Sunday, January 24, 2010

Three semesters of Latin, for this

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke
My brother and I got new phones for Christmas, and I upgraded our shared cell phone plan at the same time. More minutes, free texts, blah blah blah, plus free photo messaging. Which I completely did not see the need for at the time. Until:

Last night, we were celebrating my grandmother's 72nd birthday when someone mentioned how sad it was that Alek couldn't be there.

Time spent snapping a quick shot of Gigi before she could blow out the candles on her cake and texting it to my brother: 10 seconds

Time spent geeking out over how I just sent a photograph halfway across the country using the magic of technology: 5 minutes

Time spent getting ribbed about it by the rest of the family: the entire evening

I'm also loving the free texts. My brother and I had a rather hilarious pun fight going yesterday. I won, as I often do, by breaking out the faux Latin. I think the setup was something about Merlin's cell phone plan - text quandam textque futurus: the once and future text

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I almost didn't read this book.

Tom Schreck talked about his stories in a Bouchercon panel on characters and their relationships with alcohol. His detective, Duffy Dombrowski, is a beer-drinking (ok, guzzling) social worker-cum-boxer who listens to nothing but Elvis. That's new, I thought at the time, but boxing's not my thing. The only sports I enjoy watching are hockey and soccer (and don't even get me started on people who think golf is a great spectator sport).

However, Schreck's discussion of the worlds of social work and writing caught my interest. I must have walked past and picked up the copy of TKO for sale in the book room about ten times. Boxing aside, the story looked good: the back cover promised both humor and a serial killer.

Sunday, at the free-for-all book bazaar, I discovered that Schreck had a table set up. Well, when you can get a book you've been considering for free, signed and handed to you by the author, you go for it!

I feel terrible posting this in January, because I received my copy of TKO last October. And I can't even use the classic "oh, I just finished the book" excuse, because I devoured the entire novel on the flight home. It was an incredibly fast read, without having a plot that's too dumbed down.

The main story follows a case assigned to Duffy Dombrowski, of a man (Howard) recently released from prison, who was convicted twenty-five years ago of killing a number of his high school classmates. The man disappears just at around the same time students from the local high school start turning up dead, leaving the police convinced that Howard's guilty and Dombrowski convinced he's innocent. Further complicating matters are a number of subplots, including girlfriends, boxing, booze, and a self-appointed "apprentice". I was pleased to discover that the sport didn't overtake the main mystery, and I found the descriptions of boxing - from training to actual matches - surprisingly interesting.

I loved how quickly the book zipped by, and did find it funny as promised. The writing in places could have used some more work, and there were points where the plot seemed to flag, but overall I was drawn in to the story. If you're interested, you can see excerpts on Schreck's website.

Also, I feel compelled to point out that TKO is actually second in what is currently a trilogy. The first novel in the series is On the Ropes, and the most recent is Out Cold. Sadly, I haven't had a chance to read either yet.

[On a completely unrelated note, my birthday is in July. . .]

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm a Bachelor!

Took me long enough, didn't it?

But the important part is that I did it!

And just for the record (from UT's website):


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yet More From the Files

I'm going to make this a recurring thing until I a) run out of scans to post or b) have other things to blog about.

Today's gem - an excuse note for class. My dad's notes became legendary among the office ladies in high school; I imagine they were a nice treat after 400 "Please excuse X so they can Y" letters a day.

I wish I'd remembered to get photocopies of more of them:



Dear Warden:

Please allow Nicole [REDACTED] to leave school at 10:50A today, not because she really needs to or anything, she just wants to frolic on the front lawn.
Nicole will be back by noon-thirty . . . that is, unless THEY get her.

Thankew -

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More From the Files

I'd probably get more done if I didn't stop to scan things in.

On the other hand, I'm more likely to throw away old papers if I have a digital copy of them somewhere. That's how I trick my inner pack rat.

Today's offering:

On the back -

No. 5
Age: 09
Weight: 80
Height: 50 IN.
Position(s): FULLBACK
Team: Jets

Yes, that last bit is printed on there. Apparently my father was the one to fill out the questionnaire for the cards.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stars and Stripes

Most of what I own is still packed up - my current project involves taking my things out of the cardboard liquor boxes, donating anything I no longer want to Goodwill, and repacking everything in sturdy plastic containers. (Which, by the way, are a complete steal at HEB right now: $4 each).

It's been a trip, as I keep coming across old school documents that have somehow followed me around all this time. Case in point, this extra credit assignment from 1996 (click to read the large version):

My handwriting over the last 14 years: largely unchanged.
My writing style over the last 14 years: thankfully changed quite a bit.
My signature over the last 14 years: evolved to no longer include little hearts over my i's. I use stars now.

(Actually, I take that back. My handwriting now is actually worse. Amazing.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ikkicon of the FUTURE

2010 hit the ground running - for the second year in a row, my best friend convinced me to attend the local anime convention. Although I am not particularly a fan of "Japanese animation and pop-culture", there are always new things to be learned, and Ikkicon [4] did not disappoint.

