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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Yeah For Comics!

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So, apparently there is a whole society devoted to cartoons, the National Cartoonists Society. Who knew? Not me, until this weekend, when I found out that Richard Thompson, the author of one of my favorites, won Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. You can see a list of all this year’s winners here.

Richard Thompson’s comic, Cul de Sac, is about a 4-year-old (sound familiar?) named Alice and her family, who live in the eponymous neighborhood Cul de Sac. There is the usual cast of wacky characters, including the melancholy older brother, Petey; the busy mom; the commuter Dad, whose tiny car sometimes gets lost in the sand box; and a whole host of friends who attend Blisshaven Academy preschool. Alice is dead on, often bossy, sometimes cranky, and occasionally far wiser than her years. Petey is a fun character, too. As the older, wiser brother (I think he’s supposed to be around 8 ) he usually tolerates Alice’s antics fairly well, but the outside world sometimes makes him try to chew his arm off. You can check out Cul de Sac on GoComics, or buy books and other paraphernalia on Amazon.

Another of my favorite cartoonists, Dave Kellett of Sheldon and Drive penned a comic about the award weekend. Funnily enough, it mentioned two more of my faves, Randall Munroe of xkcd and Bill Amend of FoxTrot.

Check ’em all out!

Thursday Quickie

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Just a quick link that made me giggle. I’m hoping that even non-programmers will find it funny. If you do, let me know!
Awesome source code comments

Good-bye, Spirit

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Spirit, the intrepid little Mars rover has not responded to the last attempt from NASA to contact it. Satellites orbiting Mars will continue to passively listen for signals from Spirit, but the odds are against the poor little guy, who’s circuits probably froze in the bitter Martian winter.

Originally scheduled to be a three-month mission, Spirit persevered for 5 years until it finally got stuck in a sand pit. Even then, it bravely continued on as a stationary observatory on Mars. Spririt’s “twin,” Opportunity is still going strong, and the mega-rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars next summer.

Good-bye, Spirit, and thanks for all the knowledge!

Read the full story here:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-rover-spirit-mission.html

And a cute comic about Spirit from xkcd:
Spirit

My Guinea Pig, MB

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Like all non-parents, I used to have a ton of ideas about raising children. Now that I have one of my own, I figure it’s the perfect opportunity to experiment. I have a friend that told me you screw up the first kid, then you know what not to do with the second. Since we’re just planning on the one, we better get it right the first time! Good thing I’ve got my theories!

MB is my 4-year-old daughter, and she is a hoot and a half. She’s smart (gets that from me), stubborn (gets that from her dad), and knows exactly what she wants (don’t know where she gets that). She’s gotten to the age where she asks a ton of questions, which is just perfect, since one of my theories is that you should always answer kids’ questions honestly.

So the other day, I was going to a friend’s baby shower, was getting the gift packed up, and here she comes: “Mommy, can we go see the baby?”

No, I told her, the baby isn’t here yet. You remember Mrs. Smith? She’s going to have the baby, but he’s still in her tummy. MB goes away for a bit.

“Mommy, did she eat her baby?”

After I stopped giggling, I told her, no, she didn’t eat her baby. I started telling her about the uterus and where it is, and how, when there is a baby in it, it gets bigger and looks like a big tummy. At that point her eyes glazed over and she went away.

Success!

But thank you, God, that she didn’t ask how the baby got there!

Lostiversary

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Caution: Spoilers ahead. Continue reading at you own risk if you have not seen all of Lost.

So – wow – it’s been a whole year since Lost ended. I still haven’t found a show to replace it, and since there’s nothing good on, I’ve been watching old shows on Netflix. I had been watching FlashForward
while Lost was still on, but that became hard to keep up with. I had heard that it was getting better, but then they cancelled it. I’d still like to catch up on that one and see the whole season. This year, I tried The Event. If I hadn’t had school, I probably would have kept watching, but, as it is, I didn’t like it enough to stick with it. I do want to give Fringe another try. I had watched the first few episodes and gave up, but everybody says it’s gotten really good. I’m going to have to go out and find the DVDs first, though.

So….Lost. How about that ending, huh? As you know, I’m a Christian, so it didn’t exactly jive with my beliefs. However, I really didn’t expect it to. The writers had used Christian imagery quite a bit, but they also pulled stuff from a ton of other religions. The ending they wrote was true to the story as it was being told. Actually, the closest religious belief I could think of to the big reveal was the Hindu concept of Nirvana – dying and being reborn, to live life better and keep moving onward and upward. Although, now that I say it that way, I guess it also reminds me of The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 7), at the very end, where all the characters who have been drawn into Paradise keep going “further up and further in.” The closest story I can think of in relation to the ending of Lost is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. If you haven’t read it, it’s about a seagull who wants to be more, so he learns to fly higher, and reaches higher levels of consciousness. Yes, it’s a little weird. But kind of beautiful in its way.

Now if we want to talk about the series as a whole, you’re going to laugh at what I think it’s like. I read this series of books between seasons 5 and 6. It was about a small group of people who were thrust into a mysterious situation that they didn’t understand. They found allies and enemies, and they often couldn’t be sure who was who. They were pursued by an evil presence, whose degree of evil was questioned near the end. They spent their time looking for answers to mysteries, some of which they never found. In the end, all they really needed was to be together. Sound familiar? I’m describing A Series of Unfortunate Events. Yes, the Lemony Snicket books. It’s like Lost for kids. Seriously, go read them.

