Quotes From Here and There

“Smith fails to mention how the IC will handle purging news stories about the news stories about purging the news stories about purging news stories, or how it will handle purging news stories about purging news stories about the news stories about purging the news stories.”here

The movie, however, is rather hard to follow without either the appropriate amount of revolutionary fervor or, perhaps, hallucinogens.there

Alice Sheldon was born 100 years ago today, which means that in a certain sense, James Tiptree, Jr. is 100, because Sheldon wrote under that name.here

If the great composer Rossini were alive today , he would no doubt have suffered heart failure during one of the opera’s ballet sequences in this production.there

Not So Healthy Healthy Cereals

I really hate that I’m about to link to Eat This Not That because I really fricking hate that site but here goes. Apparently, Froot Loops are better for you than Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Less sugar, less sodium, and a lot less fat and fewer calories.

Actually, this is a bit disappointing to me because I like the so called healthy cereals a lot better than the colorful kid cereals. I like the crunchy flakes and granola and dried fruits – all the different textures and tastes. But I do read labels and I find it frustrating that the better I like a cereal the higher the calories. (I hadn’t read the Froot Loops label, at least not in the last 20 years or so.) It just goes to show it’s true what they say: “Calories are what they put in food to make it taste good.”

Ah, Life in the Country

Sunday morning I spotted a small frog hopping across my kitchen. A tiny thing, not even as big as a grape. It hopped under a rolling cart. I moved the cart but the little critter was nowhere to be seen. Then I got busy and forgot about it. And then yesterday I remembered, “There’s a frog inside my house.” It’s possible that one of the cats got it but not likely. They are in outdoor mode this time of year and refuse to stay in the house for very long. So… there’s a frog inside my house.

A Book List!

The Guardian has a list of The 100 Best Novels Written in English. By blog tradition I should copy the whole list and bold the ones I’ve read or something like that but I’ve read so few of them I’m afraid that would look really sad if I did it that way. Besides, that’s too much work. So I’m just going to list the ones I’ve read with maybe a comment or two about them, then a second list of those I would most like to read.

Books I have read:

Gullivar’s Travels by Johnathan Swift – I had to read this one in high school. I have thought about reading it again.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I have never been a fan of the Frankenstein movies but I was curious to know what the original story was like. As expected, it has very little in common with the popular culture image of Frankenstein.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allen Poe – This was Poe’s only novel. I found it very interesting.

Moby Dick by Herman Mellville – I actually read this twice even though I wasn’t really impressed with it the first time. Actually, I think that’s the reason I read it again. It was a little better the second time around but still not one of my favorites.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – Not much to say about this one. It was okay. And I mean that in a good way; it really was okay.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – Did not care much for this one. One thing that seriously bugged me about this book was the description of the jungle at night as being absolutely silent. I have not been to Africa but I have been in my back yard at night and it is anything but silent. In the middle of the summer it’s actually quite loud and I’m sure Africa has it’s own insects and other night sounds. For me, that one detail made the whole novel ridiculous.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – A lot of Oklahomans hate this novel. I wasn’t around in the 1930s, of course, but based on Oklahoma today I would say its depiction of “Okies” was probably spot on, but far from being a complete picture of the state and its culture.

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell – This book and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are depressingly real. The big question is, “Who is Big Brother?” I think we are – all of us. We are all Big Brother. Either that or Google is.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Right now I’m not planning to read Lee’s other, recently released, book but I might read this one again.

Books on the list that I most want to read:

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Emma by Jane Austen – Mostly because I haven’t read anything by Jane Austen yet and I feel like I should

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – Ever want to read something just because you love the title?

Ulysses by James Joyce – I read somewhere that it is considered “difficult” therefore I want to read it.

A Passage to India by EM Forster – I’m rather fascinated by India. (Wait… Have I read this already or was that a different classic book about India? Hmmmm…)

Random Linkage

Animated GIFs from Japan – Nice.

Late 60s Decor – It looks odd and cheesy today, and this was never my style, but I long for a world in which real color is more popular than “earth tones,” or as I prefer to call them, “dirt colored”. Seriously, it’s not that I care how other people decorate their homes; it’s just that I would like to be able to walk into a home improvement store and see something bedsides 500 different “colors” of beige flooring.

Artist Mike Winkleman – Very interesting. A huge variety of images, including sci-fi, futuristic, architectural, and abstract. Found here.

Cyborg – The first human to be officially recognized as a cyborg.

Unusual Buses – From cute to weird

Ebroidered Illustrations – Beautiful

Cat with sandals – Just some cute pics

Trust Me I’m an Engineer – I have doubts about that statement.

