Monday, November 30, 2015

Spending Time With Mom

I'm really not sure what to say at this point.  After a little over a year of good progress, my mom is really struggling now.

A few weeks ago she was in the hospital for a few days due to a fever.  I saw her in the hospital and she was pretty tired.

Then almost two weeks later she was in again.  But this time, there was harder news.

And then mom and dad made the decision to transition into hospice.

And so, this weekend, apart from visiting on Wednesday and Friday, I threw myself into chores at home.

Jennifer and I got boxes of Christmas decorations from storage, and spent Saturday and early Sunday morning decorating.  We also had pad see ew for Thanksgiving, because we were neither of us interested in turkey this year.  I got my fix of semi-traditional Thanksgiving food by having country ham when I was at my parents'.  And then yesterday, I told Jennifer I was going to do more chores.

So, after taking the empty boxes back to storage, while Jennifer cleaned up plastic pine needles and did general cleaning, I took care of lots of "manly-man" tasks around the house that I had been putting off.

New wheels on our wheelie cart.  Check.

Assemble and hang giant map on stairway.  Check.

Hang fancy shelves and mirror in bedroom.  Check.

And then I assisted in the last stages of clean-up.

And the house looks great:

This year we bought a set of advent ornaments for the tree in our foyer.  That's what's in the basket and why the tree seems so bare.

Friday, October 23, 2015

At This Time, I Only Eat Hot Dogs and Artichokes

So, John and I regularly chat during the day on YIM.  Some days it's only a few sentences, and others it's long conversations.

His first message to me today was to ask if I'd seen the super-cut "Star Wars - The Force Awakens" trailer.  It combines all of the footage from the three trailers.  I finally got some time and watched it.  You can too:

I told him when I was done that I was now seven-years-old and want all the toys.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Duck Army Videos

Have you seen the Duck Army video?

When I showed this to my wife and friends, there were 8 million views, and as I compose this there are over 9.6 million views.

Now, Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) saw this video and had to have his own collection.

And we all have the same reaction as Adam does.

But Adam made a duck bomb.

Adn then now, he has made a hanging bomb.

And here's how he made it.

Now, as Adam says, these are dog toys.  My Dad and I could not imagine them lasting long against a dog, but apparently, they are pretty sturdy.  Also, pretty annoying.

I'll admit that I did this post mostly to have all of these videos together for myself, but...  Share and Enjoy!

Music Thoughts

Yesterday, Mark Knopfler's song "Going Home" from the "Local Hero" soundtrack came on my iPod.  I think I listened to it four times.

When touring with Dire Straits, Knopfler used to close the concert with that song.  I first heard it as the last song on the live concert album Alchemy.  It's an amazing song.

And actually the entire "Local Hero "soundtrack is interesting with some very touching portions.  And listening to "Going Home" you can easily see why he was chosen to do the soundtrack for "The Princess Bride".

Monday, October 12, 2015

Long Weekend

So, I took a long weekend on Friday (in no way connected with not getting Columbus Day off on Monday) and had a special fun weekend.  I'll take it backwards.

Sunday, Jennifer was look for something to watch on Amazon, and she happened to come across "Back to the Future".  Now this movie is 30 years old, and I would have bet large sums of money that we had watched it together, but apparently not.  So we watched it and she really enjoyed it.  I asked if she wanted to watch Part II, and she said sure.  We almost didn't watch Part III, but she was hooked.  It was a great movie marathon.

Saturday was our monthly GURPS game.  We had a good length session and had lots of fun and laughs.  I was sore and a little distracted, but that was to be expected.

Friday, I started a new tattoo piece on my arm at a tattoo shop called Tigers Blood Social Club that Jennifer and I found on Alameda a few months ago.  And Friday, it was my turn back under the gun.

I've been pondering the concept of this portion for a bit, and have been looking at this artwork for inspiration.  The symbol in the artwork is a stylized S from the font that DC uses for the Kryptonian language in the comics and was also used on "Smallville".  I asked Ryan, the artist, to combine the artwork with a design from this t-shirt.

It was a long session, but we talked about movies and music and comics.

