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  1. How we trick ourselves, mortality, confirmation bias, and being home alone.

    November 3, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    In the spooky Autumnal atmosphere of Wrightwood and this creeky, tiny house, I find myself home alone and up late nights because of my Chris’ new graveyard shift schedule.  To be perfectly clear, I do not believe it ghosts, spirits, or anything supernatural.  However, I am one of the easiest people to scare, and being alone at night brings it out in me.

    Even the thought of ghosts when I’m home alone at night like this makes my hair raise.  Our resident mouse, Mickey, causes some noise that spooks me, but nothing like the concept of ghosts.

    I had a childhood friend, Nicole, that was told not to play with me because I “believed in ghosts.”  Unfortunately for me, I never really did, but I always very much wanted to believe, so I would try to find out for myself.  Nicole and I would walk the halls on sleepovers with flashlights and cameras trying to catch something.  I truly want to discover what there might be out there: but I suppose I never did find anything and my suspicions never went away.

    I think that it’s very easy for people to believe in ghosts.  We’re very social creatures by nature, and when we hear or see something we can’t identify, we are more likely to visualize a face or a person where there isn’t one.  Our brains are just wired to see faces. It’s really been nagging at me that I feel so inclined to be spooked by “ghost” feelings.  Especially being such a skeptic (with exceptions to be pretty gullible in trusting in people). I think by now I have a feeling for how my mind observes things, and it does seek out explanations that are human based.

    Chris’ mom passed away recently, I was living there around that time.  I remember very soon after he lost his mom, his Aunt Judi came to be with them. It was a very sad time, in a way that the feeling just hangs in the air.  I suppose this is where my mind’s susceptibility comes in, because I was so empathetic to this terrible sadness and helplessness of the whole situation.  One night, I fell asleep while Judi and Chris’ dad were talking, and started dreaming about Chris’ mom, Jody.  Probably because of the way American culture views ghosts, my dream reflected the “unfinished business” of a soul stuck in this world (not something I’d think of Jody, but just how my mind was putting the situation together), though there were a lot of complicated elements of the dream that could go into too much detail. (Not believing in supernatural, I don’t usually give much weight to dreams, but the fact that it’s what our brains do with their down time is important enough to note, especially when they have significant effects on us).  I distinctly felt that she was still there with us, and half way between dreaming and waking I heard Judi’s voice, thinking it was Jody’s. By the time I was fully awake, I realized the reality of the situation, that she wasn’t really there, and that my mind was so deceived, I wept.  I can’t even imagine what his family was going through, what terrible processes of the mind and heart a person must surmount when losing someone like Jody.  Our entire town grieved, even I heard about it everywhere I went.  To me, at least to my logical senses, that’s the best we can hope for as far as immortality: being remembered.

    Even months later, we were saying how the unseasonal snows were Jody’s doing. Chris being even more of a skeptic than me, I was surprised that he felt like that, too.  I remember walking the dark halls in Chris’ house thinking, “I hope Jody thinks I’m good for her son” as though she was over my shoulder scrutinizing me. Sometimes I still wonder what my Grandmother, Vivian, would think seeing me do this or that. It’s an impossible habit to break.  It’s so human to have simply the concept of a person as much the reality as them existing in the flesh.  Why is this? Are there studies on this? I feel like I have to know.

    Especially what is nagging at me is the concept of a stranger ghost.  Someone we don’t know that’s there just to go “boo!” And hide in the shadows.  Why am I so frightened of the dark and of bumps in the night?  I am a boyfriend described “militant atheist.”  I guess that means I come off too strong in bashing creationism. But I should be level headed enough to dismiss the concept of a ghost or spirit, right?

    I just saw a really great video on “Confirmation Bias” on YouTube that made me think to post a blog about this, and also that I’m so scared for no reason.  Our culture has a confirmation bias of the supernatural.  There’s not a stitch of doubt that we’re all about anything that’s unproven by science. We love ghosts, chupacabra, homeopathy, feng shui, and anything else not approved by the FDA.  Science is viewed as the spoil-sport, that comes in and tells you how the magic trick is done right as you’re being delighted in the mystery of it.  Perhaps it is simply a fascination with the unknown that is strong enough to let us trick ourselves.  I think this is really an issue of psychology.

    Now that confirmation bias I was talking about, there is a frighteningly powerful technology that’s making it even more widespread:  The Internet.  There are a host of ridiculous misinformation sources like: creationwiki, HIV/AIDS conspiracy, or even these wackjob conspiracy theorists.  Now people who are suspicious of something we all know is legitimate can have their misinformed views reinforced until they are mindless drones of the people who start these messes.  Our minds are very powerful at adapting to the circumstances.  We are inclined to trust authority figures and most importantly, popular belief.  If everyone says there is an afterlife, that there is a grey area to this afterlife, and that they themselves have personal experiences with it, it is a hard thing to completely remove from your own reality.  I myself cannot do it.

