Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Obligatory end-of-year post

I would like to say that I will promise more activity here in the coming year, but I won't (promise, that is).  Most of the time, I just don't see much point in trying to post everything I find interesting.  My other blog, The Briar Files, gets a lot more activity than this one, I suppose because it's so much more focused.  I post over there much more than here, but I still have a huge backlog of things I could post over there, and haven't because I just don't care enough to.

It just seems easier to me to throw a link up on Facebook, and most readers here are "friends" with me over there, so you probably see it over there anyway.  If anyone who reads this blog and uses FB is not a "friend" of mine on FB, you're welcome to send me a request.  Just be sure to include a message that you're a blog reader, because if I don't recognize your name, I won't approve the request.

Speaking of which, here is something that annoys me somewhat, but not a whole lot.  Someone who I am "friends" with will tell me in meatspace "I really like what you put on Facebook."  "Oh yeah?" I say, "which thing?"  "Oh, all of them!"  "Well," I say, "thanks."  But what I'm really thinking is, well then would it kill you click the "like" button every now and then?

The biggest thing this past year for me has been my ukulele playing.  Actually, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I can "play" the uke.  I just strum chords and sing, and my strumming isn't very sophisticated.  But I have been having more fun with it than just about anything else I have ever done, and I know I would get much better if I dedicated myself to a consistent practice schedule.  In years gone by, I was told my more than one teacher that I had an enormous musical talent.  The problem is, I just don't have the ambition to develop it.  Anyway, I'm planning on buying another ukulele soon.  This one will be a tenor with what's called "low G tuning."  You can look that up if you're curious enough.  Also, I'm most likely going to get an electro/acoustic model, which is an acoustic with a pick-up so it can be plugged into an amp (but can still be played without an amp just like an acoustic).  I was thinking about getting a baritone but the place I want to buy from doesn't have any of the affordable models in stock right now, so I'll have to keep watching and maybe get one later.  I want both a tenor and a baritone because they're tuned differently and of course the baritone has a lower, more guitar-like sound.  I'll still have my soprano if I want to play it, and my daughter also likes playing with it, so she'll still be using it.

I thought I'd add a list of cool websites that I probably haven't mentioned here but which I read fairly regularly, and most likely only began reading this year.  I haven't bothered updating the blogroll in a long time because I read so few personal blogs these days and the big non-personal blogs don't need my link to get traffic.

First, podcasts.

How to Do Everything - A couple of guys take listeners' questions and call someone up who they think might know the answer and have the person talk about it.  Most episodes run about 20 minutes and they are very interesting and entertaining.  This year they have also been running a feature called "Toilet of the Week" but I don't know if they're going to continue it into the coming year or not.

Sophos Podcasts - This is a short podcast (about 15 minutes per) regarding computer security, explained in language that non-experts can understand.  Anyone who regularly uses the internet should listen to this one.

Titanium Physicists Podcast - A podcast about complicated physics problems in language that non-physicists can understand.  Very educational.  The main podcast runs about 30 minutes, but then there are always some extras added on after the main podcast where they go into off-topic, sometimes humorous commentary, so the whole thing can sometimes go up to an hour.

Useless Information Podcast - Another short (20 minutes or so) podcast from a high school science teacher in which he tells about weird things "from the flip side of history."  Also included are vintage radio commercials and trivia questions about odd things from history.

Other stuff:

Forgotten Bookmarks - A blog from a book collector who posts pictures of things he finds inside books that come into his possession.

Roger Wilkerson, The Suburban Legend - Let's see, I guess we can call this a "historical pop-culture blog," mostly picture-based.  Photos, magazine covers, vintage ads and music.

Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine - Another pop-culture blog about books, movies, music and other things, both historical and contemporary.

Great But Forgotten - A blog mostly about movies but also sometimes about books and music that, in the writer's opinion, are "great but forgotten."  I've learned about some good old movies from this one.

I guess that's about all for now.  Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Heh heh

My son has just spent the afternoon engaged in archery practice with his neighbor friend, using an old bow that I rescued from a dumpster one day when I was working (a perfectly good bow, I might add).  Just wait until he sees the new bow that Santa's going to bring him tonight!

