Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sick day post

Birdy chilling on the sunflowers outside my front window.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie review: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

I haven't seen many movies the last month. But we got back into it with "Legends of the Guardians". Mind you, even now I had to look up the name. It's always just been "The Owl Movie" in my mind. That or "That Movie We Have to Buy For the Birds".

It's good. We liked it.

What? You want more? Slave drivers.

There's this owl family. There's a momma, a poppa, two early teen owls, and a little sister owl. For some reason they have a snake as a nanny instead of lunch. The two teen owls are just learning to fly. The one with the imagination can fly alright. Better than the one who is in a hurry to grow up. He's got a bit of a rod up his ass about it. About everything, really. It pissed off the one with the rod that the goofy one is more advanced. 

So the two of them are practicing flying after hours when they crash and are promptly kidnapped. Have you seen "Chronicles of Riddick"? These owls are like the Necromancers. You haven't seen it? Hmmm... Nazis aren't a good comparison. Maybe the Japanese circa WWII. With elements of both. They kidnap young owls like the Japanese. They recruit the weak willed, the lonely, and the outcast. They feed on the impulse of some to believe they're superior and everyone else should be stepped on. If you're not one of these then they turn you into zombies. The Louisiana style zombies, not the Braaaaaains variety. And soon they'll wipe out the hero owls that are thought by many to be myth.

So Cain agrees to work with the bad owls while they try to make Abel a zombie for protecting a weaker owl. What? They're brothers, one is good and the other evil. I gotta name them something and these names communicate a lot. Mostly that I'm too lazy to look up their real names. 

Most of the rest is spoilers. Needless to say, the mythical hero owls are real and save the day.

One thing I noticed about the movie was that they wanted to keep their PG rating despite all the fighting, blades, and general violence. So you never see anyone get killed. Oh, it's implied. One guy falls into the mist and vanishes before hitting the ocean. Another vanishes into the smoke before he hits the flames. But he might not be dead. Another throws himself on a flaming stick which breaks off inside him, but that's always hidden by careful camera placement. 

All in all, a good movie that we enjoyed a lot and will be getting on DVD if just for the birds to watch.

Oh, and we watched it in 2D. Most of the trailers were for 3D movies. You know what Hollywood? We're gonna see them in 2D, too. A five year old child in the theater expressed his outrage that all the movies were 3D. It's over Hollywood. Drop it. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working from home: Day 1

I'm working from home today. And most days for the next 6 months or so. So my blog schedule has been thrown off.

So far today I've gotten my computer assembled in a room where I need to rewire the light. I'll rewire it after my official hours are over.

That computer doesn't have a wireless card so I need to run a cable upstairs.

My laptop's wireless seems to have gone from glitchy to dead.

But I've produced two chapters and expect a couple more before I call it a day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Computer wallpaper 2

I promised blackberry photos and here they are. They were on the far side of the hazelnut orchard at the site of my second cousin's wedding.
Click to enbiggen. 


More blackberries!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Links: September 24

German commercial for Star Trek. Reminds me of a Star Trek spoof I wrote a long time ago. Several times Spock put his hand on Kirk's shoulder and Kirk collapsed.
Links to several more I hadn't seen are here.

I'd like this art as stained glass windows. Well, not all of them. [link]

Doctor Who fan service of the week. [link]
Also? Jo Grant will make an appearance in "Sarah Jane Adventures".

This song was the soundtrack to one of my favorite games when I was a kid.

I'm a Neil Gaiman fan. Although, Neil, seriously, write another damn adult book. I don't read his blog but I'm a bit giddy about his Doctor Who episode. I hope it goes better than his Babylon 5 episode. Not sure what to make of this. [link]

I didn't have cable as a kid. Too far out in the country. I'd heard of Voltron but I've still never see an episode. Still. I'll be interested to see how this movie turns out. [link]


So you think you want to be a writer. How to find time to write. [link]

How to artificially age a mirror. [link]

A popular argument against evolution and atheism is that Hitler was both. This is ruined by the fact that he was a devout Catholic and believed he was acting on what he thought were Biblical teachings. Here's a very long list of Hitler quotes trashing the "Hitler was a Darwinist" arguement. [link]
No, I don't think Hitler was a Catholic any more than I think than Fred Phelps is Christian or Osama Bin Laden in Muslim.

