Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Seattle

How would I describe Seattle? Well, from my frame of reference, it is kinda a cross between San Francisco and Monterey, with trees EVERYWHERE. My g/f and I got there in the afternoon on Sat this weekend. The plan was to get there in the morning, but our flight was delayed. We had a good room (with a great bathroom) at the Grand Hyatt in the downtown area. This put us in walking distance of everything. We did a little shopping after settling in. Then we had a relaxing sunset dinner cruise around the harbor and inlet areas. Although the food pretty much sucked, the expereince was still very enjoyable.
We slept in hella late on Sunday. Lost half a day. Oh well. We started off by hopping on the monorail which took us to the Space Needle. It wasn't as tall as I thought it would be. We had a lovely and fun brunch in the revolving rest'rant at the top. I had my g/f place a penny on the rim to see if it would still be there when we rotated back around. Being the brat she is, she put the penny tail side up to give bad luck to anyone who tried to take it. When it came around again, I flipped it head side up to reverse her curse intent, but she said it didn't count. lol
That evening, we had dinner at Ototo, which is kinda a hip sushi rest'rant. It had good food in good portions, though I'd recommend avoiding the sake based cocktails.
Monday morning, we headed down to the Pike Street Festival. All kinds of local arts and craft were available. We watched the fish throwing antics of the famous fish market down there. The only question I had was, "Who would by so much fish at once?" cuz they sold the fish whole, and the fish they sold whole were BIG. Well, luck for us, someone did buy one of the fish, giving us a wonderous, yet brief, display of their throwing and catching abilities. We later checked out the Science Fiction Museum and part of the rock-and-roll museum near the Space Needle.
When checking in for our flight home, I discovered I had purchased first class return tickets. Nice surprise for myself. We literally had the worse seats on the flight to Seattle (next to the engines in the last row). We literally had the best seats on the return flight, complete with cushioned leather seating, breadsticks and a tasty dip, and whole cans of soda.
My thought upon returning home is that I could imagine living in Seattle.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm a happy camper

I got a promotion last week. Yeah me. Only draw back is that my job title now officially has the word "engineer" in it. Oh well. lol

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Acting Style Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

America has been so over exposed to traditional Hollywood style method acting and other "realistic acting" styles, we've come to consider any other form of acting as bad. Also, movies that fall outside the traditional Hollywood way to make movies tend to be either jeered or at least under appreciated. The Star Wars prequel Trilogy stands somewhere in the middle. The style of these movies today is considered very Hollywood in the action, filming techniques, etc. However, when the first Star Wars movie was released, it was anything but Hollywood. Hollywood has since adopted the original Star Wars style for its own science-fiction films. Before this point, the classic style of the old 1930's films had long vanished, and there wasn't enough interest in making sci-fi's to form a genre with footing in Hollywood. So, even though the original Star Wars movies were groundbreaking, the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy films today are very Hollywoodish by today's standards; except for its acting style.

There are several forms of acting. Each is used to tell a story for which it is best suited. "Realistic acting", which has dominated Hollywood since the 1950's, best tells strong emotional character driven stories. Unfortunately, it's used for almost every movie these days. It doesn't fit many types of stories. But, us Americans are so accustomed to it, we are adverse to any other acting style.
There's a quote from George Lucas about the acting style of the Prequel Trilogy: "It's not deliberately camp. I made the film[s] in a 1930s style. It's based on a Saturday matinee serial from the 1930s, so the acting style is very 30s, very theatrical, very old-fashioned. Method acting came in in the 1950s and is very predominant today. I prefer to use the old style. People take it different ways, depending on their sophistication."[001]
Taken in context of filmmaking, without regard for American prejudice, the acting in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy is very good. The formal acting style is used very effectively. It allows the story to be told through a balance between dialog, plot, and character development, rather than being over driven by character development as in the case of many Hollywood movies of any genre.

I too used to have a prejudice in favor of "realistic acting". However, the Prequel Trilogy has opened my mind to other forms, not just of acting, but filmmaking in general. I now not only understand Non-hollywood films, I can enjoy them as much as I enjoy Hollywood films. I don't believe I'm alone. I think the Prequel Trilogy is, in part, responsible for the growth of the independent film industry since the 1990's. Thank you George Lucas.

