Thursday, June 30, 2011

the goop

Some years back I started dabbling with polystyrene (Styrofoam) and acetone (acetone). I was trying to make some plastic components for a computer I was building. What happens is that the polystyrene dissolves quickly in the acetone. Really quickly. A single polystyrene peanut is gone in just over a second and leaves only something like cobwebs. There's not much to polystyrene. It's mostly air. So it takes a lot of it to saturate the acetone.

I've been trying to get my house back in some kind of order. I have a lot of polystyrene to get rid of. And I have the better part of a can of acetone. So I shoved what polystyrene I could into a cup or so of acetone. Then, curious as to what would happen, I poured the ooze on a cookie sheet and put it on my roaster of a front step.

What my initial experiments showed was that as the acetone evaporates the goop develops a skin. This prevents further acetone from escaping as it evaporates. Since it can't escape it forms bubbles under the skin. My original experiments involved moulds made in plaster of paris. And they were small. Like the size of a Star Trek communicator pin. So acetone was able to escape into the plaster as well as into the air. This, and the small size, got it to dry quickly (3 days) and left only lots of tiny bubbles inside. When put on a cookie sheet, or something that won't absorb the acetone, it only has the top through which to escape so you get bigger bubbles. In the high heat I expected something like a translucent soccer ball to form.

Here's what really happened.

This is just seconds after pouring the acetone.

Less than a minute after the first picture. You can see the edges starting to bubble.

14 minutes later. BIG bubbles!

Another hour later

another 45 minutes. There's a big bubble in the middle. Kinda like an egg.

35 minutes later the big bubble had burst and collapsed. It didn't form a big bubble again in the next two days of baking in the sun. It was firm, but flexible (still not dry) when I finally brought it in after 3 days. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I dislike Walmart. I refuse to shop there. 10 years and counting so far. I don't dislike them for the usual reasons.

Sure, small pharmacies and clothing stores and local operations go out of business when Walmart comes in to town. That's business. But it might have been wiser, politically, to offer store space to pharmacists instead of just crushing them. They get rent and don't have to futz with selling product directly.

Sure, Walmart destroys lots of forested area and farmland with their stores and parking lots. They make others build the stores and rent them. Then, years later, they move out and leave a wart on the countryside that the landlord can't find use. The world is full of McMansions and other stores that clear out areas so they can have their place. And Walmart has recently started trying to do something about their poor environmental image, if not actually for the environment. They make some vendors start making flat noodles so their boxes will be smaller and use less cardboard. They try putting solar panels on their vast store roofs. Plus a number of other efforts to reduce waste and preserves wildlife areas they're not personally building on.

Recently they've gotten some very blatant sex discrimination charges dismissed. That's what got me to write about Walmart in general. I really dislike them for this behavior. I'm not very happy with the Supreme Court's reasoning for dismissing the case. Among other things, the conservative judges said it's OK because Walmart has a documented policy behind their poor treatment of women. What the fuck? Walmart not only practices sex discrimination but makes it part of their official policy and this is somehow legal?

No, my long term dislike of them is for their deliberate efforts to drive jobs to China.

If you're a company and Walmart starts selling your stuff sales go through the roof. You've made it big. You've also lost the ownership of your company. If Walmart tells you to do something you have to do it. If you don't do it then Walmart dumps your product for your competitor and your sales drop. Often by more than 50%. Rarely less than 30%. So when they tell you to cut prices you look to see what staff you can cut and what benefits you can remove. When they tell you to cut prices again, you try that again. The next time you have to look at your executive salaries and bonuses. The time after that you really have nowhere left to go. When you tell Walmart you've cut everything, that's when they tell you to move production to China. They don't suggest. They tell you. Fire everyone and move their jobs to China. Or we dump your product. Then what kind of cuts will you have to make? Maybe even cut you from the NYSE. Bankruptcy is pretty much certain.

When Walmart sells your product Walmart owns your ass.

Sure, Walmart didn't start the exporting of jobs to third world nations. But they have become the single biggest driving force doing so. And they don't let their vendors come to the conclusion of moving jobs overseas on their own. They tell them "move to China".

Sure, we get stuff cheap, but who can afford it without their jobs? Henry Ford may have been immoral scum but he made sure his employees could afford to buy the cars they were making. Walmart is driving hard in the other direction.

When you hear about China in relation to our imports or their increasing power or their heavy pollution with 1.5 billion people all getting cars or anything like that it's largely because of Walmart. All those foreigners taking our jobs? They aren't the mexicans.

But not every company is willing to roll over for Walmart. This article tells why my next lawnmower is gonna be a Snapper. You know, if I decide to get a lawn some day. [link]

I can't find the article about this that I want. Of course, it was some time back that I read about it. This isn't the article about Walmart and China that I was looking for, but it's still worth a read. [link]

Your dollar is a vote. If you spend a dollar on a product or in a store you're voting for that product or store and everything associated with them: the quality of their products, their business practices, how they treat their staff, etc. I'm voting against Walmart every chance I get. It may cost me more dollar/votes, but it's worth it if it helps someone else keep their job.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

AFK... again

I'm checking proofs for a new book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hypothetical question

Something happens.

