Posted by: Mark | April 27, 2015

Last Monday

The semester is almost over. Normally when I post about it being the last Monday,  I still have to come in on a Monday for an exam.  Not this time–only one exam on Friday May 8.

It could have been the last Monday class of my life. I think I’ll be able to go on.

Posted by: Mark | April 26, 2015

Another Goofy Meme

I’ve got a lot to do but I feel like dropping dead. I’ll compromise by answering questions from this meme.

 

1. If you could pick any dinosaur to have as a pet, which would you choose?

If I’m getting a dinosaur, I’ll go big with a Tyrannosaurus rex, but one that automatically obeys my every command.  Because if I’m doing something impossible, I’ll do it very impossibly.

 

2. If you were stuck on a deserted island that somehow had satellite access to crappy cable TV, and you only had Gilligan’s Island reruns, Jersey Shore marathons, or Ancient Aliens marathons to watch, which would you suffer through?

I’ve probably seen every episode of Gilligan’s Island but it’s the only one I could stomach.

 

3. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek fans are most annoying, and I like Star Wars, but I’ll still go with Trek.

 

4. Twilight Sparkle or Pinkie Pie?

What the hell are you talking about?

 

5. What language(s) besides English can you speak/read/write?

Pig Latin and E-Prime.

 

6. Name a country you’d like to visit.

Australia.

 

7. Do you like SpongeBob SquarePants?

Yes.

 

8. What type of music do you like to listen to when you’re studying/relaxing?

I used to listen to what is now considered classic rock but now it’s just what the kids have on.

 

9. What is one food you can never live without?

I don’t think there’s any food that I would have a problem if it vanished. I guess my favorite is crab Rangoon.

 

10. What’s your favorite video game system?

I guess Atari.

Posted by: Mark | April 25, 2015

Never Trust a Demon

I started reading Skeleton in the Closet, a collection of Robert Bloch stories that I’ve never read before.

The first three were decent but weren’t in Bloch’s hall of fame.  The next one “Never Trust a Demon” started off as a fun deal with a devil story but the ending was surprising.

Spoiler alert for a story written when Hitler was in power!

The protagonist avoids losing his soul to a demon he conjures because he had previously sold his soul to Satan.

This trick was used in the comics Constantine and Jack of Fables,  as if it were new. In reality it’s from 1943 (possibly even older).

I think I’m going to rip off Bloch’s next story and see if I can sell it to DC Comica

Posted by: Mark | April 24, 2015

The Completion List: Lucky Louie

The other day I watched the last unaired episode of Louis CK’s Lucky Louie, “Clowntime is Over.”

I have a hard time evaluating the series. I like all the actors, especially Mike Hagerty; it was consistently funny; and it looked dead on Norman Lear’s 1970s/80s sitcoms.

The trouble is that I remember those sitcoms vividly and, while I enjoyed them at the time, they feel dated today. It’s not the age, plenty of sitcoms of the same era hold up much better, despite seeming much weaker at the time.

I think what made Airplane and Young Frankenstein successful was that most viewers were only vaguely aware of the source material (I know they showed us Son of Frankenstein in grade school but I’d pretty much forgotten about it).

Lucky Louie was spot on but it was spot on something I never wanted to relive. It would be like perfectly replicating my fifth grade class–no matter how good you did, I wouldn’t like it.

If you have fonder memories of 70s/80s shows, you might love Lucky Louie. I’m going to skip ahead to Louis CK’s new show.

Posted by: Mark | April 23, 2015

Resolution Update XVII

2015 is 113 days dead; here’s what I made of it:

1. Blogging. Goal:  300 posts for the year. What I have: Needed 92.88; this is post #135.

2. Writing. Goal:  100,000 words for the year. What I have: I’m alternating from writing a lot then nothing. Still up, 40,872, needing 30,958.9.

3. Running. Goal: 2,200 miles for the year.  What I have: Up to 754.8, needing 681.9.

4. Publishing. Goal : 105 manuscripts sent out. What I have: 60 out for the year, needing 32.51.

5. Video. Goal : five video projects.  What I did: I thought I was going to work on a third project but it was only part of one I already worked on.

