Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hooray for Monday!

It is my goal to get into the habit of writing regularly, even if it is just once a week. The job search is going well; I am currently going for the world record in number of interviews for the same position.

Also, Hooray for Monday! is a bit late but still here!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Santa Claus and Jesus: Why I Believe

A few weeks ago in church, the sermon focused on the differences between Santa Claus and Jesus. While I did enjoy and appreciate the point behind the message, I find myself focusing more strongly on the similarities than the differences.

The following might upset people and will certainly reveal a lot more about my personal stance on things than most people get to know.

Friday, December 4, 2009

If it is broke, fix it!

I generally try to stay away from political arguments, largely because most such "debates" seem to require one to leave logic at the door. With the ongoing fracas about health care reform, though, it's become increasingly difficult to do so. Thus, I have decided to actually take a stand on what will probably end up being the most contentious issue of this presidential administration.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Have You Ever

Have you ever laid flooring in a house occupied by two dogs, three humans, and four cats? It is a far more difficult task than doing so alone. NaNo progress has slowed, my lingual studies are stalled, we lost internet for several days, I have an interview tomorrow, and I may have found a solution to the Tiny Dog Problem.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hooray For Monday!

In honour of NaNoWriMo, I would like to highlight a writing website. I found Language is a Virus when my NaNo friends began to use a word counter for their novel. This was the site that produced it.

Language is a Virus seems to be a pretty neat resource. There are sections dedicated to publishing, several Q&A sections, and neat little widgets like the word counter. It also has name and poetry generators, writing prompts, and a host of tools that could come in quite handy for NaNo or another writing project.

My biggest problem with the site is that it appears to randomly redirect you somewhere on occasion. In spite of all the neat stuff, being catapulted to pages that don't seem connected to what I clicked on is something that does sour the experience. The site seems to make its money through advertising, and I'm not the most trusting type...

So it's pretty neat, but I'd be wary while surfing it. If nothing else, the word counter is pretty cool.

4620 / 50000 words. 9% done!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Aaaannnd We're Off!

So we're officially 11 hours into NaNoWriMo in my time zone.

I've spent the day sleeping and spending time with family; this afternoon, I will be working. It appears that I'm going to be getting a late start on all of this. Good news, though. Belle is doing NaNo too, so maybe while I'm working this afternoon she'll be able to get a good, solid start on her novel.

Belle wants to do a young adult thriller. Well-written (unlike most) and aimed at youth. I'm pretty excited for her and we're talking about it right now.

Myself, I'm going for a realistic fiction about a character struggling with mental illness. I don't otherwise really know where I'm headed with it, so we'll see. I'm sure that November's work will be disjointed, but that's what December is for, right?

I'm off, and I'll begin tonight!

Friday, October 30, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

We're on the verge of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I haven't participated since 2005, but I'm going to give it a go again this year. I plan to finish, and hopefully early.

We'll see how it goes. I'm Sciread77 on the site. Friend me, I'll read your stuff. I love reading.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thor's Days.

I never got the hang of Thor's Days.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hooray For Monday!

In the course of my journey to learn languages, I have been looking for games to play. I seem to have having a hard time finding them, though. Especially in Icelandic. There are plenty of word searches, hangman games, and the like. The traditional 'school' games and activities that I never cared too much for.

You know what I really want? I want Maniac Mansion. Day of the Tentacle. Indiana Jones. That's right, what I want is a good old-fashioned point-and-click adventure game. In Icelandic. Is that so much to ask?

On the other hand, in my search for games I found that íslenska has a Facebook Fan Page. It's not an entire website, granted, but I just became a fan and I think that it might be worth checking out. After all, Icelandic on Facebook is one of our goals, right?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Taking Norse Mythology Back From The Nazis

I finally appear to be well. More or less, anyhow. We'll see how this stuff in my chest reacts.

Today, I would like to discuss a topic that makes me very sad: Norse mythology's unfortunate link to the Nazis and white supremacist ideology. My interest in Norse mythology began in grade four, when my school studied Scandinavia. Learning about the Vikings meant learning about their religious beliefs. Ever since then I have loved the stories of Thor and Loki, Odin, the jötunn, and the cycles of Ragnarok. It was only in high school, during my first in-depth study of World War II, that I discovered its promotion in the darkness of Nazi ideology.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Coming Soon

I'm working on a longer piece regarding myths, legends, and folk tales today. How do they develop? What influences the most prevalent or best-known of the day? What will today's world look like in myths/legends? Who will be remembered, who will be forgotten, and who will be new?

I'm gathering my bearings. It's been a while since I have written anything substantially formal regarding literature.

Do you have any additional questions on the topic?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hooray For Monday!

So I've been sick all weekend, but I do want to say a bit about a great organization called Kiva. Kiva is a "person-to-person" micro-lending website. By signing up for an account, you can help alleviate poverty one person at a time. And guess what? You can do it through good, old-fashioned capitalism.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Too Late?

