Monday, November 30, 2009


Wish I had some champagne so I could celebrate...would probably help if I liked the stuff, too. Hmmm, an Amp Energy Drink is the best I can do. Open Office counts 51,002 words, the official NaNoWriMo count is 50102. Depending how things go over the next few hours, I might pad that win a little bit, but we'll see.

Frodo's still plugging away, his progress over the last couple of days has been nothing short of phenomenal, whether he makes it or not, I'm very proud of what he's done.

I'll have a little more to say later on about this years experience, but for now, I just wanted to shout my triumphant (and not that barbaric) yawp across the monitors of the world.

How Long 'Til November's Over?

Only THAT long?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #51

But we must carefully note that Christian freedom is, in all its parts, a spiritual thing. Its whole force consists in quieting frightened consciences before God—that are perhaps disturbed and troubled over forgiveness of sins, or anxious whether unfinished works, corrupted by the faults of our flesh, are pleasing to God, or tormented about the use of things indifferent. Accordingly, it is perversely interpreted both by those who allege it as an excuse for their desires that they may abuse God’s good gifts to their own lust and by those who think that freedom does not exist unless it is used before men, and consequently, in using it have no regard for weaker brethren.

Today men sin to a greater degree in the first way. There is almost no one whose resources permit him to be extravagant who does not delight in lavish and ostentatious banquets, bodily apparel, and domestic architecture; who does not wish to outstrip his neighbors in all sorts of elegance; who does not wonderfully flatter himself in his opulence. And all these things are defended under the pretext of Christian freedom. They say that these are things indifferent. I admit it, provided they are used indifferently. But when they are coveted too greedily, when they are proudly boasted of, when they are lavishly squandered, things that were of themselves otherwise lawful are certainly defiled by these vices.

Paul’s statement best distinguishes among things indifferent: “to the clean all things are clean, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is clean, inasmuch as their minds and consciences are corrupted”. For why are the rich cursed, who have their consolation, who are full, who laugh now, who sleep on ivory couches, “who join field to field”, whose feasts have harp, lyre, timbrel, and wine? Surely ivory and gold and riches are good creations of God, permitted, indeed appointed, for men’s use by God’s providence. And we have never been forbidden to laugh, or to be filled, or to join new possessions to old or ancestral ones, or to delight in musical harmony, or to drink wine. True indeed. But where there is plenty, to wallow in delights, to gorge oneself, to intoxicate mind and heart with present pleasures and be always panting after new ones—such are very far removed from a lawful use of God’s gifts.

Away, then, with uncontrolled desire, away with immoderate prodigality, away with vanity and arrogance—in order that men may with a clean conscience cleanly use God’s gifts. Where the heart is tempered to this soberness they will have a rule for lawful use of such blessings. But should this moderation be lacking, even base and common pleasures are too much. It is a true saying that under coarse and rude attire there often dwells a heart of purple, while sometimes under silk and purple is hid a simple humility. Thus let every man live in his station, whether slenderly, or moderately, or plentifully, so that all may remember God nourishes them to live, not to luxuriate. And let them regard this as the law of Christian freedom; to have learned with Paul, in whatever state they are, to be content; to know how to be humble and exalted; to have been taught, in any and all circumstances, to be filled and to hunger, to abound and to suffer want.
- John Calvin

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Christmas Decorations

Like many people, with Thanksgiving now behind us, we've shifted our attention to Christmas. We decorated our living room tonight. What do you think?

It was back-breaking work, I tell you. I think including the time to dig it out of the box, we spent three whole minutes getting things just right. Phew. Good thing we only have to do this once a year, I tell you!

Quote of the Day

There's nothing really behind this, I saw it on a web toon's blogpost yesterday, and I remembered really, really liking it when John Spencer said it. Figured if I posted it here, I'd remember it a bit more easily.

This guy's walkin' down a street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, "Hey you! Can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole, and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole; can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can ya help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are ya stupid? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.
- Leo McGarry
from The West Wing

Friday, November 27, 2009

Expecting a Swell Time

Tonight I'm taking my first non-medically related night off in over a year, so I can take TLoML to The Swell Season in concert at the Egyptian Theater. I haven't been to the Egyptian in ages -- it used to be our default movie theater in the dark ages (or slightly more recently). I've never seen a live performance there, so even the venue should prove interesting.

In honor of that, a couple of Swell Season videos to whet my appetite:

(song starts about 3:55 in)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Will Thanksgiving 2010 be in September?

If our president, who was so often and favorably compared to FDR earlier this year, continues to try to tinker with the economy, it wouldn't surprise me (but I'm mostly engaging in hyperbole here).

What got me thinking was this very interesting (and brief) history of the holiday -- both in its inception and eventual federalization -- that The Front Porch Republic recently ran by Bill Kauffman.

George Washington issued the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation on November 26, 1789, but the early presidents, disproportionately Virginian and of a states' rights disposition, regarded such proclamations as excessively Yankee and Federalist. Even John Quincy Adams...was reluctant to be seen as "introducing New England manners" by a public acknowledgement of Thanksgiving.

