Monday, December 31, 2012

So, that was 2012 huh...

Well, that year had it's ups and downs, but I think was a pretty un-interesting year overall actually. Sure I got a lot done, but I just don't feel that sense of excitement and adventure I always hope for.

I student taught (man, that seems like forever ago), finished being Circle K Governor, graduated with much family and friend hoopla, went to New Orleans for Circle K and got my wallet stolen, went to the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas; went to my first Anime convention in Maryland, met the Green Power Ranger; picked up Patsy from Camp, visited the Jersey Shore and D.C.; passed the Foreign Service Officer exam; worked on Senator Brown's re-election campaign down in Chillicothe, got him reelected (woohoo!) paid my credit cards down to zero with the earnings from that, now in the process of getting my student loans taken care of so I have no debt to my name going into early 2013. Got myself a PS3, a new phone, mom got me a digital picture frame, and I went to Starbucks and the mall more often than any sane person should. Ever.

See what I mean? Nothing spectacular, I think even during the year many people looked at this as a very "status quo" year - nothing changed, we just kept pace with what we were doing. We got President Obama re-elected, but both the U.S. and Ohio Houses remain in Republican control. The Yaris continues to fall apart, because while I'm financially well off, I refuse to invest in a new car until I get my career in order.

Where I would like to be a year from today, but that's a stretch....

Speaking of career, in January I'll hear back from the State Department (which I am hopeful, but it is always necessary to have multi-tiered back up plans) so I am applying to the Defense Department to teach at a Military Base abroad, Substitute Teach in my area, and I'm applying to a handful of other positions. I remain hesitant to work in food service or any other "entry level, minimum wage" job. I have a degree, damn it, and I'm Andrew: my luck, wit and magic will kick in to get me exactly where I need to be.

Well, I've gotta get off this thing and shower so I can go buy super-late Christmas gifts -- haha. Happy New Year, Internet! Here's hoping 2013 brings more adventures, more trips out of state, out of the country, a solid career, and perhaps some new characters into our lives.

Video of the Day: Wouldn't be a last video of the year if I didn't link to the JibJab 2012 Year in Review. I personally think this one is okay, not as laugh out loud funny as some other of their videos (I'm really disappointed they didn't do an election one this year!)

P.S. Wishes for a speedy recovery for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton! She is currently in the hospital for a blood clot, which is what my Great-Grandfather died of. In our Prayers, Hill-Dawg!

P.P.S. Gallup just released that Hillary Clinton is the Most Admired Woman of the Year for the 11th Year in a Row. She is one of the foremost leaders of our era, and I wonder how many people actually take a second to think about that.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's in YOUR eBook reader?

(That is supposed to be a play on "What's in your wallet?") Today's blog is on reading materials. This past Christmas, I got mom an eReader (a Kindle Fire, specifically) because we have all generally agreed the age of print media is on the decline, and all my friends' parents had eBook readers. And yet, ironically (but probably not in line with the definition of irony) -- my Christmas list had a bunch of books and DVDs on it. Books, the supposed dying medium, and DVDs, another group angry about illegal downloading along with music. (I admit, there was no music on my Christmas list this year - but in years past, while illegal downloading has been popular, I have asked for CDs for Christmas.)

Stolen from Andrew Chittenden, over at Chittyland.

I think it was Lily Allen who was all for illegally downloading her music, because she understood the necessity to make money through music in other ways - legal downloads, youtube watches, concert sales, band merchandise, etc. I think more '20th century media' needs to come to this conclusion -- The Cleveland Plain Dealer is facing heavy cutbacks, resulting in many "Save the Plain Dealer!" billboards across North-East Ohio. We are not the culture of the 50s and 60s where pa goes out to get the newspaper in his robe every morning and reads it at breakfast, looking over it occasionally to tell advise his young son "Well if the bully hits you, hit'm right back!"

Newspapers, book stores, bands/musicians all need to adapt to modern media. We live in the age of the internet, you need to find a way that you are making money but up to the minute reporting, like CNN and Fox News. I hate Fox News* (the cable channel), but something about their advertising technique must be working.

I wrote this in part because over at Plunderbund, they're memorializing the 27 year anniversary of Columbus becoming a one-newspaper city. The Columbus Dispatch has since degenerated into useless rags as fangirl-ish as Fox News for our awful Governor. Too bad Plunderbund doesn't have a small magazine, maybe once or twice a week. I'd read that if it were cheap. Honestly I think I prefer magazines to Newspapers anyway, in the words of the internet: Ain't nobody got time for that!