You decide it's nature. Maybe an electrical discharge, a bright light, a freak storm, you're fiddling with a piece of strange technology, or you may simply pass. What happens next is that you wake up in a unfamiliar wooded area. The plants, too, are unfamiliar.

The first question is "where am I".

My question to you is where do you first think you are? Are you alive or is this the afterlife? Are you on Earth or some other planet? If it's Earth is it the past, future, or an alternate time line? Or some other possibility?

How long until you start to doubt this conclusion?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Links: July 24

Kids playing cartoon war games.

The first nine issues of "Cartoon History of the Universe". I hadn't realized they were comics. I got the compiled book back in high school. There are now five books in this series. Plus a history of the United States and guides to other subjects. I recommend them all after you read what's on this page for free. [link]

You may recall that when the Millenium Falcon was brought onto the Death Star some Stormtroopers went on to look for people hiding inside. Turns out Lucas may have edited that down a bit.

Locks from Castle Heterodyne...or maybe somewhere a bit more in existence. [link]

A globe made of 10,362 OLED screens. [link]

2D movie tickets are out selling 3D. Hopefully this spells the beginning of the end of 3D for the sake of extra expensive tickets. [link]

Mark Hamill says he won't really be leaving his job as the voice of the Joker in cartoons and video games. WOO! [link]

Six Flags of New Orleans never came back after Katrina. Here's a tour of it's ruins. [link]

A 10,000 year clock being built in a mountain. [link]

Deep. Fried. Kool-aid. Uh, what? [link]

Weird Al got to go ahead with his Lady Gaga spoof.

A summary of solar related job growth. [link]

Barking cat gets embarrassed.

The importance of the right soundtrack. Keep clicking the rectangle. [link]

The longest listing in Wikipedia. [link]

A few thousand suggestions for good sci-fi reading. [link]

Republicans hire a questionable Obama impersonator. Read this article for the last line. [link]

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Busy. Go 'way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Potatoes - May 12

Potatoes - June 22
But really, that second picture could have been taken a week ago or more.

My potato growing history.
I'm following instructions found years ago from

My first attempt at potatoes was foiled when I had to move out of the house. So I just dropped the potatoes I was growing from on a pot. [link]
The results were small, but I was surprised to get them at all. [link]
I used one of them the next year. [link]
It didn't work because of how I treated it. [link]
Last year I got a potato to overcome it's growth retardant and sprout. That was all indoors, though. [link]

This is what I think of every time I think about po-tay-toes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

School ramblings

This post was born from a couple of links that I was gonna put in Friday Links with some notes. But the notes were getting a bit long so I decided they deserved posts of their own. Mostly so I didn't have to cut my rant down to a sentence or two.

First, in a great emulation of absolutely no political or corporate leader ever, a principal resigned his job to save the jobs of two music teachers. [link]

Bravo for the principal, however... By resigning he saves the school $180,000. Why the heck was a principal making that kind of money? Why are music teachers making $90,000 a year? If any public school teacher anywhere made money like that I might have continued on that career path a bit longer.
The school has 6 music teachers for 5th through 12th grade? Is that a lot? It seems like a lot. My school had one music and one band teacher for 6-12, but there were only 73 people in my graduating class. (100+ in the freshman class during my senior year. Did we have that many or had the class sizes grown?) So, lets assume this is a school that actually has some students. 6 isn't unreasonable.
I do have to wonder if the gym teachers' had any threats against their jobs. How about football? Once schools are that big they often start making football coach a full time job. Are they under any kind of threat? Can the assistant principle handle a school this big alone?
But bravo to the principal for being willing to take the hit. Or maybe this was just his way to escape while looking like a hero.

The next article was about how art teachers are so often under threat. But why not history teachers? [link]

This brings up two subjects I dwell on.
First, there are several old art classes whose lessons I draw on in my job. Doing color correction on photos causes me to look back on mixing paints. One art teacher would try to subtly touch up our photos after hours. They were improvements, but it pissed us off. However, finding those really quite minor tweeks taught me to see some of the little details in a picture and recreate them when cleaning up old photos and filling in damaged areas. When a picture doesn't look right I'm better able to see why. Painting myself using only 4 shades of the same color has been used in lots of Flash animations over the years. More and more often I find myself using and understanding cross hatching lessons that I didn't get at all at the time.
But how many people are gonna have to doctor photos? How many Flash apps have you developed in your career? Why should this be a class that all kids should have to take when they already suck so hard at math and really need the help?
Let me ask you, how many Powerpoint presentations have you had to make? Ever have to design a website, even if only for yourself or your family? Or a flier or a brochure or a poster? Maybe I should just stick with the Powerpoint example.
You've very likely had to sit through some simply godawful Powerpoint presentations. Or struggled because you knew yours wasn't turning out right, but you didn't know why. There are certain principles of design that you can learn in an art class. You can learn about how colors go together and what combinations do and do not go together. Some of that didn't show up until design classes in college, but there was no reason it should have taken that long. These could be taught before you make your first science fair display. You can't (or at least shouldn't be able to) get out of high school without doing a Powerpoint presentation or three. Shouldn't you know right then not to use every single transition or text effect?
Maybe the art classes need to change focus. Working with clay is good and may even help you apply mud to a sheetrock wall later in life. Using foam core to build and see the flaws in a potential dream house does show you how to think things through a bit better. But in this day and age doesn't everyone need to know how to make a presentation that doesn't make you want to scoop out your eyes?
Art classes are important.