...The indefatigable [antebellum New England novelist and editor Sarah Josepha] Hale propagandized ceaselessly for the glory of late November Thursdays, pumpkin pie, roasted turkey, "savory stuffing"—everything but the Detroit Lions. It took 35 years and a civil war, but Mrs. Hale's efforts paid off when President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving and a legal holiday.
Lincoln's successor's fiddled with the date a little, but in the end, for 70 years, the last Thursday of November was the holiday (which many states didn't recognize, or recognized when they wanted to).
It seems that in 1939 Thanksgiving was to fall on November 30th, a matter of consternation to the big merchants of the National Retail Dry Goods Association (NRDGA). The presidents of Gimbel Brothers, Lord & Taylor, and other unsentimental vendors petitioned President Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving to the previous Thursday, November 23, thus creating an additional week of Christmas shopping—and to the astonishment of those Americans without dollar signs in their eyes, the President did so. (Not all merchants favored the shift. One Kokomo shopkeeper hung a sign in his window reading, "Do your shopping now. Who knows, tomorrow may be Christmas.")

Opinion polls revealed that more than 60 percent of Americans opposed the Rooseveltian ukase; dissent was especially vigorous in New England. The selectmen of Plymouth, Massachusetts informed the President, "It is a religious holiday and [you] have no right to change it for commercial reasons." Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to the Almighty, harrumphed Governor Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, "and not for the inauguration of Christmas shopping."

Although the states customarily followed the federal government’s lead on Thanksgiving, they retained the right to set their own date for the holiday, so 48 battles erupted. As usual, New Deal foes had all the wit, if not the votes. A New Hampshire senator urged the President to abolish winter; the Oregon attorney general versified:

Thirty days hath September,

April, June, and November;

All the rest have thirty-one.

Until we hear from Washington.
Ack, I've quoted, too much, go read the rest of Kauffman's piece, which I'd just reproduce totally here, but I hate when blogs do go, read, and head over the river and through the woods and find yourself some turkey.

The Source of Giving Thanks


There remains the second part of the rule, more closely related to faith. It is to recognize that God has destined all things for our good and salvation but at the same time to feel his power and grace in ourselves and in the great benefits he has conferred upon us, and so bestir ourselves to trust, invoke, praise, and love him. Indeed, as I pointed out a little before, God himself has shown by the order of Creation that he created all things for man’s sake. For it is not without significance that he divided the making of the universe into six days, even though it
would have been no more difficult for him to have completed in one moment the whole work together in all its details than to arrive at its completion gradually by a progression of this sort. But he willed to commend his providence and fatherly solicitude toward us in that, before he fashioned man, he prepared everything he foresaw would be useful and salutary for him. How great ingratitude would it be now to doubt whether this most gracious Father has us in his care, who we see was concerned for us even before we were born! How impious would it be to tremble for fear that his kindness might at any time fail us in our need, when we see that it
was shown, with the greatest abundance of every good thing, when we were yet unborn! Besides, from Moses we hear that, through His liberality, all things on earth are subject to us. It is certain that He did not do this to mock us with the empty title to a gift. Therefore nothing that is needful for our welfare will ever be lacking to us.

To conclude once for all, whenever we call God the Creator of heaven and earth, let us at the same time bear in mind that the dispensation of all those things which he has made is in his own hand and power and that we are indeed his children, whom he has received into his faithful protection to nourish and educate. We are therefore to await the fullness of all good things from him alone and to trust completely that he will never leave us destitute of what we need for salvation, and to hang our hopes on none but him! We are therefore, also, to petition him for whatever we desire; and we are to recognize as a blessing from him, and thankfully to acknowledge, every benefit that falls to our share. So, invited by the great sweetness of his beneficence and goodness, let us study to love and serve him with all our heart.
- John Calvin
The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jagged Little Pill

Was flipping through my radio presets the other day, begging the computers who put Johnny Fever et al. out of work for something I wanted to listen to, when (finally!) The Bob came through for me, playing the original version of Alanis' "You Oughta Know." I was slightly taken aback, to tell you the truth, clearly I've spent far too much time listening to the 1996 Grammy Awards version and 10th Anniversary Acoustic version. I'd forgotten just how, for lack of a better term, raw the song was (even now, really).

Inspired by that, I've listened to the entire Jagged Little Pill album a handful of times in the last few days. It's one of those albums that's very easy to get lost in, my productivity slipped a lot while I sang/hummed along. Yes, there are problems with the album -- her poor understaning of irony, for example -- but it's about as close to perfection as you can get in a pop album. Joy, contentment, amusement with the human condition, anger, disappointment, did I mention anger?, love...she covers all the bases in a way really no one had before -- at least not with the commercial success she found.

I would consider myself an Alanis fan -- TLoML's a bigger one, tho'. We have every album, even the concert VHS from the Jagged days. And while I enjoy her stuff, and the artist she's evolved into, I'd say there's only about 1/3 of her material I like as much as this album. It's probably unfair to compare anything else she does to the magic that was Jagged, much like it's unfair to compare anything Peter Jackson does to his Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Seinfeld cast to that show, etc. If someone catches lightning in a bottle once, you should be impressed that they did and enjoy it for what it is, without demanding the impossible again and again.

If you have it on your shelf (or hard drive), do yourself a favor and give it a whirl if you haven't recently. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mamma .... Mamma ... Mamma ...

a little fun to brighten your day ... this is a real hoot (IMHO). You might want to click through to youtube and watch it full size.