Lastly, I wanted to comment on the book I just finished "Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by The White House." by Valerie Plame Wilson. (2007) This book was AWESOME! People may remember back in c. 2003, there was a bunch of hype about the White House having outed an under cover US secret agent, putting her life and many other lives in danger. It resulted in 'Scooter' Libby's Federal grand jury investigation, and his resignation from the Bush administration. Anyway, the book itself is an interesting look into the mind of a woman working at the CIA, being a mom, and being in the national spotlight. It definitely rekindled my dislike for the Bush administration, and reminded me that men such as Karl Rove will stop at nothing for power -- they will literally put our national defense in jeopardy. I also rented the film based on the book, which was okay, but I think I'd prefered if Sean Penn wasn't in it. I can't wait to make a lesson plan about the movie and story for a Social Studies class someday!

Anyway, now I'm finishing up "Dreams from my Father" (1995) the first book by President Obama, written while he was finishing up her Law Degree at Harvard (so ten+ years before he was President.) It's got it's interesting points, but there are also long parts where even I get bored and don't know what he's talking about. He gets almost too flowery, speaking in symbolism and metaphor about "hope and change" as the sayings go, and this is long before he even dreamed of being President - ha! But it does make me think how outrageous accusations against him for being born in Kenya, or a "secret Muslim" are -- in addition to the paper trail, it is simply illogical that someone would create that much false data on the off chance of running for President some day. There is some not-so-flattering information in the book too, wouldn't he have done some kind of cover up work if cover up work was his method of rising to power? Instead he wrote a whole book, which was widely sold more than ten years ago, about his *first* trip to Kenya, and the emotional tidal wave that came with that, and his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii. Anyway, almost done with that, and then I'll be on the market for some books to read in 2013.

Video of the Day: "Taylor, the Latte Boy" - performed by Kristen Chenoweth. I had never heard of this until the other day when a former Circle K Adviser mentioned it in a Facebook status, so I googled it, and it was hilarious! It reminds me of various friends who have been in love with baristas over the years.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Marina & The Diamonds vs. Lady Gaga

Okay, so I started this off kind of with the idea that Marina was copying off Lady Gaga, or at least there was an inordinate number of inspired-by scenes, but now I think I'm probably stretching a bit, and I'm actually coming to appreciate her music a bit more once I get over the fact she sounds a lot like Katy Perry.

Still, what's done is done: and now I have these comparison shots and they have to go somewhere.

It started with the above image, where I'm like "Oh. She's dancing in a white bath house. How very Bad Romance.

 Then I noticed in Primadonna, the song that introduced me to Ms. Marina, that "walking around a rich person's house with a spot light on you" kinda sounded familiar. Low and behold, Gaga's been there and done that.
Then there was this confused dog. And I remembered Gaga serenaded dogs before! Only they didn't look as confused as Fido here on the right.

 And if a dog is doing it, a cat's probably done it and decided it wasn't worth their time. Low and behold Marina's "Power & Control" features another furry confused creature. Then I tried to remember if there were any cats in Gaga music videos, and this sphinx cat came to mind. Hardly a "stole the idea to use a cat from Lady Gaga" but interesting different uses.

Song of the Day: From the Primadonna link, the first song it recommended was "How to Be a Heart Breaker" by Marina & the Diamonds. We have a recurring joke that Angela has a gay army/mafia, that I think traces it's origin to a party where someone invited an annoying guy that none of us knew that was gay and didn't like Angela. We thought that it was funny cause Angela always invited a BUNCH of gay guys to her parties who would defend her in a heartbeat if that argument broke out. I don't remember him ever coming back, but the gay mafia often did.

Where am I going with this you ask? I think this song goes to show that like Angela and Lady Gaga, Marina is also the head honcho of a gay mafia, so ya know, don't challenge her to a scantly clad dance off in the shower or a toe-nail painting contest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 2012 Christmas List: Part 1

Patsy asked me yesterday if mom still asks me for a Christmas list. Ha! No, she doesn't, I try to make her one though because she's really... odd about buying Christmas presents. I'm all for presents not being as important as the love of family, and it's the thought that counts, but mom is of a more practical straightforward mindset: "all Gift-cards! So you can buy what you want." Nobody wants to wake up on Christmas and just have Gift-cards! We live in the instant gratification generation, and I can't buy that vest at Express on Christmas day.

