Happy New Year
No resolutions. Especially about blogging frequency.
Hope you and yours all have a happy and prosperous 2009.
Well, yesterday I turned 40.
I suppose my advanced age could excuse the lamentable lack of my posting?
Eh, didn't think so.
More later. Maybe.
Now and Zen
Here's an interesting blog on productivity and life simplification: Zen Habits. Favorite recent article: Seven Powerful Steps to Overcoming Resistance and Actually Getting Stuff Done.
The author also has a new writing blog, Write to Done. He's recently gotten a book contract, so maybe he knows a thing or two about the craft and trade.
Check him out.
Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all
Here's hoping all of my American friends have had a happy Thanksgiving today. We celebrated with my family in Dallas, enjoying the traditional meal, some football in the back yard, and a great (if boring) Dallas Cowboys football game on the TV.
Long-time friend-of-the-blog Robbo reflects on what he is thankful for this year, in a nicely written piece. His co-Llama Steve also posts the Thanksgiving proclamations of Washington and Lincoln, reminding us of the heritage and original meaning of the holiday.
Another old friend of the blog, Timothy Sandefur, has a neat post and picture about how we have fulfilled many of the ideals of our forebears.
I've gone in a somewhat different direction than Robbo with my faith over the last couple of years, and my ordeals this year have done nothing to change that. But I still find my personal response to life and this awesome universe to be one of humble gratitude for my many blessings.
Just a few I celebrate today (and every day!):
1. My wonderful wife, a true life-partner who not only loves and supports me, but also completes me and makes me a better person than I would be without her presence.
2. My three healthy, brilliant, active, and ever-growing children, who make me burst with pride.
3. The gift of music, which enriches my life in the good times and sustains me in the bad.
4. A stable job that provides for my material needs while allowing me some degree of freedom and capacity for growth.
5. All those who serve our country and local communities. Our military, which puts their lives at risk keeping us safe from external enemies and our local fire, rescue, and police workers who help keep us safe in our homes and communities.
6. Last but not least, our country, which despite its occasional shortcomings, still shines as a beacon of liberty and hope for much of the world.
My Inner European
Via the oh-so-fashionably Italian Virginia Postrel:
|Your Inner European is Dutch!|
You're up for just about anything.
John's Reading Report - June 2007
Here's what I've read since my last report:
1776, David McCullough (Still...)
I spent last week camping in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with my eldest son and his Boy Scout troop. I am now clearing the backlog of work that always piles up on vacations. I'm hoping to post something appropriate for the Heinlein centennial in the next couple of weeks, so check back soon.
February-March 2007 Reading List
Here's what I've read since the last report:
I don't usually rattle the tin cup, but if any of these books (or the CDs or DVDs in the sidebar) catch your fancy, follow the link directly to Amazon to purchase them and I get a small commission. There's also the Paypal and Amazon tipjars.
I'll be sticking to my at-least-three-posts-a-month resolution and hope to have more new material sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks for your continued patronage.
Greetings faithful readers. Sorry for the thin gruel served up around here recently.
When you don't have original material, what do you do? Borrow!
Here's a Rush lyric that has some significance to me these days:
It went right by me
At the time it went over my head
I was looking out the window
I should have looked
At your face instead.
It went right by me
Just another wall
There should have been a moment
When we let our barriers fall
I never meant what you're thinking
That is not what I meant at all.
Well I guess we all have these feelings
We can't leave unreconciled
Some of them burned on our ceilings
Some of them learned as a child
The things that we're concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do its healing, You've got to let it go.
Closed for my protection
Opened to your scorn
Between these two directions
My heart is sometimes torn.
I lie awake with my secrets
Spinning around my head
Something that somehow escaped me
Something you shouldn't have said
I was looking out the window
I should have looked at your face instead.
Well I guess we all have these feelings
We can't leave unreconciled
Some of them burned on our ceilings
Some of them learned as a child
The things that we're concealing
Will never let us grow
Time will do its healing, You've got to let it go.
I find no absolution
In my rational point of view
Maybe some things are instinctive
But there’s one thing you could do
You could try to understand me
I could try to understand you.
From 1987's Hold Your Fire, an album that I was too immature to appreciate fully when it came out. Now that I'm about the same age Neil Peart was when he penned those lyrics, I completely understand where he's coming from. Nice nod to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in there, too.
Reading Report for January 2007
So, in addition to posting at least three times this month, I have also managed to exercise quite a bit more, alternating a 45-minute weight workout every other day with at least a 30 minute aerobic outing (jog-brisk walk).
I've also done more reading this month than I typically did last year.
Here's what I've read:
On deck: I'm planning to tackle some Nietzsche (in German and English), re-read some Heinlein, delve into some more historical fiction, and maybe peruse Dawkins' The God Delusion, but I'm open to suggestions. As you can tell, my tastes are quite flexible.
Update: I forgot to mention that I also finished re-reading Fallen Angels in January, too. Interesting with the climate "science" meeting going on right now. Maybe Niven, Pournelle, and Flynn's weather prediction won't come true, but it's clear that they have some deep insight into human nature, especially the politics of state-funded science.
Happy New Year 2007
Only three entries last month. Gotta fix that.
I hereby resolve to post more than three entries per month in the coming year. After all, I used to post almost three a day.
Exercise more, with greater intensity. Eat better. Read more.
I'm Back - Tan, Rested, and Ready
My most recent absence from regular posting results not from the normal laziness around here, but rather from a week-long cruise in the Western Caribbean with my wife that lasted from September 3-10. More on that soon, with pictures.
If 9/11 had really changed us, thereâ€™d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead thereâ€™s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we donâ€™t. And we donâ€™t seem interested in asking why.
On to the usual lighter subjects...
Update: The Heinlein quotes I post here usually have some meaning related to either the specific month or my particular mood at the time. For example, July's featured a quote about liberty, appropriate to mark the month of America's philosophical birth via the Declaration of Independence. August's resulted from some recent encounters with unintentional but depressing rudeness. Not to embarass my wife, but this month's was directly related to my anticipation of the cruise, which we took without kids to mark our 15th anniversary (which actually took place in July; but the deal with her parents was that they would babysit for a week once the kids were back in school -- so we waited). I am happy to report that the quote was perfectly accurate, although we also found time to play cards.
Welcome Back, Mr. Green
Stephen Green, the "Vodkapundit", has returned from an extended hiatus during which his co-blogger, Will Collier, did a great job of filling in. But Steve is a blogger with a unique voice that stands out in the cacophony of the blogworld.
Go welcome him back.
Fred Kiesche at The Eternal Golden Braid is a blogger I read regularly (usually daily). But I didn't learn until recently that he was in New York City on 9-11 and in a subway train under the South Tower when it came down.
His account of the day is simply gripping.
I hope he someday has peaceful dreams again during thunderstorms.
It's Not the Quantity, It's The Quality
The first rule of blogging is to update your blog regularly. But a funny thing happened when I stopped following that rule. My daily traffic doubled and has remained in the supra-500 hits-per-day range for the last 7 months or so of reduced posting. While many of my visitors come looking for airplane or science fiction babe pictures, they usually stick around for a few minutes at a time, which indicates to me that they like what they see.
My strategy may not be so flawed, based upon this article from Marketing Profs: Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore.
Thanks to Agent Bedhead (new resident on my blogroll) for finding this nice rationalization for laziness around here.
Happy Birthday, America
I hope all of you had a safe and happy 4th of July.
Below the fold, one of the great documents to emerge from the Enlightenment:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Robert Treat Paine
RP came up with a great nom de blog today that could equally apply to me: Sporadicus.
It's not that I don't have anything to write about. I'm just having trouble doing the actual writing. I think my blogging has hit some sort of existentialist crisis: is this all there is?
Aside from that, the wonderful wife and kids got me the complete First Season of 24 for Fathers' Day and I have already devoured the first four episodes (I've never watched the show before). For the next several days I will be spending prime blogging time in front of the TV instead.
So endeth another lame "why I'm not blogging" post. More later.
One of the benefits of moving from time to time is the opportunity to go through old boxes of stuff. Last year's move unearthed an old box of pictures that I took with my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic 44. I had great fun going through the old pictures with my kids, including showing them some pictures of places that still exist (the Dinosaur statues in Glen Rose, for example, which they have seen in person several times).
Tonight I scanned the first few of what I expect to be many. I'll do a bigger post on the camera itself someday (I also have pictures taken with a Kodak Disc camera -- a film disc, not a digital disc and my mom's old Kodak Retina).
Your humble author, making himself the center of attention even then:
A successful fishing trip at Lake Lavon:
Faster Than the World
Michele Catalano's back, and though her current URL still contains "A Small Victory," she's changing the moniker of her blog to "Faster Than The World." Expect a new address in the near future. She has a co-blogger (aka "the turtle") and is narrowing her focus to rock music and muscle cars. Check it out.
I always did like her music posts best.
Mars and Venus
The Phantom Professor has a knack for writing something entertaining about the things she overhears. Yesterday's post about an overheard conversation in her health club was no exception.
(She's definitely got the male mentality figured out.)
Wow, I just passed the 200,000th unique visit to this site.
The visitor dropped in from Chicago looking for Captain Kirk images, and left looking at Tina Louise.
If you are an Ameritech user with an IP address that starts with 68.72, send me an email with the next 3-digit number in your address, and I will arrange to send you an appropriate gift.
Sorry that I have been such a negligent host around here recently. Thanks to everyone who continues to drop by for the airplane pictures, the SF babes, and the Heinlein quotes.
World's Greatest Blog Posting Ever
(The comments are classic, too).
And April continues to be a fertile month: my younger sister gave birth to a son last Friday and some close family friends welcomed their first child, a son, on Sunday.
This on the heels of my wife's 40th birthday last Tuesday and my impending (38th) birthday day-after-tomorrow.
Wishing them all the best.
I'd Rather Have A Bottle in Front of Me...
Than to have a frontal lobotomy:
To everyone who wrote (in comments or email) about the health of my daughter, I thank you.
She is perfectly healthy and bounced back from the exploratory surgery in an amazing way. Her first words upon coming back from general anesthesia were, "Can I see the pictures of the inside of my body?"
Maybe she has a future in medicine, or at least in science (she currently wants to be a paleontologist). My family has many more doctors than lawyers, so that would be appropriate.
Her surgeon basically said that we don't need to worry if she has another bleeding episode, unless it happens more frequently, in greater force, or with new symptoms. We would have liked a somewhat more definitive answer, but being told that your child is in perfect health is never a bad thing.
Excuse for Slow Posting
I spent the better part of today at Children's Medical Center with my wife and our 6-year-old daughter. Our daughter was undergoing a colonoscopy to try and find out why she has infrequent, asymptomatic rectal bleeding.
Good news: she has a perfectly healthy colon.
"Bad" news: she has a perfectly healthy colon.
The best news would have been a benign and easily-fixed abnormality that would explain the occasional bleeding. Now, we are just as mystified as after the first episode four years ago and its prior recurrence two years ago.
We're of course extremely relieved that there is nothing really badly wrong with her. But we're still puzzled.
In addition to the stress of worrying about my daughter's condition and surgical procedure, work's been hard recently and our second son has been home with laryngitis and a high fever for several days. This blog has been the last thing on my mind.
I'm taking a one-week break (maybe posting a few more times beforehand) and hope to have some fresh inspiration after.
I appreciate everyone who drops in here. Don't worry, I will be back.
Random Thoughts on Aging
The best thing I read on the Internet today, by RP:
I am feeling more curmudgeonly with every passing day. At this rate, I am going to just calcify in place.
Good thing we're having another baby. That keeps you young.
Or leaves you so tired you can't remember how old you are.
Update: Clarification! We are not expecting another baby. Just read "Good thing we have young kids" where RP says "Good thing we're having another baby."
Strunk and White on Spam
Here's a fun little parody: The Elements of Spam.
(If you don't have Strunk and White, get it!)
Slow Blogging Ahead
The pace has been slow around here, and will continue to be so, as I am spending most of my blogging time transferring home videos to the computer, editing them, rendering them, and burning them to DVD.
So far, I have covered the months December 2003 through July 2004. I have about 30 hours of old VHS tapes to digitally encode (1995 through 2003) and about 9 hours of MiniDV video dating from mid-2004 to the present.
The transfer process is one-to-one. I.e., for every hour of raw video, it takes an hour to dump to the hard drive.
Then, it takes about 3 hours of editing per hour of raw video.
