Blood and Bloody Ashes?

I remember Dad coming home from work, smelling like ammonia. I think that’s what it was. I don’t recall the smell specifically…just the acridness (acridity?) and strength of the odor, and its ability to pervade anything. That was way back in the day. He didn’t work a steady shift, sometimes nights, sometimes four-on-four-off or whatever it was…that was why we had dinner so early, so we could eat our last meal with Dad as he ate his first meal. For some reason (probably because it’s bill time), I also remembered back when I was in fourth or fifth grade, and my assignment was to write two letters or something like that. So I needed two envelopes and two stamps, which I got, but I put the stamps on the wrong corners of the envelopes (probably upside down on the bottom left), and I was so embarrassed and ashamed I threw them away rather than showing anyone, and told Dad I lost them, and he got unreasonably mad at me for losing two stamps. I wonder why.

Dad recently sent a pet project of his to me…there’s an old picture of my brothers and me sitting on the couch together (see here), and he made us re-pose for it over Christmas (see here). And here are the rest of the pics from 1989.

I thought I ought to write in here before it got completely bogged down by the books I’ve read, but it’s probably too late for that. So, I’ll section the books off at the bottom.

Anyway…before KrisDi moved, we cashed in our coins for an Amazon gift certificate, and it totaled out to $575.10. KrisDi had 284 quarters, 267 dimes, 145 nickels, and 502 pennies for $109.97. I had 676 quarters, 1916 dimes, 1186 nickels, and 4523 pennies, for $465.13. That’s a lot of god damn change. So of course we’ve been buying stuff with it. I don’t know if we’ve really made a dent yet.

Yeah, so there was a lot more than that going on, but Christ, I’ve been bogged down. I’ll post this for now, and update again if I can. Below are the book reviews. On reflection, I’ve really enjoyed the books I’ve read lately, so if you’re interested in the kinds of books I read, perhaps you should read on. If not, skip it.

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The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem. Hilarious! The technical jargon wordplay gets a bit tiresome and repetitive, but if this was really tranlated from Polish to English, it’s a damn marvel. Half the damn humor is innuendo, and the rest of it’s puns. Whether you want to read the whole thing or not, go to the bookstore, open it up, and read the section entitled, mumble, mumble mumble. I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s one of the first three sections, I think, and it’s relatively short and it’s hilarious. Here’s a link to the first story online, which is also worthwhile, although not quite as funny. Dammit. Go read the damn book.

The Book of Merlin by TH White. Much more boring and preachy than the rest of the Arthur books. In fact, large sections of this were stuck into the Once and Future King, word for word.

Manalive by GK Chesterton. Chesterton forcefully drove his point home: Conformant behavior != ethical behavior, Nonconformant behavior != unethical behavior. Fun and funny, though, and relatively short, so it’s not like you’re wasting a month getting a repetitive lesson. I liked it.

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan. Yes, it’s the 11th book in Jordan’s never ending series. Did anything happen in this one? Yes. Still nowhere near as good as the first book in the series. Wind it up, Jordan. Before you die of your horrific disease.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Having only read two of Dick’s books, I seem to recognize a pattern: Dystopian futures with troubled antagonists and moral ambiguities. I love his writing though, because none of the dystopias are exactly the same (although they seem to all be post-WWII- or III-ish themes), and he goes into wonderful detail on the society and the inhabitants’ anxieties. Anyway, this is the book on which Bladerunner was based, and the book and the movie are different enough for both of them to be exceptional. Plot: Rick Deckard’s job is to retire (kill) androids, which are becoming so advanced as to be nearly (NEARLY) indistinguishable from humans.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. This is deservedly a classic. If you haven’t read it, do so now. I command thee. Incidentally, it appears that a LOT of sci-fi chronologically following this book references it, for some odd reason. Huh.

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester. The Count of Monte Cristo…IN SPAAAAACE! Moderately dark throughout the bulk of the story. Definitely good enough to keep me turning the pages. Apparently this was also once titled “Tiger! Tiger!”, which makes sense if you read the book. Which I’d recommend for people who like wacky sci-fi.

Posted by snaotheus

Hello!

Hi! I have two quick opinions to share.

1. Lisa Nowak‘s situation is interesting, and may actually qualify as national news, since she’s one of a very small number of national ‘elite’ designated as astronauts. This will likely cause changes in the screening process for astronauts, and casts a bad light on high ranking naval officers.
2. Anna Nicole Smith‘s death is not interesting, and does not qualify as national news, because it has absolutely no effect on most of the country. Why is her death any more important than any other woman’s? Why is her now motherless infant any more newsworthy than any other? Now, maybe if a suicidal astronaut had fallen on top of her at the termination of a long drop from an orbiting space station…then I might be interested.

Okay, that’s all there.

Now what else? When was the last time I wrote on here? What did I write? What’s happened since then? I don’t know. Let’s see, KrisDi and her parents and I moved her up to Washington about two weeks ago, which was fun. Then I got to hang out up there for a while. I went to hang out with the Plaid Amoeba (monocular Ben) while K’s family went to see the Bulls at the Sonics. Speaking of which, KrisDi’s ever outgoing mother D started talking to strangers at the game, and they met a realtor and some other guy (lawyer? accountant? something like that), who happen to have friends in an engineering firm, who offered to give my resume to their friends. So, that’s in the works. Also, it’s totally random. But that’s how life is.