Yesterday

I was in Fresno for my friend's graduation from Fresno State. Afterwards we had a bbq and fairly busy house party. It was a fun, long day. :) The drive was over two hours to get to Fresno. Today, I headed up to my folks place. They live about 1.5 hours from my place, so I'm still debating whether to head home tonight or tomorrow morning.

I did check out the Chocolate Festival in Oakdale today. Kinda lame. Hersey's Chocolate sponsers this thang cuz I guess they used to have a factory there or sumfin. Anyways, the festival doesn't have a whole lot to do with Chocolate, dispite its name.

::que Star Wars theme::

I got in line early for the digital showing of Revenge of the Sith at
Century 22. Big, bold and almost brilliant. I had a lot of fun at the
theater before and during the movie. I really enjoyed it. I felt the
handling of the Emperor and yoda was a little cartoonish, but the movie was
good over all. There was a lot of plot in this movie...kinda feels Lucas
should have made the prequel trilogy on the story of episode 3 alone.

___
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What a mess

The bible has many authors, most of which are not recongized by modern religion. For example, the first five bible books, or Torah have four or five sources. These sources are often called J, E, P and D. There may be a fifth source as well. There is also evidence of significant redaction from any number of additional sources. I’m not going into detail on this. It’s just important to know this because the Torah is presented as though is it one continuous and harmonious inspired work detailing the history of the world and the Israelite peoples. It turns out that it is made up of several competing set documents that were meshed together long after the original texts were written. When one starts to identify the sources of each section of the Torah, one finds just how poorly the sources have been combined. Very often, there are direct contradictions between sections of the various sources, even within the same story.
Personally, I believe the four sources themselves have many other sources from which they were derived. The sense I get is that each tribe in the Israel nation had its own set of stories to give itself legitimacy, serving as metaphors for their place in the region. In fact, I believe they were intentional written as metaphors, and never were meant to be taken literally. When all of Israel was finally conquered by an outside power, there appeared to be an effort to assembly a unified history of the Hebrew peoples, maybe to find hope or meaning in their new role as a conquered people. Since most of their other tribes of Israel had already vanished by this time, this assemblage (which became the Torah) mostly reflects stories of the last surviving tribes and priestly establishments.
Given this view, it is possible that Israel was never one nation. It appears that it was an alliance of different nations that changed through time. Fact is the bible has several different lists of the tribes of Israel. These lists vary substantially. It wasn’t until King David established his empire that all these various nations become one country. At that time, the fluid alliance formalized under one central power. If I remember correctly, the list of tribes doesn’t change after this period.
The further implication is that the peoples that made up the Israel alliance where originally polytheistic, with each tribe choosing which gods to represent them. The struggle between Baalist and Yahwehist survives in the bible because Yahwehist (the winners) got to write the final versions of that part of Israel’s history. They used the struggle and defeat of the Baalist to justify their position. However, Yahweh himself is a composite of 3 other gods, prolly combined to unify the religion, link up the various tribal stories and expand the priestly orders. Some early images of Yahweh (before he was declared an invisible god) show him as a lion with legs as serpent bodies. Hmm, there is an underlining serpent story to the earliest parts of the Torah. God used serpents to punish his people. Then Moses made a statue of a serpent for people to seek salvation from the serpents. It’s possible that story was created in order to explain away evidence of early serpent worship by Israelite ancestors. What other gods disappeared from Israelite history at the hands of the victorious Yahwehist?
So, both gods and peoples vanish from Israelite history. The victors wrote stories justifying their conquests. Later generations took these stories as fact, combining them into the Torah. They also informally attributed the Torah to Moses. The informal credit to Moses as the writer later became fact by tradition, and the Torah become undeniable truth. And there stands the foundation of three great religions.
Reference: 101 Myths of the Bible

Friday, May 13, 2005

Fighting the Future, One Square Root at a time

Find the square root for Y
Stage One:
1. Determine the largest squared whole number less than Y.
2. Use the square root of the largest squared whole number to be the first part of the answer. Place this number to the left of the decimal place within the answer.
3. Find the difference of Y and the squared whole number.