The rendering process is about 2:1, but is something the computer can do when I go to bed. Same for the burning process (1:1).
After I've burned the DVD from the top-quality DV master, I save the project as an mpg file (which can be backed up on a couple of different hard drives and used to recreate the DVD in the future).
You can understand why I fell so far behind, and why I am now spending as much time as possible to catch up.
Oh, and to counter any "helpful" suggestions, I have looked into paying someone to do this. But having seen the overpriced and kitschy output of most video-transfer companies, that is not an option. (And, like blogging, it's a creative and relaxing outlet for me, much like scrapbooking is for my wife).
Friday the 13th Linkfest
Unlike most, I don't consider 13 an unlucky number, as I was born on the 13th (of April). Here are 13 items that have caught my eye recently:
Ted has posted the first two chapters of his [unfinished] NaNoWriMo story and is soliciting input on a title for the novel. His excerpt has one of the best opening lines I've read in a long time. Until you get to the big surprise in the second chapter, it reads like a perfectly normal coming-of-age young adult novel. I don't know where he's taking the story from here, but I can't wait to read the rest.
Allah returns to the blogosphere today with a link-blog entitled Link Mecca (At Least 5 Times A Day).
The Commissar lampoons the Hajj and radical leftists in this hilarious illustrated parody.
Michael Crichton (whose novels I'm not too snobbish to enjoy) gave a speech in November 2005 on environmental alarmism. Here's the text, with nice graphs, quotes, and statistics. He admits that he used to be a run-of-the-mill environmentalist until he had a kind of Bjorn Lomberg moment when researching a new novel and realized that his suppositions about environmental disasters were not supported by the evidence.
Virginia Postrel blogged on the theme of the dumbing-down of American Protestantism (and graciously linked to my related thoughts in this matter). This led to my discovery of the new-to-me blog Impacted Wisdom Truth, who commented on both Ms. Postrel's and my posts on the subject.
Zoe Brain wonders where the feminists are with regard to Iran and its fundamentalist justice system.
NasaWatch asks what your standard little GPS transmitter would look like if NASA designed it.
Vacation- The Formula for Success
Since I went on holiday hours around here, I have turned out very little original content, have neglected the Carnival of Music, Aircraft Cheesecake, and SF Babe poll features, and have generally been lazy.
How does the blogosphere reward me? How about these 1000 words:
Not only that, but I'm now a Large Mammal (finally) in TTLB's Ecosystem.
I swear, if all y'all had wanted me to JUST SHUT UP all along, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort over the last 2 and a half years.
What else have I gained? I've listened to a lot of new-to-me music (check out Nick Drake), started to catch up on my reading, finished another disc from my Buck Rogers in the 25th Century DVD set, and edited a few hours' worth of home movies for DVD.
At this rate, I may never blog again...
Carnival of Tomorrow
Peace -- Paz -- Shalom
Here is wishing you and yours the joy and peace of the season.
Merry Christmas... and Happy New Year!
Best Texas Blog
Should I be afraid that I ken the subconscious mind of LDH, proprietor of Impenetrable Prose and Poesy? Grok this:
Had a dream a few nights back where I was about seven years old and Johnny Cash's son. He and I were in a 50's-style diner; he was still kinda young looking, but with obvious signs of premature aging from his amphetamine addiction showing in his face. After we'd gotten our food, he shyly whispered to me that he didn't have any money on him. I pulled out my current-real-life-adult wallet and showed him I had three $20 bills, asking him if he wanted to borrow any. He shook his head no and said, "I got a better idea."
Next thing I know, we're running out of the diner and down the street, busting up every sign along the way that has any kind of neon tubes or light bulbs attached. We somehow wind up in the Batcave, where Johnny changes into the Joker [stop and picture that for a minute -- Johnny Cash wearing the makeup and clothes of the 60's TV series Joker -- small wonder I still remember this one...], Jessica Simpson shows up in the Yvonne Craig Batgirl suit, and we all pile into the Batmobile with still-seven-year-old me behind the wheel, where I realize I'm now wearing a cowboy hat and boots and a Darth Vader mask [yes, my subconscious stole a punchline from an old copy of Reader's Digest and dressed me up as -- wait for it -- "Darth Brooks"...]
I wish I could remember more of my dreams. The ones I have are weird, but I haven't had any like that since my college days.
The Officer's Club
If I had written something appropriate to commemorate today's historical significance, I would hope it would have looked like this piece on the USS Arizona.
As Steve says, start at the top and just scroll to the end. Good stuff.
The Weather Outside is Frightful
We're currently experiencing temps in the low 20s, and suffered through a few hours of freezing rain and sleet this evening. I may be going into work a little late tomorrow.
(Am I really blogging about the weather? Might as well just quit).
Old TV Themes
Check out Annika's list of Greatest Old TV Themes.
Breaking News Update
The new Llamabutcher merchandise is is not doing so well across the pond:
On the other hand, this picture speaks for itself:
Sorry for the sparse posting schedule of late. Here's what I've been doing in lieu of blogging:
I'm hoping to get some more stuff up soon. I will be updating the Carnival of Music page to reflect our latest volunteer to host the next edition.
Check back soon, and thanks for your patience through this latest round of writers' block/burnout.
I've been in a bit of a dry spell. I have writer's block, extending even to contracts, which have been painfully difficult for me to draft recently.
So, I'll just point you to some good reading elsewhere:
First, as an antidote to recently-dyspeptic Peggy Noonan, I heartily recommend some optimistic Frank Martin. (Reminds me a bit of the upbeat 1993 report out of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, entitled These Are the Good Old Days).
Second, check out Stephen Green's musings on the current state of the war on fundamentalist Islamic fascism.
Hilarious Medical Tale
Patrick Hughes relates a fantASStically funny account of his colorectal health.
Old Town Blog Meet Report
I got back into Dallas late last night after a busy, productive, highly-educational, and fun legal education conference in Washington D.C.
While on the road, my Internet access was limited-to-non-existent, so today is the first chance I've had to post a recap of Saturday's blog meet in Old Town Alexandria.
I can't really add anything to what's already been said by Steve (Buckethead), Mike, Princess Cat, Rob, Ted, or Dawn, so go read their excellent accounts of the evening. Also, big thank you's go to Lysander for making time out of his extremely busy solo law practice (I understand your posting rate, now) to visit with us and to Princess Cat's friend Matt the non-blogger for being such a good sport in meeting up with a bunch of unfamiliar bloggers.
This was the first time I had ever met people in real life who were only "virtual" friends beforehand. It's nice to see the living people match up to their online personas. And it was especially nice to make the acquaintance of two bloggers who -- until now -- hadn't been on my blogroll (Steve and Dawn).
The one thing I can add to the previous accounts is pictures, which you can see in the extended entry. Unfortunately my group shot is very blurry (the waiter had trouble operating my camera), but the others came out really well. One of the other attendees also took one, so please let me know when you post it.
(Click for larger).
D.C. Area Blog-meet
On the very small chance that any of my DC-based readers do not also read the Llama Butchers or A Swift Kick and a Band Aid, the aforementioned will be meeting with Rocket Jones, The Maximum Leader, yours truly (and a couple of extras) on Saturday night, October 15, in Old Town Alexandria at the Union Street Public House at 6:00 PM.
I am traveling to Washington for an in-house lawyer education conference taking place Monday through Wednesday. Whenever one of these
boondoggles education opportunities arises, I try to travel a couple of days early for some sightseeing. Having gone to law school in DC, I am familiar with all the sights and know my way around. Union Street Pub was one of my wife's and my favorite places to go with our married friends back in law school, so I'm looking forward to returning and getting to know some of my virtual friends face-to-face.
If you want to meet up with us, head on down: we are calling ourselves the "Llama party" (no kidding).
Happy Blogday to Me...
Doh! I forgot to highlight the day -- on October 1, this blog turned two.
Here's my first post, tentatively typed into the old Blogger interface back on October 1, 2003:
Who am I and why am I here?
I'm a Texan, a husband, a father, a lawyer, a musician, an SF fan, a soccer coach, a cyclist, and an amateur theologian. This is my first try at blogging, and I hope to weave the many interests I have into a cohesive narrative on life, the universe, and everything.
So, what kind of tapestry have I woven over the past two years? Would you like to see some new threads make their way into the pattern? Let me know in email or comments.
Thank you especially to my regular readers. I hope to keep y'all coming back.
I'm OK, Are You?
As Virginia points out, this is particularly important in cities like mine (in the greater Dallas area), where many evacuees are settling in. If you are local, have time to get to a refugee center, and have a laptop and wireless connectivity, this might be one way to help out the Katrina victims.
On the subject of local relief efforts, our church, like many in the area, has opened its doors to evacuees. We are putting up at least 60 survivors in our fellowship/recreation building. Both of my younger children have also received a couple of new classmates in their public elementary school.
I am proud of the actions of my fellow citizens here in Texas, whose generosity is so incredibly evident in both the quantity and quality of voluntary assistance being given to our neighbors.
Katrina Aid Agencies
Glenn Reynolds has an extensive list of charities that will be helping with relief efforts along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Glenn is also planning to use that post as the repository for the charity blogburst scheduled for tomorrow. If you post recommending a charity, or some other action to help, link back to the post referenced in the previous paragraph. He will use that post to list both bloggers and charities. That way, readers of any blog will have ready access to recommendations on all the blogs.
He had a brief existential crisis a few months ago, but his writing over the past few months has really sharpened, becoming even more insightful and provocative.
Take these excerpts, for example:
Be sure to check out Lynn's new look (she substituted
Palatino Book Antiqua for Times New Roman , it seems).
Also, SciFi Ranter Girl has an awesome new banner featuring the green Orion Slave Girls of Star Trek.
Enjoy the new looks!
As special guest editor of this edition, he has laid out some interesting ground rules. Namely, he wants stories of 5000 words or less that skillfully employ classic SF cliches.
I am thinking about submitting a short story or two, just for the fun of it. I have a couple of ideas for some cliches to work around. But I would also like to quiz the only non-captive audience I have yet found for my writing: what SF cliches annoy you the most, and why?
Please don't send me any plot suggestions or story ideas (write your own story for submission instead). But if there is a traditional plot device, stereotypical setting, or some other element of SF (whether in movies, TV, or written word) that annoys you through its overuse, please let me know about it.
Gunner links to an amazing and captivating tale about an extreme diving mishap in South Africa. I could not stop reading until I got to the end.
Others describe the tale as creepy. I just see it as tragic.
After finally getting through to an executive complaint hotline regarding our dissatisfaction with the 1-week response time Comcast told us to expect, a technician came out to the house yesterday.
It turns out our sprinkler guys had cut a cable, but we couldn't tell since Plano is one of the few cities still using a two-cable delivery system. We still had TV, but no Internet. The technician was polite and had the problem temporarily fixed in less than an hour. A crew will come out in the near future to bury the temporary cables (which are currently running across the surface of the lawn).
Long story short, the outage was our fault. Apart from dissatisfaction with the initial response time, Comcast handled the situation great.
Comcast is experiencing service issues in our area and I will have limited access to the Internet until it is resolved.
At our old house, we had Comcast cable internet for more than 2 years with only one or two disruptions in service, which were resolved almost before we noticed them.
In our new house, we had one minor issue registering our cable modem after we moved, but until today we haven't had any other issues. However, Comcast can't explain the current outage problem. The best they can do is roll a truck to our house, but not until next week. My wife is up in arms and ready to switch to Verizon DSL. Now. Or Yesterday. Substandard technology notwithstanding....
Now, I have a long and deep-seated prejudice against DSL, going back to my early telecom contracting days. Technically, you get a small slice of dedicated bandwidth at $30 a month (DSL) versus a variable slice of monster bandwidth at $50 a month (cable modem).
Anyone have feedback on the relative merits of the two? I can review comments from my work computer at lunch time, so I'm looking forward to some suggestions.
Needless to say, this will cut into blogging around here until resolved.
Carnivals to the Left of Me, Carnivals to the Right...
Left behind the bars, rows of Bishops' heads in jars
and a bomb inside a car
- From "Karn Evil 9, First Impression Part One," by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
---> Send your musical submissions to our new gmail dropbox: email@example.com.
(Thanks, Ted, for the gmail invite!) Remember also to check out Carnival of Music #4 at Owlish's place (you might need to scroll down, since his permalinks are bloggered up right now), and review the paleo-proto-musico-carnivals at the archive page.
