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A Modest Proposal

image from slash/food.comThere are two main cable channels we watch a lot in our house. Anyone who knows us can probably guess what they are. Syfy (still hate that name) and The Food Network. I’ll leave it up to you to wonder which of us belongs to each channel. Given how often we flip between the two of them I was surprised it took me as long as it did to realize the one thing they have in common.

Both of them had a lot of adds from dating websites. Not just a few, A LOT. Like three of them every commercial break. Match.com seems to love Food Network. With Syfy , it’s mostly from eHarmony, probably hoping the geeks will approach the Hari Seldon-like mathematical formula, and Chemistry.com, which has, as its main selling point, that they will accept you when eHarmony won’t. Insert your own joke here, but I’m still waiting to see a spot from loweredexpectations.com (MadTv fans will get that one. The rest of you can move on).

What does this mean? Are both of these groups, as a whole, in NEED of these services? Does no one else see the opportunity here?

Let’s get the foodies and the geeks together. They have a lot in common anyway. Both have an obsession with things normal peopple would call ephemera and like to play with toys (trust me, my action figure collection had nothing on my wife’s obscure, it might peel a potato, it might make James Bond tell you where the chip is, kitchen tools). Both worlds have their own celebrities that aren’t recognized by the rest of the world. Best of all, their skills are complementary. Most geeks are awful cooks (molecular gastronomists not withstanding), and most foodies could reeeaaallly use help with their computers.

I propose we combine Comicon with Taste of San Diego, and let nature take care of itself. Think of the awesome snacks we can have at the D&D parties of the future.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2010 in culture, life

 

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In the interest of not being a sarcastic jackass ALL the time …

Don't ask me what the lolcats are about all of a sudden. Just cuz, I guess.

Some things I am happy about as a new year begins

I sold a story last year, Jadeflower, coming out in the Destination Future anthology from Hadley-Rille books. I am really happy with this one, still. It’s not just that I still like the story, but I had a great experience working with editor Z.S. Adani, who took the thing in its raw form and really helped me form it into something I’m proud of. It was my first heavy editing experience, and she set the bar a little high for me. She made suggestions (all of them excellent), but let me be the one to decide how best to implement them, and I appreciate all her hard work and, let’s be honest here, her hand-holding.

I won Nano (yes, I already wrote about this)m and found a great group of online writer friends through both the Nano sight, The Night of Writing Dangerously, and Twitter. I feel much more connected to that world now, which can only help me fine-tune my skills. The Night of Writing dangerously also taught me how much the people in my life care about me and really do want me to succeed. I’ve always been a little embarrassed about my aspirations, not being the kid of person who talked a big game and never made it happen. This year I realized I could be all about the work, but still share my goals with others, and it was a good feeling. Maybe I just needed to get over myself a little bit (I know!)

And the Calculus of Hope is almost, almost done. Hope to have the first draft in the can by Jan. 16th so I can start attacking it with a scalpel and some spackle.

I got myself to the point where I am ready to get my tech certifications and start seriously looking for a job, and at the same time have a little bit of an opportunity to do some freelance tech support here in my area for actual money. Had my first real “service call”, solved the problem, and got paid, which felt really weird.

And probably the most important thing has been realizing what an awesome woman I am married to. Seriously, any right-thinking person would have gotten tired of my act a long time ago and totally booted me out the door. This might not do much to recommend her reasoning skills, but I’m happy about that anyway. Coming off a mixed episode at the end of last year, she very literally probably saved my life. She doesn’t get a lot of credit for the things she does, supporting my ass being just one of them. She was totally the reason % had success at Nano, not only being my fundraising director for NOWD, but making sure I had the time and space to do the actual work. To be honest, I wasn’t even going to participate in NOWD, but she could tell I wanted to and insisted that it happen, making a lot of sacrifices over the course of that very long month to insure that it WOULD happen. She’s a person of strong will, and I tease her about being a type A, but without her, I would probably just bounce off one wall after another before offing myself in some bizarre, accidental face plant. She should totally list spazz-wrangling as one of her skills on her resume. Lost in my own head most of the time, I don’t do a very good job noticing these things, let alone expressing my appreciation, but for some reason she still loves me, and I really, really love her even though I don’t express that in any way that approaches adequacy. Changing that is my only New Year’s resolution.

So, happy New Year, everyone. As I said before, the bar is low, but I really do expect better days ahead.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2010 in life

 

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An open letter to certain people in my life …

I am using the term “people” loosely here.

