Escape Vehicles

posted in: Art, Fun, Speculation | 1

And, by that I mean escapism by way of space vehicles.

At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love science fiction. Whether it’s literature, movies, television or even comic books, I pretty much love it all. What’s more, I often find myself theorizing about it. Frankly, at this point I would imagine that my poor wife is tired of me comparing modern military submarines to the future of military spacecraft. I mean, it’s logical when you look at it, but it seems like so few have!
In any case, when I hear about other geeks like me who speculate on the ins and outs of scifi spacecraft, I get excited. And, that’s what I’m bringing you this week, via Boing Boing, Spacedock, the YouTube channel that looks at the “…specifications, history and lore of fictional spacecraft from science fiction. Any Spacecraft, any Sci-Fi.” Yes, it’s as geeky and fun as it sounds. Seriously, their “How To Land on the Battlestar Galactica is an amazing exploration of what we saw in the show and an excellent extrapolation of what we didn’t see, but had to have been there to make the rest work. It’s definitely worth a look for fans.

Besides, it’s Friday and if you’ve been stuck at home out of COVID-19 fear, you deserve a little escapism.
Enjoy! And stay well.

Occupational Training Failure

posted in: Fun, Fun and Games | 0

For dogs.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with threats of global pandemics and the primary elections here in the US, not to mention all the other insanity we all deal with on a daily basis these days. I don’t even want to go into my own work insanity, because; a) they might be reading and b) it’s mostly technical IT geekery that normal readers like yourselves really don’t care about. But, trust me when I tell you, if you’re feeling a little nuts this week, you’re not alone.
So, with that in mind, I bring you an uplifting link directly from Boing Boing; Dog Fails Service Animal Test. And, trust me when I say that not only did he fail, but he epically failed. If you don’t find yourself laughing along with his trainer, who ultimately adopted him, then I can turn your week around for you. You’ll need expert help. Either way, seriously, you have to see the videos to believe it. Not every dog is meant to be a service animal and this video is proof. To be fair, Ryker is a happy dog that clearly wants to please his trainer, but just can’t quite figure out the whole service dog thing no matter how enthusiastically he tries. Watch the videos and you’ll see what I mean.

Enjoy! And, have a good weekend!

Martial Arts Fakers

posted in: Fun | 1

Mystic martial arts hoaxers.

To be fair, I think these people do at least partially believe that this is real.
If you’re my age, you probably remember the ads in the back of comic books promising martial arts skills and near magic powers via correspondence courses, or even a single book or pamphlet. As a kid, a skinny kid who was often bullied in one way or another, I wished those things were true. As a slightly older kid and an adult, I knew they weren’t really true. I think a part of me still wanted to believe them, but, by the time I was in college, I knew they weren’t anything more than wishful thinking. Or, maybe, at best, a metaphor for a way of looking at how the martial arts fit into a larger world. And, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things about martial arts I really love. But, like anything that’s popular and been around for a long time, there are plenty of people looking to take advantage.
So, today, in that spirit, I bring you The Bizarre World of Fake Martial Arts. It’s about 30 minutes and worth every second. It starts by looking at some of the stranger, and funnier, fake martial artists from the 70’s and goes all the way to the Chinese MMA fighter showing that all too many of the modern Chinese martial arts masters are, well, not quite able to deliver on some of their promises to potential students. There’s a lot packed into a 30 minute video and I’m grateful to Boing Boing for bringing it to my attention. And, now yours.

Enjoy!

Legit Free Airport Wifi

A little aid for the travellers.

Back in the days that I was one of those “road warriors” who spent countless hours in airports waiting for flights, wifi wasn’t even really a thing. Certainly not free wifi in the airports. Now, of course, not only is free wifi something that has come and, mostly, gone again, but it’s become such a normal part of life that it’s almost an expected amenity. Still for those of us who fly peasant class these days, and have to suffer through the interminable waits at security check-points, only to wait longer at a gate for our flight, having wifi can be a soothing balm. Sadly, all too many places charge for it now. And, that means, that your cheapskate Uncle Jim has brought you a set of free, or nearly free, things to circumvent the wifi misers.
This all comes to us via Lifehacker, naturally, as so many of my best and useful links do. Still, not all of you read Lifehacker, so I feel like I’m still doing a service here. And, of course, it’s easier to search my own site than theirs!
The map with all the info is a Google maps called Wireless Passwords from Airports and Lounges Around the World and it’s just what the name says. The map has airports marked on it with notes that have free wifi passwords and, as needed for clarity, the name of the wifi networks available. The developer, a travel enthusiast named Anil Polat, aka foXnoMad, started this project back in 2016 and updates the map with information from helpful travelers regularly. He’s also got two apps for “off-line” access available on the Apple AppStore and Google Play. The apps are NOT free, but the iOS version is only $1.99 which, I think, more than makes up for getting free wifi in airports.

