Print Story I hear that all the cool kids are posting diaries again
By lm (Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:13:26 AM EST) (all tags)
So I guess I should end the trend of the cool kids posting diaries.

On TE's recommendation, I took in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning over the weekend. I was mostly disappointed. It wasn't all that horrible of a flick but hardly what I would consider evidence of a renaissance in straight to video action films. Hello, Death Race franchise?

I guess my core problem with it is that it seemed so very derivative. If a teenager sat down to do a mashup of Apocalypse Now and The Bourne Identity with the tech hardware from the Universal Soldier Franchise, you'd have something not unlike this. There was one plot twist that I should have seen coming that I didn't that made sense out of what I had first thought was a major plot hole.

Not that I don't think that movies that entirely derivative can't be fun. Crawlspace very much wears its influences on its sleeves. Yet I thought that it was a nice little film.

I probably would have liked the movie better if I had gone in with no expectations. Vishnevetsky of the AV club sets impossibly high expectations for Hyam's work comparing it to Andrei Tarkovsky and David Lynch. Not even close.

Over all, I'll stick with action movies featuring Donnie Yen, Jason Statham, or Clive Owens. Having Van Damme in a movie exponentially lowers the likelihood that it will be bearable. I mean, just compare The Expendables 2 to the original. Not even Jason Statham's presence can save The Expendables 2. Or take the recent Redemption (Hummingbird in the UK) which has Statham in a slow boiling action movie rife with just as many cliches as Hyam's efforts and yet which speaks to the human condition in a way which Hyam's films do not.

I'm not totally opposed to Vishnevetsky's notion that Hollywood is not where the best action movies are being made. But using Hyam's work to say that the Direct to Video market is where all the cool kids are at just doesn't pan out well.

:: :: :: :: ::

My employer recently had their bi-annual user group conference. I got chosen to present at two sessions and provide half a day of training on a new module of our software the day after the conference proper. It was an interesting experience. I clocked in far too many hours and gave up a good deal of my regular exercise regime to make it happen.

The most rewarding part of the conference was the chance to meet folks that I work with remotely every day (or at least every week or every month) in more social setting. Between the luncheons and the happy hours, it was nice to take a step back and be able to see names develop into full fledged persons.

Presenting a proper talk in a room full of people proved to be more physically and psychicly draining than I thought it would be. I'm not new to public speaking by any means. But this is the first time that I've had to present so many times so close together: one session once on day 1, another session twice on day 2, and the half day training on day 3.

Draining as the experience was, it was also fun. I really should figure out a way to give presentations on subject matters nearer and dearer to my heart as a way to make a living. That would be a good trick, though. My hourly rate in the IT industry is starting to get a bit ridiculous.

:: :: :: ::

I ended up buying a road bike about two months ago. (More on the saga about how that came to be in a future diary.) A large part of the rationale is that I've decided to train for an Olympic distance triathlon next fall. I was fairly certain that the riding would be the easiest part of the event. And, when I ride the road bike, I don't have much trouble keeping up with the guys on the bike trail that look serious. In some cases I can pass them. But, of course, my commute to work is only six miles each way. There is a difference between six miles and the 25 miles in an Oly distance triathlon.

So a few weekends ago, I decided to give a 25 mile circuit a try. I headed down Rock Creek Trail to the Jefferson Memorial and then back up the Capital Crescent Trail. Rock Creek Trail is awkward on the weekends. Part of it switches back and forth between Rock Creek Parkway, a major automobile artery that cuts through Rock Creek Park, and a paved biking trail that runs parallel to it. The connections aren't always obvious. For a first timer, it's easy to get lost.

Moreover, on a sunny day when weather gets up into the sixties of God's own degrees, the trail is packed. Roller bladers, strollers, walkers, joggers, runners, and cyclists pack the trail, especially by the National Zoo. But once downtown, and I found the connection to the Capital Crescent to come back, I was able to put the hammer down a bit. The CC was far less crowded. The largest limiting factor was the 15 mph speed limit on the trail once I crossed over from DC to The People's Republic of Montgomery County.

Once home, I hopped off my bike, took off my shoes and ran five and a half miles. I was shooting for 10k but I gassed out half way through mile five. I ended up walking half a mile or so home. I was tired the rest of the day but not by nearly as much as I had thought that I would be. Which is good news. Ten months out from The Nation's Triathlon, I can almost handle something equivalent to 2/3 of the course. The only thing left to do is get the swimming sorted out.
And, to do that, I've been taking swimming lessons. Turns out that the aforementioned PRoMC has an excellent aquatics program. I'm presently 2/3 of the way through a "swimming for conditioning" course. The instruction has been very helpful. My form is starting to come together and the thing to do now is to focus on distance.