Naturally, in response to this, one has to ask, "Am I really a guy who says 'a real hoot' without irony?" ugh.

A Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Arnold's Kindergarten class hosted a Thanksgiving feast today, unlike the ones I had in school growing up, there was actual food (prepared by students and staff) not just candy corn and cupcakes. The Pilgrim and Native American costumes were likewise made out of actual cloth, not construction paper and paper bags from the grocery store. They're far more classy than we were :) Parents and grandparents were invited, and encouraged to bring cameras. I, of course, left my camera on my desk and the batteries in the charger. So I got to try out my new phone's camera. With one exception, I seemed to do okay with it (def. the best phone-based camera I've owned).

Do note the male-female ratio in some of these group shots, in future years, this will be a dream of these young men, but now it's something akin to torture.

local readers will want to take note that there is not a single religious text to be found (and no, I didn't crop them out), despite this being on the grounds of a certain notorious school. Ironically enough, the lack of such is one of those things that would've been abhorrent to the people they sought to honor. But at this point, the Idaho National Guard probably would've been called out if these kids had one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Weird to Watch SNL Go Political and Agree with It

it happens occasionally, but still weirds me out each time.

Not Sure Which is Worse...

Trying to imagine what this man went through, or the very real possibility that there are countless like him.

From the Daily Mail:

A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time.

Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound.

'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state.

'I dreamed myself away,' he added, tapping his tale out with the aid of a computer.

Read more:
You've got to read the whole thing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #50

Those who are strict in restraining their own liberty yet ought not to impose those restraints upon the liberties of others, nor to judge of them accordingly. We must not make ourselves the standard to measure others by. A good man will deny himself that liberty which he will not deny another, contrary to the practice of the Pharisees.
- Matthew Henry

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This Post Is Sincere. No, Really.

This is a movement I could totally get behind. If only I had the abilities, I'd be cranking this stuff out.

You know it'd be way more useful than Comic Sans.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sometimes you Feel Like Father of the Year

...without doing a darn thing.

I've seen repeated references to this over the last week in various corners of the 'Net, but really haven't bothered to read the details 'til now. According to the Minnesota Daily"

With the birth of his son 15 years ago, dedicated linguist d'Armond Speers embarked on the ultimate experiment: He spoke to him only in Klingon — the language of the alien race of "Star Trek" fame — for the first three years of his life.

"I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language," Speers said. "He was definitely starting to learn it."
Now I have the first edition of Simon & Schuster's Klingon-English Dictionary (also the book tape recorded by Michael Dorn), I even memorized a phrase or two from it back in high school--as did many of my friends. But that's just geeky fun, as is the Klingon Boggle that the guys on The Big Bang Theory play, it's a bit extreme, but you know there are people out there that do that.

But this guy takes the cake, right? What a nerd! Something about that story didn't work right, I know fanboys tend towards the odd, and frequently pathetic, goofy as we tend to be, we do manage to keep a foot in reality.

But I guess that's why you need to read all the context. The Klingon child-rearing is not the point of the article, it was actually an introduction to talking about this company making nifty language learning software and Speers' consulting for it.

He's actually not a Trekker at all,
As for Speers, who still gets nostalgic when he recalls singing the Klingon lullaby "May the Empire Endure" with his son at bedtime, the experiment was a dud. His son is now in high school and doesn't speak a word of Klingon.

Although some of the things he's done lead people to believe he's a "Star Trek" fanatic, Speers said it's actually a passion for language that attracts him to Klingon.

"I don’t go to 'Star Trek' conventions, I don't wear the fake forehead," he said. "I’m a linguist."
Ahhh, now it makes sense. Nerds, geeks, fanboys and all will ultimately (often times far too late, see these people) show some restraint.

Academics on the other hand...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miscellaney: Twilight, Cell Phones, Vids, and other stuff

This afternoon, I really wanted to write up something on the new DVD set Monty Python: Almost the Truth, but I just don't have the time/attention span. Hopefully I can crank it out at work tonight. So, we'll just do this list of things that come to mind for no reason.

  • Chuck comes back on January 10, Burn Notice on the 28th. January's gonna be a killer month.
  • Not that anyone really cares about my take on this, but as someone who knows next to nothing about cell phone technology, the Samsung Solstice is really nice, and once I get better at the whole touch screen thing I will probably become enslaved to it.
  • I'm reading the Twilight Saga this month, I'd read the Twilight before it became a mega-sensation, but hadn't gotten to the rest of the series. I'm halfway through Eclipse, and even tho' I know it's moot (and a lost battle), I have to say I'm a Team Jacob guy. (I can't believe I took a side in this...what's wrong with me? Feel free to fill up the comments section on that one).
  • Whoever did this has way too much time on their hands, one of the better jobs along these lines I've seen:

  • This ain't too shabby, either

  • When Matt Smith was cast as Doctor Who last year, I could only wonder about the sanity of Steven Moffat (who I trusted almost implicitly before this), and wondered if he could pull it off. After watching The Waters of Mars I could only feel sorry for the poor guy. I imagine him watching that and calling his agent to get him out of it, "I don't want to have to follow this guy!!!"
  • There's a real downside to school uniforms...particularly if you have grade school boys. 2 of the 4 came home with ruined pants today (I seriously want to send a bill to the parents of the kid that tripped Samwise).
  • Be careful before you click this link, you'll end up singing a particular song for a day or three, but it would be very cool (for some reason, Facebook wouldn't allow me to post the 4 times I tried) if Nathan Fillion got his dream role.
  • As I mentioned recently, The Swell Season's new album Strict Joy is just great--I ponied up the extra money and got about 2 hours of concert tracks along with the album. On one of the tracks, Glen Hansard starts talking about recently being introduced to the Freaks and Geeks DVD set (gift idea, btw), which made me like him even more. So when he twittered about this song last night, I had to check youtube just in case. It had already been posted, this internet being the quick thing that it is. This is a hoot and a half (but very "adult" material, consider yourself warned).

  • Semi-serious note, in what will be sure to be controversial, Roger Ebert un-anonymizes himself. Very inspirational.
  • If anyone with a flair for graphic arts or whatever wants 3-4 very small jobs (with smaller budgets), lemme know.
  • Lastly, I finally topped the 50% mark today in NaNoWriMo!! Yeah, I'm 4 days late on that, but as TLomL noted (and I doubted until I later verified) I was even more behind last year. The amount of research I'm going to have to do on top of the editing on this thing is going to be daunting, but at least it'll keep me busy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Messages are We Watching?

Hate to simply point you to another person's blogging today, particularly a blog I pointed to last week, but in my defense: A. It's been one of those days; and 2. This is a great post worthy of my pointing, your clicking.

From Geek Dad (my favorite corner of, so glad ThinkGeek promoted them recently in a newsletter): Top 10 Bad Messages From Good Movies (somewhat tongue in cheek, but decent point)

Sometimes it can be hard to see the messages a movie teaches, especially if they’re unintentional. The best way to see a movie’s messages, the bad ones in particular, is to be a parent watching the movie with your kids. Suddenly you find yourself talking to your kids after you leave the theater or after the video finishes playing at home, just to see if they picked up on the bad messages. Then, if they did, you can try to do some damage control.

Quality doesn’t generally come into play when it comes to messages: There are plenty of bad movies whose messages are perfectly benign, and plenty of good movies that have messages you definitely wouldn’t want your kids to take to heart. It is this latter category with which this list is concerned. Here then is a countdown of the top 10 bad messages in good (and at least somewhat geeky) movies:
I'd picked up some of these on my own, and wish I'd thought of the rest. Like many parents, I really do care about the messages sent/received through the movies my kids watch.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pixar's Up

We finally caught Up this weekend. Personally, I had high hopes for this movie, but have to admit to a good deal of trepidation as I hit the "play" button. While Ratatouille was cute enough, and was well done, it was at the the bottom of my Pixar list (near the bottom of animated family flicks, honestly), until WALL•E came out anyway--what a snooze-fest! So I was a little worried that Pixar might have run out of magic.

I didn't even get through the title sequence before I knew that wasn't true. How could your heart not melt (or at least get a bit squishy) watching Carl and Ellie's life together. And Up just got better from there.

The voice talents rocked--particularly Bob Peterson pulling double duty as Dug and Alpha (Dug's my second favorite dog character of the year, I'd gladly watch his further adventures even if Russel and Carl weren't anywhere around). It took Frodo a syllable to recognize ol' John Ratzenberger, just wish his part had been bigger. Of course, Ed Asner carried the film, and did so easily--Carl practically lived and breathed, the combination of that animation and Asner's voice was a match made in heaven.

This, incidentally, is one of those movies that makes our upgrade to BluRay last year absolutely worth it...gorgeous movie.

The plot may not have been Pixar's strongest (wasn't the weakest, I'll add quickly), but whatever small problems it had, they vanished in the overall brilliance of this film.

Funny, heartfelt, exciting, and touching--everything you expect from Pixar.

Grade: A+

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

Those of you keeping score at home* have noticed those progress bars to the right haven't moved much in the last week--and actually not at all for a few days. Yup. Whoops.

I hit a pothole, and while NaNoWriMo is all about pushing yourself, to keep on writing and not bother with things like fact checking or editing, etc. until you have a first draft, I'd reached a point that without some research, I couldn't progress at all. So I took the time to do the research, which was helpful, but destroyed the 3 or 4 ideas to keep the plot moving forward. I came up with 2 real solid plans from the research though, but couldn't figure out how to incorporate them into my story without rewriting at least half of it (and aging my 10 year old protagonist by 3-5 years, which would make a fairly significant change in how he acts, thinks, and talks--and I really wasn't in the mood for that).

So I spent another day and a half just stuck there. Which was so, so, not fun at all. Not even thinking about my word count, just that I'd lost momentum--and was having a pretty fun time writing daily.

Thankfully, a tangential point of my research, one that promised no potential plotlines at all, turned out to be my savior. I just had to be desperate enough to see it. I really can't give a satisfactory explanation for it without summarizing my whole story up to this point and through the end--and I'm one of those writers that can't do that. The instant I tell someone my plot, it's DOA.