So, there you have it. It’s a little late for the holiday travel season, but still, a pretty useful set of links, I think, for the regular traveler.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day

Today is St. Valentine’s Day.

Today, we are told, is the one day we should openly display our love for a partner. I used to be quite bitter about this holiday both as a very single person and as a divorced person, because I found the heavy emphasis on something I thought I didn’t have frustrating and shameful. After all, what was wrong with me that no one “loved” me enough to want to be with me? I admit, I feel less strongly about it now that I’m married. It’s easy to relax about a holiday created by greeting card companies and confectioners to generate revenue when you’ve actually made a lasting commitment to someone truly wonderful. (If you read this and are friends with my blushing bride, please, for me, tell her I said she was wonderful!)
In church, Sunday, they’re likely to read First Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 4-7, which are “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
I don’t know what Paul had in mind when he wrote that bit, but, from what I know about my least favorite Apostle, he probably didn’t intend for it to be a guide to long-term, romantic-relationship success. Regardless, it functions as that pretty well. It is what I strive for with my wife, for sure. I think she’d agree that I do better at that ideal with each passing year, even if I am far from perfect in that regard. (And, my apologies to anyone I was involved with previously. Rest assured, I’m still a mostly terrible person and you’re not missing out on a thing and I’m also sincerely sorry for whatever I may have put you through when we were together. Honest.)

And, if all of that is just too much to bear, you can always celebrate this day as the anniversary of when a fellow Chicagoan, Al Capone, rounded up seven of his closest buddies and gunned them down in the back alleys of the South Side of Chicago. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre! It was on this day, in 1929, that the rivalry between Bugs Moran and Al Capone reached its violent and bloody peak, leaving seven, bloody corpses in its wake, along with damaging both Moran’s North Side Gang and, ultimately, bringing so much attention to Capone from the FBI that it effectively ended his criminal career, as well.
Truly, a turning point in the criminal history of Chicago.

So, whatever your feelings about this particular holiday, try to cut yourself a little slack. We’re all feeling the pressure to be more these days. Try to love the ones close to you a little more and a little more consciously. And, most of all, remember, your relationship isn’t measured by how well or poorly things go today, but how you treat each other the other 364 days of the year.

Stock Canadian Images

posted in: Art, Fun | 0

Canadians have a delightfully odd sense of humor.

And, I mean that in the best way possible.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the company responsible for the administration of the .CA domain, wants to encourage Canadians on the internet to, well, be Canadian “out loud”, if you will. To that end, they provide a number of resources to help Canadian webizens get stuff done on the internet. The best thing they provide, though, is the very, very Canadian library of stock images. The theme here is ultra Canadian and there’s flannel, maple syrup, hockey or a moose in every photo. Sometimes, there’s all those things in a single stock image. If you’re not Canadian, I’m not sure how much use these will be to you, but they were too funny not to share them.

Come back next week to see if the free junk from the internet I link to is stranger than that!

Pre-Written Emails

I love short-cuts and time-saving templates.

When I was a kid, my mother had a book of example letters for every occasion. I loved that book and the idea behind it. Every page was a pre-written example letter or template that addressed a problem. All you had to do was copy that letter, change the names and specific circumstances for your particular situation, and you were all set. When I skimmed through that book, I felt like I was going to see a huge, exciting world as an adult and these were the keys to unlock all the doors to that adult world.
As a young adult, I actually got an updated copy of that book which came with a CD of templates for those letters. You could open them in your favorite word processor and customize them as required. Now, with the internet, I don’t really need those books, or that CD, because I can find anything I might need out there, somewhere.
One site, Canned Emails, has the very modern equivalent of those template letters. And, you can even choose between the raw text of them, or actually use the website to send the emails via your email client!
The emails are all pretty basic, but they cover a wide range of regular communications and, honestly, sometimes keeping it short and to the point is the best way to go any way.