:: :: ::

Over a year ago, I started an essay comparing and contrasting Anthem, Hunger Games, and Ender's Game. For the past six months, I've thought about it from time to time. But somehow I just don't find the time or energy to finish it up. In that span of time, I have managed to finish a few proper writing pieces, the most significant of which was a piece about the role of villainy in fiction in one's moral formation that I gave as a talk at my parish's Lenten lecture series last spring. After giving the talk, I've not touched that piece either even though that I think with some minor tweaking, it could be publishable.

Part of this is that I keep allowing myself to be distracted by things like the dodo box and teh Intarwebs. Truly, I've always been a lazy git. And, after a long day in the data mines, it's easier to sink down in front of the idiot box or mindlessly argue on Teh Intarwebs. Another part is that I've been exercising more and since I've started riding my bike to work, I've been missing getting regular naps on the bus so oftentimes I just don't have the energy to write.

Which is a shame. I really enjoy writing. I want to find more time to do it. I certainly have the means and opportunity to schedule my life in a way that I have more time to do it. But instead I find myself avoiding it. I'm not certain why. I'll even do housework before writing. Oh, look, the dishes need to be washed and the kitchen swept and mopped. Now I'll take a small break and watch just a bit of television. Oh, look I've ended up watching an entire movie. The time ends up running away and instead of chasing it down to catch it, I just watch it disappear into the forest.

:: ::

My phone, the 2011 reboot of the Samsung Sidekick, is starting to show its age. It's about two and half years old or so and it's getting more than a little bit glitchy. I find myself having to reboot it with an increasing frequency. The touch screen is getting wonky. And, aside from various glitches, it's starting to run out of memory for all of the apps that I keep loaded.

The one feature that my phone has that I really like is the slider keyboard. If Apple put out a version of the iPhone with a keyboard, I'd probably snap one up that same day. When I tried switching to an iPad as my main computing device for a year, I really like many aspects of it and those aspects of the software that I didn't like, it seems that Apple has fixed in the intervening few years. And the iWork apps being free certainly sweeten the pot.

So what I'm thinking about doing instead of springing for a new smartphone is to get an old fashioned feature phone on a pre-paid plan and a 7" tablet of some sort for mobile data. With the iPad mini finally coming to T*Mobile, that's one option. But it's a pricey one. I should play around with a couple of Android tablets to feel out the competition.

Or maybe I should just get the pre-paid feature phone without a data plan to eliminate one more possible way for me to waste my time.


The amount of reading that I've been doing lately has also been tapering off. Part of this is no longer ride the bus. My typical commute on the bus has me doing about five or ten minutes of reading before I doze off for the next twenty to thirty minutes until I reach one of the stops close by to me work. Five or ten minutes minutes of reading time doesn't sound like much, but twice a day, five times per week and it starts to add up quickly. Moreover, it means that I'm keeping a book or two in my day bag so that there is reading material ready and waiting if I find myself running an errand and in a spot where I have to kill some time.

Most recently, I've been reading Wittgenstein's On Certainty which has a nice conversational style compared to most of Wittgenstein's writings. This is probably because it is really a collection of notes that he intended to revise and eventually publish but he himself never got around to doing that. The notes were edited, translated and published after his death by his friend G.E.M. Anscombe. Stylewise, it's probably most comparable to Nietzsche's later work which consisted of loosely connected aphorisms roughly organized by topic. But Wittgenstein certainly lacks Nietzsche's literary pretensions and sticks to prose. The backstory is that Wittgenstein thought that he had solved all of the problems of philosophy with his  Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus but later changed his mind and spent the rest the rest of his life trying to figure out exactly where he went wrong with the Tractatus. The crowning jewel of this effort to correct himself is considered to be his Philosophical Investigations, which was also published posthumously. But On Certainty really highlights the interior struggle playing out in Wittgenstein's mind as he tries to discern how it is that he can be so certain of some experiences yet not certain of other people having the same sorts of experiences.

The most human part of the work consists of the examples that he gives. Many center around the obvious impossibility of man going to the moon. The interesting bit is that the examples are so well constructed that they still kind of hold up to draw out the point that he was trying to make even though science has made what was an obvious impossibility during Wittgenstein's life into a reality.

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I hear that all the cool kids are posting diaries again | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Are the cool kids doing that? by atreides (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:35:23 AM EST
Posting, I mean? I don't even know who the cool kids are anymore...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

Kids? by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #2 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:36:47 AM EST
What? Something something lawn something...

