Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under the Milky Way



The last few nights I've broken out my telescope to see just what I can see here in deep urban Minneapolis. The results aren't that great but still kind of fun. Got a wonderful view of the (nearly) full moon. Even had the FP Gal look at it. She feigned interest.
I'm wishing for some darker skies . . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public Storage Commercial

Have you seen this? Go ahead and watch, I'll wait...

Done? Good. Ok, does that make sense to anyone?
Step one (cut a hole in a box), get married. Ok, easy enough. Step two, decide that your husband's stuff is now not good enough for you. Sure, that sounds healthy. Step three, tell him that he doesn't need to worry about throwing it out, you'll simply put it in storage. What the hell are you storing it for, the eventual divorce? How does this possibly make sense?
Actually, the thing that baffles me is how something this stupid could get through some kind of creative process and be put on the air. Some advertising company must have brainstormed this piece of crap. Then they pitched it to the client, who somehow thought this gave customers a good feeling about their product. And then they filmed this without someone (anyone!) standing up and asking what they were doing.

---

Ok, end of rant. Let me now tell a related story!

There was a period of my life, starting right after I moved out from the parents, when my furniture was . . . not so nice. No really. It was college apartment style stuff. Functional but not nice. And nothing even came close to matching.
As I hit the age of 30 I thought about finally upgrading and improving the lot. But then I realized that it could be a terrible mistake. What if I met a woman who wanted to change and improve me? Yikes!
Unless . . . what if I left something improvable? Something that could be changed and I'd be happy about it. Something like furniture! Ah, the perfect plan.
And then I screwed it up. I changed apartments and decided it was the perfect time to get a new couch. They could deliver it and I wouldn't have to move the durn thing. So I did the shopping, put in place and it was (still is) wonderful. It's deep and long enough to lay down on comfortably. It has one small flaw in that the back is pillows and not cushions but it's not a big deal. It's a great couch.

Guess what one thing the FP Gal wants to change . . . ?

Julian Comstock - Wilson

This is a 2010 Hugo nominee.

As with so many books on the Hugo list, the setting is really what brings the story to life. And so it is with 'Julian Comstock'. This story takes place a couple of hundred years in the future from now. The global economy has gone through the peak oil shock and global warming has created shipping lanes north of Canada. As you can imagine, there has been quite a bit of chaos. The United States has absorbed central Canada and most of Latin America down to the Panama canal. The Dutch (more properly read as Deutsch, or Mittleuropa) have conqured the maritime provinces and have been fighting US forces in Labrador. American society has lapsed into more of a feudal system and the prime powers are a President for life and a powerful central church based out of Colorado Springs. Got it?
The story is told by Adam Hazzard, a budding writer and childhood friend of the title character, Julian Comstock. Comstock is the nephew of the President and is in voluntary exile since his family fears the jealous whims of the executive. They're living in a farming town in Saskatchewan when an attempt is made to draft Comstock, certainly in order to martyr him. The boys escape and the adventure is on.
This is a very well written and fun book. The world-building is satisfying and the story is quite unpredictable. There is very much a civil war era feel, even though the battle grounds along the St Lawrence seaway shift the setting considerably.
And did I mention that it's fun? One of the stops is in Montreal where Hazzard falls for a local girl. Small portions of the book are French quotations from her. No attempt is made to translate and the misunderstanding is delightful. The same thing is true for a captured letter that is written in Dutch. In fact, the book has a delightful number of easter eggs that the reader can tease out.
I had one small problem with the continuity, in that much of the knowledge gained since the 19th century seemed to be lost. I suppose there is some over-arching theory of church suppression but that doesn't make sense with such obviously useful things like medicine or battle technique. But I'm sure that was put in place to keep the transition to a 19th century feel.
'Julian Comstock' isn't a literary wonder. But it is a fun read, well written. And that's a good thing all on its own. I doubt that it will win the Hugo but it certainly does the shortlist no shame. I look forward to reading more from Wilson.

26 Ways to Prevent Summer Reading

(Via Instapundit)

Very cool poster found here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Comet

Link. And info:

At 10 p.m. on the northwest horizon, you will see the stars Castor and
Pollux, the heads of the Gemini twins. Comet McNaught (C/2009 R1) should be
swooping in from the north and above Castor, at magnitude 4.7. While that is
only as bright as the stars in the handle of the Little Dipper, the comet's tail
will give it away in a pair of binoculars, if not to the unaided eye.



