Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Stupid blog posts showing up on the wrong day...

I want to talk about the Republican candidates for President. And I'm gonna try to do this fairly. I'm obviously left leaning, but I consider myself non-partisan. There's plenty of Democrats that I dislike and some Republicans that I do like. It's just that, in general, while I don't agree with everything Democrats say, I tend to disagree with almost everything Republicans say.

Newt Gingrich is largely responsible for the Republican party as it stands today. He was one of the major forces driving it to the radical extremes that currently define it. He is as responsible for their love of spewing lies, hate, and poison as Ronald Reagan was for their love of irresponsible deficit spending. He started, but isn't primarily responsible, for the party's attacks on their own people who weren't considered radical enough. A policy that was being extended to the state level when the GOP got knocked down a few pegs 4 years ago.

I have to say that Rick Santorum is honest. I hate everything he stands for, but at least you know exactly where he stands. The man opposes equal rights for gays, legalized abortion, any form of birth control, women having jobs, and the National Weather Service (yes, really).

Mitt Romney just comes off as sleazy. I keep expecting him to start trying to sell me "Miss. O'Leary's Snake Oil". Every time I see him or hear him talk I like him less and less. The weird thing is, if all I looked at was his record as Governor I'd think he was an alright kind of guy. But he's had to spend the last few years saying what would win him an Republican Primary instead of what would win him a national election.

When I moved to DC I saw people handing out flyers for Ron Paul. I knew next to nothing about him, so I took the papers and gave them a read. Reading them went a bit like this:

flyer: One...
me: Yeah.
F: one...
M: Sure.
F: one...
M: Still with you.
F: one...
M: OK.
F: ...equals ham.
M: Uhhhh... that's not even wrong. That's just nonsense.

I mean, I respect the guy for a few things. He brings up issues that no other candidate, Republican or Democrat, will talk about. He's campaigning because of issues he cares about instead of because he wants to be President. It's just that his solutions are bug shit crazy.

I want to say that I knew something about Rick Perry at one point. I remember hearing him talk, reading articles about him, and not liking him. But all I really remember is that he's from Texas. The first thing I learned about him is that he's Rick Perry, Republican from Texas, and anything that came out of his mouth after that just went into the basket marked "yep, just what I'd expect from a Texas Republican".

Jon Huntsman is running for President. I'm sure there's something else to him, but I'm not aware of it.

I feel a bit sexist lumping Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin together. But, holy crap, they take crazy to a new level. They make Ron Paul look sane. At least he has one foot in a recognizable reality. Take the world view of Santorum with the detachment from the truth of Gingrich and the Libertarian views of Paul and you have Bachmann, Palin, or George Bush Jr.

Obama... I don't like everything the man has done. Nor should I expect to. But look at all he's accomplished even with every last Republican fighting him on everything just to be fighting him. They even fought bringing the Olympics to America just because Obama supported it. He did away with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" not by telling the Justice Department to back down, but by making sure it died through proper channels. And I'm still a bit stunned that he got even a heavily flawed health care reform bill passed.

Some of my Republican friends have grudgingly agreed with the idea that "Obama is worst candidate for President, except for all the others."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscar nominated animated shorts

The Oscars managed to sneak up on me. No real surprise since the only category I care about is the animated shorts. And I only care about them because they're being shown in some local theater.

"A Morning Stroll" was one of our favorites. It's an identical scene in three different time periods about a chicken walking down the sidewalk and going into a house. Yeah, I know how it sounds. That should tell you how lame the rest of the nominees were.
Trailer below.

"Dimanche (Sunday)" is a cartoon about some kid who likes to put pennies on railroad tracks. It follows him as he goes about his typical Sunday. Then there's some attempt at symbolism that nobody I've heard of has managed to figure out.
One of the best arguments for closing the Canadian Film Board that I've ever seen.
Trailer - link

"La Luna" is Pixar's annual entry. It's about a third generation being introduced to sweeping up all the stars that accumulate on the moon.
Trailer below.

"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" was the surprising winner. Surprising because it was pretty good. The Acadamy HATES good movies of any form. But it was a good cartoon that also had a good message.
The cartoon is about some writer who is led to a house where lots of flying books live. There he lives out his life caring for the books and helping them find good homes.
Full movie.

