12 Good Gadgets for Hard Times | Gadget Lab from Wired.com
The only way I can stay on an elliptical machine for more than just a few minutes is to be distracted by something that makes me concentrate. Music will work for a little bit, and the TV's on the wall are okay, but there is not much I want to watch for long that other people will want to see. So I've been listening to podcast/mp3's of science fiction. I posted some links over at my Speculative Fiction blog.
My leg was too sore to run more than a couple of blocks this morning & my team lost the conference championship this evening. But the truth is I'm not really unhappy or particularly disappointed. I've been working out regularly since April and I'm in such better shape and feel better than I have in years. It was fun being out at the track team fundraiser/run with the Austin people and my friends. As for football, Alabama vastly overachieved, is way ahead of our rivals and doing things the way they should be done. Considering the alternatives - things are still going pretty well. No complaints.
This strikes me as very important:
"Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb." - in The Guardian
- The insanity of my beloved Alabama being #2 in the country and people across the spectrum picking us to win the SEC and play for the national championship is making me crazy. I'm not all concerned that we are winning close, which is how a young thin team wins. I'm concerned that people, not just Alabama people, have lost their minds:
- We go to Knoxville to play Tennessee. They are playing for their lives. It could salvage everything (and everybody's job) to beat us. We are 1-5 in Knoxville in the last 6 there. Why is this a gimme?
- Okay, we'll crush Arkansas St. (who is QB'd by a Decatur High grad). This will give us 8 wins, the high end of our expectations.
- We play LSU, the defending National Champions, at Baton Rouge. They want to beat Saban worse than anything imaginable. With the jealous hatred of the jilted that cannot be expressed in words. This may actually be bigger to Miles needs this more than he needed the National Championship. We are 1-7 in our last 8 against LSU. 1-7. How are we the favorite?
- We host Mississippi St. They have beaten us the last two years. Has everyone forgotten this? Coach Croom really wanted the Bama job. Now he really wants to make us pay for not hiring him. And he has. Until we beat them, I assume nothing.
- We host Auburn. We all know guys. We've lost 6 in a row & 7 of the last 8. 1-7. How can anyone assume we are going to win? It's in Tuscaloosa, and it will save their season if they beat us.
- That anyone can assume that we are going to cruise through this is simply insane. They all hate us and it will make their each of their seasons if they beat us. A coin has only a 6.25% chance of landing on heads four times in a row. Should we really expect any more chance than that? Have you seen our quarterback?
- Even if we did win all five games. Then we get to play Florida or Georgia in the Championship. Did anyone see the Florida-LSU game? Oh my the gators are fast. And don't you think Georgia wants so badly to make up for the embarrassment we gave them when they were so beloved, just a month ago?
- We have a real coach and will have a real team as long as he stays, and a chance to hire a quality successor. We're in the discussion, which is all I want.
- But come on guys, everybody take a breath.
- I bought gas yesterday for $2.79.
- Maybe few more brokerages and banks should collapse.
- (and maybe lower fuel costs will offset the inflation sure to follow the monopoly money supply the fed is spreading out there)
- I am so ready for the election to be over. I am so sick of it I can't bear it much longer. How embarrassing. Is there no one here interested in limiting the size of the national government or who thinks that government is not the best way to solve problems? Anyone really concerned about the limitations of free speech & civil rights that come from both the overzealous rightwing and the PC left? Where did the reasonable people go?
- The best irony of the election is that many people want to punish the Republicans for being spendthrifts and too socialist, so they want to elect a Democratic senator who really is both.
- I think that Senator Obama will win the electoral in the low three hundreds, but will lose or nearly lose the popular vote. But then again, apparently I'm a kook.
America the Banana Republic in Vanity Fair
The ongoing financial meltdown is just the latest example of a disturbing trend that, to this adoptive American, threatens to put the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave on a par with Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Equatorial Guinea.
From the facebook of one of my former AP History students:
And Now, A Day In Coach Ray's Class:
- Look, all I'm saying is at the end of the day the new 3 Star Wars movies suck.(him)
- What Did You Say Pace?(me)
- Those movies suck.
- Run that by me one more time.
- The Final 3 Star Wars films suck.
- You know, I thought you said that Star Wars sucked. And if that were the case, then I was going to fail you.
- Oh. Well I'm a die hard Star Wars fan, but I hate the Episodes 1-3.
- Guys! I love the enthusiasm but none of this will be on your test tomorrow. And even though the last three Star Wars moves were filmed like 20 years later, they are still okay movies...With that said, Jar-Jar Binx can die in hell.
Commentary By Jeffrey A. Miron Special to CNN:
Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the right answer
- Government encouraged lenders to relax their standards
- Mortgages were given to people unqualified to repay them
- Rather than a bailout, government should let firms go bankrupt
- Talk of economic Armageddon is scare-mongering
Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University. A Libertarian, he was one of 166 academic economists who signed a letter to congressional leaders last week opposing the government bailout plan.
IV. I have recommended George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to anyone who has somehow missed it, even if they don’t usually read fantasy. Well-drawn characters, harsh realities of life & death, political intrigue and multiple POV. A fun series.
V. I’ve convinced CRL and PC to read The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. It is a four-book sci-fi/fantasy series written in the early eighties, but that’s like saying The David is a sculpture. The series is simply overwhelming. The author is so obviously brilliant and the books are nearly hallucinogenic as you read them. A far future in which the protagonist passes through a world that has peaked and is in decline and he eventually fulfills his roll in determining the fate of the world. Both of my victims refer to this series when something simply weirds them out.
VI. Recently I have been reading (and listening to) newer sci-fi authors I wanted to recommend - Cory Doctorow (of boingboing) is an excellent author, especially of short stories that address a lot of tech and privacy issues within a wide variety of sci-fi styles.
Charles Stross is a new favorite as well, I enjoyed Halting State, about an MMORPG heist and so much more recently, and have read his multiple award-winning opus Accelerando about a singularity-enhanced future and Singularity Sky.