Ryan is traveling next month, so I'll be going back in December, and we'll see if we can finish this one.  I will say that the arm (at least where I got mine done) was a lot easier than on the back.  He was rarely tattooing and making my skeleton vibrate.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Hearing the Martian

So, I take regular walks at work to keep from sitting all day.  I thought it would be good to listen to something other than music, so I've been catching up on my podcasts.  Until I started walking, I hadn't listened to podcasts since finishing fieldwork in Lodi.  You see, I like to read while on BART, and so I have music for that, and I would listen to podcasts while I was driving to and from Lodi.

Now my two main podcasts are Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier's "SModcast".  I've been listening to it pretty much since the beginning, and it's lots of fun.  However, I ran out of those.  I also listen to Kevin's "Fatman on Batman" in which he interviews people associated with Batman in movies, TV, and animation.  Lately it's become an overall celebration and chat about all things comic books with Marc Bernardin.  I have also recently run out of those as well.

So, I went looking and found out that Adam Savage does a podcast called "Still Untitled".  Now, it's not news that I really like "Mythbusters", so this just kind of follows along.  And this podcast is all kinds of fun.  My only complaint about it is that it is too short.  Or at least, it seems that way.

I've already written about Andy Weir's The Martian, but there is more to the story now.  Adam interviewed Andy in the video below:

And recently, I listened to the podcast spoilercast of The Martian.  I won't embed that one because if for some reason you haven't read it yet, and want to, the temptation to watch may be too strong.  Just remember that the movie opens Friday (tomorrow).  One of the things the guys brought up regarding how good the book is, is how great the audio book is.  You see, the majority of the book is written in first person journal format, and the act of having it read to you is a lot like hearing a real first person account of a tale.

So, I picked up the audio book.  It's about an 11 hour MP3.  I started it on Tuesday, and with travel to work, daily walks, and lunches and things, I have managed to be about 8.5 hours into it right now.  It took a bit of will power to get over personal the stigma of smiling, giggling, and snorting at the funny bits while I'm walking around the block in Walnut Creek or while on BART.  And those BART rides haven't all been just from MacArthur station to Walnut Creek, yesterday it was going through Oakland on the way to and from San Leandro.

If you can take the time, listen to the book.

And then tomorrow, go see the movie.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Sunset

Last night before the sun got near the hills of the North Bay, Jennifer pointed out the clouds to me.  they were those amazing clouds you get when it's raining, but the water doesn't reach the ground.  I knew they would end up creating some amazing images once the sun was hidden.  I think I got some good shots.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Three Books Without Pratchett

So today at lunch, I completed my third non-Pratchett book since finishing the Discworld series.

The Annihilation Score is the latest "Laundry Files" from Charles Stross.  While, I admit it was not as amazing as the first three books of the Laundry Files, I can get an idea of where Stross is going, and I kind of liked the switch in perspective.  This book is the first where we are fully in Mo's head, and I liked the descriptions of what the evilly crafted violin she uses does to her head.  I look forward to future books.

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu was well written, but disappointing.  It is so full of tropes that I knew almost everything that was going to happen.  It brings to mind the movies "Dreamscape" and "Robocop" as well as other more generic tropes.  I will probably read the sequel when it comes out, and I will try more of Chu's books, but they won't be go-to stories if I've got other choices.

And I just finished Armada by Ernest Cline which is his second book.  His first book Ready Player One is already in pre-production for being made into a movie.  I can tell that Cline has a lot of popular culture in his head, and apparently the only way he can get it out is to write books.  Ready Player One was non-stop fun for me, but after reading Time Salvager and starting Armada, I became concerned that Armada was being too predictable.  It is as fun to read as his first, and I'll just say that the way that you think it's going to go is wrong.

I now return briefly to Terry Pratchett with an assist to Stephen Baxter for the conclusion to the Long Earth series The Long Utopia.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Learned Something Today...

Unfortunately not in a "South Park" kind of way.

I'm at the Walnut Creek BART station, and I'm wheeling my bike to the gate to exit.  I'm seeing a bunch of guys in suits heading to come in, but they're swinging wide of the over-sized gate (for bikes and wheelchairs and people with large bags, and sometimes, just large people).