Woah. Dude. Bill and Ted 3? If so they better not screw it up. [link]

The Secret Service stole my car! [link]

Clothing that demands a very specific body type. On the other hand, it would be easy to patch. [link]

OMFG! The stargate from Stargate: SG1, Atlantis, and Universe is going up on the auction block in a few days. [link]
You guys didn't get me Douglas Adams' typewriter so I'm betting you won't buy me this either.
They're selling other stuff, too. [link]

Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series and "Good Omens" with Neil Gaiman, was recently knighted. Taking that role seriously, he has forged himself a sword using meteorite iron. [link]

Ew! This guy had a worm eating his retina. [link]

Arizona business can't fill jobs despite high unemployment. Turns out those Mexicans really weren't taking American jobs. [link]

This report about a school for young Jedis seems silly. But there is just a little bit there that indicates that they're using this to teach kids right and wrong as well. It's not just silliness. I do wish they spent more time on that aspect. [link]

I like this family. [link]

Teenie chalkboards and how to make them. [link]

Feeding an assload of hounds at once. [link]

Moving sculptures. The Machine With 23 Scraps of Paper is at the National Museum of American History. [link]

Not a bad collection considering that I've missed my blogs this week due to work.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moving Day - A Bruce Story

Last weekend Bruce went down to Virginia Beach. The house he grew up in is down there. It's currently divided into pieces and rented out. That's not legal, but whatever. Not my house. He went down to pick up his dad's old pickup. The brake light came on. He did the sensible thing and left the pickup there to get the brakes fixed.

Tuesday: Behind the Colonel's desk is a storage area. Cubicle partitions divide the room into conference room/office and storage. Since she was out Tuesday I finally had permission to go back there and sort through 24 drawers of files. And the 4 boxes on top of the cabinets. Can't forget them.

Bruce spent 3 hours working on a birthday card for the Colonel. That's standard for him, but still disgusting. I tried putting him to work. I handed him the 4 boxes and asked him to go sort their contents. A little while later I look out into the office and see him pulling smaller boxes from inside the big box. The smaller boxes looked suspiciously familiar.

"Bruce." I say. "What's that in your hand?"
"It says 'Swann Collection' on the side."
"There's another set of those? We just packed those up yesterday. The Colonel is taking those slides home."
"These are those."
"Are you done sorting the other boxes?"
"No, I sorted stuff the other day and the Colonel said I was doing it wrong. 'Don't throw that out.' So I'm not doing that anymore."
"So you're going through already packed boxes and unpacking them!"
"I was curious what was in them."
"You're undoing our hard work because you're nosy!?!"
"What's wrong with you? You can't do simple tasks? What are those? Are those empty folders the ones we asked you to take and put with the others?"
"You can't even take folders from one room to another?"
"Get out! We tried to make you useful but you can't even carry empty folders from one room to another. You're emptying packed boxes. You're actively counterproductive. GET OUT!"
"Well maybe I should leave."
"You definitely should leave. Right now."

That night he drove back to Virginia Beach for the truck. I should make it clear that it's a 5 hour drive from DC in good traffic. He drove there and back. For some reason he was "sick" in the morning.

Most of the office will be telecommuting 4 days a week. Everybody thinks he should be fired or at least be made to go to the office every day. But the Colonel is willing to give him the chance to screw up. Apparently the first part of his screw up is to move to a place 6 hours from our new offices. On Wednesdays he thinks he'll drive up for the day and drive back. In fact he'll wake up several hours late, get stuck in traffic, and show up in the office when the rest of us are packing up to go home for the day.

The boy just ain't right.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Oregon wedding

A few weeks back a second cousin got married. Second cousin means we had some great grandparents in common.

The wedding was on the farm near Portland that the bride grew up on. I was there once before. Before high school I think. I've talked about the place many times since and was happy to go back and show Yummy I wasn't kidding about this place. These pictures are all on their farm.

This is where the ceremony took place.

The bride

The field. Clearly, I'm using the word "farm" differently here than when I talk about Kansas.

We simply had to take a walk out there. It was really pretty dark, but the camera "fixed" that.

From here you can see that they're hazelnut trees.