I’m also reading stuff by John Scalzi who won a Hugo this year (for his blog & reviews) has a very Heinlein-like future universe that many RAH fans will really enjoy - starts with Old Man’s War - just a lot of fun, finished the third one last weekend. (There are two side books I’m going to read as well.)
If you made it this far, thanks & I hope a thing or two is of interest. It’s funny, I always think I don’t read enough.
II. Books I have suggested recently and tried to get people to read, often unsuccessfully.
1. I have to second American Gods. Traditional ideas vs. the technological age. And Gaiman is just so cool. It would be cool and frightening to be working for a Norse god, and hang out with Egyptian Gods and long forgotten deities of various cultures. I got CRL, who prefers horror & mystery to read Gods and some Gaiman short stories, like “October in the Chair”. She loved it. It’s well worth it.
2. Neal Stephenson, in particular the Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, the Confusion, and The System of the World.. I like books that make me go to the dictionary and Wikipedia to make sure I know what’s going on. The Cycle is about the Enlightenment and the growth of a monetary system in Europe, and is as much fun as that sounds boring. Issac Newton & Leibniz and the later Stuart Kings (I did my graduate History work on this period) and the Glorious Revolution and Barbary Pirates and…it’s just incredible, and they were all bestsellers. But I have trouble convincing those I hold near and dear to read it. It’s just 3,000 pages or so. C’mon. I think sometimes it was written for me and I should just accept that. But if you’ll just start with Quicksilver, I swear you’ll love it, just like I do…
It would be easier to read Snow Crash, which is incredible near-future neo-libertarian cyberpunk, or The Diamond Age, about neo-Victorians and nanotech, or Cryptonomicom, which is about cryptography, the nature of money, modern data havens,World War II and the Enigma machine. These are all by Stephenson, and great so I usually let people negotiate me down into suggesting these, which are all incredibly brain-expanding, (and not 3,000 pages.)
My friend Roach has a great site in which he asks friends to make lists of five things that answer his prompt - List5.
I respond there a good bit and will post some of that here. His latest is very appealing to me, but I must grade papers. So I'll post what I've written so far.
Works of literature you suggest others read is the latest.
I. Great Topic. (This is in my wheelhouse.)
It also made me quickly realize that I am an evangelist for science fiction & fantasy. Not just from a geek point-of-view, which I clearly have, but because it deals with big ideas, things I euphemistically call “manly ideas”, like justice, loyalty, & responsibility that can seem pedantic or contrived in non-speculative fiction, but seem to make such good sense in science fiction. (I read a book reviewer recently who suggested that this is because mainstream novels have become more small & personal in recent years.) I recently read The Road and I’ve decided this is why Cormac McCarthy is so popular. He writes about manly themes and has used the western as a framework for putting those ideas in the mainstream in the past. I thought The Road was good but not great, but he took very traditional, almost trite, sci-fi ideas about an apocalypse and then used them to study a man struggling to make a better life for his son, while barely hanging on to his own humanity and life. And people love it because it is a “manly” story, but by using the science fiction framework, it was more acceptable than a straight-forward, modern story. But I digress… and I could be full of it.
I'm supposed to be grading papers, while my students work on definitions about the formation of the New England and Middle Colonies. I hate grading papers. I've almost got 'a thing' about it as we say at our house. I'll get it all done, but I won't like it. Homecoming last week and state testing this week, so I haven't really been able to teach for two weeks and it makes me uneasy. I need to teach.
Students asked me about presidential politics the other day, when we were hung up with testing, so I slipped into stealth libertarian mode and asked a few leading questions about: whether people should have a right to decide what to do inside their own body, the Bill of Rights, prohibition, separation of church and state. Of course it inevitably turns out that nearly everyone in the conversation largely agreed with libertarian principles. How is it that when we actually think about it people are libertarian, but we never get candidates that are?
I think I have finally despaired of politics. Like John Adams heading to the Continental Congress feared there were not men up to the task. He was wrong, but i fear I'm right. Either we get big government social conservatives or big government free spenders who think government can actually solve problems. Ack.
Ever since we moved into the (paid off) house up here we have been inundated with mortgage offers. We've already learned our economic lessons and we always turned them down, seeing that it was all a scam, like debt consolidation, cellphone contracts and gym memberships. It is so frustrating that our entire economic system of the last 15 years seems to have been based on this ephemera - Money that didn't really exist.
The whole cavalcade of people that you may have heard me rail about: bankers, insurance men, stock brokers, oil, the federal reserve, and Congress have made and spent tons of money and then when the bill comes due - houses are foreclosed on people who were given loans they shouldn't have been, but the corporations that invested in bad loans and ephemeral derivatives and sketchy bonds get my tax dollars as a bailout because it will 'hurt the economy' if they fail. That is just more BS. If they don't want regulation on how they loan and invest then they shouldn't get my money when they turn out to be stupid and greedy.
I've had enough of taking up for business that pays lip service to libertarian deregulation, until they screw up and want me to pay for it. i am no longer going to apologize for businesses. They are simply using my principles when it suits them and abandoning them when things get tough. Rugged individualism and enlightened capitalism are long gone. I want them all collecting the unemployment checks they so richly deserve. Economic conservatives, classical liberals, like us, have been taken to the cleaners. Use our rhetoric to make more money and then go to the government when you blow it and get my taxes. It is criminal.
So we have a charismatic traditional Democratic Senator and a nearly senile Republican Senator who has always been a corporate tool (see the Keating Five) and a darling of the media. In fact, both these guys are media darlings, which in itself makes them suspect. I think that the V.P.'s are meaningless in any real effect on the next 4 years, a Senate hack and a small-time politico from Alaska. Reason help us if either one of them become president. Supreme Court nominees and military policy are probably the only things that even the presidents can effect. McCain could nominate someone I don't agree with, but so could Obama - both are likely to appoint a statist of one stripe or another. McCain would likely use the military more, and it definitely needs a break, but Obama is more likely to make high-minded but naive Carter-like moves like Iran & the Panama Canal or bribing Egypt & Israel to remain peaceful. Neither one is the least bit appealing to me.
