Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Usually Alison and I take Rex on our many, many trips to Home Despot. Sure, the CRX is the smallest of our 3 cars by most measures,* but it also has the most usable internal volume. Besides, since Rex is old and beaten, we aren't too worried about minor cosmetic abuse he might incur.
Recently, I stopped at the Despot on the way to work, which meant that I was driving Mia. This is the sight that awaited me when I exited the store:
I suppose I should expect that kind of contrast when I drive my wee little sports car on a weekday to the hardware store favored by contractors. What I didn't suspect, was my parking situation when I arrived at my workplace:
Have I mentioned that I work at a laboratory, not a construction site?
* Length, width, and mass, but probably not height.
Tonight I set a new personal record for a workout of the day that I made up, then fine-tuned, recently. I call this workout the "Vest Fest."
For minimum time, perform 5 rounds of the following while wearing a 30-pound weight vest:12 squats.12 back extensions.12 sit-ups.12 push-ups.12 get-ups.*12 pull-ups.
My first version of this workout featured 10 reps of each exercise, but I found that didn't fatigue the muscles sufficiently, so I cranked up the volume by 20%. It seems reasonably difficult now. What may not be obvious from the list of exercises is that this workout challenges the core muscles more than any others.
For the record, my latest time is 18 minutes, 32 seconds, just 16 seconds faster than my previous best.
* To perform a get-up, start from a standing position, lie down into a supine position. Then, get up into a standing position. This exercise is surprisingly tiring when performed with 30 pounds of steel strapped to your upper torso.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tonight, I set a new PR on the workout unofficially known as the Filthy Fifty. In fact, my new time of 27:32 is almost 2 minutes shorter than my previous best. I think I can attribute my improved score to, among other factors, the slightly lower ceiling in the Grondulbarn's basement gym. Nonetheless, I'm still please with today's result, since the Fifty is one of the more gruesome recurring workouts in the CrossFit pantheon.
World of Warcraft is headed to the big screen, and the adaption will be directed by Sam Raimi. Gaming geeks everywhere will be thrilled by the news, I'm sure. I just hope Guild mistress Felicia Day can wrangle herself a role.
It seems that the rights to make a live-action adaptation of Voltron have expired, leaving that project dead. Unfortunately, like a zombie, Voltron: The Motion Picture is rising from its own grave; another batch of ambitious-but-unoriginal producers is planning a big-screen adventure staring the compound robot. What makes these guys different? They plan to focus on the "human spirit" of which Voltron is the "personification." Yes, because a story about a robot made of other robots will certainly be a character-driven drama exploring what it means to be human and documenting the triumph of mankind's spirit.
Say it with me: Who ordered that?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Pity the poor rally navigator. First, you get saddled with the ambiguous title of co-driver. Then, your driver gets most of the recognition and money, even though his job would be impossible without you.* And finally, if you are Timo Rautainen, you have to cope with projectiles striking you in unexpected an uncomfortable locations. Pay attention to the gesture at the very end of this video for a graphic illustration of the injuries and ignominies that a co-driver can suffer.
* But seriously, if you want to see an amazing display of 4-wheel drifts, jumps, and handbrake turns, check out any rally highlight video.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wondering what your favorite Whedonverse actors have been up to lately? Well too bad, because that's not the subject of this post. Instead, this post is about what a couple of them did some years before they me Whedon.
First up is this video for George Harrison's "I Got My Mind Set On You, from 1988.* The boy in the video is played by Alexis Dennisof, everyone's favorite rogue demon hunter. I found this video indirectly, because Dennisof's wife and co-actor, Alyson Hannigan, tweeted it, presumably to lightly tease the man. Please note the hairstyles and fashion in this video.
Second, and last, is this 1992 advertisement for the Nerf Slingshot. The spokeskid in the ad is Seth Green. His hair is priceless, I must say.*** The girls' outfits are equally timeless.
* Interestingly, Harrison's performance was a cover. The song was originally written in 1962.**
** "Wierd Al" Yankovic created a parody of Harrison's version called "This Song's Just Six Words Long."
Last Friday, at the Radio and TV Correspondents' Dinner, both President Barack Obama and author, comedian, actor, and personal computer John Hodgman addressed the audience. In Hodgman's address, he spoke of his hope that Obama would be the nerd President that many geeks have been dreaming of, and he quizzed the President on his geek credentials. This speech is must-see viewing for nerds everywhere.
Honda has officially announced that the CR-Z concept car will be turned into a production model. Additionally ally, a hybrid version of the Fit will be produced. Good news. Now let's hope these two hybrids make it to the United States.
By the way, it's unclear how many seats the CR-Z will have if and when reaches the States. The CR-Z concept has rear seats, but that may mean less than you think. The CRX had tiny rear seats in Japan and Europe, but, due to stricter safety regulations,* they we removed from the North American version of the car.
* I'm only guessing that this is the reason.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Here's another of my bachelor-style* culinary inventions: the nut-butter banana-dog.**
- 1 hot-dog bun. I like whole-wheat ones, but use whatever floats your boat.
- 1 to 2 tablespoons nut butter. I like almond and cashew, but peanut, is a classic and is also acceptable.
- 1 small-ish banana.
- Open the bun.
- Spread the nut butter of your choosing on both inter surfaces.
- Peal the banana and press it, firmly, into the bun.
- If needed, slide banana back and forth to spread the nut butter.
* This one's also great for a kid, or for a child-at-heart like me.
