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Tag Archives: comedy

Redshirts – by John Scalzi


Redshirts - by John Scalzi. Slapstick space-comedy with much maiming and a sweet ending.

Redshirts – by John Scalzi. Slapstick space-comedy with much maiming and a sweet ending.

Redshirts is a novel by John Scalzi.  I’m really starting to dig his work, I’ve read a couple of books now and they’ve both been quite a bit of fun to read.  His most influential work to date is likely Old Man’s War (the other book of his I’ve read, which I will post about shortly), and he’s also worked on the Stargate franchise.  For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that serves to give him quite a bit of cred, in my eyes.

You can guess the topic from the title, and Redshirts is a ton of fun, from start to finish.  Let’s dig in.

The book starts on a dramatic away mission, where crew members are investigating a planet surface.  The scene is told from the vantage point of a low-ranking ensign who’s stuck on a rock and surrounded by sand with Borgovian Land Worms circling in for the kill.  The senior officers, also on the away mission and headed up by Captain Abernathy, are trying to figure out how to get themselves out of this mess.

All sorts of strange things pop into the ensign’s mind as he’s sitting there.  Like, how his father had served with the captain on the Benjamin Franklin at some point in the past, where his father even saved the captain’s life at one point.  How the things coming out of his superiors’ mouths (“don’t move!  It’ll attract the worms!”) sounded dumber than usual, and how suddenly – and against his better judgment – he somehow decides that if he makes a break for it he can run to a cave before the worms can get him.  Well, you can guess how that ends, and poor Captain Abernathy is left wondering how he’ll ever explain to the man that saved his life that he’s lost his son under the captain’s command.

So, that went well.

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Sacrificing fitness for fun and enjoyment.

This is just plain and simple more fun.

This is kind of about drinking a Dr. Pepper after going for a run.  Don’t worry, it’s not about slacking off and going on a junk food and video game binge for pure enjoyment (though, that does sound appealing).


Partway through the summer, I realized that I had completely stopped running.  I was doing a pretty good job at this (though I don’t exactly enjoy it) through the winter, running to work at least once a week and then doing a group run on the weekend.  With all the riding I’ve been doing to work this summer though, and with all the lovely weather we’ve had in the past couple of months, I hadn’t run since February… until last week.  You see, I’d been putting it off.  I knew I hadn’t been running, and I knew that I was reaping tremendous fitness benefits from the cross-training running was providing, but it was too late.  It had been too long, and I knew I would have to work myself back into it.

I also knew that this would take time, recovery time.  So I didn’t care, I just kept riding.  Getting out of work to 30 degrees and sun outside with mostly east winds meant glorious long commutes home through wonderful Calgary pathways… with a tail wind.  Winter loves to beat me down with cold and headwinds, so the warmth coupled with the conditions made for some purely glorious rides.  My fitness was and is excellent, but I was no longer getting the boost of the cross training, but I also didn’t care.  I just kept riding because it was so nice out.  I knew I was setting myself up for an eventual fall…

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Carrots, Cross-eyed, and Electric Bikes.

I’m gunna git ya!

It’s hot in Calgary right now.  I know there are a lot of places a whole lot hotter than Calgary right now, but when we have been struggling to make it over 20 degrees for all of “summer” so far, a sudden blast of 30 degrees makes everyone both happy and sad right now.  The same way that we laugh at other cities in Canada who shut themselves down after a foot of snow, people laugh at us for when the heat goes above 25 and we have to start having rolling blackouts because the system can’t handle the sudden load of air conditioners turned on for the one week of the year we might “need” them (because, it still drops to almost 10 overnight… seems like a decent air-conditioner to me).  Well I don’t have an air conditioner, and I do have a lot of grumpiness, so here goes.

I did a nice commute route home tonight, as can be seen here.  I don’t get to do it in 30 degree heat that often, so I take days like this as being a bit of a treat.  The wind seemed favourable today instead of the usual blast out of the west straight into my face on the way home, so I lengthened it to the funny finger-trap bridge before looping back towards the northwest.  As always happens when the weather improves, the fair-weather commuters appear on their bikes to get to and fro.  I’m 100% behind this, I think it’s great that more people get out and on their bikes, it’s just too bad a lot of them don’t know the rules of polite cycling on city pathways.  Seriously, buy a bell, people; the pedestrians will thank you – they thank me!

Now let me state this outright.  I don’t like you, electric bikes.