See you next week with, well, something. Honestly, I haven’t planned that far in advance. So, I’ll be as surprised as you!

DIY Nutrition Labels

posted in: Fun, Personal Care | 0

Just like at the factory farm.

I was going to just gloss over why I was looking for this and get right to the fun, but, let’s face it; at this point I’m pretty much writing this blog for myself. So, my blushing bride was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a couple weeks ago and she read that one thing which might help is going to basically a ketogenic diet. That led me to look for some DIY keto-friendly energy bars, which I were shelf stable and I could seal up in a small food vacuum storage bag. (You can find my latest recipe discoveries on my Pinterest Recipies and Cooking board.) And, all that led me to think it would be fun to put a nutrition label on my creations.
So, first, I’d need to break down the ingredients in the recipe so I could enter it into the label. After searching around, I found two that analyze the recipe and generate the label. First, there’s cleverly named recipenutrition.com. It’s really simple to use and free. Then, there’s the even more user friendly Very Well Fit site’s Recipe Nutrition Analyzer. Both are free and give you a basic nutrition label.
Finally, if you want to take the output from those labels and make something that’s a little fancier, you can grab your info and head to the Nutrition Label Generator at OnlineLabels.com. Also free, but you’re got to have your data already worked out.
And, while these look like great labels, I’d make sure they were up to FDA standards before using them on a commercial product. Can’t be too safe!

Social Media Fonts

posted in: Art, Fun | 0

Fonts for services without them.

Well, two services without them, at any rate. Now, keep in mind this is far from perfect, but it does, in fact, work. A little bit better for Instagram than for Twitter, but, those are the two services that this was meant for. I saw this first on Lifehacker, so credit where credit is due, but they didn’t mention the problem using this with your Twitter profile. Neither service offers the ability to style your biography with a good font, and that’s what the Metatags.io Font Generator allows you to do. On Instagram, there’s no significant character limit to your biography, so there’s no issue. But, on Twitter, the way the generator makes the fonts happen, shortens your available characters pretty severely. So, there you go. It does work, but there are some limitations that you’ll have to play around with. And, after all, what can you expect from a free service, right?
Come back next week for even more random junk from my browsing history!

Appreciating Art

posted in: Art, Fun | 0

Steve Martin teaching us about art.

I love art. I don’t know much about art, really, in spite of all the things my good friend, and famous art star, Mark Flood has tried to teach me. I have always enjoyed art, though, even when I was a kid. I used to spend what was for me, at the time, a ridiculous amount of money on metal sculptures as a kid. Mostly small things, but visually interesting to me. Like a cricket made from iron nails and a spark plug. Another time, I talked a wood carver into selling me one of his unfinished works of a raccoon head, which sits on my dresser to this day. I’ve had that for probably more than 40 years at this point, and I no longer remember the artist’s name or what it cost. When I was working my first job in downtown Chicago, I had the incredible good fortune to run into Curt Frankenstein at an art market after my shift on a Sunday afternoon. I spoke with him for some time before I realized he was the artist I was viewing, but I’m pleased to say that my rudimentary understanding of etchings and print-making favorably impressed him. At the time, I was only able to afford two of his wonderful surrealist prints, which hand in my home still.
I don’t think I started to appreciate abstract work until I started hanging around with Mark Flood. And, of course, it’s his abstracts that I love the most. I’m lucky enough to have been gifted one, though he calls it payment for some computer work I did for him, and I love it. Everyone remarks on it.
But, before I digress even more, let me share the link I meant to give you this week: Steve Martin makes abstract art theory interesting, via Boing Boing. It’s a short video in the MoMA series The Way I See It for the BBC. There are several other people talking about their favorite work, or at least their feelings about and connection to art. It’s quite good and I definitely recommend seeing them all, but it’s hard to top Steve Martin saying “I believe pictures reveal themselves over time…” I mean, that’s really the best thing to say about art. Go, watch the video, then go to a museum and look at art.

In any case, enjoy!

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