** No dogs were harmed during the development of this dish. Although, one might have eaten some pieces of the prototype that were "accidentally" dropped into his bowl.
Today for lunch I'm having spaghetti enchilada casserole: leftover spaghetti sauce---with ground turkey!---layered with corn tortillas and reheated in the mircowave oven. It's not just international; it's tasty.
Google announced last night that it will release a lightweight, open-source operating system called Chrome OS. The OS is Linux-based and clearly aimed at cloud computing and web applications; it's primary function will be to run the Chrome browser, and most apps will run inside the browser. Chrome OS will begin appearing on netbooks in late 2010; then it will move to full-function laptops and desktops.
Given Google's size and popularity, this news could have enormous ramifications.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Late last year, I posted a link to rally driver Ken Block's now famous "Gymkhana Practice" video. Since that time, he's published a second, equally impressive and equally viewed display of car control. Yesternight, in an automotive case of chocolate meeting peanut butter, Block appeared on the world's most popular and most entertaining show about cars, Top Gear. When you combine Block's driving skill* with Top Gear's peerless cinematography, the result is an automotive spectacle of the first order.
* Ken Block is clearly a very proficient driver, but his sartorial style, which I can only describe as Attempted Skater, leaves a lot to be desired.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Speaking of music, I've also been listening to "Everything is Free" by Swedish band The Tiny. The Tiny defies classification, at least by someone of my limited musical knowledge. You might call them chamber goth, but more minimal and much cuter than Rasputina. Or something. Anyway, "Everything is Free" is a languid, sad commentary on communism, as far as I can tell. I encourage you to check out the song and the band.
Here's a sampling of some of the music I've been listening to lately,
- Guano Apes, "Scratch the Pitch."
- Guano Apes, "You Can't Stop Me."
- Nine Inch Nails, "The Day the World Went Away"
- Nich Inch Nails, "Zero Sum"
- Fireflight, "Unbreakable"
- David Bowie, "Life on Mars?"
- Darling Violetta*, "A Smaller God"
- Mealnie C, "You Will See"
All these songs are fairly typical of the music that I most enjoy. Well, except one. Can you determine the outlier? For bonus points, can you tell me how I first became aware of and interested in this tune?
* Darling Violetta also performed the theme to Angel.
Friday, July 03, 2009
We finished all wiring the home-theater system into the Grondulbarn today. Then we tested it with the space-battle scene from near the end of Serenity. We've had the home theater system since our wedding---we bought it and burned a bunch of CDs rather than hire a DJ---but we've never really deployed the system properly. In particular, I think we had the rear speakers sitting by the fronts. With the rears mounted behind the listener, I was quite pleased with the results. They system in question is just a basic 300-ish-dollar Samsung model with Dolby 5.1, but it performs as well as I need. so, hurray for home theater.
We also thoroughly tested the coaxial and Cat 6 networking cables we finished installing a couple of weeks ago. In fact, I'm writing this blog post through one of those cables.
All this means we are now ready to finish putting up the new drywall. I'm looking forward to getting that done.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The more I learn about Mia, my Mazdaspeed Miata,* the more I regret buying her, rather than a third-generation (NC) MX-5. Of course, I long ago personified her and assigned her a gender, so I guess we're stuck with each other for a while.
* Not just Mia. All the MSMs.
Variety is reporting that Tim Minear, after whom I named the Minear Effect, is planning a remake/continuation of the Alien Nation franchise for the SciFi---I mean, SyFy---Channel. At first, I wasn't not sure what to think of that. I certainly enjoyed the movie and the series. In particular, I liked how the show continually explored aspects of Newcommer physiology and culture. I also have enjoyed Minear's work. I mean, he contributed to The X-Files, Angel, Firefly, Wonderfalls, and Dollhouse, so of course I did. But I'm not sure Alien Nation needs to be brought back.
Still, it has been 20 years since the show aired, so it's clearly not too early for a reboot/make. Plus, Alien Nation was much more sophisticated and interesting than the original Battlestar Galactica, and look how well the re-imagined Battlestar turned out. And if anyone could re-invigorate this franchise, Minear can do it. (Maybe Joss Whedon or Ronald Moore could do it, too.) So perhaps I'll choose to be optimistic about this one. Except then there's that darned Minear Effect to worry about.
I've been thinking about college a lot of lately, in part because I've recently re-connected with someone I knew at Rice. I'm reminded that, although my closest 2 or 3 friends were guys, most of my "second-tier" friends and many of my friendly acquaintances were girls. What makes this fact especially interesting---to me, at least---is that I was quite intimidated by women throughout college.
In grad school at Georgia Tech, and during my postdoc at NRL, the population of my peers was predominantly males, so it's difficult to draw any conclusions from my time at those institutions.
At my current workplace, there are decent numbers of both males and females. The men certainly outnumber the women, though, especially on the projects I'm involved with. Still, most of my work friends are women. Meanwhile, I long ago got over any intimidation I once felt, which may be a result of my relationship with Alison; I'm not on the lookout for a romantic relationship.
I can't help but wonder what this gender distribution of my friendships says about me, if anything.
After a little trouble with submitting my race results, I'm now a member of Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development. This membership will allow me access to and reduced pricing on competetion parts directly from Mazda. Neato!
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
I've mentioned that our critter's full name is Newton Aloysius Grondul, but his title is "Puppers." I like to think of it as the canine equivalent of "mister" or "Ms." Note that, like the "san" suffix in Japanese, "puppers" is gender-blind.