The view from the front of the house. Those are mountains way back there. On a clear day you can see Mt St Helens.

Yummy communes with the horsies.

Back behind the house.

Down the driveway is a duck pond. Lucky ducks.

Oh, right. The wedding.

The groom and friends were the band. The father of the bride sat in a few times, too. This is neither of them.

This picture was much creepier before the camera lightened the scene.

Their apples get huge. This was just the apples in the yard.

There were blackberries on the far side of the hazelnut orchard. Those pictures I'll be posting as computer wallpaper soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Advanced Technology Package

So far I've taken out my car 6 times. Four of those times were me taking the car from and to the dealership. That makes it sound worse than it is. I drove it home (#1) with some lights on the dash that shouldn't be lit. I took it back (#2) because the sales person and someone I talked to on the phone said it was an easy problem and should take a couple of minutes to fix. I should just come on by. I went back the third time because all I got to do the second time was set up and appointment. I went back yesterday (#4) because there was a hole in the side of the front driver's side tire and they said they'd fix it. I will soon be returning a fifth time when they actually have said tire in stock.

The other two times I was driving around for work related stuff. I got it out on a semi-crowded highway and got to test the features I got the car for.

I wanted one thing on my Prius. One bell and whistle beyond the simple 50 mpg Priusness of it. That was the Advanced Technology Package. If I could have gotten it on the Prius I I would have. But it was only offered on the Prius V. I should mention that they have 5 models. The Prius I, II, III, IV, and V. Complicated, huh?

Anyway. I would have been happy with cranks on the windows. Tires that keep the rims from hitting the road is all I ask for. But with the Prius V you have to take the fancy shmancy tires and different headlights and the XM radio trial and whatnot. Do not care or particularly want.

The Advanced Technology Package gets you the GPS and related bells and whistles. It also gets you Variable Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, and some Parking Assist that doesn't do what you think.

You know how when you're on a trip that takes you outside the city you set your cruise control and have to keep bumping the speed up and down as nobody else on the road uses the same settings you do or seem to use the cruise control at all. The Variable Cruise Control allows you to set your speed and one of three options for the distance behind the next car up you wish to follow from. So if you set your car for 74 mph and you come up on someone doing 65 mph the car will slow to 65 and follow that car at the set distance until something changes. If another car pulls between you two the car will move to that distance behind him. If traffic clears your car will climb back up to 74. If traffic slows to 40mpg the car will, too. It keeps this up down to about 20 mph. At that point you need to start using your foot again.

The Lane Keep Assist sees the lines on the road. If you drift too far one way or another it beeps at you. If you use it in conjunction with the Variable Cruise Control it will also make subtle changes in steering to keep you from leaving your lane. Subtle changes. Most of the time you don't know it's happening. You can still overwhelm it to change lanes. But, best of all, for long stretches of straight to slightly curvy highway you can stop steering. Feet off the pedals, hands off the wheel, it goes on it's own. I only dared that for about 30 seconds before I put my hands back on the wheel. I could feel the car drift left and right in the lane. It crowded the right line and moved left. Bip. Then it crowded the left line and moved right. Bop.

Bip. Bop. Bip. Bop. Bip. Bop.

It was like super slow Pong where the paddles make up the whole wall.

On the way home the sun was in my eyes. The car knew to slow down when seeing the car ahead of me was hard.

I hope to have this car until Volkswagon releases their fully self driving car in sixteen years or so.

Bonus: The car has a USB port in the tray between the front seats. A USB device with MP3s on it will play on the radio even if you have no iPod.

Monday, September 20, 2010


My job is moving.

Four or five years ago now we were supposed to be moving to San Antonio. They'd been grooming me for the job of Managing Editor, but I didn't want to move to San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio, Oregon - sure; San Antonio, Illinois - I could do that. San Antonio, anywhere in the deep south - fuck that noise. So the job was given to one of the new staff members. I really had no problems with that. But she and another editor went to San Antonio and the rest of us somehow never followed.

Later there was another effort to move us to San Antonio that went nowhere. I believe it was some Chief of Staff who wanted us to move. Usually the Surgeon General would just follow the recommendation, but this time he saw that we'd lose most of our staff and be cut off from most of our best resources.