"Wild Life" is a cartoon about a Brit who settles in Canada and eventually dies in the cold.
Trailer - link

Then we get into the good cartoons. The honorable mentions.

"Nullarbor" is a really long, straight, treeless stretch of road through the Australian desert. The cartoon is about a guy really hard up for a cigarette while driving that road and the battle he ends up doing with some old man for one of his cigarettes.
Trailer below.

"Amazonia" I can't even find a trailer for.

"Skylight" is a hilarious mock film about the hole in the ozone layer roasting penguins. Totally should have won.
Clip - link

"Hybrid Union" is a tortoise and the hair sort of story about the battle between solar and steam powered vehicles.
Trailer - link

I am very disappointed that I can't find more full length versions. It's a downside to the fact that you can buy all of them legally through the Apple Store or somewhere like that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Movie Review: Chronicle

Ever wonder why comic book writers seem to insist on waiting until a character has cleared puberty to give them powers? Clark Kent never got sick, but typically the flying, strength, and whatnot waited until he was in high school to manifest. Peter Parker was in high school when he got the spider bite. X-Men all tend to be in high school when their mutant gene activates. It give them a certain level of maturity, but... well, you remember high school. After being assigned yet another russian novel to read and summarize in 10 pages, three major tests coming up, that girl you'd spent the last two months working up the nerve to ask out rejected you and then told all her friends, someone keyed your already crap car, after barely being allowed to pick your own clothes for most of your life you're now being pressured to pick a college that they insist will determine the whole course of your life... with all that and the usual hormone driven traumas, if you had super strength how would you have dealt with that bully trying to stuff you in a locker? When someone decides to toss you naked, across the gym shower because you're using "his" spot? Heck, when your tire goes flat miles from a phone on a rainy evening? Poorly, I expect.

Clark Kent and Peter Parker had loving parents. They were raised right. One of the three characters in "Chronicle" wasn't. His mother is dying of cancer. His father is a disabled fireman who drinks way too much and is abusive. Our movie starts with him getting a video camera to film his dad hitting him and to put a barrier between him and the world. Then he, his cousin, and a junior politician are granted telekinetic powers.

It's fun at first, sure. Making things move. Making things float. Making YOURSELF fly! Before long you're asking yourself "What Would Professor X Do?" But after a bad day there's some jerk in a truck with a gun rack and a confederate flag tailgating your car with his brights on. You only meant to give him a scare, but your powers are still new and you really expected that guard rail to be stronger than that. Shit. You can't help but think "Do, or do not. There is no try." as you try to lift that poor redneck excuse for an X-wing out of the river.

Accidents happen, sure. But, worse than that, what do you do when there's not enough money to pay for your mom's pain medication? Uncle Ben was shot. Jonathan Kent had a heart attack. Both nice quick ends. Cancer... cancer makes you wonder why the pharmacy doesn't carry cyanide tablets. How do you get $700+ buck for pain meds when dad drinks all his disability insurance away? Not by being a hero.

I liked this movie. When it came out a few weeks back I had to hunt down a trailer for it because I'd never heard of it before. And I was expecting a "power corrupts" message as all three kids slowly unleashed their dark side. Instead only one went bad and for reasons that had nothing to do with his powers.

I will be getting this movie on DVD. And I encourage anyone who is tired of seeing yet another superhero reboot or an adaptation of a 70 year old comic book character to go see it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Links: February 24

Take Your Child to Parlament Day. [link]

Bees on the rooftops of Paris, including the opera house. [link]

Black cat auditions in Hollywood in 1961. [link]

Sick kid gets to ride in a giant R2-D2. [link]

"Bohemian Rhapsody" played with electronics.

Tutorial on how the floppy disks are used to make noise. [link]

30,000 year old seeds sprout and bloom. [link]

Make a candle from an orange peel. [link]
I'll post pictures as soon as I try this.

Last of the great adventurers dies. No jaguar involved this time. [link]

Will March 8th be a bad day for you internet-wise? Find out. [link]

These game developers are trying to raise money. Buy before the end of February and get an elder god that can be used only once. Not once per round or per server or per battle. Once. Ever. Scroll down to "The Last Song of Väinämöinen explained". [link]

Really old computers still in use. [link]

Visual effects for The Walking Dead. How much was real and how much was actors staring at a green wall?

