Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter

A joyous Easter to all fellow believers and unbelievers alike!

I find Mark Chapter 16 to be fascinating for it shows how even the apostles were capable of disbelief in miracles. The first followers of Jesus to find he had risen again after being crucified and buried were not to be found among them. Instead, women were the first:

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Shortly after that, Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and when she told the eleven apostles they didn’t believe her. When two more encountered Jesus they weren’t believed either. It took the Savior showing up in person to convince them:

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

For those who struggle with faith or think they have no faith it should be noted that the original apostles didn’t do so well in that department themselves. It is an understandable reaction to living in a harsh world and I’m sure they rationalized their disbelief quite well with perfect reasoning. Yet in the end they were wrong for Jesus lived and still does.

There are many good lessons in this account, but the one I’m dwelling on this Easter is how we can easily blind ourselves to the words of others. In a world filled with lies and the liars that tell them, there is a danger in trusting no one at all but ourselves. To a “doubting Thomas” such as myself, it is a needed message from time to time.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ten Years Gone

For many Christian people this is Easter weekend and a time to reflect on the Savior’s great sacrifice for all of mankind. For me it is something more and that’s the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death. Much has changed since then and some things not at all.

It is odd how it seems so recent and at the same time longer than a decade ago. Her death was the kind of thing that should have left reoccurring nightmares behind for my father and me, but did not – at least in my case.

Knowing the anniversary was approaching, I’ve been collecting movies that were among her favorites and part of family tradition for the past year. Some we already had on DVD or were on VHS, but many only became available in modern formats since her death.

So tonight we watched one of her favorite comedies, Raising Arizona. While I didn’t plan to do that, it kind of happened anyway much like the unplanned events that happen to the hapless protagonists of the film. I think my mother would have approved.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Better to Burn Out than Fade Away?

I’ve been suffering burn out lately in one area and have had a very hard time overcoming it. Fortunately for me, the area is not what anyone should consider an important one. What I’m talking about is gaming – especially video games.

When I went through the month plus of fighting that infection starting in February, I played a lot of video games while being unable to do much else. By the time March rolled around, I was getting more sick of gaming than I’d been ill from the infection. Looking at the back log of Steam sale purchases generates no interest whatsoever. I’ve also stopped playing League of Legends.

Other than a brief period of playing the last DLC for Mass Effect 3 (which is more like a visual novel most of the time), only Audiosurf has had any appeal. That’s most likely due to its simple graphics and use of my personal music collection. Going from that, I’ve purchased Beat Hazard Ultra on sale for ridiculously cheap from Steam since it also uses one’s own music.

Will it break the burn out? I’m beginning to wonder since I’ve been suffering from it for a month.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gorgo (1961) Review

What do you get when you make a knock off a movie that copied of one of your own films? You get another sea monster played by a man in a rubber suit rampaging through a capitol of a nation, but this time it’s London! When a giant monster is found in the depths on the North Sea and captured, it sets the stage for one of the angriest mothers in cinema history. Combining death and carnage with the heart of a family film makes Gorgo an oddly sweet story. Updated review with new HD screen captures and Blu-ray details!

Gorgo HD Title

One of the inspirations for Gojira aka Godzilla, King of the Monsters was 1953’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. So it is rather interesting that the director of that film, Eugene Lourie, was also the director of Gorgo, which is obviously inspired by Godzilla. After being berated by his young daughter for killing the Beast, Lourie decided to make a monster film with a gentler take. Well, the movie isn’t that gentle, but it is not as somber as Gojira, that’s for sure.

Oh and if you are looking for a review of the new Blu-ray release, it can be found in the Technical section. If you want the best copy of the movie, the Blu-ray is a must buy.

Gorgo HD VolcanoGorgo HD Ship

Gorgo opens up with a group of salvagers working on a wreck off the coast of Ireland. The captain of the ship, Joe Ryan (Bill Travers), is concerned about a strange bubbling in the water nearby. When his best friend and diver Sam Slade (William Sylvester) is late coming up, he becomes even more concerned. It turns out to be a false alarm, but what happens next is completely unexpected: a volcano emerges from the sea and erupts! Nearly capsized, the ship suffers enough damage to be dead in the water.

