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I can't be the only one on my f-list who remembered a previous interaction between Daniel Craig's James Bond and HRM Liz II.
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A recent posting on Balloon Juice mentioned the Hill Cumorah Pageant, a spectacular reenactment of scenes from the Book of Mormon, performed annually at the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra NY. It seems that it was written by none other than Orson Scott Card. (The Washington Post reports that Mitt Romney's favorite novel is "Ender's Game," which I find somewhat peculiar.)
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My son passed his driver's test today. Now he and his sister get to fight over the car that she's been using for school and work; the only ground rules we're insisting on are that school and work take priority. This could get interesting....
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So I've had marginally elevated blood pressure for a few months, bouncing around but generally trending downward. Then this past weekend I had a spike up to 170/110 along with palpitations and jaw pain, which motivated a very rapid trip to the ER. That was Saturday night; EKG was normal, and cardiac enzymes were negative on the first test. They kept me there overnight for another pair of tests, both of which were also negative. That's a good thing, but they also wanted to do a stress test before releasing me, and they don't do stress tests on Sundays. So one more night in hospital. At least the stress test was negative (and in fact I seem to have a rather healthy heart; I can hit a heart rate of 190 bpm and not be completely blown, and even at that heart rate my diastolic blood pressure was at or below its value before starting the test). They sent me home with instructions to cut back sodium intake to 2 g/day. That'll mean some changes, but it should be doable.

Yesterday went well at work even with the low-sodium diet. I was going in this morning, though, when I got L-boned; it's kind of like being T-boned, except the impact point is towards the end of the car. The other driver ran a red light going fast enough to spin my Civic around something like 180°, hitting my car on the driver's side right about on a line with the rear axle. The entire rear end was shoved over enough to leave a split on the passenger's side. Naturally, the car's totaled, as one would expect when an SUV hits a Civic. My left ear was ringing for a bit from the side curtain air bag deployment, but it kept my head from bouncing off the window. I still ended up with some pulled muscles in my neck and shoulder, and just to make sure that was all I spent four hours at the ER. (The same ER I'd been at Saturday night, of course.)

So now I have to find a replacement car. As spouse put it, we're tired of having other people hit us and having to make up the difference between what the insurance company pays and what a replacement actually costs. (Though we may elect to get a less expensive car and bequeath it to one of the kids in a few years. Hmmmm.)


Jan. 12th, 2012 08:16 am
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Happy Birthday to [livejournal.com profile] beamjockey! Here's hoping the post-Tevatron Fermilab is still treating you well....
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Broken mainly because I had something happen worth writing about. Anyway, son A. is currently learning to drive. A few months ago, he was pulling spouse's two-year-old van out of the garage and managed to scrape the passenger-side mirror off (as well as doing some damage to the paint on that side). Well, that's what we have insurance for, and in due time it was repaired.

Then, shortly before the end of the semester, daughter J. rear-ended another car and totaled hers. (She and the occupants of the other car are all OK.) Well, it had 193k miles on it, so all we had was liability insurance, so it was not repaired but replaced. Got a used VW Golf for her and her brother, 125k miles on it, but they hold their value well and we got it for rather less than Blue Book. (The previous owner was returning to France after his postdoctoral appointment ended, and couldn't very well pack it along.) As it turns out, the difference between Blue Book and what we paid will largely cover the transmission rebuild; it seems that Golfs are known for that sort of thing, and despite the maintenance records the previous owner provided I cannot escape a nagging suspicion that he knew something was up. No matter.

Cut to this past Saturday. J.'s car is still in the shop, awaiting a solenoid to complete the transmission rebuild. J. is off at work, having taken spouse's car. Spouse had some errands to run, so I was dropped off at music practice while errandry was being performed. When practice was over, I called spouse and awaited pickup. After everyone else at practice had left, spouse called me. "Can you get someone else to give you a ride?" "No, everyone's left. Why?" "I'm sorry, I was in an accident and messed up your car." "Oh. Are you OK?" "A little shaken up."