Related picture here.

Off To Work

Sunday, June 27, 2010

DIY Castle

I've told the FP Gal that she needs to keep an eye on me or I'll do something like this. I think that my favorite is the fourth one, the cathedral of Justo Gallego Martinez. And all of them make my mere six story tower dream seem pale.
Two difficulties for my future plans. These 14 mainly fall into two categories. Either 1) they were built in the country where there is lots of space or 2) they were the result of death bed promises by Catholics. Neither one works for me. Yet. (As a side note, apparently Spain is unable to stop building construction that was promised on a death bed.)
Take a look through the list again. There is a certain beauty to some of the buildings. A grandeur sometimes. Each one certainly speaks to something in the human soul and the desire to create something everlasting. Were the builders crazy? Sometimes, maybe, but they also had a certain poetry that I think we should admire.

Pet At-At



Update: I should really add a link to this too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tairy Fales

Relia was introduced to 'Shrek' this week. We've been holding out on this one because some of the humor is a bit off color, but the time is right and there you go. (She calls the movie 'shriek' and insists that this is his name. No argument will convince her otherwise.) I'm assuming that 'Shrek' has been well watched by this blog's audience. If not, you only need to know two things. Firstly, it is a movie with a satirical take on other movie renditions of fairy tales, especially Disney. And secondly, it's a great movie.
'Shrek' now joins a growing list of post-modern fairy tales in our house. We have:
  • A book that tells what happened to the three little bears after Goldilocks visits them.
  • Another book that tells the big bad wolf's side of the story when it comes to the three little pigs.
  • The Stinky Cheese man, who replaces the more traditional gingerbread one.
What do all of these have in common? Simple, Relia doesn't know the original stories. We don't have the primary stories (though I'm sure we will at some time). All we have are the goofs on them.
Is that weird?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Overheard

Relia talking about Halloween, a subject of which she has been remarkably consistent.

Relia: Felix will be a baby elephant. I'll be a big sister elephant. (Pause.) And momma, you can be a momma elephant.
FP Gal: And daddy?
Relia: He'll be a tiger. Rawr! (Pause.) Or he could be a daddy elephant!

Ok, There Was My Thunderstorm

Yep, a big one rolled through here earlier. Sheets of rain, a good push of wind and some nice rumbly thunder. And no power. For almost three hours. It was kind of like life out on the prairie. The FP Gal and I played some cards by candlelight.

You know what? I'm glad we have better technology now.

Have a Great Friday

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

18 Game Schedule?

There has been some talk this NFL offseason about going from a 16 game season to an 18 gamer. At the same time they'd drop the number of preseason games from four to two so the overall number of total games would remain at 20. Word is that the commissioner backs the idea and that usually means that it's only a matter of time before this will come to pass.
The sticking point is the players. Two extra meaningful games means more chance for injury. It also means that their per game pay will be reduced. The pay thing is probably the bigger thing but everyone hopes that more season games means bigger TV contracts and bigger paychecks for players. This doesn't seem insurmountable.
At first I loved this idea. Four preseason games produce about six quarters of real(ish) football. Going to two games would still bring about the same amount of watchable action. And two more football Sundays? Yes, please. But I've got some objections . . .
  • The NFL has worked hard to not have games on Labor Day weekend. In theory this could shift the first preseason game two weeks later and end the season in mid-January. That would put the Super Bowl into the middle of February. Of course they could do the sensible thing and just move the opener up.
  • We currently have a very balanced schedule with only two different games for each team within a division. Adding two more games would screw that up. This isn't that big of a deal but it's nice to be able to compare apples to apples so completely right now.
  • And the biggest one, this will mean less drama. The NFL currently has a problem with meaningless games in the last week of a 16 game season. With two more weeks you'll find more teams eliminated with more weeks left to play. And of course the winning teams will have even longer to rest their starters. The Colts will have three empty games at the end rather than just two.

Hopefully I'm wrong about this because I really do think it's on the way.

Thunderstorm Update

The FP Gal tells me that it was storming up a, well, storm this morning while she was feeding Felix. Guess I slept through it. Darn it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dude, Where's my Thunderstorm?