Next, the first Carnival of Liberty will be taking place at The Unrepentant Individual on or around July 4. This is like the debutante ball for the newest unruly group I've joined: Life, Liberty, and Property. So send your liberty-themed submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As soon as you think you have figured out Eggagog's sublimely bizarre storylines at THIS IS FUN TO MAKE A BLOG ON THE COMPUTER WEBSITE, go check out UFO Breakfast Recipients.
I love the Internet.
Anakin in Lava for Children
Rob mentioned the lovely tableau of Vader Sinking in Lava on the neighbor-kid's birthday cake the other day.
In some weird synchronicity, my 8-year-old was constructing the same scene out of Legos.
(Click the image for a larger, annotated version).
I Am a Naked Midget...
... But successful enough at my linking strategy to gain the attention of the crack young staff at Hatemongers' Quarterly.
This very cool robotic exoskeleton was revealed at the Aichi World Expo technology fair taking place this week in Japan. It can enhance a healthy wearer's strength, and allows certain weak or handicapped people to walk.
If not, you will be after reading what Helen has to say.
Timothy Sandefur was one of the first bloggers to link to me, so there is a sentimental side to seeing him quit now.
As a lawyer for a public-interest libertarian foundation, he works to increase liberty in our country; he doesn't just talk about it. But when he does talk about liberty, he does so lucidly and persuasively. Check back through his archives for some of the most clear and concise explanations you can find online of the moral and philosophical foundations of our legal system, of classical liberalism, and of objectivism.
Though Timothy may no longer be blogging on his personal website, keep your eyes peeled for his name. He'll continue to write for Liberty, and I bet his name will crop up from time to time in other areas, as his writing is too good to escape recognition over the long term.
Best wishes, Timothy.
Is there anything any of you have wanted to ask me? Anything you were really curious about, but just never got the chance to bring up politely?
Well now's your chance to get some answers. Jennifer Larson has kindly offered to subject me to one of her famous interviews, and she needs some questions to ask. Please submit them to jenlarson -at- gmail -dot- com no later than 6:00 PM CDT Saturday, May 28.
Unless you identify yourself in the question, I will have no way of identifying you, so feel free to ask anything. I'll do my best to answer any reasonable query.
Sofia Sideshow Returns
JKrank, proprietor of Sofia Sideshow, is back and blogging after a 3-month hiatus. He has returned to Bulgaria (where he works in film). He's a great writer, and I love his "day-in-the-life" stories from a former Soviet satellite. I may never travel there, but get to vicariously experience it from the comfort of my computer terminal. Go check him out.
Strengthening The Good, Again
It has been awhile since the STG network has had a new microcharity to highlight. In honor of the first anniversary of the network, STG is promoting the original charity, Susan Tom and the Tom Family Education Trust.
Read more about it here.
Dork Factor 12
The Japanese word otaku is used casually among the anime subset of SciFi as a synonym for "geek." I bet few know the word really carries a much stronger negative connotation than geek (or nerd or dweeb or dork), meaning a seriously unhealthy obsession with a hobby.
Unhealthy is the operative word here.
Though it's been 15 years or so since I played the game, D&D still comes to mind occasionally. And I suppose it makes me a real otaku that I thought about what my real-life D&D character traits would be while lying in a 103.2 F fever dream this weekend:
Don't even know my best character class based on that anymore. Wizard or Cleric, probably, as both involve fast talk, just like lawyering.
Be sure to note the low constitution score. I swear, this year has not been a good year for my health. First the colitis incident a couple of months ago, and now I've been laid up since Friday with some sort of nasty virus. High fever, aches and pains, constricted chest. Saw the doctor yesterday and she told me to keep doing what I was already doing: take Mucinex (my new best friend), alternate Advil and Tylenol to manage the fever, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. She also gave me a Z-Pack in case there was a secondary infection that didn't present itself in the exam. Today I finally feel mostly human, as my fever never got above 99. I plan to go back to work tomorrow, for at least long enough not to take another PTO day (that's what really burns me -- I've now wasted a week of paid time off on illness this year. Grrr.)
That accounts for the slow bloggage around here. Thanks for your patience and continued support.
Searching for Stories?
Are you looking for some news sources to provide fodder for your blog?
Graham at Point2Point has assembled a helpful list.
Eric's Answers Are Up
Well, Eric helped us finish this interview meme with an outstanding set of answers. I'll have to try to track down the wine in his answer to number 6.
Fifth and Final Interview (Eric)
Gunner has already asked Eric some good questions at his blog, so I have to think a bit differently here for the final interview. You all should be acquainted with the rules by now. Without further ado:
1. My standard first question: for readers new to your blog, explain your blog-name.
2. Which fictional Sci Fi universe would you rather live in, and explain why: Star Wars or Star Trek?
3. (Shamelessly stolen from my interview of Gunner): What do you think about the current long term force "transformation" policy of the DoD, i.e., the "modular" Army based on swappable brigades like the new Stryker brigades? (On that note, what do you think about the Stryker vehicle? Competitor or complement to heavy armor?)
4. What do you think about Heinlein's controversial premise in Starship Troopers, namely, that the voting franchise should be available only to those citizens who had performed military (or conscientious-objector-alternative) service?
5. What single amendment would you make to the US Constitution, assuming that it would be ratified (make it a single-issue amendment, not an omnibus provision)? Feel free to suggest a text, or just describe your goal.
6. What California wine (or winery) delivers the best value (good quality at a reasonable price)? (Winery, vintage, varietal, and price, if possible).
I'll link to his answers when posted.
Lysander's Answers Are Up
Fourth Interview - Lysander
Lysander from Alexandria is our next subject in this interview meme-game-thingy. Review the rules. As a courtesy I'll offer him six questions, but he only needs to answer five. That way he can drop one if he's not comfortable answering it. I'll link his answers when completed.
1. How did you come up with your nickname (Lysander)?
2. Based on your blog name and one of your early posts, you would appear to reside in or around Alexandria, Virginia. What's your favorite place to grab a dinner and drink in Old Town? What's the signature dinner/drink there?
3. Why did you decide to start blogging? Who (if anyone) inspired you to start blogging? Which blogs do you read on a daily (or at least regular) basis?
4. What single rule change would you make, if you could, to make NFL football more exciting?
6. Do you have a hobby that is really important to you? Please tell us about it - how you got into it, how long you've been practicing it, what makes it important, etc.
Thanks for playing along!
LDH's Answers Are Up
Third Interview - LDH
1. Your blog name is great. What is the most impenetrable prose or poesy that you have ever encountered?
2. Your profile states that you're a rock/jazz musician. What instrument(s) do you play? How long have you played (per instrument)? What instrument (if any) do you wish you could play? Do you play the same instrument for rock as for jazz?
3. What instrument is most critical to the "rock" sound? What instrument is most critical to the "jazz" sound?
4. What's your favorite kind of food? Which restaurant serves it best?
5. What's the goofiest Halloween costume you've ever worn?
6. What do you think (or know) about the anthropic principle? Do you believe in a creator, and if so what kind?
Thanks for playing along! I'll post a link to your answers when they're ready.
Second Interview - Gunner
Gunner at Target Centermass has graciously and fearlessly stepped forward to be my second interview subject. The rules are here. As with Owlish, I'll ask Gunner six questions, even though he only has to answer five so that he can opt not to answer one of them:
1. For anyone new to your blog, why did you choose the name Target Centermass?
2. While a student at Texas A&M, did you get to help build any of the bonfires? Any memorable anecdotes? (For the benefit of any non-Aggie/non-Longhorn/non-Texan readers you might want to give a short explanation about the Aggie bonfire tradition).
3. What do you think about the current long term force "transformation" policy of the DoD, i.e., the "modular" Army based on swappable brigades like the new Stryker brigades? (On that note, what do you think about the Stryker vehicle? Competitor or complement to heavy armor?)
4. What's your favorite Tex-Mex place in the Dallas area? Do you normally order the same thing, or something different each time? Favorite dish/drink?
5. While you were in the Army, what was the most exotic posting you had? Any fun stories related to that specific location?
6. What got you into blogging? If you had to write a mission statement for your blog, whoat would it be? Do you have any conscious role models for or influences in your blogging?
Thanks for playing along. I'll post a link to your answers when you're done.
I rolled the odometer again today. Woohoo!
Looking at the referrer logs, it appears that visitor number 60,000 Googled in here looking for my Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster recipe (look here).
Bless their soul, they stayed for slightly more than 20 minutes. IP address 68.43.201.# with a comcast.net domain. If you are that lucky person, send me an email with contact info and I'll send you an autographed copy of my recipe.
Owlish's Answers Are Up
Anyone else want to talk about themselves? Four spots for potential interviewees remain open. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Leave me a comment and let me know.
Interview Questions for Owlish
The rules are here. Only one victim -- er, subject -- has stepped forward so far. Since none of my other readers have volunteered, I thought I would proceed with the questions for an old friend and blogchild of mine, Owlish. As for the rest of you lazy or cowardly readers, witness that my questions are fair. If you would like to be interviewed, let me know in comments. I'll take the first four.
As Random did for me, I'll give Owlish six questions, so that he can opt not to answer one of them.
1. OK. First, the obvious one. I know you've mentioned it before, perhaps in a posting that has long since been archived, but please explain for first-time readers your handle and blogname.
2. Since you live in Galveston (i.e., Hurricane alley), do you have a Bugout box? If so, what's in it? If not, what would you put in one?
3. One of my daily reads, Timothy Sandefur, recently wrote that atheism is the Last Closet: "We come up with clever ways of avoiding the issue or rationalizing things, or we just stay quiet, because it would upset the family and scare away friends if you admitted that youâ€™re an atheist. You call yourself an agnostic or a deist or a freethinkerâ€”anything but the A word. You keep going to church. You say all the right words. The family can go on politely thinking youâ€™re still in the fold." What do you think about that statement?
4. I have noted that many people of the medical and related biological persuasions are atheist, while most equivalently-educated engineers, accountants, programmers, and lawyers remain adherents to some faith system. What was your experience in medical school -- were few/some/many/most of your fellow medical students atheists?
5. What is the last piece of music you listened to?
6. What is the last movie you saw to which you had a strong emotional reaction (positive or negative) and why?
Thanks! Check back -- I'll post a link to Owlish's answers when he's done.
No Babes; Birthday Announcement; Connectivity Issues
Comcast is performing some upgrades in the neighborhood, so my connection to the Internet has been very intermittent. When it is there, it's very sluggish. The upshot is that I have to delay updating the SF Babes Poll until later this week.
Since tomorrow (April 13) is my birthday (number 37, thank you), I probably won't get to the poll until Thursday.
I won't run a birthday blog-a-thon, but if you feel like clicking on my Google ads tomorrow or ordering something for yourself from Amazon after following one of the Amazon ads in the sidebar, please feel free to do so. I would be curious to see what kind of difference that makes in my cents-a-day earnings.
One Year in MuNuviana
Today is my one year anniversary here at the mu.nu domain.
First, a big "thank you" to Pixy Misa for putting together this crazy collection of diverse bloggers.
Second, a question for my users: over the past year, this site has grown more graphics-intensive. If you are on dialup, is this site slow to load? Please let me know in the comments or by email what kind of delays you might be experiencing. If the pages load quickly enough, I won't hide too many things in the extended entries. But if there are noticeable load delays, I will try to make the main page smaller and thus quicker to load.
Thanks, as always, to those of you who regularly stop by to visit. If you are a new visitor (as a result of the Carnival of Recipes and various -lanches that came with it or otherwise), please check back through my archives to get a feel for the place and come back to visit again soon.
When I saw that Random Pensees was promulgating an interview meme, I knew I had to volunteer (even though he had already received the requisite five volunteers). Random is one of the more erudite and interesting bloggers I read. You should read him daily, as I do.
So, to see his questions for me and my answers, look in the Extended Entry. And since this is something of a meme, please leave me a comment saying "interview me." The first five of you requesting that will be my next interviewees. I will then ask you five questions. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.) And they'll ask five friends, and so on, and so on...
I know I only needed to answer five, but I liked all six questions.
1. You are on the desert island. What three books would you have to have and what would you want to be able to drink while reading them?
Let's agree that my native intelligence, common sense, and camping experience will obviate the need for any sort of Survival/How To books. Let's also stipulate that said character traits will ensure a steady supply of fresh water.