How to make cinnamon roll pancakes. [link]

Details about one of the more interesting planets recently discovered. A really hot water world. [link]

In the tl;dr category: 1811 DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE [link]

John Cleese answering YouTube comments about Monty Python.

HA! He knows "Skyrim" but not Jeff Dunham!

Tank graveyards. It's a pity they're not as organized at airplane graveyards. [link]

Dame Judi Dench is slowly going blind. [link]

Cockatoo feeding a dog noodles.

This sounds lame. It's an article about how Charles Dickens was an avid walker. But for some reason I kept reading. I think his appearance in a Doctor Who episode and some how it confirms a few things mentioned in the episode helped keep my interest. [link]

Cats as fonts. [link]

Leaked documents from the Heartland Institute about their plans to spread lies about global climate change. [link]

How to get a primate's interest.

Pictures of famous people together. My favorite is Ian Flemming with Sean Connery. But James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor is pretty good, too. [link]

Virginia now requires an ultrasound before performing any abortion. It will fail before the courts. [link]

Painting with coffee rings. [>link]

The Obama administration has suddenly become very anti-medicinal marijuana. [link]

How much would it cost to build the Death Star. The article assumes using only Earth based iron instead of any already in asteroids. And it leaves out the cost of Earth to orbit transportation of materials or labor. [link]

Pictures from a sci-fi convention in 1980. Props to the Time Lord chatting with Moses. [link]

It's finally happened. TV networks for pets. [link]

Just because you're right doesn't mean you're not crazy. [link]

Nearly 400 House staffers were registered as lobbyists last year. [link]

Gingrich is wrong. You can put a gun rack in a volt. [link]

The story of a brilliant kid who really likes to play with fissionable material. [link]

In the same lines of last week's article about Mormons continuing to convert dead jews, here's a site to declare dead Mormons as gay. Personally, I was thinking about getting dead Mormons registered with the KKK. [link]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Help

I don't think I ever saw a trailer for "The Help". Going just from the poster led to a significant misunderstanding about what the movie was about. I was expecting a touching comedy about two white women who used to be childhood friends, had a falling out, and their black servants help them to reconcile. Yummy thought it was about a rich white woman who fell on hard times and was forced to become a maid. Turns out it's about none of the above.

"The Help" is the story of an ambitious young author/journalist who wants to write a tell-all book from the perspective of black servants in early 1960's Mississippi. At first she can't get anyone to talk because they're afraid of being punished. But a few good ol' boys manage to convince them that things can't get any worse.

The movie manages to show not just the racism that we've all become familiar with, but the obliviousness of the racists. They'd swear up and down that they're not racist. They're doing the servant a favor by not letting them use the indoor bathroom. Really. They appreciate us building them their own bathroom.

This movie could have gone wrong in so many places. The characters and the audience keep expecting someone to bring the hammer down on these uppity black folk. But, aside from some spousal abuse, nothing really horrible happens. Just the sort of crap you expect from the head cheerleader in a high school or college movie. No burning crosses. No rednecks with pipes jumping out of the back of a truck. No setting churches on fire. No, just the fear of that kind of crap.

I hadn't planned to this this movie. I won't be getting this movie on DVD. But I'm glad that I saw it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Contact

You've probably seen the movie "Contact". It stars Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. She's an astronomer heading a team that first discovers an alien transmission coming from near the star Vega. He is a preacher who takes a sensible view of the Bible. She and scientists all over the world translate the message. The first thing they see is video footage of Hitler opening the Berlin Olympics since that transmission was one of the first that would have been strong enough to reach Vega. Buried deeper in the message are blueprints for a machine. But what that machine does is anyone's guess. McConaughey's role is to be a sensible voice for religion among all the screaming loonies that come out of the woodwork at the idea that the signal came from God, or Satan, or that aliens prove that Earth isn't special, or that the aliens think like Nazis, or...
The movie took a lot of grief for the fact that when the machine finally took Jodie Foster to Vega the alien looked like her father.

What I finished reading this weekend was the book that the movie was based on - "Contact" by Carl Sagan. Naturally, the book was different. But the differences are understandable.