P.S. The old bow that I found is also collapsible so it can be stowed in a much smaller place than you would normally expect to find a bow.  Don't know why anyone would throw it away, but they also threw away three perfectly good arrows at the same time.  Brought them all home.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Number 10

I don't have any big speech prepared or anything, but I thought I'd mention that I created this blog 10 years ago, this very day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

This irritates me greatly

No.  No, it is not.  Coincidence is not irony.  In fact, going caroling on Go Caroling Day IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF IRONY.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

That day gets ever closer...

6 Substances That Wipe Their Ass With the Laws of Physics

 Not long ago, I told my son, "In your lifetime, and maybe even in my lifetime, there will be computers that you can roll up and stick in your back pocket."

I would now like to add to that:  There will be communications devices (similar to cell phones) that will be lighter and thinner than our current credit cards, and they will be more powerful than the real computers we use now.

Friday, December 13, 2013

ALL of them

This is from Bad Newspaper, which is one of my regular humorous reads.  It reminds me of something that I always thought was quite hilarious.

My home congregation (note:  I am not Catholic) always has a Halloween festival, just as many Christian congregations do.  A few years ago when some of the group were setting up the festival grounds at night for the festivities the next day, one of our local cops noticed activity at the church grounds and went to investigate.  She saw one of our elders there helping out, so she went and asked him what was going on.

"We're setting up for the Halloween festival tomorrow night," he answered.

"Oh..." she said, "...I didn't know you...people...celebrated Halloween."

"Oh, sure!" he said, "we celebrate ALL the pagan holidays!"

This still cracks me up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas is Blue mixtape #1 on YouTube

I've had this idea for a mixtape for quite some time now.  So I made this "mixtape" of Christmas music with a sort of melancholy tone and here it is.

Saturday, December 07, 2013


I had to work today.  Mandatory OT.  This always happens in December, and it will probably happen in January, too, because of the weird way the water company schedules its billing.  I don't understand it myself, but I'll have to work next Saturday as well, and we'll most likely have at least 2 more OTs in January.  Well, part of it is because of all the holidays, but it's really more complicated than that.

Anyway, it was cold today, but when the wind wasn't hitting me it wasn't all that bad because when you're walking as fast as you can for 3 hours at a time, you tend to warm up pretty well.  I was also "layered up," as my wife says.

Thermal socks for my feet.  My usual work blue jeans with flannel pajama pants underneath to keep my legs warm.  Torso:  a long-sleeved work t-shirt under my work button shirt, over that a quite warm hoodie, over that my work windbreaker.  Hoodie hood on and tied under my chin, windbreaker hood over that, also tied up.  I also had a Thermos™ of hot coffee in my truck.

There was going to be this Christmas party tonight that we were invited to, but my wife has to work tonight so I wasn't going, anyway.  But then I get a call on my cell and I let it go to voicemail.  Later I listen to the voicemail and the message is that the party has been postponed "because of the weather."

This struck me as quite funny.  Weather? I thought.  No rain, no snow, no sleet, no hail, no hurricanes or tornadoes or any otherwise hazardous winds, and it isn't actually below freezing.  What weather?  There is no weather!

I think that some people in this area need to experience real cold just once to give them some perspective.  For me, "real cold" was around 20 below in North Dakota once.  I hope never to experience cold like that again.  When I got back to the truck I drove another 10 hours southeast before I stepped outside again, and in my new location it was around 20 above.  I marveled at how warm it felt.  This was when I was driving a truck, of course.  When I dropped or picked up a trailer, I would have to go around the back and write the number of the trailer down and so forth.  I had to keep the end of my pen stuck in my mouth while I was walking around to keep the ink from freezing.  I had enough of that to last me the rest of my life.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Monday, December 02, 2013

How to sharpen pencils

I have to admire this guy for believing so strongly in what he does. I don't know why I never thought of sharpening a pencil with a fine-grit whetstone.

I should have also mentioned that this might be NSFW because of a couple of "bad" words. So keep your volume down if you are around people who like to act offended just so they can get you in trouble.