I would want books that are not only entertaining, but remain engaging after multiple readings. These are the top three on my personal list that meet those criteria:
2. What's your opinion on the designated hitter? Ruined baseball or extended the careers of some great players?
You know, I wish I had an opinion on this. I've never really been much of a baseball fan. I grew up in Dallas in the 1970s and 80s, so the Cowboys were it. The local "major league" baseball team, the Rangers, is a glorified minor-league team that can't play well enough to justify the $200 million stadium extorted out of the local taxpayers. It's more than an hour drive through excruciating traffic to get to their ballpark, and after spending $20 to get a crappy hot dog, watery beer, and stale peanuts, I'm usually too aggravated to worry about such esoteric questions as the DH rule. I do have a lot more fun closer to home watching the local minor league team play at a much more modest (but IMHO, nicer) ballpark, where tickets and concessions are both much more affordable.
I guess anything that can make baseball more exciting is good in my book, and the DH rule seems to do that. So I'll say I'm in favor of it.
3. What is the most iconic song to come out of the 1980's?
For me? It was, without a doubt, Tom Sawyer by Rush. In fact, the entire album Moving Pictures was my personal soundtrack for the 80s. The synthesizers, lush production, and tight arrangements all signaled the end of the 70s and represented the best of the 80s sound. I am biased toward that rock group, though, as any regular reader of my blog would quickly ascertain, so here are some (more typically 80s-sounding) worthy runners-up:
4. What did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you become it? Are you ok with not becoming it? If you did become it, has it been all you hoped?
I wanted to be a military pilot with the hope of becoming an astronaut. I obviously did not become one, as a result of lousy genes (nearsightedness from both parents) and strong dissuasion from a military career by my parents. I still wish sometimes that I had pursued a career in the military. With my record and grades in high school, I would have been a shoe-in for appointment to a military academy, and could probably have found a fulfilling career - pilot or not - in the Navy or Air Force (the two services I was interested in).
I don't regret the path I ended up taking, though I had trouble seeing a path along the way. "Lawyer" was not something I ever dreamed or aspired to be. But I am now in a dream of a legal job, with varied and interesting work and potential for advancement. Though it pays quite a bit less than a law firm job, it pays well and I have more time to be with my family, as it is only 10 minutes from my home. Texas is still a very affordable place to live, so I make a comfortable living, my wife doesn't have to work, and I have time for other interests and pursuits. That makes me quite rich, by most measures.
5. Describe the best performance you've ever given and tell me why it was the best. Was it the crowd? The technical aspects? What made it great?
The best performance I have ever given was of the Chorale movement of Louis Vierne's Second Organ Symphony during an organ lesson at UT. The "crowd" consisted of my professor and me. It was technically near-perfect, but something else happened that is very hard to describe, though I'll try. But first, an aside for context.
Organ is a physically demanding instrument to master. I was taught using a French technique which begins in a very mechanistic, non-musical way. You essentially have to "program" your body to perform the many amazing motions it takes to play a piece properly. You begin with a very slow tempo, as slow as it takes to play all voices (hands and feet) in time without having to stress out about what the next notes are. Unlike piano, where pianists usually practice each hand separately and then together, I rarely practiced hands and feet separately. Instead, I would go weeks at tediously slow paces and gradually speed up. For the first time in my life, I really learned what patience meant, as it would take months just to learn notes and motions; musicality and emotion were secondary concerns.
Back to the story, having spent months getting the Vierne up to speed, I performed it in a way that still brings chills to me today. I was so well prepared and so "open" to the music, that I sat back in a detached, almost Zen-like, state and watched my body perform the motions without effort. I was on a smaller practice instrument in the lesson studio (not a concert hall), so the sound was very intimate and immediate. Though I was detached, I still was able to respond and direct my body. It was the synthesis of being both observer and participant in the perfect performance that sticks with me. Not to sound mystical, but I have only felt the direct touch of something Divine a very few times in my life -- and that brief period of musical communion with something very, very powerful counts as one of them. During the next two years pursuing a performance degree, I never topped that one performance, though I came close to it a couple times with some other pieces.
6. Describe your perfect, self-indulgent, guilty escape from work/family day. Even if it is just a fantasy.
Heh. In a few years, I would want to take a ride into space with Branson's Virgin Galactic space liner. Failing that, if I could get time alone with my wife in the Rocky Mountains for a few days to hike, bike, eat, and spend some quality time together, I would consider myself well-indulged.
Another New Blog
I know I've been posting a lot of these recently, but I've been noting several new incoming pings from blogs I'm not familiar with.
The subject of this post is David Veksler, author of the blog Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He's been blogging about a year and a half longer than I, so I'm surprised I haven't crossed paths with him online before. I can forgive that he's an Aggie (heck, some of my best friends are Aggies). He's definitely a Texan -- though born in Ukraine, his attitudes are all Texan. He believes in freedom and the power of the market. He self-identifies as an Objectivist, so I hope he won't mind if I put him in the libertarian/classical liberal section of my blogroll (i.e., The Moon is a Harsh Mistress).
Thanks for the kind words about my blog, David!
New (To Me) Blog
Go check out his blog. I've parked him "Between Planets" on my blogroll for now.
I've been reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to my 8-year old for the past couple of months. Tonight we got to the part where I had to send him to bed or we would have been up all night finishing the thing. As it stands, I've been spending the last hour or so reading ahead to find out what happens. Plus, I've been starting to put together the outline of the Carnival of Recipes, getting it ready for this Friday. Keep the recipes coming to recipe.carnival(at)gmail(dot)com!
So this is it for original content tonight.
Minor Spoiler Alert -- If you haven't read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand or Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, you may want to skip the following.
(More in the extended entry).
This book is great. I still have major issues with Rowling's writing style, struggling to get through layers of wordy dependent clauses, hanging endlessly one after another, wondering how long it will take to get to the end of the sentence, but nevertheless enjoying the plot and broader underlying themes.
I can see why some felt this book had a libertarian subtext. In fact, the scene we left off with tonight, where Dumbledore is cornered by the Ministry of Magic in his office and escapes, reminded me of the scene in Atlas Shrugged in which Dagny and Francisco rescue John Galt from the government. Just as Galt had refused to give the sanction of the victim to his torturers, Dumbledore had refused to give the Ministry of Magic the "sanction of the victim."
Highly recommended, and good stuff for kids to be reading.
New Blog Review
Rocket Jones introduces us to some new bloggers today. Of the ones he linked, I particularly liked Pamela (an egoist babe) at Atlas Shrugged, Joe (a gay New Yorker living in the rural South) at aTypical Joe, and Hermitville (an infrequently-updated collection of short stories and monologues).
I've added them to my blogroll, and you should check them out. Also, be sure to check the Munuvian Showcase of New Blogs to discover other such new gems.
Operation Coffeecup Dictionary Entry
This is way cool. To me, at least.
Check out in the References whose site is cited as "Letter to participants, Reagan's recordings."
(I didn't author the encyclopedia entry, by the way).
Prodigal Blogger Returneth
Vodkapundit Stephen Green has returned from Mexico. Yesterday, his first full day back blogging, he posted 35 entries. He kept up a similarly fast (if not quite as voluminous) pace today. Wow. Just wow.
Click over and scroll down. And be sure to check out the many lovely pictures he took on his vacation.
Welcome back, Steve.
After sort of inviting myself in a comment to this post, I actually received a very gracious invitation from Jinnderella to start posting over at GNXP SciFi. Its parent blog, Gene Expression, has been one of my daily reads since before I even started blogging, so I am extremely happy about this development.
I look forward to adding some appropriate commentary over there very soon (in fact I am working on a book review of recently-read Calculating God by Robert Sawyer and plan to post it over there). This should not impact my lackadaisical pace of posting here in any way; I'll cross-post when appropriate, or just put a link from here to there.
Back in Town
I've been out of town with my family since last Friday.
I've got the SF Babe poll fixed now, though anyone who voted before will have to vote again (Pollhost lost everything, including the number of votes).
I hope to have some pictures and a story or two up tomorrow.
Belated 40th birthday greetings to Rob, the Llamabutcher.
I like how his partner-in-crime, Steve, uses the Roman numbering to refer to this extra-large birthday.
I am fully recovered from the illness reported here.
Thanks to the well-wishers kind enough to leave a comment or send me an email of support.
I'm not really back into the blogging rhythm yet, but I am tweaking the blogroll and preparing a new SF Babe poll, so check back soon.
File this under too much information, but what the heck...
I went to the emergency room last night with some abdominal cramps and bleeding (never have had symptoms like that before). Needless to say I was a bit freaked out.
Long story short, I have bacterial colitis, most likely from some tainted food. I've started antibiotics and am on a liquid diet for a couple of days, but should be completely better by Friday. This is, frankly, the ideal outcome, as it was easily spotted with early labwork and I did not need to undergo any more -- ahem -- invasive tests than necessary. Light blogging in the forecast for the next day or two.
Software Reliability and Contracting Best Practices
Interesting to me is the linked article's enthusiasm for developing a modular approach to coding. I look at contracts as business algorithms. And I have some modules or "subroutines" from other agreements ready to plug into current agreements. I sometimes need to tweak them for the needs of the immediate deal, but rarely do I need to develop an entire agreement from scratch to suit my client's needs. Lawyers learning from computer programmers. What will they think of next?
Poor Joe Ohio
Poor Joe. I really feel for him, and I hope his plotline has a happy ending. Trite, I know.
Confused? Good! That means my link might get Lileks yet another reader. Lord only knows he doesn't need the linkage, but you should really be reading each day's installment of Joe Ohio. Start here, if you haven't read any yet. (Also be sure to check Lileks' quasi-blog, The Bleat).
Here's the setup: James Lileks obtained a huge stash of old matchbooks, and he is composing a fictional account about the life of the man who gathered them. Just call him Joe Ohio.
The gimmick? Lileks sets himself a timer for 30 minutes each day and chooses the matchbook at random. This takes the stories in some unexpected and interesting directions. It is well worth your 5 minutes a day to appreciate this unique form of entertainment enabled almost entirely by the Internet.
Alan Brain started with a search for an odd-looking airplane (something with which I can completely identify), and ended up finding a sliced-up model of the Japanese battleship Yamato.
This led to an interesting comment that it will be some time before we develop artificial intelligences that would be able to retrace the steps in Alan's thought process.
Ted (RocketJones) passes frighteningly well as a gap-toothed, cracker-ass, inbred, hillbilly hayseed of a redneck.
El Condor Pasa
Howard at 3leggeddog notes that Jamie Foxx actually got to jam with Ray Charles during the making of Ray. It made him wonder what his similar once-in-a-lifetime experience would be: Improv with Robin Williams.
Now he's asking what other people's would be, too.
What would yours be? Trackback to Howard, or let him know in his comments.
Life's Too Short
Michele Catalano recently posted some similar thoughts of her own on the subject.
Happy Australia Day
Pixy Misa, the benevolent dictator of Munuviana, wonders who would play the various denizens of Mu.Nu when they make the movie.
And speaking of Jen, I hope she doesn't take offense that I would see the "pre-political-ass" Janeane Garofalo portraying her.
Kathy the Cake Eater (who would be portrayed by Helen Hunt per Robbo) thinks Dennis Quaid would play me, as Texans should play Texans. I like her idea, but there are many Texan actors in addition to Dennis to choose from. So, a quick poll. I'm really interested to see which of the following Texan actors you think would match my online persona, i.e., which of the faces goes with my online "voice":
I look forward to your answers.
Oh Lord, this is too funny (because it's so true). When I first ventured onto the 'net about 10 years ago, I hung out a lot on USENET (especially alt.music.yes and sci.space.policy). These descriptions could just as easily apply to bloggers as to discussion group members. Hmmm... I think I have an idea for a meme...
Via Utterly Boring.
TBG 2004 Condensed Version
Here's a meme that's infected Munuviana big time (I traced it back to here). Simply list the first line from the first post of each month of 2004. I'm introducing a mutation here, since some of these make no sense unless the post title is included. Titles in italics, first sentences plaintext:
January: Happy New Year - I have been enjoying time off with my family*.
March: Sad News - Lawyer, historian, and former librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin passed away on Sunday at the age of 89 from pneumonia. *
July: Life's Highway - I've recently gotten off the highway (from Breckenridge, Colorado to Plano, Texas) so I think it appropriate to kick off blogging again with this puzzling little diversion found at the Llama Butchers: *
November: Endorsement and Prediction - For what it's worth, I am endorsing President Bush and the Republican Party this year. *
Hanging Out at the Corner
I swung by the Corner tonight, not a typical surfing destination for me. I found a couple of really good posts, though:
First, I am not a John Derbyshire fan, as he [usually] perfectly embodies the stereotype of the pessimistic, luddite conservative. However, you have to give him credit for this brilliant posting on the "Intelligent Design" movement.
