Archive for March, 2003

Diligent in My Vigilance

Friday, March 21st, 2003

Sock of the day: Morn!

The Governor has advised me (and six million others) to remain diligent in my vigilance. I’m not ready. I don’t know how to turn off the gas. I have no plastic sheeting. I don’t even own a roll of duct tape. I don’t quite understand the warning signs, either.

At least I’m not out in the streets blocking traffic. What a war protest that is - annoy everyone who might possibly have sympathized with your cause, and beat up the police on the side. What ever happened to signs and sing-a-longs?

All we are saying….is give war a chance


Thursday, March 20th, 2003

There’s a new sock in town: Tuvok. I can’t spend too much time watching the socks blog at each other -
I’m in the middle of voting for TNG stories in the ASC Awards. I’m only doing it because the there are so few of them. VOY should be starting soon, and I still need to vote in AAA.

Thanks to Leonieke, the links in my stylesheets have been fixed. You know you’re up too late geeking when you get your own URL wrong…six times.

In HMO news, Dr. Conveniently Located’s office called to tell me that they’re having mercy on me as a new cult member and giving me my retroactive referral to see my own ophthamologist. Next time, they warned me, I’ll have to use the cult ophthamologist. As if there’s going to be a next time! I don’t trust my company (or my patience) to last another year till my next appointment with Dr. Hot Stuff. I’ll be paying through my own nose then, but at least I’ll be free of the cult.

I’ve gotten on the wrong mailing list somehow. This week I got a free subscription to an academic journal, and a non-fiction book in the mail that looks like a review copy. All I can say is, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone whose opinion counts.


Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

With all the Trek contests going on lately, technical issues are always coming up. How do you write an automated vote counter script? How do you track hits? How can you tell whether someone is a legitimate voter or a sock puppet? Or perhaps a sock platypus?

I say call a sock a sock - if it’s fuzzy like a sock and has those googly sewn-on eyeballs, odds are, it’s a sock. Stuff it back in the sock drawer with the other smelly underwear.

Not all socks are evil, thought - some are purely for entertainment value. Take, for example, the recent rash of Star Trek characters on LiveJournal: Kathryn Janeway,
Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres, Seven of Nine, Deanna Troi, Kira Nerys, Captain Picard, the female changeling, and, of course, Q.

Some Sunny Day

Tuesday, March 18th, 2003

It never fails to be a gorgeous, blindingly sunny day when I go to see my ophthamologist. For those of you who haven’t been seeing an ophthamologist for your entire lives, an appointment on a sunny day means one thing…dilated pupils.

My ophthamalogist, let’s call him Dr. Hot Stuff, is associated with the New England Eye Center. Lucky for me (I thought) one of their offices is down the street from my apartment, so whenever I’ve been blinded by the light of Dr. Hot Stuff’s fancy equipment, I can stumble home in the bright sunlight with only a chance of getting run over by a truck.

Dr. Hot Stuff was recommended to me by Dr. Really Nice, my previous ophthamologist in Another State. She was really, really nice, even when she was frying my retina with a laser beam because I have bad retinas that occasionally need to be put in their place. She had a great chairside manner. Dr. Hot Stuff is a well-known retinal specialist, but I still miss Dr. Really Nice. I saw Dr. Really Nice for the six years I lived in Another State. She was recommended to me by Dr. Really Old, my ophthamologist at home in Fall River, whom I’d been seeing since the age of three. There were others before him, but I don’t remember them.

The point of all that background is that I haven’t chosen my ophthamologists randomly. They were recommended to me. My eye issues are not restricted to the occasional need to shoot a laser at them, either, but the danger of retinal detachment is certainly the most serious problem. I find it comforting to have the New England Eye Center down the street, conveniently attached to a hospital where really serious things with freezing pens might have to happen in a retinal emergency.

I was a little surprised last year when my HMO, let’s call it Blue Something Blue Something Else, allowed me to see Dr. Hot Stuff for my semi-annual eye exam, even though I hadn’t chosen a primary care physician at the time. Judging by this year’s visit, that was an oversight on the part of Blue Something Blue Something Else. At the time, Dr. Hot Stuff said to come back in a year, so today I went back. I knew that Blue Something allowed me only one eye exam in two years, but that never stopped me with my previous HMO, AnotherStateCare. Somehow Dr. Really Nice managed to refer me to herself so I could see her whenever she wanted to see me.

So, silly me, I thought maybe Dr. Hot Stuff’s medical opinion that I ought to come back in a year in case my retinas were falling off again would be enough for Blue Something, since it had always been enough with Dr. Really Nice and AnotherStateCare. When I called Blue Something, they asked around the Blue Something office and eventually decided that seeing Dr. Hot Stuff again so soon would be a medical visit and I needed a referral from my primary care physician. That sounded simple enough.

