April 2005

Breedable garter snakes and a gravid corn snake

Last Sunday’s trip to the reptile show resulted in this new acquisition. The upshot of which is that I’ll be able to breed Checkered Garter Snakes in a year or two. Which is good, because for all my garter snake wankery, I haven’t had a breedable pair of garters in nearly two years. So add albino and normal Checkered Garter Snakes to our future projects list, though given the size of my females, possibly not before 2007 unless I feed them up heavily.

Pretzel is definitely gravid; she refused her meal last night and is big and squishy in her back half. (I wasn’t able to palpate any eggs, though that might be due to my lack of skill rather than their lack of developement.) So it’s safe to say that eggs will follow her next shed. It’s also safe to say that she’ll be her usual emaciated self afterwards. (Feeding her up will simply make her double-clutch. Keeping weight on her is a challenge, to say the least.) This didn’t stop Trouser from pouncing on her again — it was Saturday, after all (see previous entries: 1, 2).

Doing right by CSS and Ontario Herpers

I’ve actually ordered a couple of CSS manuals from Amazon; this thing with style sheet inconsistencies is driving me nuts, so I should get a better handle on them. So far most of my CSS trickery has been trial and error, with whatever browser I’m using at the time as a default. I need to do better than that. That’s going to take more time.

Stewart pulled his projects from Ontario Herpers, including Herp Journal, without warning, which forced me to update that page. I neglect that domain; I only update once a year or so. I ought to spend more time on it.

It’s all Internet Explorer’s fault, honest

I don’t normally have access to a Windows machine. Every time I redesign my site, I run the risk of having it look completely awful in IE 6 for Windows, if not failing altogether. Well, I’m in Orillia right now, working on the redesign for this site (the new version of which should be up and running by Wednesday), and I finally had a look at this here site as it appears with IE 6 since I redesigned it last month.

Ouch. Sorry about that.

Fortunately, the site works — it just looks awful. (And the front page is even worse. Dammit.)

Once I’m done this project and am back home, I’ll have to turn to fixing it up. And maybe bite the bullet and drag Jen’s old laptop out of storage for Windows browser testing purposes.

Of course, you could all just switch to Firefox, on which this site has been tested and works perfectly.

More entries below »

Talking past each other

Bloggers and media organizations are filing amicus briefs in the Apple suit against rumour sites (my take on which is here). Paul McCleary writes, in his excellent summary of the case on CJR Daily, “One can’t help but notice that in a certain sense, Judge Kleinberg and the media types seem to be talking past each other.”

In his March 11 ruling, which is being appealed (hence the amicus briefs), Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled that Apple could go after the rumour sites for their sources. Kleinberg ruled that the question of whether the rumour sites constituted journalism was irrelevant. From his decision:

But even if the movants are journalists, this is not the equivalent of a free pass. The journalist’s privilege is not absolute. For example, journalists cannot refuse to disclose information when it relates to a crime. […] Whether [O’Grady] fits the definition of a journalist, reporter, blogger, or anything else need not be decided at this juncture for this reason: there is no license conferred on anyone to violate valid criminal laws.

In other words, your obligation to obey the law is not affected by your status as a journalist, so whether or not you’re a journalist is irrelevant.

Continue reading this entry »

The usual sore-but-busy update

Still alive, but still sore; it’s been a somewhat unpleasant month in that regard. Expect an Ankylose This! post on the subject of arthritis and weather shortly; I hope it abates soon, because it’s awfully nice out.

What work I’ve been doing has mostly gone to The Map Room — the anniversary, a redesign and lots and lots of posting. I’m slowly catching up on some of my other projects. I’m pleased, though, with what I’ve been able to accomplish: on days of high pain it’s hard for me to be anything but inarticulate —my recent Miyazaki post is sufficient evidence of that — so any amount of writing and coding is a good thing.

Other things are coming up, including a couple of very positive developments that I probably shouldn’t mention until they’re made final. Suffice to say that I’ll be in the thick of things during the next couple of months.

Tiger coming April 29


Tiger — Mac OS X 10.4 — is coming out April 29. Apple’s page covers not just the new features, but summarizes all the OS’s features, including those first introduced in Jaguar and Panther, which is useful: you get a big picture of the whole OS; it’s not like the things announced in 2002 aren’t there any more.

The collapsing U.S. dollar makes stuff cheaper. In 2002, Jaguar cost C$219. In 2003, Panther’s retail price was C$179. Tiger, on the other hand, is priced at C$149 — education price, C$89. (The U.S. price has been US$129 at each iteration.) At least Apple prices are cheaper just before the inevitable global financial collapse.

