Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "How far off is this place you are going?  Are you at least allowed to yell for help if your countryman is less concerned with tradition?"

    Tilda jerked a thumb.  "It is only a couple stores over in that direction, but I am going to be fine."

    "We should at least have some signal you can shout if there is trouble."

    "All right.  How about 'Help, Zeb! Help!'"

    Zeb narrowed his eyes.  "Perhaps I should write that down..."

(from Death of a Kingdom by M. Edward McNally)

8½*/10.  The full review is here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

OCD Chiller Theater

    Listen.  I know I'm OCD.  So all the pens in my glass holder at work need to be pointing up.  And I would sooner die than let any of you gorillas touch my ultra-fine felt-tip pens. And the three-hole punch, the scotch tape, the white-out, and the stapler all have their designated areas on my desk.

    Let's make this easy on both of us.  Just don't come within 2 feet of my desk.  You're welcome to sit in the chairs - any of them - located across the room.  It's better for all concerned. And bring your own %^&% pen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Zen of Time Travel

    Well what did you expect, man?  The dude came up with Special Relativity.  No sense inventing something, and then not using it yourself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

    I'm never quite sure what adjective to use with this holiday.  Should you be "happy" while remembering the fallen?   Somber, maybe.  But "Somber Memorial Day" just doesn't sound right.  How 'bout "Thoughtful"?

   In any event, I found the above image to be powerful.  We probably forget that at least a few of those who gave their lives for this country were quadrupeds.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "But you won't be alone," I whispered to myself.  I have my mother and Prim.  Well, for the time being.  And then... I don't want to think about then, when Prim has grown up,my mother passed away.  I know I'll never marry, never risk bringing a child into the world.  Because if there's one thing being a victor doesn't guarantee, it's your children's safety.  My kids' names would go right into the reaping balls with everyone else's.  And I swear I'll never let that happen.

(from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

10*/10.  The full review is here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Science

    In honor of me arriving at halfway through Brian Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos", a 500-page (not including the copious notes) work of brilliancy about Quantum Physics.

    It's a tough read.  After 20-30 pages, my brain screams to close the book and let it digest what Greene has just laid on it.  And some nights, I just stick to fiction.  I'm guessing it will be late June, if not July, before I finish TFotC.  But it is nevertheless a fascinating, well-written book.

    Now if I could only find the Higgs Boson.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy International Geek Pride Day !!

    So designated, because it was 35 years ago today that...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mitt Romney is a Unicorn

    It's the scandal that the Republicans are desperately trying to keep under wraps.  And it's about time our Arizona state government officials investigate this.  I mean come on, now.  The photograph doesn't lie.

    You can read more about this and sign the petition  here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


    Limpia(s) is a new word for me, despite my past history in the metaphysical movement.  Its roots are Hispanic, and it's apparently a cleansing of some sort (my Honduran co-worker wasn't all that clear about the details), involving smoke, incense, praying, chanting and the like, and is ideal for getting rid of bothersome evil spirits.

    But the kewl thing is that this sign is at a building right here in Mesa.  And is an indication that the Metaphysicians (i made that up) are finally wising up and organizing.  Years ago, Mesa, being mind-narrowingly Mormon, effectively swept out all the psychics, palm readers, etc. by declaring them businesses and charging them a thousand dollars per annum for a business license.  Yeah, you gotta do a helluva lot of Tarot readings to make a profit after that.

    But now it seems at least some of the mystics have organized themselves into something called the Esoteric Catholic Church.  Take that, you religious bigots.  Try to shut them down now and you're messing with constitutional rights.  Gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Go for it

    Too freaking easy, man.  Just too freaking easy.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "I think they buy up loads of stuff from one lot of companies and sell it to another lot of companies for more than they paid for it."

    "The bauxite, you mean?"

    "Yes, though really that wouldn't fit at all, would it?  Maybe they're into mineral rights as well as minerals."

    Paul frowned.  He wasn't sure minerals had rights, though he couldn't see offhand why they shouldn't.  He couldn't remember having seen mineral rights activists picketing steelworks on the telly, or being stopped in the street and asked to sign petitions about it, but maybe the movement was still in its infancy.

