Monday, December 22, 2008

Not part of the mob

The T and I are two units in the masses traveling for the holidays.
There is a certain mindset you have to shoot for in order to stay sane
in the airport and truly appreciate the signs that read "Thank you for
participating in security." This time of year--and this year in
particular--winter wardrobes collide head on with TSA suggested
footwear. Sorry but I am not packing my winter boots when I'll need
them to board my dog sled transportation in the midwest.

Anyhooo, we left the house eight hours before our flight time in order
to give ourselves a huge cushion of time in case we had to deal with
any unexpected events on our way to the aeroport, like the yuppie
jackass in the Jeep Cherokee who was trying to reach warp speed on the
snow covered road. We made it to the Emerald City with no problems but
wonder where the plows are. The state must own at least one, right?

The scene at the aeroport is total simmering chaos but none if it
involves The T and I. Two airlines cancelled all their flights out
yesterday so there are a few stranded people standing around in
corrals. It was hard to navigate until we got close to the American
Airlines counter. Then the sea of humanity parted and we left the
crowds behind. We both feel like we cheated somehow. We even have
seats on the plane! Something is going to go wrong at some point but I
don't know what is left. The bag is checked, my belly full and my
boarding pass looks legit. I had no idea my karma account had such an
overflow of points.

On to Chicago and single-digit temperatures!!

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, December 21, 2008

If you'd been listening in

Overheard in Meanwhile Manor:

The T: I guess I'll get out of bed now.

Me: Why? Because it's after 12 noon or because you're asking questions that can be answered in the user's manual that I'm not bringing to you?

The T: You pick.

In merely two syllables, The T deflated all the air behind my passive-aggressive haranguing. I bow before the master.

Put down the donut and click here

Do you remember that internet game where you would enter two words into google with the goal of getting only one hit? I think a did it once with words related to flatulence and pachyderms. I was reminded of the game when I read these words on a blog: taro root Slushie with boba.

Some worlds just collided there.

I found that decidedly odd menu item on the One Dollar Diet Project. It's a fascinating read about a couple in California who fed themselves on only $1 every day for a month. Whoa. I think the cinnamon sticks in my morning brew go for 5¢ apiece. I'd never make it. Anyway, the taro root Slushie with boba was ingested the day after the flirtation with scurvy experiment ended. Just never thought I'd see those five words in that order and I had to share.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Didn't think that all the way through

Oh, a little forethought goes a long way. And I'm not just saying this
because I have a heater that blows directly into the refrigerator when
the door is opened. The set up is less than efficient but I don't
think the person who installed the heater knew we would be putting the
fridge there. I mean, who else has their fridge in their back entry way?

But that is not the lack of pre-thinking that is driving me crazy
today. I mean, in a week when things start to thaw around here because
Mother Nature gets back to dumping snow further east where it belongs,
the aforementioned heater will go back to being unused. I am fuming
about the lack of planning ahead on the part of a previously admired
author. If you think you're going to write a serialization of novels
revisiting the same characters, you should put a little thought into
their development as individuals and the evolution of the group
dynamics, to name but two important realms.

Book six came out recently so I went back to page one of book one and
started there before jumping into the latest offering. I listened to
all five books consecutively. This byte-cramming revealed the text in
new way. In the staggered, dragged out initial read, literary devices
such as the rehash of previous events worked well to get the reader up
to speed and make current events more sensical. Part of me gave the
author credit for allowing newbies to the series multiple entry
points. Alas, I now see that the rehash is there because the author
does not know how to move the characters forward from their springing
mostly fully-formed from her head for book one. I know that only two
years have passed in the lives of the characters and so situations
like living arrangements may be the same as they were in previous
books but the events of the characters' lives have been major and
their beliefs challenged and their perspectives impacted yet none of
this is revealed in the writing. I'm distraught about this because I
enjoy visiting their world and I like checking in with them to see how
they're getting on but I have better things to do with my time if the
answers to "how you doing?" are always the same. I don't spend time
with stagnant people here in meatspace and I'm certainly not going to
waste my time with similar folks in a fictional dimension.

This latest book in the series is so poorly written, so full of rehash
and so lacking in development that I think the publisher has pulled a
fast one. I honestly believe that the franchise has been handed off to
a room full of monkeys at typewriters and the original author does
nothing but contribute her name to the cover. This is the Chihuley
(sp?) method of artistic mass manufacturing: one person has the
initial vision and sets the groundwork for the form and then
apprentices crank it out on a mass scale without receiving any
individual credit and without the original artist ever touching the
final piece. I think this is what happens with many book series. I
read that one murder mystery author practices this. He sketches an
outline then a peon fleshes it out and-voilĂ !-instant best seller with
the known name slapped on the cover.

Of course, it may just be the case that the author was a one hit
wonder. She is up front about her lack of any formal training or
previous practice of the writing craft. Her first book was a gem and
the world she created is an amazing place. But now she doesn't know
what to do next to go forward from fantastic. The lack of thousands
pages of practice behind her is very evident in her current pages
reading as the road already travelled.