Today's main writing session was cut brief by Real Life™--dentist appointments, getting a new cell phone, trying to figure out how to use the new cell phone, etc. (I may relate the embarrassing events leading up to the new phone tomorrow, if I'm feeling up to the humble pie)--and was encumbered by all this inertia built up over the weekend. But towards the end, I think I could tell I was reaching a turning point.

Let's hope I about 5K behind now. :)

* Wow, really, you are? And I thought I needed to get a life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #49

No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who doth not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight Where the subject (the soul) is not previously seasoned with grace and faith, it is not capable of glory or vision. Nay, persons not disposed hereby unto it cannot desire it, whatever they pretend; they only deceive their own souls in supposing that so they do. Most men will say with confidence, living and dying, that they desire to be with Christ, and to behold his glory; but they can give no reason why they should desire any such thing,-only they think it somewhat that is better than to be in that evil condition which otherwise they must be cast into for ever, when they can be here no more. If a man pretend himself to be enamoured on, or greatly to desire, what he never saw, nor was ever represented unto him, he doth but dote on his own imaginations. And the pretended desires of many to behold the glory of Christ in heaven, who have no view of it by faith whilst they are there in this world are nothing but self-deceiving imaginations.
- John Owen

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Well, What Can You Say?

Really not a lot to say about the UI-BSU game today. Vandal fans had more than just habit/school pride going for us this year when we talked about our chances. Sadly, hope doesn't mean much on the football field when it runs into a ranked team really needing an impressive showing and a freshman quarterback on his second start.

Instead, I'll try to focus on the positive things about today...there were some, I just have to think about it a little...

Oh yeah, we had a pleasant time with my sister and niece...and technically with the friend my sister brought with her, just hard to count the friend as I think I heard her say 20 words in the 4 hours she spent here (she did talk more than that, but outside of those 20 words, they were all basically whispered to my sister). TLomL learned how to make a new appetizer/game day snack. My boys learned a little more about football, so in later life they'll be slightly less likely to embarrass themselves in social settings. I was able to get WonderMutt to not excitedly jump all over/terrify guests (for politeness sake, we won't go into the amount of work/time that took). We came up with a great number of creative ways to say "stupid Rotator cuff." My sister demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge about the our alma mater (how does someone spend five years in that city, much less as a student and walk away not knowing about the "I" bench and "Hello Walk"?) and we had a good time laughing about that--I know when she visited me in high school I pointed those things out to her. We also got an important lesson in being thankful for the little things, cuz I'm sure we wouldn't remember any of those things right now if the game had been competitive for more than 30 seconds.

I'm going to show restraint and not rant about the local media acting like the game was a silly formality. Is a little respect that hard? Especially given the number of UI alums in their audience.

Nathan Enderle, may you get better soon...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sure The Doctor Danced with Rose,

... but Capt. Jack can do just fine on his own.

When I saw this posted over at Sci Fi Wire, the only thing I could think was, "This guy came across as too straight to be cast in the lead of Will & Grace???" Oh well, rather have him as Capt. Jack/The Face of Bo anytime.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Releases to Get a Bit Stale?

Entertainment juggernaut Netflix has apparently been in talks with the major studios in the movie biz to get better prices on their DVD purchases (or so I read). Makes sense, and I can't imagine any one buyer right now in a better position to get their suppliers to capitulate. But here's the rub, the studios want Netflix to delay access (rental, streaming) for a month in return, an effort to help slumping sales.

More power to 'em both, I say. Especially if Netflix passes along the savings to their customers. I can wait another month for a new may, may make it more likely that I'll purchase a movie--but probably not. I really don't see the downside here--if anything my desire to see the DVD when Netflix can release it will be a little greater.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

There Ought To Be A Law...

No time for a real post today, between mourning the passing of Dollhouse and trying to dig myself out of a plot complication (namely, I have no idea what the core conflict of this 50K word beast needs to be and I'm almost 40% done), so instead, allow me to recommend the following post from Wire'd Geek Dad blog:
10 Geeky Laws That Should Exist, But Don’t, a list of things like Newton’s (a different one) laws of motion, Boyle’s Law, and Godwin’s Law that should be axioms by now. Numbers 1, 3, 8 and 9 are particularly good, and I just have to quote 7.
7. Starbucks’ and Peet’s Law: C8H10N4O2, better known as caffeine, is the most wonderful chemical compound known to humankind. If the field of chemistry had never identified or produced a single other useful compound, caffeine alone would be justification enough for its existence.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Long 'Til This Hits Our Shores?

Someone posted this article to one of the email lists I'm on last week--the article's dated Oct. 29, so it's possible that sanity has returned, but I'm not betting on it.

From the Daily Mail:

Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.

Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.

Watford Council was branded a 'disgrace' yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.
Basically, until proven innocent, parents are assumed to be perverts and are being prevented from playing with their kids. So who will monitor the kids (other than from behind the fences)? Government employees, of course.
Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council 'play rangers' who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Insane. Utterly insane.

Read more:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Health Care Debacle

Lots of great articles on the Health Care mess over the last week or so--too many to cope with.

