Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best of times, worst of times.

New Orleans needed a lift and they got it:
Gave people around here a lift too.  I don't give two hoots for football, but when I heard fireworks going off all over town I knew what had happened and was pretty happy about it too.

Then this mess struck.
Really bad, but it was capped much, much sooner than anyone was honestly expecting.  Word 'round the campfire was that the casing was probably cracked much of the way down and we'd have to wait for a full-on bottom kill sometime in September.. or maybe even October if there were any snags.  So getting the flow stopped in mid-July was nigh onto miraculous.  And the lasting effects on the Gulf... well, we'll see in 2011.

Hurricane season mostly passed us by, which is always a Good Thing.

As for the rest of the local news, The Seacoast Echo has a good roundup.

Well that was the year that was.  I for one am glad it's over, and hoping 2011 is somewhat brighter.  See y'all next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Finished the Heinlein bio.

Finished the bio, last Thursday, that I'd written about last week.  If you're a Heinlein fan, the kind of reader who breezed through the more or less unpublishable For Us, The Living while on a page-by-page basis identifying the short stories he'd later strip mined from it, it's pretty much a must-read.  If you're a biography-hog (go figure, it takes all kinds), it's probably and OK page-turner.  If you just want a thumbnail sketch of the guy though, the wikipedia bio is probably plenty.
So how did I like it?  (Being the kind who pulled out old Heinlein paperbacks to co-read with the bio.  Like I said, it takes all kinds.)  Good, maybe a tad dry.  But I can really, really see where the guy was coming from now.  I think the author did the best he could with the limited remaining records and with the limited remaining Heinlein associates/friends/etc.  And, all things considered, he seems to have given a pretty even-handed treatment of the ex-Mrs.-Heinlein (there's a nice note on these difficulties in the footnote appendix).  I'm glad to have bought it in hardcover, and I eagerly await the next volume.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cold ride today.

I'm not sure the temperature got out of the 30's.  A few minor snow flurries, but nothing stuck.  The snow was more of "huh, did I just see that float by?"

Looking down the Clay Climb on Couch Trail:

Even the pine trees are cold!

Finally, photographic evidence of frozen precipitation:
See the little white dots on the hood of my green car?  (And see the ghostly upside-down reflections of pine trees...)

Monday 12/27 note: The Sun-Herald reports some of the white stuff too.  Hah!  I wasn't the only one who saw snow.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grading: one thing I don't miss

Ugh, that last minute pre-Christmas blur of grading homeworks, late work (always with a great excuse!) , the last test, and The Final.  Explained in Seussian rhyme over at PhD Comics.
I don't miss it one bit.  (Sure, I keep telling myself that...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Technology Marches...

...sideways.  From a rant discourse on the new-and-disimproved iPod nano at view from the porch:
Random agglomerations of buttons and rotary switches placed anywhere the styling department could find room are no improvement.
Here, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And teh hits, they just keep coming!

Idiots with bikes hitting painful objects, that is.  Marvel at the fail here.  *sigh*

Google Translate now does Latin

Here's the translate site.  And here's the announcement.  Example:
Illic 'hoc loco tenuerat adveni. Ezekiel 25:17. "Semita iustiundique per iniquitates et superbia resistatur malorum.Beatus, nomine caritatis et benevolentiae, pastoresinfirmus in valle tenebrarum, quia Vere fratris custodeminventor deperditarum filiis. Et percutiam te magnaultione Ira qui veneni et perdet fratres. et scietis nomen mihi Dominus quando vindictam meam super te. Dicenssum annos shit. Et si audias, hoc intelligitur culi.Numquam cogitavit plurimum quid hoc esset. Modoaliqua cum frigida shit-sanguineis dicere a motherfuckertremunt I papaver in pileo asinum. Vidi autem hic shitmornin 'puto me secundo. Videte ratus sum, maybe you'redicit malus, ego sum, iustus et Mr millimeter IX Hicpastor's protegens asino justítiam meam Vallis tenebris.Vel, quia medium you're iustus sum et pastorem, et suus'smundo ad mala. Quod libet. Sed non shit veritatem. Quid ergo, you're infirmos ac tyrannide sum malorum. At equidem tryin 'Ringo. I'm trying difficile verum pastorem.
- Julius Winfieldus, 94 A.D.
Man, that thing is useful. But I have the sneaking feeling that something was lost in translation.  Here is the original quote.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So you wanna write sci-fi?

Then sit right down, take a pick from the list of science fiction themes.  Fill in the details of your atomic rocketship with physics from Project Rho.  (Here's the handy cross-index to that site.)  Some assembly required.  Expenditure of effort in no way guarantees sale of finished product.
Seriously though, it's amazing the quantity (vast!) and quality (well, sometimes) of imaginative work that serious authors and scientists have put into this genre in the last century-plus.  And I for one will continue to buy and read with glee.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bike Fail

Even by my lax bicycle handling standards, this is pretty bad.

– and more book-ey goodness –

Robert A. Heinlein: In dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907–1948): Learning Curve.  It's not perfect.  Notes that should be footnotes are buried with references in the appendix.  I'm having to use several bookmarks to read the thing in one piece.  (It's like bad Fortran: goto this, return to here, goto another note...)  And what were those four lines that John Campbell added after the end of "Requiem" when it was first published in pulp, causing Heinlein to complain that it ruined the story?  I mean, the author goes on about them for a page or so, so they must've been important.  So why not just give us the four lines?  All that, and the title has just too many :'s.
But.  It's pretty damned amazing, the whole story of the Dean of Hard Science Fiction's life spelled out in one work.  (Well, at least through 1948.  We'll all have to wait for the second volume.)  I'm 2/3 of the way through, and it's worth the couch time.  Now that I'm past the childhood, Navy, and political years, I'm reading it with an old copy of The Past Through Tomorrow at hand so that it's easy to skim (or to sometimes even re-read) the short stories being discussed in the bio.
Get yourself a copy, ASAP.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Recommendo

Under Surge, Under Siege.  The happenings in this non-fiction were about a mile from my house.  Everyone's got their own story, but yes folks, this is the way it was.  And this is the way it still is.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nativity Story...

...updated.  Here.
note: link repaired 6pm 12/19/10.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Right out of a Roadrunner cartoon.


The only way this could've been better is if a giant boulder had dropped on the guy at the last second.  Casually stepping back and clasping his hands added a nice comic touch though.