My PCP is Dr. Conveniently Located. She’s a couple of blocks away from where I work. I picked her out of the big Blue Something provider directory based on proximity to my workplace and gender. If you’re getting the impression that I care more about my ophthamologists than my physicians, you’d be right. My previous PCP was Dr. Conveniently Located In Another State, the one who told me I’d just have to live with my bursitis/tendonitis/whatever because I was getting old. Before him was Dr. College Health Center, who also failed to diagnose or cure my bursitis/tendonitis/whatever - though since I was only nineteen at the time, he refrained from calling me old. Before that was whoever was on pediatric duty at the Navy base in Newport. You don’t want to hear about my mother’s obstetrician, to whom I owe my high tolerance for alcohol. You can imagine what confidence in the medical profession (outside of ophthamology) this sequence of physicians has inspired.

So last week I called Dr. Conveniently Located for a referral to see Dr. Hot Stuff. Dr. Conveniently Located is part of Harvard Vanguard, a medical cult located here in the metropolitan Boston area. People had made various negative noises when I’d mentioned that my PCP was part of Harvard Vanguard, but no one had explained the cult aspect to me. So when I left a message on the special referral answering machine at Dr. Conveniently Located’s office, I figured they’d get back to me or to Dr. Hot Stuff eventually.

Instead, when I got to Dr. Hot Stuff’s office, I still had no referral. Dr. Hot Stuff’s people called Dr. Conveniently Located’s people, who acted like this was a big surprise to them, although I’d left all the information on the referral answering machine, twice, and called enough times to establish that it was, in fact, just an answering machine. Dr. Conveniently Located’s people said that Harvard Vanguard has their own retinal specialists, so they don’t refer patients to other retinal specialists. They’re still considering my request for a referral, and if they don’t accept it, they said, I’ll have to pay for seeing Dr. Hot Stuff today. They told me all this before dilating my pupils, but it took me months to get the appointment to see Dr. Hot Stuff so I wasn’t about to leave and go see some cult ophthamologist I’d never heard of in another few months, by which time my company may have already gone under and I’d have to pay anyway.

I used to pay to see Dr. Really Nice before I signed up for AnotherStateCare, back when I only had insurance against Being Run Over By Trucks and not for eye exams. I figure it can’t cost more than four times what I paid then, with inflation and Boston prices and the fact that I’m no longer at the poverty-line end of the sliding fee scale. The thing is, it’s not like I’m going to an ophthamologist who’s not part of Blue Something - I’m just going to one who’s not part of the Harvard Vanguard cult. So even if my cult refuses to give me a referral, I think there’s a chance Blue Something will pay anyway, since nobody warned me that having Dr. Conveniently Located for a PCP would mean I couldn’t see Dr. Hot Stuff anymore - not even the Blue Something people I spoke to last week on the phone who told me to call the referral answering machine.

Maybe I can even switch to another PCP who will give me a retroactive referral to Dr. Hot Stuff. More likely, when I ask our Blue Something representative to give me a list of PCP’s who are willing to refer me to Dr. Hot Stuff (who wants to see me again in a year), she’ll cover today’s appointment rather than compile such a telltale list.

Missing Links

Monday, March 17th, 2003

These are all random blog bits and missing links. For real missing links, see Sahelanthropus tchadensis and the Lagar Velho child.

New on the backblog is the novel I finished on the T this morning, Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre of Trek novel fame. I found a link for The Tipping Point after finishing my entry on the book.

Yesterday there was some weird inversion layer over Boston, so that the clouds were right down on the St. Patrick’s Day parade and the city looked like it was on fire. Even if it had been on fire, we wouldn’t have asked the driver to turn the bus around and take us back to Fall River.

I’d heard good things about this Boston atlas, but it doesn’t seem to include my end of the city, and it’s slowing my browser to a crawl to boot. Speaking of which, I’ve upgraded to Camino 0.7, the browser formerly known as Chimera. Besides the name change, I hardly notice the difference.


Sunday, March 16th, 2003

I never did get back to the topic of sexual politics from my backblog list, but since Fay has been commenting on an old post about slash I’ve been thinking about it again.

When I said I wasn’t interested in fic driven by gender politics or an underlying agenda, I didn’t mean that I thought the purpose of slash was to convert innocent heterosexuals to homosexuality. Of course no reasonable person reading the posts would believe that, but in a game of telephone with my words on fandom_wank, some very strange misinterpretations come out.

