Friday, June 29, 2007

Cramming Cultural Cuisine

One person on my team at work lives in another city. He was in town this week, so we all went out to lunch together today. For whatever reason we ended up at an Indian restaurant. I've had Indian before, so I can't say I was surprised that it was good. More likely just surprised that I didn't learn my lesson last time not to eat so much. That's the trouble with buffets. I only tried most of the dishes, not all, but I'm still stuffed.

My ribs are still hurting, though not that much during the day. It just makes sleeping rather uncomfortable, as there are only about two positions that aren't painful. I don't really want to go see a doctor. We're still paying off my little adventure to the emergency room a couple months ago.

The weekend is nearly here. And then we get two very short workweeks next week, thanks to the Fourth of July falling in the middle of the week. So far the kids haven't asked if we can buy fireworks, but probably because no one in our subdivision has been lighting any off yet. Which is in itself amazing. The last neighborhood where we lived they'd start a couple weeks early.

I'm tired. It's been one of those weeks where, even though I've accomplished a fair deal, I still feel like I'm getting farther behind.

Two hours left to work today, and I'm struggling against the effects of a localized gravitational anomaly in the area of my eyelids.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Go Dogs Go!

Our group at work had a big meeting on Monday, followed by a "team-building" exercise at the local indoor go-cart track. The latter was not mandatory, but I decided to go anyway. And what did we learn? I'm the most cautious driver in our group. I wasn't surprised to see the various male managers blowing by me, but I was a bit surprised to find our female director was also a faster driver than me.

Not that I care. If my future with the company relies on my ability to screech a go cart around a track with as little braking as possible then I'm more than happy to move on to another company. I'm pleased that I was able to loosen up some and just go for it, however. My best lap time was 26.7 seconds, which was nearly five seconds slower than our crazed web design lead, but also ten seconds faster than my initial lap times. So I reckon for a rookie (and one who, by nature, is allergic to speed) I did okay.

Anyway, it was actually kind of fun--right up until I went to pull into pit row after the last lap. Someone coming up behind me lost control of their cart and T-boned me at full speed. Being a skinny person, there was extra side-to-side room in my seat that the seat-belt really couldn't help with. I got slammed into the side of my seat and bruised three or four ribs. My mobility is somewhat restricted, and I can only find one comfortable position to sleep in at night.

In spite of that I was able to finish the inside walls on the playhouse last night. Still, I'm looking forward to getting over my "racing injury." And I doubt I'll be going go-carting any time soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

President For Life

My wife saw a small notice posted somewhere in our subdivision that our homeowners association was having elections today, but she didn't notice where. I couldn't find any trace of the sign, personally, but since I care about what happens in our neighborhood I decided to see if I could track it down. I found it mainly by whose cars were parked outside of whose house, and arrived ten minutes late.

I was just in time to be nominated and voted in as president. To be honest, I wasn't surprised, and was somewhat prepared for that eventuality. We have a small, vocal, but essentially chicken group of attendees at each meeting. They want someone to make sure that the CC&Rs are kept, but they don't want to be the one to have to deliver the message.

Fortunately they also nominated me a vice president who's a bit tougher-looking than I am (and drives a Harley), so I think we'll be all right. It'll largely be a thankless job, but there'll at least be ONE benefit: I don't have to ask anyone before I change anything on my property.

Mwah ha ha ha!!!!! The corruption begins!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Feelin' Snarky

My boys woke up too early again this morning, and in an effort to keep things at least mildly under control I put on some early-morning kids TV. In listening to the theme music as the singer extolled the virtues of a CGI kewpie-faced airplane I noticed repeated references to "magic" and "magical."

It seems that magic is a required element in kids programming, even if there is none. At least the only magic I noticed in the show was sparkles trailing from the airplane's wings. I guess it's easier to call it magic than have to explain condensation (or fuel leaks) to tots, but still. It's become such an overworked term that I'm getting kinda sick of it.

Like another stop-motion television series about a tank engine that will remain nameless. The place it occurs is billed as a "magical land where dreams come true." Except I've never seen any magic there, either. And your dreams only come true if they involve a bunch of talking trains that continually get into scrapes and personality conflicts.

Kids are no dummies. I'm pretty sure most kids are totally immune to "magic" these days. "Yeah dad, I know. The plane is magic. The trains are magic. This pencil is magic. Suzy's diapers are magic. Everything's magic."

Okay, perhaps the diapers are magic--the dark arts, to be sure.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"How Much Older Can I Get?"

Morgan Freeman offers some thoughts on aging gracefully and appreciating life...couched in golf terms.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Projectile Dieting

I've been putting on a little weight lately, but I'd have preferred to take it back off slowly. Instead I got stomach flu over the weekend, the same stuff my kids have been passing around for the last week. I'm still not entirely back up to snuff, as food still does not appeal at all, but at least I'm functional. And I've dropped five pounds. Uhm...yay?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thanks But No Thanks!

It would seem that at least some people in Africa aren't so keen on foreign aid. I've taken enough college economics to see that he has a point. To quote Dr. McCoy, "Drilling holes in his head isn't the answer! The artery must be repaired!"