Memorial You probably never heard of

Snow Globe Sugar Bowl – Nifty idea.

Quotes From Here and There

Never do when you can overdo.here (Very similar to one of my favorite Mythbusters sayings but totally different context)

I’m sorry to admit, however, that if a spider happens to end up on me in some way, my instincts kick in way before my “Be nice to spiders” moral view does.there

Guys, I hate salons. I FRICKIN FRACKIN HATE SALONS. I’ve been their unwilling victim for years due to the cut/color/yaddayadda requirements of various jobs. Every time, I drag my heels like I’m going to the dentist. (Actually, my dentist’s office is a way more pleasant experience.)here

We look out at the universe through a metaphorical chink in the wall.there

Oh August, Do Not Forsake Me

I like August. Is that weird? Most people in my part of the world hate August and I do understand that. Generally, August is our hottest month and farther south and east it’s really humid too. And, honestly, I spend most of the time in air-conditioned spaces just like everyone else but when I walk outside, for just the first couple of minutes, the heat actually feels good to me. But it’s more than just the weather. I can’t say exactly what it is – something about the overall feel and character of August.

For many people it’s back-to-school month and that seems wrong to me. When I was in elementary and part of junior high, until we moved from Texas to Arkansas, school started the day after Labor Day and that will forever be the way it should be. Back-to-school is not part of my life anymore though, so for me it’s just the last full month of summer, hot, dry, and pleasantly long and laid back. There’s very little that I have to do in August.

But yesterday and this morning it feels more like October. Yesterday’s high was in the low 70s F. This morning when I got up it was 52°F. That’s not really bad and I know most people consider it really nice weather and a welcome break in the middle of the hottest month but I keep thinking, “Nooooo! There’s still a little summer left; it’s supposed to be hot!”

Weather like this is an unwelcome reminder that winter is coming eventually and a hint that it might be colder than normal. Whatever “normal” is around here. Come on, August, stay with me for a little bit longer.

They’re All Around Us!

A scientist studying the brains of psychopaths accidentally discovered that he was one himself. The interesting thing to take away from this is that a person can be born with something wrong in their brain but if they are raised by loving and responsible parents and manage to avoid triggering events or situations they can and often do live perfectly normal lives. (tip: Never complain to the chef about your meal.) This is also a good reason why we should always treat everyone we meet with respect and kindness whether we think they deserve it or not. You don’t want to be some latent psychopath’s trigger.

All of these psychology terms that we hear all the time – psychopath, sociopath, etc. – are more complicated than most of us realize. There are people all around us who have “issues” but most people manage to live with those issues without turning into the Criminal Minds un-sub of the week. But it takes very little to push some people over the edge and it seems like the world has a lot more triggers than it used to have – not just violent movies and video games and questionable websites, but just a lot of people being more stressed out and rude. There’s not much we can do about it except maybe be a little more aware and a lot more courteous and kind.

Finally Getting Around to Scalzi

It has been in my mind for years that I want to read something by John Scalzi. I used to read his blog occasionally. As to why only “occasionally” and why “used to” I have no idea other than the fact that there are just too many blogs. Perhaps someday I will try to analyze the reasons why I read or don’t read particular blogs. Anyway, I also don’t know why I never got around to reading one of his books other than the fact that there are so many good books, but recently I saw Agent to the Stars in the Kindle $3.99 or less books (either that or my Recommendations; I can’t remember which) and I thought it would be a good opportunity to finally read Scalzi.

Agent to the Stars is different, weird, and amusing. Not what I generally consider “my thing” but I’m glad I read it. It was a fun little diversion and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous science fiction. I was a little surprised when I got to the end and read the author’s afterword and found that this was what he considered a “practice novel”. How appropriate that the first book I read by John Scalzi was the first one he wrote. I will definitely read more. Any suggestions as to where I should go next?

Random Linkage

London 1860s-1870s – Great old photos

The Eyes Have It – a collection of vintage sci-fi covers featuring creepy floating eyeballs

U.S. National Archives Tumblr – fascinating stuff

Chatelaines – Perhaps we should bring these back.

You’re Getting Old – This is actually useful because sometimes when I need to know how old I am I actually have to pause to do the math.

9 Unique Hot Dogs – See, there is more than one right way to make them. I would try any of those. What? Yes. Even the Japanese hot dog.

10 Weird Car Safety Features

Photo Fantasy Art – Digital fantasy art from WWII era black and white photos. Wonderful!

Lots of Books

Oh, it’s been such a long time since I blogged about what I’m reading so I’ll just do one massive (or maybe not so massive) post about the last five or six. I feel that I’m not very good at reviewing books so I procrastinate.