The last few days have had the same forecast: partly cloudy in the morning and thunderstorms swooping in during the afternoon/evening. Well, we didn't get a storm yesterday and I don't see one on the horizon for tonight. Foiled again!
Last Thursday there was an ugly, ugly looking storm cell that approached. The wind was strong and the air had that particular tightness that it gets when big weather is a comin'. The sky turned yellow and I started wondering if I should move the bouncy seat into the basement. And then it went around us!
And maybe I shouldn't complain about that since the whole storm caused lots of damage and a few deaths. I'm really not looking for anything bad like that to happen. But I do want some thunder and lightning!

Wake - Sawyer

This is a 2010 Hugo nominee.

The heroine of 'Wake' is Caitlin, a teenage girl who is brilliant with math and totally blind. She is a whiz with her computer, navigating the web at a speed that tops the sighted. This girl is plugged in and hip. Her web handle is 'Calculass'.
She is contacted by a Japanese scientist that wants to try an experimental procedure with her. Her blindness is caused by a fault in her nervous system where the information is received by the eye but the data doesn't route correctly to her brain. He wants to install a chip that could fix this.
While this is happening a strange conciousness is awakening. Through fits and stops and painful bouts of self actualization this something is becoming aware. I'm going to spoil this for you and tell you that this strange thing is the entire internet! And, land sakes, the chip in Caitlin's eye helps her see this happening!
There are a couple of other sub-plots, one having to do with censorship in China and the other with a painting gibbon. Neither one is well resolved. Or all that interestingly presented.
I can't recommend this book. The writing was poor throughout. Caitlin was annoyingly precious. The 'awakening' process is not even a little bit believable. The writing, though light, conveyed very little story for it's length. On the plus side, it was a quick read so at least it was only a short pain.
I've heard it speculated that this book was popular amongst SF fans because many of them could put themselves into the place of the heroine. I don't know how true that is. This book is the first of a scheduled trilogy and I hope that the next two aren't nominated. In fact, if they are I'm going to skip them and just assume that they are at least as bad as this is.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kindle Revisited

Amazon dropped the price on the Kindle today to $189. Which puts it into the 'hmmmmmm' category. Last summer I blogged about my growing (and surprising) interest in getting an e-reader. At the time I had three main concerns:
  • I want some kind standardized format. I want to be able to buy books from several different sources, not just one seller. This should make for more widespread value
  • They need to hammer out ownership issues, much like the music industry is going through. Books, of course, are different than songs but many of the piracy issues are the same.
  • The price needs to come down. History suggest that it will happen in time.
Apparently they've fixed point number 2. And point number 3 is now less of an issue. That first point is still kind of a problem though.
To be clear, I'd still get paper copies of some books. I'm happy with my complete Hugo collection. And eventually, with the help of used book stores, I'll have the complete Bookers. I love shopping actual shelves too much to give that up. But I'm starting to see a place for a different book strategy.
Even a few years ago my book buying habits were almost exclusively for old books. My reading tended towards reading and rereading. Now I'm more interested in the newer stuff. And new books (especially hardcovers) are pricey. An e-reader will cut down on the money.
As I said: hmmmmmm . . .

Off to Work

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

We had a rather low key day, which suits me just fine. The only real outing was a trip to Friday's with the FP Gal's family. (Well, Relia and I went to a park this morning. This park is both red and blue. But we already have a Red park and a Blue park. No idea how we'll name this one.)
The family got me a gift certificate for movies and the FP Gal agreed to let me have time to use it. Some people can't stand to go see movies on their own but it doesn't bother me. Now I just need the movie industry to make something that I want to see. (Which isn't completely true. Both 'Toy Story 3' and 'Iron Man 2' will be watched but I'm saving them to see with the FP Gal.) I'm sure something good will pop up.
Yikes! I just checked to see what movies are out right now and one of the theaters near us has a midnight showing of 'Knight and Day', the upcoming Cruise/Diaz movie. Are they seriously expecting such interest for that recycled piece of crap that they needed a midnight showing? Will they get even ten people? Color me skeptical.
As I said, the day was low key. I spent about two hours up on the third floor this afternoon. Watched some of the flop fest that was the Brazil/Ivory Coast game. Played some Adv Civ and did some reading. Which was a fine way to spend a couple of hours . . .