I'm not even really happy with the guy I'll vote for Bob Barr, because he spent years propping up the War on drugs, helped compose the Patriot Act, and ran Clinton's impeachment - which used up what was left of the momentum of the 1994 turnover. Now he's born-again libertarian, but I still find him suspect. He's wasting effort on the Texas ballot, instead of putting out a small govt. message that will appeal to disaffected libertarian former Republicans like many of us. Sigh...
As you all know by now, Alabama pounded Clemson in the opener. Clemson was clearly overrated, but the way we played - hard-nosed, old-style football, was comforting to me. More comforting are quotes from the Coach after the game, and the knowledge that he means it:
"I'm happy for our team. But we got to learn how to play with consistency."
"I would say our team played well for an opening game," Saban said.
"Nobody can be satisfied with a one-game performance," Saban said. "This will be a challenge for our team and it'll be interesting to see how they respond."
“This is just one game,” Saban said. “We’ve still got to find an identity. We’ve just made a ‘B’ on a midterm. Do we slack off and make a ‘D’ on the next one and have a ‘C’ average? Or do we try to make an ‘A’?”Between the focus on 'process', the way the freshman phenom flipped the ball to the ref after scoring instead of acting a fool, that celebrations during the game were muted, and the Coach immediately reminding the team that this butt-kicking of the number 9 team is a step in the process, not an end, I am encouraged. It feels the way I want it to feel. (Cecil Hurt Column)
Since February I have just about given up on sports. During most of my life I have been a sports fanatic, following just about anything.
About the time the Michael Vick atrocities hit I became irritated. Irritated with him, and with the way it became a national case. Irritated that he was so stupid and that it was somehow a national tragedy that he was going to jail.
Then the constant bashing of the patriots over the camera thing drove me nuts. If anyone thinks that almost every other team is not trying to steal signals, they are blissfully unaware of reality. I coached on a high school team that used four coaches to send in plays. Other teams had coaches whose job it was to decipher our signals, so we would vary the signals. The whining and attempts to denigrate the Patriots by people jealous of their success made me further frustrated.
When Dana Jacobsen got suspended from ESPN for ripping on Notre Dame and Jesus (off the air) at the Mike & Mike roast and there was outrage I took a break from ESPN. When Itried to turn the radio or TV back on it was all-Roger-Clemens all-the-time and it had nothing to do with actual pitching.
Which brings us to this baseball and steroids. I just don't care if anyone took steroids. I just don't. If baseball didn't want people to take steroids, they should have tested for it. That's what football has been doing for years. Give them a suspension and then put them back to work if they fail. Hell we test high school players. Instead it was a continuation of the flagellation of excellence - beating on Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire with no actual proof just innuendo and questionable sources. And again, I don't care if they did. Thanks for trying hard to be successful and entertain me guys. Then came the unmerciful hounding of Roger Clemens until all his dirty laundry was in public. He didn't do enough to deserve that harassment, and now a great player, probably the best pitcher of the last 40 years (since Gibson & Koufax) is needlessly embarrassed and tainted.
I didn't push to form a fantasy baseball league and I have not watched one baseball game this season. I'm not sure who is in first place. Is it the Devil Rays? The world has turned upside down.
The Celtics won in Basketball and I have been a fan of them since about 1973. I'm glad for Kevin Garnett, who appears to be a genuine hard worker and leader. I didn't watch a minute of it, and truthfully I had to rack my brain just now to remember who won. Just not that excited about it.
I have not watched a minute of the Olympics live. I watched the relay team anchor man hawk down the frenchman on internet video and got very excited. I watched a replay of the final two gymnastic performances by the US gold & silver winners. Blah. I'm glad for them, but floor exercise is a ridiculous sporting event. Why do the two big women's events, summer & winter, have to be judged? Making them necessarily subjective. I'm just not happy with the Olympics being in China. It validates their oppressive Maoist-captitalist regime. It's bad enough I can't actually live without having to by Chinese goods anymore, I don't have to support this. I want the US to do well, and I'm fired up about Michael Phelps (a little), but it all makes me uneasy.
Maybe football will draw me back this year, but if ESPN and reporters spend all their time "Outside the Lines" and focusing on non-game stories I will be hard-pressed not to give it the boot.
Then there is Alabama football. Maybe my uneasiness actually began when we hired Saban and he and we were unmercifully destroyed in the press. I mean I enjoyed PTI and Wilbon (and have actually watched it twice this week) but he pounds on Saban. I have kept up steadily with team developments and a college friend is the lead writer for a new bama website, and I will try to enjoy it. But the last ten years of controversy and embarrassment and incompetence have even put my enthusiasm to the test. I have a great deal of respect for the process that Saban has installed and I think he knows exactly what should be done to make us successful. An egotistical controlling jerk is probably exactly what we needed, as long as he knows what he's doing, which I think he does. So maybe Alabama football will allow me to enjoy sports again.
Either way it has been a very different experience, sort of being less-informed, which is not my style, and spending less time thinking about it. Not fretting over a doomed fantasy team (except for the great 2004 League Champions, led by Barry Bonds, of course) and not living and dying by the bridesmaid Braves who, I gather, have finally collapsed. I suspect I will return to form during football, but my level of devotion to all things sport, at this midway-point in my expected lifespan, is a sea-change that I think I can live with. Carry on (and roll tide anyway). -mr
I watched Office Space tonight, for about the 5th time. It is approaching Groundhog Day status for me. It has become iconic in its own pop subculture, especially for the red stapler and the flair. And the 'O' face. I like the movie. When Peter meets with the Bobs and they want to make him upper management because he no longer gives a damn, when he unscrews his cubicle wall and let's it fall to create a nice view, and when they smash the printer. All classic. It loses its way in the middle when Peter loses his enlightened state when he finds out his friends will be fired and they scheme to steal the money. The money angle was necessary so Peter could take responsibility for his actions and decide to take the fall, and also to allow Milton to end up complaining at a resort - but it ruined the great feeling you got when Peter was practically walking on air, not giving a damn. Nonetheless it is a movie that makes me feel better after I've watched it. To me it says that we don't have to live lives of quiet desperation. We don't have to take it. We can change what we are doing and find something that does not suck out our will to live, and we can enjoy life if we can be with someone who makes us happy. It moves up the list a bit with this latest viewing. -mr
Teaching: Prepared AP Handouts, slid out of the optional breakfast and survived the mandatory one in the afternoon.
