Print Story It's true what they say about your first Doctor
By georgeha (Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 11:30:32 AM EST) Lego, Who, discworld, nostagic hippy acts (all tags)
Plus holiday wrapups, Al's Archimedians Points advances again, Lego tank design, that intoxicating air of freedom - no that's dope and less!

Media reviews of Born Fighting, Bloodlands, Wyrd Sisters, Wickedly Charming, Shameless, Albion's Seed, Combined Fleet Decoded, Red Sniper on the Eastern Front, Red Queen, Battlefield Detectives, Greatest Tank Battles, Ghost in the Shell, Chipwrecked, The Smurfs and less.

Poll: Favorite Doctor?

In some unexpectedly geeky moments, the whole Ha family has been clustered around the TV, watching Doctor Who on Netflix, primarly Eccleston and Tennant. Newspaper_girl has long been a big Who fan, and she finally convinced fifteen year old to watch, and now she's hooked. Fifteen year old's favorite is Tennant or Eccleston, Mrs. Ha's is Eccleston. We all know that the best Doctor is Baker, but good Baker episodes are underrepresented on Netflix, the Ark in Space didn't wow anyone. At least Sarah Jane and K-9 showed up later.

Speaking of companions, is there an episode where Rose Tyler finds some of Leela's old clothes, and tries them on?

I do find the reboot has a lot more relationship content, as opposed to gizmos and monsters of the week. I suspect that's part of the allure.


Christmas was good, ten year old got an iPod touch and can now get on the internet at will. She also got an unlicensed Birds Upset with Pigs who Steal Their Eggs and Hide in a Ramshackle Fortress hat, hooray for the Chinese. We're also getting benefits next year, sweet! We can afford to go the doctors. Fifteen year old got clothes.

The tree hasn't fallen again, lots of cord helps. We even exposed ten year old to a South Park Christmas.

Thanksgiving was great, Mrs. Ha's sister (with the ten year old daughter) and family were invited, they got along very well with my parents.

My dad even liked the Gewurztraminer.

When I become despot parents who drive door to door for trick or treating, sending their kids out of the car at each house, will be flogged.

How freaking lazy can you get?

Anyhow, ten year old met up with four classmates at a classmates house to go with a group of costumed kids, she was Cleopatra. She ended up getting lots of candy and getting worn out. I drank a bit of wine and chit chatted with the adults. My WBER tee shirt started some nice conversation, the hostess went to school with one of the Beasties.

Fifteen year old went as Morgana from BBC Merlin with her friends (newspaper_girl, sa_girl, a few others). Her cloak turned out amazingly well for being hand sewn in a few hours, and being put together minutes before Halloween (I pronounced it done and went out with ten year old).

Finally, my holiday ale is very tasty, and there's still some left in the keg.

Lego Robotics

Ten year old's Lego Robotics team, Al's Archimedian Points, had a good run, even if they didn't get to go to Saint Louis.

It was a long intense season, too. Ten year old and I built a practice table, which made the Lego robot easier to work with and practice. The
night before our first competition I was cutting and sanding 2x3's, so we'd have a portable table, as the practice table is built on a sheet of 4x8, it isn't very portable.

It was a harder Lego Robotics course this year. The first competition was exhausting and draining.  Hours of running up and down stairs and hallways bringing forgotten parts and herding the team took it's toll, I was tired and sore. Ten year old was just as tired. The girls ended up doing most of the robot positioning (very important since we used dead reckoning) and selecting the programming, we had a morale failure after two practice rounds and one real round. I had them run around (large motor movement) and blow off steam, they went back and got the highest score, 121 points, of any team in the competition. We ended up with trophy for the Best Robot Performance, and an award for technical presentation. That means we would compete one more time, on December 4th.

Even better, Mrs. Ha, fifteen year old and my parents showed up, it was nice they were there to see us advance, with a trophy.

My co-worker's team did not advance, even though their score was higher. They faced much stiffer competition.

At the final competition, the team did good, about in the middle of points, but not good enough to advance to Saint Louis, or even get a trophy. There's always next year. The dad and kids Mrs. Ha nannys for came up, they were impressed. Always good to put faces to names.

Seeing the kids play and program with the Mindstorms made me want to try it. So, I bought a Lego Mindstorms RCX off ebay, from a Lego Robotics team upgrading to an NXT. The RCX was the first capable Lego Robot, with a whopping 32k of RAM for programs, three sensor ports and three
motor ports. It came with motors and sensors, since the NXT motors and sensors are better, and optimized for the NXT. But Moore's law is still in effect, the ten year old RCX is much cheaper than a newer NXT.

The first thing I built was a tank, well, a treaded crawler. It's different. In the old days, once you built the tank, you started up with the pew-pew, clickety, clickety and rat-a-tat-tat right away. Not today. I built the tank on Sunday, but had to wait until Monday to download firmware and a modest program that moves forward.

Lego is not a great medium for building functional model tanks, but it's the easiest medium and most accessible one for me. There are only five tread choices, the two rubber ones (big Technic and littler Town) offer the best vehicle performance, though they look toy-like. The three Technic chain and conveyor links look better, but are made of hard ABS and don't perform well when moving.