    Superstition is another example of this.  I was a very superstitious little girl, always counting things in even numbers and doing things the lucky way, without exception.  I grew out of these tendencies for the most part, but I still have secret lucky items that I’ll put in my purse for a job interview, or such.  I find myself thinking, “this is so silly” and almost breaking the habit, but going back and saying “well, it couldn’t hurt!”  Or even thinking how the concept of having something lucky is like a placebo, and even though I know I’m using a placebo of lucky superstition, I can still benefit from it…… I know, it’s crazy.  But it’s better than giving in to the superstition all the way, right?

    The Amazing Randi is one of my favorite celebrities.  Coming from a completely unscientific background, he comes from the background of tricking people.  Since one of his main missions has been to teach people how they can be tricked, I’ve been following his media appearances closely in the past year or so, trying to learn from what fools people, especially myself.  I really think that being superstitious, being creationists, being gullible, or letting our cognitive functions get hijacked for misuse is a real problem that we have to overcome as a society.  Believing in innocent tricks, like Randi says, is actually dangerous because it leads us to believe in larger “magic tricks” that can get us into much worse trouble (like cults, or Nigerian business men).

    My point is this: I spend a lot of effort and thought in my life to try to be a more rational and inquisitive thinker.  It’s not easy, for certain.  I love the lure of mystery like anyone else, but more than mystery, I love discovery.  I love when scientists find new evidence that challenges current beliefs.  One of the best ways to enjoy that kind of discovery is in myself.  Why is the status quo as it is?  How can it be different? And to what ends?

    The small morsel of reality that we savor with our limited perception is more spectacular than we can imagine.  I think Carl Sagan, my hero, said it best…

    It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.


  2. Fresh Seasonal Dish: Cranberry Oatmeal

    November 1, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Since my last blog post about food seemed to be more of a hit than my other posts, I decided I’d keep adding new recipes as I tried them or invented them.  This was one of those “what’s around” dishes.

    Ingredients:

    Handful of fresh cranberries
    About 1 serving of Oatmeal
    Dash of sugar
    Enough water to cover the oats in the bowl
    Soymilk

    I took some rolled oats (none of that instant oatmeal, the regular stuff only takes 2 minutes and taste way better), put the oats in a bowl and put a handful of fresh cranberries on top. Sprinkle about a tbsp of sugar on top and pop in the microwave for 2 minutes.

    Most of the cranberries will pop when it’s done.  Pour in a dash of soymilk and stir it up.  It’s very flavorful and good to warm you up!

    Voila!  I could eat this stuff all day!

    Mmm, Cranberries!

    Mmm, Cranberries!

    The best thing is that this dish is not only unbelievably delicious but it’s also really healthy for you!
    The oatmeal is full of fiber, and the cranberries are full of vitamins and antioxidants.  I always try different ways to make oatmeal taste good and so far I think that this by far beats them all.
    Unlike other berries, cranberries stay more firm and true to their flavor in oatmeal.  Plus, they’re very tart, but mixed into just a tiny bit of sugar, they sweeten up to a really rich flavor.
    I’m the kind of girl who grew up never, ever, had canned cranberry sauce.  Cranberries are one of my favorite foods.  So I’ll share with you may cranberry recipe adventures this season.

    Enjoy!

    xoxo

    Kaela


  3. Homemade Marinara- Easier than you think!

    October 30, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    So I decided that being a wooden-spoon shaking Italian chick in the kitchen means nothing if you can’t make a fine marinara sauce from scratch. That means from real, fresh tomatoes, yes.  If I am to be a real woman in the kitchen, I’ve got to get a few impressive recipes perfected.

    Oh, and by the way, my feminist friends: Being a good cook isn’t being a “slave” to my role in society.  In fact, I think being artfully skilled in the ways of being a woman is one of the best things a girl can do for herself.  It keeps the men wondering how we do it so easily, and being smart and strong on top of it is the icing on the cake.  At least don’t let yourself be a poor cook because you think you’re making some kind of statement!  My “vintage disposition” inclines me to love these humble and underrated things you can do for fun.

    So I had mixed feelings about sauce from scratch. I thought it would be easy to do but that I might mess it up just as easily.  After having had some real w.o.p. sauce from an ex’s brother-in-law, I had an idea of how I wanted to make it.  So here’s how it went!

    Ingredients:

    About 16 roma tomatoes (spend your time finding the good ripe ones, without any green).
    About 1 bulb of garlic (I know, a bulb. Or be a sissy and have half a bulb… to taste.)
    About 3 tablespoons of olive oil (I like my sauce a little oily but when I made it I went with about 5 tablespoons and it was too much!)
    Dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme. About 1 tablespoon of basil and a teaspoon each of the others.
    Salt to taste (You might get away with a bit less salt than jarred sauce, especially if you get good tomatoes, and let the sauce simmer longer)
    Fresh Mozzarella (makes this dish better than going out, honestly)

    Yummm, Tomatoes!

