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Tag Archives: supergenius

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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Stratos – Colour Me Inspired.

Image from the Stratos test-jump. That’s a long way down for a dress-rehearsal.

The short message of this article is that the Red Bull Stratos is a shining beacon of hope for the human race’s incredible will to survive and advance in spite of itself.  You’re gonna think I’m nuts, but that’s okay; colour me inspired.

I’m not usually a sucker for a publicity stunt, and I think that personal preference is still in tact.  So when I say that yesterday I almost lost my mind watching the Red Bull Stratos jump from over 128,000 feet, you might accuse me of succumbing to the marketing hype of the year, or the decade.  Nay, I say; what Felix Baumgartner and his team accomplished was not only an amazing and daring physical feat, but also a marvelous scientific achievement and a beacon for what the human race can do if it really sets pettiness aside and tries.  Sure, the Red Bull logo was all over this, and Felix Baumgartner is responsible for dozens of daring jumps all over the world with that emblem flying proudly on his parachute; but you have to accept that this time, the Red Bull logo was attached to masterpiece of engineering, precision and invention.

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Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline – book review

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.  Don’t read my lame post, go buy this book and read it instead.

I have to stop reading the same sets of books and branch out some more, otherwise I might never read another book like Ready Player One (by Ernest Cline) again. I got it for my birthday last year on Kindle, and when I finally got around to reading it, I found I couldn’t put it down. It called out to the child in me who grew up in the 1980s, it called out to the video gamer in me, it called out to the geek in me; this book was not deep in any way, but it was a shout-out to everything that was awesome in the 1980s and a love letter to anyone who was born in the late 1970s to enjoy it. It proved to me ultimately and was a cry for justice that the virtuous geek is truly the greatest hero humanity has ever produced.

You should just stop reading this review now and go get the book.

No, seriously; did you not read my last statement?  Go read the book.

The book is set in the future, in the year 2044. Things are not good for the human race. Resources are scarce, most of the population is poor, and in many parts of the world anarchy reigns over the establishment, which pretty much exists in name only. Entire cities worth of underprivileged people live in communities called stacks, which are row upon row of mobile homes, stacked on top of each other in sketchy frames.  They are a fire department’s worst nightmare.  They are the residents’ worst nightmare.  They are the reality of the world that people live in.

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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).

Fun.

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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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. 🙂

image

More of his amazing skill after the break.

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Spring Cleanup

Vacuuming the Lawn

“Hey there Fred, you seen what those weirdos on the end of the block are doing?”

“No way, Harold; I try to avoid looking at whatever’s going on in their yard.  I think it’s better for my mental health that I try not to figure them out.”

“Well Fred, you should take a look a this, because he’s vacuuming the darn lawn.  I thought I pert’near saw’n everything, but this one is just over the top.”

Yes, that’s right.  I vacuumed the lawn.  Okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  We had renos completed recently (3 bathrooms, yikes!), and as part of the renos we had some tile done.  A whole pile of dust ended up on the garden and on the lawn.  We didn’t know how we were going to clean up the mess, it really was awful looking.  I thought the whole thing was as bad as being solidified piles of grout and thinset!  Thankfully, when I checked it out, it ended up just being a dry dusty mess and… hang on, SHOP VAC!  Perfect tool for the job, I’m telling you.  Mess was cleaned up perfectly, and I got to make the neighbors wonder!  That’s just a bonus, in my books.

The ear protection just adds to the effect, don’t you think?

Snow-Coulee; March 24, 2011

Me pointing my own helmet-cam at myself

We rode the 12 Mile Coulee (downhill from Tuscany, in Calgary) in the dead of winter (errr, March).  You see, the goal was to get out with the studded tires and shred the frozen creek.  The miscalculation we made was that it got warm at the beginning of the week, then snowed for the rest of the week, then got cold.  So, what we ended up was just a great big bloody trudge!  I showed up with knee pads and elbow pads, expecting to crash on solid ice, but I never got to try it out.  You can tell from the picture how pleased I am, however, so you know it wasn’t a loss.

Video after the break.

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