I did mention A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Bryson is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. In this book “everything” means the universe in general and the history of scientific discovery. A large portion of it is devoted to the mostly unknown discoverers of things that were later discovered by the more famous scientists we have all heard of. The history of scientific discovery is not as neat as we were taught in school. It is much messier and more interesting.

I have read the first four books in the Scrapyard Ship series by Mark Wayne McGuinnis. These books were a fun read – an old-fashioned space adventure that starts, of all places, in a scrapyard where the protagonist, Jason Reynolds, finds a small alien sneaking around who leads him to a space ship that has been hidden underground for many years. Soon after this he is captain of a ship and in a fight to save Earth and other planets from invasion by an alien species that has already conquered a number of worlds.

I’ll be honest, by the time I got to the 4th book in the series I was getting a little burned out and almost quit in the middle. I did finish it but I decided to take a break before I finish the rest of the series, which continues from book to book. But it is good and I will read the remaining books.

Next, I read something completely different, Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey From the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games. It is the story of Lopez Lomong who was kidnapped by rebels in Sudan when he was six years old, escaped and ran to a refugee camp in Kenya with three older boys, and eventually came to the United States, became a citizen and ran in the Olympic Games. It is an amazing story and is well worth reading. Part of the profits from the book go to Lomong’s charitable foundation which provides clean water, medicine, and education to villages in South Sudan.

Currently, I am about halfway through a book by John Scalzi, my first by this author and it is great fun. More about this later. I’ll try not to wait six months before I blog about books again.

Comment Woes

Want to know why I hardly ever comment on other blogs? Here are a couple of reasons. One is that I am commenting but my comments are disappearing. Somehow, on sites that have comment moderation and require me to sign in with Google, my comments just never appear. Another is if a blog requires me to sign in with Disqus or some other thing that I haven’t already signed up for. Sorry folks but I have more than enough usernames and passwords to remember. I am done! I am not signing up for anything else unless it is absolutely necessary. Much as I like being in on the conversation, blog commenting is not a necessity. On the other hand, if there was a system that absolutely worked all the time – unlike Google – it might be worth it to sign up for just one more. But if even Google doesn’t work how can I expect anything else to and how many more do I have to sign up for? It’s just not worth the hassle.

I blame spammers and trolls for this situation. Someone once said that spammers should be crucified alongside the Interstates. Honestly, I don’t want to live in a society that crucifies people but a little part of me thinks that this would not be too harsh a punishment for spammers. And you can put trolls right there with them. Anyone whose behavior makes it necessary to restrict free and open communication. You know what we really need is some kind of device that these people could be sentenced to wear – like a type of ankle bracelet – that would automatically shut down any electronic device when they came within, say, three feet of it. If this sounds like too humane a punishment just imagine for a minute never being able to use a computer or smartphone again. Hey, all of you clever inventor folk, get on that will you?

Random Linkage

Programmers’ Excuse Generator – Quite a few would work for non-programmers, such as “I was just fixing that.” (Just keep reloading the page to see more excuses.)

What 8-year-olds think of fashion models – Kids telling it like it is, as usual.

The “Independent Nation” of Christiania – A lovely and interesting place but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Giant Gummy Bears – Wow. I’m not fan of real gummy bears but this is cool.

Artist Jake Weidmann

2014 Picture of the Year – Great!

Brainy Thoughts – speculations about the brain

Hack the Menu – Secret menus. I would be afraid that if I asked for something on the secret menu the restaurant employee would look at me like I was some kind of idiot. Some of the items on these “secret” menus are not secret at all. Everybody knows about the Peanut Buster Parfait. It is definitely on the menu at the Dairy Queen in Tulsa.

Interactive Orrery – Very cool.

Medieval Butt-Licking Cats – Yes, literally.

Sci-Fi’s Most Iconic Sound Effects

Hair Tapestry – Interesting and looks okay but… no.

NOOOOOO!!!!!

Sportswear Logos, Improved

Thought for the Week

I don’t entirely agree with everything said in the video, by the way. We can all learn to really see our surroundings even if we don’t try to draw them. We just have to want to see.

Quotes From Here and There

This has to be one of the more unusual reasons for road resurfacing that I’ve ever encountered.here

…just how tall are stormtroopers, anyway?there

In terms of my own hometown, I am at the point now where if there are any warnings beyond the most routine, I have to say something on Facebook just to reassure everyone that I am not in fact dead.here

Honestly, people, my brain has gone on vacation and left me behind, like the odd sock in the laundromat dryer of life. Just tumbling around all hot and cranky, then kicked under the washer to commune with the dust bunnies.there

Summer TV

These are a few of the shows I’ve been watching lately.