I certainly hope not, but I'm feeling pretty sick. I have a nice high fever and probably have the flu. On the other hand, it could be a particularly nasty backlash to the vaccinations I got yesterday. I had a regular flu shot and a pneumonia shot. I haven't felt like that since I had my last tetanus shot.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Asthma and Flu Shots

I feel unwell. My asthma normally lies dormant; I haven't had a serious problem in everyday life since childhood. There are, however, several things that set it off. Mold, tobacco smoke, certain grasses, and chest-based illnesses all remind me that I have asthma, and the chest-based thing that I seemed to have picked up two days ago is doing its job. I suppose that in light of this, I ought to go get a flu shot.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Disney's Aladdin, A Child's Perspective

As a child, Disney's Aladdin always bothered me. There were a lot of things that I thought about and questioned that probably did not occur to the average nine-year-old.

Why did Aladdin have to steal? Obviously he was poor, but why was he poor? I was always under the impression that Aladdin stole because he had no other way to make a living. This always saddened me, because he is obviously a capable enough character. In fact, I think that Aladdin would have been a far more effective salesman than anyone else that we saw in the marketplace.

That said, why couldn't our hero get a job? Perhaps, Aladdin first stole in desperation at a young age, and that after that he was blackballed from employment. Or maybe he was barred from the all the decent jobs because of some sort of class issue. Maybe he's just excruciatingly lazy.

The criminal history makes the most sense to me, because a known thief is not exactly the top choice as an employment in our world. I doubt that Agrabah is that different in that way. I do believe that American Capitalism could do great things with a guy like Aladdin.

Aladdin is young, attractive, and charming. He is persuasive, resourceful, a convincing liar, and ambitious. While he does not particularly care for major responsibility, there are plenty of things that would suit him. In our world, Aladdin would be an ideal candidate for several projects/careers, especially with the introduction of television:

-Direct Marketing Sales-With his likable personality, Aladdin would be great at this. He'd have to watch Abu's kleptomania, though, or else he might end up in the hole.

-Insurance Salesman-Although really, I think that Aladdin would be able to sell anything to anyone.

-Lawyer-It's not as if lying stops him from achieving his goals. Seriously, though, in spite of it everyone ends up trusting Aladdin. Even after discovering that he's lied extensively, everyone still listens to him. If this was channeled into the client's interest, I wouldn't mind him being my lawyer.

-TV Star-Especially reality TV or some kind of game show. Aladdin would make an excellent host, and Abu a great sidekick. Who doesn't like a cute little monkey?

-Teen Pop Star-Aladdin's beautiful singing voice won over Jasmine, even though she thought that his Ali persona was a complete oaf. He also inadvertently won over half the little girls that watched the movie by singing a song. Aladdin is set, let's just hire a good songwriter, stick him with a band, and put him on tour.

-Athlete/Skating Champion-Tony Hawk, eat your heart out. Aladdin would rock in skates or any other agility-based athletic competition. I could easily see him playing Aussie Rules football, amongst other things. And we all know that sports fans love a crowd pleaser like Aladdin.

-Counterintelligence-He exposed Jafar, and that wasn't anything that the Genie changed. It takes one to know one, they say, and I think that Aladdin would be a great member to a counterintelligence team.

Aladdin is one talented guy, as we are shown in the movie. It's too bad that it took a Genie to show that to the rest of the world. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The New Girlfriend

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a new girlfriend. We are rather serious and are even planning a wedding together. I will take a moment to tell the story. Or, rather, to provide a basic introduction. Story form will have to wait until later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hooray for Monday!

This is the third weekly Hooray for Monday! posting, and today I'm going to write a bit about PLoS. PLoS (which rhymes with 'floss') is the Public Library of Science, a series of websites dedicated to openly sharing scientific ideas. The Open source movement has hit scientific publication too. It's a great place to read about cutting edge research and I spend a lot of time plying the pages.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Colour Scheme

How are we feeling about the new colour scheme? My intention was to make the links and titles stand out more. Does it all match?

American Weddings and the Minimalist Lifestyle

I'm attempting to plan a wedding. Anyone that has done so knows that weddings are not supposed to really be for the couple getting married, they're for the friends and family. Yet a wedding should reflect the couple it is in celebration of, should it not?

In the pursuit of simplifying my life, I have tried to make things as simple as possible. To be honest, I would be perfectly happy to elope and throw a barbecue when we get back. However, most people in America have been conditioned to see weddings in a certain light.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Problem with Horror

Horror movies are big business in Hollywood. Not quite the biggest genre these days, but horror movies grossed $300 million in 2008. A formidable sum of money, to be sure. If you need more evidence, look no further than the seemingly endless parade of sequels to Friday the 13th, Final Destination, Saw, or any number of other horror franchises. And we all have that one friend who simply can't get enough of them.

Which has led me to no small amount of confusion over the years when trailer after trailer for nearly every horror movie has utterly failed to draw me in. I continually failed to see any real appeal in the rapidly-cycling shots of people getting brutally beaten, dismembered, and otherwise murdered. If this was all there was to the movies, then I'd expect that they'd get boring exceedingly quickly.