To my children: No, you did not pick up the living room. When I asked you to pick up the living room, and you dragged me by the hand to show me how clean it really is and how I really should be happy with it, these are the things that I saw: an open cereal box laying on its face on the floor, a wiimote, a plastic plate with five half-eagle bagel bites from yesterdays lunch, some underwear I really hope is clean (no, son, it is not mine! I gave up the spider-man underoos months ago), shoes, a hannah montano fuzzy poster set with markers, an open board game, coloring books, a couple of empty plastic tumblers, dice (I must assume this is connected to the board game?), kleenex, and a paint brush. When I said I wanted to the floor “vaccum ready,” I guess I wans’t being clear enough …

To my dogs: The deer are not a threat. I repeat, the deer are not a threat. Neither are the joggers and early morning walkers, or the people pushing baby carriages. The mail carrier may be considered a threat when she is carrying bills, but she also brings us our netflix movies, so we’ll give her a pass too, ok? YOU CAN STOP BARKING AT ALL OF THESE THINGS!

also, the midnight bark is not a competition. I understand that you need to relay the information about those lost dalmation puppies, but there are plenty of you out there, you don’t need to get it across the whole county by yourself.

Feel free to bark all you want at the zombies, though. But we won’t know it’s zombies if you are barking all the time …

To the wii fit: No, I will not tell you if I have seen Tiffa in a while. I will not tell you how she’s looking these days. And I will not tell you if she’s dating anyone. It’s over, man … let it go.

that is all.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2009 in life

 

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5 things …

My wife has challenged to be more positive in the comments I make out loud. Apparently, non-stop snark can be grating on the people around you, who knew? I think i may have driven her over the edge during an America’s Next Top Model marathon, when I responded to every emilinated contestant’s tears with “Now go do something useful with your life!”

So, in that spirit, I am going to write about 5 things I am enjoying right now.

1. Last Exile I am a long-time anime fan, but I’m not really into the wslastexile95407uqmecha or the weirdo super-powered kids stuff. I like the trippy sci-fi aspects, the riot of mad ideas, translated through a different culture. This sometimes is not copacetic with sense-making … but this one is my favorite ever. I love the prussian steam-punk vibe, the characters, while adhering to certain anime archetypes (hello, stoic hero with a past, cute kid with bug eyes and a mysterious power, and you, super-pilot teenager) are beautifully developed and animated, and the wolrdbuilding is completely trippy, yet makes perfect sense by the end. Plus, its a story about my favorite thing, a band of plucky rebels on the run. And weird are they/aren’t they alien creatures. I first saw this a few years back out of order of G4’s anime unleashed block, and have been rewatching it on Netflix’s instant system, which, if you haven’t tried it, is wonderful.

 

 

2. Anathem by Neal Stephenson

This book has been much written about and reviewed already, so I will just add this … This is his best book. It may be a contender for my favorite book of all time, actually. I read the last 200 pages in one day. Yes, the beginning is a little bit of a challenge as you must first become familiar with an insular world before you are cast out into the rest of the story, but it is an amazing experience. Plus: super space nija monks vs. well … that would be telling. But that moment the central mystery locked in place … wow.

 

3. Poseidon and the Bitter Bug by the Indigo Girls.

61COMXXSFmLanother amazing album, no suprise. Ghost of the Gang might be the most uplifting song about suicide ever. Plus, they used my favorite painting of all time as the album cover. As I get older, I find I am identifying more with Amy’s angry poetry than I used to. It used to be the Emily songs that grabbed me. That probably says more about me than about them, because I’m fairly certain Amy has not mellowed over the years.

“Tonight I’m gonna take that ride for the years we missed and the frieds that died …
side swipe baby on the road somehow with a pack of dreams, we just weren’t allowed
Maybe you’re walking those halls all quiet and sad …
sitting in the dark all scared and mad
feel my hand reaching out and don’t forget
where you come from, baby, cuz there’s truth in it … ”

4. http://www.unclutterer.com. I suck at it, but am trying to get my house organized and uncluttered. This site offers advice and inspiration, and a lot of pictures of gorgeous workspaces I will never hope to be able to emulate. They did inspre the “landing strip” now in the entryway, which has been helpful. If only they could come up with a simple system for “processing” laundry that does not involve me folding it all.

5. wii fit. Trying to lose the last few pounds, as wel all are, this thing has been an invaluable training tool. It’s also helped get me focused on core strength and balance, which revealed some things I needed to work on, and explained a lot actually. Love the questions … “wow, you’re really unbalanced, do you trip and fall a lot?” which, yes, of course …

It’s a little clingly though. It scolds you if you miss a few days and lately has been asking me if I’ve seen other members of our little user group. It even asked me if one of them looked like she was gaining weight, losing weight, of staying the same. It’s starting to creep me out.

and no, I will not be sharing my wii fit age with you.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in culture, life

 

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oooooh boy … Watchmen

I first read Watchmen just after the original mini-series finished up its run in 1986. As a country kid, I didn’t live close to a comic shop, so summer vacations to California, and the occasional foray to Indianapolis, were the only places I could get comics that I couldn’t get at our local Haag’s drug store (yes, kids, they used to sell comics in spinner racks at drug stores. That was just after I waved goodbye to my uncle and my cousins when they left for Oregon in a Conestoga wagon).

