Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ultra Mecha Ace, Unit 2, Go!

Tim, who actually is an otaku, has added a good comment to my post on recurring themes in anime. Check it out.

The Girlstore

Alison and I met online, as you may know. However, we first met in person at an Atlanta bookstore that we both used to haunt. Sometimes, when people ask where we met, if I suspect that they will look down on online dating, or if I don't feel like explaining the whole story, I say, "a bookstore." (This answer is true, but not complete.) For this reason, I sometimes refer to Yahoo Personals or other such services as "the bookstore." Doing so can be quite confusing, since we spend a lot of time browsing in and talking about literary retail venues. Alison likes to refer to any online dating service as "the manstore," which is not only less ambiguous, but also, in my opinion, terribly amusing.

Anyway, as a person who likes to browse in bookstores, and has met a few women there, I thought I'd post what I suspect are the worst sections of a bookstore in which a man could make first contact with a woman. Please note that I did not discover these by experience; I'm merely speculating.

  • Gay and Lesbian. It should be obvious why this is not a promising scenario for heterosexual flirting. If, however, you are looking for a member of you own sex, then this is the section of the store to do it.
  • Pregnancy and Childbirth. Even if she's not married or otherwise attached, your timing is bad.
  • Children's Books. Either she has a child (See above.), she is a child, or she's..."simple."

I Might Be a Cylon

(This post contains no significant spoilers.)

The latest episode of
Battlestar Galactica, "Downloaded," was exceptionally good. The "A" storyline was told from the Cylons' perspective. I found that this episode brought a lot of depth and diversity to that previously somewhat monolithic species, and I'm looking forward to further exploration of the culture.

If you are even remotely interested in science fiction and you aren't watching this show, you need to start. Come to think of it, since the next ep is the first part of the second season's finale, now might not be the best time to jump in. Your best bet is to buy, borrow, or steal the
US version of Season 1 on DVD, which includes the 4-hour mini-series that kicked off the series. Then, watch that while waiting for the the complete Season 2 set to become available. (Do not buy the so-called Season 2.0 DVD set, which only includes the first half of Season 2.) Once S2 is out, be sure to digest that before Season 3 begins to air on Sci Fi.

Why are you still reading this? I told you what to do.

Update 1: It looks like Evil Monkey agrees with me.
Update 2: The latest word is that Season 3 will hit the Sci Fi Channel in October. That's 7 (seven) months from now. So I guess all the uninitiated will have ample time to catch up.

Best. iPod. App. Ever.

This is the closest thing to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I've ever seen.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Edwin Frazier is on a Roll

Frazz is perhaps my favorite comic strip, though Penny Arcade can be pretty hilarious, too. The strip has really been on a roll lately.

It started last Sunday with this poem. The best parts, in my opinion, are (a) the somewhat obscure reference to Fresh Air's Terry Gross and (b) the drawing of Socrates post-pitch.

Since Monday, Frazz himself has been on a bit of a diatribe about how the Winter Olympics are not as cool as they used to be. Today's strip is a particularly amusing entry in the series. Apparently Frazz and I are of one mind on this subject. It seems like all the coverage is of figure skating, half-pipe snowboarding, freestyle skiing, and other subjective events where what's most important is how cool you look. I mean, I quickly lose interest in any sport where you can improve your chances by adding sequins to your costume, you can have points deducted for not keeping you knees together, or you are required to smile. I'm a functionalist, and I much prefer objective sports where the sole measure of success is how fast you skate, how many bull’s-eyes you get, or, or how many goals you score. Have you ever heard of a judging scandal in cross-country skiing?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Ultra Mecha Ace, Unit 1, Go!

Dr. Jamaal Zeptodude recently posted an insightful comment on my entry on anime clichés. You should check it out. Well, if you are into that sort of thing.

Book Review: Counting Heads

I just recently finished reading Counting Heads by David Marusek. Like most of the fiction I read, it's sci-fi. There are a lot of interesting ideas in the book, and it is well executed. However, I didn't find myself as addicted to reading it as I have been to some other novels, so I can't give it my highest rating. Overall, I give it 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Good Book...

I wanted to put in a quick plug for a book I just finished. It is called Into the Wild and it is really good, but kind of grisly, too. It's actually a true story. I would describe it, but Amazon does a better job, so check out the link. I heartily approve of it. It's a pretty quick read, too, for those of you who get bored easily. :)

Jon Story #2 - Jon vs. Food

So, continuing with my Jon stories, here are two short anecdotes about Jon and his tendency toward culinary ineptitude.

Apparently, when Jon first moved into his own apartment (as opposed to the dorms where they cook for you), he decided to make a frozen pizza for dinner. Ah, frozen pizza. The ultimate bachelor food. It's sooooo easy! All you do is throw it in a frying pan on top of the stove and heat!

Wait, you mean that's NOT how you cook a frozen pizza? Well, tell that to Jon. He swears that it turned out OK, but I imagine it wasn't pretty. Apparently, he ate it anyway, though.

Jon also likes to call me up for advice on various girl-related things such as cooking rice. He called me up one night and said, "Hey, how do you cook rice? I bought a bag of rice, but I don't know how to cook it and I have a girl coming over soon." I patiently explained that the way to cook rice was to turn the bag over and read the back where it said, "Instructions" or possibly "Directions" and then do what it said. He was pretty amazed at my culinary prowess. "Wow! How did you know to do that?" he said admiringly.