Alternative Ideas

The original plan this weekend was to go camping. This has changed, due to the persistence of rain over the last forty-eight hours and the fact that two dogs must accompany us.

As such, I have alternative ideas, involving:
-Hot chocolate (with some cinnamon, nutmeg, and Amarilla)
-Fire
-A fire pit
-A cotton candy machine
-Good people

I'm pretty excited about the alternative plans, as they are significantly less muddy for puppies.

Greetings, readers.

Salutations, ladies, gentlemen, and assorted other friends. I am an old friend of Dmitri's, and though I go by many names, you may call me Yuri. I will be joining in these little MEALs from time to time, adding my opinions and asking for yours on a number of subjects ranging from media studies to comparative religion to national science policy. I might even start in with a regular feature of my own.

For the time being, however, I shall stick to sporadic opinion pieces on whatever crosses my mind. Rather like any given newspaper columnist, I understand.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Done.

Amongst my many hobbies, reading is quite possibly my favourite quiet pastime. Tonight, after spending the day tearing staples out of wood, I rewarded myself by finishing Book 3.

I am a beta-reader, and I do believe the first one to finish. I've been putting it off, because these stories have become a big part of my life over the last year. Finishing is sort of like Harry Potter insofar as the excitement was mixed with a bit of sadness at the ending of the story.

For now, I must go to bed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Televisions on the Road

In the last few years, I have noticed that televisions are more and more common on the road. Sometimes, they're in the van next to you, other times they're gigantic, animated billboards. This brings me to a question: does anyone else find this bloody distracting?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Icelandic Resources

I'm having a hard time getting into the Icelandic lessons, but it's mostly language-related distraction. Did you know that modern, written Icelandic varies very little from that of written Icelandic in the 1300's? I'm not gonna lie, that makes it a lot easier for me to dedicate time to learning Icelandic. My original reason for interest in Scandinavia is the Vikings and Norse mythology.

And what? What's that? The Eddas, originally written in Icelandic, are the source of the bulk of our current knowledge of the Norse mythologies.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The 11/16 Challenge

I discovered that 16 November is officially designated as Icelandic Language Day. I am now doubly-motivated to learn Icelandic, and I want everyone else to be to.

Henceforth, I am initiating the 11/16 Challenge. On Icelandic Language Day, six weeks from now, I challenge you (and myself, for that matter) to an Icelandic-only conference call on Skype.

Now for our weekly feature, Hooray for Monday!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Icelandic Online!

The Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has an awesome online program dedicated teaching Icelandic. A group of friends and I are enrolling. Is anyone else interested in joining us?

Kudos to Amalia T. for finding this.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Seven-Beer Conversations

I discovered early on that my brain is easily bored by repetition and/or passive input. During its downtime, my mind flits from subject to subject and thoughts range from deep to inane in an attempt to remain entertained. I spend a lot of time in this state, especially when performing menial labour such as landscaping, cleaning, and folding laundry.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Multitasking and Attention

As a quick note: I still have a lot to learn about presentation. For example, I want to learn how to add the "Read More" option partway through my posts. If anyone knows a quick and easy way to do that, I'd appreciate some help there. I'll be plying the Intarweb for answers until then.

This article on multitasking reminded me of conversation I had the other day. Some people, it seems, have a greater ability to function with television, radio, or other distractions in the background. Most of my family, for example, has no trouble whatsoever performing tasks that range from designing school lessons to holding a serious conversation. They can leave a TV on and ignore it as white noise.

Edit: I learned how to invoke the magic of

Backpack Inventory

I mentioned that I have organized my backpack so that the essentials for three days are present. I've taken an inventory. Feedback would be appreciated, especially from anyone experienced in traveling. One of the intents of living this way is to prepare for backpacking trips across the world. I would certainly reorganize for such a journey, and I would like to have an idea of what items I am missing and which ones I should drop.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Houses Can Be Trouble

So I spent most of the day doing repair work on houses. Tomorrow, Saturday, and indeed all days in the foreseeable future will be spent the same ways. A good chunk of my current income comes from fixing houses, and I certainly can't complain about the amount of work. This is one of the new jobs that I have, and certainly the one that takes the most of my time.

I have not yet divulged my feelings towards houses here, but for the moment I have no desire to own one.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Minimalist Experiment

Over the years, I've always made a resolution for the New Year. It's a great tradition, although I have rarely made more common resolutions such as "I will get in shape this year." No, I have a limit. Each year must bring a new resolution. So I've only resolved one year to get into shape, and the other years have seen a variety of other goals.

Among them:
-"I will reverse my greetings, so goodbye is now hello and vice versa."
-"I will learn to play the guitar."
-"I will read an entire novel in a language other than English."
-"I will learn how to heat-treat steel so I can make my own tools."