And Watchmen, being part of DC Comics’ direct-only initiative (which removed Teen Titans and Legion of Super-heroes from my world, but that’s a rant for later) was not available at the Haag’s drug.

This was probably good for many, many reasons.

So when I was in Cali, visiting what is still my favorite store of all time: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy in Livermore, California, I found all issues of Watchmen in the back issue bin,  and used my saved up money to purchase them all. I think they were $1.25 apiece. Again, this is depressing.

I should mention I was 13 years old at the time. If you’ve read Watchmen, or seen the movie, you will understand a lot more about me now.

Needless to say, I loved every panel. I was young enough that a lot of the deeper meaning went over my head, but have loved it even more as I got older and those other layers revealed themselves.

So when the movie ads started running,  I started annoying my wife about it ( i was not stupid enough to think the kids were going). She probably would have smothered me in my sleep except that my fanboy squeeee was audible only to the dogs.

She was in … it looked interesting. She’s always tolerated my geeky side, and likes a good movie if it’s a good movie, no matter what it’s about.

So we went …

I have been given a probationary period of 365 calendar days before I am allowed to pick the movies again.

It was … well, the core was there. The first ten minutes were some of the most incredible moments of cinema I’ve ever experienced. The last supper pastiche with Sally Jupiter at the center, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis discreetly off to the side … it was … wow.

And I liked the movie at a very basic, visceral, level. It seemed right. Everything but Malin Ackerman anyway. It worked.

An aside: how awesome would Amy Acker have been as Laurie Jupiter (yes, Juspecyk, but the movie didn’t get into that)?

My wife has a very low tolerance for gore, but if it’s necessary to the story, it’s not a big deal. I used to think I had a high tolerance to that sort of thing. I’ve never said a movie was too gory …

This movie was just too, too gory. Yes, this is a world punctuated with moments of sudden, horrific violence. That’s appropriate to the story, necessary. Everything in Watchmen’s 1985 is kind of hyper-real, ramped up.  But in this movie, it was constant, it dulled you to it, which made it less effective. It was like a super-hero movie made by a thirteen-year-old, all shock, no context. It even made some horrific scenes from the original more gory for no real reason. I’m thinking of Rorschach in the child-killer’s house. That’s not how he killed him in the original, and the original, the fire, the coldness, was much more effective than this hot rage. That cold dropping of the match, the walking away, THAT was Kovacs breaking and Rorschach emerging. Not the raging,  gore-porny, hatchet/skull montage.

This movie really got the story in a lot of ways, but in a lot of ways did not. The one moment of gore from the book, that slow pan of the bodies in Times Square … absent. The one really grim moment we needed to linger on … not there.  I mean, I understand going with nuclear attacks instead of the big giant squid, but the apocalypse was mundane, which it absolutely should not have been.

I wanted to love it. I couldn’t even really like it very much. I probably would have known what to expect if I’d seen 300, which I hadn’t. I don’t want to now. I don’t want to see a Snyder movie ever again.

It’s too bad. It could have been amazing (I need the first ten minutes by themselves).

Zach Snyder doesn’t get it, really. He got most of it. The look and feel, characterizations (one notable expection already mentioned), were all spot-on. But it went waaaay over the top and undercut its own point.

Now, J.J. Abrams …please don’t screw up Star Trek…

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2009 in culture

 

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The demise of all my cred … or: Damn you, John Ostrander!

My mental health professionals have suggested that I be open and honest about my life. Therefore, I am making this confession.

I have become addicted to the Star Wars expanded Universe books. Specifically, the sequel series that started with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy.

Yes, yes, I know.

Blame John Ostrander and his amazing Star Wars: Legacy comic from dark horse. In creating a main character that it equal parts Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, he sucked me in. And by constantly referring to things that had happened between Return of the Jedi and chronicled in the quasi-official canon of the Star Wars expanded Universe, he made me curious. Plus: Mara Jade.  teh. awe. some.

So, anyway, I decided (rationalized) that I’ve been doing some heavy lifting in the brainal area lately, and so deserved to read something that was purely escapist.

And then I discovered Wookiepedia. Oh, the wonderful, damnable wookiepedia. Everything is there. Everything.  Things you never knew you wanted to know, things you never needed to know, but now you wonder how you ever survived not knowing them. It’s like wikipedia on geek steroids.

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

So, I will allow myself to consume these mass-market cash-in pieces of questionable literature, on the justification that most of them are much better written than anything George Lucas has produced in the last ten years. Some of them may even be, objectively, good. I will obsess over them much as I did the original trilogy when I was 9 years old. I will enjoy my collection of action figures (yes, yes, I know), and I will pray to all that is holy that the new Star Trek isn’t any good so that I do not have to reactivate that ancient fanboy obsession as well.

And I will come to terms with the fact that this renders me unable to make fun of Twilight Fans.

And because I got s many hits off the Erin Gray pic I linked to last time, let’s see how the fanboys like Slave Leia.

No, I am not proud of myself.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2008 in life

 

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