May. 24th, 2009 09:20 pm
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I was getting out of the boat to answer the call of nature when I noticed this guy here.

I very nearly tipped into the water before I realized it was just a Northern Water Snake.
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I found this lovely lady on the path in between two buildings at work. She's big, having about a 6 inch wingspan. Excuse the poor focus, my phone camera sucks.


May. 14th, 2009 11:44 pm
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Go 'Canes.
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First things first. I've never been a real fan of Star Trek. I didn't /hate/ it, but it just didn't grab me by the lapels and shake my imagination. I knew enough about the series, from hanging out in sci-fi circles, having Trek obsessed co-workers at one point in time and through pop culture itself. Whenever anyone asked me who my favorite Captain was, I always said "Sisko" because it would derail the conversation and protect me from fan boys and girls. Likewise, I've never really been a rabid fanboy about, well, anything.

With the wife and kids out of town, I went to above film with Ticktockman, who didn't have anyone to go with and was planning to see it by himself. I went in clean; I didn't even know J.J. Abrams was involved. I was just hoping that the film would entertain and not waste my $9.

It didn't. Sure, there are criticisms that can be leveled against the film. George R.R. Martin says his piece here, and raises several good points, mostly about the need for new content. I don't diagree with him at all on that point. Read this before reading more here.

Back? Ok. It is a reboot. That is it's strength. It takes the world you knew, cheesy special effects and all, and reshapes it into something that was able to reach into my inner geek and give it a cupcake. If you've ever read any of the Marvel "What If?" comics, this is the wide screen version of that. Which means (drum roll) it is new content. Sure, we have the same names and a lot of nods to the old series, but it's all new. A blank slate. Will there be tribbles? Who the hell cares if there are? This isn't the same Star Trek. The sky is the limit, and they have a real chance to do a lot with the franchise.

The original series was produced right in the middle of the Cold War, at the beginning of the jump into space, and before we ever set foot on the moon. The result- a Utopian Society that effortlessly cruises around in space, helping people and doing their best not to get involved. With womanizing. And cultural bias. It worked at the time, but it looks really, really tired today. Each successive Star Trek has also been a product of its time, to some degree. Look at The Next Generation. Again, it started during the Cold War, when technology was really starting to get some wind behind it. The Klingons had stopped being the bad guys. Instead we had the BORG- showing what happens when Technology runs amok.

Then there was Voyager. A woman captain. Betrayal, schisms and... well, I don't know. I never watched it. I'm sure there is some cultural message in there somewhere. And Deep Space 9, which is also a big blank to me. Sorry. If this was a paper, I'd have to hit the library or something.

But now we have this. I guess I'm excited for the untapped potential this film hints at. They didn't really address any deep questions the way Battlestar Galactica did, but maybe they will. Looking around, we have global warming, globalization, fear of pandemic, rampant poverty, corrupt government, a deep and abiding distrust of the media, the gay rights issues, unending wars and a host of other fodder for this franchise to sieze ahold of and use.

And that is what Science Fiction is about, really. It's a small look forward to reflect on who and what we are today, and the consequenses of what our choices today might be. I hope the folks behind the new Star Trek remember that and use it to their advantage.

I wonder how actual Trek fans feel about it, though?


May. 5th, 2009 09:33 pm
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The only time there is any quiet at all in my life is if I go to one of the abandoned wings of the building I work in and hang out there.

Even then, the construction noises from across the street trickle in. I think it's sad that construction noises have become my baseline for "quiet".


May. 4th, 2009 09:57 pm
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Beerfest: Delicious. I don't seem to get properly drunk anymore, I just get sleepy.

Work: Busy as heck.

Kids: out of control.

Cars: Too busy for cars!

Vacation: First week of June. Driving to Vermont for a batch of fishing and little sister graduating from college. FISHING! Bwahahahaaa... I got a memory card for my phone, so I'll be able to take a lot more pictures while we're out and about. I'm dreading the drive, though.
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I took the Connor-man fishing today. I had him using bread for bait, and he caught 3 catfish and 3 sunfish. We both had a great time, but one moment stands out more than any other.

A woman in her late 40s came by while he was fishing. She had a bag of bread and asked if we minded if she fed the geese a short ways away. We said no.

Connor observed the feeding of the geese for a moment or two, noting that there was a swarm of sunfish on the outside of the feeding geese. Without any prompting from me, he then walked over to the lady. "You keep them distracted," he said, pointing at the fish. "I'll drop my line in and they'll never even suspect there is a hook in it." He did, and caught a fish almost the moment his line hit the water.

She looked at him, then at me. "How old is he?" she asked.

"Just five," I replied, grinning ear to ear.

He's smart. He might be smarter than I am. That's a good thing, I think.


Apr. 23rd, 2009 06:31 pm
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First up:
Settlers Life Insurance Denies Claim For Widow Of Gunshot Victim Due To Pre-Existing Medical Condition

Just google it. I want to distance myself as much as possible from that one.


To save costs, a Chicago paper fired the reporter covering the recession while at the same time it was asking for a Bankruptcy Court to approve of $13.3 million in bonuses and other incentive payments to 703 employees.