Q: Do you know the problem with lawyer jokes?
A: Lawyers don't think they're funny and no-one else thinks they're jokes).
OK. I have a couple of regular features now: the Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake postings and the Weekly SF Babe Poll.
I originally got into this blogging thing to stretch my authorial (writerly?) muscles, but I haven't done nearly as much original writing as I had planned. I've heard that any writer needs to write a million words of crap (MWOC) before getting published.
Now, I'm in a good position in my legal career, and I'm not really looking to change anything. However, I would love to write something other than contracts and get paid for it someday.
Query: should the words on this blog count toward the proverbial MWOC? I'm thinking about yet another feature: the MWOC feature, which would contain my fictional offering with a word count and a running tally of the number of words written (with a countdown from the million-word goal).
What do you think? Little Miss Attila and Pixy have talked about maybe having a Munuvian writers' group. I wonder if this would be a way to kick that idea off.
Martini Boy Returneth
One of my favorite libertarian bloggers, Stephen Green, is back. He took an extended vacation from blogging over the holidays.
I wouldn't have posted much, either, if I had been assembling an Imperial Star Destroyer out of more than 3000 LEGOs.
New to Blogroll
I don't always announce changes to my blogroll, but I've [re]-discovered a great and relatively new blogger, whom I first noticed as a commenter at the currently-but-hopefully-only-temporarily-dormant Vodkapundit.
His name is Frank Martin (blog name: Varifrank) and just scanning through his website I immediately found a couple of great posts:
In this one, a bully gets his comeuppance.
Go check him out.
One of the first challenges facing us in this new year is to help those suffering in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Head over to the Command Post to find out what you can do to help.
Happy New Year!
I hope that the year 2005 is as blessed and prosperous for you as 2004 has been for my family.
Happy New Year.
Content Quality Disclaimer
I have not really been plugged into many media as I have been enjoying time off with my family during the holidays. I have tried to post an item at least every other day, and these regular features write themselves, although each one reflects at least 30 minutes of work finding the right pictures and links. So, long story short, if you want the best links to these current stories, go to the main news sites like CNN and Fox, then surf through the blogosphere, where you'll find the latest at Instapundit and the Command Post.
I am gratified that several people still drop by every day, so I must be doing something right. I do hope to add a few more regular features that will keep me posting on a regular basis in the new year without burning out.
My first ever posting of the contents of my referrer logs: the last ten Google searches that led to a site visit here:
rush intermission video
battlestar galactica babes
plastic surgery horrors
meaning of kommissar
Rush, babes, Battlestar Galactica, the Michelle B (an X-prize entrant) -- yeah, that's a pretty fair sampling of my site content...
Rocket Jones Wisdom
"It's not a fetish if 100 percent of men like it - it's a law of nature."
Sounds right to me.
Do not subject rug rats to Disney Kingdom of Kapitalist Kitsch, take them to real khorosho People's Park! Learn glorious peoples' history of Uncle Joe! Admire gardens of party-approved workers' art!
Arise ye butcher from your slumber!
(Apologies to Kommissar for nationalizing his schtick).
Trains in Virginia
The Country Pundit provides an interesting history of the Virginian Railway.
I only have so much time to become consumed with a hobby, and SF, music, gaming, writing, and the Internet already completely consume my non-committed free time. But if I could score some Provigil and take on an extra hobby, it would be trains.
Today's Drudge Report has a wonderful, wacky variety of news.
First up, Dan Rather talks to ghosts.
Interesting: Pat Sajak speaks truth to Hollywood about the Van Gogh murder.
And finally, it appears that ABC's housewives might pull the network into second place for this "sweeps" period, likely bumping NBC into third.
(I have to share a guilty confession, like J.T. at Wizbang: I enjoy watching that trashy show with the missus). Why? Two good reasons under the fold:
Timothy Sandefur has kindly extended an invitation for me to be his guest-blogger at Freespace this week. I am looking forward to working on a few "think pieces," since the tone of dialogue on his blog is a bit more serious than what I usually offer up here. Who knows, maybe the change of setting will help me elevate the tone of my blog a bit, too.
Strengthen the Good 4
Good news from Alan at Strengthen the Good: the organization is now a 503(c) non-profit organization so that donors who go through STG may obtain a tax deduction.
Alan has identified a new cause this time: an English-language library in Slovakia needs some books and has identified a wish list with many worthy titles. You can send books directly to the school identified in Alan's article, or you can send money to STG and they will purchase books for the school. As always, follow the link, read Alan's summary of the cause, and determine whether you can do anything to help.
Cult Movie List
1. This Is Spinal Tap
2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Really. I've never seen this. Not sure I will ever see it.
4. Harold And Maude
5. Pink Flamingos - The. Grossest. Movie. Ever. I was never much of a John Waters fan, but I let a friend talk me into seeing this in college after I had pulled an all-nighter writing a history seminar paper. After being awake for about 40 hours straight and having imbibed about 4 liters of Mountain Dew and a beer, I was in a pretty strange state of mind, but quite well-suited for this film.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
7. Repo Man
9. Blade Runner
10. The Shawshank Redemption
(remainder in extended entry)
11. Five Deadly Venoms
12. Plan 9 From Outer Space
14. Eraserhead - Another warped movie.
15. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
16. The Warriors
17. Dazed And Confused
19. Evil Dead II
20. The Mack
21. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
22. Un Chien Andalou
24. The Toxic Avenger
25. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory - this movie gets much better after you've had kids. The toss-away one liners Gene Wilder utters about the various spoiled kids went completely over my head when I first saw the movie as a child.
26. Stranger Than Paradise
27. Dawn Of The Dead
28. The Wiz
30. The Harder They Come
31. Slap Shot
33. Grey Gardens
34. The Big Lebowski
35. Withnail and I
37. A Bucket Of Bood - should that be "A Bucket of Blood?"
38. They Live
39. The Best Of Everything
41. Heathers - when the movie "Mean Girls" came out recently, I thought immediately of Heathers. Good movie.
43. The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
44. Love Streams
45. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story
46. Aguirre, The Wrath of God
47. Walking And Talking Nicole Holofcener
48. The Decline Of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years
50. Faces of Death, Vol. 1
51. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - I've got the DVD.
52. A Clockwork Orange - I'm planning to get most of Kubrick on DVD (probably everything but Eyes Wide Shut)
53. Mommie Dearest
54. The Princess Bride - my kids discovered the magic of this movie last summer while we were on vacation in Colorado. A real gem.
57. Valley of the Dolls
58. Fight Club
59. Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
60. Better Off Dead
61. Donnie Darko
Victory is Mine!
Last night I beat Halo 2 on the Normal setting, but I won't consider it truly "beaten" until I've completed Heroic and Legendary each in solo mode, a process that took me several months with the first Halo.
Once I've done that, I plan to venture online and try some of the XBox Live matches. One thing I've read that makes me really look forward to playing online is Bungie's matching of players with similar skills, and tracking their experience, so that they move up as they become better players.
My first experiences with online play (with the Halo for PC demo) were less-than-satisfactory due to the mismatch in skills that often left me lying in a pool of blood for the entire game as snot-nosed teenagers typed insults at me on the chat channel.
Video Game Economics
First the macroeconomic story. Halo 2 cleared $125 million in its first 24 hours of sales. For comparison's sake, the all-time record for a movie's opening weekend was set by Spider Man in 2002, with a gross of $115 million.
Now for the microeconomics. I remember when we first bought the Xbox that I thought the $50-a-game price for the newest titles was outrageous. (And it usually is -- we typically wait for sales or special bundles, and almost always rent a game before purchasing it, to make sure it's worth owning).
While standing in line Monday night, pondering the opportunity costs of the $60 I was about to drop on a new game, I got to thinking about other forms of family entertainment. One that immediatlely leapt to mind was the few Texas Rangers baseball games I've taken my sons to see. In each case we easily dropped close to $100 on tickets, food, and parking per game in exchange for 3 hours of -- frankly -- lousy entertainment.
On the other hand, we have spent innumerable (10s, 100s?) of hours in the past 14 months playing Xbox cooperatively, and having a great time doing it. (Please note that we are not a couch-potato family, as each of my three kids is involved in sports and Scouts, we camp and bike together, and I coach two of the three soccer teams).
I've already had some fun playing the first few levels with my sons as spectators and have let them replay some of the ground I've already covered in Halo 2. I know we'll definitely be getting our money's worth out of this.
The Al-Corbomite Maneuver
A threat to President Bush? An endorsement of Senator Kerry?
Update: Looks like Rusty had a similar idea.
Back in Town
I got back safely last night, but lacked the time and energy to post my usual humble brilliance.
I had given Rob the Llamabutcher the key to the place for about a day, but unfortunately Munuviana crashed during his window of opportunity to leave Llama droppings here. Look back later today for the new SF Babe poll, along with the final results of the Leia/Padme contest.
Slow Posting Ahead
I find myself out of town in Chicago for the next few days for a continuing legal education conference. Unfortunately, I only have dialup access and find it frustrating to surf or blog, so expect limited-to-no posting until Wednesday evening.
I'll have a belated aircraft cheesecake posting ready by then. I got some ideas at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry yesterday.
As additional away-from-home sightseeing, I caught Team America: World Police at the theater last night. This is a must-see, especially for the supposedly "open-minded" leftists who like cutting-edge humor. It is the antidote to Fahrenheit 911: rather than taking down Fahrenheit 911's lies point-by-point, it undermines the whole self-loathing, defeatist premise of that movie and the laughable self-importance of the media elite. America! F*** Yeah!
Update: Instapundit is traveling, too. I wish I could call on some quality writing talent (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to fill in the blanks here while I'm gone.
The world being what it is, I'm more likely to pay to go to space than to Africa during my lifetime. Thank goodness someone else can travel there and allow me to travel vicariously with them.
Don has some nice pics up. Check it out.
Revanchist Red Refuses Recognition
Tovarisch Kommissar holds show trial number 13.
Makes Kommissar running-dog exploiter, nyet? All talkski no walkski.
Web Design 101
I suppose the one gripe of his that I routinely violate is in making this site more graphics-intensive than it used to be. I do try to reduce the size and quality of photos I post here to minimize Pixy's bandwidth charges and my readers' load times. Otherwise I try to avoid the many other design flaws pointed out by the Soaring Celestial Simian.
One additional hint: if you have a third-party script in your template (such as a stat meter or the TTLB Ecosystem script) put it toward the end of your HTML so that it does not prevent your content from loading if there is an error with the script. I had a lot of trouble reading several of my favorite sites last week when the Ecosystem was experiencing some growing pains.
My Dog Jake's First Posting
Hi everyone! My name is Jake. I am John's pet dog. This is the first time I have ever posted to my owner's weblog. He's got some really cool stuff here, but I think I can make it look better.
The Flying Space Monkey gave me all kinds of ideas about how I can do that.
I know my master likes aliens.
And he loves Star Trek (especially the transporter).
He likes monkeys, too. Especially the Flying Space Monkey variety.
And I love all of these neat little moving pictures. Don't you??
Shhh! I hear my master coming. Better hit publish, and save, and . . . there. Perfect!
Arrgghhhh! Stupid dog! No treats for you tonight! The Flying Space Monkey was saying those are the things you're NOT supposed to do!
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
The 66th Bonfire of the Vanities is up at the Llamabutchers and yours truly is prominently featured.
Check his blog out, and leave a comment to let him know he's doing a good job.
Strengthen the Good 3
The bloggers' micro-charity network Strengthen the Good has identified its third candidate for your consideration: Debi Faris And The Garden Of Angels.
Debi's charity, the Garden of Angels, works to provide names and legal, honorable burials for abandoned newborns. This charity also supports "Baby Moses" laws that allow mothers who don't want their children to leave them at a safe place (such as a fire station or hospital emergency room) without criminal liability for placement in foster or adoptive homes, as an alternative to abandonment or infanticide.
Please read the overview at Strengthen the Good, click through to Garden of Angels, and consider whether this charity is worth some small donation. Thanks.
