The Littlest Meap

I hope this spam is helpful??

Posted by: meaplet on: August 18, 2008

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I got this email today. I enjoy how very unsure of himself the spammer is. Has he started questioning the value of his work?

Dear Sir/Lady:

Sorry to disturb you. We are a wholesale company in China. We mainly
sell electronic products, such as digital cameras, cellphones, LCD
TV, xbox, Laptops, DV, Mp3&Media Players, GPS, and so on.

All items are in brand new box with original accessories, packaging,
manuals, registration card, serial number etc. If you need anything,
please visit our website: [url]

Thank you for you attention??

Best wishes!


Night neighbors and contingency plans

Posted by: meaplet on: August 15, 2008

After a lot of searching and two weeks of homelessness aka couch surfing, I am going to be signing a lease for a new apartment tonight. The new apartment is small, cute, and ::mine alone::. It is excellent for escaping from in case of fire, but it’s a terrible location for barricading oneself in to escape a zombie horde.

I’m particularly cognizant of this fact because of my coworker Andrew, one of whose conversational habits is to turn discussions of common objects into discussions of using those objects to fend off zombie attack. Thanks to him, I will now feel particularly safe from zombies in gyms, where you can set up a wall of treadmills to fend off the slowly-moving undead.

Zombies are a fascinating earbug–after a couple of mentions of zombies from Andrew over the last week, they suddenly seem to be everywhere. Wednesday’s lunchtime conversation with Brian, today’s A Softer World, even personal ads on the internet–all of them seem to be filled with the idea that we need to be prepared for the undead to rise up and shamble towards us, possibly more than we need to be prepared for fire and earthquakes.

What is this? Does everyone really think about zombies all the time? Is it the Frequency Illusion having its way with me? Are zombies the mental equivalent of glitter, impossible to remove once you’ve been doused with them? Or is the world telling me that the zombie apocalypse is nigh?

[Game: first person to identify the two references in the post title gets gold star stickers.]

Tags: ,

Absurdism at the Olympics

Posted by: meaplet on: August 12, 2008

Scene: Jen’s living room. Jen, Molly, and Wojtek are watching the Olympics.

Announcer: This must be a little bit like waiting for Godot for them.

J, M, and W look at each other and question whether the announcer knows what he’s talking about.

Molly: “Let’s go.” “We can’t.” “Why not?” “We’re waiting for our event to start.” “Oh.”

Disabling a Mac Book Pro’s Optical Out

Posted by: meaplet on: July 31, 2008

A couple of days ago the headphone jack on my MacBook Pro started to glow an eerie red, and my internal speakers stopped working. Below, I’ve provided a brief explanation of what happened, and the steps I followed to resolve the problem. Apparently it’s a common issue on MBPs.

Clever folks that they are, the Apple folks designed the headphone jack on MBPs to take both standard headphones and digital audio out. It detects which jack is plugged in by the shape (differently-shaped jacks trigger different switches inside the port) and automatically disables the internal speakers when an external audio out device is plugged in.

The problem with this design turns out to be the switches inside the port. Because they’re apparently entirely mechanical, once a switch has been triggered by plugging a device in, it doesn’t release control of audio to the default speakers until it’s been triggered off. And, it turns out, if you unplug your standard headphones at the wrong angle, it’s possible to toggle on the digital out. The digital out is transmitted by an optical signal, hence the red light from the headphone jack.

Fascinatingly, plugging in a different audio device (aka, headphones) overrides the digital out, but only until that device is unplugged, at which point the digital out takes control once again.

So how do you resolve the situation? Manually.

Take a toothpick or another small hard, non-metal object, and trigger the digital-out switch, which is in approximately the 6-7 o’clock position in the port. Metal objects don’t seem to cause any damage, but when I tried using screwdrivers to trigger the switch, the port detected them as headphones and turned off the digital out only when the screwdriver was in the port. A toothpick did the trick within seconds.

The problem with moving

Posted by: meaplet on: July 27, 2008

The problem with moving is that every time I do it, there are more things to pack than the time before. I cry foul.

(To be fair, my mother claims that I don’t actually need to have every bank statement, starting in high school, neatly filed. I like having it. Possessions I can take or leave; data is forever.)

Anyway, I am going to pack the whole stack of books that has eaten my bed, and then I am going to go to sleep. So there.

I feel obliged to mention, however, that today in my bookshelf, I found a Directory of MHC Student Organizations, 2003-2004. I will never know why (a) this was actually shelved on its own, separate from my student government stuff and (b) I didn’t notice this on my last move.

Readers, I apologize for the unexciting entry. I have while procrastinating from packing been reading a lot of arguments about racism and antisemitism on the internet; after some fascinating yet frustrating debates about homosexuality on a couple of listserves I hold near and dear, I have an extended post (or series of posts) about rhetoric in internet arguments in progress. Trust me, it will be worth it.

It is the post I will be writing, all my life

Posted by: meaplet on: July 21, 2008

I got back yesterday from 10 days in Miami, FL, at the GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of) Choruses Festival 2008. GALA involved eight days of, well, choral music. And gay people. And fun.

The title of this post is based on “It is the Song,” a piece commissioned for the Festival Mixed Chorus, of which my own chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, was a part. In the interests of this NOT being the post I will be writing all my life (which, unlike the song I have been singing all my life, is NOT a metaphor for being a homosexual), the rest of the post will be divided into short and useful sessions. If you wish for a day-by-day breakdown of witty one-liners, please see the Twitter updates on the side of this page.

Lessons learned

  1. Bear soup is not somewhere you want to be. Fortunately, the bears will be too busy paying attention to each other to notice you, especially if you hang out in the deep end.
  2. I have a massive intellectual crush on Eric Lane Barnes. I purchased two CDs of Captain Smartypants music because of this. It was the right decision, even if neither of them includes “Battle of the Gay and Straight Composers.”
  3. I will buy things if they come with free kisses from gay Irish blokes? Whatever, dude, it was a totally awesome tee-shirt, I would have bought it even without the free kiss.
  4. Certain composers of music about new stupid boyfriends and santa’s cocaine are unable to tell short brown-haired women apart from each other. This composer I will not name, because I hang out with him periodically and he still can’t tell me apart from other women (or remember my name ever, which I’ve known for a while). At the whole situation I snort.
  5. Despite the seeming unlikelihood of a deaf person choosing to spend a week of their life at a choral festival, every group must have a sign interpreter. This is, apparently, because one of the founding goals of the Women’s Music Movement was to reach out to all women, everywhere, with their strummy music and expressive sign language. The latter part I learned when a Cris Williamson sing-along turned into a Cris Williamson sign-interpretalong.
  6. Gay mens’ choruses and women’s choruses (almost never called lesbian choruses, but many of them restricted only to bio-women who only date bio-women) are ::completely:: different animals. So different, in fact, that it seemed slightly discordant having them at the same music festival. Gay mens’ choruses, are, for the large part, pretty campy. Lots of show tunes, impressive classical music, and humor. Women’s choruses, however, are for the most part a part of the Women’s Music Tradition, and are basically a choral version of Cris Williamson or Holly Near or Ani Difranco. They are there to be serious and change the world, and you better know it. Or they will kick your ass. Or sing “The Great Peace March” again.
  7. I am, weirdly, totally fine with the racial stereotypes played with in an elaborate routine that shows the Lone Ranger and Tonto falling in love, but very uncomfortable with white gay people appropriating black freedom songs for their own movement. I thought a lot about this–does it mean that I’m more ok with being racist against Native Americans than against black people? Ultimately, I decided that it meant that I’m totally cool with taking racist tropes and turning them on their head and mocking them, but not ok with blind copy-and-paste appropriation of another group’s struggle and art. That and trying to squeeze “homophobia” into a verse of “Turn Me ‘Round” just sounds dumb.
  8. Florida: hot in the summer.
  9. Free public transportation: awesome, but also a hangout for homeless people.
  10. Cuban food: nothing resembling vegetarian.
  11. Holly Near: actually a celebrity. (I am always skeptical when people tell me that people from Mendocino County are celebrities–for example, have any of you ever heard of Spencer Brewer? But in the case of Holly Near and Seabiscuit, it turns out to be true.

Highlights of “things Molly scribbled in her 200-page program”

  • “Boys like me like boys like me.” – a line from Eric Lane Barnes’s “The Theme From Pants” (performed by Captain Smartypants)
  • “Gender and sexual identity/ is a very personal thing you see/ so the rules aren’t what they seem to be” – from David Maddux’s “The Gender Polka” (performed by CHARIS – the St. Louis Women’s Chourus)
  • Amazing Grace to the tune of The Water is Wide? Good. Huh. (“Grace”, arranged by Mark Hayes, sung by Illuminati, from Columbus, OH)
  • Why do cellphones always ring in quite a capella moments, and not loud ones? (During perfomance of New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus)
  • I call bullshit on this sign interpreter. (Scribbled down during Seattle Men’s Chorus performance of “Every Sperm is Sacred”)
  • Slash fan fiction and pulp novel conventions: discuss. (During Seattle Women’s Chorus’s performance of a show they recently did about the works of Anne Bannon. Much of which was written by ye olde E.L.B.)
  • ! (This by the listing for the Turtle Creek Chorale’s a capella rendition of the William Tell Overture) (During which time the chorus had an elaborate set of signs like those used in football stadiums, with which they had created highly-detailed Lone Ranger/Tonto fan art. I kid you not.)

New games we should play
(In the style of the and the Peter O’Toole game (People You Thought Were Dead Until They Turned out to be Still Alive) Fay Wray game (People You Thought Had Been Dead Until You Read Their Obituary and Found Out Were Alive All This Time))

The George Michael Game (People you thought were already out until they had big media comings out) and The Seabiscuit Game (People your hometown claims are celebrities, who actually turn out to be celebrities).

What about your own perfomance, Molly?
How about we don’t talk about that? The monitor, which would have allowed us to hear ourselves on the stage with lousy acoustics, was down. I could really only hear me, the piano, and maybe one or two people near me. Apparently other people in LGCSF couldn’t even hear the piano.

I reiterate, let’s not talk about that.

God knows the temperature’s hot enough to hatch a stone

Posted by: meaplet on: July 4, 2008

I spent the summer I was 17 in central Massachusetts, just outside Worcester. I’d taken US history the previous year, and had gotten to the state level with my History Day project on Hamilton and Jefferson. So to say I was a little bit fixated with the Founding Fathers would be… a bit of an understatement. And here I was, on the side of the country where it ALL HAPPENED, and I was thrilled. I’d grown up spending the Fourth attending the Frontier Days parade in Willits and associating the holiday with rodeo. That year, though, I spent the fourth of July watching fireworks over the harbor in Bar Harbor, ME. The history I’d loved and the location I was in were united, for the first time ever, and I was radiant with the idea of this country that I lived in.

Flash forward to the summer I was 24 (which is to say, today). It was my third summer back in California after going to college in Massachusetts. And, just like every summer since the one when I was 17, the history was gone again. I tried and failed to rent 1776, so instead I stood out barbecuing tofu kebabs in the Mission and listening to hipsters accuse each other of being anti-American(1). And then I watched Zoolander.

In short, I had a day off of work, and a really fun night with my friend Jen. But it was a great day celebrating the Grill Things In the Summer While Fireworks Boom holiday, and not the Hey Remember When Jefferson Was Self-Aggrandizing in the 1890s and Convinced Everyone To Celebrate His Achievement On the Fourth of July and Not Any Of the Other Big Dates In the War holiday, which is kind of sad (2).