Comment Spam

From the Sidelines has had a visitor named “fati” from Casablanca, Morocco attempt to post twice during the past two days on different referral spam posts. The content of the comments is the same:

It's easy way to make money
Super-Duper Easy Way to Earn Money By
Promoting A link - 0.5$ per Referral Link Visit.
-Register
-Share Refferral Link
-Earn Money on every visit

A shortened shortened link is also included. I’m not going to click that for obvious reasons.

It’s fascinating to see how prevalent “black hat” methods of generating income from ads on the Net have become. Some of this is typical of how underhanded people always exploit anything that can be exploited. But I’m also becoming aware that some of this is a reaction to how hard it is to make money from running advertisements on a website these days.

Money is tighter and tighter in the current world economy that’s teetering on collapse and ads have always been nebulous in results. With the Web coming into being, actual viewing and response to ads has become a harder science than it was. Results can be tabulated in near real time, targeting has become extremely refined, and wasted efforts easier to avoid.

Google has tried refining its search indexing protocols (SERPS) to downgrade black hat method using sites, but is losing the war while taking out innocent bystanders. They also are in the business to make money and favor branded economic sites over “mom and pop” small businesses now. Reading the pain going on for some of them and how some are turning to “the dark side” to survive, I have to wonder if the mess can be resolved in any good way at all.

My posts on spam, especially of the referral type on Blogger, came about due to the lack of information about the links showing up in my stats. They are a public service endeavor which has led me to learn about things I had no clue about in the financial ecosystem of Web advertising and search results. I’ll never be an expert, but from the amount of hits the posts have gotten at least some information got relayed to those who needed it.

So these public service announcements will continue though they annoy me to write.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Health 3-24-2013

Energy levels have been low, even for me, this past week. Pain has been much higher and spread throughout the body with joints being the problem. It has been very strange because the body is loose which means I can pop the bad spots in my back for temporary relief – that’s the opposite of how things normally are. Still, the relief is much shorter than usual.

I’ve also had to take long naps every day on top of sleeping longer than usual. The body acts like it is under attack from something, but nothing is apparent. Headaches of varying intensity have occurred nearly every day. Dizziness has also been present.

Looking at the symptoms, it reminds me of Lyme Disease minus the rashes and paralysis.

Crossword puzzles and Audiosurf both indicate I’m in normal alertness parameters so I don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Couple of Pests

While perusing the news, I ran across two articles about invaders. One is an invader of the blood stream and the other of trees. Both are connected to me oddly enough, so they caught my interest.

Lyme Disease’s bacterium has been found to be far more unusual than thought. It is the first living organism to be discovered that doesn’t live by consuming iron! Instead it apparently uses maganese as a substitute and that explains why it is so hard for the immune system to fight. Tricky things, the microscopic.

Let’s hope that the research is correct and leads to a better treatment of the disease. I did not enjoy my bout of it last year.

Meanwhile, slightly less close to home, the emerald ash borer has entered Houston County with finds in La Crescent. Worry about the insects has been around for years, but they took their time in arriving. I used to carry a card for identifying the insect that got got thrown out during a fit of wallet cleaning. Time to get another one, I suppose.

Just recently I’d been talking to a friend who will be doing a summer internship mapping out the problem in Winona, which is north of La Crescent. The focus of that won’t just be detection, but advising on substitution of different trees to replace the ones being cut down. Interesting stuff, that.

I find myself disliking bugs of all kinds after reading the news today. I wonder why?

Back to working on my next review.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ill Tidings

Spring has officially arrived though I can’t tell it looking out my window. It is currently seven degrees Farenheit with snow outside and frost on the inner windows of my room. It could be worse.

North Korea cyberattacked South Korea this morning our time and the afternoon their time. Bank and television computer networks were taken down for many hours and some still aren’t operational. What did this mean for the South Korean people? They had to deal with no debit or credit cards working and that includes ATMs. I suspect business to business transactions were also impossible.

Imagine if that happened in the United States.

Of more local concern and by local I mean household, the Subaru started having serious problems overheating Saturday night and Sunday. It is currently in the shop having its engine torn apart for head gasket replacement plus timing and other belts. So financial pain has arrived with spring.