All in all, I have been fairly successful in my pursuits. This year's resolution, too, is coming to fruition. This year, I resolved to try living the Minimalist Lifestyle. I've been interested for years but never seemed to be able to let go of my stuff. Part of it is the Boy Scout in me, always trying to be prepared. Another part is good, old-fashioned materialism. However, stress from having so very many possessions weighing me down coupled with a new financial situation helped me to change my mind.

So I checked out a few websites such as Becoming Minimalist and got to work. I loaded my backpack with everything that I need to function for three days. I condensed my tools, school supplies, and hang-up clothes for interviews so that they fit in my car.

Nearly ten months later, I am still going strong. It's a nice feeling to know that I can grab my backpack and just take off whenever I need to. I feel free.

That's not to say that all I own is currently in my car. I still have a significant number of things in storage. Primarily furnishings for an apartment or a classroom, for the time that I again have either. For now, though, they are unneeded an unused.

The Minimalist Experiment seems to be a success, and I hope to continue living this way.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hooray For Monday!

I like Monday. I feel like Monday gets a bad rap, because it is usually a first day back to work after the weekend. It's not my favourite day, to be sure, but after Sunday I am ready to get back into the groove of school, work, or whatever else happens to be going on in my life.

So, I may I present Hooray For Monday! Each Monday I will post about a new website that I find entertaining and amusing over the weekend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life Update

Yesterday, a friend of mine by the name of Kaiser Crowbar inspired me to update and continue writing here. Kaiser runs a site called Kaiser Crowbar's Ablogcalypse that looks at a variety of topics such as video games, metal music, writing, and anime. It is best known for its boobie content, most notably Dragon Quest Analysis. Three cheers for this man.

Life Update

-Mom is cancer free. Radiation came and went this summer, and she's doing well.

-I have a new girlfriend. She's pretty awesome.

-I've moved. Actually, both of us moved a few hundred miles, and there are some great stories to go along with it.

-The brewing experiment is over, for now. The mead turned out very sweet but otherwise good, especially if mixed with seltzer water or something like that. Several of the jugs exploded as well. However, BiL and I plan to make more attempts after procuring the proper supplies for a more permanent setup.

-I am employed, to a degree. Working abroad was not compatible with certain developments, so I am not currently pursuing it. I have a part-time job doing something I really enjoy, and enough other jobs to get by for the time being. The search for a full-time job in the area still continues, though.

-Taking classes again. Math courses at the local community college since this summer, to get back into practice. I also found several online lecture series that I enjoy.

-The minimalist lifestyle suits me well. My stress levels are at a record low regarding material items.

That is it for now. Many of these items involve stories that should be told, and I intend to dedicate more time to explanations in later posts.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Working Abroad and Brewing Update

In my quest to find a permanent job doing something I enjoy (such as teaching), I have realized that the job market here in the States is somewhat... lacking. Before last November, I never had trouble finding a job, especially as a teacher. My resume is quite shiny, I'm enthusiastic, and I actually like working with adolescents. The inability to find a decent job is a new experience, and it as me thinking. I've always wanted to live in another country, at least for a time. This could be the time for me to pursue that.

I don't have a real job, I'm not in any sort of romantic relationship, and everything I've tried to establish in the last few years seems to have fallen apart. While I've been initially upset over most of these things, I am fairly well set up for traveling the world right now. It has been an aspiration of mine for years. The likelihood of my being this free of obligations later in life is low. Marriage can make it more difficult, as can an established career or children should I decided to have any.

Two of the programs that I'm looking into are English First and the JET Program English First is present in 51 countries around the world, the biggest and most involved being China. I am currently scheduling an interview with them to find out more. The job offers insurance benefits, flies you there and back, paid vacation, and in China I would have the option of learning Mandarin.

The JET Program is the premier program in Japan. I've always wanted to go to Japan. Japanese history is fascinating, along with the culture. I might be able to convince a few of my friends to go into the JET program with me, as well. That would be fairly nifty.

I will keep everyone updated on that.

Speaking of updates, I now have four batches of brews going. One of the jugs sort of exploded. It wasn't a huge mess and the batch wasn't a total loss, as I was handling the jug at the time and could salvage a good part of it. The batch tastes fairly similar to Strongbow Cider, which is my favourite brand of cider. It isn't very strong, but I'm going for good taste. I've never understood drinking malt beverages to get drunk.

That is all for now. we're working a lot of overtime so I've been sleeping most of the time I've been home, but I hope to be able to work posting back into my regular schedule.

Friday, April 24, 2009

You Hear About It, Yes...

...but sometimes the extent of taxes boggles the mind.

I just found out that Kansas has a drug tax, along with a few other states. Maybe this isn't news to anyone else, but in Kansas, as a drug dealer, you actually go to Topeka and buy stamps to put on your drugs as you sell them. Failure to do so can get you up to five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, as well as civil penalties that can include seizure of the dealer's property to pay for taxes owed.

Do the stamps make the drugs legal? No. However, affixing the stamp is basically a way to buy yourself out of even more penalty.

