Underway and Back Again

I felt peer-pressured into posting, since Andipoo did. Now if only Wilmbo de Norte would. Not that I even posted anything interesting.

I went underway. So of course I read a lot. I also worked a lot. I also witnessed multiple dance-offs, a couple wrestling matches, and over all probably around 12 hours of karaoke. I’ll put up some pictures later if I can. Here’s what I thought about the books I read:

30 May 2006: Mars, by Ben Bova. For the most part, I immensely enjoyed this book. The plot, as can be surmised by the title, is Earth’s first manned mission to Mars (for those of you unsure about it, that’s the fourth planet out from the sun, red, and the location of such famous creatures as Martians). In such an expensive endeavor, several countries (notably USA, Russia, UK, Japan, and China) decided to split costs, which of course leads to political personnel issues; for every Russian, there must be an American, for every Jew there must also be a Muslim, etc). Then there are the personal political issues: Jews hate Russians, Americans can’t read Asians’ emotions. In my opinion, Bova handled all of these very well, with reasonably believable character interaction thrown in for good measure.

He also took very good care of character development, and had sound science (or at least sound enough to convince me). I liked (and disliked) the scientists’ versus the politicians’ effects on the program’s goals. It’s a fairly long book (550ish pages), but I wouldn’t have minded at all if it had gone on. It had a reasonably conclusive ending, but there was more story available for expansion.

There was one major part that I didn’t like that I won’t go into great detail on, as it might spoil the plot a little for you, should you decide to read it: On at least one occasion, the scientists (chosen for being the best and the brightest in their country if not the world) were blindsided by something that seemed obviously to me, an uneducated yokel by comparison.

31 May 2006: Today We Choose Faces, by Roger Zelazny. Action-packed would describe it fairly accurately. It was only 174 pages long, and included at least one twenty-page fight scene. “Epic battle” might be a more fitting phrase. I like the main character: 20th century mobster makes arrangements for his body to be cryogenically frozen upon his death, which (as you can imagine) is untimely. Many many years later, his progeny (gone ‘legit’ enough to be on the stock exchange) under the idea that they need his throwback ruthlessness to defeat their current enemy. From there it starts to get weird. A little hard to follow in parts, but Zelazny is sometimes like that. I enjoyed it. I like loose ends. It’s more like real life. There are always questions which remain unanswered.

1 June 2006: Bridge of Ashes, by Roger Zelazny. A little shorter than the last one (152 pages or something), but I thought this one was easier to read. But I think I liked the other story better. I liked this one’s depiction of a telepath’s personal development. It was a fun read.

5 June 2006: Eon, by Greg Bear. I thought it was more fiction than science. I liked it, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite. If you continue reading from here, it’ll spoil any surprises the plot might hold: It’s the year 2020 or so, and a big asteroid is coming toward Earth and is expected to enter orbit. Investigation reveals that not only is it hollow, it was hollowed and settled by humans (who are no longer there). To make matters more confusing, the data in the library inside the abandoned cities accurately the history of Earth up to present day, and continues into the future, and describes in detail a nuclear war that kills billions. This of course turns out to be true, and the asteroid (the Stone) turns out to be from an alternate universe several centuries in the future. Oh, and the inside of the asteroid is millions of times larger than the outside of the asteroid.

So now I’m reading T. H. White‘s Once and Future King, and it’s going pretty slowly because I have things to distract me, unlike on a ship. Underway, when I don’t have work to do, I have uninterrupted hours without internet or much else. So I read.

Posted by snaotheus in Reviews, 2 comments

War Against Boredom

Apparently I’m killing time by multi-tasking. I’m drinking beer, listening to my iPod (which, as Wilmy and I discovered, has some remarkable properties when written as “iPOd!”), posting on here, and balancing/trimming/repairing old scanned photos. Which is why I have two more years of old pictures up (1986 and 1987).

I also checked out of my “hotel” early. Man this place is weird. I’ve mentioned before that it’s just a company who has about half the apartments in a complex, and then rents them out like hotel rooms, mostly to contractors who will be staying for months on end. The office (equivalent of the front desk, I suppose) is just another apartment, with office furniture in all the rooms. So I’m in there, waiting for a copy of my receipt, while some guy (an employee, I think) was sitting wearing nothing but swimming trunks and a towel, writing email via Yahoo!. He apparently wasn’t a well-trained typist; he’d sit up very straight and hunt-and-peck about enough keys for a single word, then slump back for a little while and breath heavily, then sit up very straight and painfully input another word. Repeat for the entire time I’m in the office.

While I’m watching this old balding man prove his technoferiority, another probable employee comes panting in. This is the other weird part: She just goes into the kitchen to grab something from the fridge and have a drink of water. Very strange.

But anyway, I don’t have to work tomorrow, and Monday’s a holiday, so I’m going to help KrisDi’s brother move in, and introduce her family to my mom (and vice versa). Mom’s also going to bring me a replacement pen for the one I lost (brushed steel Parker 25 — I’ll put up pictures when I get it).

Posted by snaotheus

Minosaur? Dinotaur?

First, my dream:

I had a very strange dream last night. I was with a very large group of people or creatures, and all of us were captured (prisoner-of-war style). We were imprisoned in a huge hall (the sort of place I imagine Valhalla to be), poorly lit by torches and constructed out of ginormous wooden beams. Somehow I made my way up into the rafters, where I went undetected for what was probably supposed to be months.

