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)
-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


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.