I skipped the Friday activities, since at our house New Year's Day is a strictly-pajamas, sleep-until-noon sort of event.

Saturday and Sunday were quite busy:

We sat in on Mock Combat for Cosplay, a two-hour panel run by Chris Ayres. If this panel shows up again I'm definitely jumping in, because it was incredibly fun. Ayres demonstrated how to make it look like you're throttling (or groin-kicking, or slapping, or punching, or arm-twisting) someone without hurting your partner. Even better, he's a fountain of funny and interesting stories of stage trickery, which I find fascinating.

This apparently doesn't hurt at all.

But it looks painful, doesn't it?

This is one of my favorite shots, although I wish I'd gotten video of the kidney-kick.

Another memorable panel was Cosplay Chess, which is just about the geekiest thing in the universe. The floor is blocked out into squares, characters are placed, and two people play a game of chess, moving the characters around the room. Points are, of course, awarded for ingenuity and cleverness in "finishing moves." I don't know who was dressed as Doctor #10 and Rose, but The Doctor produced an award-winning display of sorrow when Rose was bumped off (and just two moves from checkmate - isn't that always the way?). Our team (white) won, and poor Darth Vader was destroyed by a seething mass of characters.

So, apparently it's difficult to take an interesting chess photo. Look, if you want great board game imagery, go here. I'm just a nerd with a camera.

Nice to see the boys getting along.

We later wandered into the artists' and dealer's areas, where I was coerced into parting with my cash. I had decided ahead of time that I was only going to shell out for "experiences" or "charity" so I got two Sereniteas from the Austin Browncoats table. 1) How could I turn down a Nathan Fillion-inspired tea blend and 2) proceeds go toward encouraging more kids to read.

There were about twenty different blends. The woman had me at "you can smell as many of them as you like!"

Right around 5pm the first afternoon, things went blurry. As it turned out, I was simply vibrating at a faster speed than the rest of the world. Possibly due to the event laughingly called "lunch", where I had enjoyed melon bread, chocolate koala bear cookies, Calpico with aloe, and what I think was mochi.

We also stopped in at the charity auction, which unfortunately did not have many convention goers in attendance. Of course, that didn't stop the signed Serenity comics from rapidly soaring above my price range. I did, however, shell out for a dvd of Trinity Blood signed by about 14 different people - which definitely fell within my charity/experience plan. The money goes to Kids Need to Read, and I've never won a live auction before. It was thrilling!

As much as I enjoyed Mock Combat, if there was one panel that was worth the entrance fee all by itself, that panel was A Very Merry ninjaHELL! Last year's left me a little cold, but I laughed my ass off this time - particularly during the traditional "we need to stall because the equipment hasn't shown up yet WHERE THE HELL IS THE RIGHT CABLE" segment.

What else? Lets see. . . we took a little time for photos, because Ivy had a great costume and the Hilton has crazy decorations.

You think this is nuts? One of the rooms had a lighting arrangement on the ceiling that looked like a Viking ship made of diamonds.

We also exchanged gifts! Ivy got me a Doctor Who pop-up book, which is exactly the sort of thing everyone wants and is too embarrassed to buy for themselves. I got her a mug designed by Wil Wheaton and a box of Earl Grey.

Look, ma! Nerds!

(Alternate caption: when you've known someone for over a decade, your brains eventually synch up. Half the fun this weekend was laughing at each other's jokes, taking pictures of toilets, and bringing up embarrassing things we both did in middle school.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 in Media

  1. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  2. The Good Earth
  3. Armageddon (not the one you're thinking of)
  4. Brooklyn's Finest
  5. Chocolate
  6. Dead Bodies
  7. Little While Lie
  8. Care Bears
  9. Bad Lieutenant (ok, a third of it)
  10. Noises Off!
  11. The Sixth Sense
  12. New Moon (for the lulz, honest)
  13. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  14. Inception

  1. Mr. Campion, Criminologist
  2. We
  3. Gimme More
  4. Powers
  5. The Satanic Nurses
  6. The Eyre Affair
  7. Alanna Series
  8. Pledged
  9. The Practice Effect
  10. Mort
  11. The Saint's Getaway
  12. Moving Pictures
  13. Tales of Unease
  14. The Science of Sherlock Holmes

TV Shows
  1. The IT Crowd
  2. Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani
  3. Campion: Look to the Lady
  4. Campion: Police at the Funeral
  5. Campion: The Case of the Late Pig
  6. NCIS
  7. Leverage
  8. Sapphire and Steel, Adventure 2
  9. Black Books
  10. Never Mind the Buzzcocks (random episodes from various years)
  11. MacGyver
  12. Being Human, Season 1
  13. Armstrong & Miller Show, series 1
  14. Primeval (all)
  15. Life on Mars
  16. Sherlock
  17. To the Ends of the Earth
  18. Assorted episodes of QI
  19. The League of Gentlemen
  20. The Office (BBC)
  1. Deathtrap
  2. Misalliance
  3. Taming of the Shrew