Friday, July 29, 2005

Friday, yeah!

Since I was talking about a new book series that I am reading yesterday, I thought that for today I should mention a classic book of mine by an impeccable author that I have read several times. The Thursday Next series reminds me of this book, Friday by Robert Heinlein. In it, the heroine is a courier for a multinational corporation in an alternate universe where the United States and Canada have split into a collection of 7 or 8 regional areas. The major powers in this universe are the "multinationals", companys that are so huge that they have in effect become governments in of themselves. Heinlein weaves a deft tale of intrigue and political espionage that is a classic page turner. It also follows a classic RAH formula in that it espouses highly controversial ideas, and attacks rigidly held doctrines.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thursday, Next?

Ok I am reading this wonderful series of books lately. Its kind of a cross between Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy and Sliders. The books star Thursday Next, a Spec Ops operative. The first book is The Eyre Affair and has Thursday trying to rescue a kidnapped Jane Eyre from the clutches of a supercriminal. Thursday is a member of Spec Ops-27, literary operatives who are charged with keeping all of Great Britain's fiction free from harm. Yes, this is an alternative reality series in which fictional characters can leap out of their books, time travel is policed by the Chrono Guard (Spec Ops 12), and werewolves and vampires are kept in check by Spec Ops 28 the monster squad. The series is a 1980s-1990s British fantasy/detective series that Teri found one day while roaming the book store and that I ended up reading first and am liking more and more. Teri is just starting the first book. If you want to get a feel for the series visit the Thursday Next website here

Monday, July 25, 2005

Cricket invasion

Ok what is with all the crickets that have decided to move into our house. Don't they know we already have company and don't want anymore. Why are the majority of them hopping there way into our bedroom and keeping Teri awake with their cricket mating songs. Don't they know that Teri doesn't like bugs and I have become the designated bug killer even though I am a pacifist and refuse to kill them (releasing them in the flushing porcelain jacuzzi doesn't count, they are just going for a swim) I know Teri is a Beatles fan, but I am also sure she is not a crickets fan. It is actually getting so bad that I went onto the net and looked up ways to keep them out of the house (even if it is good luck to have one in your home, 25 is way too many). I never knew that crickets chow down on clothing and other plant materials. I did find a relatively humane jar trap to get rid of them (molasses dissolved in water in a jar), but I am open for suggestions. I figure that they are following the dogs into the garage and just continuing their way into the house. I need to get rid of these interlopers now.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Medieval theme?

Ok I decided to do a slight take off of my lovely wife's latest blog and her medieval theme in her classroom. I have always loved two time periods as I was growing up, the Italian Renaissance and the Middle Ages (Medieval Times). Since Teri is doing the castles and knights thing for her classroom, I decided that I should also do something and so I just decided that I should do a room in our house with the same theme. So of course I am open for suggestions, what room should I do? What should I do in the room? I don't have much to use currently (just some cheap plastics manacles from Disneyland and lots of candles) and I am on a limited budget so I could use any help and creative ideas that anyone could suggest. Oh wait I also have a dagger and a sword hanging on the wall in my library that I could move to the chosen room. So what does everyone think?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The old ball and chain...

I know several people have asked questions about me and my family and I figured this was a good time to set the record straight and to talk about something that I don't say nearly enough. I love my wife. I have loved her for 17 years with all my heart and will continue to do so for the rest of my life and then some. She is and was the best thing that ever happened to me. We have been married for nearly 16 years and in today's society that is a rare and precious thing. I will freely admit that there have been a couple of bumps along the road (I can be a hard person to live with as I tend to be a little antisocial and I have a large warped family), but Teri and I have weathered the storms and I don't know what I would ever do without her as she is my confidant and friend. She is my favorite person in all the world to talk to, which we do a lot, as I feel that communication is the key to any successful marriage, but furthermore I just enjoy rambling to her and listening to her. We can discuss philosophy or hare brained theories or just plain gossip for hours at end and talking with her is probably my second favorite thing that she and I do. She puts up with my idiosynchracies and is genuinely interested in what I do, both rare traits in any individual, but doubly so in a spouse. She doesn't care that I am getting old, that I have gained weight since we got married, or that I snore when I sleep. Anyways, enough of my heartfelt rambling and I will just say, I love my wife and soulmate.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I went crazy once...