Fortunately, the accident was less than two miles from where I was, so I walked over. Basically, the other driver had pulled out into traffic from a stop sign without seeing spouse (my car's a Corolla; easy to miss from the other side of a panel truck). Spouse saw the other driver doing this (other vehicle was a van; somewhat harder to miss, even from the other side of a panel truck), leaned on horn, slammed on brakes, attempted to steer to avoid impact...and almost managed it. What seems to have happened is that something on the van caught the front end of my car and tore off the entire front bumper, right to left. It wrapped around the car and ended up blocking the driver's door. The driver of the van, in *his* attempt to avoid impact, managed to flip his vehicle. Ended up on its roof, and the emergency responders had to cut him out of it before taking him away on a stretcher. My car was barely drivable, so spouse pulled it into a nearby parking lot and waited for the towing service. Car taken away, and the damage assessor from our insurance company was going to look at it today.

The good news: Spouse wound up with nothing more than torso bruises from seat belt and foot bruises from standing on the brake. The bad news: My car is totaled. The frame is bent, they estimate $10k+ to fix, and even then they aren't sure if that'll take care of it. The worse news: The other driver was uninsured. I am not happy. So in the last four or five months, all three of our cars were damaged, and two were not repairable. This sucks.
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Happy Birthday to [livejournal.com profile] intelligentrix! May the coming year be all you hope for (and glad to hear your party was a success).
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Steampunk Palin, the comic

Y'know, when Ben Dunn introduced Professor "The world can be saved by Steam!" Steamhead in Ninja High School, it was obviously a joke. This, though...not so much.

(Nicked from [livejournal.com profile] murgatroyd666 and [livejournal.com profile] filkertom)
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Seeing this post from [livejournal.com profile] intelligentrix reminded me to check how long I'd been on LJ. I remembered I'd started late in the year, and well after many of my friends had. Turns out that my first post was December 4, 2005, so I'm just over a month late to my 5th LJversary. I don't post much lately (not that I was ever that prolific, or logorrheic, or whatever), but I still check my flist here frequently to keep up with people I know in RL ([livejournal.com profile] intelligentrix, [livejournal.com profile] whumpdotcom, [livejournal.com profile] cynthia1960, [livejournal.com profile] catalana, [livejournal.com profile] replyhazy, and many more), along with people I haven't met in RL ([livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll, [livejournal.com profile] children_of_lir, etc.). Here's hoping that LJ survives in the Brave New World of social networking!
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My little girl voted for the very first time today. I am a very proud dad.
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White House? White House? I'm sorry; I'm living in the past, but I still think "skinny high-school gaming geek" when I see that name.
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As seen on Tor.com, a Class 4 blue diode laser, 1 W output...built into a lightsaber body. I see no way that this can possibly go wrong. Really, just because stray reflections from this thing are bright enough to cause permanent blindness is no reason to be so negative.

I'll have to send this link to the site Laser Safety Officer. He's in the next building over, but I might be able to hear him when he opens the email.


Jul. 2nd, 2010 09:59 am
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PZ Myers had the following clip up about Convergence. I recognized Hank Luttrell and Phil Kaveny and saw a few other familiar faces. As reporting on cons goes, it wasn't too bad...yeah, the videos concentrated on people in costume, but at least they gave the organizers a chance to talk about the good educational stuff they were working on.


Jun. 23rd, 2010 08:21 pm
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Anyone out there know anything about Dellacon? It's a relaxacon in the Wisconsin Dells, middle of September, and I'm interested in who's running it, if anyone out there is going, etc.
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"The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms," by N. K. Jemisin.

What did I think of it? Well, to crib from (IIRC) Neil Gaiman, I think Jemisin must have been bitten by a radioactive awesome as a child, because OMFG that was brilliant [1]. Brilliant worldbuilding, a believable set of societies, an ensemble of wonderfully realized characters (many of whom I wouldn't go out of my way to step on, in case they rubbed off), and...yeah. Oh, and this is a work of prose that begs to be read aloud. I was, I fear, occasionally annoying to [livejournal.com profile] metesten while I was reading it, because every now and then I had to share a particularly good passage with her. (These grew less and less frequent the further I got--not because there weren't as many good passages, but I wanted to avoid spoilers.)