The Greatest Generation

Last night I got back to reading "Flags of Our Fathers," a book about the men in the famous "flag-raising on Iwo Jima" photo. I read about the battle for Tarawa, where we lost over 1000 men in three days. The American public was upset about the losses, and couldn't understand the point of sacrificing so much for a tiny little island.

It reminds me, of course, of the war we're in right now. Every single complaint applied to the War on Terror could be applied to World War II. Yet they continued the fight at a cost that makes the Iraq War look like playground fisticuffs.

I dare say that America today wouldn't have won WWII. That doesn't fill me with hope, considering that WWIII has already started.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Polar Bear Dung Destroys Planet!

One of my gripes about the Global Warming current (I'm not going to say debate, as that's no longer allowed) is that they focus entirely on greenhouse gasses causing everything. Another is that everything gets blamed on Global Warming, and hence, greenhouse gasses. The polar ice caps are melting? Blame CO2 emmissions!

Well, perhaps not. A new study indicates that dirty snow is contributing at least partly to the increasing temperatures worldwide and more significantly to warming at the poles. It's not encouraging, mind you, and it's no less a problem than whatever else is going on, but it just shows that if you oversimplify things and fail to do due scientific diligence you may end up with the mob all running in the wrong direction.

CO2 and particulate pollution are connected, I'm sure, but the differences could make quite a bit of difference.

Increased solar output, and now particulate pollution. Isn't it time we opened our minds again on Global Warming? Do we really know what we think we know?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Smattering of Elemental Strategy

(Why yes, I DO love the word "smattering." Why do you ask?)

Emma (to the cat): You are so sweet, Jynx!
Walter: I'm not Jynx!

Michael Totten has a guest columnist on why we should worry about Iran.
Michael Yon rides with the Queen's Royal Lancers.
Michael Yon writes about the courage and intelligence of one of our commanders in Iraq.

What I'm Reading:
I just finished reading "The Psi Corps Trilogy" by J. Gregory Keyes, from an outline by J. Michael Straczynski. The series covers the early origins of the Psi Corps and details the rise of our favorite psi cop, Alfred Bester, from childhood to head of the Corps. The series is ultimately about Bester--the history is just to set the stage, really. This causes the book to be a bit choppy at times, and it skips over events you really wish it would have detailed.

For example, if you're hoping to find out the gory details of Lyta Alexander's bloody revenge on the Psi Corps, prepare to be disappointed. It's alluded to, but entirely skipped over.

Instead, what we have is a classic Straczynski B5 tale: It's all about choices. The book takes one of the most vile human beings and reminds you that he was just that--a human being. You find yourself almost cheering for Bester, even while he's giving you the creeps. You find yourself hoping that he can find redemption and happiness. What we get is a book that, while not exactly satisfying, fits very nicely within the B5 universe and the Straczynksi morality.

I'm glad I read it, even though I wish I hadn't needed to read the whole thing. But you do, and it's worth it.

Audio Book:
"Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson. I've already read this before, but it's a good story well told. It can be as haunting as the "footage" the story revolves around. It details the story of a free-lance "cool" hunter as she undertakes an international search for the creator of the mysterious but provacative "footage," short video segments that pop up on the internet from time to time and has gathered a devoted following.

The annoying beauty of this book, I think, is that not everything is there for a reason. While some things in the book are interconnected in a nearly impossible--yet somehow believable--manner, other things are just...there. There are loose edges, and the ending seems a bit too elysian, but there's something there that won't let you go until it's done.

Gibson has a gift for descriptive detail--not quite poetic like Ray Bradbury, but evocative and multi-leveled. I should probably buy this book someday so I can study the language. I could learn from Gibson.

Notable Quote:
"I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here" - William Gibson

Friday, June 01, 2007

Idiots Guide to Prophecy

I'm the GM for a D&D group I play with (which makes me a DM, not a GM, I know. So sue me. The game takes place above ground most of the time, so if you want to get technical, I'm really a Surface Master. So there!). As such, I've been developing a game world for the group to play in. In an attempt to round things out a bit more I've been developing some prophecies.

That's not easy task, really. Even without the decision to make each poetic in nature (and in different styles to denote different prophets) it's difficult to get the right balance of vagueness and near-universal applicability without making them meaningless altogether. There has to be enough there that the characters can actually believe they may be part of prophecy--and that the prophecy is helpful to choosing their actions--while leaving room to wiggle if they're really not.

After writing around ten of these I have to say I'm feeling an intense desire to write up one "anti-prophecy" just for fun. Something like:

"Lo, and Drea, Alcoraxis, Fevera, and Wedlin (but not Gaubin, who shall be dead by then) shall go forth to the town of Silverling. There they shall find a grumpy bartender, a genial serving girl, and a mysterious man in the corner, who, though claiming to be able to help them, shall pick their pockets and render no real information. The serving girl, however, if treated kindly and tipped well, will provide information about the location of the Talisman of Ascerotin which they seek, having been told once years ago by her father, god rest is his soul. They should avoid the stables, as a most unpleasant encounter involving a goat, three roosters, and lots of lice awaits them."

That would be fun, especially to see the reaction of the players upon receiving such specific information (especially Gaubin's player). They'd doubtlessly not trust it, and before long be begging for a more "traditional" prophecy. Especially after the lice.