Want!

Link

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Overheard

While at the park today; Relia on the swings:

Relia: I'm here to save the day!
Me: (smiling) Ok. And what are you going to save it from?
Relia: (pause) Sharks.
Me: That sounds like a good idea. You're going to keep them away from us?
Relia: Yes!
Me: How?
Relia (long pause) I'll yell 'Stay away sharks!'.
Me: (laughing) Yep, that ought to do it.

Random (World Cup Related)

The FP Gal has been watching too much soccer this week. She noticed a baseball game with the Twins losing 8-3 to the Phillies. The first thought that came into her mind was that 11 points is a lot to be scored in a game . . .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random World Cup Thoughts

Kind of surprised I waited this long . . .
  • I won't pretend to be a big soccer fan. But I enjoy this period every four years or so. Part of it is that I get into big international sporting events (like the Olympics). There is something to be said for the pageantry and passion that's involved. Especially since almost all the passion belongs to other countries and it's easy to just sit back and watch.
  • The World Cup happens every four years and I think it's kind of a shame that it falls in the same year as the Winter Olympics. What if we hold the next one in 2013 and then every four years after that? That would give us one large event three out of every four years. And I'm open to suggestions on the other year too.
  • There is literally one song in my music collection that ties into the World Cup. Live version of it here. Two things, 1) nobody writes 'wronged women music' better than Kristy MacColl and 2) if I'm ever crazy rich I will hire some Mexican brass to provide my own personal soundtrack and it will sound something like this.
  • I think I've mentioned this before but I can really dig live sports early in the morning. If the MLS wants to start playing 6a games, I might become a fan.
  • One of the real negatives to watching soccer in HD is that you can really see the flops. Absolute minimal contact provides seemingly fatal reactions. If you key a soccer players car, would it blow up?
  • Vuvezuelas. Early runner for word of the year, yes? There is controversy over whether they should be banned from the stadiums or not. I say let them use them. But if they choose to do so, please never award South Africa with another large sporting event.
That's all (though probably more in a few days).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Palimpsest Trailer

One of the new and interesting things in the book world is the creation of trailers to sell a book. Much like what you see for movies, but these can give a better taste for the story than their movie counterparts. And since this is at least somewhat driven by readers rather than publishers, the results can really surprise.
Yesterday I wrote about the book 'Palmipsest'. This video shows the a small section of the book, the description of the railway system. I think this is pretty well done.

Job Question

If you got to pick, would you be one of the Mythbusters? Or would you take Samantha Brown's job when she was touring Europe?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

'Lost' Island Map

Pretty cool work done here by a professional cartographer and 'Lost' fan. Scroll down a bit for a nicely detailed map of the island. Now if only it included a reason (really any decent reason at all) for why they didn't see the lighthouse at an earlier point . . .

Palimpsest - Valente

This is a 2010 Hugo nominee.

Palimpsest is the name of a fantasy city. It's hard to reach and has some special rules for entry. One of them is that people enter in groups of four and are then mystically linked together. And how do they enter? Simple. You have sex with a previous visitor. You can find them because afterward a small portion of the city map will appear like a tattoo somewhere on your body. Which makes this sound tawdry, which is unfair to the book.
'Palimpsest' focuses on a quartet, none of whom intended to get sucked into this world. Each of them is driven to return again and again. There is Oleg, a lock-maker who is chasing the ghost of his dead sister, Ludovico who has lost his wife to the city, Sei, a young girl who is courted by the train system and November, a beekeeper who has been claimed by the bees of Palimpsest. They are strangers who span the world and are forced to try and find each other, each at a terrible cost.
This book was a little tough to get into. The imagery in the beginning is so rich that it's almost overpowering. It did begin to click though and became one of the strengths of the story. The city Palimpsest is eye-poppingly fantastic. Each bit of setting is more interesting than the last and it adds up to some serious impact.
I mentioned that each traveler is brought in through sex. This could easily become tawdry but for each of the four main characters this route leads to personal difficulty. Instead it becomes difficult and sometimes degrading. It's easy to see how a lesser writer would have gone in a different and ultimately less satisfying route.
This is a great book. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy writing and the early bits had me frightened. But as it caught hold I found myself working to find more and more time to read. I was sad when it ended (and I don't know a better compliment to give a book). Well worth reading.

