Chad Perrin: SOB

9 January 2010

The 2009 Haul, Part 1

Filed under: Geek,Lists,Miscellaneous — apotheon @ 06:20

Christmas this year was postponed. The SigO and I were going to go visit her relatives, who would be gathering in (of all places) Nebraska. The usual plan is to have two Christmases, one for each of her parents (who are both married to other people these days), and this year would be no different.

It turned out that the storm the week of Christmas would not allow us to make the trip, however, and other members of the family were unwilling to do so as well. As a result, it got postponed for a couple weeks.

Finally, we got together. At the first of two Christmases, my haul included (most notably):

  • The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain

    It looks like an interesting read, and touches on subjects related to freedom, economics, technology, and futurism, all of which are obsession hot-spots for me. I haven’t the foggiest yet how much I’ll disagree with the author, but unless it’s just poorly written I’m sure I’ll find it a worthwhile investment of time.

  • Hackers by Steven Levy

    I put this on my Amazon wishlist entirely on the strength of its reviews. I know nothing about it other than what I’ve read about it at Amazon, but it looks thoroughly interesting.

  • In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat by John Gribbin

    I borrowed and read this book years ago. It’s a great book. Now, I have my own copy, and I will be pushing it on my SigO.

  • An Introduction to Economic Reasoning by David Gordon

    I’ve heard really good things about this book. One of the great things about well-written introductory books about economics is that they tend to provide some interesting insights into the real-world application and consequences of economic theory, where more technical works are usually just plodding explanations of orthodoxy with sullen, thinly veiled bias tucked between the lines (at least in my experience). The latter are definitely important to read if you want a deeper understanding, but they’re far less enjoyable a lot of the time.

  • The Little Schemer by Friedman and Felleisen

    A Web search or perusal of Amazon’s reviews should be enough to tell you why this is of interest to me. The book is legendary — almost as much so as SICP among Scheme programming books.

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman

    The reviews for this novel are mixed, to say the least, but the premise is novel (har) enough that I definitely wanted to give it a shot. Now that I have it, I can.

25 November 2009

I must resist the urge to “squee”.

Filed under: Geek,Humor,Miscellaneous — apotheon @ 12:19

I have discovered some cool shit.

JSalvador's Emo Chibi Wolvie

Artist JSalvador has hit a home run with his Super “Emo” Friends series of limited prints. They’re precious little chibi-style superheroes given extraordinarily glum expressions with captions that perfectly capture a major internal conflict and/or regret of each character. Green Lantern’s is just funny, highlighting the absurdity of the character’s situation, but the rest of them touch on much deeper issues of each character. I think the one that is most prone to making the viewer think is Captain America (aka “Cappin”), though Wolvie here runs a close second.

(By the way, the image and text links here used to point to a page at jsalvadordesign.com that showed the whole set of emo chibi superheroes and villains. Unfortunately, he appears to have decided to delete the page, so now the only way to see them is to click through the damned things one at a time at the Etsy store. I apologize for the crappy interface. I downloaded a copy of the image showing the whole set so I could crop out a single character and show it under fair use provisions, since this is basically a review, sorta — but I’m not about to upload the whole damned set and expose myself to potential lawsuits over some fucking asinine draconian copyright fascism just because JSalvador decided to make life more difficult for us. Sorry ’bout that.)

Some of them draw on the very unique conditions of the characters, such as the isolation from affection that Rogue suffers as a result of her mutant power and (of course) Green Lantern’s vulnerability to the color yellow. Others hit the very mundane problems of life that affect “normal” people like you and me (well, maybe you, anyway), such as Harley Quinn’s unrequited love and Batman’s grief over parents lost at a young age. Then, of course, there’s the hint of the real traumas beneath Joker’s and Green Goblin’s lunacy. I’m particularly fond of the ambiguity in Joker’s case.

Then, of course, there’s always the Muppets.

A friend and I, when we lived in the same state, used to sit around in front of the television as election season approached and basically heckle the trite stupidities wheeled out by candidates for political office, asinine and meaningless comments made with great gravitas by featherheaded reporters, and whatever other nonsense traipsed across the screen on what passes for mainstream “news” in this country. We were a pair of real curmudgeons, enjoying our cynical sniping from the sidelines. This friend — I’ll call him “Larry” — one day compared us to Statler and Waldorf, of the Muppets. Those were the two old geezers who sat in the balcony in the theater that was the set of The Muppet Show and heckled the performers, and were a couple of my favorite characters as a kid.

Now, we’ve both moved out of the state where we once lived near each other, to separate new states, but we still keep in touch. One year, he gave me a small Waldorf plush toy representing Larry as a gift, and he has a matching Statler representing me. I keep Waldorf sitting on the shelf of a desk, between some books and the center channel speaker for a computer, looking out over the entire living room.