Internet: gmail chatted with my good friend Joe A. this evening.
Animal Kingdom: All three inside dogs got a fancy, complimentary, flea treatment this afternoon and Ada and I had a fun bath with her fancy shampoo in the kiddy pool and a 1/2 mile walk to dry off, and then everybody (except me) slept.
Exercising: Lifted with R.S. after school, he's a great workout partner.
In my classes I sometimes talk about job experiences I've had to help explain some topic or another. I've had a lot of jobs. So I've been meaning to make the list for months, and today - I just did it:
cooked hamburgers (Wendy's), landscaper, house painter, delivered newspapers, quality control in a foundry, lifeguard, convenience store cashier, bank teller, cashier again, tutored college football players, book rush in a textbook store (seasonally), History grad assistant (Western Civ.), cook in a chicken wing restaurant, US Army Intelligence Analyst and Russian Linguist, chicken wing cook (again), (Turned down the CIA to go to Russia with Pepsi), Restaurant manager (Pepsico/Taco Bell), (Turned down State Dept. interview, same reason, but my group didn't get the Ruskie job...), Honors Dorm Director, campus convenience store manager, taught University P.E. classes, high school football grad assistant (6A state champs 1997), Tour Guide at State Park, sporting goods store for xmas, weekend cashier - campus convenience store, computer teacher/coach in Moundville,AL, history teacher/coach in Gulf Shores,AL, history teacher/coach in Decatur, AL, radio announcer for high school sports
I had several of these simultaneously - i.e. Dorm Director, PE Classes, football coach, cashier. It does seem like an awful lot, but it was from 1981 until now.
-We saw Dark Knight last night at the Monaco. The movie was excellent. It moved beyond comicbook movie to a serious consideration of themes concerning vigilantism, terrorism, civic duty, the ends justifying the means, and heroism. The late Heath Ledger definitely finished strong. His performance was mesmerizing. In a way the movie is about the story arc of DA Harvey Dent, portrayed by a seething Aaron Eckhart. I understand that temper just beneath the positive public exterior very well.
-The Monaco is a stylish theater that certainly let's you forget you're in Alabama. The place is beautifully designed, even if the staff is a little weak in some spots. Having a Stella Artois while watching a first-run movie was exactly what I had hoped for. It also reminds me of the dates I had with Tobermory at the Pitcher Show in Tuscaloosa, to see Cotton Club and No Way Out.
The add-on TabMixPlus makes Firefox a much better browser. It's not been updated and the with the new version of Firefox and it has been driving me crazy. While cruising a scifi editor's site, http://www.johnjosephadams.com/ I saw where he had overcome the problem, asked for an explanation and got a quick response. Life is indeed good.
- I met with N.W., and AP History expert and tried to glean what i could. I've spent time yesterday & today sorting .docs & .pdfs hoping to bring order to chaos and find tweh things that can help my students the most.
- Took Ada to the vet Thursday and Friday & finally got her spayed. She was up, but stoned out of her gourd, all night. In a week & a half she'll go outside in her own doggy hotel.
- I've worked out consistently, but have fallen behind in walking the dogs, what with everyone going to the vet & working out evening - must improve.
- We had a Christopher Guest double feature a few days back, watching Best in Show and For Your Consideration.
- Finally watched the end of Last Restaurant Standing. The jerky Royal Marine cook and his weepy wife won, but it seems that they didn't last very long once they opened the real restaurant.
38 minutes on the elliptical today. A mile with Ada and Thisbe this evening. Got that (heavy) dog pen today. We'll see how it works out.
We finally watched the end of Last Restaurant Standing. The best cook (the royal marine) won, but not the best people (the twins). The winners apparently left the restaurant they got to open after only a few months.
Tobermory and I took in a Rat Terrier from the Pet Rescue guy who comes to PetSmart. He's a boy, Pyramus, to go along with Thisbe. Ada, who has gotten quite big, will become an outside dog. She spent yesterday evening in the pen in back. However she was persistent in slipping through the gap by the gate. When I finally shackled the gate tight (about 11pm), she went over the top (about 1am). We'll be looking at a new dog fence/kennel today.
- Walked both dogs tonight - a mile.
- Lifted yesterday - R.S. is working out in the evenings for now.
- New Barnes & Noble at Bridge Street is standard issue, but does have DVD's - found a quality alternate route to get there from Madison.
- Added a Pixie Frog to the menagerie. He loves to eat.
- Washed almost all of Tobermory's clothes yesterday. I'm a good house husband (for 3 more weeks).
- Jason's Deli, the food bar. I approve.
- A ton of things left to do.
- A little elliptical and strength training this morning.
- A few chores around the house.
- Returned to my room at school after a week away from it.
- Lunch with Tobermory in the Starbucks/Target Cafe.
- Worked in my room til 6pm.
- Target household shopping
- Computer digital cleanup
- A little SimCity Classic.
- A few chores & then bed.
Update: I took Ada and Thisbe (our dogs) for a mile walk 'round midnight. I love summer vacation.
Had a great week with Clyde Frog visiting - and Bromide visited Sat. & Sun. Got the turtle table done, got the front room interior walls covered in canvas, got all the grass mowed at least once. Made a dent in the clothes washing. There was an awful lot of Law & Order Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit. Worked out Thursday, but missed the weekend walk - back to the gym 7:30am Monday.
I'd offer you some: Jefferson Bible, and a great Abtruse Goose comic.