    Yummm, Tomatoes!

    How to make the marinara:

    You’ll want to peel the tomatoes, certainly.  So get some water boiling.  While the water is heating up, cut the tops off of the tomatoes and cut a little “X” at the bottom to make peeling easier.
    When the water is at a full boil, toss the tomatoes in and start cutting up the garlic.  Keep an eye on them because they won’t need to be in very long.  Once you start seeing the skins get wrinkly or peeling away from the “x” cut on the bottom strain them and let the tomatoes cool.
    You probably still have a lot of garlic to cut, so chop the rest of it while the tomatoes cool enough for you to handle them to peel them.
    Peel the tomatoes.  This is a very hand-oriented process.  Hopefully you enjoy getting your hands in a squishy mess.

    After you get the peels off, now comes the fun part, squishing!  Get a big bowl that can easily hold all the tomatoes and their juices. I squished my tomatoes by hand.  If you don’t like tomato seeds (and why wouldn’t you?) you can squeeze the juice into a separate bowl and strain them out of the tomato juice.  You’ll need all the liquid that’s in there though, so don’t drain it out.  I personally liked the seeds in, it felt more “rustic” and tomato-y.

    Once you’ve got them mostly squished, you can mash them further with a hand masher.  People online say to put it in a food processor and I couldn’t disagree more.  Hand mushing it is much better because you can have it a little chunky, I think it would be a bit boring if the tomatoes were blended. Plus it adds an extra step that is not as fun as hand mushing, and pretty much doubles the clean-up time.

    Also, note that there is no sugar in this recipe.  Adding sugar to tomato sauce has always been a pet-peeve of mine. I never buy canned sauce with sugar, ever.  It’s usually used to hide the flavor of poor quality ingredients. It can bring out the flavor if you use it sparingly, like salt does.  If you have poor quality tomatoes or just are used to sugar-added stuff, I’d say keep it under a teaspoon, that’s all you should need with fresh tomatoes.

    All done with squishing?  Ok, now pour the olive oil into a nice big sauce pot.  Let the oil heat up and throw in your garlic. Once it’s starting to get translucent, throw in the spices.  I like to let them soak up some of the garlic-oil flavor for a bit, but make sure they don’t burn!

    Now toss all the squished tomatoes back in the pot.  Let it simmer, uncovered, a good long time for the best flavor.  While it’s simmering you can mush the tomatoes a little more after they’ve cooked a bit and get it to the consistency you like.  I think having sauce on the stove for a half-hour is the minimum to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.  If it’s a little bit too watery, just let it simmer longer. So you can start your pasta after you’ve got the sauce ready to simmer for a while and everything will be done together.  I took some of the fresh mozzarella, cutting it as thin as I could it kind of crumbles into little pieces so that it will melt when you put it on your piping hot sauce!

    Homemade Marinara

    Homemade Marinara

    As an afterthought, when the pasta was almost done, I took a sandwich roll, cut it in half, and microwaved some butter with some of the chopped up garlic I set aside.  Then I poured the butter & garlic on the roll and put it in the toaster oven until it browned.  Fancy, considering I used a microwave and a toaster oven :)

    I actually got my toaster oven from my full-blooded Italian Nonna (yeah, that’s grandmother to you non-Italian people, hehe).  In the spirit of the way Italians actually do things, she likes things simple and practical.  Once I asked her about some recipes, but it was almost hard for her to explain because the way her family always cooked was just throwing a bunch of what was around in some kind of meal.  Her version of bruschetta included boiled egg and corn, which surprised me, compared to my Americanized ideal of Italian food.  To me Italian food is all tomatoes, in everything, with a side of a tomato based something else.  But when you think about it, tomatoes were a new-world food, so they didn’t even have tomatoes in Italy before the Americas were discovered. :) Oh well.  I’m also not going to go grab any of the meats that Italy is famous for, so I guess I have a very small slice of Italian cooking that I’ll ever be making for myself.

    Now, this isn’t a low-fat/low-calorie dish, but if you ditch the buttered garlic bread and fresh mozzarella it’s not that bad.  Just trying to eat one serving is!

    Enjoy!

    xoxo
    Kaela


  4. Dependent on my Independence in Technology

    October 27, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Like Technology was a bad thing.  I do more with a computer than my ancestors, grandparents, and to a certain extent my parents ever could.  I can run a dress shoppe from my home. I can email my customers on my phone, update my blog on my phone, post pointless comments to all my friends that I never connected with until Facebook came around, and I can make money from home, and it’s not a scam.  Technology is great.  And two days ago my laptop charger quit on me.

    I was without a computer for TWO DAYS.