Stage Two:
1. Multiple the difference by 100, designated as A.
2. Multiple the answer so far by 2 (without the decimal point), designated as B.
3. Multiple B by 10.
4. Give C one of the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9
5. Find D where (B+C)*C equals the greatest value less than A.
6. C becomes the next digit right of the decimal in the answer.
7. Find the difference between of A and D.
8. Repeat Stage Two until the answer reaches the desired number of digits after the decimal.

Example:

PDF File: Example to find the square root of 3

(Sorry, I had to make it a PDF file because html isn't good at showing math equations and I didn't want to scan in my chicken scratch writing. Free Acrobat Reader is a must, but if you don't already have it, go here to get it: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html)

Now, is anyone ever going to use this? Hey, if anyone has seen this method in print, please let me know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Preface to Square Root

Back when I was in high school, I learned something that isn’t known by very many people. I learned the method to manually find a square root in a way that is similar to long division. This method allows you to find each decimal place with certainty. You can solve to as many places after the decimal point as you want.
I've never found this long method in print anywhere. I’ve found other simpler methods to finding a square root, but they usually involve closing in on the square root by continuously rerunning the same method. You are never left with a perfect answer because you can never be sure if the successive decimal places are correct. I’m also not sure which method is used by calculators (on which we all depend for square roots these days, which is the beginning of Asimov’s vision for our world coming true, but that’s a future blog entry).
I have no clue why this long method works. But, in a very small effort to fight the future, I’m going to show the method here, soon.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the long method of finding square roots: http://fcsuper.blogspot.com/2005/05/fighting-future-one-square-root-at.html#comments

Saturday, May 07, 2005

We're returning to where we were.

More than a few years ago, I noticed something weird about how I speak. I realized that I use the word them as a nongender singular objective pronoun instead of him/her (which over specifies gender, when gender either didn't matter or wasn't known to me. Even more weird, I actually often use the contraction 'em to differentiate it from the common plural use of the word them.
At first I thought I was a bit weird. Then I noticed other people use the word them in this way. It's not overly common, but it's out there. Like, "if a stranger comes up next to you in a car, don't get in the car with them no matter what." An english major might tell you that statement is mixing up the subject, but it really is an attempt to apply them in the singular form.
The nice thing about the word 'em is that it is much quicker and easier to say than the artificial sounding P.C. term him/her. I also use themself as the nongender version of him/herself.
Since my realization about this word 'em, I use it intentional instead of him/her except in formal documents. Another thing I've noticed is that I do not use any replacement of he/she. Maybe it's be sounds ignorant to say "They is walking this way." :)
Ok, so is there any takers on helping me start the revolution to get rid of the word him/her? :)

Ok, so thinking about this got me thinking about the complexity of the English language. When I was younger, I used to think that French was strange, with it's unpronounced letters and odd contractions. Of course, English gets many of its habits from French, but it took me a long time to put two and two together. Then one day, I realized that English has just as strange unpronounced letters and even more weird contractions. I'm mean, trying telling a nonenglish speaker that thorough is pronounced "thir-o". Or worse, the same letters that are silence in thorough make the F sound in rough. What the hell? LOL
Along this thought, a phrase popped into my head that I thought would be particularly hard for nonenglish speakers, both in spelling and pronunciation. "We're returning to where we were." We're, where and were. They look pretty much the same, and sound pretty similar, but still distinct. Imagine a french speaker trying to say that three times fast. I think we're, where and were is worse than they're, their and there because at least these have the same pronunciation.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Crenelatory Critique

I’ve noticed that fantasy movies tend to have crenellations with way too many merlons and embrasures. In fact, I’ve seen merlons placed at the tip of a king’s donjon! Now how are a king's men supposed handle that? This display of diminutive crenels has got to stop! If this continues, I just know we’ll soon see exposed penetralias, and draughty keeps in the open streets! And then where will we be?



crenellation, merlon, embrasure, donjon, penetralia, draughty, & keep