 10-6% chance per unit with Product B. I mean, if, say, 1 in 1,000 people stupid enough to stand under a tree during a lightning storm get struck by said lightning, does that mean you can safely stand underneath a tree 999 times without getting hit?

2. I love how they keep saying things like, there were only 450 cases of contamination for Product A in [year] as opposed to 1,400 for Product B. Yeah, but what were the production values for Products A and B? How big a market did they cater to? Those numbers aren't reflecting any kind of percentage, yo.

[Back when we did Scientific Writing, our lecturer cited this hilarious example of statistics: "In our studies to test the hazardous effects of [chemical] on laboratory white mice, 33% of the samples died, 33% lived - and the last mouse ran away." AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.]

3. If you're going to study the effects of Product X vs Product Z upon the health of a consumer, you do NOT set it up as follows: you give ONE consumer Product X, ONE consumer Product Y (what has Y to do with the study?) - and give them BOTH additional supplements - and then give ONE consumer your Product Z WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS. That is seriously the stupidest experimental setup I have ever heard.

4. Neither should you, in a coronary disease study involving Product Q vs R, compare the health of people who consume large quantities Product Q (which contains significant proportions of fat) with people who do not consume Product Q. (Where are the people who consume Product R, anyway?).

5. When asserting that cooking destroys Chemical X in Product C, which promotes good health, you should also bear in mind that the majority of the population doesn't even consume significant quantities of said Product C, and that Chemical X is found in other, more common foods anyway, instead of trying to scare the reader into thinking it necessarily leads to DEFICIENCY.

The list goes on and on ad nauseum. Seriously, you could write an entire dissertation on "Data Misrepresentation in a Report on X". ... You know, I don't believe the people who put this together are actually this dumb. I think they knowingly chose to convolute said data to push their case. God, I just want to hit them over the head with this mountain of reading material.

THESE CAN'T POSSIBLY BE CHRISTMAS CARDS...

Just thought I'd share two that went out today:

darthfar: (Default)
So. My hypothalamus has gone on Christmas vacation, my throat feels as if I've been eating economy packs of razor blades, and the mucus-production plant in my nose, having realised that it is already the end of the year, with nothing to show for it, has, in a fit of frenzy, gone into production overdrive. I'm pretty sure that a battle between nucleic acid invaders in protein capsid armour, and my body's police force and SWAT team, is raging somewhere. In the meantime, said defending army is far too busy to engage in less important maintenance activity, with the result that I also managed to come down with a very interesting case of food allergies last night, and had to be medicated with long-acting antihistamines - and so have been in Major Wooze Mode from last night right through to this morning's meeting (and I'm still woozy). The only good news is that, come hell or highwater, I am still perfectly capable of aiming and firing a sniper rifle with impeccable accuracy. So I may be shambling through the city with bloodshot eyes and a gushing nose, but those dang zombies in Louisiana are still Eating Lead. Aheheh.
darthfar: (Default)
My dad and I recently worked this out: for every four steps I take, he takes five.1 He's always joked that I have only two gears, Park and Zoom, but it's nice to actually *know* our relative speed. LOL. Not that he crawls or anything; it's just that I make like a bullet train wherever I go.

1 Well, technically it's every 80 to 100.

THE STRANGE STORY OF MADDY AND BUTTMUNCH

A teaser poster for an upcoming project:



A good friend and I are putting our heads together to do what we've both dreamed of but neither of us could pull off on our own: a webcomic. It's still in the development stage, but we're moving along pretty fast, so it should be good to go pretty soon. LOL. Stay tuned.
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LEFT4DEAD 2

Left4Dead 2 unlocks... TOMORROW! Bring out the chips and the coffee, the mice and the headsets, and MAYHEM.

SNUGGLYBUNNIES

If there's anything I'm not, it's a physical contact person. I detest snuggles and cuddles and hugs. Annoying little tumours that behave like snuggly puppies around major blood vessels, even more so. Stop it. Seriously.

Fun Doctor Moment #1


Doctor: ... Here's your aorta. And right here, this black lump...
Patient: WTF it's right off the major North-South highway???

Fun Doctor Moment #2:

Doctor: Have you ever had surgery? Have you ever been under anaesthesia?
Patient: No. ... No.
Doctor: ... Are you allergic to anaesthesia?
Patient: Oh sure, and I gas myself sometimes, just for kicks. Personally I prefer nitrous oxide, but god! it gives me such a hangover afterwards.