[ Parent ]
tri-training.. by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #3 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:52:32 AM EST
was that your first run after a long bike ride ?

Every time I gear up to try a tri again, that first run is miserable.. Thighs/quads just DO. NOT. WANT. TO. WORK. Jelly legs all over the place, and I'll stumble through a mile or two worried I'm going to face-plant.

Yeah, first run after a bike ride by lm (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 03:37:32 PM EST
But I regularly do squats which probably helps considerably. And, IMO, 10k of running after 25 miles of biking is far easier than 10 or 12 miles of running, which I can do fine in cooler weather.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
don't have much trouble keeping up by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:49:41 PM EST
For the first 10 to 12 miles or so I pass more of the "serious looking" than pass me. After that it switches around. For a 25 mile circuit I have a couple of routes. W&OD Trail to Custis Trail to Mount Vernon Trail to 4 Mile Run Trail to W&OD. Or W&OD to Herndon and back (to West Falls Church.)

Friday after work I did Falls Church to Ashburn and back. 40 miles and I wasn't destroyed. Still fat though. Not as much as I used to be. Around 205 now.

A few Saturday evenings ago I was in the church at River and Nevis and saw your name on a door. Odd when worlds collide like that.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I hear 4 mile run is going to be closed for a bit by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:08:50 AM EST
I was a bit surprised that after 25 miles of riding and 5 miles of running, I wasn't knackered for the rest of the day. The next day my legs didn't even hurt.

Next long ride for me is probably going to be Rock Creek Trail up to Lake Needwood. I was hoping that I'd be able to combine cycling with swimming there but it turns out that the water in Lake Needwood is toxic. Algae in the reservoir is producing unsafe levels of microcystin.

You can also see my picture on the wall down in yonder Church basement. Look for the man in the hat.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Puritanism and "Wasting time" by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 03:07:01 PM EST
I think it is a cultural disease that we think that certain activities (like writing essays) are superior to other activities (like sitting on your ass and watching TV) when personal responsibilities are covered.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
YMMV by lm (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 03:34:55 PM EST
In my case, writing is something that I enjoy doing far more than watching most things on television. Outside of entertainment that I find exceptionally rewarding, like The Walking Dead, I'd rather be writing than watching.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Pathological working by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:11:42 AM EST
Well, I know what you mean ... and yes perhaps it can be kind of, compulsive, pathological, something working away at the back of your neck, pushing you ...

“I never had time to think about things like that—who I wanted to be, or who I admired, or to have ideas. I never had time to dream about being anyone else. I had to work. My parents died when I was a teenager, and I had to work my way through college. I drove people all the way cross-country so I could get to New York and take training as an X-ray technician so I could work my way through college. I worked in a bank while Dick was in the service. Oh, I could have sat for those months doing nothing like everybody else, but I worked in the bank and talked with people and learned about all their funny little customs. Now, I have friends in all the countries of the world. I haven’t just sat back and thought of myself or my ideas or what I wanted to do. Oh no, I’ve stayed interested in people. I’ve kept working. Right here in the plane I keep this case with me, and the minute I sit down, I write my thank you notes. Nobody gets by without a personal note. I don’t have time to worry about who I admire or who I identify with. I’ve never had it easy. I’m not like all you . . . all those people who had it easy.”

... Pat Nixon

... but even given that ...

I still feel like it is actually a superior way to spend your time, writing essays, or code, or going for a run, or I dunno, saving orphaned whales, to just watching TV.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Walking in DC is getting better by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:22:10 PM EST
But driving confuses me, it's the small street signs I think and the diagonals.

Driving in DC is a special sort of hell by lm (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 05:46:45 AM EST
I only drive in town if I absolutely need to. If I can walk, bike, or take public transport, I leave the car at home.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I learned today by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 07:40:10 PM EST
as my boss and I discussed when I wanted to go home tomorrow that at 3:30 it's illegal to park on the downtown streets and 2 lanes become 4 lanes.  So with that in mind, I'm leaving at 3, because he said if I left after 4-4:30 I might as well stay til 7.

[ Parent ]
Pretty much by lm (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Nov 21, 2013 at 08:32:50 PM EST
Heading out of town late on a Friday afternoon is not a great idea. Three should be fine unless its a holiday weekend or there is a wreck.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
getting out of DC was okay, I even stopped for gas by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 11:59:30 PM EST
But north of Baltimore and just as I entered PA on 95 were the worst.

[ Parent ]
That's why it's called the I-95 by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 01:18:31 PM EST

[ Parent ]
I hear that all the cool kids are posting diaries again | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback