I'm on my way out the door for one last bash at Christmas shopping (this one involves driving up to the HP Pavilion...) but I have to share this:

World of Warcraft movie (a WoW video of a song from Avenue Q, which I rilly rilly rilly want to see. It's a puppet musical. Oh, and I suppose there's an "adult content" warning too).

Addendum: Mission accomplished, Christmas shopping complete. The HP Pavilion task was easy (it's a huge stadium, and parking at a huge stadium is always a breeze if there's no event happening) but I also went to the San Jose State campus. I found a parking space easily enough, but miscalculated the size of the campus and the location of my target. To use a U of S analogy, I parked by the President's house and had to go to Vet Med. And it didn't help that I misread a map* and went by way of Alexander's (relatively speaking).

* So this map was on a pillar. There was a map on each side. Instead of north being up, each map was turned so that the way that you were facing was up. Who the hell does that? So I got 90 degrees off course, and had to ask for directions. Fortunately, an exam had apparently just let out so it was easy to find a student happy at being asked a simple and straightforward question.

Heartwarming photos
Inspiring angels
Nativity scenes
Singing carols

And of course, BRAVING THE INSANITY THAT IS THE BAY AREA RETAIL SPACE TO GET PRESENTS! Eegh. Is it bad that I'm doing much of my Christmas shopping at Trader Joe's?

(I wondered where that phrase comes from, briefly. What did we do before the Internet?)

Anyway, this morning I was awake before the alarm went off, and I thought to myself how tired I was going to be today. I hadn't slept hardly at all last night; I remembered just lying and staring at the darkness, glancing at the clock every 15 minutes, going over all the things we have to do before the holidays, reminding myself of calls I have to make, worrying about all those things that seem more worrisome at 4:00 AM., trying to sleep, failing, and watching the clock change again.

Then I realized that I didn't have any actual symptoms of sleep deprivation. My eyes weren't sandy, I didn't have that headache, ringing in the ears and slight sense of unreality that usually means I haven't gotten enough sleep. I wasn't even very tired.

So either I've ascended to a higher plane of being and bypassed basic human needs, or I just dreamed I was lying awake, staring at the darkness and worrying. Which is pretty depressing. I mean, dreams are limited only by your imagination. They're a chance to soar on wings of fancy, to go "quietly and safely insane every night of our lives." * And I dream about lying awake and worrying? I suck.

* Charles William Dement, who apparently said or did nothing else noteworthy (um, according to Google... man, my research has gotten lazy) unless he's the same as William Charles Dement the sleep researcher. Huh. He might be, this attribution places C.W. Dement at Stanford, which is where W.C. Dement is. So all the many, many attributions of that quote to "Charles William Dement" might just be wrong. This is the dark side of the Interweb, I guess; how misinformation gets propogated and quoted without examination. The foundation of the Wikipedia flap, basically.

This piece on one of Dr. Dement's (what a great name for a psychological researcher) colleagues is really interesting, by the way.

Wow, two posts in as many days!

But I just had to talk about the San Jose Tech Museum. We went for the first time today*, because a guy at the Festive Holiday Cookie Baking Afternoon thingy told us about an electronic game retrospective exhibit there that is leaving soon. So we just had to see that, of course. They had old arcade games, console games, Space Wars (like on the PDP-1!), and a ton of others that you could play, then exhibits on a whole bunch of newer popular ones that included concept art, design documents, media articles... everything!

And then there was the regular part of the museum, which was pretty damn cool too. The most impressive thing, I thought, was not just how many of the exhibits were interactive but how many used this "TechTag" idea. When you went in, you got this luggage-tag like thing with a magnetic strip. You could use this to save a lot of your interaction experience to the museum website to look at later.

So now that Blogger is letting me post pictures again (she says, knowing that by saying this she's just caused Blogger's image server to explode), here are some pix of today thanks to the magic of the TechTag!

This is R:tAG and me through a thermal camera. I'm wearing a scarf; that's the blue (cooler) thing around my neck. I also have a hat in my hand, but I'd just finished waving it around to watch it cool off so it's hard to see 'cause it's cooled. The camera was up by the ceiling; we haven't become dwarves or anything. And yeah, we're wearing T-shirts. And no coats. In December.

They also had a 3D imaging thing, where you sat in a chair and had a camera circle your head. You then could play with the resulting 3D model, put different textures and colours on it, look at the wireframe, etc. Dark things didn't show up that well which is why the back of my head's missing, and glasses tended to mess it up too which is why we're not wearing any. But it was neat! And on the TechTag page, the whole 3D model is preserved so you can rotate it and everything (though you can't do the texture mapping stuff on the website).

We also got a robot portrait done; you got a digital picture taken, then the computer ran it through an edge-detection filter and passed the result to a plotter. That was funny 'cause we got the picture of us together, but because R:tAG's face is so much darker than mine (the winter fur and all) it skewed the average so badly that his face got drawn and my half of the picture is just a blank with a few vague scribbles. I'd scan it, but his computer is busy with very important research right now. **

Oh, and we saw Constantine a few nights ago, which was actually pretty good despite Keanu Reeves. His lack of acting talent continues to astound me. If they'd gotten anyone else for the role the movie would have been vastly improved (if one forgets completely about the source material, of course... poor Chaz). But Rachel Weisz (Angela) was good, and Tilda Swinton (Gabriel) and Peter Stormare (Satan) were fantastic. I'm sort of excited about Narnia now because Ms. Swinton is playing the White Witch.

* Well, technically for the second time, since we were there once to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the IMAX. Not a success, by the way. Movies that weren't made for IMAX aren't good to watch in IMAX. Everything gets this weird fisheye distortion, and it's way too close to focus properly (subjectively).

** Yeah, WoW.

Wow, does the season ever creep up on you when the weather doesn't appreciably change. I wonder if I'll ever adjust to giant inflatable Santas gaily peering through lush foliage.

One freakin' week before we return to the Great White North. ** Guess I'd better start getting my ducks in a row for gifts. Metaphorically. Unless anyone really wants a duck as a gift, but they'd have to really really want one 'cause I expect that'd be tricky going through customs ("Your infant is quacking, ma'am...").

We were just at a Festive Holiday Cookie Baking Afternoon thingy hosted by a co-worker of R:tAG's. People here have never heard of Nanaimo bars *** or butter tarts, so it's easy to be all exotic and impressive by producing them. Funniest moment of the afternoon; a toddler mistaking a Gaeta (black, wrinkled, very pungent) olive for a raisin. His face was priceless, and he actually did the whole wiping-the-tongue thing.

Some more random links:

Brilliant Journalism (of course, the story practically writes itself, but the last sentence in particular reaches for greatness)
Cool Perceptual Illusion (R:tAG says this doesn't work for him. Fair enough, those "Magic Eye" posters don't work for me.)
A Preemptive Message to People What Send Me E-mail with Petitions (and I'll re-send this link as needed)
My New Favourite Web Comic
Great Prank Call (I love the Zug folks)

** Someone I met recently said his wife was from the Great White North; he meant Indiana. The hell?

*** I've lost my old Nanaimo bar recipie, so I Googled for one. The first few hits concerned nightlife in the BC city. Not quite what I wanted.


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