I suppose Saturday was close enough to the Ides of March to qualify, come to think of it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

SWATting Hits a Bigger Name

One of the nastier things being done by people out to harass bloggers and now reporters is making false phone calls that cause a SWAT raid on innocent people. The latest victim is Brian Krebs who is something of a crusader in the Internet security field. More can be found at Ars Technica.

The tactic has moved out of the political arena to the organized crime category if what I’m reading is correct. If the militarization of local police forces didn’t concern me in the past, this sort of thing has me questioning it. In decades past, the image of heavily armed men kicking in doors and hauling people out was something you associated with communist countries and other dictatorships.

If that isn’t a sign of decline, I don’t know what is.

The only thing that can be done about the rise of SWATting is find some kind of way to have local police informed about the potential for false calls for specific people. That only helps those who know they might be SWATted, but I don’t any other thing that can be done other than to introduce training about the practice to local police forces.

Maybe Krebs experience will finally get the irresponsible mainstream media to start talking about the problem. One can only hope.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ending the Ad Experiment

With the traffic only recovering to around half of what it used to be before December there is no point in continuing to have ads on the blog. I never expected to make any money with them, but the steep decline in page views killed any accumulation of data on ad effectiveness for small sites in my eyes. It had looked like it would be eight years before I'd collect my first payment from AdSense back when the traffic was higher.

Suffice it to say I'm not really impressed with the service and view it as something only for the highest trafficked blogs. The real ad money is in affiliate ads and that would be more work to implement than I care to do for just experimenting. In the end, it turned out to be a very boring experiment that didn't even rise to the level of disappointing.

I did learn more about things such as SERP plus the terrifying creatures Panda and Penguin involved in Google indexing. So it hasn't been a total loss.

There are some on the Net who think that adding ads to their blogs at Blogger decreased their traffic. That seems strange and implausible. If my traffic from Google starts shooting up a month from now I might believe it. It isn't something to hold one's breath over though.

So the blog will be a lot cleaner looking now.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How Many Referral Spammers Are There?

That’s the question on my mind. Yet again faked referral links have shown up in my Blogger stats and yet again it is one I haven’t seen before.

afslotat . net16 . net is the newest one to hit the blog with a tempting link:
afslotat . net16 . net / info / my blog address

It appears to be out of Latvia, but that could be faked too. An attempt was made to load the site in a VM, but failed so I’m very suspicious and advise not clicking the link for any reason.

UPDATED

Another address like it showed up this evening:
radepaha . hs8 . ru / de  /info / my blog address . de

I'm not even going to try to investigate it since it is likely from the same people behind the other.

UPDATED again...

Now I've gotten referral spam from one of the biggest weirdos on the net. escapefrommasachusetts . org is on the loose again after being around as escapefromma . com and this site is dangerous to click on. The latest incarnation of pseudo anarchic drivel is salacious statements about Mitt Romney. A little out of date, that.  DO NOT CLICK!

Yet another UPDATE:

A new variation of the first two spams has shown up and racked up a ridiculous number of hits in one day. It uses the same fake "info" then your blog address in the referral. The new culprit is:

tkdot . com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kimi ni Todoke Ep. 6: Friends

In one of the most emotional episodes of the series, Sawako takes on the rumor mongers and finds herself in physical danger. Unable to help her, Kazehaya can only wait in frustration for things to come to a resolution. Nothing is more vicious than a pack of teenage girls…

Kimi ni Todoke Title 1Kimi ni Todoke 06 Title

Life is filled with happiness and sadness for you cannot know one without the other. Kimi ni Todoke is at its best showing the ups and downs of trying to grow up through the turbulent years of high school while dealing with the amplified emotions of adolescence. Everything is more intense when you are young with nothing more intense than the hostility of others.

 Kimi ni Todoke 06 Sawako Becomes SadakoKimi ni Todoke 06 Girlsroom Bully

A brief flashback to Sawako’s childhood reveals the identity of the girl who gave her the nickname of Sadako. It was the result of an innocent slip of the tongue that often happens to little kids and no malice was meant. Back in the present, malice is clearly intended when our heroine finds herself backed against a wall.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Japan's Tsunami and Earthquake Remembrance Video

For the anniversary of the devastating tsunami that did so much damage to Japan in 2011 a couple of videos have been put up. One of them is utterly beautiful, Blossom. It got to me far more than I expected. Go watch it.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Slippery When Wet

I think we’ve all seen signs with that on them at some time or another. Today I found out just how impossibly slick ice is when it has water running down it. In an attempt to get to church today, I didn’t carry enough speed up the drive way because I was worried about losing control on the wet ice.