MUSIC

Our orchestra may or may not be playing at this local music festival (details are unconfirmed), but in the meantime we're just preparing for it anyway. Last week's practice consisted of playing what sounded like two very mournful dirges masquerading as love songs; I was sleepy enough that I *think* I partially dozed through one section, and wound up skipping one entire staff and why does this sound disharmonic with the rest of the oh my god... LOL! It must have been more boring than I thought; I may foul up notes on occasion, but I have never skipped entire staves before.

The good thing about being a brass player is that you get breaks while the violinists practically break their fingers. The bad thing about being a brass player is that sometimes the breaks are so long you don't know what to do in the meantime. Or just fall asleep...
darthfar: (Default)
It is probably not the best course of action to hand-launder and bake leather gloves. After all the jokes my father cracked about my gym gloves being noxious enough to wipe out the indigenous aquatic life in our local lake, my mother decided that it was high time they had a bath (the gloves, I mean; I'm assuming that said indigenous aquatic life needs no further introduction to water). When I attempted to put them on today, I found, to my consternation, that they had somehow shrunk two sizes, and I could hardly wiggle a finger in. After some very determined pulling and squashing, I managed to get my hands in - just barely. I thus spent the next hour fighting the impression that I was working out with armadillo plates on my hands. Plates that were gouging the flesh out of my palms, at that.

I think I'm going to have to buckle, after all, and buy myself a new pair. Force knows, leather gloves should only have so many holes.

CANNIBALISM, ANYONE?

I just received the strangest email from an aunt today, one she claimed was proof that modern cannibalistic practices were well and alive. A cursory glance at the fifty-odd photographs confirmed that (1) yes, there was a corpse involved, and (2) there was a bunch of people in uniform (police and medical staff?) doing eyebrow-raising things to it, namely, dismembering and eviscerating it, and (3) oh hai, they're hanging around having lunch. I gathered, from the sequence of images, that one was supposed to arrive at the conclusion that said people made a hearty meal of their morning's work. Yum.

[Want to see a small selection of the pictures? CLICK HERE. Be warned: if you don't have a strong stomach, you might not enjoy what you see.]

While fried corpse might smell delectable, the email itself smelt fishy. Sure, you have photographs of them paring the corpse down to the bone, and sure, you have photographs of the group of people cooking and eating a meal together... but if they *were* indeed eating the corpse, where were the pictures of stir-fried fingers? of leg stew? or boiled head soup? Surely, if one were to be part of so exotic a feast, one would document the entire event, yes? The only photographs supposedly of the "cooking" process showed a couple of men boiling what looked decidedly like the corpse's hands in a large vat (unless they were deep-frying them, I can't think of a more unpalatable way of rendering meat of any sort than boiling them in water. Yuck), near what looked like stone body drawers; the lunch group, on the other hand, was out in the bushes - nowhere near the white building, it seemed.

So I did a little poking on the internet, and unearthed the following:

NaRa Saturday, August 29, 2009 22:58:00
In Thailand, there are several groups of volunteers that would go out and help transport the bodies of accident victims to the coroner office. The reason being is that the Coroner office in Thailand does not have enough manpower to go out and perform all the tasks of retrieving bodies themselves.

The pictures you are seeing came from an event hosted by one of the volunteer group mentioned above. Many times the bodies were never claimed, these bodies are actually stored in an unclaimed cemetary [sic]. But when they run out of space to buried the bodies, they would have to clean out the cemetary. The pictures here shows the volunteers actually cleaning the cemetary by removing the unclaimed bodies. This needed to be done to make space for the new bodies.

In order to maximize the space to keep the bones, they had to remove the remove the flesh (which later would be cremated) and only kept the bones.

These people have worked with the dead bodies for so long that it doesn't bother them to sit down and eat their lunch next to the bodies. The volunteers are NOT eating the corpse. They are just eating the rice with some stir-fry meat with ginger.
[Supporting news item here]

Okay, I figured it for an anthropology class out for a day of collecting material, but that's close enough. LOL.

It amused me. Here we have two sets of photographs that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, beyond the fact that the people in both sets are the same - one showing what, in the eyes of the majority, must constitute a defilement of a deceased person; the other, showing the partaking of a meal - and one automatically arrives at the conclusion that the meat from set A must have wound up on plates in set B. It is a strange thing, the human mind, that possesses the software to achieve closure by filling in gaps with information from previous experiences - the same software that gives us the power of deduction, of putting two and two together. Unfortunately, the same software that serves us can also work against us, leading us to see connections where there are none (which I can only liken to seeing animals in clouds and Ronald Reagan in a head of broccoli), simply because we're used to links and sequences. And so the viewer automatically - erroneously! - deduces that (forgive me) one (dead) man's meat is another man's protein source for the day. (And it is perhaps a resounding testament of man's tendency to always assume the worst). Not the nicest prank you can play on someone, but hey, that's dark humour for you.