- Summer School ended Friday. I think the last time I was that happy to end a job was the day in the summer of 1985 when I walked out of the Columbus Foundry for the last time.
- Clyde Frog is visiting and we've been working to get things done.
-- Turtle table constructed.
-- The pasture is finally mowed.
- Coach S. & I have been working out consistently. My muscles seem to be recovering from being long dormant and, most importantly, I hit 34 minutes on the evil elliptical machine today.
- The Sam Adams quote below kicks ass.
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen. "
What happens in 'my America' when it becomes profitable to make alternative fuel: Scientists genetically modify bugs that eat waste and excrete crude oil.
A Silicon Valley scientist decides: "I was not angry since I came to France until this instant!" and then things get done. I'm in.
- Finally got the lawn tractor running and rolling properly (new belt/fix-a-flat) and mowed down by the road. Still have the pasture to go.
- Finished teaching the first two weeks of summer school and have begun to judiciously spend my hard-won lucre.
- Visited my Dad at the VA Hospital in Birmingham a couple of times. The heart/fluid issue seems to be getting resolved.
- I'm considering reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, despite its popularity.
- We've added a couple of Greek Tortoises, who may well get a 'Turtle Table' today, while the Box Turtle & the Redfoot are enjoying the newly expanded 'Turtle Corral' outside.
- Started reading Naming the World and other exercises for the creative writer.
- Have continued to work out consistently - did 25 minutes on the hated elliptical trainer.
- Found an incredible Shatner spokenword/ST:TAS mashup video - Common People.
- I was on "vacation" this week.
- Like everyone with any sense, I'm excited about our Mars mission. One of the most impressive photos ever (our spaceship taking a picture of another one of our spaceships landing on Mars, ftw) and ice! As I tell my students, their job is "To allow me to live forever and to get me off this rock."
- Drove to Tuscaloosa last Saturday (Bromide) and Anniston (Dad) on Wednesday.
- Clyde visited Saturday & we hung out.
- I've been clearing out ad-ware & viruses on Tobermory's friend's computer and a little ad-ware off my own. I like AVG, AdAware, Spybot, SpywareBlaster and CCleaner.
- Got caught up on Top Chef, I'll work on Battlestar Galactica this week.
- I start teaching Summer School tomorrow. I'll do both US History I and II. I'll try to continue the work I've done this week on my AP & Honors planning while the students are working.
- Worked out on Tuesday & Friday with R.S. Up to 17 minutes on the hated elliptical.
- More to come.
Teaching: Preparing for Summer School by 'collecting' the necessary materials and making my Grand Strategy for next year.
Home Improvement: Planning on Turtle Corral Action
Writing & Reading: Will make time to revise my little story.
TV & Movies: Catching up on Battlestar Galactica and Top Chef
Internet: been checking popurls to keep up with the digital world.
Animal Kingdom: Ada is behaving better and we need more walks.
Exercising: Worked out this afternoon with Coach S. Did 14 minutes on the elliptical before lifting & finished with 14 on the treadmill.
- This school year is officially done.
- I have a week off and then I'll work summer school thru June.
- Put my new in an story online workshop and got good feedback. I'll finish it up this week.
- I've cleaned up some of the 'den' and I've done a little to restablish the guest bedroom, after it spent some time as a reptile room.
- The girls (our dogs) have been behaving better and the reptile/amphibian contingent are doing quite well.
- Watched a couple of episodes of Top Chef, trying to catch up.
- I've had done about 7 workouts now. Used the elliptical for the first time, it's tougher than I expected. I did 12 cardio before & after & 2 sets of 8 exercises in between. Benched 165 - 2x12. A long way to go. Got Coach S. to go with me the last two times.
- Went to Allsteak in Cullman last night. Outstanding. Tobermory said it was one of the best meals she's ever had.
Completed massive Reconstruction photocopying on Monday.
Completed organization and massive photocopying of 10th & 11th grade AP History summer assignments on Tuesday.
Began Exam Reviews.
Completed Exam Review on Wednesday.
Made out Reconstruction Test on Wednesday.
Checked Reconstruction Assignments on Thursday
Test on Reconstruction on Thursday
Began Exam construction on Friday.
Teaching: Grinding toward the end of Reconstruction and then our exam.
Car Improvement: Flat tire on the Sentra yesterday evening. Got a tire instead of breakfast and put it on at lunch. Massive improvement.
Writing: I've been fiddling with the end of my latest story and think I'm done. I'll start submitting it very soon.
Reading: I've been working through the Sci-Fi collection I picked up.
TV & Movies: Watched the first two episodes of Season Four of Battlestar Galactica over the weekend.
Exercising: Put off Sunday's workout 'til yesterday, and then the flat tire. Must work out. Update: Had a great workout - sore & exhausted.
Survived the next to last week of school.
Teaching: Finished the Civil War and gave a test.
Writing: Making time to type up my little Suburban Fantasy story today.
Animal Kingdom: Held our snake.
Exercising: Worked out Thursday - almost threw up, so I almost really worked out.
Teaching: Notes from Vicksburg to The Wilderness Campaign, with a great reading of the Gettysburg Address by Sam Waterston from Ken Burns Civil War
Home Improvement: Fixed the mower by removing the deck housings and repositioning the belt. Mowed the side & front up until dark.
Writing: I've started typing my short urban fantasy story, and will try to finish that in a bit.
Reading: finished up “In the House of the Seven Librarians” by Ellen Klages from The Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Of The Year Volume 1 (Spring 2007).
TV & Movies: Over the weekend I re-watched the first 13 episodes of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica with Clyde Squid. The show is relentless. It rips you apart every episode, makes you cringe and makes you want to save the human race from the Cylons, all at the same time.
Internet: Mostly Civil War stuff for my notes - some cool stuff on the Unionist unit - 1st Alabama Cavalry, U.S. Volunteers
Animal Kingdom: Turtles, frogs, chameleons, snakes, dogs, cats all living the high life.