So near the top of the drive way I lost all energy and traction at the same time. Yet it was the attempt to back down where things got really hairy. There simply was no way to keep the car straight and luckily for me there was enough snow on the driver’s side to stop the car from rolling down the embankment. No big deal, had this happen before so it can be dealt with.

Then I got out of the car and walked to the back to push it while my father took the wheel. We never got that far because the moment I stepped off the snow onto the ice I went down. Falling is always embarrassing, but it was nothing compared to going down the second time while crawling on my hands and knees.

I had no idea anything could be that slippery despite spending over four decades contending with snow and ice. The driveway was truly frictionless which explains why I didn’t get up it in the first place. After sliding a few times, I made it to a patch free from ice. It was a slow trip down the driveway to the house to figure out what to do next.

A phone call to our neighbor Randy got us some help and ash to lay on the ice. The three of us used that and wood pellets to get the car back down. We also found out the tractor path is blocked by a deep pool of water that the Subaru probably couldn’t clear. That closed off our only other way out.

So much for getting to church.

So I’m watching Ben-Hur and writing this during the intermission. What a year so far and heavy snow is now in the forecast. Sometimes it simply doesn’t pay to leave the house.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Do It Again

You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’ve just found a big problem that will require a lot of time and effort to fix? Well, that’s what I’m feeling right now. I just discovered that Windows Live Writer has been shrinking the HD screen captures so that when they are clicked on they are much smaller than they should be.

So now I have to re-edit and re-upload everything for those posts. This is going to take a long time, sigh.

The Last Starfighter (1984) Review

When a young man dreams of escaping his dreary life an unexpected trip to the stars leads to adventure and heroism. Sound familiar? It should for this is a cheesy, formulaic, and derivative movie. Yet it is easy to forgive this due to an excellent cast, endearing characters, and a complete lack of pretention. Combining all of the above with cutting edge effects that changed the industry resulted in one of the best B-movies of the 1980s. UPDATED March 2013 with HD screen captures and Blu-ray details.

The Last Starfighter Title

These days we are accustomed to seeing photorealistic computer generated images (CGI) in everything from commercials to major motion pictures. It wasn’t always like this and somebody had to pioneer the field. This is the movie that dared to attempt what was then thought impossible. Without The Last Starfighter we would not have had the Lord of the Rings, Pixar, or Marvel superhero movies.

The Last Starfighter RylosThe Last Starfighter Trailer Park

Greeted by a stately symphonic score and a planet that is clearly not Earth, we zoom away from it while the title and credits roll. After going through what appears to be a wormhole in space, the camera pans down to a small trailer park in the hills of California. It’s a run down place that has seen better years, but the park is filled with a variety of people happily living their lives.

Friday, March 08, 2013

How Time Flies

Another year gone and another closer to the grave. My birthday was a low key affair as usual, but I did score some impressive loot thanks to a gift certificate from my sister and cash from the ex-sister-in-law (one of those cases where the ex was kept in the family anyway since we all loved her). Then there was the now traditional event of being treated to snow crab legs which were a particularly good batch at the local Red Lobster.

So my chosen birthday loot is all movies -- surprise, surprise. I also purchased a couple for ridiculously cheap at Target last night:

  • Monty Python’s 16 Ton Megaset on DVD – This complete TV series set is long overdue since it is part of the family heritage.
  • High and Low on Blu-ray – Kurosawa at his best in a modern setting and a personal favorite just behind Ran and Ikiru.
  • The Third Man on Blu-ray – A favorite shared with my late mother it is one of the best Cold War movies and possibly the best. Welles and Cotton together again, ‘nuff said.
  • Requiem for a Heavyweight on DVD – Brilliant movie and I believe the first tentative effort at any kind of movie review on the blog. Yes, there will be a full review of this coming.
  • Gorgo on Blu-ray – Restored from recently found negatives in a salt mine it is going to be released on the 19th. I’ll have to rewrite the review once I have it and initial word is that it looks great.
  • Dr. No on Blu-ray – The only real cinema James Bond in his debut, it should be spectacular if it is as good as the Goldfinger BD.
  • The Last Starfighter on Blu-ray – As nice as the DVD I had is, this blows it out of the water. Currently working on rewriting the recent review thanks to this $7.00 purchase.

