Monday, April 11, 2011

Stuff'n'nonsense #2

As Vaughn said earlier today, Facebook status detox is no joke. Well, I've resisted all day, and here's what I would have posted if I'd just kept clicking the SHARE button, plus some odds and ends thrown in. There's, uh, quite a lot of it.

  • Tomorrow (or maybe today by the time you read this) is the 50th anniversary of Gagarin going into space. Here's a few things you may not have known about Gagarin's flight.
    Returning to a theme from yesterday, it's actually quite depressing in some ways. Half a century in space, and we're still amazed by space shuttle launches. It was designed about 40 years ago. I think we've lost the plot somewhere. Weren't we supposed to have space stations, space hotels, space elevators, and be mining the asteroid belts on our way to our first colonies by now?
    And why isn't the day being marked with some huge fanfare? It's one of the biggest milestones in human achievement. Yes, I know he was a Russian. So what? This is bigger than politics. The man was a true hero of the world, not just of the Soviet Union.
  • Got a problem with wind power? Don't like those ugly windmills? Well, here's what the Union of Concerned Scientists has to say to you. And so do I. I would have loved for someone to put a windmill on the ridge behind my house when I lived in Somerset. And here, too, if they could make them hurricane-resistant.

  • Frankly, I think windmills look a lot prettier than power stations, they don't fill the air with smoke, and they don't explode or dump vast amounts of radiation into the environment when things go wrong. If I were running the show, I'd have windmills and solar panels in everyone's back yard. Seriously. On every roof and every hillside.
  • Some days, you realize life really is a joke. Here's a great selection from Cracked - one of my favorite sites these days - of absurd jokes that came true. Stupid things like, err, Ronald Reagan becoming President. Like that would ever happen!
  • Speaking of absurdity, check out these fashions from the NY fashion week. Really? People get paid to design, make and wear this crap? Click through and be aghast.
  • On a more serious note, this should give pro-democracy activists cause for concern. The Egyptians recently got rid of their corrupt dictator who wouldn't tolerate dissent, and replaced him with an interim ruling council made up of the Armed Forces. A 26-year old pacifist blogger dared to criticize them, and their immediate response was to jail him for three years. So, that's an improvement then, is it?
    And staying on the subject of Egypt's corrupt dictator, I was amused, in a not very amused way, to read that Mubarak has threatened to sue anyone who accuses him of corruption. He'd like it known that all his money - all $30 billion of it - was legitimately earned during his time in office, and he did not use his political office to aid him. You have to admire a man who can make $30bn in 30 years as a hobby, don't you?
  • Last night, I read an L. Ron Hubbard book. No, don't laugh. I'm not turning into a Scientologist. Fear is a horror novel from his early writing career, and it's actually quite good, in a sort of Ray Bradbury / Robert Bloch way. I'm tempted to find some more of his earlier works.
  • On the playlist today, Bob Dylan's Desire popped up. I've never liked Dylan, apart from that one album, but I haven't heard it since my school days. I was pleased to find that I still enjoyed it, and ended up singing - well, humming, since I couldn't remember the words - along to One More Cup of Coffee. I couldn't get into any of his other stuff, though. I then spent the rest of the morning listening to the Rolling Stones, who, believe it or not I barely know other than the classics.
  • I'm really pleased that finally my series of blog posts on using Moviestorm in schools has started. It was a lot of fun to write, and I enjoyed thinking up ways to use Moviestorm. I've got the first few in the queue, and there's about another 30 half-written. I'm now hoping to get round to the other series I'm working on, which is a series of exercises aimed at film students who want to practice their techniques. The first few of those are part written, just waiting for me to shoot the videos that accompany them.
  • Okay, here comes the food section. For dinner last night we ended up at Smokey Bones. They've redone the menu: a few new items, and a lot of things no longer available, but the food's still good. However, we discovered that in the same plaza there's a Colombian and a Peruvian restaurant. I know next to nothing about South American food, so I'm quite intrigued by both of these places. (And no, they don't have guinea pig on the menu. Damn.)
    We've allotted the whole of tomorrow to Draco Felis paperwork, and we've promised ourselves that as a reward for getting everything filed, we'll treat ourselves to dinner at the Colombian place, Los Portales. Just the two of us. We need it.
    Tonight, we ate at a Polish place, Polonia, on 17/92 up near us. Well recommended - tasty food, good portions, classic Polish dishes. The kiszka (blood pudding) was surprisingly good, and the wazanki (noodles, bacon, kielbasa & cabbage) was absolutely delicious. Good selection of Polish beer too.
  • And still on the subject of food, here's a great article about expiration dates. You know when it says Best Before or Use By? That does not mean the food is bad after that date. Food producers and retailers are making you throw away perfectly good food by making you think it's no longer edible. And different states and countries have different regulations, which confuses things still further. Obviously, don't eat food that has spoiled, but don't just go by the date on the packet.
And I'm going to end with a rant. Kids having mobile phones - it's a great idea. It's reassuring to know they can call you, or you can call them (assuming they remember to charge the bloody thing). But what's not a good idea is allowing kids to make arrangements with each other, instead of adults talking to each other. If Child wants to visit Friend, then telling Child to call Friend and sort it out is an absolute, guaranteed recipe for disaster. Here's what will happen:
  • Friend won't speak to Parent about this proposed visit. Child will arrive unexpectedly, and Parent will wonder what the hell is going on. The situation will be exacerbated when it transpires that Friend invited Child to stay for a meal, sleep over or join them on a family outing, without Parent's knowledge. Parent will freak out, and Self (or Spouse) will have to go and fetch Child, probably at most inconvenient time, leading to tears all round.
  • Child will not relay vital information back to Self. Either child will arrive without necessary item for family outing (cash for ticket, bathing suit, etc), or Self will fail to arrive at the agreed collection time, due to not knowing about it.
  • Child and Friend will agree a time and place to meet up that doesn't work for Self or Parent. One family will end up hanging around waiting for the other, get irritated, and day will be ruined. Alternatively, Child and Friend will make arrangements without consulting Self or Parent, and then get hugely disappointed when told it's not possible.
The answer's simple. Any arrangement made between Child and Friend is deemed to be meaningless. It only counts if it's agreed between Self (or Spouse) and Parent. So don't cop out by getting the kids to sort stuff out. Deal with it. It will save hassle in the long run.

OK, that's me done for the day. More stuff'n'nonsense tomorrow, probably involving food, spaceships, books, and everyday life.

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