The guy running the place was gigantic and evil (of course). At times it seemed like he was a dinosaur. Sometimes he seemed like a minotaur. I think he was just supposed to be a freakishly big and scary human. He never really did anything, though.

At some point, either some of the prisoners converted to his side, or some assistant guards moved in, because toward the front of the hall, some nice roomy beds were put in. Big Scary Boss Man demanded the largest and most comfortable for himself for the night (for whatever reason, he didn’t want to go back to wherever he usually slept), but the occupant (who reminded me of a wild boar) was having none of it. After some wheedling (apparently Big Scary Boss Man’s authority was questionable), Boss Man sort of got his way. Boar Guard Dude moved over to the edge of the bed to make room.

I was hiding up in the rafters (very tense and scary, crawling around barefoot up there) right above the bed at the time of this argument. I sneezed or scuffed something, and so they were both looking for me straight above them for a little while. I froze up and remained unnoticed.

Shortly afterward, I somehow helped a large number of people/creatures escape. We regrouped outside, and apparently that was enough to give us the advantage. We returned to the hall and basically overran it. I don’t remember any violence, we just went up and kicked the doors in, stormed in, and there was no issue. Then I woke up.

Second, a review:

I also read 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. You know, I think he might have gained his reputation as a legendary writer by writing exceedingly well. I never knew how closely linked the development of the movie and the book were. If you had trouble understanding the movie (I did), but you really wanted to understand it, read the book. It actually explains what’s going on.

Third, pictures:

Check these out. Some of them are just freakin awesome. I like drooly Northwood and this ball pit.

Posted by snaotheus in Dreams, Photo updates, Reviews, 7 comments


Update (16 May 2006)

Jon saw an article in the local paper about a curling open house in a nearby town, so KrisDi and I went on our way to LA to see The Black Rider. We spent four hours learning how. Obviously, it bruised up KrisDi’s knee, so it’s a pretty rough sport.

First, they teach you the position to slide off the blocks by making you lean on a broom. Then they make you slide around with two stones. Then they make you do it with only a broom. Then with a broom and a stone. Then they teach you to let go of the stone at some point. Then we got to learn to sweep for a moving stone. Finally, you trying to hit a target. But we never went full court. The farthest we threw it was about halfway. Now I want to find out how much it would cost to rent a rink closer to home so I can start up a league here.

I didn’t enjoy The Black Rider as much as I hoped I would. I liked the music, and I liked some of the stuff about it, but the intermission was very poorly placed (there was only 30 minutes of musical left afterward, and no dialogue), and symbolism and just plain weirdness was apparently supposed to convey more story than I was able to pick up. So, the creative side of my brain has died.

What else? Crazy dude from work (no longer there, he got a new job) is getting married. He met the girl online in January, and she (and her two kids [each from different fathers]) moved in with him last month, and they’re getting married on July 1st. I considered him an acquaintance, but apparently he’s a good acquaintance or something, because I’m a groomsman. *shrug* This should be interesting. Since he’s a work person, he’s under the impression that KrisDi and I are ‘just roommates’ or something (although he probably suspects otherwise). So I want Phoenix and his wife to come out, so I can introduce him as KrisDi’s husband of three or four years, so Crazy Work Dude can say, “Umm….Phoenix….I think there might be something going on behind your back here,” since keeping private things private is pretty foreign to him. Then we can have a huge staged fight. That would be awesome.

————————————– 14 May 2006 ————————————–
Yesterday, KrisDi and I went curling. Here are some pictures. Here’s a bunch of videos. I’ll add more to this post later.

KrisDi: One (8 mb), two (30 mb), three (17 mb), four (8 mb), five (18 mb), six (10 mb)
snaotheus: One (12 mb), two (14 mb), three (16 mb), four (14 mb), five (19 mb), six (11 mb), seven (22 mb), eight (11 mb)

Posted by snaotheus in Photo updates, 5 comments

New Digs

You’ve probably heard by now that I’ve moved into a new house. Here are some pictures of it. Included are pictures of the super-fancy faceplate I installed, which was interesting (and involved the moderate electrocution previously described). I have my surround sound system hooked up, and Oblivion is breathtaking. I’m level 17 or something, and covered in ebony armor, which makes me pretty badass. That’s right. I’m badass.

On the topic of badassitude, I finished mowing the lawn (without any new blisters). I even raked up as much of the mown grass as I could (which was maybe half). This was after attempting to sharpen the evil creation with a Dremel tool, which was at best moderately successful. It definitely helped, though. Unfortunately, the grass hasn’t died yet, so I’ll probably have to mow again in the near future. Very disappointing.

Somewhere in those photos you can see our washer and dryer. The dryer was interesting. We were looking around for a fairly large steel-drum dryer, and found everything in the $450 range. We didn’t even consider trying to find something that matched our $1000 washer. We ended up finding an open box model at Fry’s Electronics that was the previous version of the model that does match our dryer for $450. Which was surprising, but cool. We just had to clean it up a bit. Note to others who find themselves in such positions: The best way that we found to clean ink out of the inside of a dryer is alcohol, a rag, and a hair dryer. Also, it’s okay to leave some ink visible. It has to get pretty damn hot to come off with alcohol and serious rubbing. It’s not likely to rub off under normal dryer heat with clothes just tumbling around.

Which brings me to picking up the dryer. I asked Ted (of Ted Hair fame) to help, since he has a pickup. He graciously did so. In repayment, I decided to buy him some beer as repayment, which led to a trip to Beverages and More. I spent $90 on beer, and only gave a little away. I like beer. On on!

Posted by snaotheus, 5 comments