McConaughey's character is in the book, but in a much smaller role. For the movie he became a dumping site for several other characters. He took on the role of the romantic interest which belonged to the President's Science Advisor. He also gave voice to Sagan's discussion of religion and how science and faith are both valid ways to seek an understanding of the universe. He stands in contract to more extremist views that the movie embodied in a crazy looking preacher mentioned briefly in the book and became a suicide bomber in the movie.

Another significant difference was the number of people who rode the machine to Vega. In the movie it was just Foster while the book had five people take the trip. Which meant they had to keep five people quiet about what they saw, but gives the reader a variety of ways to view the success but silencing of the mission.

The book was well written. It made me want to have dinner with Sagan so I could ask him about elements of the book. I will be looking for his other novels.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Links: February 17

You haul 15 tons, and what do you get? A whole lot of shooting and fuckload of meth. [link]

PacMan walkthru. [link]

"Iron Sky" theatrical trailer! [link]

Great response to bad parenting. [link]

New species of tiny lizard discovered. [link]

Someone is doing serious work on an orbital trash truck. Alas, it's one satellite per piece of trash. [link]

Trailer for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". I liked the book, but it was Lincoln's biography with vampires. I'm not sure they can tell that story properly and keep it to movie length.

Disney and Warner Brothers are fighting over who owns "The Wizard of Oz". [link]

How TSA makes sure people stop bothering to look for terrorists anymore. [link]

Congress approves conspiracy theory fodder. [link]

Pictures and old film about the IBM SAGE. It's basically part of an early attempt at the Star Wars Missle Defense System that continues to be a massive failure even today. [link]

How badly various comic book creators got screwed. [link]

Exploding pig foam. [link]

After Skyrim was done the developer team was given a week the do whatever they wanted with the game. Here are some of the results.

Adam Adamowicz, concept artist for Fallout 3, Skyrim, and other Bethesda Software titles died of cancer recently. Few knew who he was before his death, but many knew his work. Yummy and I have spent a lot of time in the last year wandering his lands. [link 1] [link 2]

Maureen Walsh, representative in the state of Washington, gives a great speech in favor of gay marriage. It supports my opinion, which I don't say nearly enough, that there are still good Republican politicians at the state level.

A brief history of cosmetic surgery. [link]

Coffee... stuff. Art, facts, makers, cups, foam, . Mostly I'm posting this for the shipping container Starbucks. [link]

Zebra stripes may have evolved to make them less attractive to flies. [link]

Siri may not tell you where to find an abortion clinic, but Iris is racist, anti-abortion, anti-evolution, and thinks rape isn't always a bad thing. [link]

Someone performing Dr. Zaius performing Hal Holbrook performing Mark Twain. [link]

Frank Lloyd Wright's doghouse. [link]

The physics behind your favorite science fiction theme songs. Be sure to watch at least the first video. [link]

An article about the world's only military dogsled team. It says that when a dog retires it has to be put down. I think someone needs to start a retirement home for sled dogs. Someone who knows how to handle the dogs. I couldn't do it. [link]

Peter Sellers reading "She Loves You" by The Beatles. I must have heard the Dr Strangelove version on Dr Demento once since it pops into my head from time to time. I just didn't know who did it. [link]

Mormons are STILL baptizing dead people. [link]

Smoke black art on the inside of glass bottles. [link]

Origami robots. [link]
I love me some robots, but if I saw the thing in the video coming down the sidewalk at me I'd be seriously creeped out.

Catholic women use birth control at the same rates as non-Catholics. [link]

The Obama campaign's official playlist. [link]

Congressman John Fleming thought an article from The Onion was real. [link]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mulberry rum

As a kid growing up in the remote wilderness of Kansas we had several mulberry trees to pick over. So when I see them in DC I just sort of assume they're there to be picked over. It's not like other city dwellers eat them, even when the tree is in their own yards. So I have no qualms about picking over the trees that I come across in the city.

It was that kind of thinking that had me looking up articles about urban foraging. I have chives growing wild in my yard, mint that I taught the neighbor kids to pick over, prickly pears for a number of foods and drinks, and several mulberry trees that I passed on the way to work. If there's all that, what else is there?

I found several articles and there's some stuff I'm still trying to identify. But this article caught my attention. Mulberry rum seemed a great idea since I already knew how and where to find safe fruit.

So last June I hit the tree in Yummy's parents' yard and loaded up. OK, so it was more suburban foraging, but the limbs were nice and low. Sue me.