After the BRAC (Base Relocation and Closure) it was determined that we would have to move somewhere. Alas, the people who were supposed to determine where weren't doing their job at all. Months of them playing Solitaire wasn't advancing things. The Chief of Staff was still mad about the previous Surgeon General ignoring his recommendation so he was having a fit and demanding that we move to San Antonio. So what if the staff we have down there have been shuffled from temporary building to temporary building more than once a year and there was no place for the rest of us to go.

So our Colonel went hunting for a place. She checked with every military base within a 2-3 hour drive of DC. Luckily she found some newish barracks at Ft Dietrich that someone else was leaving. The Chief of Staff threw fits. The guy whose job it was to find us a place threw fits. Some other people did, too. That wasn't her job. How dare she take initiative? The newer Surgeon General asked them what they'd done about finding us a place. Nothing? Then shut the fuck up.

There was some initiative to make us split-ops just to get the Chief of Staff to chill the fuck out. We'd expand our Texas operations and get into new areas of publishing. A new building had offices set aside for the offices of the Texas staff and room given for expansion. That theoretical future space has been given to someone else. I have to keep telling Bruce that space is gone and he needs to stop telling people to send their resumes to the Managing Editor.

As I hinted at earlier, there are people in our Ft Dietrich offices. They've having some building space across the street rejiggered for them. But it wasn't long before it was discovered that this wall that was supposed to go was load bearing. All work stops. They go back to the drawing board. Everything gets delayed by six months. But there's also people waiting to move into our current offices. For some reason the people in our new offices don't have to move to make room for us, but we do have to move to make room for someone else.

The movers come one week from today.

I'm trying to work on a time sensitive book while also sorting 20+ years of edit trails, making sure all the data is backed up, and electronics are properly handled so that nothing that can't sit in a Pod in a parking lot over a Maryland winter doesn't end up there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Links: September 17

Douglas Trumbull talks about how they made the opening sequence of "Blade Runner". [link]

There's a conference of people who believe in a geocentric universe coming up. [link]

Not a single Belgian congregation escaped at least some priest pedophilia. [link]

Some churches convert people after they're dead. Now you can de-convert the religious dead. [link]

Australian Catholic church bans non-religious music at funerals. "A Catholic funeral should never be 'a celebration of the life'." [link]

The Quran burning jackass has agreed to stop. More about his background here. [link]

Guinness cupcakes. [link]

How to control your camera flash with a TV remote. [link]

Astronomy picture and explanation: what do you get when a planet orbits inside a star? [link]

Great Old Spice body wash.

You know that Tea Bagger in Deleware that has everyone coming unglued? Here's some of her early work.

Behold the healing power of crop circles. What is this a picture of anyway? It's this.

Love this light fixture. [link]

I get sent lots of bike designs that I just can't tell apart or see why they're interesting. But this one I like. [link]

But I'd rather drive one of these.
Watch Robo Dog in Technology  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Ant death spiral. [link]

Evolution art contest for kids. [link]

I was trying to explain the game "Portal" to someone the other day. Here's a trailer for the multi-player version of "Portal 2".

Modern Warfare 2 player is trying to reach rank 70 without killing anyone. [link]

I haven't read these yet and don't know when I'll get the chance, but they're free and probably about zombies. [link]

Lost Rod Serling interview. [link]

Mike Jarvi making a bench.

A Golden Gate Bridge replica near where I grew up. [link]

How not to take pictures of yourself. [link]

Drink mixing tips. [link]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Computer wallpaper

It's fall and time to change your computer wallpaper. I took this in Portland.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: Seeds of Change

Before I get into the story I want to talk a bit about the book itself. This is the first of a series of books from Laser Books. Inside the front cover is a rather strange letter from the editor. He almost seems to be begging the reader to enjoy the book and not judge him too harshly. The language he uses in his letter gives me the impression that he may have studied writing and publishing, has learned the buzzwords, but has little practical experience in the field. A marketing goes it just comes off as desperate.

Wikipedia says that several of the authors who had books released in the Laser Books series complained that their stories were mangled. They often had their stories re-released by other publishers later. Also, apparently Laser Books was a branch of Harlequin Books. Yeah, as in Harlequin romance novels. This tidbit explains a lot.