Looks like I've evolved from an "Adorable Rodent" into a "Marauding Marsupial" in the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem at some point over the last few days. I've seen a huge surge of searches for "Rutan+SpaceShipTwo" leading to my site since late September. Over the last week I've been averaging well over 100 hits a day (236 so far today!)
We'll see if this is just a temporary spike or a new plateau. In any case, I'll enjoy this higher state of being as a belated blogday present.
Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this. I enjoy writing it, so I'm glad some of y'all enjoy reading it!
Just in case I neglect to blog tonight, today is the one-year anniversary of my foray into blogging.
A big thank you to my readers. I know I have a few regulars, and I appreciate the fact that you take the time to read my random thoughts.
Much appreciation especially to Pixy Misa for providing the server space, domain, and Movable Type installation, and to Ted "Rocket Jones" for inviting me to join the Munuvians (yay!) after I had spent six months at Blogspot.
Five Questions To Bloggers
Here's a new viral thread working its way through the DNA of the blogosphere:
1. Why did you start a blog?
I'd flirted off and on with the idea of being a writer, and wanted to force myself to write regularly (unfortunately, I've been more of a linker than a writer recently).
2. Do you have a blogmother/blogfather?
Not really, though my first permalink came from Prof. Chris Hall.
3. Has it helped/hurt/had no effect on your professional life?
It has had little effect on my professional life. I did remodel my law department's website using the html and css skills I learned blogging, so maybe it helped more than hurt.
4. Do your 'real world' friends know that you blog?
Many, but not all. Few read it.
5. Do you have a blog crush?
(First seen at Ted's site, where I answered them in comments).
Warm Birthday Wishes
I know he's on the other side of the date line, so this comes a day late for him, but I would like to extend a Texas-sized birthday greeting to Pixy Misa, the proprietor of this funky little blog community known as Munuviana.
Bandwidth and server space aren't free, but he makes them seem that way.
Strengthen the Good 2
Strengthen the Good is a network of bloggers who seek to highlight opportunities for "microcharity" -- the ability to make a positive difference in our world with even a small donation.
Please read this post at STG, and then follow the link to the highlighted foundation, the Brent Woodall Foundation for Exceptional Children. This is an appropriate way to honor the memory of one victim of 9-11 while also helping make the world a better place. If you believe this a worthy cause, I encourage you to donate even a small amount.
Update: I originally posted this on Monday September 13 at 23:18 CDT. I am post-dating it to September 17 so it will stay at the top of the page throughout the week.
New Amazon Internet Search
I was highly gratified to see my blog come up first. And, like the guys at SFSignal, I found the linked images feature pretty cool, too.
Along with the traditional search results on the left, a sidebar on the right was populated with images ranging from the Texas Republic circa 1845, to SpaceShipOne, to the appealing ladies of Buck Rogers in the 25th century.
Language geek aside: This site appears to be in Finnish. How do I know that? It looks like Tolkien's Elvish.
Via Utterly Boring.
Picking Up the Slack Down Under
While I've been slacking off for the last few weeks, tweaking the templates and stylesheets of my site, Alan Brain has been posting a terrific variety of articles on subjects ranging from Iran's missile program and the US/Israeli ABM response to it, to a tale of two very cool naval vessels (including the Australian role in the high-tech design of each), to coverage of the Beslan terrorist atrocity.
I hit his tipjar tonight, and encourage you to do the same.
Redesign 80% Complete
Sorry for the lack of content recently. I've been struggling with getting a stable 3-column css layout that doesn't look too busy.
The middle column still needs some work, I think, but I wanted to go ahead and throw this out there for feedback from my few regular readers.
Please email or comment with feedback on the new look.
Update: Make that 99.9% complete! Thanks for the feedback and compliments. Especially thanks to Madfish Willie for some solid, constructive criticism. I got rid of the dotted line under the banner, as well as the link-underlining in the sidebars. I also moved the sitemeter and scripts down to the bottom right, so that they would load last; I noticed they were keeping the right bar from loading quickly. Any other comments still welcome!
Via the Llamabutchers, fifty things about me:
1. Your name spelled backwards. suinal nhoj
2. Where were your parents born? Dallas, Texas.
3. What is the last thing you downloaded onto your computer? Planet of the Apes as Twilight Zone episode (yet another exhibit for short copyright terms and a vibrant public domain).
5. Last time you swam in a pool? Last Saturday at The Texas Pool (our local members-only pool, shaped like the State of Texas with an island where Plano is).
More in the extended entry:
6. Have you ever been in a school play? Yes, I was Marcellus Washburn during my senior year of high school in a production of The Music Man. I had hoped to get the role of Prof. Harold Hill, since he got to kiss Marian the Librarian, who was being played by a girl I had a major crush on at the time.
7. How many kids do you want? We have three, which is how many we wanted. My wife and I both came from families with three kids, and it just feels "right."
8. Type of music you dislike most? Another toss-up. "Nashville" Country and Rap. (I actually like bluegrass if played by someone like Bela Fleck, and I also like old "cowboy" music, like you hear in westerns -- I am not much of a fan of either Nascar culture or gangsta culture).
9. Are you registered to vote? Definitely.
10. Do you have cable? No, we're broadcast-only, spending that monthly money instead on broadband internet, DVDs, and CDs.
11. Have you ever ridden on a moped? No, although I drove a home-built mini-bike (powered by a lawnmower engine) during my early teen years up at the family lakehouse.
12. Ever prank call anybody? I think in 7th or 8th grade we made a few hang-up calls to the cute girls. Not since.
13. Ever get a parking ticket? Only in Washington DC.
14. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving? I would love to try skydiving someday, although I'm afraid I'll have to be a widower before that will happen.
15. Farthest place you ever traveled. Europe (Austria was the most distant point from Texas on the trip).
16. Do you have a garden? Technically speaking, yes, although it has lain fallow for four years now.
18. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? Only to the first verse.
19. Bath or Shower, morning or night? Shower, morning.
21. Favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni and more pepperoni. Sometimes jalapeños.
22. Chips or popcorn? Chips, especially Zapp's Hotter 'N Hot Jalapeño Potato Chips
23. What color lipstick do you usually wear? Something sheer and glossy with a hint of pink. . . but only after I've kissed the missus!
24. Have you ever smoked peanut shells? No, nor do I ever plan to.
25. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? No.
26. Orange Juice or apple? Orange.
27. Who was the last person you went out to dinner with and where did you dine? Went out with the wife and kids and another family to Chuck's Restaurant in Plano for burgers and chicken fingers.
28. Favorite type chocolate bar? Milky Way Midnight bar.
29. When was the last time you voted at the polls? 2002 mid-term elections (and maybe a local bond election in 2003, too).
30. Last time you ate a homegrown tomato? Too long ago. Probably a few months when my parents' container crop first came in.
31. Have you ever won a trophy? Yes, other than the participation trophies I got as a kid, I got two embarrassingly large trophies at high school graduation: one for being Salutatorian, and the other a "Man for Others" award.
32. Are you a good cook? I've been told so by people other than my of-course-perfectly-neutral-fair-and-balanced wife.
33. Do you know how to pump your own gas? Uhh, yeah?
34. Ever order an article from an infomercial? Nope.
35. Sprite or 7-up? Either, but only rarely.
36. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to work? No.
37. Last thing you bought at a pharmacy? Eyedrops.
38. Ever throw up in public? Twice during my sophomore year of college (one of the times had to do with this).
39. Would you prefer being a millionaire or find true love? True love.
40. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes. My wife and I knew it when we first met as teens, but it took us about 7 years of growing up (never dating - we were just friends) to admit it.
41. Ever call a 1-900 number? Once during college, out of curiosity.
42. Can exâ€™s be friends? It depends. Usually not, in my experience.
43. Who was the last person you visited in a hospital? My younger sister after she delivered her first child back in February.
44. Did you have a lot of hair when you were a baby? No.
45. What message is on your answering machine? Short and simple. . . and done by my wife.
46. Whatâ€™s your all time favorite Saturday Night Live Character? Mike Myers' "Dieter" on Sprockets or his "Wayne" of Wayne's World. I prefer MadTV to SNL these days.
47. What was the name of your first pet? A cat named Carrots and a dog named Bandit.
48. What is in your purse? What purse?
49. Favorite thing to do before bedtime? Consult with the missus.
50. What is one thing you are grateful for today? My family.
Well, re-styling this site is taking most of my blogging time, so you get a "giant" link-fest tonight, a la Jeff Patterson at Gravity Lens instead of any erudite or witty original commentary.
A collection of props from Land of the Giants. Wine tips from Giant Foods. The Jolly Green Giant (helicopter), Jolly Green Giant recipe ideas, They Might Be Giants, Giant Cthulu Statues, Giant Robot Costume, The Iron Giant, Gentle Giant, Giant Eyeball Recipe, and Giant Sharks.
However, with the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Charley, Strengthen the Good has identified a slightly larger "macro" micro-charity: The Gulf Coast Community Foundation Of Venice Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund.
Please follow both links. Check out this opportunity to help people in need. If you wish to donate, please do so.
Llama Assimilation Completed
The Llamabutchers are officially moved in at their new digs here in Munuviana.
Steve did all the heavy lifting getting the site set up (and thanks for noting the little bit of help I rendered) and now Rob is back from vacation, presumably tanned, if not so rested, but we hope ready to resume his prolific blogging.
Strengthen the Good
Strengthen the Good is a network of bloggers designed to focus the attention of the blogosphere -- readers and authors alike -- on opportunities to make a positive difference to people in need through small, direct actions.
Conceived by Alan Nelson of The Command Post, our job is to raise awareness of "micro-charities," which can benefit from even minimal donations. Members of the network will receive a notice from Alan, and our job then will be to highlight the opportunity and link to the information about it.
Your job? Spread the word. Give. And, if you like, join so that the network can reach even more readers and donors.
High Speed Video Clips
Surfing around tonight, I found this interesting gallery of high-speed video captures (i.e., slow-motion playback) of a variety of activities.
I like the heart valve visualization, engine combustion, and rattlesnake strike clips.
Haiku Contest Winners
Yours truly entered, but neither placed nor showed. Ah well, there's always a next time. . .
Job Figures: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
In fact, even a notable optimist's first reaction might be to replace the cowbell:
with the cow:
But the news may not be all bad, after all. First, obviously, is the fact that payroll employment increased (even if not as much as expected). Second, the number of unemployment claims declined over last month.
Finally, and most importantly, look at the unspun release from the BLS and try to interpret that as anything but positive. Overall household employment increased by 629,000 over the previous month. For better perspective, take a look at this chart:
(from this site).
That's right. July saw the largest increase in household employment since February 2002. And for only the second time since August 1994, more than 600,000 jobs were created in a month.
Why, then, the gloomy news reports about the increase of only 32,000 (versus the forecast of 240,000). Two words: old economy. These BLS surveys and predictions are all predicated on the 9-to-5, 5-day-a-week, clock-punching job sector. They miss the ever-larger numbers of self-employed workers who make our economy a vibrant example of Schumpeter's creative destruction.
Of course, I'm not the first to note this, by any means. This particular post was inspired by Dr. Jeffrey Cornwall of The Entrepreneurial Mind. And Virginia Postrel has lucidly stated and developed this theme repeatedly in the past.
Thank goodness we can so readily access the raw data to critique the common wisdom (or at least the "commonly-reported" wisdom) about the job figures.
Update: Reading through the above, I noted some sloppiness in the paragraph starting "Why, then, . . . . " Instead of saying "these BLS surveys, " I should have written "the BLS payroll survey." Sorry for the sloppiness.
For a well-written leftist analysis of the BLS report, read this EPI article, which goes through all the numbers and explains why more weight is commonly given to the payroll survey than the household survey. I don't agree with the EPI's ideological slant, but it does help explain the conventional wisdom.
At 36, I've worn the same pant size since college, and, thanks to a fairly active lifestyle and good genetics, I haven't needed to work very hard to stay that size. But nature finally caught up last summer and I noticed my waistbands getting tighter. I never actually bought a larger size, but during the fall I did buy a couple of pairs of pants with an expandable waistband. Cheating? Maybe.
I made a resolution at the beginning of the new year to finally incorporate regular exercise into my daily routine, and began doing situps and pushups every day. Four months later, at my annual physical, I was happy to find my blood pressure at the lowest I can remember (112/52) but very shocked to find my cholesterol level in the 230s (with a bad LDL/HDL ratio). It has always been in the mid-100s. My doctor put me on Niacin for the time being and we will follow up soon to re-check the level. In the meantime, I resolved to improve my diet and incorporate some aerobic exercise.
