Saturday, June 30, 2012

Health 6-30-2012

First results of the antibody screening for Lyme Disease are back and show significantly elevated levels. Next tests have been ordered to clinch the diagnosis.

Today has been a tough day, pain and headaches are still elevated too. Despite naps, I am woozy and shaking. But it seems trivial after looking at photos of the storm damage around the country. I am more concerned about how people recover from that.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kimi ni Todoke Volume 3 Special Edition Short Review

Due for release on July 3, the third and final set from NIS America of Kimi ni Todoke arrived unexpectedly on my porch yesterday. Like the previous two sets, it comes in a very fancy cardboard sleeve with two disc cases and a hardcover art book inside. Both DVD and Blu-ray discs are included, so it is quite a deal.

The final volume covers the entire second season along with a couple of exclusive shorts lampooning Cinderella and Snow White, but with the twist of Kurumi starring with Sawako in the secondary roles. They are very silly indeed.

Best of all is the inclusion of Episode 0 of the second season, which is a flashback recounting of the events of the first season. What makes it special is that it is from the point of view of the villainess of the series. Rare is it that a story can turn the trouble maker into a sympathetic character while not whitewashing said character’s actions.

If you have the previous sets, this is a must have. The quality is top notch and I am so grateful to NIS America for putting this out. Amazing since the show had no broadcast or streaming showings in the USA.

Drone Hacked While Flying by College Students

That did not take long and imagine the resources foreign governments and terrorists have at their disposal. One thousand dollars is a pittance for such organizations, so expect to see more things like the drone captured by the Iranians. Since I have already gone on record with my objections to moving toward drones over manned aircraft, let me just say that this dare by the federal government was one of the most unintelligent things I have seen in a week filled with them.

Health 6-29-2012

Antibiotics are helping, but it is slow going. I will be glad to be rid of the headaches and at least the dry cough is gone. This all may be more expensive than expected, due to a change in health care providers. Minnesota moved a lot of us to UCare from MA and it turns out my old clinic is not on good terms with them. I will have to go doctor hunting and move to the Mayo Clinic system, which I do not have a high opinion of.

It could all be worse, a normal person would have been beaten into the ground by this, but since I already have CFS most of the symptoms are the same. Now to get some rest.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Obamacare Upheld Entirely

Article here.

So much for the survival of the Republic. Now that government intrusion into every facet of life is justified as long as it is considered a “tax”, anything and everything can be justified. Anyone who believes this to be a center right nation needs to look long and hard at the United States, for it has drifted firmly into the hands of the left. Tyranny has risen and will continue to rise unabated.

I wish I could feel more emotion about this than I do. But it is hard to when the writing has been on the wall for some time. What is surprising to me is how many on the right thought the Supreme Court would defend the Constitution like it was supposed to. That has not been the case for many decades.

It is fascinating that taxation was used as the justification for the package of laws called Obamacare. This country was founded by a rebellion against unfair taxation and so it seems appropriately ironic that it dies by taxation. People never learn that governments are infinitely greedy and have a hunger for taxes that is insatiable.  I pity the small business owners who will be crippled financially by all this.

There are those who believe this will be repealed. That is pretty much impossible, but running on that will give Romney the win in November.

I wonder if anyone still believes George W. Bush was a conservative after his biggest court appointee went hard left on the most important ruling in a generation?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ticked Off

I went to the local clinic today and the suspicion is that I have a tick born illness -- possibly Lymes Disease. Results will not be back in until the end of the week at earliest. In the mean time, I am on antibiotics. Fun and games, eh?

Monday, June 25, 2012

No Longer a Cubs Fan

After not following the team in any serious fashion for several years, I am officially giving up on the Chicago Cubs. The sad thing is that they could get into the World Series next year and it would not get me back. Enough is enough and I do not have the energy or inclination to invest in losing propositions any more.

So that leaves me wondering if I am going to give up on Major League Baseball altogether. About the only option is to become a Minnesota Twins fan, but there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm being felt. With the local stations being Brewers oriented, watching games is pretty much out and there is no way to afford going to the real thing.

Oh how I miss the days of the Eighties, when I used to watch Harry Caray and Steve Stone every day on WGN. The beginning of the end was when the games were moved to limited local cable in an extremely foolish move aimed at milking more money out of the fans. The ownership change has not been impressive and frankly I think the wrong consortium won.

Ah well, at least there were some good memories in there. But I realized that I do not care a whit about the team anymore and the sport itself seems to have gone downhill. Time to let go.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Running to God

As I write this, sacrament meeting will be starting shortly at the La Crosse Ward. Too ill to be there, I find myself missing it like I always do when my health acts up. This time it is not quite as bad, because of something that happened last night.

