Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Fast metabolism 

Today I had a conversation in which the person to whom I was speaking -- a skinny guy -- mentioned that he had a fast metabolism, and no matter how much he ate couldn't put on weight. I've heard this exact same thing about five thousand times before. I've blamed certain things on fast or slow metabolism. But the fact of the matter is, most of the time, it's nonsense. Differences in metabolic rates for healthy people are not that great. Chances are, if you eat and eat and can't put on weight, it's got nothing to do with a fast metabolism. It's because, frankly, you're probably too skinny to put on weight. You probably don't have enough muscle and fat cells to absorb the bulk. To put on weight, you need a foundation to build on. Do some upper-body weight training. A few reps per exercise with heavy weight. Build up some muscle. It's difficult, harder than building up muscle that's already there, but that's okay, because those muscle cells'll stay with you forever even if you quit the weights. But once you have those muscle cells there, all that food you eat will have something to work with, something to bulk up, and you'll find then that you in fact can put on weight.

I'm going to walk Caleb now. Anyone who reads this: have a wonderful day.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

My brother's keeper? 

I got home on Friday night. It's now Sunday morning. Despite that he hasn't been out of the house in that time, I haven't yet seen my brother. Well, once. I saw him buried in his covers, asleep, as I walked through his room to take my shower yesterday morning. But even so . . . I don't know what to do, or if I should do anything. He never leaves his room, except to come down to get food, or when he has to go to school. What he does while he spends all those hours in there, I don't know. He never talks to anyone, never has any friends over or goes anywhere else. Does he ever get any sort of exercise at all, other than of the eyes and fingers? I know not. He used to be very affectionate with the pets; loved to spend time with the cats, with Schnug. Now he doesn't even make time to come see Caleb. Aren't puppies and babies supposed to be the two universally-appealing things to draw out people who've withdrawn into themselves? I don't know, maybe I'm overreacting. I've never exactly been the most social kid out there. I don't exactly have any friends in my state. But . . . I worry about him, and I can't get him to do anything. Over the years, I've tried. Tried to get him even to talk to me about school, about himself, about anything. It doesn't work. He does the cynical, smart-ass, perfectionist nitpicker thing all too well (have I mentioned that he used to practically idolize me?), and he's willing to make comments about politics, movies, whatever. When it comes to maths, he's definitely out of my league, although I don't think he's realized it yet. But he won't talk about himself at all. And he won't leave his room. Every once in a while, I force him to take a walk with me or something, just to get him out of the house, but that's about it. Eh, I don't know. Just worried about him. He's fifteen years old. I'd think he needs something other than this near-perfect solitude. I can't imagine that it's healthy. But what do I know?

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Kicking the Rabbi 

My youngest sister's Bat Mitzvah is on November 20 this year. Eight years almost to the day after mine. My own Bar Mitzvah was one of the very last things my grandmother went to before she died. I also remember that my youngest siblings were in the children's room rather than in the sanctuary at mine. But I'm not discussing mine. I'm discussing my sister's. It's the last BM in my family, and it should be interesting for more reasons than one. But I'm mostly looking forward to what Rabbi Grumbacher has to say. You see, years ago, when this sister was a toddler, Rabbi Grumbacher said Hi to her and she was asked to respond in kind. Being an ornery little toddler, she decided it would be more amusing to kick him in the shin. I don't think he's forgotten, and I think he's been waiting all these years so that he can finally bring it up at her Bat Mitzvah, in front of everybody. We shall see. . .

The dog's name is officially Caleb. I find this amusing as Caleb derives from celev, which is the Hebrew word for dog. So we finally have a dog named Dog. Incidentally, the Hebrew word dog means "fish," so now I know what name to use the next time I feel compelled to name a fish, which I expect will be around the time the sun grows ears. Right.

For years I went to school an hour away from home. Took a van. SOP on that van was some combination of reading and sleeping. Usually more the latter than the former. This became a bad habit. It got to the point that as soon as I got in a car, I'd immediately get drowsy. On any extended car trip -- to school, to the beach, to Williamsburg, wherever -- I'd either pull out a book, or immediately conk out. Then I started feeling bad about this. My parents aren't chauffers. They're not taxi drivers. I felt like a jerk for this behavior. Now, I make it a point, when I'm being driven somewhere, to entertain the driver. I don't mean act like a clown, but at least to offer conversation, and not to immediately display a lack of interest in the person driving me somewhere. If the conversation peters out and I doze off, fine, but at least I'm not just taking the driver for granted, not just ignoring the driver. Plus I've had some interesting conversations I wouldn't otherwise have had. Just a thought.

