Culture

Newgrange - News about a 5,000 year old structure

I write about Newgrange being my favorite stop on our trip and suddenly everyone is talking about it! First Jane Smiley visits and now some archeologists are saying that the most distinctive feature of Newgrange (the whole light/solstice thing) might only be 50 years old (i.e. it was created during the reconstruction of the site).

Here's a link to the full academic paper, which I plan to read at some point. Also, how cool is it that there's a journal devoted to Ireland's Celtic past?

As a bonus I've embedded a 3D model of the passage/tomb of Newgrange so you can pretend that you've visited.


Jane Smiley on Newgrange

It seems as though I'm not the only writer who visited Newgrange this year. Jane Smiley, a better and more successful writer, did as well and wrote about it for the New York Times (I just wrote about it for my blog):


Newgrange is a popular destination, and tickets are first come first served. It is called a “passage mound” or “passage tomb,” but what is it really? If we are lucky, what we get when we visit an ancient site is a sense of the intelligence that designed and built the structure even if we might not understand what belief system they were acting under. Indeed, perhaps Newgrange is a giant calendar, a giant clock, a giant belief system, built without mortar, lost and present at the same time.


IMG_0389


Who amongst us hasn't done this?


From the NY Time's article "Civil Rights Groups Call on Trump to Denounce Racism of Alt-Right:"

Asked on Monday about the comments, Mr. Spencer said he had gotten caught up in his passion for the alt-right cause.

“My talk certainly was strident, and it definitely was about getting a rise out of people and expressing excitement,” he said. “There’s a lot of cheekiness going on and exuberance.”

Of the salute that is synonymous with anti-Semitism, he said, “That was a rhetorical flourish.”

I sometimes get excited about something but that has never led me to done a Nazi salute... not even a little goosestep!

Now, I don't believe that all Trump supporters are racists like many of those in the Alt-Right, but I do think that if you are a racist you're probably a Trump supporter. And that should give the people who are supporting Trump because they are sick of politics as usual pause.

Also, I might have to add a Politics category to this blog. What is happening in the world?!


Rob Liefeld seems like an ass

SavageDragon 01 1In my youth I was big into comics. Around that time Image was formed, and Rob Liefeld was the name in comics. I wasn't a huge fan of his stuff, but I did read it. I also just read this NYT article about Deadpool, which Liefeld created:

Mr. Liefeld added: ‘I wrote the stories. Like Jim Lee and others, I worked with a scripter who helped facilitate. I chose Fabian, and he got the benefit of the Rob Liefeld lottery ticket. Those are good coattails to ride.’ Neither Mr. Nicieza nor his manager could be reached for comment.

Class act.


Oh, and my favorite image comic was Savage Dragon, which is still going on!

The image with this post is the cover of the first Savage Dragon which I am sure I bought at the Dragon's Den on Central Avenue.


U.S.S. Reliant

It is no secret that I'm a big Star Trek fan. I mean, I host a podcast devoted to Star Trek for goodness sake!

It follows that one of my favorite (if not the favorite) movies is Star Trek II: The Wraith of Khan. I can watch this movie over and over again.

One of the pivotal ships in the movie is the U.S.S. Reliant (which seems to have a B Team crew, as discussed in this episode of the Incomparable). Khan manages to takeover the ship rather easily and hijinks ensue.

The people at QMx have put together an amazing model (or as they're calling it "artisan replica") of the ship. Here are just a few pictures:

QMx1

QMx2

QMx3

Of course such high levels of detail and high quality build construction translates to a $9,995 price tag. A little too rich for my blood (though honestly, I'd probably buy one if I were single. I don't think Marisa would agree that this is a good use of the money, and it isn't really).

Though if you have $10,000 you don't need and an unusual amount of like for me you now know what to get me for my birthday.


Meme me?

Memescott

The Internet is an odd thing. Case in point, the above picture.

My Internet pal, and yours, Grant Robertson tweeted to me:

I was not! It seems Reddit user KodyRite came across my picture somewhere on the Internet (it happens), and decided my face could launch a meme called "Downer Dave." The idea being: I congratulate someone on some good news, and then add some sad little sentence at the end.

I was amused (still am, really) and so I tweeted about it and went to bed.