Contemplation on this level requires cookie dough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Omegle

So Richard mentioned Omegle and I had to try it out. Most of the conversations were a bust.

Things I have learned on Omegle:

-Nobody wants to talk to 25-year-old males
-Especially if they're from Kansas
-Porn and product promotion are BIG on there
-People from the Netherlands are pretty cool

These are gross generalizations, but I'm amused nonetheless.

Also, for the record, my eyes are still twitching.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Time Got Away, But Returned With Brilliant Ideas

It usually does. I've never been particularly good with time. For example, a word like "recently" can indicate time anywhere on the spectrum of "a few minutes ago" to "since I learned to drive." That is a fairly broad range of things. I can usually construct time lines to figure things out, as well as draw on the fragmented relationships between people's ages to figure out how old people are. Even so, it's always seemed rather suspect to me because it often just leaves me hanging.

Occasionally, I get brilliant ideas. It's ideas like these that inspired one of my high school nicknames, which is a variant of the word.

See, this weekend I took a trip to my parents' place to visit them and go to a friend's wedding. On the way back, there were a few traffic backups and drive that should have taken no longer than four hours (even considering the heavy rain I began in) turned into six and a half. After a while, I needed a break from listening to my musicals and my voice needed a break from making that noise I call singing.

I was looking at the car in front of me, being amused by the bored college girls for a moment, when it struck me. I had a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce with me. Now, I almost always have some sort of hot sauce with me, just in case I need to add a bit of a kick. Being out of anything else to do, I decided that it was a good idea to take a swig.

"Hmmm," I said to myself, "that's not actually that bad." I am, after all, a fan of hot stuff. And that's when the brilliant idea struck me. Capsican is the chemical behind the heat in a friendly, tasty bottle of Dave's and in pepper spray.

"If I'm so used to eating the stuff that I can drink it... I wonder how I would handle being hit with a drop directly in the eye?" I mean, I'd gotten small amounts in my eye before and it wasn't that bad at this point.

Somehow, the best way to do it seemed to apply it in the corner next to my contact, with my toothbrush. While I was driving.

For the record, in the future, I'll probably try to avoid conducting experiments that can alter my ability to see clearly until I'm not driving. Or, at least I'll only do one eye.

It wasn't as bad as it could have been. I teared up a lot and it burned a bit, but the biggest problem I had was the hyperactive twitching of my eyes for the rest of the night.

The whole story is vaguely reminiscent of a series of stories from my childhood. I was, and am, very curious. Death is just but one of many of the risks you take being a scientist. Especially the kind of scientist that gets brilliant ideas after sitting for too long.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's Not Politics, It's Semantics.

Seriously, regardless of your political beliefs or affiliations... semantics can make for some fantastic and awkward situations.



On a news show? Are you kidding me? More importantly, are you trying to whack me via laughter?

High-Speed Rail?

President Obama announced plans for the federal funding of a new, high-speed rail system today. I have mixed feelings about this.

Being a mild train fanatic, I am all for high-speed rail expansion. Certain other places have made it an effective form of travel and I'm sure that we Americans, in all our riches and ingenuity, can do it too. It's funny how often the same people that constantly pump up this country's ego present public transportation to be impossible, with successful examples all over the world. I'm aware that circumstances are a bit different here, but if we were really so awesome and resourceful, couldn't we just figure it out?

As excited as I am, I have a few concerns about high-speed rail. I've traveled Amtrak a bit, and I don't want all of the current advantages to being a fan of rail transportation to dissipate now that it's mainstream because the popular kids like it. Things like:

~Rail Sharing. Right now, Amtrak does not own tracks. It rents from the freight companies that do own them. This leads to wonderful things like sitting for two hours just outside of 'Ellifikno, Indiana leeching Internets from a nearby farmhouse. By the way, Dave, God bless you and your router.

~Gratuitous Time Investment. Cross-country trips usually take 70% of your vacation time to reach the destination. In fact, if it's less than 36 hours each way and you don't look like you've been on the lam when you return home, it's probably not worthwhile taking the train.

~Security. I hate airports with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Why? Airport security. I'll go into specifics another time. Suffice to say that train security is great, and if you're out of line they can always just throw you off the moving train. You can do that in underpowered, under-used trains. It's therapeutic.

~Cred Issues. Right now, you get to know regular travelers on the train. It's like a subculture, and when the newbs flock in I'll have to deal with people telling me that I only ride trains because they're popular now. It'll be Pirates of the Caribbean all over again. Because I was born a pirate.

That said, I'd love for trains to become more popular. They're full of adventure, especially the overnights. High-speed rail would make vacationing more convenient for me and, in the end, be a generally more efficient way to move people across the country than cars and jets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not a whole lot to report today.

Geico woke me up later in the morning. Normally, 10 am isn't a big deal, but tonight I work from 8 pm to 4:30 am. Bah.