What's it about? On the surface, the setup sounds a bit like EFP [2]. You've got your halfbreed daughter of the onetime heir to the most powerful family in the world, raised in the barbarian North and summoned to her grandfather's court after her mother dies. There, she is immediately named one of her grandfather's heirs (along with her two cousins, neither of whom she has met before). The ensuing political intrigue is complicated by the fact that the most powerful family in the world got to be that way through their relationship with the most powerful god in the universe....

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that as a middle-aged straight white male, my reading was frequently interrupted by headscratches, sitting up and saying, "hey, wait a minute...." and the occasional facepalm. These were all good things; Jemisin did a superlative job of smoothly putting me into the head of someone whose life has been shaped very differently from mine, and suddenly making me see how (for example) the colonial narrative looks from the other side.

Recommended, and I'll be getting the next one as soon as it's out.

[1] OTOH, I don't think this is [livejournal.com profile] friar_bacon's tipple of choice, so YMMV.

[2] Extruded Fantasy Product. Derogatory term for generic Tolkien/other fantasy ripoffs, at least some of which don't really deserve it.


Apr. 28th, 2010 11:33 am
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Off to the hospital shortly, where even as I type daughter J is going under prior to getting her gall bladder out. More to come, either here or on FB.
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Some of you may have heard of Tom Smith, the World's Fastest Filker. He's got a new album available for download from Bandcamp (see here); it's basically twenty-plus years worth of B-sides--songs that didn't quite make the cut onto his other albums. You've got a choice of formats, minimum price is $9, but I kicked in a bit extra for another reason.

It seems that he needs money to fix his bathroom floor, which has sustained considerable water damage over the years and is in danger of collapsing; he's got details on his LJ, along with a link to the other albums he has on Bandcamp. Go there and check them out; he's...heck, in his own words:

"Think Weird Al with way more books; Jonathan Coulton with way more jokes; George Carlin with way more Cthulhu songs. With the lyrical complexity of Ashman and Sondheim, the vocal fireworks of Meat Loaf, the comedic timing of Robin Williams, and the dynamic physique of the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, the only thing he won't do is be boring."

One other thing: He's got a history of signal boosting for other people when they've been in trouble, and doing things like donating songs to benefit auctions. So if you want to buy an album and you're able, give something extra. It's worth it.
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For the upcoming chili party, we've had the kids cleaning the house, and [livejournal.com profile] metesten and I got to work on the food. I got the Oklahoma chili [1] (anchos, chipotles, crushed tomatoes, beer, garlic...) together when she was out shopping, then we assembled the Minnesota chili (vegetarian black bean) and the Illinois chili (standard mild stuff--red kidney beans, hamburger, tomato sauce, green peppers, celery, onions...like that) and got them simmering overnight. This should be good.

[1] We've got a chili recipe book w/one recipe per state.
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Daughter J wanted to have duck of some variety for her birthday dinner, but also wanted chicken and a raspberry cake of the low-fat variety [1]. So her mother roasted a chicken, made stuffing and mashed potatoes, and I made a chiffon layer cake to be doctored with raspberries. The duck recipe was a matter of some discussion, but spouse found several in Jeff Smith's Three Ancient Cuisines book, and I figured that the stewed duck with mushrooms sounded the best. We had baby portabellas instead of Chinese mushrooms, but that didn't seem like too unpleasant a change. Anyway, the recipe called for browning the duck in oil before stewing it. However, J's boyfriend is going to the Cordon Bleu chef's school in the area, and pointed out that frying duck in oil was kind of like frying bacon in oil--serious lipid overkill. He was kind enough to section the duck and brown it, and sure enough, we got a lot of yummy duck fat cooking off of it. Dumped the browned duck and fat into a stew pot, sauted some slivered ginger and garlic in the leftover duck fat and added it along with the baby bellas, some chicken stock, the duck innards, soy sauce, white wine, an onion, and a piece of star anise. (Next time I'll deglaze the pan with the white wine....) Stewed until the meat fell off the bones. It was really good--I was amazed at how much flavor the anise added, considering it was one piece in a large stew pot.

[1] She's currently on a low-fat diet.
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