Friday, April 27, 2012

Fly Like an Eagle

Young Adult Bald Eagle 01a

Living out in the countryside has many benefits with one of the more interesting ones being the variety of wildlife that inhabit the area. Bald eagles have been making a comeback over the past couple of decades and lately have been moving into the Yucatan area. For some reason I never have a camera when one is around. Today that changed, though I was not able to get good pictures in the end.

My father came downstairs and announce he had been watching quite an aerial show. Puzzled, I asked if a crop duster was in the area again. No, he had been watching a bald eagle fight with a turkey vulture over a carcass and had not bothered to let me know it was going on…

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fractale English Dub Arrives in July

The best part of the release is that it will be a combination Blu-ray and DVD set. I have to say that Funimation did a great job with the trailer for it, since it captures how serious and dark the series really is.

Between this and the final set of Kimi ni Todoke, I am going to be broke in July. Broke but happy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back Off! or Health 4-25-2012

You know that temptation to scream “BACK OFF!” (or the more profane variation) when somebody annoys you now end and will not shut up?  That is how I feel about my back right now, pun intended. If I could remove the thing and still be a functioning carbon unit, I would.

For the last couple of months, new and creative pinched nerves have popped up and on Monday I discovered one in my middle back. How? I dared to open the fridge door and try to push it open more. No, I could not have some dramatic story about lifting a car off of someone or going too far in a workout. Instead it had to be something ridiculous.

Anyway, it was not just the usual pinched nerve, but the blinding pain kind where my vision blacked out momentarily. Excruciating is the word to describe it and it simply would not stop. Hobbling into the living room bent over like Quasimodo, I collapsed into the chair with the shiatsu massager on it. Even that did little to relieve the pain or instant locking of all my back muscles.

Now it is two days later and I can at least use my left arm again and the pain is down to a dull ache. Twinges still happen, but at least I can lift things again. Sadly there is still no way to tell one’s own back to “back off!” – though I am working on it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Slow Death of the Minnesota GOP Isn’t So Slow Now

Back when I was in the leadership of the Houston County Republicans, I used to lock horns with the state organization and quickly learned they did not have a clue how things were in outside of the metro areas. Initially a strong proponent of the caucus system, once I actually saw how it worked I realized that it allowed very small groups vast power over candidate selection which allows for abuse. On paper it looks wonderfully democratic, but it is not in actual execution. A much fairer process is the primary system.

Those thoughts have resurfaced ever since the precinct caucuses to bedevil and annoy me. After reading that twenty of twenty four delegates are now bound to the very liberal Ron Paul, I have zero doubts about being correct in thinking the caucus system is a failure. It is not the first time I have seen superior organization put forth an inferior candidate here and I am sure it will not be the last.

Meanwhile, the state GOP has been served with an eviction notice. Yeah, that shows how well organized the state level has been. While the new chair cannot be faulted for the financial problems, the following email I received trying to downplay it does not inspire confidence:

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Prisoner (1967) Ep. 1: Arrival

In 1967, a surreal and cerebral television show unlike anything seen before debuted to the amazement of viewers worldwide. Ostensibly about an unnamed spy kidnapped and confined to a strange community on the sea, Patrick McGoohan’s deeply personal project delved into themes of individuality, totalitarianism, paranoia, conformity, brainwashing, and the struggle to be free. Still debated over nearly forty-five years later, it is arguably one of the best dramas ever put on TV, if not the best.

The Prisoner 01 Main TitleThe Prisoner 01 Arrival

A first episode is always a tricky thing for a series and that is doubly true for one that aspires to be anything more than average. With the incredibly popular series, Danger Man (Secret Agent in the USA), wearing thin on him, McGoohan had a desire to do something different. Different only scratches the surface in describing The Prisoner and Arrival establishes that very quickly.

The Prisoner 01 Patrick McGoohanThe Prisoner 01 Storming In

An extended version of the title theme by Ron Grainier (he also created the original Doctor Who theme) plays over a montage of a man (Patrick McGoohan)  in black driving a Lotus Seven roadster to a government building. Once there he angrily storms into an office while the sound of thunder accompanies his rant, which we do not hear. In fact, no sound other than the soundtrack is heard during this intense opening sequence. Slamming his resignation down on his superior’s desk, the man drives off while we see his record amended and filed away in ominously impersonal fashion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Health 4-18-2012

One of the “joys” of having chronic fatigue syndrome is all the little infections I get, most of them being some form of upper respiratory problem. The latest has gone on since last Friday and is an inner ear issue with my right ear. Occasional dizziness has always been a part of the illness for me, but having the room swim around when I move my head is not.

