James Martini archive

Date : October 2011 (5)

Halloween 2011 status

Categories: Halloween
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Published on: October 23, 2011

So I haven’t been keeping track of what I’ve been doing this year. I really need to be better about it but I’m going to try to at least post a daily status update for the next week as I get the last few bits up. So far I have up the following:

Scarecrow

  • Graveyard fence
  • Some graves
  • The scarecrow
  • The spiderweb
  • The hanged man
  • The cannibal witch

I’m making a ghost out of a zombie/ghoul that didn’t survive last year. I have most of the pieces but need to make a quick trip to the hardware store tomorrow morning for a few last minute supplies and some lighting that I’m missing.

I’m going to have the ghost up for sure and I’m going to do my best to get the graveyard gateposts and gargoyles up by this time next week.

Left to do

  • Ghost over garage
  • Better lighting for graveyard and flickering bulbs for the porch light
  • Gateposts for graveyard
  • Cobwebs
  • Fog machine system test
  • Burn another spooky music CD

I completely spaced on getting a projector this year so my idea of showing old silent horror movies (Nosferatu etc) projected onto the inside of the upstairs window will need to wait until next year. Although, as I write this, I realize that the words would be reversed when seen from the outside so sometime in the next year I’ll need to rip a set of movies from DVD and mirror them so they look right when viewed from the outside. I’ll just have to put a silhouette in the window with a strobe like I did last year.

Elves: A rant

Categories: Gaming
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Published on: October 18, 2011

I’ve always been annoyed by elves, particularly J.R.R. Tolkein’s elves. I never spent much time analyzing why they get under my skin the way they do but I had an epiphany this evening. I realized why I’d probably start punching elves in the face ten minutes if I ever found myself in one of their hauntingly beautiful cities.

Lets look at what they have going for them

  1. Beautiful – you never read about a homely elf, they’re all ethereal and beautiful
  2. Live practically forever – barring accident the either never die or live a ridiculously long time
  3. Good health – they’re usually immune to disease and the complaints of mere mortals. Seriously, when did you ever read about an elf complaining about their sciatica?
  4. Good at everything – I guess if you can spend twenty years perfecting the G chord on your mandolin you can’t help but be ridiculously good at whatever you set your mind to learning.

So what’s not to like? Well, lets take a look.

They’re vaguely racist . Elves pretty much reek of condescension. The lowest elf on the garland wrapped pole still knows that he’s going to outlive just about anyone else and in better health. Sure they’ll smile and be polite but it’s the politeness adults afford to the three year old who has wandered into the conversation.

They’re lazy. Orcs come in and burn down one of your mystic towers? Tree spirits forbid that you actually, oh I don’t know, rebuild it. No, a better use of your time is to spend the next fifty years writing a song about how beautiful it was. Which brings me to their mortal sin…

They’re emo hipsters. The thing that absolutely sets my teeth on edge about Tolkien’s elves is that they are irredeemably wrapped up in how things just aren’t as cool as they used to be.  You think the ruins of this vast decaying elf city deep in the heart of the forest are beautiful? You should have seen it back when humans were still inventing fire and cracking each other over the head with rocks. Nothing is as good as it was and so they spend their timeless, endless youth sighing about how cool things were before your civilization was even founded. That was my epiphany, they live in a constant state of nostalgia.

Barring accident or violence they live their functionally eternal lives, enjoying permanent youth, vigor and beauty complaining about how the sprinkles on their double chocolate sundae existence aren’t quite the right color and the sorrows of knowing that the fallen city of Cuiviénen had sprinkles of just the right shade.

How’s your oatmeal, human? Cold enough?

A brief message to cornsugar.com

Categories: Journal
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Published on: October 9, 2011

Screw you.

Stop trying to make the American public even more ignorant of chemistry, biochemistry and science in general with ridiculous statements like “sugar is sugar”. Certainly you’ve covered your ass by comparing HFCS to table sugar (sucrose) but the statement “sugar is sugar” is flat out incorrect.

Don’t believe me? Try eating a cotton shirt, the cotton fibers are composed of cellulose which is just a chain of glucose molecules, the same glucose molecules that are in table sugar and HFCS. So smile, tell me that sugar is sugar and the body doesn’t care, while you sprinkle wood chips on your oatmeal. Later, when you’re getting your stomach pumped, we can talk about why you can’t digest the sugar in cellulose.

The fact is that different sugars are processed by the body differently. Glucose is immediately accessible to the cells while fructose and galactose need to be processed by the liver. Sucrose and HFCS contain different ratios of glucose and fructose and so while they both spike your blood sugar and put on the road to diabeetus, one of them will hit your liver a little harder.

In the end, I guess it’s true that there is little difference between the consumption of table sugar and HFCS which you have rebranded as “corn sugar” (although that’s more traditionally the term for dextrose). Consumption of either in anything remotely like the amounts common in the US are going to result in obesity, diabetes and a host of other related health issues. If the father on your most recent round of commercials were even remotely concerned for the health of his child he’d cut both corn and table sugar from her diet and return them to the status of a rare treat that processed sugars once were.

Persistence of memory

Categories: Buddhism, Family
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Published on: October 6, 2011

Emily was interested in amnesia today when I picked her up from school. She got around to it by asking about automobile accidents and brain damage but eventually settled on amnesia; what it is, how you get it, what you forget and for how long. I can’t say I’m an expert on brain damage but we spent the drive to her choir practice discussing memory and it’s loss.  One thing that she asked that particularly stood out was her question of whether you changed who you are if you lost your memory. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went (it’s like rain on your wedding day) but here’s the gist of it.

We’re always changing. Who I am now, this moment, is slightly different from who I was a moment ago but is quite different from who I was ten, twenty or thirty years ago. We don’t notice the changes because they’re small but they do add up over time.

The other side of that coin, however, is that my memory of who I was yesterday, last week, last month and last year acts as a guide for who I will be tomorrow. I remember being a daddy and an engineer and a Buddhist yesterday so there is a very good chance that tomorrow I will continue to be a daddy and an engineer and a Buddhist. Remembering who I was yesterday, I’m going to get up in the morning and go into where I worked yesterday, life is very much the same. The chance that I’ll get up and go get a job making coffee at Starbucks is pretty slim.

But what if I’d lost my memory and didn’t remember who I was or where I worked? The chance that I would go out and get a job working as a java monkey is going to be a lot higher. I like the way coffee smells and, not knowing I have the skills of an engineer, it might seem like a good thing to do. Without the memory of who I was yesterday there is suddenly a much larger chance that my life is going to take off in a wildly different direction.

But that’s just my job, where I live, what I think my name is. Is that really me? Will I still be grumpy in the morning if I don’t remember being grumpy? I could see her trying to work out what part of who I am was left when my memories of who I was were gone.

The drive ended at that point but I think we’d agreed that I’d still be grumpy in the morning.

Wall St sociopaths

Categories: Journal
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Published on: October 5, 2011

If there were any doubt that Wall St is populated by sociopaths, this should dispel those doubts:

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