Overheard

(With no lead up whatsoever . . .)

Relia: Dad, can I see your nipples?
Me: (pause) Uh, not right now.

Overcast

We've had gray skies for almost all of the last week. Some days rain, some days just windy. But clouds throughout. Not what we think of as June weather. Tomorrow is forecast for sunny and that's kind of a needed thing about now. Oh, not for me necessarily. Weeks of clouds don't bug me. Toddlers are something of a different story though . . .

Update: Cool weather is a pretty good excuse to snuggle under a blanket though.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Huh

Right now the NFL Network (which I love) is showing a Giants/49ers game that aired on 5 Jan, 2003. (Of interest to me, they've mislabeled it as 3 Jan.) This is part of their stable of 'classic' games. There was another game that day, Steelers/Browns and I think that's part of their rotation too.
Being a big football fan, I can tell you that we tried hard to make it down to Austin before kickoff so we could see them both. Didn't happen and I've probably told that story enough so I won't do it again. How weird that I can watch it some seven years later?
Good thing I didn't know it was on tonight and try to make it home early. Who knows what would have happened to this car?

Off to Work

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Booker Movie Adaptations

Various nearby Grandparents helped us out on our Anniversary last night and took the kids. The FP Gal and I went out for some seafood and some second hand shopping. I scored big and got three more of the Booker award winners (and a Pulitzer). Two of the Booker winners had covers that matched the film version. It got me wondering just how many of the 44 winners have been made into movies.
To my surprise, only ten (with an assist from Wikipedia):
  • Heat and Dust (1975)
  • Schindler's Ark [retitled 'Schindler's List'] (1982)
  • Oscar and Lucinda (1988)
  • Remains of the Day (1989)
  • Possession (1990)
  • The English Patient (1992)
  • Last Orders (1996)
  • Disgrace (1999)
  • Life of Pi (2002), currently in production
  • Vernon God Little (2003), currently in production
Another half dozen or so have been made into mini-series for TV. And keep in mind that this is just for the actual winners. If I'd expanded to include the short listed novels several others would have gotten included ('Atonement' and 'Notes on a Scandal', etc.). That's still a pretty high percentage.

Overheard

Relia (reacting to a hammering noise outside): Is that Jimmy out there?
Me: I don't know who Jimmy is.
Relia: But is that Jimmy?
Me: What did I just say?
Relia: (pause) I guess maybe we shouldn't worry about Jimmy . . .

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

It was five years ago today that we tricked our friends and family and welshed on the promise of a homemade brunch. We then gave them the shortest heads up for a wedding in recorded history. (We made up for brunch by taking them out to eat.) The most complete version of the story is here. And while I'm linking, the FP Gal posted here and included video.
It's been a good (and busy) five years. Actually, it's been great. Love you, FP Gal!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Layout

After five years and 2000+ posts I've decided to change the look of the blog. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I'm a little uncertain of the text colors so any thoughts there would be appreciated.

Jobs I Would Like to Have

Sometimes I think there might be something better for me out there. And then I read articles like this one (h/t HardballTalk):
Shpunt says he is a scientist and a healer, not a magician. His method could not guarantee the Dodgers would win, he says, but it could make a difference.

"Maybe it is just a little," he said. "Maybe it can help."


In the five years he worked for the Dodgers, he attended just one game. Instead, he watched them on television in his home more than 3,000 miles from Dodger Stadium, channeling his thoughts toward the team's success.
For this very difficult job he was paid well, with a bonus of 'six figures or higher' depending on the team's success. It wasn't necessary for him to attend any games. He simply watched them from a Boston suburb and directed some king of energy. He said he couldn't win games but he could improve their chances by 10-15%. Over a full season that would be 16-24 games improvement. Which is a lot.
Hey, Kenny Williams, I'm available to send energy if you'd like. Heck, I'll even attend games if you think that'd help . . .