One the one hand, the recession is exposing a lot of bad practices and killing them. On the other hand, it is sometimes nauseating to see exactly how out out of step some companies are with what I consider good practices.
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I didn't have any real time (or a car) to do anything much fun in San Fran, so here is the run down of what did happen.

Wednesday: Training. Dog tired after class. Ate, went back to the room, read a book, went to bed.

Thursday: Awakened at 5:15 AM by a noise. Coming out of a torpor, my brain tried to piece things together. What is that sound? I've heard that sound before. It sounds like a... A what? A siren? No. An alarm clock? No. A fire alarm. A FIRE ALARM! My hotel caught on fire. I've been told more than once that I'm good under pressure, a kind of clutch guy. This kind of shit is the reason why. Buy me a beer and ask me about the it sometime.

Friday: Finished class with enough time to do a bit of shopping. I ate more cioppino at a more upscale place (Scoma's). Like so much in life, I preferred the food at the more blue collar joint I ate at (it had a deeper, more zesty spice profile) but it was still pretty damn good. I'm adding this into the rotation for the cooler months, along side my super awesome clam chowder. As a side note, I ate the clam chowder at Scoma's. Like so many other places, they try to do too much with it, and the taste suffered.

Saturday: The only remarkable thing about today was that on the flight from Dallas to Raleigh, the three people in my row were me in the window seat (~195 pounds, but pretty broad in the shoulders), a giant longshoreman or something in the middle seat (6'2, easily 250-275 pounds) and a guy about 6'6 and 300 pounds in the isle seat. We all were twisting in different ways so we could fit in the damn seats without being on top of each other. Yeah, that was a fun flight.
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So, I got sent out to San Fran for some training by my employer. It's a good thing, but I'm missing my family. It didn't take long at all.

Sunday- Flew out of RDU, through DFW and onto SFO. Notes: FUCK DFW! Every time I fly through there, storms delay one or more of the flights. Luckily, I'd picked up the Dresden Files books. I finished the first one (Storm Front) while flying over the Southwest. I'll visit someday- the stark beauty of the desert intrigues me.

Monday- Awake at 6 AM. I hung around the room for a bit, then shipped out to class. I arrived at 8 AM (an hour early) and started reading the second book. The training facility has a light breakfast bar, so I ate a danish and some fruit. The coffee there is also decent, so I'm snarfing that down like there is no tomorrow.

Tuesay- Arrived to training at a more reasonable hour. The training is pretty intense- lots of information to digest at once.

I walked around the city today. I love walking in the city; I took the train to the Embarcadero, started walking at the Ferry Building, roved down to Pier 40, ate some Ciopinno*, walked around some more admiring the architecture,** picked up some more Dresden Files books, and walked back to the hotel. Probably 5 or 6 miles, easy.

I love the city. I'm not sure if I like the city or the mountains more.
beyond_the_pale: (Default)
This weekend-

Friday- car club meeting. Showed off the new '7. Everyone was suitably impressed. I need to get a car cover for this baby post-haste.

Saturday- Grocery shopping, followed by a quick trip to a nearby lake for fish feeding. Some Canada Geese showed up and started hissing at Connor, so I drove them off. Don't threaten my kids, you overgrown varmits.

Sunday- Mowed the lawn, then onto some gardening. My back is aching. We've got some sweet potatos planted and some basil, tomatos, leeks, rosemary and flowers waiting in the wings.

I'm on call this week then off to San Francisco for training next week. Busy, busy, busy.

Also, this:

I live on a road where people come and dump their unwanted pets. It sucks.

Anyhow, a while back somebody dumped what looks to be a purebred Himilayan cat. The cat has just had kittens. My neighbors are currently looking after the cat and the kittens, but they are elderly, bird persons and are planning on moving soon. They don't want the cat or the kittens, but don't want to take any of them to a shelter.

If you want the mother cat, one or more kittens or all of them together, drop me a message or give me a call at nine one nine four one two nine nine five eight. I'll get you in touch with my neighbors and you can set up a time to look at the cats.
beyond_the_pale: (driveshaft)
Quotes of the day:

"The Mazda3 is back and with some shiny new friends. It seems Mazda has brought on a crew of Bedazzlers to ruthlessly attack every 2010 Mazda3 with sparkling injustice."

"Full Disclosure: Mazda flew me out to a ritzy Laguna Beach resort, fed me mountains of delicious food and allowed for carte blanche access to the minibar. It was a tiny bottle pogrom, more or less."
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Ah, your process is broken. Come, let us gird ourselves for battle and challenge the corporate Erinyes so that we might fix this!
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We got a pack of these not too long ago. They work. They work really well. A little digging on my part showed that a good portion of the world uses microfiber towels and we don't.

The absorption rate of new towels is similar to that of new cotton- it takes a moment or two for the moisture to wick up into the towel. I'm betting that the wick rate will improve as the towels are broken in a bit.

Ok. All of this was just a ruse to link to the following news bit: Vince, the Sham-Wow guy, beat up a cannibal hooker. What an ass.
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