Except for this one guy.

The first mark against this guy is that he looks like Marco Rubio.  The second is that he's walking fast toward the large gate.  The third is that he's seen me, and is trying to beat me there.

You see, the over-sized gate is the only one that is the most fitting for the San Francisco Bay Area, because it goes both ways.  And whoever uses it first sets its direction for a few seconds and then it rests to accept riders from either direction.

And what happened was that both of us touched our Clipper cards to the sensor at the same time,  And that essentially shut the gate down for a few seconds.  I stood there until he moved on to another gate, then tried again, and it still wouldn't scan me.  So I moved on to another gate, lifted up mu bike and exited.

All because he couldn't be bothered to walk a couple more steps to a one way gate.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lovecraft Movies

So, I was looking something up and mistyped "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and instead typed "The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo".  It got me thinking if there are other Lovecraft inspired titles I could make.  Granted most are difficult to mistype like that, but what about substitution?

The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo
Miskatonic, Inc.
Straight Outta Innsmouth
The Curious Case of Randolph Carter
The Colour Purple from Outer Space
The Shoggoth DA
Whateley and Me

Contributions from friends:
Herbert West-World
Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of Tintalos
M. Nyalothotep Shayamalan's Elder Signs
Mi-Go Busters
The King in Yellow and I
If I come up with more, I'll post those.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Promises to Keep

So the Robin Williams' movie "Hook" is one of my favorites.  If you've read the original Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie, it's actually a really good sequel.  It stays true to the old tale.

One of the things that Peter says is that his word is his  I can remember learning the hard way that a promise is something you keep, and that breaking a promise is a terrible thing to do.

In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, a promise made by a wizard is something that they can make be true by acting on it before they even make it.  Jennifer and I have enhanced promises by calling them "wizard's promises".  They are guaranteed in our minds.

I have a few other promises out there:

When we became roommates, John and I promised never to pull pranks on each other.  We also vowed never to talk politics in order to maintain our friendship.

To a girlfriend in college, I promised that if I ever got to Paris, I would contemplate Notre Dame and write a poem.

The hardest promise I have to keep is one to another girlfriend.  When I was told that my feelings were too much for her, I said I wouldn't contact her unless she contacted me first.

I hold to that that promise like I do all of the ones I have given.  All of them are important and I intend to keep my word no matter how difficult doing that may become.

Wizard's promise...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Music on My Mind

So, this morning I had a song come up that reminded me of someone I used to date.  I thought I'd do a search of videos and songs to see what I could come up with.

Most of these remind me of dances.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Discworld - The End

So when I started the Shepherd's Crown, I read the dedication:

For Esmerelda Weatherwax
-- mind how you go.

I swear that if I hadn't been on the BART platform, I would have started crying.  That's because of what Rhianna Pratchett reported her last words to her father were.  Then as I started reading the book, I started to wonder, and when I got to the office, I found a high resolution picture of the Paul Kidby cover.

Then, I did let go of a few tears.

That's a hi-res picture, so for those who read the Discworld, click on it and see why.

And of course there was my reaction to Chapter Two.

But I finished the book Sunday night.  It is obvious as the afterward states that Pratchett wasn't quite done with this.  But after enjoying Raising Steam so much more after rereading it, I'm sure that the next time I read this it will be a smoother read.

So that's my marathon/tribute read for Terry Pratchett.  I've got a few more of his books to read like The Long Utopia, and the four Science of the Discworld books that compare earth (Roundworld) to the Discworld alternating science chapters with story chapters as well as the Dodger and Raising Steam companion books.  But I'll scatter those in with all of the others in my now much more full reading queue.


Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

Agnes (Pedita) Nitt
Annagramma Hawkin
Awfully Wee Billy BigChin, gonnagle
Big Yan
Black Aliss
Daft Wullie
Dimity Hubub
Dr. Bustle
Dr. Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Duchess Keepsake
Eskarina Smith
Events in Equal Rites
Events in Hat Full of Sky
Events in I Shall Wear Midnight
Events in Lords and Ladies
Events in Wee Free Men
Events in Wintersmith
Goldeneyes Silverhand Dactylos
Granny Aching
Granny Esmerelda Weatherwax
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Herne the Hunted
Horace the cheese
Jason Ogg
Jeannie, kelda
Jolly Sailor Tobacco
Leonard of Quirm
Letitia, baroness
Long Tall Short Fat Sally
Lucy Warbeck
Magrat Garlick, queen of lancre
Millie Chillum
Miss Perspicacia Tick
Mr. and Mrs. Aching
Mrs. Eunice Proust
Mrs. Lettice Earwig
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Nanny Gripes
Nanny Ogg
Offler, the crocodile-headed god
Petulia Gristle
Ponder Stibbons
Rob Anybody
Roland, baron
Shawn Ogg
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Clacks System
The Goode Childe’s Book of Faerie Tales
The High-Energy Magic Building
The History Monks
The Lady Sybil Free Hospital
The Low Queen (formerly king) of the Dwarves
The Nac Mac feegle
The Queen of the Elves
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Ramtops
The Stick and Bucket Dance
The toad
Tiffany Aching
Verence II, king of lancre
Wee Mad Arthur
Wentworth Aching
You, the cat

Young Esmerelda

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Great Quotes from the Comics

So, I realize that most people aren't going to appreciate all of these, but maybe you'll get some of them.  I was inspired by watching Daredevil, but some of these others came to mind.

Daredevil on Netflix
DD: ...I want you to walk em through stabilizing him.
Claire: It's not as easy as it looks in the movies, you know.
DD: I don't really go to the movies.

Green Lantern animated movie
Arisa: How come I've never met Mogo?
Hal: Mogo doesn't socialize.

Superman/Batman comic
Crook gets punched by Batman.
Voice in the alley: Are you okay?
Crook: No, I'm not okay.  What planet are you from?
Voice/Superman: Krypton

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Pain of Chapter 2

I won't expound on the title beyond saying that if you have not yet read Terry Pratchett's The Shepherd's Crown, then make sure someone you love is in the room with you when you do.

I started reading this book this morning.  It's been difficult emotionally.  I read some more this evening, and it hasn't gotten much easier.

While I was laying in bed trying to sleep and the tears kept coming, a thought came to me that while many famous people, important people in my fandom, have died that it all means something more to me.

Robin Williams taking his own life was a life ending much too soon.  It was depriving me (and us) of someone who has been entertaining me since "Mork & Mindy".  He had made me laugh through multiple comedy albums and movies.  And now, he's gone.

Leonard Nimoy died, and while it hurt and I thought it was sad, I thought more of the people close to him who were hurting the most: his family and, of course, William Shatner, who had lost a very close friend.

And then Terry Pratchett died and I was without my favorite author.  He was an writer whose books I have been reading for almost 30 years.  He was sick at the end, fighting a disease with no cure.  And now I'm reading possibly the last work of his that the world will ever see.

And what else has happened in this last year?  

Friends have gotten divorces.  Other friendships that were so amazing and fulfilling have been cut off.

And then there's the big news that most of you already know.  A little less than a year ago, my mom was been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She's beaten the odds so far and looks to break through the one year mark when she had been given only six months.  But we're still afraid, and we're still sad.

And so I come to this book, and this chapter, and I am devastated.  Because of all that has come before, and all that lays before me, and all that is happening now.

Auto-correct Slang

Okay, so I got this idea from having a chat conversation with a friend.  She's chatting to me on her phone and is trying to tell me how hot the food was at lunch.  Instead the word "hot" got auto-corrected to "fox".  We went on very briefly (nowhere near as long as someone would) with fox puns, and I began to wonder if a whole new slang could crop up.

There's a thing called Cockney Rhyming Slang that I learned about first from Terry Pratchett's Dodger.  I cannot do a description justice, so if you haven't heard about it before go to the link.

And then of course we have Leet-speak that is both a combination of substituting numbers and characters for letters as well as commonly mistyped words.

There's a bit of this out there already with people who actually say phrases like "BRB" and the like.