Am I looking forward to it? Hell yes. I’ve got ideas for Spotlight and Automator, and I’ve wanted Dashboard for months. Also looking forward to having third-party programs sync between computers — especially NetNewswire.

Super Size Me

Super Size Me, which I just saw on one of the movie channels, is the kind of documentary that will frighten you into swearing off meat, joining a vegan commune, and living on a macrobiotic diet for the rest of your life. Or, at the very least, make you take a hard look at your eating habits. If you’re not uncomfortable about eating fast food after watching this, there is no hope.

Making Book

Late last week, a copy of Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s Making Book finally arrived from Amazon; I’d ordered it in late December (that’s “special order” for you). It’s an interesting collection of short pieces on diverse topics — often autobiographical, such as getting excommunicated by the Mormons or dealing with narcolepsy, and often whimsical. It reads, in other words, like a blog before the fact: proof positive that such writings did exist before them thar Internets; they were just in zines and such, and as such harder to find. More to the point, it reads like Teresa’s excellent blog.

The meat of the book, in substance if not in length, is the essay “On Copyediting,” derived from an internal document at Tor Books for their copyeditors. Since my work has, from time to time, included such diverse elements as may be considered copyediting, this was compelling stuff. But, probably because my own copyediting was highly specific and technical, viz., federal statutes and regulations, I wasn’t aware of some of the more general idiosyncracies of the field. Notably, style sheets — I’d never heard of them before in a copyediting context (an article reprinted in a 1994 book is probably not referring to CSS). So much for doing any freelance copyediting. But, Google is my friend: here’s a sample style sheet and, from the SFWA, A Writer’s Guide to Understanding the Copyeditor. Aha. Now, we had those at Justice; they just weren’t individualized, naturally.

Miyazaki DVDs; Howl’s Moving Castle; Joe Hisaishi

Two more of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies were released to DVD in February with new English-language voice tracks — Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Porco Rosso (1992). Of course we got them shortly thereafter, though it’s taken me a while to tell you about them. The executive summary is that they are both good and you should buy them both, but I thought I should say a bit more. As usual, I’ll say everything except what the movies are about; you can find that out through the links.

Nausicaä is widely regarded as Miyazaki’s masterpiece, though I believe he himself is less happy with it. I can’t imagine the impact it made in 1984; I’ve seen so much of his later work that it’s difficult to evaluate. Princess Mononoke (Amazon) covers many of the same themes, and is in many ways a more mature and successful work. Nausicaä, though, was Miyazaki’s “first” film — the first he wrote and directed, if I’m not mistaken; he’d directed and worked on other animé before. It has all the topoï that keep recurring in his later works: young protagonists, strong women, flight, reconciling humanity and nature; no unamibiguously good or evil characters.

Porco Rosso, on the other hand, may well be Miyazaki’s least Miyazaki-like, simply because the characters are mostly adult. The conflicts are personal rather than epic, which would place Porco alongside Kiki’s Delivery Service (Amazon) and Spirited Away (Amazon), were it not for the clear children’s focus of the latter two movies. In its focus on flight, it’s quintessentially Miyazaki, though airplanes are quite mundane in comparison. Except for the fact that the protagonist has the face of a pig — pigs show up a lot in Miyazaki’s more recent films, don’t they? — it has few fantasy elements.

One thing I found maddening was how elliptical these two films — especially Porco — could be. Too many plot points — key plot points — were left dangling in Porco: the FAQ clears up some of them, but the film by itself leaves you guessing. A little ambiguity is by no means a bad thing — but in the right places, please. (A similar bit about Nausicaä’s clothing changing colour was insufficiently clear.)

In other Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli related news: the English-language dub of Howl’s Moving Castle will be released in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco on June 10, with a wider U.S. (and hopefully Canadian?) release on June 17. Mark your calendars and check your theatres.

Finally, Joe Hisaishi is responsible for most of the music on Miyazaki’s films, and let me tell you, he’s responsible for some of the most insidious cinematic earworms I have yet encountered. What’s frustrating about that is that the soundtracks are hard to find. You can usually find “image albums” — music based on the storyboards — as imports on Amazon, but they’re something on the order of $35. So far I’ve only been able to find soundtracks for the two most recent U.S. releases on Amazon; certainly they’re not on iTunes.

Feed consolidation

I’m consolidating my RSS feeds: all feed subscribers — that’s a theoretical concept if there ever was one — should be automatically forwarded to my Feedburner feed (see previous entry). Let me know if there are any technical difficulties.