Reviews

If you actually care what I think about movies, music, or books, this is where to look.

Mounting Excitement

I was thinking about going and figuring out the bash command for mounting a disk named “Excitement” and using that for a title, but no one besides Monocular Ben or Phoenix would get it, and I don’t think they look at this site. So it’s not worth it. I think the command is something like “mount -sv -L Excitement”

Anyway, it’s December 5th, and Chilkat is scheduled for February 13th. That’s essentially nine weeks away, and I’m typing this with ceiling particles (drywall dust and insulation) up to my elbows because I’m trying to install a support for the ceiling fan we want in the nursery. KrisDi and D are out shopping. I won’t be surprised if they come back with paint and decorations for the nursery.

As this post’s title suggests, I’m becoming more and more excited, and I’m also becoming more and more scared (and anxious). I think KrisDi’s going to be a fabulous mom — at least until the kid reaches a not so cute phase or stops letting her play dress up (no, I don’t really think these things will impact KrisDi’s momming, it’s just funny to pretend it will). There are certain things about me that I know are problems (my temper, my extremely low tolerance for minor annoyances, long list of other things…) that I need to control. I think as long as I stay aware of these things, I’ll be a good dad. I hope so. I intend to be. One of my co-workers (my old boss) told me something no one else has told me about parenting, which rings of truth: You will find out things you don’t like about yourself, because you’ll see it in your children. I suspect that I will also discover things that I do like about myself through the same route.

I’ve read a couple interesting books lately. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman is a book about life in Owl, a fictional small town in North Dakota. This book has three main characters and basically no story — just day to day life in small town North Dakota with one main event: A serious blizzard. One character is a high school student, one is an old man, and one is a 20-something girl from Milwaukee who just moved to Owl to teach. I thought the dialog sucked. Some of the things in the small town environment were pretty well spot on, some were way off (a cop is simply referred to as a cop — in small town ND, everyone is known by name). The part that made me think was that I had never really considered what it’s like to actually be an adult living in North Dakota — especially in the same small town where you were raised with all of the same people who were raised with you.

I also read A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller. I thought this was a really good, really interesting book. The premise is nuclear war mostly destroys civilization, and then humans finish it off by blaming the “intelligentsia” for the nuclear war and systematically ridding the world of teachers, engineers, scientists, technicians, burning books, and embracing “simpleton” as a positive title. A Catholic order is started by an electronics technician named Leibowitz with the purpose of preserving books and publications until such time as human culture could use them again. The book divides into three sections. First, about 600 years after the nuclear war; there is basically no scientific knowledge at this point. This is a sort of sad and silly section. Then, several centuries after that, people are just becoming knowledgeable enough to make use of the Leibowitzian documents; scientific progress is on the order of basic physics and math. This section is sort of sad and bitter tasting. Then, several centuries after that, technology has surpassed the pre-nuclear war period. This section is bitter tasting and painful.

I’m discovering that my brain is much better at multiplexing. To me, this means having many things going on simultaneously and being able to switch quickly and effectively between them. Primarily, this is at work. I find myself doing this with books now: I’m currently reading Starship Troopers at work on breaks, A People’s History of the United States at home as a chore book, The Gathering Storm as a fun book at home but interspersing chapters from The Simple Guide to Having a Baby at KrisDi’s request, and The Prince and the Pauper on my phone when I find myself stuck somewhere with nothing to do. I don’t think I would have been able to maintain all these story lines very easily a few years ago. It’s kind of neat.

I’ll try to post again in a couple days and put up some pictures. I’ve been pretty bad about it. Work has been crazy, we’ve had visitors and holidays and “snow emergencies” (although I dutifully scoff at the conditions that this area considers an emergency). I’ve been taking a C++ programming class at night (finished last Thursday).

Posted by snaotheus, 5 comments

Book Reviews by Northwood

A couple months ago, when Northwood visited us, we lent him a few books to read. I got them back a couple days ago, with a sticky-note review on each one. I was amused by them, and I wanted to share. “WTF” is usually a positive review for me, unless it’s extreme. And for me, extreme WTF is…well…extreme.

Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut): WTF? Made no sense.

I Am Legend and some other short stories (Richard Matheson): Actually interesting. Weird short stories.

The Stupidest Angel (Christopher Moore): Good, but WTF!

Bloodsucking Fiends (Christopher Moore): 7/10

Posted by snaotheus in Reviews, 2 comments

Hello again

Once again, I’m not posting for any particular reason. I also haven’t taken the time to prepare more pictures for your viewing pleasure. I’ll give you some options, though.

(1) Fremont Oktoberfest
(2) Jenga (we bought and played Jenga — it was fun!)
(3) GirlAndi and her daughter LaRyantrelle (I only have one picture)
(4) Pictures from Dad and Peggy visiting (this was a while ago, but we’ve been busy, you know?)

I’ve also been thinking about posting about things I think instead of things we did or saw. This would be a big change for me, sharing my thoughts and opinions openly is a pretty foreign idea. Anything you want to hear about? Politics? Religion? American culture? Education? Or I could just make stuff up, which I’ve kinda wanted to do for a while. Or I could think back and write about some of the things I remember about my past, which are sadly spotty unless something triggers a memory.