    That’s scary for me.  I had the overwhelming feeling that I’d imagine our world would experience if all our satellites went out and all our electric was gone, like starting over.  It was that dramatic… that is, it would have been, if it wasn’t for my iPhone.  I was still able to handle customers on Etsy, and make arrangements to work on a new website.  If my phone weren’t a mini-computer, I would have been inconsolable.

    Now that I got my precious glowing-white money-maker before me again, I had to show a little love and blog about it.  I just have been doing a speed-run of catching up on the things I was working on: updating lipstickvogue.com, applying to new fancy jobs online, tracking gigs on freelance sites, handling Etsy customers, changing my blog background to the lolkitty logo that I’ve been meaning to do (do you like?), and I even fit in a complaint to godaddy for my site being down for about 60 seconds.  And all with enough time to blog about it.

    I should really get back to reading up on something constructive, so I can become more dependent on the technology that lines my greedy lil’ pockets.

    =^.^=


  5. Artie is the Wikipedia representative of his species

    October 17, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If you go to the Wikipedia article for California Chipmunk you’ll finally see an actual photo of one of the best lookin examples of their kind, if I am a little biased.

    I didn’t realize this blog was going to be a chipmunk blog, so I promise to write about other interesting things soon.


  6. Artie Glamor Shots

    October 14, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    My bro Thomas took these lovely photos of Artie.

    Oh, hai! U has a peanut?

    Oh, hai! U has a peanut?

    He looks like this when he just wakes up too :)

    He looks like this when he just wakes up too :)

    Everything Artie sees is at such high speed he's blinking with the flash

    Everything Artie sees is at such high speed he's blinking with the flash


  7. Close the Windows & Open your MacHole.

    September 24, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If you love computers and have most your life, you probably had a PC and ran Windows (and more likely than not Linux at some point). If you’re a total geek about your OS, you probably have criticized Mac all your life. And yes, I have too, but two things have changed this for me the general computer lovin’ public: The iPhone and Vista.

    I promise not to make this a promotional blog or something, I’m an open-source fiend like you wouldn’t believe. But Mac’s really pulled through as far as showing it’s stuff as an American company and especially in being completely ingenious.macaddict

    Basically the iPhone is my companion. To me, it represents the kind of bond that humans will likely have one day with robots, honestly. I am completely dependent on it for my communication, navigation (Google maps is invaluable), keeping me organized (alarm/calender/portfolio pics/documents and all the other usual stuff I keep on my laptop). It’s also been handy for books (has essentially become my web programming teacher, especially with an app to view code), my only device for social networking (twitter, facebook, etc. I only really bother with when I’m on the go with free time), and it’s also, of course, endlessly entertaining.

    I had the iPhone before it had 3rd party apps and even at that point it was a great phone. I’ll tell you what it isn’t though, it’s not a camera. Sorry, it’s just NOT a camera. If you need to snap a quick pic in perfect lighting of a moment you’d never be able to get otherwise, in a pinch, you can use it. I have a really great photo (my first pic with my iPhone, actually) and it’s immaculate, I’ve never taken a picture as great since. It’s a pic of the El Ray in LA billing “The Squirrel Nut Zippers” that was taken at night. Somehow it’s perfect, but that was the only luck I had with it as a camera.

    Being a bit of a spoiled brat & technology connoisseur, I always had the phone with the most bells & whistles. I’ve been a Samsung girl exclusively, LG a distant second and I won’t even get into what I think of other brands. Samsung has great cameras on their phones and they are very user friendly and functional. My favorite phone so far, that was never beat until the iPhone, was a cool Samsung that swiveled like the high tech Japanese exclusive digital video recorders at the time. It only had a 2.0megapixel camera, but the lens and automatic adjustments made the absolute most out of it. samsung swivel camera phone The only catch was Verizon’s gaudy and functionality-slaughtering proprietary interface. Basically they wanted to have “Get it Now” in your face so you’d log on to the internet and download the latest booty-shakin’ song. Bad decision on their part. They have the best service coverage for where I live, but the interface hindered the abilities of my Samsung.

    The switch to an iPhone was slightly apprehensive. After my dad give Mac a more-than-hearty go by getting the latest greatest Mac computer & wider-than-the-desk screen for his business. The OS was probably OS X 10 something, it was about 5 years ago that I think he tried it out. I used a boyfriend’s Mac computer a bit and was outrageously annoyed with the inability to organize files, namely photos. I have thousands and thousands of photos of every kind of thing, and iPhoto is my arch nemesis when it comes to organizing and using photos in any way whatsoever, then and now. Especially remembering working with those funny little one-unit Macs we used in high school, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any clunkiness that I couldn’t handle. To me, switching OSs is not to be taken lightly.