One of the things about being a real film buff is the desire to reacquaint oneself with films seen decades earlier, especially ones seen when young. The changes in perception and understanding can be very profound, I have discovered. In fact, one film I loved as a teen, Cool Hand Luke, I now despise greatly. Deciding to be an adult is a conscious decision in our society these days and making that choice changed a lot of things for me.

Back in the early 80s, a movie won best picture and became an unlikely hit. Focused on runners in the 1920s trying to medal for the United Kingdom, Chariots of Fire is most remembered for its amazing theme by Vangelis. I remembered seeing the movie a couple of years after release and having a favorable opinion of it, but that is about it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anime Honorable Mentions

Having a brain as sharp as a brick this week, I omitted some animes from my worth watching list. While not up there with the rest, they did entertain me. So with no further adieu, here they are:

  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • The Irresponsible Captain Tylor
  • Mushi-shi
  • Robotech: Macross Saga (yes, I know the purists hate that one)
  • Full Metal Panic (all versions, content warning on the final series)
  • Vampire Hunter D (content warning on that one too)
  • Outlaw Star (Firefly ripped off a lot of elements from this)
  • Lensman (not faithful to the books, sadly)

One thing I have noted is that creativity seems to be dead compared to the 1980s and 1990s. Very few risks are being taken and the moe movement has done a lot of damage in pushing the superficial, if not sleazy, aspects to the fore.  Changing male leads from headstrong confident types to perpetually embarrassed wimps has been another thing I have noticed. This has not been healthy, but it does pander to the Japanese otakus who drive the business model.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Resurrecting the Dead: The Subaru Lives Again

Subaru Outback new parts 02

After five months of tinkering, bending metal, and hammering, the Subaru Outback is running again. Oh there are a host of problems needing fixing yet, including the non functioning fog lights and hood catch, but it is being driven again.

Health 6-22-2012

I hate posting about my health. So on with it so I can be done with it.

It has not been a good week. The right bronchial has been suffering congestion and things morphed into a sore throat last night. The “rash” is most likely a spider bite with a bad reaction, which would explain the increased pain and muscle stiffness in the neck. Proving just how random my body can be, the left middle finger is swollen and painful in the outermost joint – for no perceivable reason.

Going out for pizza Wednesday night turned into an ordeal of having trouble breathing due to the congestion, though I haven’t ruled out a cascading reaction to the bite. At least I have been able to get some sleep the last two nights despite the pain. No walks this week and I am unhappy about it.

It looks nice out, wish I could enjoy it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Anime Worth Watching: An Opinion

A comment from Hanny has me thinking about which anime I like and how to go about recommending them. The problem is the style and content varies so much that they are hard to compare to each other. If I were an otaku it would be so much easier because I would like every new piece of trash that comes down the pike. But since I am just an entertainment lover and anime is just a minor subset of what I watch, my likes are very different.

Then there is the problem of trying to rank TV series against theatrical movies, which causes my brain to melt down. But hey, I like tilting at windmills, so here goes. My top three TV series are tied at number uno, so things get messy right off the bat:

  1. Fractale, Area 88, Kimi ni Todoke
  2. Spirited Away
  3. Summer Wars
  4. Only Yesterday
  5. Squid Girl
  6. Princess Mononoke
  7. Howl’s Moving Castle
  8. Porco Rosso
  9. Castle in the Sky
  10. C: Control
  11. Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth
  12. Space Brothers
  13. Bleach
  14. Kiki’s Delivery Service
  15. Tiger and Bunny
  16. Whisper of the Heart
  17. Bubblegum Crisis Toyko 2040
  18. The Cat Returns
  19. Denpa Onna
  20. FLCL
  21. Akira
  22. My Neighbor Totoro
  23. Nausicaa Valley of the Wind
  24. Hellsing

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bleach Ep. 16: Encounter, Renji Abarai!

As the first season draws closer to its end, Ichigo finds himself crossing blades with another Soul Reaper. Why?  Because Rukia’s past has finally caught up with her. While the daft humor is still present in places, the situation is becoming much darker for Ichigo and friends.

Bleach1 Main TitleBleach 16 Title

For the entire season, there has been a brooding undercurrent of fear radiating from Rukia even as she has tutored Ichigo in the art of Hollow battling. With this episode, we find out why she was afraid and it turns out the diminutive Soul Reaper had good cause to be. Kiss those light hearted school days goodbye as the story descends into darkness.