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Apple Store

The FP Gal is in the midst of a computer switcheroo and that meant a trip to the Apple store today. She had told Relia that a trip was in the offing and there was much excitement. Until . . . well, Relia thought that it was store all about apples. You know, Granny Smith, Red Delicious and (Relia's favorite) Pink Ladies. The poor thing had no clue that someone had named a computer brand after one of her favorite fruits.
Her face fell.
Being able to play with the several computers set up just for little kids was something of a saving grace. She was a little upset that the Barney game didn't seem to have any audio. (I was not.) The Dora game was a little better and she got something of a lesson on how the mouse directs the arrow on the screen.
Felix didn't care for the store at all. He started crying and wailing. The people near us were all either young and childless or old and childless. In any case, there were many dirty looks shot. Then the FP Gal took him and he calmed down. She has the distinct advantage of having his food supply right with her at all times.

Relia had a weird dynamic with me today. She actually refused to talk to me for some time. "I'm talking to momma!". Well, ok then. I didn't take it seriously of course. And it faded by supper time. But it was a brief window to that wondrous time when she'll be a teenager. All attitude and unexplained surliness. Fortunately she'll be the problem of the nuns at whatever convent we find for her at that critical time.

Heh

Link

Naked Eye Comet

One of my recent wishes is to see a comet in the wild. It looks like this month might be a good time to check that off of my bucket list. We've got one in the sky right now.
A recently discovered comet is surprising skywatchers by becoming brighter than predictions had first suggested and can now be seen with the unaided eye during the next few weeks. ... The comet is visible now for people with dark skies away from urban and suburban lighting. By mid-June it may be an easy skywatching target for most people. ... Comets are very unpredictable, but some astronomers say Comet McNaught might reach magnitude +2 by the end of June. If so, it won't rival the brightest stars in the sky, but it should be easy to spot and readily identifiable as a comet.

I'm trying to figure out if it will be bright enough to see from our house or not. If not I may need to figure a little trip to a nearby observatory. And I see a scheduled time on June 19th . . .
If you live near some dark skies and/or have a clear view to the east you might want to check this out. The first linked article has a pretty easy to use star map on it. Good comets don't come around very often.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The City & The City - Mieville

This is one of the 2010 Hugo nominees.

'The City & the City' starts with the dead body of a young woman. Inspector Borlu of the (fictional) city of Beszel has been called in to investigate. The problem is that he suspects that the victim isn't from Beszel but from the city of Ul Qoma (which is equally fictional). Which turns out to be a big problem.
You see Beszel and Ul Qoma are, well, not really neighboring cities. More like two cities on top of one another. They share the same geographic space but are utterly different. Residents of each are taught from a very young age to 'unsee' and 'unhear' anything and everything from the other. There are serious penalties for violations, including being taken by the mysterious members of Breach.
Borlu suspects that the young woman was killed in one city and dumped in the other, which makes it a matter more serious than simple murder. He must somehow find a way to investigate in the foreign and forbidden regions. But his way is blocked by powerful officials and the whole thing seems like a coverup for something big.

This is a very finely written book. An absolute pleasure to read. It combines the best of hard-boiled detective noir with a convincing eastern European location. The story slowly unravels its most interesting question: what is the nature of the two cities? But there is where the problem lies as well. If there is some mystical, fantastical reason for the Split then I could believe in this strange 'unseeing' existence from residents of both sides. But if it's merely convention that blinds and deafens them then the whole story falls apart. If it's the latter option then it loses any claim to being fantasy. All that's left is an unconvincing and unrealistic situation where whole populations act contrary to human nature. Which is kind of a big problem.
I liked it. Mostly it was great. In the end, I don't think that it quite satisfies the (incredibly loose) genre requirements and I couldn't vote for it to win the Hugo.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Overheard

Scene - Relia wants to take her food into the living room to eat in front of the TV . . .

FP Gal: No, you have to eat with me in the kitchen.
Relia: Why?
FP Gal: Because this is where civilized people eat.
Relia: Are you cibilised?
FP Gal: Yes.
Relia: (pause) I'm not cibilised!

---

And I'm going to disagree with the FP Gal on this one. I'm certain that the Romans, Greeks and other honored civilizations would have eaten in front of the TV if they could. I suspect that their ancestors do today.

Off to Work

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Terror on Car 2

The FP Gal blogged about our adventure on the 'Monica-rail' today at the zoo. What she didn't mention is that they asked us to turn off our cell phones. They didn't say we should do it because it would disturb the other passengers. Nope, they had us do it because it might interfere with the operation of the monorail.
Is that even a little bit believable? Is a quick call to Aunt May going to put the whole thing on the fritz? It's barely plausible when the airlines ask you to shut off all electronics. And this is a train propelled on a single rail!
So. Be careful when you're at the zoo. If you walk under the rail while talking on your phone you alone could be responsible for the worst zoological disaster in state history.
Remember: Wait for the call, don't cause a fall!