I still haven’t found a job up there, which sucks. Although it does mean I may be a kept man soon…hmmm. Yeah, that would still kinda suck, but not totally suck. Anyway, I’m still applying for jobs. The Pope is supposed to be flogging people with my resume, but that doesn’t seem to be having any effect on anybody. Maybe he ought to print it on heavier paper (maybe cardboard, or even plywood) and flog harder. That ought to attract some attention. A recruiter (or headhunter, or whatever you want to call her) has promised to find me my next job, though, so I’m just going to sit back and relax, and let her take care of it for me.

KrisDi’s new job has been going well for her so far. She hasn’t had to do anything but show up and read novels. She has an office (an actual office the size of my boss’s!) instead of a cubicle, with a computer in it, which she can’t access because it requires a particular ID card which she can’t get onsite. Also, the guy who is supposed to be training her or whatever was on vacation all week. I don’t think KrisDi’s excited about the job, but hopefully it won’t be miserable for her.

I finally swam again, after KrisDi stole my goggles and took them to Washington. I had to go out and buy some. I can still flip turn (although not prettily). I find it strange that my lungs seem to remember more about swimming than my arms — instead of panting and gasping for breath (and nearly drowning) before my arms get sore and tired, the opposite happens.

KrisDi’s and my letters of complaint to United about our horrible travel experience over Christmas have achieved fruition…I got $150 dollars, and she only got $125. I think I got the extra money because my version (which was a modified copy of her letter) contained a reference to Jakarta. Which I just looked up, since I didn’t really know where it was. It’s here.

I’m really falling behind with pictures. Maybe when I’m a kept man I’ll be able to catch up with them.

I can’t remember any new movies I’ve seen since the last time I’ve posted, but I know I read

Bring Me the Head of Prince Charming by Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley: This book was bad. The premise had promise, but was totally wasted by writing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the idea was probably Zelazny’s, and the writing Sheckley’s, since everything else I’ve read with Zelazny’s name on it has been good or great. The premise, by the way, is that Good and Evil vie for dominance of the world by means of a contest every millennia, and hell (and all Evil) is a huge and terrible bureaucracy.

Posted by snaotheus, 10 comments

Looking up stuff again

Words: Lucubration, imbroglio, obloquy, galvanometer, argal, ineffable, garret, klystron, scrofula, bucolic, vitiate, quidnunc, fusillade, stationary or standing waves, ersatz, internecine, lixiviate, flocculate, aesthete, spancel

Stuff: What is pasteurization? What is windchill for -60F at 600 miles per hour (formula works out to -172F)? What is DEWline? Who was that WWII Russian general whose name I forgot, the one who was touted in one of my history classes as the best Russian tactician of his time? General Zhukov. The story I got in my class was that in wargames, Zhukov was assigned the German side, and the rest of the Russian generals were assigned the Russian side, and Zhukov won. So they switched sides, and Zhukov beat all the Russian brass from the other side as well. What is the highest number of safeties in a professional football game? Three, in 1984, Rams vs Giants. How is slugging percentage calculated?

Unanswered: When did public view of alcohol consumption go negative? It seems to me that alcohol at one time was enthusiastically and publicly enjoyed by pillars of the community. When and why? Is their a relationship between wavelength and particulate diameter concerning the propagation or absorption of electromagnetic frequencies through a polluted medium? I discovered I’m very bad at searching through scholarly papers. Why don’t FM stations interfere with each other? Couldn’t find a clear answer on why there’s very little crossover with FM compared with AM, although I have my own ideas based on intuition. What were Edwin Howard Armstrong’s technical contributions to the military WWII, that were classified in the ’50s and ’60s, but might not be classified any longer? In his biography, the fact that he worked on classified projects is mentioned, but at the time of the publication it was apparently still classified, so I wondered if any of it had been declassified since then. It also appears that any information I might find on this subject is easily drowned out by his contributions to FM. Can I find Armstrong’s article A Tribute to Tesla, on page 378 of the April 1943 issue of Scientific Monthly? Apparently not. All I can really find is references to it and the occasional quote from it. I was interested because in both Armstrong’s and Tesla’s biographies, the other is mentioned in passing but I can’t recall any correspondence or any time they actually met, so I wondered if it was purely professional regard that led to Armstrong acting as pallbearer for Tesla.

Posted by snaotheus in Stuff I Looked Up, 4 comments

Clipping

I don’t have a lot I’m going to put in here, I’m just putting up a demonstration and explaining why.

Anyway, Krisdi and I went to see Unwritten Law last Sunday, and it sounded like crap. I thought it sounded clipped, a term which KrisDi understands (she is an electrical engineer, you know), but didn’t have a feel for how it sounds. So, I wanted to show her and verify what I thought.

So I made a demonstration. Which is available here, if you want to see and hear it.

Also, I instituted a ‘challenge’ thing in order to comment to reduce the amount of spam comments. Lately I’ve been deleting up to 50 spam comments a day. So, if you want to comment on my blog (which I enjoy), you have to answer a question correctly. Don’t worry, it’s a very easy question. I know Mom will be interested in this, so if she wants, I’ll help her set it up on her blog too.

Posted by snaotheus, 13 comments

Catching Up

Man, I need to learn to update more often so they don’t end up so unforgiveably long. Either that, or I should just shut my trap.

Posted by snaotheus, 7 comments