So! The book! "Seeds of Change" opens on an Earth several centuries beyond an apocalyptic war that killed most of the planet. A few cities were established and encased in an energy field. The people are very carefully bred and controlled. Society has stagnated and done so by design.

The central character has been assigned for a couple of weeks looking over random citizen profiles for any personality defects that might someday make them a criminal. If he finds one it gets reported and those running the city will have that person killed. Few are found, but he's not fond of this job. So when he goes out for drinks to forget that he'd just sentenced someone to death he makes the mistake of complaining about his job. A woman overhears this and picks him up.

Meanwhile, on Mars...
After the war on Earth Mars was pretty much SOL. The colonists couldn't expect supplies, rockets, a ride home, or even communications from Earth. They were on their own. But they lived and have developed a fairly nice base and society. Then an alien craft buzzes the planet, drops a probe ship, and leaves. Inside the ship the colonists find a series of rooms. In each room a lesson is taught. Mathematical and scientific lessons, mostly. Once they demonstrate their understanding of the lesson a door opens to the next room and the next lesson. After a few months the ship refuses to let them move on until their society develops a bit more.

The Earth character gets an alarm one day. Someone is looking at his records. He's been flagged as a danger. He flees. Not knowing where to go he calls the woman from the bar. She's a member of a resistance force that lives outside the city domes. She hacked his profile to make him look like a threat so he'd flee and they could recruit him. They get him out of the city amid a hail of gun fire and take him to one of their hidden bases.

The probe ship had taught the colonists how to fly it. A team is assembled to return to Earth. On the way those in the ship get a message. Mars leadership has been in touch with the resistance on Earth for some time. The resistance has most of the world to roam in and were able to get some old communications dishes working. Those on the ship are to make contact and see how they can help.

The domed cities and the resistance have been at war for centuries. The people in the dome just didn't know about it. Big battle mechs have been made and sent out to fight for them. The ruins of the mechs and the resistance's craft litter the country side.

The ship's landing draws the attention of the domed cities. They send a huge military force to capture it and to destroy the rebels that the rocket must obviously be helping.

I want you to think about that for a moment. The cities do have some nice technology. They can put energy fields over whole cities. They build self controlling, walking, battle tanks. Their technology has developed nicely. But the aliens have ships that skip across the universe fairly easily. Their physics makes the best scientists on Mars feel like kindergarteners in a calculus class. There's only one of their probes to the city's hundreds of mechs and some new genetically engineered warrior people.

The battle goes like this. A few of the rebellion's ships get destroyed by concentrated firing from the city's troops. They try the same on the rocket. It doesn't notice except to return fire. The city's troops are obliterated.

Remember the first time the Enterprise encountered the Borg? They couldn't damage the Borg in any way but the Borg chopped them up like a hot knife through tofu. The battle between the alien probe and the city's troops were much like that.

Then they go after the city itself. Lots of rebellion troops draw out the city's troops and die by the hundreds for their efforts. Eventually they send in the alien probe to exterminate the troops and then destroy the city.

There wasn't much suspense in the book. The battles had all the drama of you stepping on a dead cockroach. It sort of illustrates the problem of writing for Superman. What threatens someone who is virtually a god?

You can pretty much skip this book. It's alright, but it's mostly for your personal collection.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Double Review: Destination Moon and Space Platform

I recently read "Space Platform" by Murray Leinster and watched the movie "Destination Moon". I'm putting them both in the same review because they're both stories about the manned spaceflight as something we could do someday.

"Space Platform" came out in 1953. We were still 16 years from the moon and 8 years from even getting a human in space. So while there'd been lots of thought on the subject and a lot of fun had been had building rockets it was still science fiction. The story does a decent job with it's technical aspects, but the technology itself was a minor part of the story.

Our central character's family owns a significant machine shop. They'd gotten the contract to build gyroscopes for a spacecraft that would become the first space station. There was a lot of opposition to this space station. It would be a scientific outpost, weather observatory, spy satellite, and, worst of all, a nuclear weapons platform capable of striking anywhere. They'd tried to build it through the UN but the fighting from small, militarily aggressive nations kept it from going forward. Instead the United States pushed ahead on their own. This pissed off not just the small warlike nations that still wouldn't challenge the US, but the major opposition powers as well. If this space platform were built it would grant the US dominion over all life on Earth. They'd be able to retaliate against any attack or attack at will. Sabotage was the order of the day.