Exercising: Completed my fourth workout, did two 7-minute rides on the exercise bike and one set of eight exercises for 10 reps, but I'm nearing limit on weight and will move to two sets and then up weight and go for periodization. 175x10 on bench - easily done. Getting very close to actually working out.
Teaching: Made it through Chancellorsville in lecture. Won't be long now. Little Round Top & Pickett's Charge and then Ulysses. I spent Wednesday at the 2nd of a three-meeting "Seven Habits" seminar. It's good stuff, and really how we operate around here, but it's tough to not feel cynical at the earnestness of it all.
Home Improvement: My weed spraying in the front seems to of work, so I'll expand the eradication. Mowing today, weather permitting.
Reading: reading through a summary of Cigars, Whiskey, & Winning - basically "Grant on Leadership".
TV & Movies: Got in Top Chef and Last Restaurant Standing and little else this week. There is a bit of freedom in not watching regular shows on TV, and certainly the DVR lets one pick & choose, but I do feel like I'm missing out on things sometimes. I've got another episode of Battlestar saved.
Exercising: Finally took advantage of a gym membership available because of my job. Going to workout in a bit.
Dad's back at home and doing fine.
Teaching: Got all my classes nearly caught up - thru Bull Run and McClellan taking command + test grades, notebooks, and turning in our textbooks. Our librarian retired, so I could end chairing the school tech committee. Got a note from another school about teaching & coaching. AP essay assigned tomorrow. Got to put together notes, so not in the mood.
Home Improvement: Mowed the pasture today. Shined the bathroom Sunday.
Writing & Reading: worked on the Ancient Bridge campaign wiki with Paul.
Exercising: Dog Walks:Mile Friday, 1/2 mile Saturday, Mile & 1/2 Monday
Dad's recovering from heart surgery.
Went to see him at the VA in Birmingham on Wednesday.
Had some legendary Cosmo's Pizza in Birmingham - not bad.
Went to the first day of 'Seven Habits' training on Thursday:
Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind.
The week at school was largely a waste, with so many activities, but we did have a test on Wednesday and watched the first episode of Ken Burn's Civil War.
I'm going back down to Birmingham with Paul today - Saturday.
- I'm doing my best to keep the house under control.
- At school, I gave notes all week: Trails West, Texas & the War with Mexico, James K. Polk, The Compromise of 1850, all the way through the 1850's to Lincoln's election & secession. Plus we watched the beginning of Ken Burns' Civil War. Gotta make ready with the test.
- Saturday went across the river with Tobermory. We delivered a snake present to Animal Trax. Met up with Paul & Ferlie, ate Chinese, visited the Booklegger (picked up a 1966 Scifi collection & the classic "The Worm Ouroboros"), & cruised the Barnes & Noble for Moleskine. Came home & watched Crazy for You, my school's spring musical.
- Today: the lawn tractor.
Teaching: Giving notes though powerpoint about westward expansion Mon & Tues. -sectionalism tomorrow.
Home Improvement: Sprayed half of the "Appian Way" along the front of the yard.
Writing & Reading: Summarized several more chapters of 38 fiction mistake
TV & Movies: Last Restaurant Standing and Top Chef
Internet: My Mallet friends have discovered Facebook so I've been touching base.
Animal Kingdom: Returned Cindy's Pixie frog - very active. There is a chameleon in our future.
Exercising: 1-mile dogwalk Monday & Tuesday.
On a country run by Nativist Know-Nothings:
"When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic]."
Abraham Lincoln - August 24, 1855 - Letter to Joshua Speed
Positive Atheism's Big List of Quotations by and about Abraham Lincoln
- I fell off the blogging wagon for almost a week there. Must get back to work.
- Today, April 1, is our (Tobermory's and my) 22nd wedding anniversary. Seems like we've only been together a little while and like we've always been together.
- I've covered the reform movements of 1820-1850 in my classes. Test on thursday/friday. I've had a lot of days out of class for 'school activities' and it drives me insane: school pictures, registration, government day, clubs & 'bus evacuation practice' tomorrow, all during History classes. Better cover all my curriculum though!
- Saw the 3rd episode of Top Chef last Wednesday. I really enjoy the show. I guess the cooking seems to make it a cut above other reality for me.
- Played poker on friday - lost a couple of bucks. I was up, but bet some weak hands trying to push it, of course.
- Watched The Mist with Clyde Frog. I liked it quite a bit, I was a little disappointed with the ending. I understood that it had to be either ambiguous or dark, but I still prefer the heroic rather than tragic.
- Have made little progress on the house. I have kept back the doggy tide, however. We're babysitting a frog for a week. He's a little more lively than Tarquin.
- Tobermory got Horace & the girls (Thisbe & Ada) new beds and their pretty nice, I think I want one.
- Commented on a link at BoingBoing - I'd just had enough anti-fun.
- Links - The 101 most useful websites, Eos Books (Harper Collins SciFi), I'd offer you some, Hitchens unleashes on Hillary, The Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource
Internet: Read a lot of stuff today
- David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' puts him much more in the Libertarian camp
- A column about what Hitchens thinks about Eliot Spitzer - Hitchens on Spitzer's Lust: Why else do men run for higher office?
- Something we will see more of in Asia and Africa - Dictatorial Capitalism, based on China & Russia
- Arthur C. Clarke, RIP
and at Gizmodo this evening
- Graphene Chips,
- First Military Pilot Review of the F-35 Strike Fighter (Verdict: Kicks Ass)
- OLED - TV's immediate future
Writing & Reading: Picked out my favorites from the largely sappy, but useful, Life's Little Instruction Book as a start in reviewing my 'success literature'. The glue gave way and much of the book came loose from the binding. I won't spend much time thinking about what that might mean. Since then I've picked back up summarizing 38 Mistakes
TV & Movies: Nothing the last couple of days. Less and less as time goes on.