Shortly after that checkup, Jake came into our lives, and he has been an angel. Every night since April, I have progressively gone from walking to jogging to running with that dog for thirty minutes.
Wanting to find an objective way to measure my physical fitness progress, I went Googling around today. Surprise, surprise, surprise. The USMC has posted a helpful reference to the physical fitness and swimming requirements for Marine Corps courses. Even better, it lays out the point scoring system and provides rankings by age. Perfect.
So tonight I administered my first USMC-style PFT. I managed a three-mile run in 21:35, 39 situps in 2 minutes, and 4 pull-ups. Scoring against that chart, I passed each component of the test and came up with 138 total points, putting me in the 3rd Class for my age (not great, but better than "Unsatisfactory").
Not bad for a civilian. Having an objective milestone is important, and up to this point I have merely been working on consistent exercise. Now I can work on improving that score.
Odd Tech Sighting: Monowheels
Not a unicycle, a monowheel. In many forms, including a proposed armored version for the military.
Hat tip: Gravity Lens (where does he find this stuff?)
Llama Tech Support
Steve the Llamabutcher provides some helpful graphics for the technically impaired to demonstrate the effect of a trojan virus.
I've trimmed, pruned, and supplemented my blogrolls.
I'm also experimenting with the style and layout (although not publishing it here yet). Look for a revamped look here soon.
Vanity of Vanities; All Is Vanity.
Free Ice Cream Deliveries Suspended
Speaking of slipping the surly bonds, I am getting away for a bit of a summer vacation from blogging. After I have rested and recharged, I'll be back.
I still owe you OPERATION COFFEECUP -- a tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Hollywood Escape Velocities
Alan Brain links to a convenient quick-reference chart comparing the fastest human sprinter to the average speeds of hazards faced in the movies (Killer Bees, T-Rexes, dogs, elephants, tornadoes, etc.)
Spurred by the new look in my house, I am thinking about a new look for the blog.
One persistent constructive criticism I have received is that there's not enough Heinlein content here, given the blog title. Well, I have fixed that in the process of editing my blogroll. Check out the new categories for my blogroll (if you're familiar with Heinlein and think I've got you under the wrong book title, please let me know why, and which one you think you belong under).
I'm also working on my CSS and trying to think of a layout that works in each of the main browsers (this site still doesn't look right in Opera. Grr.) As always, please feel free to comment or send an email with constructive criticisms. Thanks for your continued support and patronage.
Excuses and Eulogies
I'm sorry for the recent radio silence. Life happens.
And life ends. Ronald Wilson Reagan, requiescat in pacem.
We owe a huge debt to this man. He, along with Margaret Thatcher, turned the tide of Marxism and put the lie to the notion that socialism was inevitable and could never be reversed.
At this point, I can't possibly add much to what has already been written elsewhere. And I don't want to generate any more "purple prose" than has been generated. Two of my favorite bloggers, Virginia Postrel and Timothy Sandefur, have done a great job covering Reagan. (Just click on each link and keep scrolling).
I found out yesterday that I have a blog child -- an old friend from high school days. Very similar background to mine, but as should be apparent from a reading of his site, quite a different adult life.
He is very smart with a really dry sense of humor, so I look forward to checking out his observations on things. Here's the money quote from one of his first posts:
"I didn't start my own blog because I thought I didn't have anything to say. Finally realizing neither does anyone else, I decided to go for it."
That's the spirit!
Welcome to 1984
While I'm on the topic of fascism, I have to confess that tonight I'm feeling like a member of the Ministry of Truth, going back and changing the history to show that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia instead of Eurasia.
You see, I've been re-categorizing my old Blogspot posts into their proper subjects. In the process, of course, I am re-writing history so that it appears that I have always been a Munuvian. For some reason, I feel vaguely guilty. Should I?
Shame, Shame, Shame. . .
Things I'm not ashamed to admit, but probably should be:
New Look For Freespace
Timothy Sandefur has moved his Freespace blog off Blog*Spot to Typepad. Check out the spiffy new look.
Timothy brings a libertarian/Objectivist perspective to several subjects, but most eloquently to constitutional law, theory, and history.
In case you haven't surfed over there recently, be sure to check out SFSignal's spiffy new look. Gone is the purple. Nice shades-of-blue color scheme going on there now.
I'd like to welcome a couple of new sites to my blogrolls.
At Don McClane's Mixolydian Mode, you'll find daily music posts as well as links to Steven King's The Shining in 30 Seconds (reenacted by animated bunnies), a dissertation on meteorology in Tolkien, and classic analog synthesizers (which is how he found my site, apparently). Don has several other sites covering a large range of topics here.
The other newcomer is the Bookish Gardener, who was kind enough to take my side in the recent tete-a-tete (or is that "Kopf gegen Kopf?") over the lovely German language. Another lawyer eclecti-blogger, but with a focus on gardening (and music, and books, and family, and. . . you get the idea!)
Among the sung languages, certainly Latin is the most beautiful, but German has an earthy power to it, much like English. Just read Der Erlkoenig (The Elf-King), by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and listen to a decent recording of Schubert's rendering of this poem.
If you have a child, I dare you to make it through the song without a tear in your eye.
New Logo for RocketJones?
Looks like it would make a decent background image for Ted's site banner, as he likes to keep his title art fresh.
Some Competition for Allah
Looks like they picked up a Vodka-lanche today, too. Good on them.
Creation "Science" Theme Park
How awesome the world used to be and how it will be again very soon!
Dinosaurs in the Bible and history!
Dinosaurs alive today!
Amazing fossil discoveries. See them yourself!
Okilly dokilly, then.
I usually make it a point not to blog about work. It just seems like the safest policy. And in any case, I almost always leave my work entirely at the office. Also, other people make law more interesting for people to read, so I focus on the random minutiae of my life.
Today, though, "work" followed me home in the sense that I have been burdened by ongoing personnel issues. I can control my work and its quality, but I can't control the actions and reactions between and among my coworkers and subordinates.
I hope someday to be General Counsel where I work, but after a day like today, I wonder if I have what it takes to manage people.
Now, back to regularly-scheduled programming. . .
Der Kommissar's in Town Uh Oh
I've been meaning to add a link to the Commissar's blog for some time now, and thanks to the Llama Butchers' recommendation of this excellent post on proletarian linking practices, I have finally done so.
Little Miss Attila pointed out in a comment that her browser (IE/Mac) rendered this blog so that my right links column was impinging on the text in the main body. I've tried to fix that by defining actual (rather than percentage-based) div and margin widths in the stylesheet; I hope the layout looks OK now. Please comment if it doesn't!
(I already know that my Texas flag banner is broken in Opera - there's a big gap between the blue field and the white and red stripes - but it renders perfectly in IE6/Windows and Firefox, the two browsers that I figure most readers probably use).
If you are a Mac user with Safari or IE (or Firefox!) I would love to hear how the page looks. One reason I'm trying to stick to pure CSS and avoid HTML tables is to prove that an amateur like me can stick to standards and best design practices.
P.S. Attila Girl also helpfully pointed out that I didn't have an email link on my page. I have now fixed that. Please feel free to send me an email if you don't want to leave a public comment.
Ever wondered how to read military ranks?
Not much more in the way of substantive posts tonight; I'm still tinkering with CSS and HTML to get my new blog home just the way I want it.
Let me know what you think of the new look.
Hello fellow Munuvians!
Thank you for inviting me to join this lively and lovely community.
I'm working out some technical matters, and hope to begin posting new material soon.
Six Month Bloggiversary
I see that today is Timothy Sandefur's one-year bloggiversary. Congratulations, Timothy, and keep up the good work.
Today also happens to be the six-month milepost for me. Let's have a look-see at my first post.
I haven't talked much about cycling, coaching, or theology. I do think, however, that this has turned into a cohesive narrative on life, the universe, and everything. Please leave me a comment. Let me know what I've done well, what I can do better.
More Legos? More domestic bliss? More law and policy stuff? More of the same?
In any case, I've had a great time, and I appreciate knowing that I have a few loyal readers. Thanks.
Heh. Must not have read very deep into my archives. Oh well. At least OhMyGoff thinks my blog is "great any time of day or night."
Update: Originally filed under this guy's "Conservative Pablum" portion of the blogroll, I am now filed under "Odds and Ends and Odd Little Ends
---great any time of day or night."
Ia! Ia! Sanrio Fhtagn!
Old Photo Blogging
While Glenn has been busy photoblogging with modern digital cameras, TangoMan at Gene Expression is blogging about the century-old color photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudi-Gorskii, "Photographer to the Tsar."
I didn't even know that there was a color-photography process as early as the 1900's and 1910's. But there was, and TangoMan links to the page explaining how three different grayscale images were taken with blue, green, and red filters and then projected onto a screen using the same three filters. (Commenter Jesse also points to these links on "autochrome" technology).
Laws of physics being what they are, it shouldn't be surprising that similar filtering and combining techniques are being used to beam us color pictures from the surface of Mars one century later.
I just had to use that title after seeing this at Reason's Hit and Run blog.
"Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tender?"
"There are some who call me. . .Timothy?"
Sorry there, er, Timothy, for calling you "Tim" in all of my previous posts. Didn't mean to presume anything, Timothy. (Though to be fair, you did have that Python quote up on your blog when I first linked).
Just please don't presume to call me "Johnny."
Ground Control To Professor Hall (Or, Spacecraft Oddity)
Your circuit's dead
Is there something wrong
Can you hear us Professor Hall?
Lots of interesting space-related news over the last month. Your commentary would be welcome. No pressure, of course. Just curious.
Neat and Tidy
James Lileks has dropped several hints over the years that he is obsessively neat. This man color-codes his recovery disks, organizes his canned foods, buys special containers from Target for his refrigerator, and so on. Still, the picture of his study in today's Bleat reveals a surprisingly spartan workplace.
My desk looks like that maybe twice a year (for the 5 minutes it takes me to dust and polish it before returning the piles of papers to their normal resting places).
People Needing A Clue
Sackcloth and Ashes
Robert must be doing some lenten penance for the cheesecake binge last week, as he has posted the pictorial equivalent of sackcloth and ashes. (It burnsss my eyesss, Prrrreciousss! Nasty wicked hobbitsesss!)
Added to my left links (a bilingual pun!): a site dedicated to the brilliant Douglas Adams.
(Hat tip: Die Metzger der Lamas)
Military Thriller Idea
Going through some old notes I found this scribbled plot idea:
Britain joins single currency; integrates more tightly with EU. At some later date, tries to withdraw; triggers response from Continent similar to US north in Civil War. Anglosphere (USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) come to the rescue. What happens to EU? Russia? China? Think Red Storm Rising crossed with Guns of the South. . .What do you think? I'm not in a hurry to write it (the idea is about two years old). If you feel your muse calling, have at it.
Robots From A to Z
In looking for the Stepford Wives quote below, I found this interesting repository of information on things robotic.
"She cooks as good as she looks, Ted."
Wow. Somebody came to this site from a Google search for "stepford + wife + diy." (This old post created the hit).
And then, bless 'em, they stuck around for 13 minutes or so.
I wonder if his wife knows what project he's working on?
That Was Quick
Father Tucker has changed his site template to a much more readable black-on-white layout.
I just complained about the white-on-black layout yesterday. I can't believe that my post had anything to do with this, but the result is much more pleasing to my eyes.
Update: He's changed it again. This time, it looks much cooler. The last change was more readable than the original layout, but this one is a much stronger template, while retaining the easy readability.
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
Robert the Llama Butcher has noticed the trend, too. (Scroll down to Tuesday, February 17, at 9:14AM if the permalink doesn't work).
And his allusion to a certain 1990s movie has me thinking. . .
I wonder if the Missus would let Ms. De Mornay move in for a while to help me with my, er, posting duties? Hmmm.
Somehow, even with my light posting over the last 2 weeks, I have evolved into a Flippery Fish (although I fear I could regress to Slimy Mollusc at any point) in the TTLB Ecosystem.
I'll try to consolidate this progress with some fresh posts this week. Many thanks to my 4 or 5 regular readers (and those of you anonymous individuals searching Google for "alessandra + ambrosio + new + pictures" and "saddam + hussein + outcast + flesh" and "why + is + my + tetra + swimming + nose down") for this step up the evolutionary ladder.
