Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Links: June 29

How to light a match with water. (really hot water)

Underwater lakes. [link]

A gospel of Judas is being translated. There's much to support it being real. [link]

The software company Valve has no bosses. [link]

A nerdy Twitter conversation between Simon Pegg and Wil Wheaton. I love it when actors are geeks. [link]

Video of a momma bear operating a garage door to free her cub. [link]

Listen to this program. The Amazing Christopher is a friend of mine. Pictures 6-9 are the stuff he did for the show. [link]
Here's some of his better work. [link]

Books that make you undatable. [link]

Software that "evolves" music. [link]

I can't remember if I posted the video I saw of the Slinky being dropped. Here's a similar video with a good explanation. [link]

"Much Better Now" - a 5 minute short film about a bookmark having fun. [link]

Cartoons have taught us the moonshine comes in a jug with 3 Xes on the side. What the XXX means is that it's been run through a still 3 times. [link]
note: I had to hold onto this link for a couple of weeks before it worked. You may have to, too.

The proper name for a # is an octothorpe. [link]

Lenin and Stalin robbed a bank. [link]

Six people who managed to screw up the economy by themselves. [link]

If you're in the DC area, or plan to be on July 11, you can get your own copy of the Team Cul de Sac book signed by Richard Thompson and friends. I'm gonna be there trying to get more signatures than I already have. [link]

It's six years old, but this video is about using human game playing to improve artificial intelligence and search results.

A Tiny Toons cartoon that was dropped after the first showing. [link]

Valve's new Source Filmmaker software. Even if you haven't done any 3D modeling you'll want to check this out.

Entries in a minimalist Lego competition. [link]

Otis vs The Doctor. [link]

Training for the Promethius mission. Don't watch if you haven't seen the movie.

Legend has it that the Easter Island heads walked to their locations. Turns out it may be true.

A cat playing a guitar gets interrupted by an earthquake. It's like the internet taken physical form.

Party Rock Cantina

A university ad for the humanities department and why the ad sucks. [link]

Two planets with orbits close enough that they could probably watch each others TVs. [link]

The 15 biggest cargo ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world. [link]
A much better reason to buy from your home country, or at least continent.

Capuchin monkeys can be taught to understand and use money. They immediately started paying for sex. [link]

A DJ who stayed awake for 200 hours never recovered psychologically. [link]

Lonesome George, the last pinta island tortoise, has died. [link]

This asteroid has a moon. [link]

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Still with the vacation pics.

Next stop on our trip back from St Louis was Garden of the Gods. That's Garden of the Gods in Illinois. I prefer the Colorado version, but it was a bit out of the way. We found a nice short trail to walk so we could get back on the road.

A seriously mellow bird for being so far from the city.
This picture was taken from exactly as far away as it looks. 

See that spot of pink on top of the rocks?

It's Yummy as seen with a good camera lens.

All that in about a half mile loop.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sod Off Wednesday: June 27

By this time next week I may have changed my tune, but right now I'd like my allergist to sod off. I stopped taking my antihistamines for three day so I could get tested to see if what I'm allergic to has changed since I was little. And while I was there, maybe get some proper advice on what medications I should be taking. So I've got new medications that I'm trying to take as advised instead of self medicating. And I feel like hell. It comes and goes. Last night I felt like something moderately heavy and really gross was standing on my head and chest.

Also, I didn't know you could get so high from Mucinex. I needed a decongestant that didn't have antihistamines. None the first day, two hits on the second day, the third day was every 4 hours like the bottle said. By the time I got to the doctor's office I needed help reading. I COULD read, but large blocks of text just didn't register after the first few words. The good news is that I've confirmed that I could never become an alcoholic or druggie.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Movie Review: Brave

Here's the trailer for "Brave" that you've seen. Merida competing in an archery contest so she won't have to marry someone she doesn't even know.

Here's the second trailer I saw. A Japanese trailer.

What? the fuck?
It goes from being a movie about an independent woman fighting for her freedom to a movie about how if a woman doesn't do as she's told she'll be attacked by bears and bring about the end of the kingdom.

Luckily, the Japanese trailer is misleading. There's no damn curse or spirit of the forest for one thing. Nor will it destroy the kingdom.

The movie is largely about the conflict between Merida and her mother. That and reading the fine print in a contract. I don't want to tell you much of anything about the movie. The trailer covers a scene early in the movie, but not too early. And after that things get wild. But they didn't tell you what happens so I'm keeping quiet, too.