His dumping on a history class is the second time in a week that I've heard someone going on about history. The other person was talking about how Google has made learning history irrelevant. Students will learn about the Battle of Hastings without learning it was fought in 1066. Well, yeah. Who the fuck cares WHEN it was fought. Get it within a century either way and you're good. The year isn't the important bit. Not unless you're looking for something for students to put on a test that has an answer that can be considered 100% right or wrong. I've been arguing that since before there was an internet, let alone a Google.
This doesn't mean that I want to get rid of history classes. But the author has a good point about showing a documentary and calling it good. The value of the history teacher is that a good one can tell a story that makes history interesting and gets the students to learn the important bits even if on a test they don't know the year. A bad one, however, can take the most interesting event and make it dry and hateful. The 9-11 book we're putting a final polish on is an excellent example of that. How can a terrorist attack, the collapse of two sky scrapers by aircraft collision, and a section of a major military installation being leveled be DULL!?!

I've discussed before my desire to make video curriculum that can be used by home schoolers or bad schools. History is a perfect subject for this. Get some of the best history teachers to develop the curriculum for different age groups and give them the resources to make their show. A school could get to letting the previously mentioned football coach sit there and run the videos, give homework, and, most of all, act as a security guard and save money that was spent on a history teacher that denies the holocaust or refuses to mention Thomas Jefferson. It'll cut off the major career path for most history majors, but it could give us much better educated and intelligent voters. It would make it harder for those who want to claim that the American Civil War was about state rights.

Two last links:
I want you to watch a few episodes of the show Connections (and C2 and C3) and tell me that these aren't interesting and that this stuff doesn't stick in your brain better than anything in that class with the elderly professor who rode her bike to school and never every used deodorant. Or was that not a common college experience? [link]

Next, I want you to look at Kuler. It's a site where you can find groups of colors that go well together. Personally, when I need colors that go well together I tend to sample them off of a photo that's going in the display. But if I'm drawing everything Kuler is a great resource. [link]
And don't use more than 3 fonts. In your book, poster, Powerpoint presentation, website, whatever. Just don't. OK, 4 if you absolutely have to. But no more. Seriously, look at some attractive presentations and some unattractive ones and count the fonts. No, Times italic isn't a different font from Times.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

This is what I love about this era of successful comic book/superhero movies. They finally start using the ones that never quite make it to screen. Batman and Superman, Hulk and Spiderman, these are the first string heroes that can be hard to screw up. I'm not saying it can't be done. Only when talking about Batman can Michael Keaton beat George Clooney. And while we're still waiting for the heads of Warner Brothers to stop fucking around with the actually talented people who keep writing Wonder Woman scripts Green Lantern somehow made it to the big screen.

While you might expect Sinestro to be the bad guy in this movie you'd be wrong. As Yummy said while watching a Green Lantern cartoon "with a name like Sinestro of COURSE he's gonna be the bad guy". Not using him as the initial villain is like not using the Joker in the first Batman movie. Oh, wait. They did that and it kicked ass. No, they're saving him for later, but this movie does show how he starts down the dark path.

In this movie they start with somebody much worse. Some years back DC comics had Hal Jordan's (Green Lantern's real name) home town of Coast City destroyed. This introduced fear into Hal and made him vulnerable to a flaw in the lantern from which all Green Lantern power rings get their powers. The flaw was what made the members of the Green Lantern Corps vulnerable to (sigh) the color yellow. The flaw was really the imprisoned monster called Parallax. Hal's fear made him a conduit for Parallax to escape. Hal became evil and was eventually killed. Naturally he came back later free of the Parallax influence.

Obviously you can't start a movie series like this. Hal gets the ring and immediately becomes evil. You're never gonna see an other Human as a Lantern after that and certainly not Hal.

If they changed the story just to change the story then the movie would deserve the scorn that it would bring. Instead they had good reasons to change the story. The movie became not just the story of a pilot with some abandonment issues learning to wield new super powers, but a story about will overcoming fear on multiple levels.

Do not bring your small children to this movie. Babies: out. Toddlers: out. Really, anyone under the age of 10 should be with a baby sitter. This movie had some scary parts. Parallax is kinda terrifying to watch, and that's before he starts ripping people's spectral skeletons from their bodies. I wish someone had explained that to the people sitting off to our left.