I was dead tired for the trip out last night, yet managed to survive it. I attribute it to the power of crab legs. Oh and the tastiest meat is not in the claw like most think. It can be found in the largest segment of the arm next to the claw arm. Every time I’ve had crab this has been true.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Rodan (1956) (Review)

aka Sora no daikaij├╗ Radon

Ishiro Honda and his crew from Gojira returned with another giant monster film after the mediocre results from another director on its sequel. More of a mystery movie than its predecessors, Rodan is a very different beast that features a more human driven storyline. You won’t find Godzilla in this movie, but Rodan did go on to costar with the more famous beast in multiple films after his destructive debut.

Rodan TitleRodan English Title

When the hastily put together Godzilla Raids Again disappointed, Toho came up with a new monster tale that kept the kaiju genre going. Better effects and the use of color injected life into the story about a mutated pteranodon and a group of coal miners. Succeeding at the box office in Japan, Radon winged its way over the Pacific as Rodan in the American edit a few years later. Both edits will be covered in this review, so let’s get going!

Rodan Miner FightRodan Shigeru Investigates

The movie opens with colorful credits accompanied by sinister music which is immediately identifiable as being in the same style as Gojira’s. Sure enough Akira Ifukube composed the score and it sets the tone for the entire film. Once the lengthy credits end we are introduced to the main setting of Mount Aso in Japan.

A mining community is starting its day with another shift of workers making their way into the mine. Harsh words exchanged between two miners escalates into a brawl between the two men, Goro and Yoshizo. Having been separated by their coworkers, the fight ends inconclusively before all head deep into the bowels of the earth to search for “black diamond.”

Later at the engineer’s office, we are introduced to our main protagonist, Shigeru Kawamura (Keni Sawara). A discussion of global warming melting the polar ice and endangering the world is interrupted by dire news – one of the tunnels has flooded. This is impossible according to the engineers, but that’s experts for you.

Of course when Shigeru arrives on the scene he finds a tunnel filled with water and further bad news that two miners are missing. I wonder which two? Yep, it’s the feuding ones and only one is found. The fact that Yoshizo is found floating face down and has been killed with something like a very sharp sword is a wee bit suspicious.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Turkey Day in March

Hey, if you can have Christmas in July events this should be allowable, right? Anyway, this was the scene outside the house during the snow storm that dumped a fair amount of inches earlier today.

Turkeys01Turkeys02

I first caught side of the flock of wild turkeys outside the kitchen window and by the time I could get the camera ready they had crossed to the west yard. The little parade eventually made its way to a small stand of pine trees for a brief rest.

Turkeys03Turkeys04

Given how dirty the window I was shooting out of and the snow still coming down, this was the best pictures that could be hoped for.

The turkeys have been getting bolder this winter, so seeing them around the property has gotten more common. Ah, country living – you never know who will stop by.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Health 3-4-2013

I burned myself out on Saturday to participate in a youth temple trip to the St. Paul Temple. It was worth it to be of service to those who have passed away and it was something the Spirit had prompted me to do. Good thing too, since we would have been one priesthood holder short for the trip.

As a consequence, yesterday was not a day where I was able to get out and about. Though I missed stake conference, I used the opportunity to watch The Ten Commandments on Blu-ray and ponder the importance of Judaism and Christianity in regards to the slow rise of freedom for all men. Ne entries to Mamie's Life were also put up, so the day was not a complete loss.

Healing from the infection and resulting abscess is still going on. It’s winding down and there is considerably less pain now that it no longer is pressing on a large nerve. It will be nice to be completely healed and not have to worry about it anymore. Meanwhile, the sinuses have decided to misbehave since last Wednesday.

You win some, you lose some.

Saturday, March 02, 2013