Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Ghost Ship, Cannibal Rats, and the Graveyard Shift

In the news this week is a ghost ship headed for the UK and aboard are cannibal rats. Around 1976, the Yugoslavians built this luxury liner, the Lyubov Orlova, for the Russians to ferry their wealthy, although back then I think that was only Commies, to the cold regions of the world. Leave it to the Ruskies not do like everyone else and visit the Bahamas or the Riviera or the Mediterranean.  The venture didn’t work out well. Don’t know why.  Who wouldn’t want to shell out big bucks—or is that Rubles?—to see ice bergs and seal slaughters? After racking up big debt, the ship was seized by the Canadians for scrap and ferried to Dominican Republic. But somewhere along the way they lost it. The thing has been adrift since 2010 and is heading for the UK coast.

Ontop of this is the theory that the only living things aboard are rats.  Without much food, they would need to turn to each other, and become cannibals. Munch, munch, munch.  When the ship hits the land, the mutant rodents will disembark and gorge themselves on unsuspecting Europeans. (Perhaps we should warn them.)  Albeit, no one takes into account that the boat has been adrift for 4 years and maybe the hungry rodents have depleted their numbers by now. O, dear, what will they ever do?

 I just caught on Netflix the Stephen King movie, Graveyard Shift. Like most of King’s movies which are very, very good or very, very bad, this one was in the latter class of flicks.  **Spoiler alert** This one hinges on a big, like really big, rat that has developed wings and lives in the basement of a textile mill,.  We could call it a bat but then that wouldn’t fit in the movie’s plot of the regular size rats showing up just before big brother arrives. I envision on the Lyubov Orlova this big rat at the helm wearing a captain’s hat and carrying a fork and knife. He orders the crew: “Full steam ahead. I’m hungry.”


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Killer Bats on Patrol

Friend of mine catches a picture in the news this week of cute little bats wrapped in blankets. Little possum like face peak out of snug little wraps.  Story goes they were orphaned during flooding off the Gold Coast of Australia.

"How big do you thing those little guys are?" I ask.

She raises hand and looks down at it, wiggles her fingers.  I knew she was thinking not too big. Some bats are no larger than a thumb.

"They're big when grown up. Really Big," I say.

"How big?" she asks.

We look up a video on YouTube and watch to remarks of "Oh, my gosh!" and "Good grief!" The largest can have a wingspan of almost six feet. Because of the head shape, they are sometimes called flying foxes. Good news they eat fruit and nectar. Yep! No blood suckers hear.

I figure have a couple of these six foot creatures hanging from the rafters in the house and you won't need  burglar alarm or door lock.  Just hang a sign out front. 



Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Great Printer Mystery

I’ve been an HP printer fan for a long time. My wife has one hooked up to her computer. I like them for the ease in refilling the print cartridges. Typically I could refill a cartridge three, four, sometimes more times before the quality of the printing degraded.  But a few years back, I saw a great price on an Epson Workforce 520. Only $49.99.  I was looking for a printer for my computer. This one was a 3-in-1. Did everything. Even faxed, which was great if I had a telephone like to hook to it.  So I bought it.

I soon learned the print cartridges were trickier than my wife’s HP to fill, if not darn right impossible. To buy new cartridges would cost a fortune.  First I’d need a dual pack of black as the printer needs two. That costs $31.45. And I’d need the color pack which costs $35.49. For a whopping $66.99, which is $15 more than I paid for the machine, I could replace the entire set of five cartridges or throw away the printer and start over.

I opted for plan B and bought refillable ink cartridges for $33.95 and the ink for $49.95 for a grand total of $83.90.  A bit of an investment, but considering how many times I can refill the cartridges, this can pay for itself in no time.  I have been using this plan for about two years, until a month ago when suddenly the printer no longer recognizes the yellow cartridge. Now the printer refuses to print anything, even only with blank ink. Very clever!

I am not sure how a cartridge that has been in service suddenly goes bad after two years. I tried all the tricks. Cleaning contacts. Removing and reseating the cartridge. Power down and force a complete reset. Nada.  It’s not coming back from the dead.

I have an email in to Ink Owl and see what they think. Maybe I can buy just a yellow cartridges. Hey! Perhaps this thing has a lifetime warranty…probably not. I am considering scrapping the whole plan and buying third party cartridges, (IF Epson is the first party, who’s number 2?) while hoping the printer is not the fault.  Or go to plan C?

What’s a good Cannon printer model?

Monday, January 6, 2014

What's in a name?

When my wife and I were expecting our first child, we worked at finding just the right name. Now this was a time when the sex of the child was not readily available or given to parents. However, my wife felt positive it would be a girl and that was our focus. After reading many baby name books (yes, this was a time be for the Internet), we came up with one that be both liked. We told family and friends on our pick.  We were so excited to have a daughter named Melanie.

Then she was born.  Everyone in the delivery room wanted to know what my wife and I would name the new little girl. Funny things was we didn't know. We both agreed she didn't look like a Melanie and decided we'd wait until the next day as it was now well after midnight.

That night it came to me. The sweet little face. Blond hair. Blue eyes.  She'd looked like a Becky. Of course, I could hardly wait to tell my wife the next day when I returned to the hospital.  I arrived just as the nurse brought my new daughter to my wife.  I was about to blurt out the name when my wife announced she had thought of what we should name the baby. I had learned even at this early point in my married life not to argue. Somewhat dejected, I said, "Go ahead. What is the name you picked?"

Holding the baby up and staring down in her sweet face, my wife said, "Let's name her Becky."
Amazed, I asked how she came up with the same name I had thought up.  My wife said, "She looks like a Becky."

The same logic goes for characters in a story. They need names that fit them.  A nineteen year old hottie would not do well named Mildred.  An Italian immigrant named Fred would not be to convincing. I recall a kids show from years ago with a silly Frankenstein monster called Brucie. Funny but not scary.

Shakespeare said: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." True, but a dozen bananas would never be as well-received for a wedding anniversary.

A clip from that old TV show...