So our hero was on the plane transporting the gyros to the construction site when he was suddenly introduced to all I just said. The transport was fired on by multiple planes and was sabotaged to explode no matter what. The rest of the book talks about the ongoing battle against sabotage. Someone is leaking information, some people are blackmailed, there are assassination attempts against the staff, and just straight forward attacks on the rocket itself.

The movie "Destination Moon" relied heavily on author Robert Heinlein's input. Heinlein wrote the novella of the same name to go with the movie. Just as it sounds, the movie is about going to the moon. Instead of the military or NASA, it's one guy pushing all these corporate heads to starting their own project. Industry! It can always do thing better. As part of his sales pitch they show a Woody Woodpecker cartoon about space travel that could be shown in any school even today. There is a feeble effort by the government to stop the launch, but it's mostly there to add to the daredevil air of the engineers, corporate heads, and construction workers who fly the rocket. They kind of need that since the movie has no enemy other than the harsh reality of space flight. A slight hitch in the landing means that they may have to leave someone behind just to shed the weight.

I'm not crediting either of these with being masterpieces. They're not bad. Murray Leinster is no Tom Clancy. "Destination Moon" is a good clean, simple story that you'd feel good about letting your kids watch if you want them to grow up to be engineers. Both are good for the science fiction fan.

You can read "Space Platform" at Project Gutenberg or ManyBooks

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall 2010 listings

Gotta do some research about when my favorite shows are coming on. You people benefit. All times are Eastern Standard Time because I am the center of the universe.

The season started with a bunch of teen soap opera stuff. I'm not telling you the when, what, and where because I don't want to promote that crap.

Monday, September 20
Chuck - NBC
The Event - NBC

Thursday, September 23
Fringe - Fox

Friday, September 24
Smallville - The CW
Supernatural - The CW

Tuesday, September 28
Stargate: Universe - Syfy
No Ordinary Family - ABC

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Links: September 10

First, happy second anniversary, Yummy. We've been dating for two years.

Belize villagers destroy a crocodile sanctuary after a psychic claims that two missing children were eaten by crocodiles. [link]

Tea party leaders joke about killing gays and hanging them up as a display. [link]

DragonCon costumes. [link]

Memo about the early favorites for Star Trek: TNG casting. [link]

Dueling sitars

Scene from the 2010 Doctor Who Proms. Apparently the Brits use a different definition of "prom" than we do. Care to tell me what that definition is?

Image and explanation: Laser firing from a telescope at the Milky Way. [link]

Image and explanation: spiral star. [link]

Quiz: What is your life GPA? [link]

Lost technologies. [link]

Security footage from a cruise ship hitting huge waves. [link]

Google Scribe. Start typing something. Anything. After a little bit just start accepting the suggested next word. It almost makes me want to go to their shows and they are nothing but another form of therapy for these patients is not known whether these are the only ones who can not afford to pay for their own users... [link]

NSFW toy. [link]

Brits have a new world's hottest chili pepper. I'm posting it to show the Scoville Scale. [link]

An article about running with the motorcycle group that blocks the Phelps clan at military funerals. [link]

Image: How Batman sings his theme song. [link]

A Duel in the Somme: a comic book based on a story by Ben Bova and illustrated by Bill Holbrook. [link]

I recently got Yummy hooked on the Girl Genius books. The creators just won their second Hugo award for these books. You can read the whole series here. [link]

Love this chair. [link]

Astronomer talks about seeing UFOs. [link]

Ad for Lockheed Martin's new airships.

You Doctor Who fan service of the week.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Portland pics

While in Oregon Yummy and I got the opportunity to see some of Portland.

The night we arrived we took the advice of a co-worker and visited Powell's City of Books. I have no pictures of this place, but it's huge. The building takes most of a city block. The sections are broken up by color coded room. There's lots of new and used stuff. Yummy expanded her collection of classic Nancy Drew prints while I found some copies of old "Shoe" comic strip collections. Yeah, we're on tight budgets, but that's why we kept ourselves to just those. We easily could have needed extra suitcases to get our books home.

Across the street is "Rocco's Pizza and Pasta". Again, visited on a recommendation. We got a hefty soda and monster sized slice of pizza for five bucks each. Not gourmet cuisine, but cheap and better than college cafeteria food. They had Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap if that tells you anything about the place.