I know I have been stressed out lately, having semi-permanent houseguests can drive anyone insane. What I am beginning to realize is how bad it has been for my 15 year old son. My mother-in-law is generally not a bad sort, the problem is she is severely overweight and has trouble walking due to her diabetic neuropathy. This combination has led her to behave like she did when my wife was growing up, screaming across the house for people to come get her whatever or to ask them a question. My wife has shown extreme patience in this and I have commended her restraint several times. However, my son is bearing the brunt of the slave labor shortage and seems to be about ready to throw a cog and I can't blame him. Oh well, only two weeks to go and then they move to Sun City which is a good car drive away. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mad Potter

Yawn. Imagine a scene of turmoil, hundreds of people crowd a parking lot frantically searching for a spot and hurrying into the shop. Inside gaggles of young teens crowd the aisles, ignoring the merchandise, looking for a place to sit down. Young children rush from booth to booth, laughing and giggling at the sight of crazily dressed adults and face-painted children. At a cafe, harried looking adults stare glumly around looking for an open table or at least a chair to pilfer. Coffee is gulped spasmodically, vacant expressions on the patron's faces, most stifling yawns as they surrepetiously glance at their neighbors.

Yawn. Sound like the opening of ticket sales for a new concert? Or maybe the advent of a Las Vegas theme park? Try again. Maybe I am just writing the opening for my best seller novel. Closer. This was the atmosphere last night as Teri, Josh, Sabrina (my neice), and I went to the midnight bookstore party for the debut of the new Harry Potter book- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince . The Barnes and Noble bookstore on N Rainbow was loaded with geeked out adults and children eagerly awaiting the next installment of their fictional hero.

Yawn. Why did I go you ask? Realistically I have no idea, I resisted my wife's attempts to get me to go since this was also the debut night for the Sci-Fi Channel's Sci-Fi Friday featuring my favorite show Stargate SG1. However, knowing that my wife loathes my anti-social tendencies, and knowing that I might actually see someone I knew at the debut, and also, because you never really have to twist my arm to go to a bookstore, I only put up a token resistance and quickly gave in to Teri's eager anticipation of the literary event.

Yawn. And just in case you want to know, we bought 4 copies of the book; one for my neice, one for my sister's family, one for Josh, and one for Teri and I to share. Yes share. One of the most fun things that Teri and I have about reading the Harry Potter books is pilfering the lone copy of the book we have from each other, trying to get through the book before the other one can, and also trying to keep up with our son's frantic dash through the pages of Potterville. So far Josh is way ahead, staying up to 4 or 5 in the morning to read, getting through maybe a third of the book. I snuck in about 40 pages this morning when Teri and her mom went grocery shopping and Teri has barely started, only managing to glance at the last page in the book and to read the first 4 or 5 pages...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Remotely controlled

You ever wish that people had a remote control that you could use on them? Maybe rewind something funny and see it again? How about being able to TIVO real life, you know so you could get some extra sleep or re-live an event over and over again. You could edit out the bad parts (like the 2 months the in-laws have been living at my house) kind of like skipping commercials. You could even fast forward to the good parts and then go f r a m e b y f r a m e s l o w. You could keep a collection of your good life events and stick them in to watch when times are slow. You could control people at work with the remote, toggling up their intelligence, like turning up the volume on the TV. Or like the picture shows, how about a mood button? What would you like on your personal remote? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You mean its based on a comic book?

Ok Teri, me, and An80snut and a gaggle of others went to see a movie last night. We ended up seeing Fantastic Four which turned out to be pretty good and got a good reaction in the theater. While we were standing outside the theater waiting for the girls to get out of the bathroom we had an interesting conversation that I feel like sharing with my blogging buddies. It went something like this (paraphrasing):

Josh (my 15 year old son)- It was ok. I liked The Incredibles better.
Me - I can't wait for Sky High, the preview looked good.
An80snut - Sky High reminded me of the X-men
Josh - I liked The Incredibles better than X-men.
Me - Yeah The Incredibles was kind of a mixture of the Fantastic Four comic book and Xavier's Scool in the X-men.
An80snut - The Incredibles wasn't based on a comic book though and it was a cartoon...
Me - Yeah. I wonder how many people in the audience knows that The Fantastic Four was a comic book though.
An80snut - Especially since everyone was so young. They probably thing FF4 is a rip of The Incredibles...

We then started discussing how many movies lately are based on comic books that we read in our youth and nobody reads anymore. So here is my question of the day. What are your top 3 movies based on comic books and why?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Whining out.

As I write this I am listening to a whining dog. To be precise, my in-laws chihuahua whining cause he was locked in the room when the in-laws went out. I know certain people won't believe this, but I actually at one time liked animals. Teri and I even had fish for a couple of years. I had dogs growing up and I adopted or was adopted by a couple of cats when I was young. They and I would hang out together hidden in the bushes (yeah I had a strange and bad childhood) Now, however, I have grown to hate animals. Dogs annoy me, cats get on my nerves, I can't even look a pigeon in the eye without thinking about feeding them rice and watching them explode (yeah I know its an urban myth, but what a visual). Here I was just going to post something innocuous, maybe talk about how glad I am about having my two online summer classes over with (I am still going to college, working on my 4th degree even if I don't have any paper to show for it yet) Instead I am cringing because the stupid dog doesn't realize that nobody is going to let him out of the room for awhile. Wonder if I can string a hose from the tailpipe of the car to under the door of their room.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Teleportation: Express Lane Space Travel

Found a cool new article to share with everyone...

Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
Fri Jul 8,12:06 PM ET

Think Star Trek: You are here. You want to go there. It's just a matter of teleportation. Thanks to lab experiments, there is growth in the number of "beam me up" believers, but there is an equal amount of disbelief, too. Over the last few years, however, researchers have successfully teleported beams of light across a laboratory bench. Also, the quantum state of a trapped calcium ion to another calcium ion has been teleported in a controlled way. These and other experiments all make for heady and heavy reading in scientific journals. The reports would have surely found a spot on Einstein's night table. For the most part, it's an exotic amalgam of things like quantum this and quantum that, wave function, qubits and polarization, as well as uncertainty principle, excited states and entanglement.
Seemingly, milking all this highbrow physics to flesh out point-to-point human teleportation is a long, long way off. Well, maybe...maybe not.

A trillion trillion atoms

In his new book, Teleportation - The Impossible Leap, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., writer David Darling contends that ""One way or another, teleportation is going to play a major role in all our futures. It will be a fundamental process at the heart of quantum computers, which will themselves radically change the world." Darling suggests that some form of classical teleportation and replication for inanimate objects also seems inevitable. But whether humans can make the leap, well, that remains to be seen. Teleporting a person would require a machine that isolates, appraises, and keeps track of over a trillion trillion atoms that constitute the human body, then sends that data to another locale for reassembly--and hopefully without mussing up your physical and mental makeup. "One thing is certain: if that impossible leap turns out to be merely difficult--a question of simply overcoming technical challenges--it will someday be accomplished," Darling predicts. In this regard, Darling writes that the quantum computer "is the joker in the deck, the factor that changes the rules of what is and isn't possible." Just last month, in fact, scientists at Hewlett Packard announced that they've hammered out a new tactic for a creating a quantum computer—using switches of light beams rather than today's run of the mill, transistor-laden devices. What's in the offing is hardware capable of making calculations billions of times faster than any silicon-based computer. Given quantum computers and the networking of these devices, Darling senses the day may not be far off for routine teleportation of individual atoms and molecules. That would lead to teleportation of macromolecules and microbeswith, perhaps, human teleportation to follow.

Space teleportation

What could teleportation do for future space endeavors? "We can see the first glimmerings of teleportation in space exploration today," said Darling, responding to questions sent via e-mail by to his home office near Dundee, Scotland. "Strictly speaking, teleportation is about getting from A to B without passing through the points between A and B. In other words, something dematerializes in one place, then simply rematerializes somewhere else," Darling said. Darling pointed out that the Spirit and Opportunity rovers had to get to Mars by conventional means. However, their mission and actions are controlled by commands sent from Earth. "So by beaming up instructions, we effectively complete the configuration of the spacecraft. Also, the camera eyes and other equipment of the rovers serve as vicarious extensions of our own senses. So you might say the effect is as if we had personally teleported to the Martian surface," Darling said.

Spooky action at a distance

In the future it might be possible to assemble spacecraft "on-the-spot" using local materials. "That would be a further step along the road to true teleportation," Darling added. To take this idea to its logical endpoint, Darling continued, that's when nanotechnology enters the scene. When nanotechnology is mature, an automated assembly unit could be sent to a destination. On arrival, it would build the required robot explorer from the molecular level up. "Bona fide quantum teleportation, as applied to space travel, would mean sending a supply of entangled particles to the target world then use what Einstein called 'spooky action at a distance' to make these particles assume the exact state of another collection of entangled particles back on Earth," Darling speculated. Doing so opens the prospect for genuinely teleporting a robot vehicle--or even an entire human crew--across interplanetary or, in the long run, across interstellar distances, Darling said. "Certainly, if it becomes possible to teleport humans," Darling said, "you can envisage people hopping to the Moon or to other parts of the solar system, as quickly and as easily as we move data around the Internet today."

UFO connection?