I spent the day cleaning out my car and attempting to organize things around here. I also ruined a batch of pasta that I had going because I was just a bit too involved in the reorganization.

My roommate and I have, over the last two nights, watched the first and second Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He'd never seen the second and third before. Unfortunately, my third movie is missing. I hope to find it soon.

I'm off to work.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Unlaid Off!

I've been called back to work. Hooray! I'd much rather work than not.

Still looking for a permanent, full-time job. It'd be nice to start my own business. I've always had a thing for getting lost in projects, anyhow, and that is a way to potentially make money. I'm always looking for an idea, especially one that doesn't require a large sum of starting capital.

In other news, it looks like the fermentation has begun. I've cleaned my entire closet out, and as it's the coolest and most convenient place for storage, that's where I will keep everything. Most of the rest of the apartment is a wreck at the moment, because I had quite a bit of stuff in the closet. It should be finished by this weekend, though.

On the romantic side of things, I'm not liking how I feel with this woman. She's pushing fast and in ways I'm uncomfortable with and I'm not sure I can do that. I don't think this is going to last. We aren't on the same level with anything, and we should be having a lot of fun but yet again I am in this... relationship... feeling more like a parent than a significant other.

Mom had a doctor's appointment Monday. Stage 0, things are looking really good.

Actually, things are looking up in general.

Monday, April 13, 2009

So I've decided to try my hand at brewing

Sister Dear and BiL , her husband and my best friend, have been taking a beer appreciation class. I've never cared terribly for most beers; in fact, I'm sort of an arrogant prick when it comes to beer. Unfortunately, most of my favourites are fairly expensive, and I prefer generally prefer wine or mixed drinks. The last few years have seen me open up more, and that leads to the idea behind this post.

DB mentioned the ease with which mead was made. One thing lead to another, and we're sort of going to try our hands at brewing. Dad knows some guys that do it, and I figure that it's not entirely beyond me, what with it being a science and all. So I began reading about it, and the more I read the more accessible that brewing actually seems to be to me.

As it turns out, there is a fairly local brewing supply store, Bacchus and Barleycorn, Ltd. I shot on over today to check it out, primarily in search of yeast. Because as it turns out, fermentation can take quite a long time without the use of yeast. I didn't browse for terribly long, but I did end up choosing Safale S-04 yeast. It's a fast fermenting English Ale yeast with a good temperature range and used in a wide range of ales. I'm not looking to make specialties at this point, just get some of the basics down.

I'm probably doing this incorrectly, or at least in a less than optimal way. I am using (quite well washed) milk jugs for this. I suppose, though, that I'll find out in a week or two whether this part of the experiment was successful. I'll let you know.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Birthday and Easter

It so happens that my BFF/brother-in-law BiL's birthday falls on Easter this year. I'm in StL for the weekend, so I made my way to his and Sister Dear's apartment for some old-school celebration. We didn't go out, we didn't have a wild party, none of that. We celebrated just like in the olden-days: a few beverages, a few snacks, a few shows, a lot of games, and good friends.

I could do that pretty much every day.

Now, we're off to church and later to M&D's for ribs and the celebration of Easter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rest in Peace, Kirby

I just read this morning that Kirby, the basset hound of PVP's Scott Kurtz, finally died. My condolences go out to him and his family. Kirby is in a better place now.

I cannot help but feel sadness myself. I've been reading PVP since September of 1999. He has always been a dog person, which is something we've been able to share. The way Kirby has come to life in his comics has made PVP more accessible and personal to me. Kurtz has managed to let all of us meet his dog this way, as well as many other members of his family. At this point, Kirby could have been the friendly dog next door for the last 11 years.

It occurs to me that I have been a regular follower and reader of PVP for longer than any other comic. PVP was the second web comic I discovered, after Joe-the-Circle, and has been a persistent part of my routine ever since. It has outlasted regular viewings of Garfield, Dilbert, and any other traditional comic, while it predates my interest in Penny Arcade, XKCD.

I think the reason is that Kurtz has managed to create well-defined characters and amusing plots. I've become so wrapped up in their personal lives that I have never minded the soap opera-like story lines about the loves lives of various characters, in spite of the fact that I was originally sucked in by the video game and comic jokes. I am aware that the romantic lines have been a major complaint from many of the earlier fans, but it makes the cast more dynamic and allows for me to identify well with the characters as I have begun growing up as well. For what it's worth, I began in the age bracket as Francis and Marcey, so it's nice that they have changed with me, albeit more slowly.

On a bit of a subject change, I have never cared for "RIP." Rest In Peace, written out, seems heartfelt. RIP, in my mind, is associated with the grim reaper characters. It's both darker and more casual. Therefore, I prefer to write it out.

Rest In Peace, Kirby, King of the Basset Hounds.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On the Lighter Side of Things...

...I recently read the condensed version of Harry Potter, by Molly Ringle. As far as I can tell, there are three parodies: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone US), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I laughed myself silly with them, and must highly recommend them. This is a great find for me; as an avid reader and former writer of terrible fanfiction, I like the inside jokes based off of given worlds (although I also have an actual appreciation for good literature). I especially like the notation of points that excite or disappoint various fanfiction writers/readers.