I mixed 1 cup of sugar for every 2 cups of rum. With that much sugar I had to heat the rum to get it to fully dissolve. Once it cools you have super saturated rum which is pretty tasty on it's own. Then I poured the rum into a jar that already contained the washed mulberries. Just enough that the berries were barely covered. The date I jarred it (June 20) and the date three months down the road when it was to be finished (Sept 20) were written on the lid and the jar was put in a cabinet.

September came and we didn't drink any of it. October... nah. November... come on, drink it already. For some reason we waited until February 11.

Here's what we had.

Purple juice with extra lumps. 

The berries? Not as good as you might think.
And here's Yummy sampling the strange purple brew. What? I was running the camera and sounding extra nasal. I couldn't do the drinking.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another trusting creature

After leaving the deer from yesterday's post we came across another animal that didn't mind us being close.

I'm not referring to the two large corpsivores on the top of this ruin of a house.
What a lovely shithole. 
No, I mean their moderately suspicious offspring in the ditch.
Maybe I've seen too many episodes of "Bones", but I was checking that skeleton for hooves. There's one by his feet in the first picture.

What? Why'd you stop? 

Just sitting there? Pointing that thing at me? Nothing wrong with pointing things at people.

I'd offer you some, but sod off. (HA! You didn't think I'd get it in!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

trusting little creature

On the way to the vet Saturday we passed a very young fawn on the side of the road. Just a very narrow shoulder, a deer, a bit of grass, and then a wooded area. It's fur was damp, it's nose still fairly blunt, and it was calmly standing next to a fairly busy stretch of road munching grass. It's head looked more like that of a baby bunny than a deer.

About half an hour later, on the way back home, we passed the same point. The fawn hadn't moved. Yummy got concerned. We came back around, found a wider spot of the narrow shoulder, and stopped. The deer didn't care. We called the community's volunteer fire department and they said we were out of luck. Someone's cow roaming around would be one thing. This was a wild creature who, by our description, wasn't freaking out or anything. But, they agreed, it's momma was probably long gone.

So, Yummy got out of the car to try to convince the fawn that the grass further from the road was a safer place to be. She walked over to it and slowly reached out. I started to press the button on my camera just as Yummy was about to pat the deer. There was less than a hand span between her hand and the deer. But when the shutter reopened I had a different picture.

a different picture
It didn't run far. But it was away from the road. I watched it through the grass for a bit. It's a cute little thing. I hope it finds other deer to run around with. Or a nice friendly backyard to hang about in.

yeah, buddy, I don't wan't you touching me either 

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm not at home and a little smelly

I'm not in a position to post anything good today. Not for several hours, at least. Instead spend some time at

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Links: February 12

Another potential Class M planet discovered only 22 light years away. [link]

OK, it's probably Class K which means it can become class M with a bit of terraforming. [link]

A building with 55,000 LED lights. But Belgium? Looks more Indian to me. [link]

This an advanced version of an electric car charging proposal I saw back in high school. Both plans have the same basic problem of needing to rebuild the national highway system. But, if you can start with the major highways and work down to the modest highways I think it'd be good. You can still get a respectable distance once you're off the major roads. [link]

20 nifty things to do with shipping palettes. Some repeats. [link]

Millennium Falcon found on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. [link]

Japanese manhole cover artwork. [link]

A letter from a former slave to his former owner. [link]

Ron Paul and his connections to white supremacist groups. [link]

Quick pictures of things exploding. [link]

Old trucks. [link]
I'd love to see a company still using trucks of this style to move product.

What the left gets right. [link]
What the right gets right. [link]
I take issue with parts of the second. I see several things that they claim and apparently did in the pre-Reagan years, but don't actually do anymore. Not on the federal level, anyway.

What Rick Santorum says according to lip readers.

Proposed trailer for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary in 2013.

New research indicates volcanoes may be a bigger risk these days than we thought. [link]

Reddit IAmI Q&A with a former Chuck E Cheese employee. [link]

A new Spider-Man trailer is coming out. It's not associated with the last three. Gwen Stacy is the female lead while she had just an appearance in one of the earlier movies. And the villain is the one we were waiting for through the last three movies. Remember Curt Connors? That professor with one arm?