I will be getting it on DVD. It's a good movie. It's Pixar.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Movie Review: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

When I first heard about this book I laughed. Much the same way I did when I heard about the movie "Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter". Having seen the latter movie I was expecting something similar from the book so I skipped it. However, when preparing for a road trip I picked up some legal audio books. I specify legal to separate it from damn near everything else in my collection up to that point. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" was really quite reasonably priced after buying a copy of the 7th Harry Potter book on CD. Surprisingly enough, I liked it. [see?]

It was the story of Lincoln's life with vampires added. Early on his mother, who really died of milk sickness (drinking milk from a cow that ate a toxic plant), was supposedly killed by vampires. And much of his traveling was due to vampire hunting justified with business reasons. It's actually a pretty good companion piece for any Lincoln biography since it makes you wonder how much is true.

The movie is different. It's a much greater departure from the book than the book is from history. But, holy shit, is it a good action movie. It's MUCH more like what I expected from the book. Early on it sticks to the book with some significant cuts. As it goes on the vampire fighting is dramatic, but abbreviated. The need for Lincoln to hunt vampires instead of the vampire friend who recruited him is added. As are a few friends. The Civil War action is radically altered. And the end is changed.

I liked the movie, but there were some things that I missed. The movie touches on how Stephen Douglas courted Mary Todd (true), but Douglas vanishes from the movie while the book goes on a good deal more about the ongoing rivalry between the two including Douglas turning from his initial anti-slavery leanings. The movie includes a bit about how slaves were being fed to vampires, but loses much of how the vampires had set them up as a regular food source and the allegory of vampires as slave owners. The book was biographical literature while the movie is action-packed-barely-historical-fiction. Also, why was Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas left off the credits while Harriet Tubman made it in despite the fact that nothing in the movie indicated who she was?

To do the book service you need to make a one season TV series out of it. Possibly the most action ever seen on a PBS series. Or HBO with a companion series about what's real and what's not. The book and this movie are two very different creatures.

I want to spend a minute on Timur Bekmambetov, the director. Have you seen "Night Watch" or "Day Watch"? If not you want to at least see "Night Watch". It's a Russian vampire movie. Proper vampires. No glitter or anything. OK, they're not exactly Dracula, but they're realistic and interesting. And Timur has some interesting visual decisions, including how he did the English subtitles. Seriously, I want there to be an award for subtitling just so he can get it. And what he does with the action scenes in "Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter" is awesome. Not just the high contrast or the way the camera speed changes radically to show details of the action. There's a scene where Lincoln is chasing the vampire who killed his mother through a massive horse stampede that is like nothing you've ever seen. Very much a "holy shit, this is awesome!" moment. This movie sets him up as the go to guy for vampires.

The next question is whether I'll get this on DVD. I'm pretty sure I will for the action, but I'll stick with the book for the story.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Links: June 22

Dragonflies raised in high oxygen environments grow larger. [link]

The history of money. [link]

All 786 known planets to scale. [link]

1/3 of 2011 divorce papers used the word Facebook. [link]

Matt Groening will be ending his "Life in Hell" comic. Alas, the last one I saw was before he started "The Simpsons". I though "Life in Hell" was long over. [link]

Liz Shaw, a Doctor Who companion back in the Jon Pertwee days has passed away. [link]

Live action (sorta) Futurama intro.

The Avengers meet Firefly. It's a Joss Whedathon.

The Hensons are working on a new puppet show. Disney owns The Muppets at the moment, so I'm not sure the use of the name Muppets is appropriate. [link 1] [link]

How did I miss this?

The "Rock Bottom Remainders" is breaking up. It stars Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan and Mitch Albom. [link]

They're not good, but they're fun.

 Fetching cat.

11 caffeine facts. [link]

Michael Bay's TMNT movie being delayed because of script issues. So many jokes to be made about that. [link]

Necronomicon pizza and other geek graphics. [link]

Oookie picture of a bee stinging someone. [link]

All hail the cat lord!

China claims they can build the new world's tallest tower in only 90 days. [link]
What they don't say it that they plan to bomb everything taller than The Great Wall.

You aren't really ready to have a kid. [link]

The X37b is back and boy are it's arms tired. [link]

You're (slightly) more likely to die on your birthday. [link]

How self driving cars could change things. [link]

Surfing dogs. [link]

There has been a successful monkey head/body swap. [link]

Belief in a god dropping among people 30 and younger. [link]
That number is still over 50%. Notable, but not impressive.

Time lapse video of a fire in New Mexico. [link]

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vacation pics: The town of Chester

As we headed south from St Louis we passed through the town of Chester. Apparently the guy who created Popeye spent some time here and based his characters off of locals. As we came in to town there was a big sign talking about their big Popeye statue. Looking online we saw that it's supposed to be in a park that we couldn't find on any maps. And the town had no signs pointing at the big statue. But they had other statues. I got pictures of Bluto while Yummy hit the Dairy Queen. A bit later we found a big Wimpy statue.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bonus post: Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice is tonight at 7:09 P.M. EDT.