I really enjoy these two stories because it wasn't like he screwed up complicated French recipes or something. He just didn't read the darned package! Twice!

Ah, Jon...

Friday, February 17, 2006

I Heart the Daily Show...

Here is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Let's just say it's a good thing I haven't drunk a lot of water so far this morning. Thanks to Mrs. Evil Monkey for the link!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Cutting Edge

Have you noticed the arms race that’s been going on in the razor industry for the past score years or so? When I first started shaving, 2-bladed razors were common, indeed the norm. Then, perhaps a decade ago, Gillette introduced The Mach 3, and Schick brought out the Xtreme 3, both of which were equipped with—you guessed it—3 blades with which to battle your beard. Gillette fired back with the M3 Power, which not only had 3 blades, but also, powered by a small battery, vibrated to “massage” you face and give you—of course—a closer shave. Who ordered that? Not to be outdone, Schick one-upped their competition with the Quattro. Guess how many blades that had.

And I’m not even going to mention all the lubricating strips and skin-stretching fins that have been introduced.
Never before had so much technology been available to convince attractive women to caress my face admiringly.

So, it’s no surprise that, in early 2004, The Onion, America's Finest News SourceTM, “predicted,” in typical vulgar-but-hilarious style, that Gillette would be forced to offer a 5-bladed razor. I mean, what else are you going to do when the competition has 4 blades? Well, just about 2 years later, the Gillette Fusion is here, in all of its 5-bladed glory. (Apparently, it’s now passé to include the number of blades in your product name. Maybe that would be considered impolite, you know, bragging.) It seems to me that, if you are considering a plan that would make an Onion article true, you might want rethink it. But I’m not running a bazillion-dollar-per-year company, so what do I know? Are 5 blades not enough for your manly-man beard? Well, friend, you need the vibrating Fusion Power. Battery included.

Anyway, NPR’s Morning Edition did a brief review/interview on the Fusion recently. You should check it out.

Meanwhile, I’ve been shaving with the same old 2-bladed Gillette Sensor (not even the Sensor Excel) since…well I can’t remember when. But 2 blades was considered the state of the art at the time, so I think it must have been the Stone Age. It works reasonably well, meaning that it makes dragging a sharp implement across my face and throat about as tolerable as it’s going to get. True, I never find strange women running their hands over my face, saying, “Ooh, that’s close.” But, with my face, that’s not going to happen under any circumstances, so I can’t really complain.

Actually, I should mention that the Fusion has 6 blades. That’s right: six. There’s an extra blade on the back for trimming your sideburns or just under your nose. (It occurs to me that, if the razor head weren’t so darned wide, what with 5 blades, the lubristrippy thing, and the skin stretcher, perhaps the extra blade wouldn’t be necessary.) It was that sixth, “edging” blade that won me over. Or did me in. I mean, I do need to trim my ‘burns, and even my old-school, 2-bladed Sensor is a bit wide for that. So I bought one.

Yeah, I’m a sucker. And I’m reinforcing blade inflation. But I didn’t buy the battery-powered version. That’s where I draw the line!

Monday, February 13, 2006

No Means No

It appears that Brian (K-State Brian) has been struggling with his optical tables lately.

More than Meets the Eye

Since 75 % of our regular audience (3 of the literally 4 people who read this blog) are males aged 25 to 35, I predict you will be interested in this short video. My favorite part is the hilarious pose struck about 75 % of the way through.

Our Marriage is Saved

Since I have just been reminded of the existence of a skiing discipline called Nordic combined, it looks like recently discovered stress in Team Grondul will not force a break-up.

The Sporting Life

If someone had told me there was a Firefly marathon on, I wouldn't have had to watch the game.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pahk Yah Cah in Hahvahd Yahd

It appears that Todd is having a great deal of difficulty with transportation in Boston.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


You may have noticed some differences between Alison's writing style and my own:

I make a lot of use of colons, semi-colons, and---only when necessary---long dashes; I find them very useful. (I also like parentheses.)

Alison, meanwhile, is very free with exclamation marks, ellipses, and even emoticons. Really! I'm not sure why... ;-)

I think this could be a deal-breaker.

I'm Waiting for the Implantable Size

Check this out. An Israeli has invented a system for extracting dissolved oxygen from seawater. That's right: artificial gills. The current version is way too large for an individual to carry, like Scuba gear, but it could be viable solution for submarines or underwater habitats. Neat, eh?

Still, I'm holding out for the system to be miniaturized to the point that it can be implanted in, say, my neck. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about swallowing too much water in the shower. I could even go swimming immediately after eating. (Take that, Mom!)

An even better solution would be bioengineering. I’m sure it’s just a matter of a few gene grafts from---oh, I don’t know---a hammerhead shark, and I’d be good to go. The Creature from the Black Lagoon wouldn’t have anything on me. Neither would the shark dude from that terrible, terrible Sci Fi Channel movie. Mwahahahaha!

He Blinded me with Pseudo-Science

I'm usually not a particularly political person (PPP), but, as a scientist, I heartily endorse this recent Neurotopia post and suggest you read it. You should also note this follow-on.

Ice and Snow, Silver and Gold

I've recently discovered that Alison's favorite Winter Olympic sports are figure skating and ski jumping. Meanwhile, my own favorites are long-track speedskating---duh!---and cross-country skiing. That's right, two completely different types of skating and two entirely different kinds of skiing. I don't know. I think this may be a deal-breaker.