Summertime

Aside from being a great tune, that is what today is. Summer has officially arrived with the solstice, but the weather has actually moderated compared to the past few days.

Summer MorningThistle Blossom

The corn is growing and so are the weeds. For the moment, the thistles have the height advantage.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Health 6-19-2012

The pain I have been suffering has been slowly getting less intense. There is an odd rash on my neck that popped up around the time this started and it has gotten larger. Part of the pain at night has been an abnormally stiff neck and coughing. If it does not go away, time to see a doctor.

Something I forgot to report: A couple of weeks ago, I stayed overnight with some friends who had the air conditioner cranked up beyond what I was used to. Despite having covers and a blanket, I began shivering violently. While I have had this happen before when cold, the severity was a new experience – as was actually generating significant heat from it. This is interesting and a positive change, I think.

My suspicion is that the H202 therapy I went through changed quite a few small things in my system. It made me tolerant to rice, it has helped my circulation, helped stave off bronchitis, and I did not have a bout of eczema this winter. I’ve thought of CFS as being a “death by a thousand cuts” kind of illness, so it is strange to experience something positive working along the same lines.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Odds and Ends 6-16-2012

I have spent some time going back through old review posts and have done some minor editing to improve layout and add needed tags. Tagging is still underway, because I had previously thought of it in a master index way instead of how people actually use tags. If a tag is used to look up other posts, it is off of the post, not the side bar and I finally got that through my thick skull. New genre categories of science fiction, fantasy, comedy, and classics have been introduced to help with that.

One consequence of looking over the older reviews is finding the need to rewrite or update seven of them. In one case, that will require a newer and better DVD, but fortunately that will be under ten dollars to do.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Health 6-15-2012

The last few nights have been ones of utter misery as pain has made sleeping very difficult. Swelling in the head, pinched nerves, and muscle pain have combined to make for a nasty mix. Add in a slight cough to make things interesting and I am not pleased.

There is much to do this weekend, even if the weather does not cooperate. Speaking of that, it may be the wildly fluctuating weather fronts that may be causing the pain. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Squid Girl Episode 10

A rainy day brings out artistry in the Aizawa home, Sannae finally realizes she may have a problem, and a baseball game tests Squid Girl’s athletic abilities. From horror to the despairs of addiction to the thrill of competition, a lot of silliness happens -- but there are some surprising moments of angst to be found amidst the comedy this time out.

Squid Girl Main Title[2]

Rain Rain, Gill Away?

When a typhoon hits Japan, the normal summer fun goes out the window thanks to the associated torrential rain. A frustrated Ika Musame is taught all about teru teru bozu making by the Aizawa siblings and a nice little lesson about Japanese culture is explained to the rest of us. Personally, I love these moments in anime because they offer a glimpse at everyday practices in Japan.

Health 6-13-2012

Rain, rain, go away!

Being a human barometer is annoying, for every time a significant front goes through the pain index shoots up like mercury in a thermometer on an August day. Last night featured quite a drop in temperature, so sleep was fitful at best.

At least I got my Civilization V strategy testing over with yesterday afternoon. That was a pain of a different kind, one of playing a game you do not like to find a way to beat it and yes, it cost me hours of sleep the past week.

Why do I mention it in a post on health? Because the Civilization series is the most dangerously addictive games I have ever played. In fact, I removed Civilization IV from my computer due to becoming addicted to it.

The good news is that I am burned out on gaming other than with friends online, which is sporadic. Other than that, it is time to take a break from it. After all, summer is nearly here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Insecurity

The more we connect electronically, the more we invite crime it seems. This past week, I have had to change my passwords to LinkedIn and lastFM – the latter I had only tried out briefly in 2009. Both services have suffered cyber break ins with millions of passwords compromised. League of Legend European site had user data stolen along with passwords as well. After logging in on another service on a friend’s laptop, I was so appalled by his meager security and use of shady pirating sites that I changed that service’s password once I got home.

An over reliance on antivirus and firewall software, deleting browser history and cookies, and running malware scanners is no substitute for smart browsing in the first place. While useful tools, they mostly are of use after your system has been compromised. IP filtering via service such as OpenDNS is more proactive, but no substitute for avoiding where you should not be in the first place.

Yet there is no real protection once you sign up somewhere online for something. At that point, you are at the mercy of the security employed by that service. It turns out that a lot of them are not that secure. With so many people willing to hack for money and kicks, the attacks are escalating. That is not even counting what is going on with cyber attacks from government, China in particular.

