Archive for April, 2009

Star Trek @ Brattle

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Star Trek - 118 - ArenaI’ve been in a Star Trek mood since seeing the movie last week and subsequent debates about it’s merits with the handful of people who I saw it with. So when I heard that the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square was going to show six episodes of the original series on their big screen tonight for cheap, I decided to go and see two of them. I just got back.

Wow, am I glad that I didn’t pay to see all six. I mean I know there is a reason why I’ve not bothered to ever watch them (I have them all), but they were pretty bad. Although, as with Indiana Jones, seeing them with an enthusiastic audience probably did help. Also, the source material was the remastered DVDs, so the quality was much improved over my recorded from the G4 channel reruns. In any case, I saw:

  1. Star Trek – 118 – Arena
  2. Star Trek – 126 – Errand of Mercy

I feel that perhaps I’ve been too hard on Star Trek 11, it was much improved over the originals. But then I suppose the next level up is to compare it to the original movies, which I haven’t seen in many years.

Star Trek (11)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009


I just got back from seeing the new Star Trek movie! How do you ask, well Celeste, told the xkcd forums, who told me. It seemes the Internet and the theater knew nothing about it otherwise. I still don’t know how she found out about it, but not many people did. It was not packed. I don’t quite understand why you wouldn’t promote a sneak preview enough to pack one showing. Anyways. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so the rest will be quite generic.

The movie started out strong, and quickly established a great action drama balance. I was drawn in well before the opening credits. The opening credits lacked a certain familiar tune. I mean, what they had, it’s similar, but it did not fulfill my desire to hear the music. The closing credits did so that was good.

So the movies going along just great and then there is a major plot point, something bad happens, and after that the movies just not the same. However, due to the continuities involved, there was a choice the writers could have made; that I would have made, but they did not. This takes them down a road towards a disappointing conclusion.

There is one gripe I can be specific about, because it was in the trailer. In the trailer they show a starship being constructed on the ground, on pylons. This utterly ridiculous. First, it is not consistent; all other star trek ships have been built in space. Second, if NASA didn’t even want to launch all of the international space station at once cause it weighted too much, imagine a star ship. Finally, star ships are not made to fly in the atmosphere, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna be rocketed up there, and they don’t have that kind of transporter capability at that point in the timeline; so how the hell does it get off the damn planet! I’m sorry there’s just no way that is realistic at all.

So this movie, being an odd one (11) was bound to suck (as all the odd numbered ones do), and so it did, although I will continue to applaud the strong start it had. And if you claim that this was really a different movie sequence then the other one then it is number 1, also odd, also bound to suck. This movie will not reboot the franchise. I’m not even sure the tag line “The future begins” is appropriate.

I do want to end on a high note. I really liked all of the new actors for the major characters, and they really did a good job of working in everyone’s lines from the show. They also hit all the classic elements but they did some of them in different ways. This is very similar to how Get Smart did things, and is applaudable. I would see a squeal involving them, but not in the time-line that extends from this film, which is the real problem with it.

2 Years of Blogging

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Wow, yesterday, marks the start of the third year of this blog. When I started the reason for blogging was that I had a bunch of stories/things I wanted to talk about and no one who’d be interested in hearing about them. So I decided I’d just tell the internet and assume no one read them. I’m not sure what the reason I continue blogging now is, but that is not it. I’ve been fortune over the last two years to meet a bunch of new friends, who, among other things will (at least in the collective sense) listen to my stories.

The blog continues to do a good job of forcing me to organize the stories and acting as a broadcast medium so I have to tell the stories less often. Its sort of a reversal of sorts, especially since I now find myself keeping certain classes of stories off the blog.

Cookies FTW

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Taking full advantage of my day off I decided to make some cookies. Specifically faux girl scout cookies. More specifically this Do-Si-Dos recipe. I’m very impressed with myself, these cookies are a major win. Unfortunately my camera is still MIA, so you’ll have to imagine them.

New Glasses

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I resolved my lost glasses problem today. I got my new prescription from the optomistrist. Surprise, it’s the same as it was two years ago. At least I didn’t pay for them to tell me that directly, but this is totally part of the health care spending problem in this country. If I want a pair of lenses with certain focal lengths, I should be able to get them without wasting money on a doctor. Anyways, I spent more than I expected, but I like them better than my old ones so at least there’s a win. Here they are in black, but mine are silver.
Mine are in silver, not black
Of course, with a broken camera, I can only show you the stock photo. But it is pretty accurate.The last picture of my old pair (I think) They are very similar to my old pair, in that they are silver, have a rim only at the top, and are squarish rather than round. The main difference is that the lenses are smaller and more rectangular. They still aren’t the tiny little rectangles that are in style these days, but they’re smaller. Mary, who I brought along to provide her expert opinion, suggested that my old ones were too big, so at least we solved that problem. Although, these were her second choice, her first choice were even smaller, and I just couldn’t deal.