    After I got that iPhone in my hot little hands, it wasn’t even a few minutes before it got the nickname “new boyfriend” from the old, less feature rich boyfriend, Chris. :) After he was able to benefit from the usefulness of the phone, the joking and criticisms went away.. some. But it is completely true that there is a bond that is made between humans and objects that we rely on so much. There’s a reason that cars and ships have names as though they were lovers or friends. It’s just uncommon these days because digital technology hasn’t sunk in as a potential counterpart just yet.

    After my HP laptop became more of a torture device than a tool, I pleaded for a Christmas laptop. My HP was only 2 years old and couldn’t stop overheating. I’d get a good ten minutes on it before it’d just shut off, it soaked up every virus it came across, and just felt shabby and tired. I have never been so close to throwing a computer out the window.

    When I got my MacBook for Christmas it was a brand new kind of laptop experience. There it was: shiny & white– I love everything white, I’d love to be like Grace Kelly on a white sofa with white high-pile rugs and a neat white linen dress, with a gin & tonic, my MacBook would slip into the scene quite well. I open it up, push the power button, attractive and flush to the case, and instantly the computer is on and ready for my needs. Isn’t this what the future is supposed to be like? When did we decide it was ok for there to be a hundred background processes for nothing and for ads to invade us before we even begin our session at the computer?

    This is an essential feature for me: beauty. Mac is beautiful. It’s truly a well implemented product. I am very in tune to the subtleties of my computers because I spend so much time with them, and Mac provides an experience that lets you focus on design and creativity instead of clutter. The interface of a Mac computer or phone is the standard which other devices should be striving to beat. You see these goofy Mapple & Mypod knock offs all over the place and you can tell in a second that they’re not going to be the same experience. Four buttons?! Sorry, you lost the point. Oh a keypad, nice try, but think again. Oh, now you have your own extension store, how cute. Sorry big boys, Mac wins. You’ll have to try harder to stay on top of the game.

    Everyone has an iPhone these days. And though trends that sweep popular culture are usually a thing that repels me a bit, I can’t help but feel that iPhone’s more than earned the hype. There is no superior phone available, and they nearly eliminate the practical need for a laptop for most personal and business applications. I can’t help but wonder if the streamlined ease of keeping in touch with business contacts has had some kind of positive impact on people’s businesses, even in these hard times. Even today, I was able to train a client on a website, keep up to date with my fashion business while at work, and pull of rescheduling an interview via email, Google maps showed me the way and I was there with time to spare.

    I never thought I’d say it but I’m a Mac girl now. I hope they keep up the innovation like they have been. Take a look at the latest iPod shuffle. Go look at it. It’s ridiculous. You’ll feel like James Bond. It’s smaller than my thumb and holds more music than I even owned in high school (still saying A LOT) back when I was carrying around my 64MB SD player that was so small I had to switch out the small playlist it could hold every other night or so because I’d get tired of it. That cost $400 at the time (not including that teeny tiny chip). And I’m not that old, folks. Graduating in 2003 that was near top of the line technology, so fancy you had to buy it online. My iPhone also has as much storage as my first laptop did, but that’s really showing my age now, isn’t it?

    After casually mentioning my feelings for Mac to a couple other programmers & developers I feel pretty justified in my Mac Lovin. It seems that it really has gotten to be a superior product pretty much all around. If you could install it in your own home-made computer that would be the tops, but until then, I’ll have to give Mac an overall 9.999 rating :)

    My favorite Mac abilities:
    -Beautiful in form and function.
    -Fast
    -Has really cool tricks for making your work faster (spaces, command+Tab, actually useful hot corners that always make strangers to my computer end up on my desktop and frightened, widgets are cool but should be more iPhone app-like, F3, etc)
    -Did I mention Beautiful?
    -Pretty powerful
    -Best OS for a laptop, handsdown.
    -Good if you’re a Unix person (which I’m thinking about learning a lot more about..)
    -For media stuff, presentations, etc, it can’t be beat. All of Windows looks like 90’s clipart in comparison… and Vista looks like an old Vegas cocktail waitress who puts on too much make up to hide the mess! But I digress…
    -Personalized settings are streamlined and useful.
    -Cool included software like: stickies, dictionary/thesaurus/wiki thing, iCalender, Preview (I love Preview for opening things I couldn’t otherwise view without opening the huge default program like Photoshop), TextEdit (it’s cool but I wish it was a bit better)

    Mac No-No’s:

    -A lot of native Mac programs are still awkward. iPhoto has ruined my plans to have organized pics on my Mac. Who has room for original and modified versions of every pic on their computer? And good luck browsing for them easily, you’ll have to view your entire iPhoto library everytime.
    -I hear the latest version of the Mac OS won’t automatically open the files you made with the same program you made them in. Unless that means “preview” that’s bad. Windows does similar funky stuff.
    -Keyboard friendliness of Mac is lacking and initially really bugged me. I like to tab between “yes” or “no” or other options when doing things. Other keyboard stuff is missing too.. “enter” means yes but only sometimes.
    -Toggling between open programs in Mac and Windows are different bad solutions to a big problem. The seconds I waste switching between programs probably have added up to days, I’m sure. Initially with Mac I’d click the program icon, but if you have say, 2 Firefox windows, you have no way to toggle between them. Mac is close with it’s tab+command. It wins vs. Windows but should have something more logical.
    -The X-+ in the window. Why does X not close a program, just *mostly* close it? What is the purpose of this?
    -Can’t be installed on a non-Mac computer. I hate proprietary junk. Fortunately I’m a laptop girl through and through and this doesn’t really affect me, but I would like a really powerful media computer that could also run Mac..