Here's another: I don't go to shul regularly. This is in large part because I'm usually not home, and in equally large part because for several years no one in my family has gone regularly. But now, when I'm home, I try to go. I went today. I quite enjoyed it. It's different now, though. Used to be, once every few weeks there was some kid being bar mitzvahed on Saturday morning. Now, there's one every week -- sometimes more than one. This has its drawbacks. For one, the speeches. The bar (or bat) mitzvah delivers the speech. Since there's one of these very week, it means that Rabbi Grumbacher doesn't speak as often, which is a shame because he's a fun fellow. And more and more frequently, the speeches are far shorter than they should be, often badly organized and rather incoherent. The goal is eleven or twelve minutes. It's all worked out, you see, and with an eleven minute speech the service gets out within a minute or two of the same time every week. But recently I'm seeing more and more three to four minute speeches. It's a shame, because every once in a while the thirteen-year-old surprises you with a really good, interesting speech (of course, then you're given to wonder whether he or she was actually the writer of the thing, but that's a different issue). Anyway, it's also interesting to me how much the service has changed over the years. The tunes of the songs are often different -- and in most cases, I liked the old tunes better. Rabbis and cantors have come and gone, with the exception of Rabbi Grumbacher, who's been around since before I was born. The children's choir has evolved and grown and so forth. Eh. I'm beginning to bore myself, so I'm most likely boring you. If you care to talk about this, there's always the comment button.

Enough of this being online nonsense. I'm going to go play with my dog.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Another beautiful day, this one of the cool gray variety. Also, with one exception, a very good day. Woke up nice and early, had a midterm exam first thing in the morning. I was a little nervous going in, but walked out feeling very good about it. Wrote a paper that didn't turn out as badly as I'd thought it would. Saw Liz for the first time in a week. Plus I'm, right now, only about 27 hours away from finally meeting my dog. So: I'm healthy, I'm doing well, I've got good friends, in the midst of good weather, reading a good book, and have a dog waiting for me at home. Unfortunately, my dad's trial is lasting longer than expected, so I won't see him until Monday night, but it's been several months anyway, so a few more days won't be bad. Really, there's only one thing bothering me in any significant way right now, and bugger all if I have any idea at all what to do about it.

Have a lovely evening, everyone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Under the Weather 

It's a very beautiful day right now. That doesn't necessarily mean much, of course -- almost any day is very beautiful so far as I'm concerned. But today, it's beautiful in a different sort of way. Despite yesterday's beautiful snow, and the dry cold of the past few days, and different from the wonderful cool gray that we've often had recently, today is beautiful in a very warm, sunshiney sort of way. Whether it'll last, I certainly know not. But it's a pleasant change of scenery.

We just about halfway through our spring term, so we're dealing with midterm papers and exams and such. Which means I've got kind of a lot to do over the next couple of days. Then I've got a week off, so will finally have the opportunity to meet my dog. It should be wonderful. Should also be another pleasant change of scenery. Also, with a week home I'll finally have time to read Fool's Fate, which has been sitting on my shelf since January. The reviews of this final volume of Robin Hobb's trilogy of trilogies have been very positive, so I can't wait to dig in. I hope the weather'll be cool enough to get a fire going, so I can read in front of it.

This past weekend, I actually got two good full nights of sleep. Then I couldn't sleep Sunday night. But I seem to be doing well in that department the past few days, and today have been feeling pretty awake. Yesterday I had quite a headache, but some music blasted into my ears at obscene volumes put an end to that in short order.

Back to work for me!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

152 years ago today, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was first published. I finally got around to reading this book last year; despite its often preachy tone, there was much to admire in it. Americans and Christians and slave owners should read this book. And others besides. Of this book, Stowe said: "I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation."

Friday, March 19, 2004

With great power. . . 