The logical next step happened: Redditors in the comments section assumed this was a sad cry for attention from the person pictured (i.e. me) who must have submitted his own photo to create a meme featuring himself.

There are a couple of problems with this line of thinking:


  1. I am not KodyRite (as of a little while ago I am blankbaby on Reddit).

  2. Even if I were a frequent Redditor I would never submit a picture of myself to the site. Why? Because I'm a fat geek with a beard, the perfect target for untold numbers of insults from Redditors.

Today I went out to meet a friend and came home to find this in my Inbox:

Email

It seems the first post spawned another post on Reddit in the cringpics titled, "Guy on r/adviceanimals tries to turn himself into a meme called Downer Dave" featuring this picture:

Hitthatscott

The comments, as one might expect, aren't too kind to the chubby bearded fellow claiming to have had sex with some fictional lady. That being said most people seem to be more upset by the text alignment issues in the picture, which is pretty awful. Had I created this picture I can assure you that the text would have been properly aligned, and the joke would have been funnier.

My reaction to all this? Amused befuddlement. I did create a Reddit account so I could comment and say, "Nope, I didn't post this," knowing full well that it doesn't really matter if the story is true. To channel Steven Colbert: it feels true, and that's good enough.

Also, I look pretty good in that picture, don't ya think?


Memorial Day 2011, in Northampton, MA

This year we broke our tradition of escaping Philadelphia to the bucolic surrounds of Lancaster County (read about our past adventures in 2010 here and 2009 here) and instead headed to Northampton, MA to visit Becky and Eric (formerly of Philadelphia).

The trip takes about 5 hours (in our sweet new car) but we decided to break the trip up into two parts by stopping over near Beacon, NY so we could visit the Dia: Beacon.

Dia: Beacon

This is the entrance to the museum, and that's the only picture I could because of copyright restrictions on the art itself (who knew?).

The building is amazing, and the art is pretty mind-bending. I think the organization of the collection could use some work. As someone who isn't an expert on modern art the first two exhibits seemed like cliches (though I am sure they were very fine art). One included a room full of canvases painted white, and the other included materials that needed to be "activated." Activated, in this case, means put them on you and look foolish.

After those galleries, though, the art got really interested. Lots of great sculpture and even some crazy pencil drawings done directly on the museum's walls. If you're ever in the area you should check this museum out (though don't bring a big bag because they won't let you in with it.. as Marisa found out the hard way. Don't worry, she put it back in the car and was allowed into the museum).

Books and rootbeer

Once we were done with the Dia: Beacon we made our way to Northampton to be greeted by our generous hosts. Our first stop was the Montague Bookmill which has a great slogan, "Books you don't need in a place you can't find." I picked up some books and a bottle of root beer.

Northampton, MA farmers' market

The next day found us at the Northampton Farmers Market.

Eric and Becky nabs some goodies

Where Becky found herself some cheese and Eric tracked down a raspberry bush.

Marisa shows off her new bowl

Marisa found herself a big wooden bowl because we need another bowl.

I have no idea what this means

We stopped into this antique store with this rather odd phrase on the window. I still have no idea what it means.

KitKat

Deals and steals is a local discount organic food store (which is like heaven to Marisa). I bought this big Kitkat from Libya.

Marisa gets some maple syrup in a jar

We went to a food co-op and Marisa thrilled at the chance to fill a jar with maple syrup (shortly after this picture was taken I drank all the maple syrup with a straw).

Bridge of Flowers

The Bridge of Flowers was… just as you might expect: a bridge with lots of flowers on it (which someone from a nearby apartment pointed out to us as we took pictures. They shouted from their porch, "They're just flowers!!").

Marisa, Eric, and Becky

Marisa, Eric, and Becky look at glacial potholes.

Spaetzle enjoying my iPad

One thing I don't like about living in our apartment is the strict no pets policy. We enjoyed having some quality time with a nice kitty (and Spaetzle enjoyed playing with my iPad).

Spaetzle from the front

Spaetzle, caught in a rare moment of silence (she is a chatty kitty!).

My grilled pizza

Marisa had the bright idea to grill some pizza. We all thought she was crazy, but she assured us that if we plopped some dough on the grill good things would happen. In the face of our unanimous doubt Marisa did some research and found out that one must oil the dough before placing it on the grill.

The pizza was very good.