I sort of have a history of this. One of my favourite movies, for example, is Final Fantasy: Advent Children. This is basically a gigantic, expensive fan film based on Final Fantasy VII. It's kinda all right unless you've played the game, in which case it's awesome. We even have a drinking game, for anyone that likes alcohol poisoning.

Tough News

I found out the other day that Mom has breast cancer. I wasn't expecting it, because the biopsy sort of got lost in the shuffle as she also just had her gallbladder removed.

Anyhow, it's ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It's actually a pretty good prognosis, all things considered. It's non-invasive and appears to be one of the less aggressive cancers around. We already have a friend that's been through it fairly well.

Of course, having another friend that died from breast cancer , I am more than a little unnerved by this. I'm not sure what type it was, but it went out of remission a few years ago. Things went downhill fast and took most of us by surprise. Well, I guess a few of us anyhow.

My best friend from childhood had cancer, too. Is it just me, or does everyone seem to get cancer these days?

Apologies for the depressing entry.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hitler and Storm Chashing

There are several videos on the Internet now that subtitle this particular scene, but I have found this one to be my favourite. This is also one of the best rant scenes that I've ever viewed, and it's made even better by the sound of the German language. Even the most beautiful phrases can be easily retooled to sound like blistering rage. I love Germanic languages for that.

It helps that I am interested in weather, forecasting, and that I've done some (extremely reckless) amateur storm chasing.



For the record, using a bicycle to chase tornadoes falls under the category of "Bad Ideas."

Structure

It's obvious to me that I need some sort of structure to really make this thing work. So naturally, I end up posting anything that comes to my mind. Essentially, you're getting something of a look at how my mind processes things. With my attention span being as small as it us, this typically means that following set schedules and themes is out unless I have some help. It's easy to keep that stuff up in a classroom, because my students have a certain expectation of me.

You, dear readers, are the complete opposite. Your lack of presence takes all the limits and constraints off of me. I can post anything that I want, whenever I want, with no real consequences. It works that way when you're the only one involved.

That's why the real source of the problem is you. That's right, you. I need your input, and without you I will never be whole. I am what I am, let's get that out in the open. Passionate, fragmented, distractable, and amusing. It is your job to set the schedule, themes, and specifics of content because Lord only knows I never will.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Commercial Interpretations

I have been wanting to post commercial interpretations for quite some time. I've decided to start by occasionally hitting the recent Superbowl's commercials a few at a time, as well as a perhaps a few new commercials as well. I rely on friends and family to send me commercials, as I rarely watch actual television outside of special events.

Company: Cars.com
Product: Car search and purchase engine?



My Interpretation: You humans are ineffective and weak.

Seriously, I'd hoped that someone like this David Abernathy guy would run the site, not be reduced to a simpering pile of nerves when buying a car. At least I can have faith in technology. I suppose that they're trying to appeal to all those macho guys that want to pretend like they have a handle on it, saying "Hey, it's OK. You can be confident and tough and use our service, all at the same time." To me, it still says that we should be nice to our iPods, because one day they will rule us.

Company: Pepsi
Product: Pepsi Max



My Interpretation: The celebrities are even drinking caffeine! Yay drug addiction and reliance! Let's emulate the celebrities, because they always have their ducks in a row.

Company: Frito-Lay
Product: Cheetos



My Interpretation: Eating Cheetos makes you a godlike being with control over pigeons. Excellent for revenge and petty thefts.

Company: Teleflora.com
Product: Internet-ordered flowers, I think



My Interpretation: Little Audry II's are effective for breaking up, use Teleflora.com to send flowers of happiness, and someone always wants to see you naked (although you're probably better off not knowing).

Actually, this might be a better method than purchasing flowers and hand-delivering them a thousand miles away during the winter. I'll have to keep that in mind next time I do the Valentine's Day flowers bit.

That will be all for now.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Academic Resources

My wide variety of interests has been both a blessing and a curse to me. On the one hand, it is easy for me to become lost in a subject. Learning is easy when something interests you. On the other hand, it does make career decisions rather difficult. One reason that I became a teacher is that it allows me to indulge many interests at once, with the justification that during the adolescent phase of education a large portion of the teacher's job is to enthusiastically introduce a wide range of subjects to students.

That said, I rather enjoy having such fascination. I recently heard about Academic Earth and began frequenting the site online. Academic Earth is a project that collects video lectures from institutions of higher learning and places them online for all to see. I think that this is a wonderful idea, and an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about the subjects.

It's not perfect, of course. We certainly aren't getting the whole course for free, just the lecture portions. That means that recitations and discussion groups are out. Oftentimes, as well, certain images are left out due to copyright protections. However, it does give us access to some of the more famous and/or skilled lecturers out there. After all, not everyone can afford college in these time, whether for monetary reasons or time constraints.