One I appreciated was "Tom Mullen's The Democrats Are Privatizing Wealth Redistribution"

The price of this corporate welfare, of course, is that any remaining vestiges of voluntary contracts between insurer and insured that health insurance still retained has been eliminated. Insurers are no longer allowed to determine rates demographically and based upon a real risk model. They are no longer allowed to offer diverse coverage packages to compete with one another for different customer groups. They now must offer low rates and uniform benefits to everyone as entitlements. Like individual welfare recipients, they have surrendered all of their liberty and property rights in return for other people's money. They are now just one more arm of the state bureaucracy.

The worst aspect of this great fraud is the implications it has for the liberty of every American. The closest parallel to this heretofore has been automobile insurance. Americans have been forced to buy auto insurance directly from an auto insurer in order to exercise the "privilege" of driving on the government's roads. This was of course enacted for the public good, to ensure that poor drivers could not bankrupt the innocent by demolishing their cars or saddling them with exorbitant hospital bills. However, as hostile to liberty as these laws are, they still leave the driver a choice. He can choose not to drive, however impractical or unrealistic that choice might be.

However, with this new bill, even that smattering of liberty is ripped away. Americans are now forced to purchase insurance from a government-protected and subsidized health insurance company merely because they are alive. Worse yet, they are not merely forced to make a single payment of tribute to satisfy their "individual responsibility." They must go on paying, year in and year out, for as long as they live. They cannot decline. They cannot conscientiously object. There is no escape from this tyranny save one: death. For those individuals that can demonstrate that they are completely incapable of paying, someone else will be forced to pay for them. No matter what, the government's corporation will be paid. Even life is no longer a right, but a privilege that the government extends to its subjects for a fee.

There's still time to stop this--call and write your Senators. Tell your friends and neighbors to do the same. Maybe even talk to all of the above about The Health Freedom Plan: H.R. 1495, H.R. 2629, and H.R. 3217

Coming Up with Something to Say

So, I've got my minimum (and a little change) words for NaNoWriMo done, and thankfully, I've been able to recover from a couple of off days towards the end of last week (it's sooo much easier to just churn out the minimum than to recover from a hole like I put myself into last year). So now it's time to turn to keeping my streak going for NaBloPoMo--or just pride. For reasons I can't comprehend, I feel much better about myself when I have something posted here daily. Even more so, if it's something more than a video link :)

Many days, I know exactly what I want to talk about--I'll read a story on a news site, or another blog that'll get me going. Or I'll see a TV show/movie/read a book that I really want to talk about. Or my kids will be involved with something.

But then there are days like today where I don't have anything at all. So what do I do? I check news sites and places like HotAir, Campaign for Liberty, TreasuredValley, and Huckleberries Online, actively seeking inspiration. This rarely works, sometimes it generates a post, but not often--less often one I'm crazy about.

Sometimes, I'll ask someone I'm chatting online with (if I'm chatting...which I'm doing far less of lately)--and frequently that helps a lot.

And then there are days I just ramble and come up with a post that reminds me of that Monty Python album (one of my favorites, actually--good assortment of skits, liked the flow, a friend had it in high school and we listened to it about 35 million times.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #48

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eye-strings break in death
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
- Augustus M. Toplady

Saturday, November 07, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009 Word Counts

The computer guys at NaNoWriMo have conquered the opening week bugs (and I can only imagine how many there are) and have got the fun stuff like web badges (see far right and down below the Facebook badge) and word count widgets up.

So now you can track our progress and harangue us when we need it :)

The Police Blotter Shakespeare

One of the best uses of my time recently has been following Roger Ebert's twitter feed (except when he gets political)...he posts the best links, I don't know how he gets anything done. One of the latest gems is "The Police Blotter Shakespeare" by Burke Hilsabeck, what would The Bard's (or whoever's) plays look like if they were on a police report?

Great fodder for procrastination.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Category "Dramedy" Eschewed

If I was a smarter person, this is the kind of thing I'd like to write. Even if I differ on specifics, Myles McNutt's blog post "Screw Dramedy: How We Distinguish Between Comic and Dramatic Television" is thoughtful, thought provoking, and entertaining.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Couple of Class Acts

Finally, after an unimaginably long drought (well, to Yankee fans) the New York Yankees have once again won the World Series. There's really nothing I can add to all the blogs/news stories about The Core Four and their "one for the thumb", CC, Mariano (how can he still be doing what he's doing?), on and so on. But I had to say a couple of things about a couple of real class acts both on and off the field.

I was really torn last night between my desire to watch Game 6, especially if it turned out to be the last game, and my need to get some sleep before work. It would've been an easier choice if Pettitte hadn't been doing such a great job (and honestly, I think Pedro was doing pretty good, too. He'd have been doing great if he'd had his fastball). But it wasn't until Matsui hit that two-run single in the third that I felt confident enough in the Yankee's fate to drift off. One of the last things I remember hearing was Tim McCarver correcting Joe Buck's recap of the score "Yankees 4, Phillies 1" with "Matsui 4, Phillies 1." And if it hadn't been for Tex's RBI, it'd have ended up being Matusi 6, Phillies 1.

Godzilla's been a consistent, dependable player since he came to the States, and it's great to watch him get the recognition he deserves--especially after such a performance. The fact that this was very likely his last year with the team (man, I hope not--and have been hoping not all season), made the whole thing all the more bittersweet.

