• A Wrinkle In Time

    Anne and I saw this last night. Meh — I was not impressed. I’ll grant that it was pretty close to (a simplified version of) the book, and that I am not the target audience for the movie (or the book for that matter) by about four decades, and that I did enjoy large stretches of the movie, but there were other large stretches that just left me annoyed. On the whole, the movie left me with the same, sanctimonious  “oh the wonder of it all!” vibe of a 90’s era computer advertisement, one targeting parents for their kids’ education, full of photogenic kids staring rapt at math-ey and science-ey graphics. I was seriously rolling my eyes by about 20 minutes into the movie…

    The casting was also kind of spotty, and in a weird way: the more likely I knew an actor, the worse they were here. That is, the kids were all pretty good, but Oprah was awful — more of that sanctimony, maybe.

    Anne kinda-sorta agreed with my “meh, kid stuff” assessment, but she didn’t think it was as bad as all that. She read the book as an adult though, reading it to/with Ben and Emmi and seeing it through their eyes, so she may have been more sympathetic.

    Anyway, it was a night out, and I actually would recommend it for tweens, especially fans of the book.

  • Watching The Snow Fall

    The last storm (on Wednesday) came with a lot of hype, and I was disappointed to wake up with no snow on the ground, just rainy surfaces rather than the advertised snowpocalypse, but then snow started falling midmorning and it came down all day. It was a heavy, wet snow, but there was nowhere as much as they were calling for: we got maybe 4″ on the ground rather than the expected 12″ — the storm tracked east of us, apparently, and we missed the brunt of it, though areas west and north of us got some accumulation. Go figure.

    I got out Tuesday for a nice, pre-snowpocalypse ride on the towpath, which was in great shape — conditions had been improving, and I expected this would be the last chance this week for a decent ride. I rode down to the waterfall in Easton and back, really pleasant. After that I got my act together then went over to Southside — a little early, so I could get a few photos, for some OpenSteetMap mapping at the new parking garage — to meet Anne for dinner at La Lupita before going to see Colson Whitehead talk at Zoellner Arts Center.

    That was really good: he started with “I was born a poor black child” à la Steve Martin, did several readings from The Underground Railroad, talked about his career, his writing process, and writing as a part of his life in general. The Underground Railroad was the subject of a number of workshops at Lehigh; the event was well-attended by students as well as the usual bookish crowd, and the Q&A afterward was pretty decent.

    Wednesday was spent waiting for snow, watching snow from inside while I did computer stuff and Anne did her spinning, and then watching the storm peter out… I got in another bike ride yesterday after some trivial shoveling, just going over to the CAT office to help Scott move some shelves, the first step in his office reconfiguration project. It was a bit chilly, but the air felt fresh and very spring-like.

    Today I woke up and looked outside — snow flurries.

  • Annihilation

    I saw this one on Sunday, with John R and Brian & Katie. Verdict: pretty good, with an interesting story and some good visuals, but in the end it was a disappointment, especially after seeing Black Panther.

    The story here is that, after a meteor crashes, in the middle of a state park in the southern US, the crash site becomes the center of a slowly-expanding area, with ominous, anomalous behavior and an odd rainbow-like light. The secret researchers call it “The Shimmer,” but no one and nothing sent into the zone has returned.

    Except one guy, a soldier who reappears at his home, a year after his mission, with no memory of how he got there. He immediately becomes sick, he and his wife (a professor and cancer researcher) are taken to the secret base, and she becomes one of five women who are the next research team to enter The Shimmer.

    From there, the story is a bit like a cross between Alien and Deliverance, with a bit of Solaris thrown in. The team is attacked by mutant creatures, find evidence that the earlier teams either mutated, or went crazy and killed each other, or both, and then they start losing it in the same ways. None make it out, except the professor.

    As I think about it now, I actually liked the movie, and am definitely going to read the award-winning book on which it’s based.

  • O Brave New World!

    I finally bit the bullet: I put this site on SSL.

    I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, though my motives have been a bit unclear unless I count Internet street cred. The idea is to be able to use HTTPS rather than the HTTP protocol, where the “S” at the end stands for “secure:” the connection between my server and your browser is encrypted (using SSL, or TLS for the pedantic), in a way that keeps the data transfered between them secret, while also verifying that the data source is actually me. This comes in handy if we don’t want third parties snooping on our connection, or modifying the data by adding malware or advertisements. I’m not sure how much those are real problems for my little blog, but all the cool kids are moving to HTTPS so I guess I’d better do it as well.