Three motors aren't enough to easily make a functional tank. If you use a skid/steer drive mechanism (like a real tank), where each tread is powered individually, you can go forward, reverse or even pivot over the foxholes. That leaves you one motor for turret rotation, gun elevation and activating the gun.

That intoxicating air of Freedom, no wait, that's dope

I spent hours and hours in a Libertarian Paradise in November. A high school bud got tickets to see Further in Buffalo.

We got to the lot opposite the First Niagara Center, after paying too much for parking, but at least it was close. There was a small libertarian Skakedown Street, with all sorts of micro-capitalists creating a market free of inspections, licensing, regulations and laws.

While chilllaxing on the tailgate and drinking cheap beer we were approached by all sorts of merchants, ranging from trinkets to stuff I've never heard of, all free from the heavy hand of the law. We saw one poor misguided soul trying to sell a hand drawn stealie with JETS written
in it. Dude, wrong team, way wrong. Later we decided to trust the invisible hand for dinner, I ended up with pizza that didn't kill me or even make me sic, freedom!

There was a market failure in that there were no toilet facilities outside the arena, not even pay ones. On the way in I saw a neat stealie shirt with a 99% in it, but I didn't buy it.

The show was good, despite my Octoberfest being spilled when I still had a few ounces left in it. The sound was good, it is jarring to hear Kadlusek sing Jerry songs.

Then a scary ride home, trying to stay close enough behind tractor-trailers so they would clear the expressway of the deer, or peering far enough into the road ahead to avoid them. We need more hunters.

Media Reviews

I read Senator Webb's Born Fighting, a history of the Scots-Irish and how they influenced America. It was good reading, but not very objective, and some of the history might have been suspect, according to reviews. I do know the song with the line When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose did not come from a country song.

In short, the Scots-Irish ended up having an independent, aggressive and patriotic culture that liked to fight. They won the American Revolution, fought in the country's wars, supported Populism, have a chip on their shoulder, are mocked by the elites and are the biggest swing voters in the country. I'm pretty sure they dislike the English, too.

Albion's Seed is another book similar to Born Fighting, though it was published decades before. Albion's Seed is about how emigration from four major British groups (East Anglian puritans, South English Cavaliers, Midland Quakers and those Scot-Irish Borderers) influenced America. I only got up to the Quakers. It's harder but more scholarly reading than Born Fighting.

Bloodlandsis a somber book about the 14 million murdered by Hitler and Stalin between Berlin and Moscow, between 1933 and 1945. Up until 1942, Stalin was killing the most civilians, but Hitler surpassed him. Very depressing.

I was in the mood for something more fun, so I picked up Wyrd sisters, a Discworld novel about the witch coven in Ramtops. I should have read this before Lords and Ladies. Excellent, as is most Pratchett.

While in the stacks looking for books on Food Safety (for the Lego team), I saw Shameless, about a zaftig mom who experienced a sexual awakening. It was okay, not great.

Wickedly Charming was a free kindle book, now it's a few bucks. It's an engrossing PG rated romance tale about Prince Charming and a Wicked Stepmon, who fled their fairy tale plane of existence to live in our "real world". Neither one is what you would expect, it was good.

I had to return and renew a huge stack of books on food safety and the French Revolution. I ended up paying $30 in fines. It wasn't all bad though, in the books for sale section I found John Prados' Combined Fleet Decoded a thick book about WWII PTO, from an intelligence perspective. The Amazon reviews are good, and the ones that panned it make me want to read it, "too many details".  I strongly suspect Stephenson read this before writing Cryptonomicon, they both mention the lack of Japanese bulldozers contributing to their defeat.

Red Sniper on the Eastern Front  My gun nuttiest uncle passed this to my dad, who finished it and let me read it. It's a bleak tale of a Russian soldier who spends the war near Leningrad. He has a talent for marksmanship and becomes a sniper, and then a sniper trainer after he loses an eye. It's bleak, nearly all of his family and comrades in arms die, but good. I don't think Leningrad gets near the books written about it that Stalingrad does.

Red Queen is an interesting look at why sex evolved.

Sometime, late at night when the rest of the family is in bed I go for the TV equivalent of junk food, something easy to digest but not very worthwhile.

One example is Battefield Detectives, which has a few redeeming bits.

I learned a few things from Battlefield Detectives: Stalingrad. For instance, much of Stalingrad had been recently constructed of reinforced concrete, which made the buildings less vulnerable to shells. Also, the Soviets diluted their gun oil with gasoline, at -30, their gun oil was still liquid, the German's was like butter, making Soviet guns easier to operate in the
bitter cold. It was jarring to have the experts be British, or be Russian with an American translator, and the narrator spoke American English.

Battlefield Detectives: The Battle of Britain last night, it wasn't as informative as the Stalingrad one, to me at least.

Battlefield Detectives: Jutland made me want to play a WI naval game.

Greatest Tank Battles is TV junk food, with little redeeming qualities.