Philip Roth was born today in 1933. He wrote: "An infantryman's heart . . . like his feet, at first aches and swells, but finally grows horny enough for him to travel the weirdest paths without feeling a thing."

Also, I've been promoted to mod over at TFN. Why this didn't happen two years ago, I don't know. Neither, it seems, does anyone else. But they finally got around to it. So be nice to me, or I'll ban you once you register there. Eek. I shudder to think how much I've written there since I registered back in '98. Probably at least about 400k words. Probably more than that. There are over 14 million posts total on the system right now, not counting those that have been pruned over the years. That's a lot of words.

Right. Back to work.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

. . . 

Over the past four nights, I've gotten not nearly enough sleep. And by "not nearly enough" I mean, with the exception of a few hours Sunday night, "none at all." My muscles, my head, and my eyes are rebelling. [Edited] On the other hand, it's snowing quite beautifully. I've got work to do now, then class, but after that I'm thinking that a nap might be the best way to go, because this is getting ridiculous.

Also, in case you're interested, The Scarlet Letter was published 154 years ago today. "And whither was he now going? Would he not suddenly sink into the earth, leaving a barren and blasted spot, where, in due course of time, would be seen deadly nightshade, dogwood, henbane, and whatever else of vegetable wickedness the climate could produce, all flourishing with hideous luxuriance? Or would he spread bat's wings and flee away, looking so much the uglier the higher he rose towards heaven?"

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, March 15, 2004

First pics of my dog. . . 

As you'll recall, we've gotten a new dog. He's going to be huge, like his father before him. No, his name is still not certain (Clark? Caleb? Schnug?), but we have him and though I've not seen him in, erm, person, I have received some pics:

Here he is!

Inside looking out. . .

Exploring the yard. . .

With my little sister Mary. . .

It's not a great picture, but on the bottom right is the dog, and on the bottom left is his cage, which is quite impressive if I do say so myself. . .

And one of my cat, Sheba.

Wasting time 

Apparently, I'm 11.363636363636363% insane. I don't recommend wasting your time on this test, however, because it's long and boring and not very accurate. If you want to spend a few minutes on an online quiz, I still heartily recommend this one.

The I, Robot trailer is out. I really liked director Alex Proyas' work on The Crow and Dark City, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and see the movie, but honestly, it looks to have about as much in common with Asimov's Robot stories and novels as the Conan the Barbarian movie had in common with Robert E. Howard's stories. Looks like this movie'll be just a standard action flick, and not a terribly good one at that. Oh, well. At least Asimov isn't getting it as bad as poor Frank Herbert, whose corpse is being actively sodomized by his son and ::shudder:: Kevin J. Anderson with each of their Dune "novels." A good number of Asimov's sadly oop books are apparently being brought back into print this year, and I eagerly await Alex Irvine's Have Robot, Will Travel (also One King, One Soldier, but that one has nothing to do with Asimov that I'm aware of). Not only is Irvine actually a good author, but that title cracks me up every time I read it.

My day so far. . . 

. . .can be summed up fairly simply:

In other news, because it amused me: Where Is My Gay Apocalypse?

"Words, words, words!" 

My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe opened this day, March 15, on Broadway in 1956.

"I've grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air,
Accustomed to her face."

I may put something of some interest up later if I actually manage to finish my work. Which is doubtful, so don't hold your breath.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Initial thoughts. 

Well, I finally saw The Passion of the Christ. Here are some of my scattered first impressions:That's enough for right now. I might talk about it some more in a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


I haven't had much time to blog lately. Point of fact, I haven't much time to blog right now. But I'm going to anyway.

As I'm sure you're all aware, it's extremely frustrating when you want very much to help somebody with something, and he or she doesn't want to be helped, or won't let him- (or her-)self be helped. Or simply won't let you help. Or maybe you just don't know how to offer your help in such a way that you won't seem like a terrific asshole. In any event, as I said, it's frustrating.

Of course, I've other and more significant frustrations, but I'm certainly not sharing them over a blog.

Nicole Kidman is likely to play the White Witch in the silver screen adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, to be directed by Shrek and Shrek II director Andrew Adamson, filmed in New Zealand with much of the LotR production team, and released Christmas 2005.