(from The Portable Door by Tom Holt)

8½*/10. The complete review is here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Science Sunday

    I don't really have anything in my files that is applicable to the (partial) Solar Eclipse that is happening right now.  So we'll have to make do with the above pun.

Friday, May 18, 2012

One of my Heroes

    Because everybody should have role models.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "What in the world was that about?" Dugan asked.  "I caught no words apart from duke this and duchess that.  Jobe and Vod'Adia."

    Tilda stopped walking.  For a moment she had plain forgotten that she and Dugan were not actually traveling together anymore.  She bit her lip, stopped biting it, and turned around to face him.

    "That girl and the old knight want a traveling companion as far as Camp Town, and to a Jobian temple there."

    Dugan looked unconvinced.  "Just you, eh?  Could have sworn a thumb was jerked at me a time or two."

    "The Duchess asked what the smell in the room was."

(from The Sable City by M. Edward McNally)

8*/10.  The full review is here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

RIP - Jim Henson

b.  :  24 September 1936
d.  :  16 May 1990

    Taken from us all too soon, man.   On this day we also lost Ronnie James Dio (2010), Andy "Latka" Kaufman (1984), and Sammy Davis Jr. (1990).  That's a lot of talent gone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It isn't easy being perfect

    You can't play Madonna's Truth or Dare if you don't have any fears, faults, or embarrassments to haunt you.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gas Prices

    "Now that the price of gasoline is falling, Republicans have stopped talking about the price of gas."
(Bill in Portland Maine)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "Where will you go?  No other village can take you.  You'll have to start again.  How long will it take you to build another Burh?  Five years?  Ten?  How many will die before you can finish a new palisade?  How many will the wolves come for?  How many the bears?  Do you think Tsoaul's hand can't reach wherever you go?  This is our home!  Our life has gone into these fields!  Nothing, not even a spirit, must be allowed to drive us away!"

(From "The Stone Arrow" by Richard Herley)

8*/10.  The complete review is here.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Canada to the rescue!

    Oh, the Irony of it all.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Salvador Dali !

    You would've celebrated your 108th birthday today.  I wonder what you'd think of all the new technologies - Photoshop, FaceBook, and of course, Kindle.  And how many people would be following you on Twitter.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chess Semis

    I still have a chance to finish in a tie for the lead in my third-round chess quad over at , despite having two losses.  The leader, Jasmine, ATM has 8 points (4 wins), with two games still ongoing, one of which is against me.

    I have 6 points (3 wins, 2 losses), as does another opponent, Lepi.  But I'm about to checkmate Jasmine, and her (his?) game against Lepi is even in material, with the position completely unbalanced.  It will not end in a draw.

    So shortly, both Jasmine and I will have 8 points.  If Lepi can beat her as well, all three of us will finish as equals at the top of the quad.  There's only one other quad in the competition, and it will have either one or two winners.  I suspect if all goes my way, they'll throw all 4 or 5 of us into the final quad/quint.

    Of course, if Jasmine draws or beats Lepi, it's all academic.  She wins the quad; Lepi and I go home.  But this is as good of a shot as I've ever had to win a IYT chess tournament.  So I can only hope for Lady Luck to do her thing.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cursive - Part Deux

    The first alphabet below is true Cursive.  They are, with colors reversed, the couplets that ran the breadth of your grade-school classroom, right above the blackboard.

    This second alphabet may look "cursive", but it isn't.  It's a writing system called the Palmer method (the Wikipedia link is here), and has some notable differences - the capital "T", "F", "P", and "R", for instance, and the eerie-looking small "r".

    I remember the "Palmers" because my first name starts with a "T", and I was given the option of using the cursive one  or Palmer's.  I chose the cursive, although as horrible as my handwriting was (and is), you couldn't really tell the difference.  The Palmet "T" looks dorky - like a stiletto heel with a beret.