    Remember I said there were two reasons that Mac is the superior OS in the bipartisan world of Mac vs. Windows. Windows Vista is useless. It has made a waste of every computer it has been installed in. I’ve been using Windows since I was very little, and no other version had deviated so far from what it originally was in terms of functionality and expected features. Vista is trying to be Mac and it’s failing horribly. It switched out it’s logical control panel for one that looks pretty and is easy to get lost in. It has features that are clearly poorly tested. It’s no faster at starting up except when you first get it. And that being said, HP has gone the way of Dell by adding goofy branded programs that say, “I’m an HP and here to help! Let me help you! I’ll show you how to do it, ok? Watch!!!” Even if this is your first computer, it’s confusing and must make people actually suffer.

    The computer I use at work is running Vista. HP has an obnoxious popup that tries to remember your passwords. You get the swirly blue ring of death any time that you have more than two programs open (this is a brand new computer, and I’m talking Dreamweaver & Photoshop). The web experience is the only part that hasn’t been touched, as Firefox works well in it’s Window’s optimized ways.

    My little ol’ landlady the other day had to have me come over and help her because she changed the DPI on her computer so she could see better. Vista is so brain dead that it defaults everything to about 900% of your screen with no way to navigate the computer whatsoever to change it back. That’s unacceptable. There shouldn’t be any setting or button you can select on your computer on your own that will cause it to basically become a paperweight without the intervention of a professional. In fact, having to help her out is kind of what brought me to blog about it. It just seemed so unfair.

    Anyway, I still won’t put one of those trendy Apple stickers on my car… as cute as that would be.


  8. How to chastise a chipmunk and other impossible solutions in caring for a wild animal.

    September 11, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Chipmunks aren’t like other pets. They are so unlike other pets that they adapt to become experts in getting what they want, and psychologically breaking down your will power to resist them.

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!


    Today I worked from home. It was going to be a nice, quiet day at home. And best of all, I would be able to let out my darling chipmunk, Artie, to explore the bedroom supervised as I work. The only catch was that he had other plans.

    It started out as our usual day of him being out in our bedroom playing. He’d make some imaginary game with himself and run around the room like he was going to be chased by something outside the window. He’d run from the window to me, start nibbling my fingers to play, and so on back and forth.

    Today he decided my computer keys were the ultimate treat. Our normal game of him play attacking my fingers turned into him liking the sound of me click-clack typing and an extra exciting version of our usual game: with sound effects! Plus, this way he could get my undivided attention because I couldn’t even have my hands on my computer. He’s been known to try to bite my keyboard keys before, so I always scoot him gently off my computer and continue working.

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder


    Of course, I told you my chipmunk had other plans today. After being on my computer a whole 2 seconds he managed to completely rip off my “arrow down” key. He then ran off with it and had me chase him around the room until he hid in the window sill tucked it in the corner and made little scratching hand motions as though he was burying it. At least I can out smart him here. I picked up my key and gently wrangled it back in place.

    This was so amusing to him that he thought he’d try it a second time. And so about half an hour later, there I was following him around the room again with a little white rectangle in his mouth. He knows, he just *knows* that this is the best way to get my attention and he does it. He’s much smarter than most pets, and his tiny size enables his trouble-making with the added benefit of escaping in a hurry and looking adorable doing it.

    After him falling into a cup of water a couple weeks ago, I no longer can have any beverages in the room with him. Not anything. And certainly not a cup of coffee because I’m sure the last thing a hyperactive chipmunk needs is a caffeine bath! So when I had some coffee I would put him away for a little bit. But he’s got so much energy he can’t stand even our big cage, so I gulped down my Kona blend and let the little guy out again.

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)


    While writing this, I had my right arrow key stolen. This time he just accidentally dropped it and I was a little quicker at picking it up. He only steals the arrow keys. So far the “up” key is the only one he hasn’t taken, and now the right key has a nice big chipmunk sized bite in it, which was presumably taken with such force because he knew I was right on him to scoot his butt some place else.

    You can’t tell a chipmunk “no.” You can say it to them for your own benefit, but they won’t get anything out of it. Unlike dogs who are in tune with what humans mean and the importance of the symbiotic relationship they have, chipmunks don’t need us and don’t care if we need them. Artie is genuinely sweet when he wants to be. But he’s still a wild animal and is only domesticated to the point to understand the living situation he is in, not so much that we love his little stripes and that we raised him since before he could see.