Non-Fiction

Of course I’m still watching Mythbusters. Cari, Grant, and Tory, whose segments were my favorite part of the show, are gone and the show is really not the same without them but it’s still interesting.

I often, but not really regularly, watch Mysteries at the Museum. Very interesting short histories surrounding objects in museums. It’s on the Travel Channel.

Reality (or something remotely resembling it)

I generally do not watch competition/elimination type “reality” shows but Number Two Son started watching Face Off (SyFy) and got me hooked too. The contestants are special effects make-up artists, creating various kinds of original creatures, employing live models. All of the contestants have at least some experience doing this kind of make-up, though not in Hollywood. Who gets eliminated is decided by a panel of professional Hollywood make-up artists. The winner gets a job, as well as some other prizes. The thing I really appreciate about this show, compared to others of its type is the lack of interpersonal drama. Even though they are in competition with each other, the contestants are always friendly and sometimes even help the people they are competing against. In past seasons there have been a few contestants who were rather too whiny for my taste but there’s none of the sniping and cattiness you see on some of these types of shows and, at the end, I always feel like the person who won really deserved to win. I have never been disappointed.

I suppose I could have put Cuban Chrome in my “Non-Fiction” category but I think of it as a reality show along the lines of Swamp People, Mountain Men or Ice Road Truckers. We’ve all heard of the classic American cars in Cuba. This show is about mechanics who try to keep them going in spite of a lack of parts. We have only watched one episode so far. I found it interesting and I will watch at least a few more episodes but I’m not sure if we will keep watching long term or not.

Police or Detective Shows

Criminal Minds will be starting its eleventh season this fall but we have only been watching it for the last four or five seasons and, of those, we have missed up to half a season some years because of scheduling conflicts. (Even with DVR you can’t watch everything.) Several networks now show re-runs of it several nights a week so we have been watching a lot of Criminal Minds. I love this show. Considering that the crimes you see on it are of the creepiest and most disturbing kind, I can’t help wondering, just a little bit, if there’s something wrong with me for being so attracted to such a show, but what I really like about it are the characters and seeing them figure out the who and the why. I have to confess that at least 50% of the reason I watch is to see what Garcia will be wearing and the things she will say.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is another show that is re-run a lot. We started watching it this summer because, “There’s nothing else on; let’s try this.” So far I can take or leave it. It’s okay but I’m not a huge fan.

We started watching The Mentalist for the same reason: nothing else on; let’s try it. I have only watched three or four episodes but so far I am liking this one. The main character is cute and funny in a “no way would I put up with that in real life” way and the stories are interesting if not exactly plausible.

I have watched even less of the The Closer – two episodes, maybe three. Something about the main character grates on me a little bit but overall it’s not bad.

Science Fiction

And now, finally, we get to the best stuff on TV!

A couple of weeks ago there was a mini-marathon (four episodes) of Humans so I thought it might be a good opportunity to start watching it. It took me no time at all to get totally into it. In this near future or alternate present show people can buy realistically human-looking androids (called synths) to do housework and such. The problem with this is that a few of these synths are self-aware. One is murdering humans and the others just want to be free and to avoid being recycled. There is a poignant side plot about an old man who has an old, worn out and defective synth (not one of the self-aware ones) that he is trying to protect from mandatory recycling because it contains many of his memories and helps him to remember his past.

Zoo – Just started watching this one two weeks ago. Interesting so far. None of the characters have really clicked for me yet and that’s a pretty big deal to me but I’ll give it time because, as I said, it is interesting.

We have been watching Under the Dome since its beginning. I think it’s in its third season? Very interesting and realistic characters, intriguing story, complex but not so crazy complicated that it’s difficult to follow. Marg Helgenberger, formerly of CSI, has joined the cast this season and I’m liking her much better as the alien bitch than I ever liked her part in CSI.

This will come as no surprise, since I’ve mentioned it several times recently but my absolute favorite show on TV right now, and possibly number two favorite of all time, second only to Firefly, is Defiance.* I LOVE this show! It has fascinating characters and an extremely interesting long-term story arc. About 20 years (?) before the time the series begins aliens invaded and devastated Earth. Now (mid-21st century) humans share Earth with eight alien races in a very uneasy peace. Defiance is a town built in the ruins of St. Louis. If you haven’t seen this show before, start watching at the beginning and give it plenty of time. I didn’t really start to get into it until late in the first season.

*Actually, I feel a little guilty for not saying it’s third after Star Trek because I’ve loved ST for so long, and still do, but this is really a great show.