I find the sexual politics of slash fascinating - not because they’re threatening but because they’re weird. If someone had written a sci-fi story about thousands of women getting together on the Internet and spontaneously writing gay male erotica, who would have believed it? What’s the attraction? When slashers say that it’s pretty boys, the answer answers nothing at all - it only shows that they’re so into the fad that they cannot see that it’s unusual.

Femslash, by comparison, is hardly problematic. Many femslash writers are openly bisexual, while female m/m writers clearly are not homosexual men. I wonder at the appeal of m/m slash - the social phenomenon (i.e., the sexual politics) is far more interesting than the fic. That goes for strange het subgenres as well, although when a het writer writes some unbelievable pap about a m/f couple, you can always chalk it up to an overdose of Harlequins in real life.

As for having an agenda, of course people are free to write for whatever reason they wish. However, I consider fic where the author’s motives are transparent to be bad fic. I’ll always remember one classic example of agenda-fic in which the author was writing about gun violence, with barely a nod toward the show and characters.

There’s an even simpler sense of “agenda,” though, that covers all the genres in which my interest, if I ever had one, has faded. If a fic gives the reader the impression that the author was at a meeting that the reader missed, in which it was decided that Chakotay is gay and involved with Tom Paris, or Chakotay is married to Janeway, or Chakotay and Janeway’s abandoned love children are out looking for one of them, then that’s an agenda-fic. There’s a fanon agenda from that missed meeting that the reader is assumed to know and buy into. The story doesn’t stand on its own; you have to have the fanon Cliff notes.

I lost my Cliff notes somewhere along the line, so I need the story to start from canon. Where it goes after that is up to the author.

Bellwether II

Saturday, March 15th, 2003

Veronica lent me The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, a sort of non-fiction version of Connie Willis’ Bellwether. Both explain the origin of fads and sheep-like group behavior. Gladwell mentions the Wason selection task, though not by name. He goes on at length about crime and graffiti in NYC, and, less interestingly, about the appeal of children’s programs. The section on the lack of corporate structure at Gore (makers of Gore-Tex) was much too short - I still have no clue how they make decisions.

I’ve found myself skimming at points, perhaps because I find marketing dull but more likely because the argument goes around in circles. I don’t have much hope that the conclusion will draw it all together. Connie Willis is much better at gathering the loose threads.

Still Too Tired to Blog

Friday, March 14th, 2003

My annual geekfest, during which I upgrade a software package which I support, is now thankfully over except for the upgrade announcements. I’m still exhausted, though, so I have only one timely, warblogger link: Disarmament Clinic, from rec.humor.funny. That’s exactly how the whole Iraq thing sounds to me. I wonder if even the French believe otherwise.

Book Meme

Wednesday, March 12th, 2003

1. What book is in your bathroom?

I’m actually a carry-in bathroom reader. Whatever I’m reading at the time accompanies me, generally into the tub.

2. What book is in your purse/backpack?

I carry magazines in my backpack - Analog, Scientific American, and Commentary.

3. What book is on your bedside table?

Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age, by Richard Rudgley. Eventually I will finish it and return it to Veronica.

4. What was the last book you lent someone?

I’ve already lent out Bellwether by Connie Willis.

5. What was the last book you lent out that someone brought back to you?

People tend to return Catherine Asaro, though I wish they wouldn’t.

6. What book do you have loaner copies of, solely for the purpose of foisting it on unsuspecting friends and relatives?

None, but I do buy LMB to give away, especially to my lovely sister Veronica.

Can’t Go Wrong with Khan

Wednesday, March 12th, 2003

Filk of the day: “Temper[ature] of Revenge” by Tom Smith [after] Julia Ecklar is the ultimate Khan filk. Tune in to filk radio to hear such timeless lines as:

So find me a ship, Reliant will do,
Find me an anchovy covered in goo,
It will go in the ear of a young Russian jerk,
Who will send out a signal to James T. Kirk.

I’d been thinking of doing a Ceti Alpha V story long before “Not All At Once” led me to “Weeds” and got me thinking just how different my Khan would be from Rabble Rouser’s evil wolf out of Trek history. Khan is the Borg Queen of TOS - the villain who steals the show and comes back for encore face-offs with his nemesis Starfleet captain.

It’s one of the many ways in which VOY is closest to TOS in spirit. Captain Sisko had obscure, or at least muddy, antagonists, like Sloan, Kai Winn, and the Prophets themselves. Picard had Q, of all things. Q is cool and even has his own LiveJournal, but universe-destroying yet strangely attractive evil he’s not. He’s more of a milk-run nemesis. ENT, of course, is satisfied with picking on its own warped view of Vulcans, with a side of Suliban for muddy, mystery enemies. At least with TOS and VOY, you know who the bad guys are, that they want your lungs/ship/planet, and that they’re genuinely, enthusiastically bad.