Anyway . . . I loved The Muppet Show as a kid, and still love the occasional clip of it that I see these days. Sesame Street was cool, I guess, but I never liked it as much, and it went far downhill at some point (I knew it had jumped the shark when the opening credits included tots hip-hop dancing), and the movies have their high points reminiscent of The Muppet Show but they also have bits that are just not up to par. Don’t even get me started on the Muppet Babies. I really miss the genius of The Muppet Show.

There was a flash of that brilliance in my life again yesterday, when I watched this with my SigO:

It’s a little slow to get going. Animal’s “Mama?” routine isn’t really terribly exciting, but it gets going pretty quickly after that. It’s difficult to pick out a favorite part, because there are so many moments of sheer awesome in it — including Statler and Waldorf telling Fozzie they don’t like his jokes while he implores them to let him joke, Beaker’s brilliant meeping, and Kermit’s excellent summation of the problem of the entire exercise. If I had to pick a favorite part, I think I’d have to go with the Swedish Chef’s jazz hands. It was only for a split second, but it was epic.

Seriously. Swedish Chef did jazz hands. My life is complete.

30 June 2009

Kentucky road trip travel report

Filed under: Miscellaneous — apotheon @ 12:54

Last Wednesday, I gave the SigO a ride to work early in the morning. I then ran some errands to get ice and other supplies, finished packing, and loaded up the car. I headed out to pick her up from work. We left town for a cross-country trip to Kentucky.

Weather had been stormy in northern Colorado lately. It was pretty good as we drove away, sprinkling on us a couple times but never getting very bad. When we got into Kansas, heading east on I-70, the weather got increasingly hot and humid.

We drove straight through to St. Louis, MO, then turned south. By this point, of course, we were in bug country: heat and humidity contributed to an abundance of nasty bugs in the air and crawling around on the ground. It helped remind me one of the reasons I like relatively high-altitude, dry, bugless northern Colorado.

We took the long way around Illinois — key word being “around”. Everywhere we would go on this trip has concealed carry permit reciprocity with Colorado, so I could just stick my Kel-Tec P32 in my pocket and drive through those states with impunity. Illinois, on the other hand, is one of the red-headed stepchildren of the Bill of Rights. Apparently, IL lawmakers forget the number 2 when counting to 10, because the Second Amendment is essentially ignored there. In fact, a case has recently been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court to deal with the issue of whether the Second Amendment is applicable to the states, specifically because Illinois laws in general — and Chicago laws in particular — violate the rights protections of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. I guess we’ll see what the SCOTUS will do about it in the near future.

Kentucky was hot. It was really hot. The sun beat down, and every time we got into the car it was like opening the door to a blast furnace. Luckily, the hotel — the Hilton Garden Inn — was quite nice. We had good, reliable wireless Internet access, a refrigerator, cable so we could catch some of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and a good shower. I don’t remember having any complaints about the hotel, except maybe the fact that finding it isn’t really obvious. It was while there, though, that I realized that no matter how expensive a hotel may be, it seems no hotel has really great toilet paper. It’s always this single-ply cheap stuff.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and that evening we had lunch with an uncle and his wife, who live in KY. It was good to get back in touch with him; I hadn’t seen him since he first married his wife back in ’91.

The reason we went there was to attend TechRepublic’s 10th Anniversary Community Event, essentially a mostly social tech business conference that was more about the community than about the business. It was fun, and I got to meet some people I would probably never have met in person, though I already “knew” many of them from our online interactions at TechRepublic. A lot of people had nice things to say about me, my involvement in the TR community, and my articles for TechRepublic. I got good swag. I ate a lot of good food.

Sunday afternoon, we finally got around to visiting a game store. It wasn’t really anything special, but we satisfied our tradition of going to game stores when we visit cities away from home. Afterward, we left town, and started the 20 hour drive home. Again, we swung south to avoid driving through the middle of IL (what an appropriate term for the state — though it needs another L to be perfect).

After turning westward on I-70 at St. Louis, we found ourselves driving toward an increasingly ominous stormy horizon, with numerous, frequent, dramatic displays of lightning flashes. At one point, there was a lightning strike that looked notably closer than 500 meters off the left side of the highway. After it hit, there was a bright white glow where the strike happened that looked for all the world like a magnesium fire. After a bit, it went out, and I had a purple afterimage on the left side of my vision for a while.

We got hit by torrential rain at one point so bad that everybody was pulling off to the shoulder, turning on hazard lights, and waiting for the rain to lighten up enough to see for driving.

A last stop before getting home was at Sportsman’s Warehouse not far from where we live. We picked up the Ruger 10/22 rifle I’ve been planning to get before the end of the month. That was Sunday afternoon.

We got home and settled in. We decided we don’t want to do any long, multi-day road trips for quite a while now. They’re fine once in a while, but this should about do it for us this summer. We’re done.

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