If indeed we are to become a space teleporting civilization, what about other advanced civilizations circling distant stars? Perhaps they have already mastered mass transportation via teleportation? One might even be drawn to consider that mode of travel in connection with purported UFO visitation of Earth. "Any strange comings and goings are candidates for teleportation, although you would obviously have to eliminate all mundane explanations first," Darling responded. "According to reports, some UFOs do appear and disappear quite abruptly, which would fit in with the basic idea of teleportation," he said. Darling said that interstellar teleportation would be one way to circumvent the light barrier, "although, as we understand the process now, you would need to make a sub-light trip first to set up the teleportation receiver and assembler at the destination." Quantum teleportation, Darling pointed out is the kind we can do at the subatomic level in the lab today. And that requires equipment at both ends to be able to work. "Extraterrestrial intelligence that is thousands or millions of years ahead of us will certainly be teleportation experts," Darling advised, "if the technology can be implemented at the macroscopic biological level." What possible outcome, then, from ET successfully tinkering with teleportation? "We might expect advanced aliens to be occasionally beaming in to check on our progress as a species," Darling concluded.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Root beer

Is it me or has the fizz gone out of root beer lately? Root beer used to be one of my favorite drinks. I could name all the leading brands: A & W, Shasta, Hires, Dads, Mug, Barqs, etc. I used to scorn soda other than my favorite, a good old fashioned root beer. I still have fond childhood memories of going to the A & W stand here in town and getting a root beer float or rooting around in an ice chest at a barbeque or a picnic for a generic or store brand root beer and then popping the top off for an icy cold thirst quenching drink. Now, as an adult, years later, root beer seems to have lost its zest. I still drink it, but it always tastes like watered down Pepsi now with maybe a mild aftertaste. What happened to root beer with bite? And no I am not talking about Barq's cute commercial. The flavor has gone out of my favorite beverage and I am left thinking that maybe this is a metaphor for today's moden world, a mass produced imitation of the forgotten better old fashioned times. Everything is packaged in plastic and made in bulk so individual flavors are forgotten. Is it a wonder that we now have gourmet soda like Jones Sodas, trying to recapture some of the specialness of the small beverage companies. Leave me alone, I am feeling old and am just going to sit here at my keyboard and guzzle a 2-liter bottle of Mug non-caffeinated imitation root beer.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

4th of July fizzles

Ok I don't know what it is about this year lately, but I am really feeling old and tired. A couple of days ago, the wife and I made a decision that we are not going to do anything for the Fourth this year. Now some of you might see this as no big deal, but the 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the mix of socializing and playing with fire/blowing things up. Yet, this year I find myself in a really anti-social mood and although there are a couple of people that I wouldn't mind seeing blow up, I can't seem to excited about exploding things. I even tried to do the cop out thing and see if my son wanted to do something and instead he answered, "Thats what virtual fireworks are for." What a geek child I have. I guess the wife and I will just sit in the backyard and watch the illegal fireworks going off in the desert down the street. Maybe I can take advantage of the boredom and get Teri drinking. At least something good might happen on the 4th.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Driving me crazy

Well I am back from the California adventure and I am sure glad to be back. Now don't get me wrong, vacations can be loads of fun, but I have decided this is the last one I do with skads of people. We went vacationing with just about everyone in my wife's family: the in-laws, brothernad sister-in-law, great uncles and aunts, neices, nephews, lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I don't think we had even left when the fighting and whining started. My wife and I and son had a peaceful trip to California, she drove, which brings up an interesting point for the married couples and what not in the audience, who drives out of you and the significant other on long road trips? It used to be that I would drive everywhere and the wife would play navigator, now I find myself more and more getting my wife to drive the long hours while I kick back and play passenger. I am not even sure when this switch took place, or why. I think it started out when we split the driving chores on a long vacation. Oh well, back to the griping on vacation. Let me fill you in on the original plan, we were all going to Disneyland for a two day vacation, with a small side trip to Knotts Berry Farm so my wife could indulge one of her childhood memories at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knotts. Everything had been hashed out beforehand with the trip's minuteia planned out. The only thing in dispute was the leaving date, I wanted to leave Thursday afternoon and the wife was hoping for Thursday evening. I had to work early Friday so I didn't want to stay too late. Needless to say, we had a leisurely drive there and arrived early and did a little shopping at Downtown Disney (I gave in on this, but actually enjoyed it -- shhhhhh don't tell Teri). Sounds like the makings of a good trip? It was until other people got involved. We met up with the Great Uncle and Aunts at Redondo Beach and had a lousy dinner at Cheesecake Factory, and then walked the Pier and let my son have fun at the arcade. The drama started when we got back to the hotel and hooked up with Teri's brother and family. I understand now why my wife had issues with her older brother while growing up, talk about a control freak! Its not like I haven't dealt with the brother before, but just when I start to relax with him, he pulls a stunt like he did on vacation. Heaven forbid if anyone wants to modify "his plans". Between that and the mother-in-laws constant complaining and whining, I was more than happy to just hang out with my son at the Disney arcades.