So you can add cyber dangers to the economic insecurity we are already feeling. Get used to it, it will not be getting any better. No wonder some of the white nights in cyber warfare have bailed out.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Culling the Herd

While I am no longer active on Facebook, I did go back today to remove the remaining hundreds of “friends” I accrued while gaming there in past years. As it stands, I have 67 people left, most of whom I know in reality or through politics. Read what you will into that.

I doubt I will ever be active again there, as I forget it even exists until someone brings it up. Meanwhile, Google + is a bust, which can be of no surprise to most. Over at LinkedIn, I had to change my password due to the massive hack attack that exposed many passwords.

Social media sites, or the Web 2.0 as the wits dubbed it, are losing their luster since they are inherently superficial. But the greatest threat is the lack of security and the fact that hackers are targeting their databases more and more.

Blogging at least allows coherent thoughts to be put up, so I am content to write here where nobody pays attention. I would rather post substance and be ignored than to post twaddle and have “likes” dinging it up!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Thoughts on the Scott Walker Win

What can be learned from the fiasco that was the recall effort?

First, the Democratic Party will do anything to win. There is no depth too low, no line that cannot be crossed, and no limit to their harassment/bullying. Locally in La Crosse County, brand new roofing nails were tossed into driveways of residences that had Walker signs up. Signs were stolen, vandalized, and I directly know of one renter who had her sign taken by her landlord and replaced with a Barrett one.

So much money, time, and emotions were invested by the unions and their puppets in the Democratic Party that things got more than a little out of control. The image of Barrett being slapped for conceding illustrates that in a way no words can. All of this rage only netted State Senate District 21 for the Democrats, which gives them control of the Senate. However, that will most likely end in November due to redistricting. I should note they got another seat to flip in earlier recall elections, so they got two. Unless there is a special session called, they will not even meet until after November.

Ray Bradbury Died

One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, died last night. While he lived a good and long life of 91 years, I still feel sad that he is no longer in this world. It was The Martian Chronicles that introduced me to his wonderful writing style that evoked moments of time so familiar to me even as a child. But my favorite work of his would have to be Dandelion Wine, which is about a momentous summer for a young boy in a small town in the nineteen twenties. Thanks to my sister, Ann, I have this in a leather bound edition from Easton Press.

While he wrote Fahrenheit 451 as a warning against television wiping out literacy, he was prolific in that industry. The Ray Bradbury Theater series is available on DVD and I recommend that highly, as it was the author’s chance to adapt his own stories after being disappointed with Hollywood’s attempts.

I will end with the opening from Dandelion Wine, for it is one of my favorite openings to any book:

It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed. Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first morning of summer.

Hopefully, Bradbury is enjoying his first morning of true summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Cocoanuts (1929) Review

This wildly inconsistent movie catapulted the Marx Brothers to fame on the eve of the Great Depression and heralded a new form of utterly insane humor. Long before Monty Python or even the Goon Show, the Marx Brothers brought savage wit, inspired lunacy, and irreverence toward all authority to the big screen. Over eighty years later,  are they still funny?

The Cocoanuts Title

The Marx Brothers burst onto the scene and achieved stardom quickly, or so it probably seemed to the American people of the 1930’s. Instead, the Marx family had spent many years traveling and performing while grooming their sons for success on the Vaudeville circuit. Sons of immigrants, they were part of a Jewish invasion of American humor, much like the British invasion of pop thirty years later.

The Cocoanuts was their first film and an adaptation of a smash hit on Broadway, not to mention anywhere else they toured with it. Fast talking, absurd sight gags, and a mocking hostility toward authority were their trademarks and Americans ate it up. Yet superstardom would not have been possible for them except for that great innovation in cinemas: sound. The timing was perfect for Groucho’s quips and Chico’s flimflamming to hit the big screen. Then there was Harpo’s mute horn honking and harp playing to add to the madness. Oh yeah, there was Zeppo to play straight man, if anybody noticed him at all.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Health 6-4-2012

A bad weekend followed a good week of increased activity. Having been successful at getting in a walk a day, my body decided it was time to get a cold on Friday night. So I missed out on gaming night and church. Instead I ended up playing video games and reading.

Hopefully, things will go a bit better today.

After more than twenty years of slamming my head against the proverbial brick wall, it finally occurred to me that if endurance is the main problem exercising, maybe I should cut back on the length of the walks and weights sessions. I fell into the trap of trying to do that the minimum that a normal person can do and never got out of that mindset. Since my endurance does not increase despite exercising and, in fact actually crashes downward, it is time to let go of any attempt at normalcy.

Meanwhile, the changeover to a primarily rice diet has resulted in much more stable bowels, less appetite, and seems to working out well.