Saturday, May 9, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 8

Trip Diary - Wednesday, May 6


Jamie lost her shades on Tuesday, so we bought a new pair.

"Don't post this," she said.  "Of course not, my dear," I responded.

We visited something called the Nakalele Blowhole.  No, really.  It's an incredible view on the northern side of Maui.  Basically, the tide is pretty intense on this side of Maui, and there's a spot down there where it comes shooting up in a jet.  They say as high as 70 feet, but I only saw maybe 40' spurts.  Still impressive.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 7

Watching the World Go By From Vacationland - things I've missed

I don't think I've taken this much time off from work... ever.  At least, not for "let's go have fun" reasons.

But skipping town for a while also means you might miss whatever is going on in town.  Or on TV or whatever.  The only TV I've watched in the past week was 40 terribly depressing minutes of something on TV about the Dust Bowl while Jamie was at dialysis.  Did you know the Dust Bowl was even more depressing than you thought?  Well, however bad you thought it was, multiply it by ten then double that.  So, fun programming about babies dying choking on dust.  VACATION.

Anyway, I'm desperately trying not to get spoiled as I have been unable to watch with The Flash or Mad Men.  Flash I could handle spoilers, but Mad Men...?  And it's not like folks don't put spoilers right in headlines and social media doesn't just feed up those headlines whether I asked for them or not.

I could go see this, or be there to watch "New Girl" at home, I guess

I should be home for the Mad Men finale, so hopefully no one will ruin it for me.

Seriously, I will stab you.

Trip Diary - Tuesday, May 5

This was a briefer day to report.  Jamie is on dialysis, which always wreaks havoc with our travel plans.  It was mid-day on Tuesday, so we planned for an early morning submarine ride.  Like you do.

The Atlantis IX is a good ship.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 6

Trip Diary - Sunday and Monday, May 3-4

So, Maui..?   That's different for us, right?

Between March 25th and April 28th, Jamie and I celebrated our 40th birthdays and our 15th wedding anniversary.  Hawaii has been something Jamie has wanted to do since we were two fresh-faced kids in college, and due to many, many factors, it's been something I've not been willing to do or not been able to do.

We set about planning this trip a long time ago, and it finally happened.  We're not exactly jet-setters, so getting to Hawaii was a bucket-list sort of thing for us.  With the convergence of birthdays and anniversaries, it seemed like a pretty darn good reason to go.  And, of course, Jamie's been healthy(ish) for a long time, so any jitters I might have had about this a while back are now long gone.

So, that's that story.

Sunday - Day 2

I kind of forgot to take pictures on Day 2 in Maui.  Mostly, we hung around the hotel, swam in the ocean and napped.

The only two pictures I took were of the residents of the hotel, a set of penguins and a koi.

I was still pretty punchy from the time change, and we got up around 6:15 for breakfast (it seems the tourists all get up early as everyone is decidedly not functioning on Hawaiian time.  Even the locals appear to mostly be on mainland time.)

After breakfast, we ran out and bought me a snorkeling mask (I have a loaner snorkel from PalMatt), some towels we'll no doubt leave here, and some other sundries.  Then we hit the water.

There are actually plenty of fish right off the hotel, even if the coral isn't super awesome.  But I had a great time going splishy-splashy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 5

Trip Diary - Saturday May 2

As I mentioned, we're on vacation.  So far, so good.  We left Austin on Saturday in the early hours and arrived in Maui in the afternoon.  I was completely out of my mind by the time we got to the hotel, as 4:25 AM is not my usual wake-up time, and I was just punchy.  But we also needed to stay up at least for a while.  I think we made it to 7:30 or 8:00 PM, but no later.  The time difference is 5 hours, so we're talking after midnight.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 4

Feats of strength

SW Reads: The Comeback (a Parker novel)

Author Richard Stark took off a couple of decades between Butcher's Moon (1974) and The Comeback (1997),  bringing master-thief back out of retirement.  But, oddly, it doesn't really feel like much time has passed between the two novels, updates in technology, etc... aside.  Stark's voice is much the same as it was when he left off in 1974, but the year is now 1997.  We're in the age of the personal computer, but everyone having a cell phone is still maybe 1-3 years in the future, depending on your demographic.

The 80's and 90's also saw the boom of televangelists in a way I'm not sure kids today would understand.  Every cable package came with the PTL Network and a few others, and while you never knew the names of most of the figures, they were so omnipresent, you knew who most of them were (a personal favorite of mine was Brother Bob Tilton*), and it was always a matter of time before most of these folks tripped up and showed their true colors, crashing and burning and teaching a young me the meaning of schadenfreude.  But not until after bilking a herd of retirees out of their fixed incomes.

Parker books always feel tied to the real world.  He's not a super-crook, he's not out using futuristic technology, but this one definitely feels of the zeitgeist of the era, as much as the 60's and 70's novels did from time to time worrying about the pop art scene or crazed hippies.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Vacation Wonder Post Day 3

May the 4th Be With You

Snowsuit Leia.  That is all.

Signal Watch Reads: Ready Player One

Welcome to The House of Unpopular Opinions, in which I attempt to alienate all of my longtime readers, many of whom I consider good pals.

It's not that Ready Player One won't make a decent enough movie when Steven Spielberg supposedly brings it to the big screen in the next couple of years.  I think it will be a visual spectacle of a movie, and I'll pay good money to see it.  It's just that when The Hunger Games feels like deep, societal commentary and introspection in comparison to your book, I kind of wonder what I'm reading.

The story:

Wade Owen Watts is a kid living in "the stacks", a sort of slum comprised of towers of mobile homes erected tens of stories high outside of Oklahoma City.  He's grown up poor in a near-future America dealing with an energy crisis of crippling proportions, and a state that's given over significant power to corporate interests right up to the point of re-starting indentured servitude in place of debtors prisons.

Almost everyone in America, and, indeed, on Earth, uses the OASIS, a virtual reality gaming system that has grown to undreamed of proportions and become a way of life.  While the world falls apart around them, humanity wears visors and haptic gloves (and suits, and immerses themselves in full rigs) to role-play their lives in the OASIS in whatever setting they like, moving between worlds created and custom built, largely around 20th Century ideals of science fiction and fantasy.

The creator of the OASIS - a cult figure that's part Steve Jobs, part Bill Gates, part Gary Gygax, part John Hughes, part Howard Hughes - has passed.  His obsessions with the ephemera of the late 70's - early 90's, the period of James Halliday's own youth, are integral to the OASIS.  In the wake of his passing, a contest is announced - whomever can find three keys hidden on the OASIS and find the final "Easter Egg", will become heir to Halliday's interest in his company and rule the OASIS.  The trick being, one must become utterly familiar with 1980's pop-culture, and more specifically, geek pop culture, in order to complete the quest.

This creates a subculture of users, Egg Hunter/ Gunters, who seek the egg, as well as nefarious, well-funded corporate types who set up a virtual army in order t capture the prize and basically own the internet.  All are consumed with 1980's pop-culture, an artifact now 60 years out of date but extremely well-documented and a source of never ending fascination and compulsive study by the Gunters.

Got all that?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grace Lee Whitney, Star Trek's Yeoman Janice Rand, Merges with The Infinite

It seems that actress and singer, Grace Lee Whitney, has passed. Fans of the original Star Trek show will remember Whitney as Yeoman Rand, Captain Kirk's sometimes love interest, especially during early episodes of the series.

We're very sorry to hear of her passing.

Vacation Wonder Post Day 2