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Yoga for Toddlers

Graham is very health conscious.  Here you can see him winding down from the busy day with his favorite wind-down exercise: yoga. Every time I see him pull a pose, I am jealous of his strength and flexibility. I guess that your strength to weight ratio at 30 pounds is a little better than decent. Hopefully he keeps up with his regime, so he won’t be quite as creaky as me when he reaches my age. 🙂


More of his amazing skill after the break.

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Addicted to Data

No no no, I’m not talking about Star Trek TNG.  I am talking about the data that my fitness-related devices spit out.  I ran to work this morning after having to leave my bike there last night, and I felt naked.  You see, I left my Garmin attached to my bike, so for my entire run here this morning, I have no heart-rate data, and no distance data, no time data, no elevation data, no location data… it’s just wrong.  And that’s when I realized:  I’m addicted to data.

You see, I’ve run this route to work many times, and I checked the time on my phone before I left and when I got here (so I did 7.6km in 50ish minutes), but that’s no longer enough information for me.  That got me to thinking about the data itself and why I like it so much.  I think it’s the graphs.  I really like those graphs.  I like to try to make as smooth a line as possible through data.  Jaggedy spikes somehow tells me that I’m doing something wrong, or that I’m not fluid or something.  I like clean data to the point that traffic lights tick me off when I reach them on red, because it interrupts the capture of the data in a smooth fashion.  Here’s what I mean:

Green box? It's a stupid traffic light messing up my data collection! The rest of the data is on the move, as evidenced by the pace plot (blue line).

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Baby Laughing Fight

Our two kids are separated by 20 months, but thanks to the advent of modern technology, we can match them up at the same age.  Battle #1 is a battle of the baby laugh.  Who wins?  Who loses?  Well, I’m not sure who loses, but we all win because the laughing is pretty funny.  I guess maybe I lose, because my video-making skills are somewhat lackluster.  Anyways, enjoy; here’s what our two kids sounded like at 3.5-4 months old.

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean rules. Get this game.

As we were finishing our last Lego adventure (Lego Star Wars III), we were seriously holding high hopes about Lego Pirates of the Caribbean.  Why?  Because Lego Star Wars III was so awful.  Bad levels, really annoying quests to get to 100%, and it just plain was not as much fun as the original Lego Star Wars (the Complete Saga).  As general fans of the Lego movie adaptation video games, we really wanted Lego Pirates to be good.  It was sitting there, unopened as we fought our way through that Star Wars fiasco, but we couldn’t just give it up, admit defeat and move on.  The reward, my friends, was triumphant.

While one of my main complaints about Lego Star Wars III was that the general mayhem smash-em-up bonus levels was something we really missed, and while Lego Pirates didn’t end up having much of that either, it was such a far superior game that we didn’t even notice.  Lego Pirates is all around just a blast to play, and yeah, I wouldn’t be writing this unless we’d gotten to 100% complete.  Not only that, but we got all the PS3 trophies that are built into the game, something we’ve not worked with before as our Lego game-play to this point has been on Wii.  We are now in the process of collecting the other Lego games for PS3, because they look a lot better and feel a lot better there!  So, fun replay value down the road.

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The tourists are getting restless

Axe-Man and his side-kick... The Tripod.

I’m starting to get a little concerned about the state of things in the mountains.  Let’s be honest, tourists can be frightening.  No more so than this guy, who we found at Lake Minnewanka walking back to the parking lot.

We were out there just before Sabrina was born for a last minute three-family-member day out in the open.  Tourists are everywhere, and you can usually tell them from the locals.  I’m not sure if this guy was just trying to fit in, or if he had something else on his mind.  Still, he is clearly a tourist.  The wardrobe gives it away.  There are not many locals who will wear white loafers while out for a jaunt in the wilderness.  What was confusing though, and what led to me thinking he might be trying (a bit too hard) to fit in was his equipment.  What’s with the axe?!  I’m struggling to figure out what a tourist would need with an axe, so I’m now a little scared of tourists.

The only other possible explanation is that his name is Axe-Man, and he’s a super-hero.  The guy walking beside him, obviously that’s his side-kick:  The Tripod.

The Apocalypse is Nigh

Man oh man, driving around the neighborhood a few days ago, I found this. It’s time to get the heck out of Dodge, folks. They are coming, and I’m not going to be the guy left behind to face the hoarde. I’ll be hiding in a fortified cabin in the woods. Don’t try to call.