We're all a bit sad that it's not this Green Lantern movie.

But it's still a good movie well told. I'll be getting it on DVD.
Be sure to sit through at least part of the credits.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Links: July 17

Epic beer commercial.

Help The Cheerleader. She was kicked off the cheerleading team because she refused to cheer for the guy who raped her. She sued. The Supreme Court refused the case and now she owes the school for their court fees. [link]

David Simon to Eric Holder: we'll make a 6th season of "The Wire" if you rethink the United States drug policies. [link]

America has crazy low taxes both in comparison to other nations and in comparison to itself. [link]

And in other news, Republican governors are outraged that they won't be able to slash aid to the poor and sick. [link]

Monkeys in masks, the things of nightmares. [link]

Game: Laser Cannon 2 - use the laser to kill the pirate tribble things. [link]

I'm trying to learn the 3D modeling program Blender. This open source movie was made in Blender. [link]
I haven't watched it, yet. Could be crap.

Highlights from Richard Dreyfuss reading the iTunes EULA. [link]

Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis CK cracking each other up - part 1 of 4.

People of historical note in unexpected locations. [link]

Drive or fly? Relative expense calculator. [link]

NASA believes they understand now what the Voyager probes have been sensing at the edge of the Solar System. Magnetic bubbles caused by the bunching and twisting of the sun's magnetic field. You might want to mute the audio and read the text for this. The reader sounds like she's talking to very small children. [link]
Oh, and only OUR star system gets to be called the Solar System. The sun is named Sol. It's Sol's planetary system. It's the "Sol"ar System. Yes, I do have a bug up my ass about this.

A nice article on the Backfire Effect. [link]

A bunch of really early posters. Some before the title is set. [link]

Sir Terry Pratchett has started the process to end his life. [link]
Sir Terry,
I love ya, man, and support your desire to end your life before you're too far gone. I don't know how far along you are. I doubt (and regret) that you'll be making another signing tour of the US. That talk where you had Baldrick read your speech for you was lovely and showed what facilities you've already lost. Even if you can't write or read anymore I hope you won't rush off just to make a point.

Even Sesame Street is mocking the SpiderMan musical.

I have a decent collection of old computers. But this.... I am not worthy. [link]

Parts 1 and 2 of a 4 part series. Everything is a Remix. It's not a criticism of people stealing stuff. It's pointing out how nothing is original.

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.


Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Part 3 coming soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Messing with vodkas

I am not a drinker. This is somewhat important. I have drunk. I have beers and other bottled stuff that I prefer. Anything with the word Bud or Michelob or Anheiser do not make the list of liquids I consider beverages. I might use them to wash dishes or clear a toilet, but not to drink. As far as hard liquors I know next to nothing. Back in college my brother did make a screwdriver using 50/50 orange juice and 1979 Kansas made vodka. It burned your eyes as soon as he brought it into the room. I know that's bad. And I've sampled some vodka that I was told was good stuff. "Good" is defined as flavorless or close to it. I can't yet tell you what brands to look for.

For this first experiment I got a bottle of Smirnoff. No vanilla or anything. I was to flavor it myself. In the liquor store there were five different kinds of vodka that I knew the names of. They were all priced similarly. How I selected one was pretty much eenie meenie miney mo. When I sampled some later I found it wasn't flavorless. It was a good example of WHY I'm not much of a drinker. Bleh.

Here's why I was buying vodka. Yummy and I had been grocery shopping and had gotten a little basket of blackberries. I don't think I actually ate any. There was still not quite half a basket left when I went back to her place a week later. What was left was starting to go soft and strange. No fuzz yet, but not really appealing and not likely to get eaten. When I went home Monday I took it with me. Being lazy, it wasn't until Wednesday after the staff meeting that I bought some vodka. I took it home and started pushing the blackberries into the bottle that evening. A few had spots of fuzz. They were left out. I had to drain some of the vodka to get them all in. That's when I sampled enough to know not to sample any more. But it did give me a baseline on what this stuff tasted like.

After a day I thought I saw a slight pink hue to the vodka. It could have been imagination. After three days I tipped the bottle over and back up. More color had been collecting at the bottom. I continued to up end the bottle like that every few days. After a week and a half the vodka was the same red as the label on the bottle. I sampled a bit. It still kinda kicked me in the teeth, but you could taste the blackberry.

If you're looking to just flavor your vodka, two weeks is a good amount of time to let it sit. You'll see that while the alcohol turns red and purple that the berries fade significantly. Not white, but that could just be because they were still sitting in dark red liquid.

After 3 weeks I read about using vodka or other drinkable high proof alcohol to extract oils from plants. The oil freezes and the alcohol doesn't. You just scoop out the frozen stuff. Curious, I put the bottle in the freezer to see what happens. I got very cold raspberry vodka.