The next day was the wedding. I'll cover that some other time.

Sunday we were back to being tourists. Breakfast was at Case Study Coffee on Sandy Blvd. We were told we had to try a few coffee places. Where wasn't important. Case Study Coffee was nice. I got some biscuit with mushrooms and a hard cheese I'd never heard of before. They have some interesting coffee machines. One dripped icy water onto a thin filter and through some grounds. It takes five and a half hours to make. There were some "pour over" devices I'd never heard of before and still don't comprehend.

Eventually, we got to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It looked to be a cloudy day so we were going with indoor attractions instead of the outdoor variety. The first thing we saw? This.

Since the tickets were reasonably prices we got tickets for several events. We toured this sub...

Yummy pet this tortoise...

I helped assemble this arch.

...and we visited the Omnimax theater and Planetarium. Omnimax is much like Imax, but the screen wraps around and over you to fill your vision almost completely. I've been wanting to take Yummy to the one in Hutchinson, KS, but when the opportunity was available I took it. The projection room has glass walls so you get to see the camera being loaded and run.

We left, went downtown, and started looking for food or whatever struck us. We followed some noise into a park where people dressed as anime characters were playing spin the bottle, the hugs edition. Strange, but whatever. As we continued up the street we found more and more people with spiky blue hair and attire better suited to Final Fantasy games. Turned out that we were passing near Kumoricon, an anime convention.
Silly man. You'll never get tentacle raped in that outfit.

We ate somewhere and started making our way back to the car. Found that Portland has streetcars, too.

Yummy had heard about the funky pastries at Voodoo Donuts so we went there as well. Is there a Kenny Rogers/voodoo connection? I counted nine pieces of Kenny Rogers memorabilia among all the voodoo decor. He doesn't seem to match the theme.

We missed the zoo and Japanese Gardens. The Shanghai Tunnels appear to need a reservation, but I didn't see that until it was too late to get them. But, overall, a good time was had. The weather certainly supported Yummy's argument that we should move there. You should totally check it out.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Our flight

Let me tell you about our flight.

We were just in Portland. A second cousin got married and Yummy and I attended. We flew out via Phoenix and were supposed to return the same way. But the connection was a bit tight. Our US Airways plane landed on time. But there was a US Airways plane sitting at the US Airways gate of the US Airways terminal. By the time we got the gate pulled up our connecting US Airways flight had been boarding for 10 minutes. Everyone gets up and gets their bags and goes nowhere. Before opening the door the US Airways flight attendant suggests that they let the people with tight connections off first. Would have been helpful 5 minutes before. Our connecting flight has been boarding for 15 minutes. We get off and make a dash up one hallway and down another. We got there and the door was closed. Wasn't one of those situations where we got there just as it closed. It had been closed. And we were the second people from our flight to make the gate.

So we went to customer service. They tried to help, but apparently the fact that US Airways wouldn't hold the US Airways flight (which left about 1/3 empty) for the people coming from a US Airways flight that was only late because of another US Airways flight wasn't US Airways fault. They couldn't use their beloved alliance to get us home in a reasonable time via another airline. And they don't have east-bound flights between 3:00 PM and 10:00 PM because of the time change. After at least 20 minutes we got a flight to DC via Boston. All the other flights were full because of some vague storm that caused a lot of rerouting passengers. So our 2:30 flight was now an 8:55 flight that would eventually get us in DC at 7:20 AM and home at about 8:45 AM.

So, it's 6 or 7 hours to our flight. Lets wander the airport for awhile. See if there's a restaurant with seating that isn't just a bar with chicken wings. We found it, but at the furthest part of the airport that could be reached without leaving security. And we had ice cream.

Of course, our luggage had to be rerouted, too. Actually, it didn't since it made our connecting flight. It made it to DC, but by the time we got there it had just been dispatched to Boston. It returned to DC a few hours later.

I would normally needed to have been at work at 7:00. A recovery day would have been totally excusable. I got a couple of hours sleep before having to make a 2 hour drive that should have been a 1 hour drive to get to a meeting that I missed. I still got the grand tour and discussed what I needed to know.