The episode on the Yiom Kippur war was junk, distracting CGI and unreal tactics. I realy doubt tanks lined up tread to tread to fire on the Syrians.

I watched the first Battle of the Bulge episode of Famous Tank Battles one night, maybe it was because I was tired, but the CGI didn't bother
me as much. They did have to include a scene of a line of JagdTigers, tread to tread, firing at Shermans. Yeah, right.

Fifteen year old's high school put on a version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe , I think we didn't see the better Lucy (for most of the leads they have two players, with an alternating cast), and the youngest loved it. She loved it so much we sent her the next night, while Mrs. Ha and I had banger and mash at the Tap and Mallet.

Ghost in the shell, another Netflix choice, was hard to follow at times, but probably the best cyberspace representation I've seen.

When fifteen year old has mother-daughter book club, ten year old an I sometime do daddy daughter night. Back in October fifteen year old was hosting, we had to leave. First we went to the bookstore, where the youngest browsed and read while I looked over the cheap used books and the history section. I didn't find anything I wanted to buy, but I did get stuff for the youngest. Oddly, her bestie was there too, ten feet away, but the youngest was too engrossed in reading Bone and Warrior Cats that she didn't notice. A quick greeting, then off to see The Smurfs at the cheap theaters. The Smurfs was a good kids movie, especially if you like seeing cgi tortured cats, with some slapstick, real involving NPH and Gargamel and CGI involving Smurfs and the cat Azreal. We also played air hockey.

A few weeks ago Mother Daughter book club was at someone else's house, but we still went out to see a movie. This time it was Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked which was the best Chipmunk movie I've ever paid money to see. In a RIASC moment, the cashier was the daughter of the bud I went to see Furthur with.

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It's true what they say about your first Doctor | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)
Everyone forgets... by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 12:02:56 PM EST
Cushing, P.

Wonder if Bernard Cribbens has the longest "career" between first and most recent appearances...

Is Cushing canonical though? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 12:16:12 PM EST
I'm not sure, but to be safe, I added him.

[ Parent ]
Probably the same sort of level... by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 01:13:18 PM EST
As Richard Hurndall and, ummm, the other one who have also played the First Doctor...

I did complain at a recent quiz that asked for the fourth actor to play The Doctor (no "on TV" or similar qualifier) and didn't give Jon Pertwee as an option.

Never did like Tom Baker much, but this may have been shaded by working at the BBC towards the end of his tenure and deciding that it was only him being 6'3" tall saved him from being punched more often. Apparently an autobiography several years later admitted much the same...

[ Parent ]
It might be a sunken cost thing by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 01:29:46 PM EST
having had to be lucky enough to catch Baker at odd times on PBS, sometimes on a dinky little 7 inch b&w TV, I have to consider him my favorite, or that time is wasted.

I haven't watched enough Hartnell, Troughton or Pertwee, Davison or Smith to properly rate them, and don't recall watching any Colin Baker, McGann or McCoy.

[ Parent ]
WIPO by FlightTest (4.00 / 2) #4 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 01:27:53 PM EST

added by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 01:32:09 PM EST
I forgot all about him.

[ Parent ]
may he rest in peace by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 02:00:26 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Pertwee and Davidson have always been... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 02:29:56 PM EST favorite. I've never been a big Baker fan, though my friends all love him to pieces. I see why they like him, but he just doesn't do it for me.

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

can't say which Doc is the best by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 06:58:22 PM EST
As I've never seen the show.

It's on Netflix, no excuse by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 08:04:27 PM EST
Start with Rose.

[ Parent ]
WIPO: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Dec 29, 2011 at 10:04:30 PM EST
Dolittle. 1967, of course.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Wyrd Sisters by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 05:38:44 AM EST
Is one of the great Discworld books.

Is the Halloween driving thing laziness or more of a battery-farmed kids thing?

Iambic Web Certified

Sometimes there were four unlit houses in a row by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #14 Sat Dec 31, 2011 at 07:16:57 PM EST
do you really expect an American parent to walk by four houses, when they can drive?

[ Parent ]
When I was in high school, I knew Dr. Who fans by lm (4.00 / 1) #13 Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 07:34:09 AM EST
I watched a few episodes but I never really saw the attraction. Mostly, I'd just fall asleep.

I did kind of like Hartnell in the Meddling Monk arc. But for the most part, I find the franchise to be 'meh.'

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
You are not alone. by Captain Tenille (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 03:11:04 PM EST
I've never been able to get into Doctor Who. 


/* You are not expected to understand this. */

[ Parent ]
Doctor doctor! by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 06:19:57 AM EST
I think I was about 6 when I saw Tom Baker transform to Davison which scared the crap out of me, so Davison would count as my first 'proper' doctor but for some reason he never really stuck for me. By the time it got to McCoy, frankly Ace was more interesting than the actual doctor. I am therefore forced to say I think I don't actually have a favourite though was most impressed with the casting of Eccleston and am warming up to the current teenager.

I do like Eccleston by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 12:51:05 PM EST
and wish he had been the Doctor for more than one season.

[ Parent ]
It's true what they say about your first Doctor | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)