Last night was 4 weeks. I went to Yummy's to help her carry her new couch home and took the vodka with me. I also picked up some fizzy lemon-lime drink and some pineapple juice. I can't tell you the exact ratios that I used. We used tall glasses like might be used for iced tea. Equal parts fizzy drink and pineapple juice. Probably 1/3 of the glass each. The vodka was added. Maybe 2 shot glasses worth. Very crude estimates.
You could still taste the original Smirnoff. Some of the blackberry came through. It wasn't strong. Another month might have helped.
Overall the drink was good. But really, if you have to add that much other stuff to make the vodka palatable is it really worth adding the vodka at all? Depends on who you are and why you're drinking. I didn't feel much impact, but Yummy was making the argument against being made to stand up.

We both had two glasses. That took half the bottle. I think I'll give the rest of the bottle another month to soak. It'll probably soak in the freezer at Yummy's place though.

Some people have said that after 2 months the stuff becomes thicker and a bit more syrupy. I do intend to  serve the goop left at the bottom when the bottle is empty over ice cream.

When repeating this experiment in the future, what vodka do you recommend? 

If not this week, then next for sure, I'll be trying the oil extraction on the mint in the front yard. Yummy has some other plants that we may try it on. Rosemary, lavender, maybe some orange. Again, do you have any vodka that you'd recommend?

I also want to try to repeat an experiment that I read about years ago. Passing bad vodka through a Brita filter repeatedly is supposed to make it indistinguishable from good vodka. Five passes makes it good. No further gains can be seen after the seventh pass. So I want a thoroughly bad vodka to try it on. Something other than 1979 Kansas-made stuff.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday: July 15

The new phonebooks came the other day. Mine hit the front door with a loud thump. I ran outside and saw the guy distributing them. I asked if he could take it back. He gave me a clipboard and told me to sign my name on a line. He took the book back. I don't think this applies to all phone book makers, but this one shouldn't be coming to my house anymore.

This site might help you do the same.

The phone book manufacturers can sod off.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Where Angels Fear To Tread

I'm not sure I would have picked this book up on my own. I found out about the series while reading the book "Mean Streets". I picked the book up for the Dresden Files and Nightside short stories, but also found the Remy Chandler story interesting.

Remy is a private investigator. Tends to pick up some of the more unusual cases. Remy is also short for Remiel, as in the Archangel. He's been on Earth for several centuries in human form. He's got a dog that he can talk with, a wife who recently passed away, some friends, and a seraphim nature that he has to fight to keep under control. Kinda the same way Bruce Banner has to keep the Hulk under control. It's really a whole other personality that wants to come out and go into battle. When it does it's wings and the whole get up.

Some years back a cult that worshiped a lesser god created a new vessel for him to inhabit. That vessel was in the form of a baby. But their plans were foiled and something else filled the child when the godling was unable. This something was a fragment of creation. A burning ember from the Big Bang. A drop of God's power. And now everybody wants it. The godling wants the body. The power is just a bonus. Delilah (as in Samson and...) has been kept alive by God as punishment for what she did to Samson and she wants the power to allow herself to die (so she says). Samson wants to kill Delilah. The child's mother just wants her daughter back. The child's father figures his life will be better if he repents and brings the girl back to the church. And Remy just wants to get the kid back from her father and give her back to her mother.

It's more light hearted than the Nightside books. Remy has some good banter with his friends. His dog can be pretty entertaining, too. It's not really a mystery book in that you can try to outthink the detective. But then, I suppose few of the books about PIs really are. This, like most of the others I've read have been the sort where you watch the story unfold.

The book does alright by itself, but I really do want to go back and read the first two books in this series.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Movie Review: Super 8

When was the last time we saw a good movie with children as the central characters? There used to be some good ones. "Spy Kids" isn't one of them. Think "Flight of the Navigator", "ET", or "Goonies". Yeah, not much of that anymore. "Super 8" goes for something like that and nails it.

This trailer gives a decent sense of the movie without telling you too much. While it gives you the tone it completely fails to convey the humor or the superb and honest way they wrote the children. This movie is about a town being terrorized by an unknown menace, but it's also about first love, fighting over a girl, fathers dealing with guilt and grief, kids trying to make a movie, and kids being kids. Even during the somewhat violent and scary scenes you still can't help but laugh at the kids and their dialog.

There's a group of six kids working on a zombie movie for a contest. One lost his mother several months back. His dad blames the father of a girl they get to be an actor. One likes to set fires and blow things up. One wants to be a director. One likes to make models. Late one night as they're secretly shooting a scene at a railway station there's a huge train wreck and something huge, strong, and alive breaks free. And they have it on film.

Then strange things start to happen. A few people vanish, the dogs all flee town, all the engines are stolen from the cars in a used car lot, inventories of microwaves are ransacked, electrical wires are stolen off of electric poles. And the military is everywhere.