Then I drove another hour to a co-worker's house to get her computer to take to the office to show the property people tomorrow (or today) so they can see them and touch them before moving them to different property books. Tomorrow (today) I'll take them and her back home.

Can I haz sleep now?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Out of office

Flying back from Portland. Check back tomorrow.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Links: Sept 3

I said we should have self-driving cars in 10 years. VW says 18. [link]

Penn and Teller on vaccination.

Asteroid discoveries from 1980-2010.
More about the film. [link]

A breed of Australian lizards living in a specific area have taken to live birth instead of egg laying. [link]

There's another Fantastic Four movie coming out. They're rebooting the series after people used the second movie to scrape the first movie off their shoes. Bruce Willis is to play the voice of The Thing. [link]

Person who doesn't read comics speaks out against them. [link]
Best quote on the subject "I can tell which kids read comic books; not only can they spell 'invulnerable,' they can tell you what it means."

Another fire tornado.

How to tell if a CEO is lying. [link]

Image: Moon at perigee and apogee. [link]

Antique artificial arm. [link]

Doctor Who number 7 will not be playing Bilbo Baggins, but will be playing a wizard named Radagast in "The Hobbit". [link]

Video game ratings board forced to reveal that "Fallout: New Vegas" contains suggested sexual activity. [link]

TARDIS at MIT. [link]
Note: 6.01 is a programming course.

Minas Tirith built from Matchsticks. [link]

People adapt neighbor's house for their library. [link]

An animated review of the versions of "Origin of Species". [link]

Game: Robot Wants Fishy [link]

From the creator of the "awesome" face". [link]

From the author of the classified ad about the guy with the time machine. [link]

Batman etc.
Comics to have multiple Batmen starting in November. [link]
This was predicted by this cartoon. [link]
Batman is a unit of mass. [link]
It's also a city in Turkey. [link]

Gandolf rocked out to this.

Oh my God... we finally really did it. You maniacs! Oh, damn you! Goddamn you all to hell! [link]

"I'll get the ice creams".

Coming soon to BBC 4 - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. [link]

Antique prosthetic arm. [link]

An honest comparison of Glenn Beck to Martin Luther King Jr. [link]

Scary post-it notes. [link]

NASA's Flicker site. [link]

Subway map of science. [link]

New oil skimmer proposal.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I came home yesterday to see that something had taken a huge bite out of one of our sunflowers. I'm taking this to mean that the seeds are done so I brought the head in to dry.

Yummy's birdie trying to take a nap.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

head shot

"So," you find yourself asking, "Ibid, what exactly are my tax dollars paying you to do all day?" I'll show you.

Ok, great. What's that?

We're updating this history book and adding pictures of all these former Walter Reed muckity mucks to it. It's gonna look kinda yearbookish. A bunch of pictures were given to me that were taken over the span of 100 years. Some were just the head and shoulders while others included down to below the waist. Even the head shots had varying levels of background and different sizes of head. No consistency at all. None apart from the flags they liked to use in the back. I had to study them all and figure out how to make them all look alike. Like they were all taken in the same sitting, just in different decades. They all ended up looking a whole lot like the first photo in the picture above.

That finished, I could see there were a lot of unfilled space. More unfilled than filled, truth be told. Nobody seemed to have them. The museum, the newspaper, public affairs, the history department, nobody. But, a lot of the pictures were hanging on the wall in an auditorium. They couldn't be taken down, but I could take pictures of them. But the glass was really, really reflective. So the photos end up a lot like the second picture. Ceiling lights reflect off the glass unless I hold the camera way up high. Then the chairs reflect. And, of course, I was reflected, too. I needed more material.

I returned later with official permission, an assistant, and a big white sheet. The assistant was there to hold the sheet. With his help I got pictures like the third photo. You can see the lights, but the sheet blocks the room. Alas, the photo suffers from severe keystoning. So I took it into Photoshop and tweeked it. I had straight on photos of the frames so I skewed the keystoned photo until the sides were straight then resized it so the frame overlapped the photo of the frame.

Finally, I put in something very similar to the first photo, dropped guides to mark the edges, more guides to mark the top of the head and the bottom of the chin, resized the wonky photo so his head and chin hit those guides, and cropped him to the right size. Thus, photo five - the one that gets put in the book.