Thursday, July 28, 2011

The week so far

Monday I had to take the white car out to get the air conditioning fixed. It should cost between $200 and $400.
The tire in the van had been low after work and I drove slow on it until I could get it filled.

On Tuesday morning it was flat again so Dad swapped cars with me so he could have it looked at while we went to work and the movies. It turns out the sidewalls were in rough shape. He ended up getting both the rear tires replaced. The cost - $260.

On Wednesday I drove out to pick up the car. The cost - $500, so far.

So, it doesn't look like I will finish cleaning out the room before this weekend. I'll see what I can get done on Monday.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour

I remember when Enterprise took its flight off the back of an airplane way back in 1976.
We’ve followed the shuttle program since then, although it has become less riveting as the successful missions piled up. It’s always been cutting-edge dangerous but repetition made us blasé.
They had a fleet of 4 shuttles in service. Columbia was the first, launched in 1981, followed in 1983 by Challenger, in 1984 by Discovery, and in 1985 by Atlantis.

Then Challenger went and blew up on liftoff in 1986. The missions had been going off so well they had even brought a school teacher along for the ride. Besides bringing home the inherent danger of riding a missile, it also created a bunch of jokes that those of us of a certain age will always remember.
What was the last thing Christa McAuliffe said? - Hey, what does this big red button do?
What does NASA stand for? - Need Another Seven Astronauts.

After a suitable delay, the missions went on. They launched Endeavour in 1992 to bring their fleet back up to 4 shuttles and missions progressed again. In 2003, Columbia disintegrated upon reentry due to a failing of its thermal shield. That caused almost a two year delay before the next mission.

Rather than risk more accidents, they have phased out the remaining shuttles this year with Discovery finishing her 39 mission in February, Endeavour finishing her 33 mission in May, and Atlantis just finishing her 25 mission today.

It’s the end of an era.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Floating City

Lately I've been immersed in the Floating City.

Thomas Dolby (She Blinded Me With Science) is releasing a new album. He created an online game to help promote it.

It's set in an alternate version of the 1940s. WWII turned out differently with a global energy experiment having gone haywire. The Earth’s magnetic fields have been reversed, and the planetary climate system violated. The world is flooded and we are trying to get to the North Pole.

You create a persona, with a boat, and get items that group together in sets. In trading the items you complete sets of five and that unlocks a code to download the MP3 of that song. Finishing the tutorial trade with the purple ship will complete the song 'She Blinded Me With Science' - Chemicals, Spheres, Trench Coat, Tubes and Wires, and Careful notes. There are nine songs on each set - getting all nine will unlock an album - with three albums being available.

Trading will move you on a Google map of the world, with your tribe working to move their way north. As you complete trades you get points for you and your tribe. At the end of it, the tribe with the most points is supposed to win a free release concert in their area in which Thomas Dolby will perform the entire album.

I'm listed as Frozen North (Canada) so it will probably end up being in Toronto and out of my reach - but so far we are leading.
vate concert at which Thomas Dolby and his band perform the album in its entirety.

This is my referal link:
If you sign in through here I get a few extra points and extra cargo bits. This will put you in the Frozen River tribe though - so central and Northern US and Canada.

Otherwise the regular link is

It's lovely looking from a graphics view with sepia newsletters and design. From a marketing standpoint, for someone who hasn't really released an album in 20 years, it's making pretty good use of technology. I'm not what I consider a big Dolby fan, but the combinations are intriguing me and I'm definately going to noodle around in there for next while.

Check it out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

X-Men First Class

Unlike some of the other Super-Hero movies that have come out, I did read and follow X-men. I started with the new group and also read a lot of the classic ones. With the depth of history and various configurations of the groups I was quite excited to see a movie about the original group. X-men First Class is not that movie.
That’s not to say that it’s not a good film. It’s one of the better stories and the characters are all well represented. It’s just that they play fast and loose with the history and characters. Most people who have only ever been exposed to the X-men through the movies will not be bothered by this.

The Hellfire Club is well represented and the White Queen is basically wearing her comic costume. As a matter of fact, the accuracy to comic costumes is quite close in this one. Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw was a fine choice as a villain. If only Oliver Platt had a character name other than “man in suit” to match his fine role.

As super-hero films go, even as action films go, it’s quite good. If you have no preconceptions of who would be in the ‘first class’ of X-men, and don’t know who designed Cerebo, the Blackbird, and the yellow and black costumes, if you don’t know when Hank turned blue and fuzzy, when Xavier ended up in a wheelchair, and when Banshee, and Havok joined the X-men and when Shaw, Mystique, and Emma encountered the X-men and when Emma gained a diamond form, and if it won’t bug you that Moria and Banshee are no longer Scottish, then you should have no trouble with this film.

I knew all this going in and it’s probably what prevents me from liking this film more. I liked it quite a bit, but could have liked it even more if some of these had been closer to what I already knew.