The story was written and directed by J.J. Abrams (Fringe, Lost, Alias, the Star Trek reboot, Cloverfield) but Producer Steven Spielberg gets equal credit in the advertising. I don't know how much Spielberg was actually involved, but you can see what appears to be his input in most of the scenes with the kids. Abrams influence seems to be heaviest with the creature. It seems very "Cloverfield"-like. Not in the camera work (thank god), but it's appearance and behavior feels like his work instead of Spielberg's. All together it worked out fabulously.

The movie takes place in 1979. It seemed an odd choice at first, but the more I think of it the more possible reasons I come up with.
Maybe they were trying to find an era when kids could safely run around by themselves and make a film.
Maybe in 1979 Abrams was doing just what the kids in the movie were doing and he felt he could most honestly write about those characters in this context.
But I think the best reason is that they needed a time when it would take three days at least to get their film developed. The movie could have been very different if they could just plug the camera into their laptop and start editing the film. Home CGI would have replaced the models they were making.

In any case, this film was fantastic. I will be getting it on DVD. I highly recommend seeing this movie.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Links: June 10

Cassini: still clicking away. [link]

Colorful pictures of Icelandic volcanoes when not actually blowing up. [link]

My kinds of paintings. [link]

Another kid calls out Michelle Bachman. [link]

Police break into a home, kill a guy, make up lies, when they're called on it they have a very bad cover up. [link]

9,000 TV channel logos. [link]

A glossary of symbols. [link]

David Mitchell going on about the use of LOL.

Full size Daleks using BBC moulds and specs available now on sale. [link]

Cartoonist talks about the house he grew up in and it's bloody, bloody roof. [link]

The Doctor Who anime I mentioned a couple of times in the past is finished. Alas, it's only 15 minutes long and seems to lack a coherent story.

A tornado stops for a drink.

Cameras stuck on things.

Mario Brothers sheet music. [link]

It's not hard to change the messages on an HP Printer. I once changed the "OK Ready" message to "Low on vowels. Replace cartridge." Here's some others. [link]
Here's one person explaining how to do it. [link]

7 year old accidentally a famous artist. [link]

A movie theater tossed someone out for texting during a movie. She called and left a message on voice mail. They made it into a PSA announcement. [link]

Butter: the lost food group. [link]

A map of all newspapers in the world and their languages. [link]

BMX bike rider does the first triple backflip. [link]

Heads on money redrawn into popular culture figures. [link]
Andrew Jackson as Ronald McDonald is kinda scary.
More. [link]

A lot of pictures from Cassini pieced together in an odd sort of film. [link]

In tribute of some stupid stuff Sarah Palin said recently about Paul Revere there's this poem. "Paul Revere's Ride" by Longfellow and Palin. [link]

Name that cameo. [link]
I may have posted this before, but there's new stuff.

This guy waved at his kid's bus every morning for the whole school year. Each day in a different costume. [link]

How classic animation is done and one of Disney's contributions to animation technology.

Futurama ends this way, but to get their 3D effect they make the 3D model and then trace it.

Neverending shampoo.

They thought they cured him of his gayness when he was just a little kid. They claimed he grew up normal. But he attempted suicide at 17 and succeeded at 38. And the guy who built his career claiming to be able to cure gays was found with a male escort. [link]

Doggelganger: a program that matches people with dogs that look like them. [link]

Spider-'Nam: Peter Parker in Vietnam. [link]

I remember this bank robbery happening. Never knew they caught the guy. [link]

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Babblings of a birdie

Just a collection of things Gandolf has said over the last year or so. I sent them to Yummy so you're seeing texts and bits of e-mails.

Gandolf just said "I'm bored". But, it was part of her string of babble so she's probably not bored.
a bit later: "Don't. Eat. The bird."

I'm watching a season 4 episode of "Bones".
In this episode there's a car dealer suspected of killing this guy whose bones are turning to green ooze. Booth takes a test drive in an expensive hot rod with the suspect and start driving fast and crazy to freak the guy out. The guy keeps yelling "WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT...."
After doing that a few times Gandolf started yelling "WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT...."
Ollie was yelling "WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE..."

Watching Quantum Leap:
We're watching this 50's episode where some guy is trying to ban rock and roll. After he leaves the room Gandolf says "what an asshole". I said "you did not learn that from me" and she laughed.

While Ollie was still living with me we got him a little friend named Ernie. The conures were instantly the best of buds but seemed to be like mischievous little elves. This is my report about the goings on in the house.
The elves have found themselves on the side of Gandolf's cage.
They seem to be discussing what to do next.
They decided to climb 3 rungs and reassess.
So far Gandolf doesn't seem to have noticed. She's still chatting up a storm.
Conures back down and retreat to the pet food bin.
They're back up. They pushed their luck too far. Gandolf got off her swing to knock Conures off her cage.
Yummy: And the Birdie Battle ensues!
me: This is odd. Gandolf climbed down the outside of the cage to get at the conures on the food bin. Ollie ran between Gandolf and Ernie.
He's a tiny little hero.
Yummy: He's a tiny little hero!
That is so cute!!
They're bad AND good!
me: It's happening again.
Ollie got between them, fluffed up, became tall, and knocked his beak on the plastic lid. Gandolf laughed when Ollie knocked.
Yummy: Gandolf LAUGHED?
me: yeah
Yummy: As in, "You fluff up against ME, mini bird? MEEEEEEE?!"
me: Sort of "that's so cute. You knock at ME!?"
Yummy: Those birdies.
me: Gandolf is back on her swing. Conures are on the side and back of the cage.
I looked at Gandolf. She looked back and sighed.
Poor Gandolf. So many little elves to ruin her day.