And then I found the following post on another website, and all of a sudden it wasn't funny anymore:

Warning: The forwarded pictures are truly gruesome. Please do not scroll down if you cannot withstand the shock. They are definitely NOT for Minors.

Ambassador Keshi:

Is there anything the Nigerian government, through the Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief Ojo Madukwe could do on the diplomatic front to bring this serious matter to the attention of the Government of Thailand, may be through the Thailand ambassador to Nigeria or at the United Nations.

I will be forwarding the pictures to the Thailand Embassy in Ottawa, Canada and to the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Canada tomorrow morning along with a letter of concern of concern which will also ask for their comments on the issue. Individual Nigerians and citizens of other African countries should also be encouraged to bring this matter up with the Embassy of Thailand wherever in the world they may reside.

I believe that the citizenship of the victim, which is unknown of at this time, should not be be major consideration in our reaction. If the Thai hunters could do this to a full grown black man, can we imagine what they still do to the aboriginal peoples who still live in the tropical jungles of Thailand.

Bye,

Ola
Because, all of a sudden, it's no longer humour of questionable taste; it's become malicious.

Wait, it gets even better:

From: OlakassimMD
Sent: 21/07/2009 9:36:11 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Re: [NIDOA] Fw: Thai people eating blackman

Dear All:

The scenes depicted in the pictures are truly disgusting not necessarily because the victim is a black man as they would still be disgusting regardless of his race. The pictures depict a group of hunters who after hunting down and killing a black man (as they would any animal) proceeded to dismember his body and then cooked some parts which they ate. All these acts took place in ether late 20th or early 21st century.

I believe we must embark on some steps to ensure that:

a) the Thai government authorities are made aware of this atrocity.

b) that human rights groups worldwide including at the United Nations be made aware of this incident.

c) that this matter be bought up at the United Nations so that all nations of the world could become involved in stamping out these kinds of primitive cannibalistic acts.

d) that the Nigerian government exact some diplomatic response from the Thai ambassador in Nigeria on the basis that the black victim could be a Nigerian.

e) try and obtain a translation of the text that is written in the Thai language.

Bye,

Ola

In a message dated 21/07/2009 8:20:48 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, adaejiagamba08@ yahoo.com writes:

Why are black people despised all over the world? Why do they see us as less than human? I hope the pictures below are not true, this is sickening.
Please those of you plying Thailand and its neighboring countries beware!!! We don't want any of our own to end up being eaten by barbaric cannibals
.
Adaejiagamba.
Wait, did I miss something? Where, in all these pictures, is there evidence that the corpse was hunted down? Where are the weapons - at least, weapons that can be associated with the few areas of trauma on that body (for a "hunted" corpse, he seems to be in terrific condition)? You'd also think that the group could dress a little more appropriately for the so-called hunt than medical whites and police uniforms... seriously. Oh, and that's not a even a fresh corpse, as should be evident from the livor mortis. So what, they let their corpses sit around a bit for better flavour? And how did the writer even arrive at the conclusion that "black people are despised all over the world" and "are seen as less than human" from that one set of photos, which showed only *one* individual (who, as we've already established, wasn't even eaten, but prepared for some kind of ossuary), rather than something more conclusive... say, a corral full of these folks, or multiple "hunting" events? Nice job of leaping to illogical conclusions there.

It makes me wonder what the authors of the emails are trying to accomplish. Because when you bring in actual racial and nation identities, you can't possibly have anything in mind that is any less than creating discord and persecuting a particular group of people that don't fit into your worldview - or, at the very least, attempting to solicit sympathy for your own group, that you do not deserve. What better way than to portray your targets as savages - or at the very least, morally and intellectually inferior? (Once you establish them as being inferior beings, you take away the guilt of committing crimes against them. History's littered with examples. Surely I need not name them).

[And indeed, what better horror, in this case, to inflict than that of the Ultimate Crime: desecration of the dead? Almost every modern culture1 has its own death taboo; while the details may vary, most of them involve having it ground into you that it's immoral to chop up old granny like a side of pork, and stir-frying her with the vegetables, - and any one or any group that violates this sacred code is automatically a force of terror to be dreaded or hated.]

It makes you want to throw your hands up in despair sometimes, doesn't it?

People, if you've received similar emails, if you're reading this, pass on the message. This is a hoax, and a particularly pernicious one. Don't spread the hate.


1 I say modern culture, because there are apparently still a few primitive cultures that practice ritualistic cannibalism, and I refuse to discuss them in the context of this journal entry because the people depicted are clearly from the "civilised" world.

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