I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies since the last time I wrote anything to put under the “Reviews” section. I don’t even have the interest to go back and list each of them, so I’ll just start picking it up again as I watch or read more stuff. I read a short story, The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth by Roger Zelazny, which I enjoyed. This is at the recommendation of a 65 year old PhD I work with — it turns out we have a lot of books in common. There’s several other good short stories in there, and a couple duds. But they’re short, so you don’t lose much. I’m currently reading another book at his recommendation (Downward to the Earth) which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would.

I also started reading Shibumi at Wilmbo’s recommendation, which wavers between ridiculous fantasy and creepy believability (more time on the ridiculous fantasy), but it’s a good read so far.

Last night, Mr. & Mrs. Pope and we went to listen to Neil Gaiman read from his new kids’ book, The Graveyard Book, about a kid who is raised by the dead after his parents are assassinated. The reading was fun, it was neat to see him, and it was good to eat Thai and play Scrabble with the Popes.

KrisDi and I have begun our pre-Cana classes, which have been good so far. KrisDi’s doing a good job of vilifying me, so I’m proud of her for that.

Now we’re watching baseball and sitting around, which is good. I like sitting around. I haven’t gotten to do much of that for a while. White Sox are in the post season (although they’re only a loss away from not being in the post season anymore — we’ll find out tomorrow). I’m running out of beer, but I’ll get more soon. LagunitasImperial Red Ale is supposed to be out again now — I love that one.

I was looking up stats on North Dakota population today because I’m a nerd. Wikipedia’s “Population Density” stat of 9.3 people/square mile for the state is wrong — 639,715 people over 70,762 square miles = 9.040374777 people/square mile. Fargo’s “metropolitan” area contains 174,367 people, 27.26% of the state’s population. I figured out that without Fargo (not metro, just Fargo the city), the state’s population density drops to 7.76 people/square mile (yes, I was dorky enough to remove not only the people, but the area of Fargo). 14.16% of North Dakota’s population reportedly lives within Fargo proper, which is 0.05% of the state’s area.

Posted by snaotheus, 6 comments

Anticipation

Yes, the rumors are true. Mom rear-ended me. It’s not so much that she rear-ended me, it’s more that she rear-ended me, tried to act like it wasn’t a big deal (“Oh, did I bump you? My car probably has more damage than yours does.”), and I don’t think she even apologized (I think she was too quickly on the defensive to think of it). If she was a stranger, I would be livid. Since she’s Mom, I’m just annoyed and amused at the never-ending opportunity to torment her about it. I forgot to call her the day after and say things like, “Gee, Ma, our necks really hurt. What are the symptoms of whiplash?”

Anyway, this occurred on the way to Plum Delicious, which was okay (and no better), and definitely a restaurant for retirees and the walking dead. Mom gave us presents (a pretty green hand-made sweater for KrisDi, a t-shirt that says “Descended from Pirates” for me, books, Fat Bastard wine. The seat tried to eat KrisDi’s book, but with some disassembly and grunting, I was able to retrieve it (and a pair of reading glasses).

That was on the day of our final walkthrough, where our ‘concierge’ showed us all the features of the house that we’ve seen about a million times (speaking of which, here are some more pictures after touch up and the beginning of landscaping) and we pointed out things they missed and asked for little changes. We’re supposed to get keys on Thursday (the 31st), and we hope to be sleeping there on Friday. We’ll get a moving truck on Saturday to do all the big stuff. Luckily, this is one of those short moves where we can take a million trips with our cars full of little boxes, and so have nothing but big stuff to put in the truck, which isn’t too bad at all.

I had an interesting lunch at work on Tuesday. Me and two co-workers (the newest Test Engineer and the oldest Test Engineer, both Chinese, both shy and quiet) took out three of our Japanese counterparts (two with limited English, one with a heavy accent). The meal was filled with uncomfortable silences. It turns out that the one with better English is from a smaller town close to Sasebo, where I’ve spent a lot of time, which was neat, and displaced the last few minutes of uncomfortable silence on the drive back to work.

KrisDi made some crazy new chipotle beef and butternut squash concoction, which was excellent and fed us royally for two meals. She claims it’s easy enough that I could make it (I always take such statements with a grain of salt). We also saw this huge bird outside our apartment. I took a couple pictures. Any guesses as to what kind of bird he is?

———– Book and a Movie ———–

Waitress. This was a depressing movie. So much pie, and I didn’t get to eat any of it. That makes me sad.

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Yes, it’s the first time I’ve read it. I enjoyed it, but talk about depressing.

Posted by snaotheus, 3 comments

I’m a boring, boring man.

Hello! The evilly thoughtful SkaYoYo and Tufty have given me a late Christmas present: Untersocks. SkaYoYo seems to think it’s funny to torment me. I guess I can’t blame him; he’s hardly the only person to think that. Anyway, I haven’t opened the socks yet. I’m seriously considering a sock-off: Buy six pairs of brand new ubersocks, serialize them 1-6, serialize SkaYoYo’s untersocks to match, wear untersock 1 with ubersock 1, untersock 2 with ubersock 2, etc, and just keep going with them, and see which socks wear out first. But I already have a lot of socks. Perhaps I will perform this worthy experiment when I haven’t quite so many socks.

Speaking of which, my cunning plan is finally paying off! I’ve discarded a few of my untersocks! Bwahahaha!

Let’s see…worthy GirlAndi was tasked with sending me a CD of pictures from Wilmy’s Annual New Year’s Extravaganza. She got the CD and a picture…of her kid (LaRyantrelle) NOT at the Extravaganza. Which is adorable. Nothing like feeding a baby a healthy mixture of Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 and coffee beans. But that’s okay. She’s still a sweetie for trying. However, it might be her ‘subtle’ way of telling me that I don’t really want to see that video of me ‘pretending’ to be drunk.

Our house is getting close to done! I’ll put a bunch of pictures up soon! My next post, in fact, I intend to pretty much just post pictures. Anyway, as of yesterday’s nocturnal break-in (sometimes we sneak in after hours) and this afternoon’s drive by, they’re basically done inside the house besides touching up in the approximately 10,000 locations designated by little pieces of blue painters’ tape (KrisDi and I kept finding unmarked scratches/marks/damage, so we’d tear the big pieces of blue tape in half and put part of it on what we found), putting in the water heater, finishing up some of the vents and lights, and putting the last two burners into the range. Outside, they’ve started painting finally, and they’ve started doing the landscaping. They tore the crap out of that backyard. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like when they think they’re done with it.

Oh, and in other news, Mom started paying people to maul her.

———- Books I read and movies I watched ———-

Marginal Man by Chad Oliver. This is a short story about an anthropologist who goes to other human-inhabited planets to turn them into markets (“So, you guys make things by hand and hunt with bows and arrows, eh? Try these sewing machines and rifles!”). Then he runs into a ‘primitive’ society which apparently has no interest in ‘improving’ their situation, which does not help his innate doubts about the equivalence of ‘progress’ and ‘improvement’. Not too shabby. And the nice thing about short stories is that they’re short. If he’d tried to extend it into a whole book, it wouldn’t have worked.

Lorelei of the Red Mist by Ray Bradbury and Leigh Brackett. Another short story, this one about a thief on Venus dying and having his personality implanted into the brain-dead body of Conan in a barbarian culture located in Venus’ upper atmosphere. It’s a very strange premise for a story, but it wasn’t too shabby. Although I don’t recall the name “Lorelei” showing up anywhere in the story.

Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda. Wow, it seems like it’s been a long time since I read this. Because it has. Maybe two months or so. Anyway, this was an interesting book, lent to me by a co-working who seems to think highly of the philosophies described in the book. I can see where some of them would be appealing in some ways, and some of them might even be beneficial, but a lot of it just seemed like crap to me. However, as just a light story to read, there are still some interesting little stories and characters, so I did like it.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. I got about half way through this when I figured out that there couldn’t possibly be a connection to the movie, which I’ve never seen. You can tell from the previews that there are evil robots attempting to kill humans, which never happens in any of the stories in the book. There is one case where a robot begins to try to attack a human, but fails to do so. Anyway, there are nine short stories tied together by mechanism of a single storyteller speaking to a single reporter audience, and they get progressively heavier. The first couple were funny, and then semi-funny, and so on. I enjoyed it. I guess maybe Asimov earned his reputation.

The Hogfather. I finally watched this made-for-TV-movie with Mom. KrisDi got sick of it and left the room after about five minutes (if that). It was silly. I’ve never read the book. I think I enjoyed it.

Love Actually. I’ve seen this before. It was the first movie I took KrisDi to see when we first started dating. We liked it and bought it, and then we brought it back to her parents’ place for Christmas and watched it with them. Somehow, we managed to forget all the nudity and cursing. I still like it. “Remember kids, don’t buy drugs. Become a pop star and they’ll give ’em to you for free!”

Sweeney Todd. It’s a musical. It’s dark. I liked it. It was funny, and actually creepy. “Nothing’s going to harm you, not while I’m around…Toby…where are you?” Mom pointed out the little segment with the broken mirror, and yes, that was some very cool imagery. She was also right that the repetitive violence was unnecessary. After the first couple explicit throat-cuttings, implicit throat-cuttings would have been just as (if not more) effective. I really liked the sequence where Mrs. Lovett was fantasizing about her future with Sweeney Todd, and kept imagining them in various normal situations, but they were so terribly out of place…anyway, yes, I liked it.

Juno. A comedy about a 16-year-old who gets pregnant and decides to give the kid up for adoption. I liked Juno’s character a lot, she was hilarious. I liked this movie more than I liked Sweeney Todd. “Can’t we just like kick this old school. You know, like I stick the baby in a basket, send it your way, like Moses and the reeds?” “I am a sacred vessel; all you got in your stomach is Taco Bell.”

Superbad. Meh. There were funny parts. I hated Seth. I liked McLovin/Fogle and the cops. Jonah was kinda boring.

Posted by snaotheus, 2 comments