Gandolf had a conversation with herself.
  Hey! Stop it!

Gandolf: I wouldn't eat that.

We're watching the Quantum Leap episode where Sam got electric shock and developed multiple personality disorder. Near the end of the episode Sam is yelling "Don't shock Jimmy" over and over. Each time Gandolf follows with "DON'T!"

Gandolf seems to be giving a lecture about baby food.
She claims that it's "bad news".

I put my phone in my bag and pulled out the Kindle to check the charge. Gandolf said "It got bigger." I assume she thought it was the phone

Gandolf out the window: "Hey, little bird. I see you o'er there."

We're listening to Howard Stern interviewing Bill Murray.
Murray says something to the effect of "I see Chevy about once a year. It's been awhile. I've been busy."
Gandolf says "What'cha doin'?

While watching "20 Million Miles to Earth" Gandolf keeps chuckling at the monster fighting people.
At least she does when the monster is winning.
She mutters and grumbles when it's losing.

I'm streaming some Superman vs Captain Marvel movie.
Clark Kent and Billy Batson are eating breakfast in a restaurant when Black Adam comes in and is getting ready to kill the kid. Clark tells Adam to leave the kid alone. Black Adam knocks him through a wall and across the street. He gets up, knocking away the bricks, takes off his
glasses and opens the shirt. Gandolf says "Soo'ermaan."
Gandolf may not know Clark Kent, but she knows her super heroes.

In the next episode (of Quantum Leap) Sam jumped into the body of a space chimp. Gandolf laughed herself silly.

Gandolf and I are watching Quantum Leap again. It's a rough episode. The person Sam jumped into got raped. But nobody in town wants to believe Sam when he says the girl he jumped in to was raped. Gandolf is scolding the people who don't believe him.

Gandolf: "Are you alright?"
Me: I'm alright. Are you alright?
Gandolf: Yeah. I got a pizza.

me: Gandolf is muttering about cookies.
Yummy: Hey! So am I!

We're watching the Japanese version of "One Missed Call". They get a phone call from their own mobile phone. When they get the message from voice mail it's what turns out to be what will be their own last words.  Gandolf picked up on it quick. The first person was saying what they heard on her phone. Gandolf said "heh. Look out."

Gandolf has learned a new response. Ollie screeches and Gandolf goes "What!?"
(she's also started with "STOP IT!")

Gandolf is threatening me. But she's very bad at it. She just says "threats. Threats. Threats."

me: Gandolf rang her bell and declared there's a fire.
Yummy: She said fire?
me: yep. Ring, ring, ring, "[mutter] fire"

Gandolf looking out the window: It's a happy birdie!
Me: No, that's a butterfly.
After a long pause. Gandolf: "[mutter] birdie?"

Gandolf: That's a word. (pause) Words are hard.

While watching "Paycheck" Ben Affleck got a motorcycle and tore out into traffic. Horns started blaring. Gandolf yelled "hurry up!"

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday

Internet went back down again.
Verizon can sod off.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Ooooh. You're here

Sorry. I don't have anything for you. The internet was down yesterday and Verizon didn't expect to have it up until Wednesday evening.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class

I've heard a few bad things about this movie. Most of the issues they have seem to center around the accents, or lack thereof, in the characters. You know what? I don't have an issue with that. I'll even forgive departure from the original story if it helps convert things from a comic book to a movie. I mean Spiderman 3 got into the Venom symbiote without talking about the Secret Wars on some other planet. The Incredible Hulk changed the gamma bomb to some other gamma ray experiment. I'm not familiar enough with the Hellfire Club in X-Men lore to be able to tell you what they screwed up. And it doesn't really matter.

The movie starts with a scene from the original X-Men movie. I'm assuming that they refilmed it for this movie, but they did a good job recreating the scene. It's where a young Magneto (Erik) is being separated from his family by the Nazis. Kevin Bacon wants to exploit Erik's power but makes a horrible mistake in how he goes about it and put's Erik on a lifelong quest to kill escaped Nazis, and Kevin Bacon especially.

Meanwhile, young Charles Xavier finds an even younger Mystique lurking around in his kitchen. We never see his parents, but it's clear he's managed to get them to adopt her, or at least be her foster family.

Eventually Charles and Mystique are taken on by a government agency to help them deal with an organization called The Hellfire Club led by Kevin Bacon and several other mutants that want to take over the world by having normal people wipe themselves out first. Charles and Erik meet while trying to pursue the Hellfire Club and procede to collect other mutants with the help of the government. At first it's just to form a community, but soon they need training to help save the world. The whole movie comes to a head at the heart of the Cuban Missle Crisis.