Sod Off Wednesday: UPS

Yummy had a birthday a few weeks back. I ordered her an alarm clock that you can figure out how to work without making yourself a quick reference guide. It was back ordered, which was fine. I get that. Then they tried to deliver it via UPS.

Most everything that I've seen get delivered over the last decade or so has either been through FedEx, the United States Postal Service (USPS), or some local pizza place. There are things I've come to expect from delivery people. 

The first (and most important) – Knock on a door or ring a doorbell. 
UPS says it's policy that they do this. Every delivery person should either knock or ring a door bell to make sure nobody is home before they write a missed delivery note. However, no matter what the Supreme Court says, that is not a company holding a package, but a person. I can understand why they'd skip that step. They have a lot of packages to drop off and only so much time in which to do it. In most daytime home deliveries there's nobody at home. Why stand around and wait when you're 95% sure there's nobody there? Leave a note and go! But if the package is returned to sender because the delivery person doesn't want to wait then UPS is the one who needs to fix it. 

Second – Hold the package for a few days. 
If I miss the delivery, both FedEx and USPS have warehouses that I can drop in on. I bring them the notice and they bring out my deliver. We're all happy. But UPS... tsk tsk tsk... UPS doesn't do that. No, if I can't be home on those days the package is returned to sender. No second chance for people who can't skip work or are burdened with some moron in brown.

3rd – Phone calls.
Conversations with other delivery services go like this.
"Is this Ibid the Incredible?"
"That would be me."
"We can't find your place/we couldn't deliver there/we need another address/I have your pizza out here/etc. Could you help us out?"

Conversations with UPS go like this.
IV – Sign here if you want us to leave the package.
FedEx will allow you to sign a slip and leave it on the door saying it's OK to leave the package behind. The USPS used to. Now they want you to pick up. Luckily, it's not an issue with the pizza guy. UPS didn't offer this either.

||||Alternate delivery location.
If there's a problem, other delivery agencies will allow you to change the delivery to another location. Still no love from UPS.

vi – Just leave the damn thing.
This could just be an issue with the type of delivery requested, but FedEx and USPS leave stuff on my steps all the time.

So, I complained to the company. The company contacted UPS. UPS charged them with shipping the package back to the company. UPS claims everything went as it should. After all, it's company policy that the delivery person knock or ring a bell and delivery people are automatons that always do what the manual says. 

I cancelled the order. Credit to the company, they were willing to split the delivery fee to ship it again. That extra $10 would have made shipping more expensive than the gift. I told the company I wanted to cancel the order. They said they couldn't refund the shipping. Even so, I'm not throwing good money after bad. Then I wrote to UPS and told them that the company had lost my business because UPS' service sucks. Actually, I listed all the ways that other companies would, and have, dealt with this issue. 

So, UPS joins my shit list. They're not patent trolls like Amazon, or pushing to export jobs like Walmart, or crippling the global economy like the "too big to fail" crowd or trying to get NOAA shut down like Accuweather. But, honestly, UPS, you had one damn job and your people fucked it up. 

UPS can sod-off. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vacation pics: Anheuser-Busch tour

There's lots of places where you can go on brewery tours. We saw signs for a brewery tour and distillery tour on our drive home. I can't really compare them, but I know the Anheuser-Busch tour in St. Louis is one you want to go on even if you're not a drinker. The campus is gorgeous and any place that has to brew the levels of beer they do can't help but impress.
Note: There's the normal brewery tour which is free and the Brewmaster Tour which isn't. We were on the normal tour.

A couple of the clydesdales. More were in the stable.
Even more on their farm outside of town.

Inside the campus stables. There were a couple of these wagons.
Horse stalls are behind the doors to the left and right. 

Just some of the buildings. You see the 1891 on top?
Other buildings have 1991 on top, but match the design
of the older buildings.

The malt house. I think it may be offices now, though.

After being used up, grains are put into these wheat trucks and sold as cow feed.

Just another one of the buildings.

This guy is on many of the corners. He's an old mascot
they used to sell non-alcoholic drinks during prohibition.

One of the pictures from the bottling room floor. I have others, but they're meh.

Yummy and I found a couple of these between a couple of escalators.
They seemed lost so we kept them.

Monday, June 18, 2012

More Vacation Slides

One last picture from The Arch. There's a museum under The Arch that talks about the westward expansion across the United States and the ongoing settlement of the land. This picture is just of the ceiling. The museum is a fan shaped room that's organized in a series of concentric arcs radiating from the entrance. The further you are from the door the later it is. The subject being discussed in the museum changes as you sweep the room from right to left.

note: If you go to St Louis and want to go up The Arch you want to get there early. By this I mean when they first open. You need tickets to go up and they go fast. If you're not early expect to spend an hour and a half waiting for your turn.