Broken Camera

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Also on the ski trip, on the second day, I broke my camera. After taking this picture featuring mike climbing up a ridge after taking a pretty impressive fall. Even those of us who didn’t fall still had a climb, that powder stuff really slows you down. Sadly I forgot to use the snow setting for this shot.

Mike coming slowly up the hill

Anyways. After taking that maybe I didn’t turn the camera off properly and the lens didn’t retract. Or I did and I somehow turned it back on while it was in my pocket. But the next time I took it out to take a picture, the lens was already extended, and some of the teeth on the gears that let it focus and zoom appeared to be broken. That seems like something that might be fixable, but who knows if that would cost less than the price of the camera new, which is ~$110 apparently.

I’ve got some mild issues with the camera, which is a Cannon A560, so I’m not sure I’d replace it with the same thing. The things I’d like in a new camera are:

  • Faster flash/picture taking: I often find that I miss things because once I hold down the shutter button it takes too long to capture the image. I’m not taking motion blur, I’m talking delay. It is only exacerbated when the flash is on. New batteries help, but if I have to use brand new batteries all the time then it’s really a battery life issue.
  • More optical zoom: 4x is just not enough. I like to take high resolution pictures of landscapes for my panoramas, and more zoom, combined with more pictures make better results.
  • Better night photos: many of my shots occur at night, and this camera kind of sucks at it. First, I almost never want the flash on for them. The flash ruins the colors. There are so many vibrant colors in the city at night; I want a more sensitive CCD to pick them up. Also, I want a lot more leeway in how still I have to hold the darn thing.

I haven’t done a lot of research yet, but I think that those requirements push me into the expensive SLR world. This is especially true of the last one. However, whatever I get still needs to fit into a cargo pocket, which pretty much eliminates the SLR world. I mean cargo pockets are big, but they aren’t that big. I suppose all I really want is an improvement in each category, not the best I can get in each category. Maybe I can find that, but I’m not sure how to quantify some of those into a comparable number, of where to find numbers for the ones that can be quantified.

2009 Utah Ski Trip

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

That's some deep powderFinally, time to write about the ski trip. Here is the quick story I’ve already told pretty much everyone:

The trip was excellent. It snowed maybe 10 inches the first day we were there, with some more the previous night. This, however, didn’t cause us any trouble with our flights. So the first day was cold, windy, and snow. But we were determined to ski anyways, and it wasn’t so bad. All the snow did make for excellent fresh power for the next two days, which were both clear and cold. On the fourth day it warmed up a bit to above 40, at least at the bottom of the mountain. Also, there may well have been places where we could find untracked powder on the fourth day, but I was far to tired to venture beyond the groomed stuff.

PaulSome extra tidbits and details:

  • We went to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain as per usual.
  • My bed was a nest constructed of two identical couches.
  • There was satellite Internet that stopped working about 12 hours into the trip due to 20 second power outage. Eventually we were told the router needed 15 minutes to reset – WTF?
  • I much prefer lunch at the base of snowbasin, which features stir-fry, to the top which features meat and potatoes.
  • Powder Mountain totally failed at lunch by tuning their cafeteria style lunch hall into an order and then have your name called system, which is far less efficient. But I think the food was better, mmmm sweet-potato-fries.

Fresh Lemons

Monday, April 6th, 2009

My room mate Sriram shared this blog post about awful statistics with me earlier this week. Today, reports, “U.S. highway deaths at lowest levels since 1961.” Clearly we must have imported a whole lot of fresh lemons from Mexico last year.

First Flight of the Season

Monday, April 6th, 2009

View Larger Map
On Sunday, I skipped out on doing my taxes for an hour or so and took my kite to a nearby park for its first flight of the 2009 season. The wind was good, but the space at the park is rather confined by trees. I actually had a run in with one of them, luckily, the kite was very low to the ground so I could pull it down without reaching. The are some less treed areas of the park, but they don’t get nearly as much wind as the ‘V’ shaped, treed area at the top of the hill. It was very calming and relaxing following my somewhat stressful Saturday.

Highs and Lows

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

I met a really awesome girl named Celeste tonight, but failed (via not asking) to get her number. This was at Information Superhighway Five.

I lost my glasses during a crazy, enormous, pillow fight this afternoon.