So I've constructed, for my friends and more as a thought excercise, what I want for Christmas this year. This will also help the week after Christmas during the sales when I'm all like "What do I want to buy that no one got me..."

Section 1: Playstation 3 Games. So as you may or may not know, I just bought myself a Playstation 3 - and it has been a blast! I'm lovin the Uncharted series. So there are a few games I would like, that given time, I would probably end up buying myself. But as I've elaborated to Panda: buying video games as a gift is kind of weird. It's not particularly personal, it's just a matter of buying the thing the person wants. And once the person is done playing the game, it just sits on a shelf. But I guess that's the same with books sort of? I dunno. Mixed feelings on video games.

1A: "L.A. Noire" - I've heard of this game before, looked into it a bit the other day when I realized one of the actors from Charmed is in it, and it sounds really cool. Mystery solving (CHECK!), 8-square mile habitat based on real historic Los Angeles (Awesome?!), and dozens of mysteries that take place in that environment. I think this game would last be quite a while, and be pretty cool, so it makes the list.

1B: "Siren: Blood Curse" - I've searched and searched, but apparently this game was not released in the US. Panda tells me PS3s don't have regions like DVD players do, so I can just buy it from eBay even if it's from the UK or Australia (note: English* speaking country!) This game is considered by many to be one of the scariest games for PS3 out there! So that's awesome, cause I love horror video games. I admit I only understand part of the plot, and am saving the rest for when I actually play the game. But it's set in Japan, occult ritual, missing village sort of like Silent Hill.

1C: Then there are a few games that I would be fine if they were used, or missing their case or something to get them cheaper. Things that I like, but probably am going to put off buying myself for quite some time. I like Lego games, and own the complete Star Wars: Both Trilogies for Lego but haven't gotten around to playing it much. Indiana Jones lego would be cool, Batman lego I was not too impressesd with when I played it, and I'm not too optimistic about The Hobbit lego, not really into the whole Hobbit/LOTR genre. Harry Potter Lego, now that would probably be cool, but isn't it split up across multiple games? That's weird, but I'd probably like it. So Harry Potter Lego and Indiana Jones Lego.

Then there's Playstation 3 All Stars (which includes Nathan Drake from Uncharted) but he's probably the only character I'd ever play as, as I haven't played all that many PlayStation 3 games haha. Also no one ever comes to my house to play against me, and I feel like Panda's the only person I know with a PS3 and she doesn't have the game - so fighting games require a lot of set up time to truly enjoy. I'm pretty much a video game loner.

Song of the Day: "Primadonna" by Marina & The Diamonds. So I heard this on the radio, I think at a girls clothing store with Panda, and my first instinct was "this sounds exactly like Katy Perry." The music video is boring, kind of cookie cutter for aspiring pop stars. I definitely see elements we've seen before. Dog? Check. Dark Romp in an Expensive House? Check. Though this is the first time I've felt traces of Paranormal Activity thrown in -- haha. Still, I thought it was worth a listen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'Merica: Another Reason it sucks to be North Korea

So I was googling, and apparently North Korea had a successful "satellite" launch test? (I like this story better.) A test they have been trying since 1998, but has yet to be successful. It got me to wondering, what's North Korea up to? So I did some searching, and let me just say one more time how much I love America.

Ya see, while googling, I found these diagrams of North Korean political prison camps and these images of a North Korean missile site. And it reassures me to no end that if these are the images we freely, publicly share on the news and the internet -- imagine what CIA and Covert Government programs must be able to see. Kudos, America, on being awesome, and sharing what several steps beneath our awesomeness looks like.

I drew in those squares, where I took the following zoomed in pics.

The North Koreans surely can't tell exactly how many canoes we have, at any given location. Unless we feel like sharing that information on Google Earth, which we do, because we are secure enough in our awesomeness and transparency is a value in our culture. But at the end of the day, I'm betting the North Koreans aren't happy we know exactly how many canoes they have.

Look, the North Koreans have even been so kinda as to incorporate isolines into their landscaping. Thanks North Koreans! Saves our geographers the hassle.

My final favorite part is this thing. I don't know what it is, North Korea, but you can bet our scientists do, and they know exactly how tall it is because MATH. Yeah, we can see this, so don't try anything funny NK.

These images were taken on March 11, 2009 from SPACE bitches; and that last picture is an "Umbilical tower and launch pad."