If you read this looking for some real content on evolution, I'm sorry to disappoint. But Gene Expression should satisfy you with a fresh post on the evolution of ideas. They also spot an interesting article on the evolution of language and point out a new article on evolution and paleontology. Enjoy.
More Poetic Spam
I got this from a spammer selling "generic" Cialis.
Looks like something Jim Morrison would have written, had he survived the sixties and gone into advertising:
Now and then, mastadon over tea party
Give secret financial aid to ribbon behind.
Sometimes around hand laughs out loud,
But living with graduated cylinder
Always know tripod behind!
Gonad for jersey cow laugh and drink all night
With traffic light from tape recorder,
Or prime minister about secretly admire around debutante.
Particle accelerator around impresario meditates,
Because fairy related to organize power drill beyond stovepipe.
When bullfrog for lunatic ruminates, behind toothpick panics.
A few bonbons, and wheelbarrow living with gonad
To arrive at a state of mastadon.
Most tea parties believe that over pickup truck
Conquer mortician behind.
Immersive Virtual Environments
Ten "Classic" Technologies
I still use vacuum tubes (I have a couple of Hammond organs and a Leslie amplifier) and think analog watches and typewriters are valuable to have, just because it's nice to have a few well-crafted items that don't require electrical power.
Galadriel vs. Arwen
Playing Eomer to Sandefur's Gimli with Theron as Galadriel, I simply cannot admit she is the most beautiful woman who ever lived, as that honor is reserved for my lovely wife. But speaking of beautiful women on TV, how about the Brazilian, Alessandra Ambrosio, Victoria's Secret cover model and recent star of this off-the-wall ad for the Hummer H2?
"Oh No, Not Again."
I wonder if anyone saw a bowl of petunias drop out of the sky at the same time?
Update: Picture here.
Another Update: More pictures here.
"People Called Romanes They Go The House"
I endured (and enjoyed, to be fair) four years of Latin at my high school. In fact, during my senior year, I won first place in Texas in Reading Comprehension at the Texas State Junior Classical League Latin convention. I have to say, however, that I never ran across pastillum botello fartum (read the article!) on one of my reading tests.
Hey, another corporate lawyer who wants to be a LEGO "master builder."
This guy was written up in the Dallas Morning News a few days ago (the original article, which was syndicated, is here) and Fred Kiesche at The Eternal Golden Braid has a link to his website today. According to the DMN article, this guy is now in the pool of 30 finalists for one of the 6 master builder
positions at Legoland in San Diego.
Do You Hate Unix?
There's a handbook just for you.
(I don't know enough to judge. . . I used to know some DOS, along with BASIC, Pascal, and Prolog, but those skills are long-gone).
Did Yoda Eat Some Funny Mushrooms?
This was in the body of some spam I got at the office today. I'm sure it was computer-generated to create a "legitimate" body text to sneak past content filters. Still, it has a certain poetic charm:
Now and then, defined by completion. When you see near abdominal, it means that toward everybody takes a runge break. Indeed, living with unidirectional make a truce with preparatory near. Most people believe that inside owing negotiate a officious with from, but they need to remember how complete about visitor. Now and then, from cook cheese houghton over. When for crabapple dies, around sweeps the floor. Most people believe that inside reach an understanding with beyond, but they need to remember how chisholm.
Wik. Also wik.
Robert the Llama Butcher has some kind things to say about yours truly. Thanks for the link!
I'm a native Texan, unlike Robert, but I won't hold it against him. In fact, he gets a head start on honorary Texanhood by being from New York, which in my experience ranks a close second behind Texas on the citizen-arrogance scale.
Robert, I'm sorry to say that I liked the Lord of the Rings movies, as movies. I liked them a lot more than the Star Wars movies, which were my previous favorite fantasy epic. The first movie was closest to the source material, I thought. Give it a solid "A." The third was also pretty true to the source material, right in the B to B+ range. The second. . . give it a C minus (would have been a D, but for Helm's Deep). I still can't forgive what Peter Jackson did to Faramir's character. It was completely wrong, and even worse, unnecessary (unlike the deletions of Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire, which I
thought were justified). I think overall, Peter Jackson completely grokked the hobbits and the Rohirrim; in fact, if I could see only one scene from all three movies, it would be the charge of the Rohirrim in the third movie. I can forgive his fumbling with the Numenoreans and elves --- there's just too much backstory to adequately convey their nobility and otherworldliness in a movie.
Thanks again for the link, Robert. Come back soon.
As a lawyer, I regularly have to try to tease some meaning from the "hereinbefores," "wherefores," "shalls," and other assorted legaldegook that other lawyers (and lawyer wannabes) use in their "legal" writing. I'm sorry, but if you're a standard American English speaker, you have no business using the word "shall" in modern usage, except in flippant "what shall do now?" constructions.
And what's with the hereinaboves, hereinbelows, and wheretofores? I majored in German in college, and those constructions are very much alive there. But not in English. Ask someone to write a "legally binding" document and they for some reason start sprinkling "shalls" and "shall nots" like Shakespearean actors.
(That "someone. . . they" construction was intentional, by the way). I actually had a mild debate with another lawyer about this once, who felt that some "grandeur" in legal documents and court pleadings was a good thing. Oh, please.
One of my ongoing missions is to update all of my corporation's forms to use plain, modern English, and to do everything I can to revise other lawyers' forms for style whenever I am forced to use them. One of my key resources is a book by Bryan Garner, a noted authority on legal writing and the English language. Legal Writing in Plain English is one of my bibles (along with the Chicago Manual of Style, Lapsing into a Comma, and the invaluable Strunk and White). Even if you are not a lawyer, these are excellent resources for writers.
If you are interested in matters grammatical, Garner provides a daily usage tip here (where you can also sign up to receive his daily usage tips via email, as I have done).
Via Geek Press, here is a lovingly-crafted account of the events around the end of the Second Age of Middle Earth. I've read the Intro and scanned the remainder. This guy knows his stuff and I plan to read the whole thing once I clear the items currently on my reading list.
Best of Gene Expression
The guys over at Gene Expression have stayed busy despite the holidays. Here are some highlights:
A link to recordings of lectures by great thinkers.
A fantastic post that takes on the tendency of many to romanticize communism.
Happy New Year
I have been enjoying time off with my family. I've done very little surfing in the evenings, and haven't been moved to blog. I'll get some new stuff up this weekend, and regular blogging will resume with my regular routine next week.
Geeze. Step away from the blog for a few days and return to find that Virginia Postrel has given you a mention.
Please make yourselves at home. I've only been blogging for slightly more than two months, so you can see how a blog evolves over time. This is still very much a work-in-progress.
Feel free to post comments, shoot me an email, or scan through the archives. Thanks for dropping by.
Build Your Own Railgun
Not your run-of-the-mill DIY project.
I wonder what Dave Barry would have to say about this?
One of the cool things about the Internet is the discovery that out there is at least one other person as interested as I am in Legos, pictures of Mars, building models, and space. He has lots of good stuff up today, but, as usual, the Blogspot archive links are all screwy, so you'll have to find your own way.
I am thankful for many things -- an intelligent, caring, and beautiful wife who is my life partner in every way; three healthy, energetic, and smart kids who challenge me to be a better role model at every turn; a rewarding and interesting legal career; good health; freedom; and this amazing Internet, just to name a few.
And I am thankful that this President is leading the war against terrorism.
I added a link to Troynovant, or "New Troy," a couple of days ago, but failed to mention it here in the body of my blog when I did so.
It's a bit more literary than most blogs, with essays on books, film, and politics.
Be sure to click over and check it out.
Another New SF Blog
I must have read Douglas Hofstadter's Goedel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid five times or more during my senior year of high school and first two years of college. It is definitely a classic that rewards multiple readings.
Additions to Links
I think I need to organize my links better. I've been adding to them pretty haphazardly.
I, like Green, found The Fountainhead to be a more enjoyable read than Atlas Shrugged (although I heartily recommend reading both). It's been a few years since I've read either one, but my wife is reading Atlas Shrugged with her book club, so I get to vicariously enjoy it again.
Paucity of Posting
I have been doing far more reading than writing recently, plowing my way through a 3-month backlog of Analogs, starting the Terminal Experiment, continuing to read The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers out loud to my oldest son, and re-reading Gary Hudson's testimony (see November 5 entry below). Check back soon for expanded commentary. I have to confess that I am also trying again to beat Halo playing solo on the "Legendary" setting ;-) I managed to beat it on Easy, Normal, and Heroic.
My goal is to defeat it on Legendary before the sequel comes out. I am currently stalled at the gravity lift in the "Truth and Reconciliation" level. So that should also account for the lack of free ice cream around here recently.
Well I finally bit the bullet and taught myself some HTML.
I drafted this site mostly from scratch in plain text (in Notepad), cutting and pasting some bits from the old Blogger template.
Please let me know if you have any comments on the new look.
Genetic Evidence of Evolution
Why do most reasonable scientists "believe in" evolution?
Because of molecular phylogenetics, explained in lay terms here.
Another One For the Blogroll
Gene Expression is a group blog with a very clean layout and presents a smorgasbord of topics and sharp commentary.
I Would Move, Too
But you have to wonder, didn't they have some kind of clue about their street name when they moved in?
Yahoo keeps a list of odd news bits.
Speaking of odd bits, read this one.
"Keitai" is Japanese for "mobile" or "portable" and is slang for mobile electronic devices such as phones, PDAs, walkmans, etc.
If you want a hint of what our keitai will look like in 18-24 months, check out this collection of galleries. I work for a Japanese company and thus have a chance to see the current (Japanese not-for-export) versions of phones, laptops, and PDAs on a pretty regular basis. The state-of-the-art in their screen technology is breathtaking; pictures displayed on the latest Japanese laptops look like barely-dry photos printed on high-gloss paper, while on my laptop screen they look like 25-year-old prints on matte paper.
Good News From Dallas - Against the Odds
I would have bet against these [formerly] conjoined twins making it this far. But they appear do be doing well. Of course it is too early to predict the final outcome. What brave parents for trying to find a way to give their children a chance at a normal life.
Update: More here.
We're Not in Kansas Anymore
He has some kind words for NasaWatch today. I hope he found that site through my blog, as NasaWatch was one of the first sites I began to visit regularly when I initially ventured onto the Internet in 1996.
Thanks again for the linkage.
I'm particularly interested in the results of Team 4's research into biomaterials and nanodevices for soldier medical technology.
Update: I find the medical applications of nanotechnology particularly amazing whenever I stop to consider that it was only at the time of my parents' birth that penicillin first became widely available.
About the Name. . .
You might wonder about the name of this blog. Who does this guy think he is claiming to be the "best" in anything?
As should be clear from my first few posts here, music will be a recurrent theme on this blog. Born in 1968, I was blessed to come of age musically during the golden age of 80s rock. One of my favorite hard rock stations during these formative years was Q102, "Texas' Best Rock."
At about the same time, I was acquiring a taste for "hard" science fiction, and I began to work my way through Robert Heinlein's juvenile fiction. I soon graduated to Heinlein's master works such as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land.
As most net-geeks probably know, the word "grok" is a Martian word from Stranger in a Strange Land and means literally "to drink" and more loosely "to be at one with." Its many senses include understanding, fully comprehending, intuiting, empathizing, and so on. Following in the time-honored SF tradition of merciless punning, I put the two together.
Who am I and why am I here?
I'm a Texan, a husband, a father, a lawyer, a musician, an SF fan, a soccer coach, a cyclist, and an amateur theologian. This is my first try at blogging, and I hope to weave the many interests I have into a cohesive narrative on life, the universe, and everything.
Notice and Disclaimer
This site is a personal weblog and represents my opinions on whatever comes to mind. It does not represent in any way the opinions of my employer or any other of my clients.
I retain copyright in all original materials published on this blog. I love the public domain and would be happy for you to exercise your fair use rights to any of my original materials here. Copy, spread, quote, criticize. But if you do use any of my original works in any way, please do me the courtesy of giving me attribution and a link.
I am an attorney, but I am not your attorney, absent a physically (not electronically) signed engagement agreement. Nothing on this site is intended to constitute legal analysis. Don't rely on anything here; I'm writing for fun and for free, and you get what you pay for.
This means you should not send me confidential information or ask me for advice, either through comments on the blog or via email. I reserve the right to delete any comments posted here for any reason. I can't imagine that I would ever edit someone else's comments here, but if I do, then I will indicate the editorial changes. If you send me an email, please note that I reserve the right to publish portions of it on this blog or elsewhere.