My goal for this weekend was to try to make it through the entire lecture series on biomedical engineering, a subject that I find fascinating. Thus far, I have only finished through lecture nine, which is far short of the total twenty-five sermons in the series. However, it is a good start. During my day off and alone Friday, I listened to several of the lectures while cleaning up.

My goal for the rest of this week is to listen to at least one lecture per day. Perhaps I could challenge my readers, if I have any at this point, to join me? They run about 45 minutes or so, and are quite informative.

Also, feel free to post comments.

Growing Up

As life goes on, most of us grow up and things change. Outside of the death/taxes certainty, it can be hard to grasp exactly how life would change. Saturdays are probably the most eye-popping example for me.

When I was a child, Saturday mornings were a big deal. That is because Saturday was the special day. Brand new cartoons came out, with the latest pilots showing alongside new episodes of my favourite currently-playing shows. There was a motivation to get up as early as possible, and rarely was I up later than 5 am. From there, I would watch television until 9, 10... sometimes, even all the way until noon, if I didn't have a practice or activity of some sort going on.

I was thoroughly awake by that time. Mom would usually give me chores to do while watching these new shows, which I gladly did barring interference with my viewing.

Things are different nowadays. I went bowling my roommate the other day, and the big screens behind the lanes had a variety of stations playing, albeit muted. One of these was Cartoon Network. This station, as cable became more popular, helped make Saturday Morning Cartoons a thing of the past. For me, they helped make post-slumber Saturday mornings a thing of the past as well.

Remarking upon this turn of events, my friend came to a terrible realization: there was in fact a reason for us to get up on Saturdays. Every Saturday, at noon central time, we listen to wait wait... don't tell me, NPR's weekly news quiz show.

That's right. Instead of getting up to watch cartoons in the morning, we arise in the afternoon to listen to public radio. When did life take this turn? Where did we go wrong?

It is a fantastic show. One of these days, we're even going to road trip to Chicago and get tickets to a live recording in the Chase Auditorium. I still miss my reason to get up, though.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The "Animals" Part

Animals are kind of a big deal to me. I find them to be fascinating, and many of them have been excellent companions for me thus far in life. I think that we will be much better off if we respect animals, rather than simply use them as resources or fear them. As humans, we as a group have a great deal of power over most of the other living organisms on this planet. Ours is the ability, oftentimes, to determine the outcome of human-animal interactions.

Take, for example, venomous snakes. Fear of a snake is rather extreme. I will not live my life indoors, hiding because a snake might be outside in the bushes. Thanks, but I intend on experiencing the world, thanks. On the other hand, to just charge out on a hiking path and not be aware of these creatures is to invite issues. Even worse is to antagonize them. Snakes strike primarily in defense or fear themselves and would much rather avoid humans. These actions are disrespectful of the creatures and greatly increase your chance of being bitten.

Instead, use common sense and have respect for the animal. Try to put yourself in the snake's shoes. If you were just hiding out in the warm, rotting remains of a log, minding your own business, what would you think of this giant boot coming towards you? I know that I would defend myself as best as I could or run away. Instead of walking carelessly, give them wide berth. Don't stick your arm in a dark hole, step way over or go around their known hiding places, and generally keep an eye out for them. If you do so, then the likelihood of acquiring a body part fill of venom compliments of the snake diminishes drastically.

Speaking of snakes, I found this earlier:



This drew my attention because snakes also normally eat chinchillas, and my dear pet is a chinchilla. Of course, my belligerent little rodent would likely attack the snake if it got any attention...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Welcome to MEAL

I'm Sqrt(D), and I'll be posting my thoughts here on this blog. Here's the quick intro: I am a student, teacher, and practitioner of math and science. Musicals are one of my favourite forms of entertainment, I have a rescued chinchilla for a pet, and I prefer simple appearances in decorating and in dress. My favourite colour is green, I love the winter, and cooking is therapy for me.

MEAL stands for Musings, Entertainment, Animals, and Learning. It is a summary of the things that are most likely to appear here. I am told that I have a rather 'different' view on many things. I find entertainment, especially humour, in almost everything. Animals are a big deal to me, especially my baby chinchilla. Finally, as a teacher and a life-long learner, I will talk about education and various subjects that I am interested in.

God blessed me with an attention span that doesn't function quite right. That means I can get lost in a book (or anything else that really grabs my attention) and focus on it until that stimulation source ends. It also means that I had a lot of difficulty paying attention during lecture classes. This means that I avoid television most of the time, mostly limiting myself to DVDs and online videos.

Commercials and advertising, in particular, do not always achieve their goals with me. I often hyperfocus on one small part of a commercial and miss the point altogether. Oftentimes I cannot even identify the product that people want to sell me. Take this commercial, for example.



Company: Frito-Lay
Product: Doritos
Point of Commercial: Snow globes are most effectively utilized in smash and grabs. They are not effective devices of persuasion.

Chew on that, but avoid the Doritos. They probably have glass in them.