Overheard

This morning while Relia was playing with an empty diaper box and a doorstop:

"Hello Comcast? I have too many dollars and I want to scrape them up."

This is pretty much the dream call for any call-center worker. There wasn't any real context to this conversation but the FP Gal tells me that Relia has been calling the empty diaper box 'her Comcast' for some time now.
The mind boggles.

Bedtime Fights

(Yikes, thought I posted this last night!)

I've written and complained quite a bit about the bedtime fights. There have been two related problems, the length of time and the emotional intensity of the fighting. An hour or so of screaming is dreadful. Especially when it's night after night.
But [knock on wood], the fights have been gradually getting shorter and less intense. A couple of times this week there was no fight at all. And sometimes bedtime has only taken an hour. Even if she had a regular nap that day!
What a difference!
Not sure if she has learned that testing us here doesn't work. Not sure if she's finally comfortable in the routine. Or maybe she's just under the weather and next week will be back to hell. But for the time being, it has been very nice. For what it's worth, we're leaning towards growing maturity.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

This Too Shall Pass - OK Go


The song is fine, but the work that went into this is simply amazing.

Turn Signals


Holy cats, do I need this bumper sticker!

I don't understand why some people resist using their turn signals. Sometimes I think it's a power thing. Which is stupid. You're not losing power to me if I can tell which way you're going to turn. Really. Your power levels remain at the same point they were previously.
Lately I've been seeing a new variant of signal stupidity. The driver will pull up to a red light and stop there without a signal. As soon as they get a green, they turn on the left blinker and go.
Look, when you're on the road, other drivers try to figure out what you're doing. Anything that makes that harder is a bad thing. Get it together!

Overheard

Me: Good night, sleep tight.
Relia: Don't let the bugs eat you!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Great College Prank

This one from Carlton college.

Overheard

This morning Relia asked for a popsicle for breakfast. I told her that she could have a waffle and then we'd figure it out. After breakfast she said, "I've finished my waffle. Let's figure out the posicle!".

Boneshaker - Priest

This is one of the 2010 Hugo nominees.

'Boneshaker' is a steam punk novel that takes place in 19th century Seattle and involves fighting with zombies. If that description sounds good to you then you'd probably like it. Otherwise . . . And it really is that simple.
The book takes place in an alternate history where a huge mining machine (called the Boneshaker) accidentally tears through gold rush era Seattle and opens a pocket of a heavy gas called Blight. This gas slowly turns people into zombies. The remaining citizens build a 200 foot wall around the city to keep the gas and the deaders in. The rest of the country is too busy fighting the Civil War, which in this time-line has dragged on for more than fifteen years.
The son of the inventor of the Boneshaker has decided to break into the city and find some info that will vindicate his (understandably) notorious father. His mother discovers what he has done and makes her way in after him. To her surprise there is a thriving community inside of the wall, living in airtight pockets. Some of them will help her, others will get in her way. Some are under the sway of a mysterious inventor with a hidden face who bears some resemblance to her late husband.
'Boneshaker' is a fun and easy read. The formula (olde tyme + steam tech + zombies) is nothing if not current. The book was inspired in part by Seattle's underground tour, which I've taken twice and enjoyed the heck out of. But . . . well, it's a little on the light side. Some thought went into the creation of the setting but some rather obvious problems seemed to be ignored. SPOILERS - why didn't the town look for some way to eliminate the existing zombies? If fire or dismemberment can permanently take out a deader, then you'd think they would have some large scale weapons available to inflict such harm. Which would spoil the book I suppose.
I liked 'Boneshaker' and would recommend it. Seems a bit of a lightweight to actually win the Hugo though.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Jupiter and the ISS

(Via Instapundit)
Very cool picture here of the International Space Station and the planet Jupiter. What is most impressive is that it was taken by an amateur astronomer. During the day.

Overheard

While Relia and I woke up Felix and the FP Gal . . .

Me: And Felix, how are you doing?
Relia: And momma, how are you smelling?

Off to Work