    The process was a bit time consuming, but it turned out to be easier and more straightforward than I thought it would be. The verification is done via a cryptographically-signed “certificate” from an already-trusted source (a certificate authority), and getting a certificate — for free — from a trusted source was the hardest part of the process — but even counting my learning curve (but not my fretting/waffling), getting and installing the certificate took all of 10 minutes. There were a few more hoops to jump through with my host (another 10 minutes, plus more waffling), but cPanel did most of the work, and now it’s done: my site communicates via the secure HTTPS protocol, redirecting from HTTP if necessary. You can see the green lock up in the address bar, which indicates the secure connection.

    Now you can enjoy my site, knowing that it truly is me, talking to you, in secret…


  • Black Panther

    Anne and I saw this on Saturday — wow. I am not a comic book, “Marvel Universe,” or big-budget movie fan by any stretch of the imagination, but this was one of the better movies I’ve seen in a while. It helps that the story basically stands by itself, without any need to know much else about the story world it inhabits, and it also helps that the big-budget effects were done both well and tastefully, but what really made this movie was that the story it told was actually really good.

    Sorry, spoilers ahead! Continue reading  Post ID 1106

  • Montreal Photos

    As promised, here are my photos from Montreal:

  • Playing Serious Catch-Up

    Morning weigh-in: 189.0#, 14.0% BF

    Today I followed “weigh-in protocol” (do it pre-shower), and it looks like my body fat is back in the normal range. So, there’s that…

    Reading: I got two books on maps from the library, but they are surprisingly boring.

    My computer project du jour is to bring my photo database, and my  Flickr account, up to date. I’ve been downloading from Dropbox into Shotwell (my photo program), doing a bit of curating and then uploading the keepers into Flickr — I am now getting close to the end of 2014,  with thousands of photos to go. Sigh.

  • Push-Ups and Oatmeal

    Morning weigh-in: 188.5#, 12.0% BF

    I haven’t been getting much exercise lately, except for my morning push-ups, but I have been eating a oatmeal every day for breakfast — “oatmeal” in this case meaning steel cut oats, with a little butter, cinnamon, a touch of maple syrup, and at least two fruits (apple, banana, blueberries): nutritious, very filling, and it keeps me full for a big part of the day. I suspect that the oatmeal has something to do with my weight loss, but I have no answer for why the body fat is down, my actual body is about what it was. Usually the body fat percentage is a proxy for my hydration level, low BF meaning I’m dehydrated  — usually because of a few beers the night before, but there have not been that many beers since the weekend — so I’ve taken to drinking a few glasses of water every morning, just in case. (I’ve broken my weigh-in protocol lately, weighing myself after bathing rather than before; since the body fat measurement is based on electrical resistance, my wetted skin may be confounding the measurement.)

    Other than that, not much has been going on. I’m once again in a difficult period with my skin, it’s been raw and sensitive, and yesterday was a bit of a crisis: I moved a bunch of heavy, dusty boxes at the Museum’s archive building, and between the dust and the sweat I had myself a real reaction. Oy. I left early and sat in the backyard getting some sun — it was a sunny and record-warm day, as opposed to the current cold and rain.



  • The Challenge: A Follow-Up

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5#, 10.5% BF

    I don’t know, maybe it was the burger & beers… I went for a walk in the falling snow last night, and somehow ended up at Brew Works — I know, right? Go figure…

    The Push-up Challenge: Well it’s been at least a month since I started, and things went pretty much the way I expected — I can see, or I pretend to imagine I can see, some new bulk and a bit of definition in my pecs, a little less so for my arms, but nothing really dramatic. (Strangely enough, my upper pecs seem to be growing the fastest, so I sort of look like I have very high chest muscles, ending just a little below my collarbone. Kind of a weird look… Luckily I’m still wearing my winter sweaters and long sleeve shirts for now, and since I’ve still got plenty of chub it’s all kind of hidden anyway.)

    I’m still thinking that a hundred push-ups is not enough of an overload, and a month is not enough time, for real muscular improvement. I am currently doing 130 push-ups a day, in two sets of 65, and will continue doing so for now, adding reps as I my strength allows.


  • Back From Montreal

    Got home yesterday, after a five-day trip to Montreal with John & Donna — pictures and fuller report to follow. Today was spent getting back into the swing of being home; Anne did stuff around the house while I volunteered at the Canal Museum. We also ate a lot of fruit and vegetables today — a long weekend of heavy food (poutine, anyone?) took its toll and we needed to change direction.

    Reading: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Anne read this, loved it and recommended it to me, and I’m simply devouring it. It’s the story of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII around the time he married Anne Boleyn. I’m almost done.