Eric is pleased

Eric is a fine grillmaster.

Climbing down

Going down the steps of Bray Tower.

Mmmm

Eric commanded that we think about our ideal sausage the night before we went sausage shopping. Once at the sausage counter I met the sausage I had dreamt of without even knowing it: a chicken cheddar pepperoni sausage. It was mighty tasty.

My book haul

And here's my final book haul. In a rare occurrence I do believe I spent more money on this Memorial Day trip than Marisa did. Who knew?


Pimm's Pitcher

Pimm's Pitcher

My drink of choice is a Pimm's Cup. Why? Because I likes it!

I found myself on the Internet the other day, which is out of the ordinary, and I ended up on the official Pimm's website. I poked around and found out about the existence of the Pimm's pitcher (a pitcher in which to make a large amount of Pimm's cups).

I leapt for my wallet, but sadly the store on the Pimm's website wasn't working. Sadness.

Enter eBay. I now own a Pimm's pitcher of my very own (pictured above). Sure, mine is plastic but I'm ok with that. I think I'll break in during my birthday party.


Pricing: physical vs. digital

digitalCD.jpg

I'm a big fan of digital goods. I buy eBooks all the time, and I can't remember the last time I bought an actual CD. Today, however, I was tempted to break my CD free streak.

As you can see above, Neil Diamond has a new album
out. Since I enjoy Mr. Diamond's work, I wanted to nab a copy for myself. I checked iTunes first, and the MP3 album cost $10.99. I figured Amazon MP3 would have it for a buck cheaper, or so, which they usually do so I headed over there. Amazon had it for $10.99 as well, however, the CD cost $9.99.

I've written before about this phenomenon, though in that case I was talking about physical books vs. eBooks, and I still don't understand it.

As an author I totally get that lots of folks are involved in creating stuff like this, and they aren't volunteers and they need to get paid. That being said, I'm always amazed when a physical product costs less than the digital version.

Oh, and yes, I did buy the digital version even though it cost me a buck more.


Cool posters from Vintagraph

1939WorldsFair.jpgI was born in the wrong era. Well, maybe not since if I had been born in the 30's I wouldn't be able to enjoy all the gadgets (and blogs) that I spend so much of my time obsessing over.

Thankfully, Vintagraph is there to provide me with artwork so I can enjoy both my iPad and WPA produced posters. Isn't the world a wonderful place?

I have my eye on a few of their posters:


Writing: Lifestyle or Job?

In addition to being a wildly unstable, lonely occupation with an insane income spread, there are other drawbacks to being a writer.

via www.antipope.org

I don't rate myself in the same league as Charlie Stross as a writer, but his blog post is a must read for anyone looking to get into the writing gig. Sure, I'm a tech book author, but generally speaking I'm a pretty successful author and I haven't laid the foundation on Blankbaby Manor just yet.


See America

seeamerica.jpg

I don't know what it is, perhaps because I am getting older, or because I feel more settled... but I've been on a bit of a home furnishings kick.

I haven't ordered these framed posters yet (because Marisa rightly pointed out that I already have lots of art that needs framing) but I'm blogging it to remember them.

Something about this particular style appeals to me. Given my love of Mission and Arts and Crafts stuff, it is clear I was born about 70 or 80 years too late (though, what did people DO at work without computers and the Internet? Seriously, what did they do? Did they mimeograph funny pictures of cats and send them to one another via inter-office mail?).


Canada, Tom Brokaw style

I've got to admit that I enjoy the taped segments, like this one explaining Canada to Americans, that NBC puts together for the Olympics a little more than the Olympics themselves (but I am rooting for the USA. I mean, I'm not a god damn pinko bastard or anything).

[via The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century who is a real live Canadian! Who knew they had the Internet in Canada?).]


I interviewed the Wiggles

The Wiggles. Kids go crazy for them, and until recently I had very little idea who the heck they were. That all changed last week when I sat down to interview them for my day job (yes, I was in the same room with them even though it might not look that way in the video).


They were nice guys, and I enjoyed chatting with them.

When I joined Comcast I wasn't expecting to interview anyone, but it turns out I quite enjoy it (I'll leave it up to you whether or not I'm any good at it!). Here's a link to the YouTube video if you're reading this in a newsreader or something.