Music: I've wondered why so many people seemed to care if Amy Winehouse slowly fried her brains. So I got ahold of her album, which won her five Grammys btw, and as it turns out I really liked it. Sounds like a soul singer with a modern edge. She may have only one good album in her, and if she dries out she may not be any good anymore, but I certainly appreciate the effort expended and quality workmanship done in entertaining me.
Animal Kingdom: All is well.
Home Improvement: Working on maintaining an even strain with us both at work.
Teaching: My kids worked on maps comparing 1821 U.S. and 1861 U.S. on Monday and Tuesday my Honors worked on a book assignment on industrialization & my AP on slavery.
Exercising: A mile on Monday & two 1/2-mile dogwalks on Tuesday evening.
- Took a trip to the Priceville Bookmark and The Booklegger used book stores on Saturday with Tobermory.
- Picked up Lyra's Oxford by Phillip Pullman and a little summary/book on Richard Dawson and The Selfish Gene.
- Clyde joined us and we watched I Am Legend. It was really good, except for a little fate/religion tacked onto the end.
- Letting everyone I know in on hulu, which has NBC & Fox Shows you can watch online, like the entirety of Firefly.
- I have been washing clothes and straightening this place for more than 12 hours (except for a trip to resupply DMD).
- I'm not certain that it seems that anything has actually gotten done, but it damn sure has, nonetheless.
- The Tournament started today, and truthfully, I just don't care.
- Top Chef is up and running and has started well.
- 1-mile dogwalk with Thisbe this evening, followed up with another 1/4 mile+ with Ada.
It's not just me When it comes to the Fischer Space Pen.
I'd probably most enjoy a job fixing home computers.
- On Wednesday I got one up and running that had been out of commission (for Cassondra's manager-friend) and cleaned it up a bit, downloaded updates and so forth, & had a great time doing it.
- Ate lunch with some coaching friends from my old coaches' staff, including Jeff Miner, a really smart guy who's in Tennessee now. He's frustrated, just as I was, by his head coach. Outsmarting the other guys is not always enough. (And got lunch free from the manager!)
- Ate supper with a couple of the Goodfellers and had a fine time.
- Everyone here was well-regulated, but no extra work got done.
Washed a ton of clothes.
Pets were all properly cared for.
Overpaid for a Waffle House breakfast.
Watched most of the first episode Top Chef.
Dog-walked a 1/2 mile in the morning and two 1/2 miles in the evening.
Teaching: see post title
Home Improvement: Maintained our gains in the front room, hall bedroom & kitchen. Washed several sheets & changed & freshened the bedclothes.
Pets: Everybody was on schedule & I think Tarquin (the frog) actually ate a cricket.
Writing & Reading: Nothing today
Movies & TV:: Watched the first & second episodes of John Adams with Bromide this morning. It's good work. Not overwhelming, but workmanlike.
Internet: Ironically spent time looking at productivity blogs this evening.
Exercising: Slacked off today
TV: Bromide came to visit and we watched the preview episode (ep.2) of John Adams. It appealed to my history geekdom, especially emo-Jefferson - about the Declaration, as it's being edited, "Well, that's what I think."
Movies: No Country for Old Men - watched it the last two nights - it's damn good.
The House: Got the hall bedroom setup for Bromide, front room is orderly chaos, and the kitchen is chaotic neutral. Beware the Den.
Exercising: Walked a mile this morning.
33 was the 1st episode of the new Battlestar Galactica.
I've been keeping up with things mundane for nearly a month now. It has really helped me be more productive by trying to make sure I have something to write about.
Teaching: Friday was "Spring Picture Day" in History classes, but my AP kids still had to finish their Jackson essay - "To what extent and in what ways did American politics change between 1824 and 1840?" - that's right up Bromide's alley!
Home Improvement: A week w/o Tobermory and the place hasn't fallen in, but it is on the edge. No disgusto, just lots of stuff to be washed & coordinated.
Pets: We are settled into a one room existence for the dogs for now until the girls get better canine toxic waste management skills. Ada went with Thisbe & me last night for her first night walk - canine chaos ensued.
Reading: Read a few articles from Arts & Letters Daily, including one on military success in Iraq and one by a UVA professor on these kids today.
Movies,TV: despite having the place to myself, very little viewing.
Internet: Film School Rejects, Cracked, just a guy thing, The world's 50 most powerful blogs (according to the Guardian, YMMV).
Exercising: Walked morning & night Friday and Saturday morning as well.
Teaching: Kids did a test review yesterday & took their test today on the Age of Jackson - AP guys are working on an essay - a dash of whining, but I think they may actually be toughening up.
Home Improvement: There is an a ton of work keeping up with these pets. I'm gonna have to make sure I do my part from now on. Front room 'clean', working on the dishes.
Writing: Quick article on writing at io9 - 8 Unstoppable Rules For Writing Killer Short Stories
Exercising: Walked a mile with Thisbe thursday am.
Teaching: Jackson, Clay, Van Buren, formation of the Whigs; AP Essay & Test research & a jacksonian test review
Home Improvement: Garbage Morn, Pet Maintenance
Exercising: A mile this morning with Thisbe
Destroyed the Jeopardy internet category at lunch.
There was a nap and lost time in there somewhere.
- As good a weekend as could be had, considering.
- Clyde came to visit and Tobermory worked a lot. Saturday Clyde & I watched the 2nd half of season two of Dexter. Just a damn fine show. It had us on edge, and really that's about all you can ask from a TV show.
- Good Geek stuff at geekdad @ Wired. And serious list of lists at The List Universe.
- Sunday we scouted out Tobermory's "manaher" training site - looks like she'll have plenty to do. She'll be gone all week, so we'll be stirring up trouble alone.
Teaching: Let my guys know the plan for a short pre-holiday week: Andrew Jackson.
Home Improvement: Big floor & garbage clean-up
Internet: Article: Strategy Game Pits Players Against Desktop Invasion - Game: Desktop Tower Defense
TV: A little South Park on Clyde's visit
Teaching: Getting ready for next week - the week before spring break and after state testing - the kids will be soo focused - one more day of babysitting
Home Improvement: I've spent a lot of time on puppy toxic waste lately.