"Transparent" phone for Android devices. [link]

The final veteran of World War I died recently. She was 2 weeks short of her 111th birthday. [link]

Brits and Americans have different ideas of what makes a prom. This is Tim Minchin playing the Doctor Who theme at the end of a recent comedy proms.

Newt's people have been futzing with his Wikipedia page. Or, at least trying. This article talks about their effort to purge unflattering facts and Wikipedia's protections from such actions. [link]

picture: Thor and Hulk have come a long way since the 70's. [link]

Werner Herzog dissing chickens. Mom and my brother are actually pretty good at hypnotizing chickens. [link]

This picture shows two maps. We've used the lower one in a couple of our textbooks. It's Napoleon's march. The thickness of the line indicates the number of troops. Pinkish is the advance and black is the retreat. It illustrates why you never get involved in a land war in Asia. [link]

Hydrocarbon reactors? Photonic crystals? Are you trying to power a warp engine or a mobile phone? This article does a decent job of explaining the technology that could move from deep space probes to mobile phones in the near future. [link]

I forgot all about the latest X-prize venture. Build a Star Trek-style tricorder. [link]

To to raise kids that aren't obnoxious little shits. [link]

Art through sci-fi colored glasses. [link]

Republicans say that they more they learn about Romney the more they dislike him. Personally, the man comes off as a snake every time I see him, but if I look at what he did in office instead of what he says I find he's the only GOP candidate that isn't a completely repugnant human being. [link]

I don't watch enough Daily Show/Colbert Report. But I love them. I find them to be sources of the most honest reporting anywhere. And I'm loving what Stephen Colbert is doing to the Supreme Court about the Citizens United decision. I love even more that he's doing it against the wishes of Viacom and Comedy Central. This is why we have free speech. Because nothing disrupts bad thinking and stupid ideas as much as laughing at it. [link]

I have never eaten a squirrel and I will not be upset if I never do. But if you want to, here's some cooking tips. [link]

Middle school student models a molecule with great potential.

Camden council in north London has restricted access to the communal garden at Walker House. I do look forward to seeing how this plays out. [link]

Self portraits done by someone suffering Alzheimers. [link]

Awkward feline sleeping positions. [link]

For the fate of your soul, pick one athlete and one sport. Jon Lovitz as the Devil gets to pick the field and the opposition. [link]

Cinnamon Challenge defined. [link]

Jobs done in midieval ages. note: blogger isn't on the list. [link]

This video on how robots view the world isn't quite correct. Or... rather... damn. It shows a graphical representation of what data the robots get from the video and then overlays it on top of the video. But what does the robot "see"? Then again, how would we show what information we get from our eyes and separate it from the picture we looked at? [link]

I'll be reading this long article for awhile. It's the story of what happens when someone releases their private zoo into a suburban area. [link]

What did ""Well, I hope Neil Young will remember a southern man don't need him around anyhow" really mean? What was "Sweet Home Alabama" actually about? [link]

Complete lower jaw replacement with titanium jaw. [link]

Model plane with a camera finds a river of blood. [link]

Wasn't this a Wallace and Grommet movie? [link]

Food art. [link]

Poor cold kitty.

And lets end it with a comic. Darkness: The story of the most dramatic roommate ever. [link]

Thursday, February 09, 2012

What a bartender needs to know

Edit: A highball refers to any drink that's a mix of alcohol and mixer in a ratio that favors the carbonated beverage. Typically the mixer is some form of carbonated beverage. [link]

I'm not much of a drinker. When I was little I begged a drink off of Mom's Bud Light. She put salt in hers to make it fizzier. It was awful.

My next drink came while I was still in college but longer after turning 21 than you might believe. A friend was getting married and the bachelor party was at my place. Everyone brought their favorite beers and the leftovers stayed in my fridge. I started drinking with Heineken and Guinness and some other stuff. I went back to Mom and Dad's for the weekend. Thinking I had developed a taste for it, when my brother asked if I wanted a drink from the garage fridge I asked for a beer. He got me a Bud Light. I sorta spit it out and wanted to know what the hell he did to it. Nothing. It's just crap.

Later in college I was hanging out in the office at home with my cousin and fiddling with the computer. My brother asked us if we wanted something to drink so my cousin asked for a screwdriver. My brother mixed 50/50 OJ and 1979 Kansas made vodka. The fumes were so bad that as soon as he walked in the room my cousin grabbed his eyes and yelled "I'M BLIND!"

I've spent time with people who know how to drink. Some who make good peach schnapps, chocolate martinis, unnamed things made just for people who don't like the taste of alcohol, and the Todd-tini, OMG, the Todd-tini. If it's not perfect Todd puts it down the drain. I know several places to get good mudslides or mojitos. I've had some rum and cokes and vodka and tonics, but it's always someone who knows what the hell they're doing who order and I just get one of the same. So I still don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Not really.

What I have learned over the years is that there is no down turn in the bartending business. The worse the economy gets the more people tend to drink. So my advice to people starting college now is to learn to mix drinks. Even if you don't drink, you want to know how to tend bar just so you'll always have a job opening. And it's a skill that people respect. Even if you don't ever have to resort to slinging drinks to make money, there's plenty of times in the business world that you'll score points with the boss by knowing how to make a good martini.

Now, I've got some friends who are starting college. What drinks would your recommend they learn how to make? How should they stock the liquor cabinet on a Pabst Blue Ribbon budget? If they're going to invest in a bottle of something good, what should they get?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: February 8

I have an actual office to call home. Mind you, until the boss tells us we need to change our schedules I and my coworkers have no particular plans to show up any more than we currently do. Why? Because from my house to the DC Beltway is half an hour. Yeah, DC is a shitty place to try to get out of or across. Then, I spend another hour on I-270 to get to work. That's if the traffic is cooperative. It makes my 8 hour day into an 11 hour day. Not something I'm gonna volunteer to extend to more of my work week if I can avoid it.

So I-270 can sod off.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Game: Chrononauts

Another game worth checking out is "Chrononauts". You start with a grid that shows real world historical events. Disasters, wars, assasinations, and whatnot. Then you get cards that allow you to start messing with history. If Lincoln didn't die then Andrew Johnson wouldn't have been President and gotten impeached. And Nixon wouldn't have had to resign 109 years later. Things like that.
Initial game board.
There are three ways to win the game.
One is get to get back to your own timeline. Each ID card has one real historical event and two screwed up events. Change history so those three events are true and you're home.
A second is to complete your mission. That means collecting three artifacts from history.
ID and Mission cards
The third way is to get 10 cards in your hand. As you change history you create paradoxes. When Lincoln lived a paradox formed with Andrew Johnson and Nixon. If you reach 13 paradoxes the game ends and everyone loses. But if you apply a patch to a paradox you get rewarded with an extra card in your hand. Reach 10 and you win.

This game requires more thought than "Gloom" did, but is an interesting game to play none-the-less. You get history lessons and some rather convoluted thinking to make it work.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Game: Gloom

Some time back Yummy and I went to an internet convention called Intervention. I went to see some of the people whose comics I read online and Yummy was there to see if there were any ideas she could steal for the conventions she puts on. One of the rooms we liked best was the game room. Along one wall were tables filled with games you could play. Another wall was lined with shelves full of games you could buy. And the girl working there? Her job is to play the games with people. She teaches you the game, if you like it, you buy one. Rough life, right?

One of the games that caught our attention was "Gloom". Mostly because all of the cards are transparent. So we looked a bit closer. The point of the game is to make people as miserable as possible. Alas, there were no copies for sale. I'd kept an eye out for it for several months after that. Finally, we just ordered a copy.

It's for 2 - 4 players ages 13 and up. There are four families, each with five family members. The object of the game is to make your family members more miserable than the other families, and when you think you can't make them any more miserable you kill them.

The hands for a two player game

Some of the cards you place on top of family members.
Look closely at the cards shown above. Red dots have negative numbers, black dots have positive, grey dots are zero. You can see that down the left side of the card there are spaces for 3 dots.  You place these cards over the characters. As the stack of cards builds on a character you'll see their value plummet and climb as dots overlap and mask those on previous cards. Only the dots you can see matter. And when you think your character is a miserable as you can safely make it, or when an opponent's character is having a good day, you kill them using the cards with gray text boxes at the bottom.

The Blackwater clan mid-game.
The game ends when one whole family is dead. Once that happens you count up the points. Lowest score wins. But only dead family members can be counted. Yummy totally had me out scored, but her family tended to live longer than mine so I won because I had more dead people with slightly bad days than she had dead people with really bad days.

The game recommends that you embellish the bad stories. Half the fun, they say, is telling about how everything went wrong. I recommend drinking a bit to help you with the stories.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday Links: February 3

TARDIS interior map. [link]
"First left, second right, third on the left, go straight ahead, under the stairs, past the bins, fifth door on your left." - The Unquiet Dead
"half a mile down the corridor, left, then right, then right again, then the third right, past a weird swirly thing, left, then the other left, through the sun room, past a green door, right, along a wall until it becomes slimy, down a lift to the third floor and straight ahead - easy-peasy!" - TARDIS Adventure Game

Space station concepts that were never made. I still think that the Space Odyssey model and the Inflatable Station are still inevitable developments. Or at least stations based on those designs. [link]

Covered walkway in Italy made from a coverted railway tunnel. We need more areas like this. Covered pedestrian and bike paths. It lets me cover long distances on foot out of the rain and gets those bike riders off the road and not careening madly across traffic. [link]

MAPS! [link]
My favorite of the maps. [link]

A classical violinist did a bit of improvising when someone's phone rang. About 35 seconds in.

Martian rover "Opportunity" turned 8 Earth years old on January 25. That is if you measure from the day it "hatched" on Mars.

Solar activity comes in cycles. This winter and next are peaks in solar storms. This means peaks in aurora activity. Here's a recent picture. [link]

This belongs in the tl;dr category. I doubt I'll ever read it because there's no way I'm voting for him anyway, but I thought I should post it. It's the McCain campaign's writeup about Mitt Romney from 2008. [link]

An interview with Bill Clinton. [link]

What's it like to have an understanding of very advanced mathematics. [link]
It seems to explain why there's so much difficulty explaining science to the religious. I mean, besides the fact that you can't explain something to a person whose income (or worldview) is dependent on them not understanding. But once they have a level 8 or 9 understanding the mathematicians have trouble dealing with the level 3 or 4 explanations. Which means they're right when they say you need another 6 years of school to understand the answer to your question.

Carved up books. [link]

The real reason Yummy wants a cat door for her apartment.

Yeah, I'd drink one of these. [link]

An awesome way to wash your hands. [link]

Assorted Dalek candies. [link]

"This is Aperture" - a Portal song set to the tune of "This is Halloween".

"Attic Junk" - an animated Mitchell & Webb sketch.

After a 10 year legal battle, Neil Gaiman is now part owner of a couple of issues of Spawn and a few issues of some spinoff comics. Gaiman says that it's about character ownership, not the money. [link]

Another 10 seconds of The Avengers.

Commissioner Gordon as Magnum P.I. Now when do we get to see Tom Selleck play Gordon?

Newt Gingrich is being used over illegal use of "Eye of the Tiger" at campaign rallys. [link]

If you want to end movie piracy you have to offer something better. [link]

It's... uh... If you lived through the 90's just hit play.

I'm a bit disturbed by how many of these songs I knew from commercials and not from radio play during my late teen/college years.

More quad-rotors! I welcome our new Skynet overlords.

Scientists are about to finish drilling into a subglacial lake in Antarctica. They hope to find life cut off from the world for 20 million years. Failing that, a small town in western Kansas is their next best bet. [link]

How many singers do you know of who sound fantastic whether played at 33 or 45 rpm? Now you know of at least one. [link]

Monty Python reunion pic? Sorta. [link]

Shaky legal decision in the UK. A picture that isn't a copy, but is very similar, is now copyright infringement. [link]
I mean, I suppose I can see the point in this case, but how many millions of people have taken picture of the Eiffel Tower from more or less the exact same spot?

The 10th President has grandsons that are still alive. [link]

An Andre the Giant memorial. He'd have turned 65 last month. [link]

Fast hands, kid. [link]

Classical art in The Simpsons. [link]

Oreo Pocky. [link]

Meal planner. Enter the number of calories you want to eat over the span of 1 to 9 meals. [link]

Mitt Romney straps his dog to the roof of the car. [link]

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sod Off Sequel

We actually have offices now. I'm moving around furniture and setting up computers today. So instead of my planned post you get a tiny picture I took yesterday of 12 deer on base.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012