And then there's the NYPD's (and formerly Baltimore PD's) Det. John Munch Yankee Manager Joe Girardi (third Yankee to win a championship with the Yankees as both a player and a manager), who followed his team's win with dose of Good Samaritanship, stopping to help someone who'd had a car accident.

According to

The crash happened at 2:25 a.m. today in the eastbound lanes along a long blind curve where the Cross County meets the Hutchinson River Parkway near the New Rochelle Road exit, police said.

Police were conducting a nearby sobriety checkpoint on the parkway. In fact, about 15 minutes earlier, Girardi had passed through the checkpoint.

Cristiano, who was working the checkpoint, congratulated him on his first win as a manager and waved him through. He hadn't been the only Yankee to pass by the checkpoint. Pitcher Andy Pettitte, who lives in Harrison, also passed through earlier.

"He came through with a smile," Cristiano said.

Cristiano, a self-described huge Yankees fan, said she hadn't expected to see either one of them again. But, then, a 911 call came through about a car accident a short distance away, and he cops suspended the checkpoint to respond to the crash. As she came upon the accident scene, in an area where the parkway's two lanes turn into three and cars speed by the curve that takes them to the Hutch, Cristiano spotted Girardi.

"He was jumping up and down, trying to flag me down," she said. "You don't expect him standing by a car accident, trying to help."

Cristiano said that, by the time she arrived, Henry was able to get out of the crashed vehicle and declined to be taken to the hospital.

Girardi, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, then told them he "had to get going."

Cristiano and Henry both thanked him and watched as he ran across traffic again to reach his car.

"The driver didn't know it was him until after I told her," Cristiano said.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sh*tty First Drafts

I don't know what it is, but most of the books/essays/talks about writing that I've found most helpful to me are by people whose prose I really don't care for in the slightest. An excellent example of this is Anne Lamott, her Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is helping me a lot yet again. Here's a sample:

Very few writers really know what they are doing until they've done it. Nor do they go about their business feeling dewy and thrilled. They do not type a few stiff warm-up sentences and then find themselves bounding along like huskies across the snow. One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, "It's not like you don't have a choice, because you do--you can either type or kill yourself." We all often feel like we are pulling teeth, even those writers whose prose ends up being the most natural and fluid. The right words and sentences just do not coming pouring out like ticker tape most of the time. Now, Muriel Spark is said to have felt that she was taking dictation from God every morning--sitting there, one supposes, plugged into a Dictaphone, typing away, humming. But this is a very hostile and aggressive position. One might hope for bad things to rain down on a person like this.

For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really sh*tty first drafts.

The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, "Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?," you let her. No one is going to see it. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means. There may be something in the very last line of the very last paragraph on page six that you just love, that is so beautiful or wild that you now know what you're supposed to be writing about, more or less, or in what direction you you might go--but there was no way to get to this without first getting through the first five and a half pages.
NaNoWriMo is all about sh*tty first drafts, in fact, it's what's really helped me get to the point that I can produce them.

I'm so glad I have that freedom. Yesterday's output was truly dreadful--one chapter of nothing but exposition, a lot of telling, practically no showing. It was so bad that Dan Brown would take a look at it and say, "Dude." And it's going to be torturous to go back and edit it come December. However, it really enabled me to work out most of the rationale and mechanics of the science and technology that form the basis of my novel. My vague idea is a lot more concrete now. Sure it's an ugly, misshapen, pile of concrete that no one (not even a Modern Art Museum) would want to display--but it's something I can build on.

How's that for a mixed metaphor? Clearly I haven't rewritten anything in this post (aside from fixing a typo or seven in the Lamott quotation)...just another in a series of sh*tty first drafts.

Break Out the Yoplait...

Michael, Fi and Sam (plus Chuck Finley) are coming back:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Yeah, That Sounds Like Me...

Read an interesting article on Advertising Age's site yesterday (I was hotlinked to it, this is not normal reading material for me, as interesting as a lot of it seems).

It started off by saying something that beer snobs (like lit snobs, theology snobs, coffee snobs, music snobs...well, you get the idea) already knew:

Your choice of beer can be as telling about your personality as what kind of clothing you wear or the car that you drive. And if you don't drink suds at all, or change brands depending on your mood -- well, that says something too.

The concept of beer-as-window-to-the-soul comes from Mindset Media, the market researcher specializing in psychographics. The company started out with a theory that with so many opinions and brand loyalty around beer, the choice people make must be connected to personality.
Decent theory. Actually seems sorts self-evident when you think about it (something I noticed a lot in my undergrad days when doing psych research, the trick is coming up with the self-evident theory). I thought the findings were quite interesting... Naturally, Mindset Media's really not looking to find out interesting things about beer drinker's personalities, but are looking to find out new and more effective ways to get people to drink particular beers.

The article as a whole is worth the read, but the things I focused on included:
    True to form, Bud drinkers are sensible, grounded and practical. They are the polar opposite of daydreamers and don't easily get carried away. These beer drinkers also don't like authority—can anyone say union?—and are emotionally steady people who live in the here and now. ... Budweiser drinkers are 42% more likely to drive a truck than the average person [duh]
    Are Bud Light drinkers just Bud guzzlers on a diet? Not a chance. Bud Light personalities actually skew quite different from their more-caloric sibling. Keep in mind, this was the beer choice for President Barack Obama during his so-called "Beer Summit" this summer when he invited police officer James Crowley and Harvard professor Henry Gates over to the White House for a beer and a make-up chat. (The cop chose Blue Moon and the professor selected Red Stripe.)