So far no pain, so I refuse to waste anymore of the taxpayers money on a visit to the doctor. Instead, the H202 doses have gone back to daily and that has helped. Also, not taking my generic Zyrtec to allow the allergies to run wild should help burn the infection out. There has been improvement and I though I had it licked yesterday, but it is being mildly annoying today.

However, I am dead tired from a busy weekend and have not recovered at all from it. One way or another, I will make it to church on Sunday to substitute teach Gospel Doctrine. That should be fun, since I have not had the opportunity to do so before.

That reminds me, one of the odd bits about the dizziness is that it is worse sitting than standing as teaching Gospel Principles showed me this past Sunday. Weird. Bending over is not fun, of course.

The weather looks nice outside, wish I felt like taking full advantage of it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Things Keep Falling Apart

Lately I have been having far too many items owned break down. This week it was my office chair, which collapsed when a cat jumped off me – seriously. While due for replacement by the end of the year from the upholstery tearing and the wood on one arm delaminating, the central steel tube tearing was not something I foresaw happening. So of course it did.

This followed having my Dell Axim PocketPC finally show its age and have problems with its batteries (I have a spare) and battery compartment, the already damaged (and cobbled together) halogen torchiere lamp burn out, and my subwoofer develop a noticeable fuzz. The Dell was replaced a couple of months ago, but I had to buy replacements for the lamp and chair this month. For a month where I was trying to save back a good chunk of money, I now find myself struggling to have enough to cover the bills.

At least I got some serious bargains in the process. The replacement lamp uses conventional bulbs (using GE Halogen ones in a experiment) while being 55% off at Shopko. The chair was 42% at Office Depot off and is getting its break in as I type this. The sub will not get replaced. Kindness to my eyes and to my back take precedence to my ears. Oh, and the light bulbs were on sale too.

The chair dated back to the mid-nineties, so I suppose I got every last iota out of it before it failed catastrophically. Likewise, the lamp was as old. But the timing was not great financially and that irks me. I would go beat on the engine compartment of the car, but thunderstorms are due today.

So I settled on blowing things up in a video game.

The moral of the story? Still working on that, but it might be that everything failed only when it was possible for me to buy things above my normal ability. Maybe I am being watched over no matter how much I whine.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Odds and Ends 4-10-2012

Since I have not done this in awhile, I will throw some links up to what has caught my attention lately.

Locally, the apple orchards that are such a part of the region are under threat thanks to the cold snap this week. The combination of unusually warm temperatures followed by unusually cold ones is lethal to apple buds. Not much can be done but hope there will be Honeycrisp’s this year.

Ah, those wacky Japanese using high tech to better humanity. Oh wait…

At least they are diverting resources from making robot women. Don’t get me started there.

Having watched the dot com bubble of the late nineties, I have been getting the feeling of déjà vu again. It turns out I am not alone in worrying over how the latest Internet startups are over priced. I suspect we are headed for a dot com bubble 2.0.

The media in all its forms is increasingly dishonest as things crank up for the elections this year. Race baiting is one of the more evil ways to stir things up and it is being employed fully as a rallying tactic for the left. Outright fabrications are being spread around to inflame tensions. The ends justifying the means rarely leads to anything good, but people never seem to learn that.

The mainstream media cannot be trusted to be guardians of the truth or public good and I wonder if they ever were worthy of it. Given how partisan they have become, they resemble the state controlled media of totalitarian states more and more. Maybe the idea that yellow journalism died out was an illusion in the first place.

One thing that has bothered me for a very long time is how humanity lost its willingness to take risks by the end of the 20th Century. We need to go to space, take chances, colonize, and build. Yes, people will die in the endeavor, but there are far worse things than death. One of them is stagnation. So it is sad to see plans from the 1950s aimed at going to Mars and realizing there is little chance that will happen this century.

I am probably not alone in that. An anime adaptation of Space Brothers has started airing in Japan and streaming worldwide at Crunchyroll. It is a rare thing these days to see an anime featuring characters that are all adults and dealing with adult problems. Set in the near future, it is about a pair of brothers hoping to make it to the Moon and beyond as astronauts. Warm and sentimental, it also catches some of the current cultural malaise in Japan. Man, it makes me wish we had real space programs and not the token jokes we have today.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

For Easter

One of the lessons I have learned from the Savior is that at the heart of all good acts lies sacrifice. One must go beyond selfish wishes, or even the instinct of self preservation in order to do good. What a world we would have if everyone behaved that way, but alas, too many think of themselves above all others.