Just the other day, I heard for the first time of an upcoming SF flick that has me intrigued: IMMORTEL Ad Vitam. It looks kind of in the vein of The Fifth Element, and kind of in the vein of StarGate, and kind of unique, and potentially quite good. Or quite bad. Either way, I'm quite interested to see it. Watch the trailer here.

Moving on. In case you've been wondering what I've been reading lately . . . well, here's what I've been working on for the past month or so:

Gridlinked by Neal Asher. I'm about a quarter of the way through it, and am so far a bit disappointed. Yes, there's been some nifty action and neat concepts, but from the almost unanimously terrific praise, I was expecting better. I think the biggest problem is simply that his prose doesn't particularly engage me. I hope I like it enough not to cancel my preorder of The Skinner, but we shall see.

Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales & by Anna Tambour. Kirsten Bishop and now Anna Tambour. Who'd've thunk Australia would start spitting out some of the finest writers

Friday, March 05, 2004

Three-headed six-legged frog found in England. . . 

I just think it's interesting looking:

More info here and here.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Help me name my dog! 

It never fails to amaze me how few people understand what is meant by evolution. Most people seem to think it means something along the lines of: When some environmental change happens, the body spontaneously adapts because it thinks that the change will help it survive, and then all its offspring carry those adaptations, too. For example, it starts snowing a lot so a brown-furred animal spontaneously "decides" somehow that having white fur instead will decrease its visibility and help it survive, and the change just sort of happens. Many others have many other ideas, many of them just as silly. Very few people seem to have any real understanding of how evolution works. Tonight after my classes I think I'll try to explain it as well as I can.

Swords are not allowed on campus here, which I understand even if I don't like it. So the other night I went up and found a suitably sword-sized piece of wood to swing. It wasn't nearly heavy enough and its balance wasn't right, and furthermore the calluses on my hands had gone down since I got back to school, so my palms rubbed raw fairly quickly, but even so it was very soothing just to swing that "sword" around in the manner of one who has seen far too many sword movies and has very little practical knowledge of the art for a couple hours. I meant to do the same last night, but it's been getting warmer and there have been far too many skunks about. Now, in three years of wandering the local woods and fields in the middle of the night I haven't yet been sprayed by a skunk, though there have been some close calls, but I decided not to risk it last night.

While on the topic of my ineptitude with weapons, I recall fondly my archery class of a couple semesters ago. For the first couple weeks I was hitting bullseye after bullseye and feeling really good about myself. Then the teacher came in, said he'd been doing a little reading and had realized he'd had us holding the bows upside-down. As soon as we righted the bows, my target was safe. Most of the rest of the semester I barely hit the target, although I did work my way up to a couple bullseyes right at the end. I don't understand how I can be such a fine shot with an inverted bow, and such a lousy shot when doing things the "right way," but I do know that if I'm ever called upon to fire an arrow when it matters, I'm for darn sure going to be holding that bow upside-down.

After much consideration, I've decided that I need more sleep. I have trouble falling asleep at night, and usually wake up something like an hour before my alarm clock, which is set pretty early anyway because I like not sleeping the morning away. I don't need much sleep, but I do need a good bit more than I've been getting, because frankly, I'm sick of being tired all the time. I've also decided that while nice guys may occasionally finish first, in all likelihood shy, unassertive, socially inept, boring, assly, creepy, show-offy uncharismatic guys like myself probably never will, and for good reason. And with that cheery thought, I'll wish you all a wonderful day and be off to class.

Well, in a minute, anyway. I have noticed that despite my plea for help with coming up for a name for my new dog, I have received no suggestions. So . . . what would you name him:

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Jesus scores. 