Later that week we met up with some friends and hit the St Louis Zoo. We started late in the day so only got a couple of hours in. We were amazed at how active the animals are. At most zoos you have to catch them at lunch time if you want to see activity. Having accepted up front that we weren't going to see everything helped. It meant we could take our time and watch the animals instead of rushing through the zoo identifying an animal and moving on.
Yummy bonds with a ring tailed lemur. 

A baby lemur going to momma for protection after annoying dad.

The most prominent bald eagle I've seen in a zoo.

A vulture trying to sleep.


other bird
additional bird

This guy just sat on the fence. Another one was on the ground below
so I'm assuming this guy was protecting his mate. 

"Wait, what? You reach for me. I snap at you. You back off. That's how it's supposed to work.
None of this petting the birdie crap! But I'm not saying 'stop'."

"You're not even coming over here? Just point a camera and move on from way over there? Jerk."

Grumpy owls.

Prairie Dogs. Lots of them making lots of noise. 

These guys must have mistaken us for someone else.
They rushed the wall and expected... I dunno, something.

Just a flower I saw on the way out. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Links: June 15

In the 1850's and 1860's Chicago was jacked up to allow for better drainage. [link]

Rats laugh when tickled. [link]

The world's longest lived two faced cat. [link]

Camera simulator. Quality camera. [link]

A free PDF of the book containing all the coffee jokes from the Sheldon comic strip. [link]

As the Bush Tax Cuts come up for renewal again it's time to ask the question "whose policies are more responsible for current deficits: Bush's or Obama's?" [link]

Why we don't believe in science. [link]

How to care for a baby mouse. I'm giving the link instead of embedding it because you'll want to read the video description. [link]

The creepiest damn earrings I've ever seen. [link]

A 16 minute video showing the making of the Hofner Violin Beatles Bass.

You've probably noticed that more and more doctor visits involve less and less time with the doctor. This article talks about ways that medical care is being given without doctors. [link]

Click and Clack are retiring. [link]

Vampire graves found in Bulgaria. [link]

Amelia Earhart apparently landed on an island and sent 57 SOS signals. [link]

Hugh Laurie may play the head of OmniCorp in the Robocop remake. [link]
That makes him and Samuel L Jackson.

In a remarkable cool move that almost, but ultimately didn't happen, Sony fully intended to let Disney put Oscorp Tower in the New York skyline in The Avengers. Disney wants the rights to Spiderman and related properties back, so that fight is ongoing. But relations are apparently good enough that this detail almost happened. [link]

From the people who brought you the box office disaster "Battleship" and the company behind the last several movies starring Adam Sandler comes a movie based on Tonka trucks! [link]
Now if they can just get Kristen Stewart to star they'll have a perfect trifecta of crap.

Game: Fix It Felix - the game to go with the trailer to "Wreck It Ralph" from last week. [link]
I haven't played it yet, so play at your own risk.

My music literacy has never been great. The radio wasn't on much at home, the tractor had AM radio (so GOP talk, religious talk, or 50's/60's music), and the pickup usually had the 50's/60's station on. I remember being in gym class in grade school and being asked who I thought was better: Michael Jackson or Culture Club and being dimly aware that I had heard of one of them. The first time I heard of Nirvana was when their lead singer played a catch little ditty with a 12-gauge wind instrument. I first heard of Rihanna because of her utility as a punching bag. So you know I'm only posting this because I like this guy's lip syncing of the Rihanna video.

Simon Pegg talking about messing with his Twitter followers.

Letter to the editor written as airplanes were becoming common. [link]

A virus with a suicide command. [link]

Some Pixar rules for writing. [link]

Game: I dunno, I haven't played this one either, but it's based off of something from "Community". [link]

The Team Cul De Sac auction is over. I'll go into my loot the results more later, but I wanted to show you this. The Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes creator) piece blew everyone else away by netting more than $13K. [link]

15 horrible covers of Beatles songs. [link]
The French version actually didn't make me wince... until about halfway through.

Gum in various acids.

I knew that George Washington had the opportunity to become King, but turned it down. I didn't know that King George called him the greatest man in the world for it. [link]

More games I haven't played. These are based off of the games mentioned on the radio in Grand Theft Auto III. [link]

Best hoodie ever! [link]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vacation pics: The Arch

The Arch.

Looking down

Looking out.

Down again. Geez that's a long way down.

Yummy looking down.

I can see the building I'm standing in from here!

So it really is a long way down. 630 ft.

The washing machine we rode up and down in.