I liked the movie. It was funny, a good story well told, and shows how the big and little things in the lives of the mutants drove them into one camp or another. The Magneto movie clearly wasn't ever gonna get made so they incorporated that storyline into this movie. The story was co-written and the movie produced by Brian Singer. This was good because Singer was the writer/director of X-Men 1 & 2, but not 3. Three was the one that sucked.

I'll probably get it on DVD.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Links: June 3

Hey! Look what failed to post when I told it to!

A friend of mine works with this blogger. He (the friend) volunteers at this old movie theater once a week. [link]

Interesting pixelated art. [link]

Video classes. [link]

The old Genesis music video Land of Confusion with puppet work from the people who used to make Spitting Image.

When an ink truck crashes. [link]

In a case that is hopefully destined for the legal trash heap, some geologists are being used for failing to predict an earthquake. [link]

Portal soundtrack available for free download. [link]

Not an Exorcist remake.

Finalists in the illusion of the year contest. [link]


It's Disney. So far they haven't managed to not screw up Muppets. But wait! Disney turned all their animation over to the Pixar people. They've done damn good so far. Lets have a look. Executive Producer Martin Baker, David Furnish, Jason Segel... no John Lasseter, no sign of any Henson. I don't have high hopes.

14 facts about the Addams Family. [link]
While you're at it, have a look on IMDB at Lurch's other roles. [link]

Recent Dr Who episodes have had some accents that have been kind of hard to understand, especially at the speed they were talking. According to Peter Sellers it would be a northern accent that's giving us issues.

Science sorts figure out how to turn human skin cells into human neurons. [link]

Functioning armored glove for the goddamn Batman. [link]

Nazgul origami. [link]

Sweet ride built using knowledge gained from Google Books. [link]

Game: Ninja Painter - bounce the ninja around the house to paint all the walls. [link]

The only known "official" Star Wars/Indiana Jones crossover. [link]
Relax, it's short.

Make your old Magic: The Gathering cards 3D. [link]

Last footage of Laurel & Hardy.

A kid and an otter. Who is leading who?

Governor of Kansas completely kills state funding for the arts. All of it. [link]

Letters exchanged by Ian Flemming and the firearms expert that convinced him to have James Bond use a Walther PPK. [link]

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Book Review: Fuzzy Nation

You know what "nerve" is? It's when you read somebody else's book and decide that you could write it better. You know what "balls1" are? Balls are what you have when you decide that you can write somebody else's book better than they did AND they won a Hugo for their book. So John Scalzi has balls.

"Fuzzy Nation" is meant to be a reboot of the H. Beam Piper trilogy that started with the 1965 Hugo Award winning "Little Fuzzy". Comic books reboot. Comic books reboot all the time. Movies reboot. Of course, they usually reboot comic book based movies. Books don't reboot. At best someone new continues the series after the author dies, or, in some cases, says "fuck it, you guys write it". Thus "balls".

And Scalzi's balls are well deserved. I haven't read the original yet, but I plan to. Without getting into a comparison of the two I can tell you that I really enjoyed "Fuzzy Nation". Right on page one it had me hooked. And I kept on reading. Tore through it in no time at all. And it kept on right until the end. It made me laugh in several places. It had several tense moments. It has some court room drama that'd get most lawyers disbarred. Our hero got in jams and managed to stick it to The Man repeatedly. At the end you want to read the next book enough that you're likely to go back and start reading the original series.

What's it about? On the planet (right there you know it's sci-fi) Zara XXIII our hero is contracted to survey the planet for valuable resources for ZaraCorp to strip mine. Having found an incredibly valuable vein of jewels that will make him filthy rich (really. Just disgustingly rich) he returns home to find his treetop cabin inhabited by some manner of bipedal cat. Having made friends with the Fuzzy creature he then has a dilemma. It's intelligent, but if it's sentient like his ex-girlfriend says, then ZaraCorp has to leave the planet and he doesn't get a dime from those jewels he found.

I haven't mentioned that it's a Young Adult book. Nor have I mentioned that there's not at all subtle messages about environmental protection, treatment of indigenous people, and importance of the... uh... cough... the Prime Directive.

It's a fantastic book. I got autographed copies for the kids of a friend just because it was a Scalzi book. Now I'd get it for them even if I wasn't already a fan of the author.

You can get the original "Little Fuzzy" book from [link] or [link].

1 Balls. Hee hee hee hee hee.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sod Off Wednesday: June 1

Dogs are a great benefit to the military, but they don't always get treated right after they've been deployed. After Vietnam a great many were left there as surplus equipment. And it looks like many are having similar issues today. But you can adopt a retired military trained dog and help make sure it not only gets home but gets a good home. Check out

The wankers who try to leave them in Iraq or wherever can sod off.