But this autocorrect thing.consider the most common and annoying correction to "duck".

I don't know if there are any other really common corrections, but it certainly got me thinking.

Discworld - Lipwig the Pawn

So, last night, I finished Raising Steam.

This year, I've been tracking my reading on  I said I'd read 100 books in 2015.  And this was before Terry Pratchett died.  When I marked that I was reading Raising Steam, I saw that Patrick Rothfuss had reviewed the book.  I have to agree with him on what it was like the first time I read it.  The book seemed to jump around, and felt rushed.  He mentioned that he hopes that it will read better a second time after a year or two.

I have to say that it was.  This time, Raising Steam seems well paced, but still a headlong rush to the end.  It's a story about the rapid progress that can happen, but also a book of intrigue and adventure.

For anyone who read it once, and hasn't gone back to it yet, I strongly encourage  a re-read.

On a related note, this could have been Pratchett's last book in the Discworld series.  As you can see below, almost everyone and place is mentioned again.  The only thing missing is specific mentions of witches in Lancre.  One is mentioned who likes to take cookies to the clacks towers when young men are working there, so it's probably Nanny Ogg.  Otherwise it would have been a fine final chapter.

However, The Shepherd's Crown is now out, and is obviously the next book in my queue.


Recurring characters and themes appearing in this book:

“Eldritch means oblong”
Adora Belle “Spike” Dearheart
Albrecht Albrechtson
All Jolson
Angua von Uberwald, captain
Anoia, goddess of utensils stuck in drawers
Bashfull Bashfullson
B'hrian Bloodaxe, low king of the dwarves
Billy Slick (Snuff)
Bluejohn, constable
Burleigh & Stronginthearm
Cunning Artificers
Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler
Diamond, king of trolls
Dolly Sisters
Done-It Duncan
Dr. Lawn
Drumknott, secretary
Events in Small Gods
Events in The Last Hero
Events in Snuff
Events of The Fifth Elephant
Events of Thud
Feeney Upshot, chief constable
Fred Colon, sergeant
Goblin in the fairy book
Haddock, constable/acting captain
Harry King, sir
Havelock Vetinari, patrician
Jimkin Bearhugger's
Koom Valley (Accord)
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald
Leonard of Quirm
Madame Sharn
McSweeney Dynasty
Moist von Lipwig
Morris dancing
Mr. Bent
Mr. Fusspot, bank chaidog
Mr. Pony
Mr. Skiller
Mr. Slant, Lawyer’s Guild
Mr. Trooper
Mrs. Bradshaw
Mustrum Ridcully, archchancellor UU
Ned Simnel
Nobby Nobbs, corporal
Ohulan Cutash
Otto Chriek
Ponder Stibbons
Queen Keli
Queen Ynci
Reg Shoe
Rhys Rhysson, low king (queen) of the dwarves
Sacharissa Crisplock
Sally von Humpeding, captain
Sam Vimes, knight, duke, commander
Shine of the Rainbow
Sto Lat
Sybil Ramkin-Vimes, ducchess
Tears of the Mushroom
The Alchemists' Guild
The Ankh-Morpork Royal Post Office
The Ankh-Morpork Times
The Assassins' Guild
The Chair of Indefinite Studies
The Clacks System
The Dark Clerks
The Fiddler's Riddle
The Forest of Skund
The Golem Trust
The High-Energy Magic Building
The Lawyers' Guild
The Lecturer in Recent Runes
The Librarian
The Pink Pussycat Club
The Quirm College for Young Ladies
The Royal Bank and Mint of Ankh-Morpork
The Senior Wrangler
The Summoning Dark
The Undertaking
Thomas Goatberger
Two Shirts
Verence II, king of Lancre

William de Worde

75 Years of Green Lantern

So, strangely enough, my first Green Lantern comic book was also my first Flash book.  You can see the cover in this post.

It was also where I learned a little bit about Aaron Burr and dueling.  I don't remember much else about the story; I'd have to dig it up to refresh my memory.

But it did bring a certain poignancy to this "Got Milk" commercial:

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