I am grateful for such a role model and messiah. Hopefully, I will continue learning at His feet and become a better man.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Pulling on the Dragon’s Tail

Anonymous went after the Chinese government in another coordinated attack on a large amount of websites. Given how much cyber warfare is conducted by that government, I would not be surprised to see Anonymous get hacked thoroughly in retaliation. There is a strong nationalist streak that has been inculcated in the populace for the last couple of decades which means there will be plenty of retaliatory attacks from outside the government as well. Break out the popcorn, this could get very interesting.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Health 4-4-2012

It is time to write one of those posts I hate to write. Part of keeping a journal here is keeping track of my health and I am doing a poor job of it.

For the past week or so, pinched nerves in the back have been worse than usual. The lower area has finally loosened up and than has been an immense relief. But the upper area took a strange turn for the worse and has been mostly immune to the stretching exercises learned over a decade ago. For several days it was so bad that I was loosing control of the right arm due to pain flaring and the arm refusing to accept commands.

Things have improved with a rearrangement of pillows when sleeping and trying to stay flat on my back. Still twitchy, though. The worst of it coincided with the cold suffered during the weekend.

Today started fairly well with crossword puzzle and Audiosurf going well. But mid afternoon I felt extremely tired and took a short nap. It should have been short, that is. Forcing myself up at 9:00 PM I found the rest of daylight lost, which is very annoying. So much for getting the new floor lamp (one has to love clearance sales) assembled and in place.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Insert Title Here

Pick a title, any title, my creativity is not flowing today. While I have more energy than I did over the weekend, yesterday was a busier than usual Monday and so today is already dragging and it is not even 10:00 am yet.

One thing worked on yesterday was revamping and partially rewriting an old movie review. While I have done this to a minor degree before, this is a much more comprehensive overhaul which makes it a learning experience. Today it should get finished and it is about time I figured out how to bump a post to the front page. If I remember to, that is.

It is spring, so thoughts of maybe following baseball have emerged again. I find it ridiculous that streaming MLBTV online costs $20.00 a month. How sports fans can continue to fork out insane sums of money for PPV, tickets, and merchandise is beyond me. All I can surmise is that it is the latest form of idolatry to afflict the masses and there isn’t even a dollop of spiritual rewards promised.

I am not pleased with the Supreme Court ruling on strip searches. While it is a sad testament to the decay of society that such searches are often needed, the ability to force them on a person if they are arrested for anything is way over the line. The argument that ruling against them would have a “chilling effect” on law enforcement is somewhat legitimate, but when are we going to stop ceding all our civil liberties to the government?

Meanwhile, President Obama took another step toward tinpot dictatorship by threatening the Supreme Court over Obamacare. Why he thinks this will work when even Franklin Delano Roosevelt could not pull it off? FDR was far more popular and had much broader support, but the public completely rejected his attempts to bully and replace that branch of government. Rallying the base is one thing, but when it alienates everyone else it is not even a zero sum gain. It is a loss.

That is a lesson that seems to have been forgotten by a lot of politicians across the spectrum of late.

The wrong hood was ordered for the car and a new one has been placed. Hopefully a sunny day will arrive soon (forecast says tomorrow) to continue work on straightening metal. There is still a radiator attachment made of plastic that I have not figured out how to repair. Since the only other option is replacing the entire radiator, it has to be solved. Normally, a pin could be inserted into a drilled out hole, but I am afraid of leaks from the area if I do drill. Sigh. I probably could seal it well enough if that happens.

I am puzzled how people think that increased manufacturing with decreased demand is a positive sign, even in the short term. All it means is inventory will increase, which is not a good thing in a “just in time” economy. But if there is one thing I have learned about economic experts and investors is that anything can be tortured into becoming good news when desperate.

My growing suspicion is that the US stock markets will become the last haven for money for the wealthy before that wealth is permanently destroyed. Metals and real estate are the best places to sink money into, because the value of both will never reach zero. You will not be able to avoid losing money so it is all about having something rather than nothing in the end.

On that subject, the single most awesome thing I have seen on the Web so far this year. See, the Canadians are good for something!