    You can’t put him in “the doghouse.” You’ll just feel bad putting him in his cage when you’re able to have him out and end up letting him out again.

    You can’t tell him, “seriously, you just ate my favorite necklace.” No you can’t. I would know. I look over after letting him out again, and there he is, chewing on my favorite necklace I got from a cute couple from Africa at a local farmer’s market. Little glass and wooden beads spilled everywhere! As I was scooping them up, so was Artie– right into his mouth! He was even trying to eat the glass ones until I distracted him and he just dropped them. He didn’t get away without demolishing a couple of the wooden beads, just for good measure, to round off his day of shenanigans.

    I still haven’t put him away. He’s got too much energy still! The human mind can’t process enough frames per second to even see his little feet move when he’s running or grooming himself. So while simple things like running appear as a blur to most humans, you have to keep that in mind if you’re going to open a door around this little guy. Even putting him in his cage gets difficult when he’s fast like this.

    Well, I was going to make this post longer, but with all the attacks from Artie nibbles I think I’ll get back to non-click-a-clack sounding projects.

    California Chipmunk species log:
    9/11/2009
    Newly discovered behavior characteristics: endlessly curious, stubborn, like to inspect the world with their mouths, an ability to adapt quickly enough to their surroundings to be able to escape/sneak treats/get attention as they please.
    Artie’s tail is looking better and he never seemed to be bothered much by the terrible and mysterious loss of his tail.
    He’s hoarding and getting fatter as the weather cools, and he’s also slowed down in his growth rate.


  9. Artie, strongest chipmunk…. in the world!

    August 30, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Chipmunk in the flash

    Chipmunk in the flash


    Yes, I have a pet chipmunk. And here’s a little info about him, because when I search on line there is very little information about chipmunks as pets. There’s probably a lot of reasons for this, and I’ll get into that later.

    Artie and Petunia (named after characters from The Adventures of Pete & Pete) were two little baby chipmunks my mother found in a nest in her shed. While cleaning, she accidentally disturbed the nest and more or less made the mother chipmunk frightened about returning to retrieve her little ones. She called me up, not knowing what to do about them, and asked me to take care of them. I was putting on my shoes as soon as she said the words “baby chipmunk.”

    Artie and Petunia were about three weeks old when we got them, no eyes or ears opened, just cute little stripped babies who needed puppy milk formula every few hours. At the age of 24 my “mommy instincts” are developing in my senses and I was delighted to have them to take care of.

    Baby Chipmunk!

    Baby Chipmunk!

    Our first intention was to raise them to release them, but anyone who’s spent any time with these little guys would quickly see why we’re so enamored with our little chipmunks. After probably a week of raising them, I was set on keeping them. Keeping a chipmunk is illegal in most states. If you want a chipmunk for a pet, make sure you understand your local laws, even if you plan on being like Mr. Thoreau and playing civil disobedience, you have to understand that if animal control catches you, you could get into serious legal trouble, not to mention they could confiscate and euthenize your precious chippy, so beware!

    That being said, I can see some logic behind having even chipmunks classified as “illegal” wild animal pets because of the care involved in them. If you think it’s like having a hamster, you better get a hamster. Chipmunks have so much energy that they need a huge cage, Chris built us one that’s about 4X3X2. This is the absolute minimum you should have for a chipmunk, and even still, we take Artie out for hours a day, every day.

    Artie Gobbling Milk

    Artie Gobbling Milk

    In a lot of ways though, chipmunks are a fantastic pet, and the only reason there is any “illegal” classification for them is because they’re wild and people in general don’t know how to take care of wild animals. When we got Artie and Petunia, we noticed that Petunia was smaller, but we just thought that was because she was a girl. Over maybe two weeks of having her, she barely grew at all. While Artie’s eyes were opening, she was barely growing. One day she got away from the heater in their cage and was so cold she wouldn’t eat and later she died. I always blame myself for this, that if I knew what she needed better maybe we could have nursed her enough to survive. This is a good reason why the general public should be discouraged from caring for wild animals, whether they need help or not, it’s hard to say what’s best for them if you’re not an expert.

    I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “gee, I feel really guilty for all the chipmunks I ran over with my car!” As well you should! Tsk, tsk! But killing chipmunks with your car or even with a bb gun like my mom’s creepy neighbor, is that any different to the government agencies looking over wildlife? Yeah, it is. In the eyes of the law, having a chipmunk for a pet is mysteriously illegal. I mostly say mysteriously because searches on relevant laws are difficult, and in my opinion at least, not reasonably available for most of the public.