Writing, Reading: I've got to get off the couch & out from in front of the monitor
TV, Movies: Finished up Firefly with my captive kids during testing/babysitting and will finish Serenity today.
Internet: Another fine Gary Gygax tribute at xkcd.
- Took the day off, so no grad exam babysitting today.
- Gary Gygax died. D&D led to a lot of the games, books, & movies that have been my entertainment. We'll roll a d20 for E.G.G.
- I've been making a list of webcomics/comics that I should check regularly. And tributes to Gygax showed up in a favorite, Full Frontal Nerdity and in one I'd missed - Order of the Stick.
- Added some door gates to block off canine ambitions.
Teaching: No teaching (Grad Exams) but I did make a list of the most frequently used subs, which should be quite popular with the faculty.
Home Improvement: The hall bedroom is cleaned out and setup for visitors (and more storage).
Internet: Looked at the scifi trade journal Locus this evening. It led me to SFSite, which is largely book/story reviews. Also to FantasyBookSpot and the bookslut scifi column.
Exercising: Worked my butt off around the house.
Tobermory worked late - now off to bed.
- Watched 30 Days of Night and it was surprisingly good. There is actually a heroic story within the Vampire madness. It surprised me like Sunshine, in that it was much better than I expected, and I'm surprised there wasn't more positive press. Plus Ben Foster plays crazy very well in a supporting part, as he did in 3:10 to Yuma.
- Almost done with the hall bedroom. All carpet gone & 1/2 the furniture (and books) are back where they should be.
- Tried, but couldn't find anything particularly good on the internet yesterday.
- A mile Monday morning with Thisbe.
Had a good day.
- Tobermory's cellphone is up and running and I guess mine is to. The downside of teh 21st century - ubiquitous access to info means that people expect to be able to reach you too. ugh.
- We went to a reptile-oriented Pet store in Madison - Animal Trax.
- Followed up at the Booklegger and finished up collecting the Wheel of Time oeuvre with the New Spring prequel. Let's hope George RR Martin finishes his...
- Ate at Macaroni Grill. Certainly my favorite chain restaurant. Had a Guinness Draft.
- Dropped by Mamaw's (ma'am-aw) place yesterday to wish her a Happy 81st birthday. She was born in 1927.
- Fell asleep on the couch with the dogs...
- Continued to wrangle Thisbe & Ada. They are getting along better, but sleeping (for me) is still iffy.
- Walked a mile with Thisbe this morning.
- I showed Firefly to my captive 9th graders (I'll have them for about three hours in the morning for the next week). What a great show. Showed The Patriot to my afternoon classes. It drives me nuts to sit around & not teach during the grad exam - but that's what we have to do.
- Working hard at regulating dog behavior and toxic waste.
- I've had a chance to surf the net a lttle and have been mostly checking out scifi sources and the new io9 is pretty damn good.
- I'm entertained by the Iron Man Trailer
- I've added a few good del.icio.us links lately as well
- Walked a mile this morning with Thisbe
- Spent the rest of the morning trying to fix the Austin High wikipedia page, which had obviously been done by a Decatur High plant.
Tobermory worked this evening, so I brought Chinese takeout and we had an "Escape" picnic.
Teaching: Taught most of the highlights of next year's class (11th) for my students so that most of them will pass the graduation exam. Now it will six days of babysitting.
Home Improvement: Regulated Ada's room access to establish some order in waste elimination.
Internet: Darkness Scare (Onion), Subprime Humor (NSFW), State of the art in evolution research, seemingly intelligent culture mag - SmartSet
TV: New Gordon Ramsay
Ada has settled in with Thisbe pretty well. Sleep has been a little difficult, but that will settle down soon. Tobermory heads to B'ham in couple weeks for PetSmart manager training & we will all be lost.
Teaching: Taught about Monroe & the "Era of Good Feelings", up late making up the quiz and gave it on Wednesday - otherwise my efforts have all been in preparation for Friday's Social Studies grad exam (testing 10th graders on 11th grade material...)
Home Improvement: The hall bedroom is very close, just another couple of hours at most and there will be a bed in there.
Movies: No time.
Internet: I've surfed very little, but what I noted I listed over in the right column ->
TV: Tony Bourdain and Holmes on Homes this week,
Exercising: 1/2 miles Mon & Tues am
- Rode back from Birmingham with Paul.
Writing: grinding through 38 Fiction Mistakes by Jack Bickham.
Home Improvement: Closer in the Hall bedroom - pulled up more carpet, stored toys, and moved some shelves around. Also made the pink bathroom sink workable.
Exercising: 3/4 mile walk in the evening
- We added a new puppy dog, Ada, she's a lab/Australian sheepdog mix. Sweet as can be.
Tikka Masala: Tobermory, Paul & I went to the Sitar Indian Restaurant in Huntsville (inspired by last night's show with Gordon Ramsay fixing a curry shop). Food was great!
Teaching: More work on the Era of Good Feelings
Home Improvement: Ripped up carpet in the hall bedroom!
Exercising: 1 mile this morning
Teaching: Students using multiple books to cover from the Hartford Convention to the Monroe Doctrine
Home Improvement: More cleaning of the hallway bedroom
Movies: At "school" I had to sit with freshmen during the Sophomore Writing Assessment - so I showed then the pilot of Firefly and, to my surprise, it went over very well.
Internet: When Wikipedia Won't Cut It: 25 Online Sources for Reliable, Researched Facts
TV: This evening it was this week's Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare
Exercising: 1/2 mile in the morning
Woot: Tobermory will be promoted to Pet Care Manager at the Petsmart! Very excited. We've always known she would be dangerous when loosed upon normal humans.
Teaching: Got my grades in. Prepared my students for the Writing Assessment they'll do tomorrow.
Writing: 50+ Open Courseware Writing Classes
Internet: 10 Emerging Technologies 2008
Exercising: 1/2 mile this morning