Song of the Day: "Sometimes Things Get, Whatever" by Deadmau5. From his album "Random Album Title." Released in September 2008 (so before President Obama was elected the First time...) it reminds me the first time I gave any thought to Deadmau5 was when a student of mine (while student teaching) was listening to it in the Computer lab and asked me if I listened to Deadmau5, which until that point I had not.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December means Cooking Show Marathons

I've noticed, historically, that I watch more cooking shows in Winter than on average. Well, indeed lately I've been catching "Iron Chef" and "The Next Iron Chef: Redemption" and a few other shows here and there. Low and behold, my favorite TV Chef has returned.... Again!

Haha, he's just good television!

Marcel Vigneron, formerly of Top Chef season 2, season 8 (All Stars) and is back for The Next Iron Chef: Redemption after his "Marcel's Quantum Kitchen" got canceled after only 6 episodes. I tell ya one thing, he being my favorite TV chef, if I knew the show existed during it's run I would have tried to watch it -- but apparently I first heard of it after it'd already been canceled, so I only got to watch it on SyFy's website. But moving on.

Did I mention "Eat at the Restaurant of one of my favorite Top Chef's" is #15 on my bucket list? Carla, you qualify!

Right this second I'm watching "The Chew", and it's reminding my that my second favorite TV Chef is Carla Hall (also from Top Chef, season 5, and again season 8 all stars.) The Chew always comes off as a weird conglomeration of trying to do a bunch of things at once, but Clinton Kelly from What Not To Wear is also on here, so if the topic at all manages to grab my attention I try to leave it on for a few minutes.

Whaaat, can we look at this awesome Star Trek: The Chew picture!? Captain 'Clinton' Kirk, Carla 'Uhura' Hall!

Anyway, watching food shows also means I get the urge to actually cook things. Also mom is having a "bring a dish" Christmas party at work, and Mom said: "I was just going to pick something up at Giant Eagle, since the only recipe we have is the Chicken Paprikas." Whaaaaaaaaaat, False. Mom, I can cook pretty much anything. I have plenty of recipes up my sleeves. So accordingly, I've been experimenting with Holiday side dishes.

Yesterday I cooked a roasted grape/walnut topping to put on crackers with cheese, the recipe originally suggested with blue cheese on crackers; since mom always has a wide variety of cheeses in the fridge, we tried a bunch of different things on slices of traditional French bread. We found the Feta was best, but I don't think the roasted grapes was really the right choice for a party, I also think the butter in it doesn't really refrigerate well.

This afternoon I plan to make an apple-gingerbread bacon stuffing. I originally liked the idea of a gingerbread-apple stuffing, but the only recipe I could find online also had bacon, and I'm not gonna say no to Bacon. But I will make two separate batches, one with the bacon, one without to compare.

Quote of the Day: Watched "The West Wing" as I was going to bed last night, there is an episode at the end of Season 3 where White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg works out at the Secret Service Gym, and tries out the shooting range with her personal Secret Service protection person (whom she is falling for. No pun intended.)
Simon: I’m going to stand behind you and hold your shoulders
CJ: I don’t need training wheels.
Simon: Okay.
CJ fires gun and falls to the ground
Simon: Be careful. That .357’s got a bit of a kick.
CJ: That thing practically broke my arm! I’ve been wrong about guns, just hand these out to the criminals.

Upcoming Movie of the Day: "Star Trek into Darkness" -- the second Star Trek film in the 'rebooted' series, This looks fantastic! With new secret bad guy played by Benedict Cumberbatch, almost EVERYTHING about this movie has been completely kept secret. Star Trek fans have recieved a spare few clues about who the bad guy can be, hinted as being someone from the Original Series. The three leading suggestions have been Khan Noonien Singh, Gary Mitchell, and Garth of Izar. Without further ado...

  1. Khan Noonien Singh: This was the early favorite, but now it seems the momentum is favoring it's actually Gary Mitchell. Introduced in the original series episode "Space Seed" played by famous Ricardo Montalban, Khan was a genetically engineered "super man" who took over a third of the world during the "Eugenics wars of Earths 1990s." When he was overthrown, he and his engineered followers were sent into space in a 'sleeper ship' that put them into hibernation for centuries until Kirk saved them. Yadda yadda yadda, he returns in the second Star Trek movie: "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
  2. Gary Mitchell: The recent favorite, Mitchell was a Academy friend of Kirk's who later served on the Enterprise under Kirk; in the second episode of the original series he was turned into a omnipotent being and the power went to his head and Kirk had to kill him. I'm betting this is who Cumberbatch will end up playing.
  3. Garth of Izar: This is who I would like it to be, but like I said, it's probably Mitchell. Garth was a famous war hero, who fought "the Battle of Axanar", a hero that Kirk read about at the Academy. But he had gone crazy, and was in a Federation Rehabilitation colony when the crew met him -- and he tried to take over the ship. (In fact, all three of our candidates are "supermen who went power-crazy, and try to take over the ship.")