    Bud Light drinkers profile as lacking in carefulness. They are grounded like their Bud brethren, but respect authority. Bud Lighters can also have frat boy-like personalities, particularly when it comes to personal risk-taking. In regard to others, these good-time guys and gals are accepting of most everyone and generally easy to get along with. [I won't say anything about anyone in particular here, but I'm related to a lot of Bud Light drinkers and found great amusement in reading this]
    "Where's the party?" is probably an oft-asked question by Corona and Corona Light drinkers. They are busy and energetic people who are also extremely extroverted. They're people persons who seek out the company of others whether in a group or just one-to-one. Corona drinkers do more and see more people in one day than most people see in a week. But the life-of-the-party Corona drinkers also have an altruistic side; they care deeply about other people and see themselves as giving and warm. [I've gotta say, this one comes closer to describing the Corona drinker's I know/have known than any of the rest of the brand specific findings they listed.]
    There's a slang term that could sum up Heineken drinkers: posers. [BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!] These self-assured people believe they are exceptional, get low scores on modesty and high scores on self-esteem. They love their brand badges—a role the distinctive green glass bottle may play—and in fact, this group is attracted to luxury products in general. They are also energetic and dynamic and enjoy being both the center of attention and in the middle of the action. [Okay, this might be a tad more accurate than the Corona stuff, and it has the added bonus of being really funny. I'd say no offense to Heineken readers among my readership, but I'm pretty sure I don't have any]
    These specialty made beers get lumped into one category both because there are fewer fans (and thus less statistically significant data) of them, but also because the personalities of one type fairly well describe another. This group is more likely to spend time thinking about beer rather than work. [Ayyyymen!] They are more open-minded than most people, seek out interesting and varied experiences and are intellectually curious. Craft-beer drinkers also skew as having a lower sense of responsibility—they don't stress about missed deadlines and tend to be happy-go-lucky about life. [TLoML and I had another in a long series of conversations about my attitude towards deadlines this morning, so I found this one particularly interesting.]

(h/t: Treasured Valley)

Oooooh! Tennant's Next Project

Sure, it's on NBC, so it'll stink--or get cancelled quickly. But, you gotta love the idea of David Tennant returning to TV.

David Tennant, best known for playing the title role in the BBC's long-running sci-fi series "Doctor Who," is set to make his American television debut as the title character in NBC's hourlong pilot "Rex Is Not Your Lawyer."

Written by Andrew Leeds and David Lampson, "Rex" centers on Rex Alexander (Tennant), a top Chicago litigator who begins suffering panic attacks and takes up coaching clients to represent themselves in court.

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

Well, it's November, so the Princess, Samwise, Frodo and I have said good bye to the rest of the family and have devoted our free time for the next 29 days to writing our novels. (confused? See this post from last year)

The kids are all off to great starts, each of them already passing the 5% mark (I'm at 4.7% right now). And based off this admittedly small sample, their work has matured in the last 12 months. Don't get me wrong, they've all got a long way to go--I'm not about to start pimping them as the next Christopher Paolini or anything. Still, I was impressed with their output thus far.

There's a little part of me that's worried about The Princess growing up a bit too quickly, here's a snippet from her first chapter.

It was Emma's cousin Abby and Emma's boyfriend Harry. Harry and Emma kissed! They both are 20, so don't blame them!
Interesting note on the behavior of twentysomethings, I wish I had a clue where she got it.

Anyhow, I'll be sure to keep you updated, and hopefully will get the graphics and counters and stuff from last year back up in a day or two. But for now, I've got 1K words to crank out before I crash.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #47

Much of Protestantism remembers yesterday as Reformation Day, many of those even have a clue what the Reformation was about... One of those who noted that day was Wes Bredenhof, of the Canadian Reformed Church. Yesterday, he blogged part of a conversation between Guy de Bres (author of the Belgic Confession) and a Roman Catholic bishop, just nine days before de Bres went to the scaffold. The whole thing is well worth the read, but for today's post, I just posted this snippet.

As I've said before and say it again, I have never been stubborn and close-minded against clear thinking and reason. But if anyone can show me from the Word of God that I have been in error, I am completely ready to give up. Up to the present there has been nothing of all that I have heard that would make me leave the certain for the uncertain. I still hold the same position that I did at the time when by quick testimony from the Word of God, you made me appear to be contrary. As I have said, I am not stubborn, and do not prefer my judgment to the judgment of the Church. But I do certainly prefer with clear thinking and just cause the ancient and early Church in which the Apostles set up all things according to the ordinance of Christ. I prefer that to the church of our time which is loaded with a vast number of human traditions, and which has degenerated itself in a remarkable way from the early Church. With good reason, I say, I hold to that which the Apostles first received. For Jesus Christ, in Revelation 2, says to those in Thyatira that they should beware of the profound trickeries of Satan, to beware of false doctrine. He says, "I will put on you no other burden, only that which you have already, hold fast to this until I come."
- Guy de Bres