But something kind of hilarious did happen when I was leaving Jen’s:
Bizarre European: Is it okay if I urinate on somebody’s home?
Me: Whatever, dude. ::walks bike to corner::
European: ::follows:: No, really, I’m not going to get arrested or anything?
Me: ::Looks at him blankly::
European: You aren’t an undercover cop, are you? You aren’t blending in like a local with your bicycle and the thing in your hand [a bike helmet] waiting for me to pee, and then you’ll arrest me?
Me: You’ve caught me. I’m an undercover cop.
European: ::starts explaining why he wasn’t able to pee in a bar::
Traffic light: ::turns green::
Me: ::bikes away, relieved::

(1) Note to self: When you see a t-shirt with the text “Die hipster scum” for sale, and you think to yourself, “I should get that. It would be ironic and hilarious” then you have already lost.
(2) I kind of broke up with Jefferson in college. I sort of refer to him in the style of a bitter ex these days.

For your further education

Posted by: meaplet on: June 30, 2008

For your further education, I’d like to shine a little bit of light on two very different people who are infrequently confused, except by me.

Jon Sims was a luminary of the San Francisco gay music scene in the 1970s, founding the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Freedom Band and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in 1978 and going on to found the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in 1979. Fun fact: the Freedom Band was the first orchestra or chorus in the world to have the words “gay” and/or “lesbian” in its name. He went on to found several other gay music groups and died of AIDS in 1984. He is remembered by his namesake organization, the Jon Sims performing Arts Center in San Francisco, which closed down last year.

John Simm, on the other hand, is a British actor of some repute, known primarily (to me at least) for his roles as Sam Tyler on Life on Mars and as the Master in season 3 of the new Who.

Yes, I realize that the two men have about as much in common as carnal embrace and Fermat’s Last Theorem. But surely you can see how a member of LGCSF, who is also the sort of geek prone to watching tv shows like Doctor Who and Life on Mars, might periodically pause to consider which of the two she is hearing about at any given moment?

I was writing an awesome post recommending music I like, but it turns out that doesn’t like links to the iTunes music store at all. Just like they don’t like javascript, or web forms, or really anything that could make me a quick buck on the internet. For this reason I’m in the process of migrating over to a more flexible platform.

Until then, though, I offer you some recommendations of excellent things I watched on the internet this weekend instead of being useful.

Cubby Bernstein, Tony award consultant: The hilarity of the entire cast of Xanadu making fools of themselves on YouTube for no pay is not lessened by the fact that it resulted in a overall total of zero Tonys for the show. It’s still a clever campaign, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Nathan Lane puts in a particularly excellent performance in episode six. Recommended by the New York Times.

Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death: Rowan Atkinson[et al.]!Eight. Jonathan Pryce!Master. Script by Steven Moffat. Four regenerations, 900 years in a sewer, hearty Doctor/Master action and Daleks, Daleks, Daleks. This is me. This is my glee. My fingers are crossed. We are like this. (The link is to part 1.1 of 2.2 total parts). Recommended by Wikipedia.

The Scream of Shalka: Richard E Grant!Nine (which, ironically, Curse of Fatal Death also has). Derek Jacobi!Master. A clever companion who can stand up for herself, silly geologists, and more emo than you can shake a stick at. Plus, it’s hosted on and they let Americans see it, which kind of astounds me. Recommended by Aria.

Chronotron: I almost forgot to include this, but it is awesome. It is not in fact an online video but a really fantastic flash game. You time-travel in a little TARDIS-looking box, and to defeat each level successfully you need to cooperate with past and present versions of yourself. For example, you have to stand on a button to hold a door open, and then go back in time to walk through the door while the past version of you is holding it open. Strategy is somewhat like Robo-Rally.

Correction (August 9, 2008): The original version of this post claims that “Curse of Fatal Death” has Rowen Atkenson playing the Eighth Doctor and Richard E. Grant as the Ninth. In fact, it turns out that Rowen Atkenson is meant to be Nine, which means that Richard E. Grant is Ten, etc.

Awkward dental adventures

Posted by: meaplet on: June 19, 2008

Today’s useful lesson: dental dams were originally invented for dentistry! Some context:

Dentist: Molly, do you know what a dental dam is?
Molly: Yes.
Dentist: Have you ever used one?
Molly: Er, yes?
Dentist: Well, we’re going to be using something slightly different. It’s a lot better because it provides more suction, and it’s got this area where you can rest your jaw.

The other device was indeed much nicer to have stuffed in my mouth for two hours than a dental dam would have been.