6. Weight. Goal : lose 35 pounds. What I did: lost 3.5 pounds since last week, 16.6 pounds in all.

7. Art. Goal: Photograph 100 species. What I did : 48:

Mammal (6): Gerbil, Robo hamster, Campbell’s hamster, Syrian hamster, Rabbit, Gray Squirrel

Bird (21): Budgerigar parakeet, Rock doves (pigeons), Northern cardinal, House sparrow, Mallard duck, Canada goose, House finch, American robin, Red-tailed hawk, Common crow, European starling, Tufted Titmouse, Ring-billed gull, Swan Goose, American tree sparrow, Herring gull, Downy woodpecker,  Red-bellied woodpecker, Northern mockingbird, Mourning dove, Red-winged blackbird

Reptile (3): Red-eared slider, Leopard gecko, European wall lizard

Amphibian (2): Dwarf aquatic frog, Fire-Bellied Toad

Insect (8): Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Stink bug, Wax worm, Mealworms, Cricket, Hister or Oil beetle, White grub, Termite

Crustacean: Pillbug

Myriapod (3): Millipedes, Garden centipede, House centipede

Annelid (2): Canadian nightcrawler, Red worms

Planaria (1): Planaria

8. Kids. Goal : 300 events.  What I did: 63 events, Campbell County Library Game day, Campbell County Library Birds from the Zoo, and the Anderson Library.

9. Exercise. Goal : 8,000 leg lifts and 5,000 push ups.  What I did: Needed 2,476.71 leg lifts and 1,547.95 push ups and have–

Leg lifts: 2,360 (117 down)

Push ups 1,609 (61 up)

10.  I sent out 54 resumes last week.

Posted by: Mark | April 22, 2015

The New Dinosaurs

Years ago I read Dougal Dixon’s After Man, a zoology book depicting animals that may evolve in the far future. As much as I loved the idea, there haven’t been many books on the subject,  most of the ones that exist are also written by Dixon.

I was excited when I learned that Dixon wrote a similar book about dinosaurs,  how they would have evolved if the great extinction hadn’t occurred.

I waited for The New Dinosaurs and built it up so much in my head that nothing could live up to my expectations.

Some of the new dinosaurs were original and plausible like a moose-dino and one that lived in colonies like naked mole rats. Overall, I felt let down, I was hoping for so much more.

Johnny Carson once told Jay Leno “You don’t tell enough jokes” in his routines. I felt the same way–I got the book for dinosaurs and I wanted more dinosaurs.

My only real complaint is that one of the new dinosaurs has the same name as one of the old–the megalosaur. There was no reason to repeat an existing name.

Dixon really has no competition so I doubt if my opinion would have mattered even when the book was new.

Still, if there’s any aspiring biologists/writers out there–my advice is don’t skimp on the dinosaurs.

Posted by: Mark | April 21, 2015

Killdeer

2015-04-21 15.44.07

Yesterday I finally got a picture of a killdeer. I’ve seen another one but it has always been too flighty to catch.

Killdeer are famous for pretending to have broken wings to lure predators from their nests. This guy was happy just to eat with the pigeons.

Posted by: Mark | April 20, 2015

40,083

Today I finally reached 40,000 words for the year, 40,083 exactly.

In all of 2014, I only wrote 54,859 words, so I’m feeling okay for a change.

 

Posted by: Mark | April 19, 2015

Meanwhile, Under the Rock

2015-04-19 17.45.28

I checked under the same rock as I found the centipede and this time two of the gross white grubs were wiggling around. I still don’t know what species they are.

2015-04-19 17.41.32

I saw a bunch of white bugs that according to identification guides are termites. I should have squashed them too!

Posted by: Mark | April 18, 2015

American Gothic

I used to read fiction all the time but, over the last few years , I’ve been reduced to nonfiction and little else.

A couple of days ago I checked out three books by Robert Bloch. I started with American Gothic.  It wasn’t his best work and didn’t completely capture the real-life serial killer it was based on but I read the whole novel in one sitting.

American Gothic is based on H.H. Holmes, one of the worst killers in American history, similar to how Psycho was based on Ed Gein. The trouble is that Holmes was just too diverse in his killing than would fit in a novel. (Gein was too, but Bloch wisely focused on a few specifics for Norman Bates.) If I hadn’t known anything about Holmes, I think I would have responded better,  but the fictional Holmes turned out to be much tamer than the real one.

If I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t have read it so quickly but it’s a far cry from Psycho.

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