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The End of Unlimited Data

Thought I'd post this image real quick. The GPS chip in my cell phone is starting to malfunction, after I've had the phone for approximately two years, so I took it in to get a new one. They told me I would need to give up my unlimited data plan to get a new phone, and they took a look at my data usage and told me that I used significantly more on average than the average plan.

That to limit my data usage, I would need to in fact pay $40-50 MORE per month on top of my phone bill. That seemed fishy, so I said no thanks and walked out. Upon closer inspection of my usage though, I really don't use as much data as they made it seem under normal circumstances -- my time in Chillicothe not being normal circumstances.

Haha, as you can see, I wasn't about to pay $150 a month to have I think 4-5 GB of data a month when I really only use like $1.5 GB of data in an average month.

Still, the look on the guys eyes when he saw how much data I used reminded me of the Chinese restaurant in West Akron when I finished the hot sauce she delivered. She did a little hop in shock that I was able to eat the hot sauce, haha. Aw well, looks like I'll be limiting my data in favor of a new phone in the not too-distant future.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Right Click, Add "Fracking" to Dictionary

Well, my friend Laura has been asking that I look into the documentary "Gasland" for some time now - probably since early summer, and I put it on my Blockbuster que (yes, still have one of those) at that time and they sent it to me probably in August. It's been sitting in it's sleeve since then (I even took it with me down to Chillicothe!) because I haven't had the time to give it the intellectual time I think it deserves, and at 2:11 tonight I think it's about time. So this blog will be my review, of sorts, of that documentary.

Let me tell you my first impression of the anti-Fracking movement. I first heard of "fracking" when mom was signing petitions against it online, did some googling, it didn't sound particularly environmentally friendly so my instinct was to oppose it but learn more when necessary. Fracking eventually came to Ohio, and I had lots of things on my plate, didn't really have a chance or need to learn more yet. Then it literally came to my city, and I happened to be at the City Council meeting (I like to pop in for fun, when I can) when numerous anti-Fracking people spoke to City Council. I gotta say, based on that meeting and the first part of the Documentary I've gottne through so far -- the anti-Fracking movement needs to get their image together. Everyone is in ragged clothes, messy hair, and it ruins their credibility when the pro-Fracking movement will always be in suits, ties, and $400 haircuts.

Subterranean Shale in the US (where Fracking targets.)

News Stories I am reading, and have found noteworthy, are listed here:
Representative Diana DeGette of Denver (D-CO) has in the past submitted legislation (The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act) that did not pass during the Democratic controlled 111th Congress, and though submitted did not come for a vote during the split 112th Congress either -- so I do not have high hopes for it's future in the 113th Congress.

So to my friend, who is super eager to protect from Fracking to the point where last I spoke to her she opposed President Obama's reelection because he supported it - I plan to tell her the best first step is to get the Fracturing Responsibility Act passed. Since that has poor hopes right now, any stricter regulations do not really have a chance at this point. But regulating the industry to make it safer is necessary, I see why so many Democrats support it -- it brings in jobs and reduces our reliance on foreign oil - but we need to regulate it far more responsibly.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Blogging as a Career

I've been blogging since High School! (Maybe even middle school? But AOL & Myspace deleted those early blogs.) And the fact that these blogs are generally aimless is intentional, I just like having a record of my life that I can google/search for specific things if I need answers later. A lot of blogs are more focused, like the ones I follow about politics or the Foreign Service.

"Tots weird, that is cray!"

Haha, the above video -- a movie preview, sort of, that I saw at the movies the other day made me think about just how many bloggers there are these days! Both of the characters happen to be bloggers, just saying, interesting coincidence. Every now and then, while I'm giving arrogant if informed advice on things, I feel like I would have a pretty interesting lifestyle blog like Men's fashion or Twenty-Something lifestyle. (Can I point out that, after googling, there are a lot of blogs out there titled some variation of "Twenty Something Lifestyle" already.)

Song of the Day: "Want You Gone", performed by GlaDOS (voiced by Ellen McLane), written by John Coulton. Okay, don't read or watch this if you have any interest in not spoiling the end of Portal 2. I didn't know what to expect from the end of Portal 2, but boy was I glad when it was a song!