   As mentioned earlier, cursive has pretty much bit the dust.  Most of us now use a hybrid system mixing some cursive with block letters.  The "T" in my signature is block - one line down, one line across.  Palmer's system was pretty much dead when I was trying to write legibly back in the late 50's.

    It should be noted that there are variations of the Palmer letters (they even show two capital "E"s above).  That "F" is ridiculous; I was taught to make the Palmer "T" and just put a line through it, a la the Cursive.

    Enough about cursive.  I still don't know why I was dreaming about it the other night.  And I don't really care.  I have re-learned how to make the cursive small "v", and that allows me to sleep comfortably at night.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Monday, May 07, 2012


   Do you remember, way back in 3rd grade, when you spent countless, tiresome hours in class practicing your cursive?  If your handwriting was as atrocious as mine, this was a traumatic experience.

    I had a nightmare Friday night, where (for some unknown reason) I was terribly agitated because I had forgotten how to write (in proper cursive) a small "v".  I was upset enough to wake myself out of the dream, only to find, much to my in-the-darkness chagrin, that I really had forgotten some of the cursive characters.

    So here's a quiz for you.  Get yourself some pen and paper, and write (in proper cursive, of course) the following :

    a capital "F" (or "T", they're pretty much the same)
    a capital "I"
    a small "v"
    a small "x" (this also gave me fits that night)
    a capital "Q" (yeah, good luck with that)

    And for extra credit, write down an alternative capital F/T, that I also had to learn back then, using something that I only now know to be "Palmer script".

    We'll post both scripts in a day or two.  But the point is this - Language evolves.  Both the written and the spoken.  No one uses cursive nowadays, except maybe to sign one's name.  And even then, the signature is usually a melange of printing and cursive.

    So RIP, cursive.  You're obsolete, and it's NBD.  I,. for one, won't miss you at all.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Book Excerpt for the Day

    "You know, we've only kissed," Buttercup said, staring at the embers.

    "Of course," Westley replied.

    Not getting the answer she expected, Buttercup tried again.  "We certainly had more than our share of adventures, no one can deny it.  And true love... to have that, we must be the most blessed of creatures."

    "Surely the most blessed," Westley agreed.

    "But," Buttercup said then, trying for frivolity, "thus far, the unalloyed fact that shines out is this: we have only kissed."

    "What else is there?" Westley asked.  He touched his lips lightly to her cheek, sighed.  "Surely there could be nothing more."

(from The Princess Bride, by William Goldman)

7*/10.  The complete review is here.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Happy Star Wars Day!!

    Today is Star Wars Day.  So is May 25th, which is when the first Star Wars movie (incongruously called "Episode 4") debuted.  Well, that makes sense.  So why is today also Star Wars Day?

"May the Fourth be with you!"

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Literary Thursday

    I'm a big fan of him.  Arlo, I mean.  Not the bard Robert.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Five Dead in Gilbert

Meet JT Ready.  JT's an asshole.  He's also a neo-nazi, a gun-nut, and the founder of his self-styled Arizona border militia.

   JT apparently was having relationship difficulties (imagine that!), so he took care of them the "militia way".  He blew away his girl-friend, her daughter, the daughter's boyfriend, and the daughter's 18-month-old baby girl today.  You can read about it here.

    Of course, this is Arizona, where idiocy is considered a virtue.  So JT was also a candidate for various state elected positions.  Happily, even Arizonans generally don't vote for a swatzika-wearing whack-job, so he was never successful.  But he did get to hobnob with some of our other tea-bagging politicians, including (below) the one-time but-now-deposed leader of the state senate, Russell Pearce.  Pearce is the bozo on the right.  Birds of a feather, and all that.

    JT at least did us all a favor by finally turning his gun on himself.  I'm sure glad the constitution allows for a militia, so that we all can be protected from 18-month-old toddlers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Album Cover Quiz

    A music quiz for tonight.  Above is a (cropped) LP Album cover that I stumbled across tonight.  The question is - who are those two?  The guy is fairly easy.  For me, the girl was not.

    Answer in the comments.