Yes, today I've listened to three Jesus scores. Peter Gabriel's stunning 1989 Passion, the score to The Last Temptation of Christ; Jeff Danna's score for last year's The Gospel of John, and John Debney's Passion of the Christ. I certainly don't need to sing Gabriel's praises; everybody else's been doing that for years now. I haven't seen the film, but by many accounts the score is the best part of it. Both Danna's and Debney's efforts obviously (well, obvious when you listen to them) owe a great deal to Gabriel, and both are quite good in their own rights. It's interesting to listen to them back to back, though, as they take the same subject matter and many similar techniques, and yet approach the materially from completely different thematic angles. I'd never heard anything by Danna before listening to The Gospel of John, but I'll keep an ear out for him now -- his music is quite melodically lovely. Really, it accentuate's Christ's love, and love of Christ. Debney, on the other hand, I had heard before. He's an overall mediocre composer with one Really Good score under his belt (the magnificently bombastic CutThroat Island), and so I thought he was a somewhat odd choice for this project. But this is, after his piratey score, his best and most mature work to date, redolent of Gabriel's Passion and Hans Zimmer's Gladiator score. Debney is Catholic, and the story behind his approach to scoring this film is, I think, pretty intesting.

Speaking of mediocre composers writing good scores, apparently Howard Shore won the Oscar for best original score for Return of the King. (Am I the only person who didn't realize the Oscars were upon us until after they were over?) He's usually quite a boring composer, but was apparently a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and it shows in his work. He won Oscars for the first and third films, and may well have for #2 as well, except that it didn't get nominated because there was some confusion about the eligibility of sequels. Anyway, I think his music for these movies works much better in the movies than on its own, but I am looking forward to the six-movement Lord of the Rings Symphony that he's working on.

I'd write more right now, but for two things. One: I have work to do. Two: I'm tired and feel like I'm writing quite sloppily. So . . . until tomorrow. Good night, everyone.

Monday, March 01, 2004

"Potatoes? I've been eating potatoes!" 

It has been an exceptionally beautiful day today. In fact, it's been very beautiful out for the past couple days, but today really takes the cake. Just gorgeous. I'm feeling a lot better today. I'm still tired and harboring a headache, but I'm definitely in a much better mood, and all around happier than yesterday. Looking back, there was really no reason I can see for yesterday to be as tremendously awful as it was. The little things that were wrong simply shouldn't have added up to the terrible mood I was in. Also, I feel bad because I saw Cudney yesterday and didn't say hi to him. On the other hand, I don't think he saw me or recognized me if he did, but even so . . . maybe it's for the better, though, as when I was out I was in a really ugly mood and probably this would have shown through any attempt at amiability.

Liz: thank you.

Aaron Allston: What's up with this guy? He's an author whose work I enjoy rather a lot, but I do wish he'd stop writing spin-off novels. He recently updated his website with the following bit of news: "My next novel will be Terminator Hunt, the follow-up to Terminator Dreams, and it will be followed by a trilogy of novels set in the world of the Deus Ex computer game series." Now, obviously I don't have any problem with spin-off novels, but Aaron's output is getting ridiculous. He's written fourteen novels. Six of them are set in the Star Wars universe, one in the Terminator 3 milieu, and all but three of the rest in various computer game and RPG environments. Now, as I said, I don't have a problem with media novels per se. Aaron's good enough that he usually rises above his subject matter; his four Star Wars: X-Wing novels are among the best SW novels out there, and his T3 novel is infinitely better than the film. But his three original novels are better. Galatea in 2-D is great fun, and I daresay his two Doc Sidhe novels border on brilliance. Aaron is a wonderfully fun, thoroughly enjoyable, and surprisingly good writer with a brilliant sense of humor. He also writes very compelling characters. (If you're interested in sampling his work, his novel Doc Sidhe is available as a free download from the publisher. I recommend it.) Anyway, back in April 2002, before Terminator Dreams was announced, Aaron mentioned that he'd "be returning to MONGOOSE AMONG COBRAS, a military/action science fiction novel I started a while back and had to set aside. It will seem familiar in tone to the X-Wing novels, but it's set in a universe of my own design." Now, I'll read anything Aaron writes, but I'd much rather see Mongoose Among Cobras than Terminator 3 and Deus Ex novels.

I certainly understand the appeal of media novels. A Star Wars or Terminator novel brings in a much larger advance than an "original" novel, and although the royalties are smaller, that'll be more than made up for by the fact that the book will sell a zillion times as many copies as the "original" novel. Also, it gets the authors name out to people who might, just might, try one of his original novels because they liked the Star Wars novel so much. But I do wish Aaron had the opportunity to spread his wings a bit more, and couple break out of this rut of writing tie-in novels. I really do.

Finally, A dog's take on the Oscars®.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?