Lost Sites and Stuff You Should Check Out

So that’s my little thoughts on Lost. If you want to find the seriously awesome people and resources in the fan community and continue the discussion, here are some links to check out:

  • The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack
  • One of the most popular Lost podcasts, and still going strong. I’m doing my best to follow along with the rewatch. Just starting season 3.

  • Keys to Lost podcast
  • Great podcast to learn more about the music of Lost. Matt has reopened the podcast to discuss the show soundtracks.

  • JOpinionated
  • Expert in all things Lost and other great TV shows. Join in the Lost chat she’s co-hosting tonight.

  • Lostpedia
  • My go-to reference for all things Lost-related, from episode titles to theories to continuity errors.

Fly Well, Endeavor!

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Just a quickie, tonight. As you probably already know, the penultimate shuttle launch was this morning. (Don’t you just love that word? People should say “penultimate” more.) And it’s the last launch ever for Endeavor. I don’t have any original thoughts on it, but I did want to link to this xkcd comic that says […]

What’s up 5/14/2011

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School

Sorry I’ve been so lax in posting. I’m still in school through this week. I’m pretty sure that’s caused the majority of my gray hairs. I only had, like, one or two before I started. Hopefully I will have a little more time over the summer to write. I have a few little adventures in mind, too, so hopefully it will be interesting!

Anyway, so there’s school. I actually don’t have any real “finals” this semester. One of my classes has been mostly project-driven. We had only one test, and it was a couple of weeks ago. I have one last short paper due on Monday, then a quiz in class, and that’s it. The other class I guess is project-driven as well. It’s Digital Forensics, so we’ve had a series of labs using a forensics tool to examine disk images. Our “final” here is going to be similar. So, all in all, this semester has been a lot of work, but not so much traditional studying. And only one more to go, then graduation in December! Yeah!

Exercise

I had started working out at the end of last year. Well I say “working out.” I’m not going to a gym or anything. But I did realize that I’m going to continue to slowly gain weight unless I get up and move, so that’s what I’m doing. Don’t laugh, but so far I’ve done it all using the Wii. I’ve had Wii Fit for a long time but hadn’t used it in forever. I started out with that, but it wasn’t really much of a workout, although the balance games are fun, and the yoga poses are actually pretty good. Then I moved on to EA Sports Active, which I’d also had sitting unused for quite a while. I went through the 30-day challenge workouts (but not the actual 30-day challenge – the rest days it planned didn’t always fit my schedule – so it only took about 25 or 26 days). It was pretty good. I didn’t lose much weight on it, but I did feel stronger when I was done. I think it’s better for toning. When I start plateauing on weight loss, I’ll probably go back to it.

I figured if I really want to drop some pounds I need aerobic exercise, so I turned to Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party. I was still doing body tests with the Wii Fit, and I was starting to lose. I wasn’t crazy about the music on it, though. It’s a lot of 70s – 90s dance mix stuff. So at this point I went looking for something I would like better, and I found Dance Dance Revolution Disney Grooves. Now this is a blast! It’s Disney songs, but they’ve been remixed for dancing, and most of them are really cute. It’s also not as hard as the “grown up” DDR games, so I feel great about myself when I get a good score on the “expert” level! My weight fluctuates a bit, but I’ve lost a good 6 pounds since I started in December. It’s not a ton, but the number has steadily gone down, so I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’m going to try to add some other activity, like maybe walking the dog a few times a week, over the summer as well.

Books

And, of course, I’m reading whenever I can snatch a few moments. For my devotional, I recently started Affirming the Apostles’ Creed by J.I. Packer, which I had gotten for free on the Kindle quite a while ago. I’m Baptist, and we don’t go in for creeds much, but it still is very interesting.

For fun, after I finished Frankenstein I read Jane-Emily: And Witches’ Children by Patricia Clapp. (The link is for the paperback. It’s not available on the Kindle now, but I had gotten it for mine a while back.) Jane-Emily was pretty good. It says young adult, but it reads more like the ghost stories we all used to read in elementary school. So it’s a fairly simple story, but still a fun read. I’d recommend it for about grades 3-6, depending on the maturity of the kid, and up. Witches’ Children is about the Salem witch trials, and it’s told from the perspective of one of the girls involved, so it’s pretty interesting as well. I liked how the author got into the girl’s head to show how the whole thing might have happened, psychologically.

Now I’ve just started A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve read the previous Outlander books over the last couple of years, and I’ve really been enjoying them. A word of warning: they are all huge books, so it’s quite a commitment! (Also much easier to read on the Kindle than a paper book!) Besides the sheer length, they are very emotionally involving, so I can’t just read them one after another, which is why it’s taking me so long to get through them. Also, I heard that An Echo in the Bone, the latest in the series, ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m trying not to rush to it, especially since there have been several years between the publication of each book. I think I’ll probably do a post just about the Outlander series when I’ve finished up the most recent two, so stay tuned.

Plans

So that’s what’s going on now. Sorry it’s so boring. Like I said, though, I do have big plans for the summer. I’m going to take my daughter shopping, and see if we can find some interesting things to do around here. I’m also hoping to start teaching her how to read. That should be good for a few more gray hairs. I’m planning to do some couponing, which I also did last summer, so if I find any can’t-miss deals I’ll try to share them here. And I need to do some serious organizing and de-junking of the house. I’m subscribed to Fly-lady and The Organizer Lady, so I’m starting to get motivated. I’d like to learn how to program for Android devices, so I’ll let you know if I learn enough to do anything cool. Last, I’d really like to learn to use more of the features on our DSLR camera, so I’ll probably be taking some pictures and posting them.