    Artie is a California Chipmunk, a species which has disappointingly little information available. Chipmunks in general seem to have very little information on them, and with this blog I intend to provide what information I can about this species just from my observation with Artie. The most noticeable difference between California Chipmunks and the more prevalent Eastern Chipmunk is the coloration patterns. Artie definitely blends in better with Wrightwood’s pelona schist (which composes this mountain range, and also has little information floating around on the web). He’s a pretty grey with brown and burnt sienna, with dark brown and white stripes.

    Artie eating a seed, look at his pretty colors!

    Artie eating a seed, look at his pretty colors!

    Artie is without a doubt, the coolest pet I have ever had.
    Cats are nice and independent, and a lot of fun as kittens, and Artie plays exactly like a kitten does. You make little sounds and wiggle your fingers and he knows it means “play time” and comes and gently attacks your fingers! And just like a greedy puppy, you can play tug-of-war with his treats! You can even call him and he will come. When I walk around the room when he’s out with me, he follows me, and climbs up my pants to perch on my shoulder! If you’re too rough, he makes a cute little chirp like a little bird to warn you, he never bites to hurt you, only when he’s playing, and only very gently. He even understands the concept of not climbing on faces, and I’ve seen him do some clever mid-air acrobatics to avoid landing on my face when he was playing with me.
    I have no idea why chipmunks weren’t domesticated over hamsters. They are far superior. They’re also very smart, and I know when Artie’s running around that he won’t do anything terribly stupid.

    Chipmunk climbing my shirt

    Chipmunk climbing my shirt

    I have a lot of videos of him, too, I’ll have to sort through and edit, but hopefully you liked my little chipmunk gallery and my rants about chipmunk laws and their suitability as pets.

    Of course, as I was writing this blog, I let my little Artie run around, and something terrible happened! He got caught somehow and broke off almost half his pretty little tail! I’m so upset I can’t even finish this post how I wanted to. Just a good example of how hard it is to take good care of these little guys! They’re so delicate and get themselves into trouble before you can even see what’s happening to help! My poor little Artie…

    And here’s another disadvantage, most vets won’t care for anything but cats & dogs more or less. Birds, lizards, small mammals are all considered “exotic” and need a special vet. Don’t even bother trying to come up with excuses if you take a chipmunk to a vet, I don’t even know what they would say. As long as Artie keeps acting like his usual self, I suppose I don’t have to take him to the vet, but I might have to find somebody who will understand a chipmunk’s needs!

    Artie trying to see what those weights were

    Artie trying to see what those weights were


  10. My inner fish: Tiktaalik <3

    August 8, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If there’s anything that I should be writing about in my blog, I suppose it should be the things that I really like and want to share with others.
    There is a little fossil that has my affection, and it is Tiktaalik.

    Tiktaalik skull

    Tiktaalik skull

    I grew up, like many kids my generation, imagining that our very ancient ancestor who brought us to land was much like a mud skippy. How many times has the Discovery channel depicted it as such? It’s not too hard to imagine, but looking at a modern fish and imagining it as similar to a very, very ancient fish isn’t very satisfactory.
    Fortunately for nerds like me, there are other even bigger nerds out there who get work in miserable conditions like Greenland to find this fossil. This Devonian era fossil was found in 2004, and Greenland is one of the few places on this earth where that era of rock has been unearthed.
    Take a gander at it! For those of you who can’t use your imagination with the fossil:

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    While this may not be very exciting to you (I’d have to ask why you read on, if that’s the case!) but I think it’s very refreshing that there are such great discoveries out there waiting for humanity. Something about the way that I was taught things in school as a kid always made me feel like we did everything, found everything, knew everything. The more I seek out to learn on my own, the more I realize we are a young species with much to learn about our world. There is so much we are capable of, so much we can do to change the world. (Like how I have a lot of hopes that in my life time there will be some amount of real cyberizing of humans for useful stuff not just a workaround for damaged parts..but maybe I watch too much Ghost in the Shell). Nothing has made me feel like we have so much to learn more than Quantum Physics, though. That, my friends, will be another post… uh… once I wrap my head around it a little better :)

    Please read more about this interesting little creature here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik

    While there has been a lot of hype lately about the fossil Ida, I think that Tiktaalik is still more interesting.  Ida is only one of many different transitional forms of primates. We actually have a decent fossil record for primates. Tiktaalik is possibly more interesting than Archaeopteryxeven, if we could only prove that it was a direct ancestor or something like that. I would think that during this time, there would be several different similar critters like Tiktaalik. They think it was a really marshy and swampy area and our little friend Tiktaalik got his more tetrapod like fins by squirming through tree roots underwater to hide from larger fish.

    Howdy Folks!

    How'dy Folks!


    Here’s one more gratuitous fishapod shot before I leave this one alone. I do have a strong urge now, when I see those little darwin fish on cars, to replace them with a life-like sticker of Tiktaalik. Afterall, if your interest is in the accuracy of science, you’ll have to admit those fish are desperately out-of-date now! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed him half as much as I do!