Oh well. I've moved on. I'm well into my next fictional work and
thoroughly enjoying it. And since the release dates for subsequent
titles by the same author are spaced out in 18 month intervals rather
than six month intervals, I believe he may actually be the author of
every title. The jury is out on whether or not he can reach the bar he
set rather high in title one.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snnff. It's just so beautiful

Transcript (from Neatorama)
Shame on you. This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you’re going to let it be the worst. And I guarantee a week won’t go by in your life you won’t regret walking out, letting them get the best of you. Well, I’m not going home. We’ve come too far! And I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. A day may come when the courage of men fails… but it is not THIS day. The line must be drawn HERE. This far, no further! I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. You’re going to work harder than you ever worked before. But that’s fine, we’ll just get tougher with it! If a person grits his teeth and shows real determination, failure is not an option. That’s how winning is done! Believe me when I say we can break this army here, and win just one for the Gipper. But I say to you what every warrior has known since the beginning of time: you’ve got to get mad. I mean plum mad dog mean. If you would be free men, then you must fight to fulfill that promise! Let us cut out their living guts one inch at a time, and they will know what we can do! Let no man forget how menacing we are. We are lions! You’re like a big bear, man! This is YOUR time! Seize the day, never surrender, victory or death… that’s the Chicago Way! Who’s with me? Clap! Clap! Don’t let Tink die! Clap! Alright! Let’s fly! And gentlemen in England now abed shall know my name is the Lord when I tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our Independence Day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Condensed Time, Just Add Tech

Let's not discuss the lack of heat in ye olde abode right now. I want the remodel that has been a bright shining figment of my imagination for months now to magically occur over night, complete with new wood burning fireplace. If the elves can't make the whole thing happen, I'd just like the fireplace, please. How about just replacing the single-pane windows? I only feel my toes after a hot shower or first thing in the morning after a night of thawing, er, sleeping on Big Swampy.

Anyway, while my fingers are still warm and nimble enough to type, let me get this post going. Warmth may only be one factor leading to the downfall of this post, now that I think about it. The condensing of time might be what does it in. I read an article the other day on an old fashioned piece of paper, possibly bound together in what was known as a "news magazine" and the speaker pulled the Old Timer Walking 5 Miles Through Snow to School routine. My own 40-year-old brain has forgotten the subject of the article but the gentleman mentioned how hard it was for him back in 19-hundred-and-97 "when all we had was [the search engine] HotBot."

While that reference to way back when was kicking around in my head, I ran across this techno-gem this morning:

The third and last entry of the epic Toy Bot series offers a crescendo of challenges, superb levels and an exciting conclusion to this iPhone classic. link

The iPhone has only existed since June 2007 and the game is an iPhone classic? Was the word classic misused or am I becoming a fuddy-dud? Where is the line when something that was introduced becomes a classic? With cars, I thought it was around 30 years. Apparently with video games, the window is mere months. The App Store is not even a year old and a game has gone classic. I'm dizzy. How long before the game is so cool and old it is retro? When I start to refer to "back in my day" will I actually be referring to a four-hour window or might I be allotted an entire day?

A detail that is adding to this cognitive dissonance is that I'm listening to Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler on my old-school pre-3G iPhone and hearing all about London during WWII. In this time of the U.S. trying to get over itself in terms of international affairs, I considered how New York or Philadelphia or Seattle might have reacted if bombers had reached our shores during that war. Police phone boxes and hurricane lamps and typewriters and magnifying glasses were the tech of the day. (Also described are rationing and going to shelters and emerging to see your neighborhood has disappeared under a pile of rubble. I believe our American psyche with respect to hardship is sorely lacking as compared to the rest of the planet. I'm not saying we should have a war just to toughen us up but I do believe our collective perspective has some major holes in it.)

I'm going to ponder the speeding up of the passage of time more while I find some sticks to ... er, particles to rub together to generate some heat and warm up my coffee.

link for image

Thursday, December 04, 2008

That won't be on the test

In precalculus, we've spent the last few days looking at various solution techniques for systems of equations. If you are a math-o-phobe, all you need to get from the last sentence is "looking at various solution techniques." In street lingo, it means we've been solving problems by hand and building up to the crescendo (in my mind anyway) of getting the calculator to do it for us. I prefer setting the stage for the Magic Button Method by first working problems by hand and analyzing why the steps are done and why they are allowed, etc. etc.

Today was the moment. What had been taking a minimum of 15 minutes of arithmetic agony took a mere minute of set-up and a second of waiting for the calculator to spit out the answer. One student immediately asked, "Are we going to be able to solve these with the calculator on the homework?"

What I wanted to say was, "Once the genie's out of the bottle, it's impossible to put him back."

What I heard myself say was, "It's like finding out that the wizard is just a creepy old man behind a curtain. There's no going back once you've seen that."

Six days and counting before break begins. Not a second too soon, me thinks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Not sure what to call this

I just realized I have no memory of having combed my hair before
leaving the house this morning. Looking in the mirror does not provide
any evidence.

I'm not sure if not knowing says more about what kind of day I'm
having or my sense of style.

Sent from my iPhone