January 16th, 2015

#4535: Ah, winter. Yes, winter.

So I took the trash out just a few minutes ago.

Mrs. Fungus and I were fain to exhausted after our day at the cinema, so we ended up crashing around 10 PM. Naturally I woke up again, because my f-ing circadian is all fouled up, but here we are. Whee!

...so I got the trash out, which needed doing, including getting the de-festooned tree out of the living room and vacuuming up the bulk of the needles it shed.

I stood outside, looking up at the stars. I do that a lot; whenever I go outside at night, if stars are visible, I end up spending a few moments looking at them.

And I realized, It's not that damned cold out tonight.

Temperature: 25.3° F.

Compared to how it's been since the beginning of the year, this is pretty mild weather. The other day when I was running the snowblower I think it was about 8° in still air, and that didn't feel nearly as frigid as it should have. Granted, I was working, and that keeps you warm, but still--

Anyway, point is, I think I've gotten used to winter again, the way I did last year.

* * *

Time to play find the comet! It's pretty near the north side of the Pleades now, which is a fairly good landmark to go by, and since that passes pretty near local zenith it ought to be out of most of the light pollution and ground clutter.

We'll see.

If I were really feeling plucky I'd get the telescope out and try using that to see the comet, but I still haven't had the time to sit down with the thing and its manual and figure out how to use it. This telescope is the kind of thing you could point at something in the sky and then look at it all night, merely twiddling knobs to keep the image centered, but first I need to learn how to use it.

This summer is when I intend to use it a lot, when I don't have to wear three layers of clothing just to stay alive outside.

* * *

Project Almanac appears to be a story about college-age kids finding the basis of a time machine in one of their garages, something built by one of their fathers. It looks like it'll be entertaining.

I do enjoy a good time-travel story, but I have no idea if this is going to be one.

The other preview that looked interesting was for Jupiter Ascending, which looks to be an entirely unapologetic space opera. "Queen of the Universe"? The visuals look great, of course. I suppose we'll see.

Ron Howard's gone and made a version of Moby Dick. *sigh*

So in December, the latest Star Wars movie--and the first one not made by George Lucas--hits the theater. The current trailer is about sixty seconds' worth of pure cotton candy, and the only thing it reveals about the upcoming movie is "not all Stormtroopers are clones any more". Oh, and the bad guy has a unique light saber. Pinch me.

It cannot be worse than Phantom Menace. At least it has that much going for it.

#4536: How many times do I have to push "thumbs down"?

Pandora is very useful. It's nice to be able to set up your own channels and then tell the thing never to play songs you can't stand.

Problem: you can't remove someone from your playlist when it fucks everything up.

Some months ago I thought it'd be nice to add John Jarvis to my Bluetech channel. Boy, was that a mistake! Pandora took this to mean I wanted to hear every piano soloist in the universe.

Now it's not uncommon for me to go to Pandora and then expend--right away!--my three dislikes per hour clicking away piano soloists, three in a row, even though I've now done this just about every time I've tuned in. It's like the algorithm isn't getting the hint that I don't want piano soloists in this channel except for John Jarvis.

...and in fact I don't even want John Jarvis any longer, because it plays about three tracks of his, and that's it. But while you can "add variety", you cannot remove variety when you realize that it's made a hash of your playlist.

So not only does it keep trying piano soloists, but it tries multiple tracks from the same album, so even if I tell it "never play X by So-and-so" it's likely to pop up another track by So-and-so a few songs later, and after I've told it never to play X, Y, Z, AA, or AB by So-and-so, it still pops up AC by So-and-so.

Three songs by the guy I specifically added. Five songs from the guy I tell it never to play every time it tries. WTF.

Meanwhile, the seeming hundreds of songs that I've liked in the channel are ignored, so when I click my three "fuck no" selections it then usually pops up something random that I don't like. "You said you didn't want to listen to piano, so here's a song with flute and doumbek! You like that, right?"


On balance Pandora is pretty worthwhile, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be better.

The good thing is, I know exactly what I have to do to get a channel of piano soloists: make a John Jarvis channel. Of course, knowing how this kind of crap works, I bet if I made a channel specifically to listen to piano I'd get nothing on it but acid crunk and ambient dub. Argh etc.

#4537: Ha! Ha! Ha.

Let's start off with something heartwarming!

If you don't like dogs, if you think dogs are unclean (yes I'm looking at YOU, islam!) there is something seriously, seriously wrong with you.

I love dogs.

* * *

Helicopters are fucking expensive machines to own. The maintenance on a helicopter is heart-stoppingly expensive, even for a simple entry-level machine, because if anything breaks you're going to have a really bad day.

If you're FAA certified to maintain and repair helicopters you can save yourself quite a piece of change, but you'd better do everything 100% by the book--200%--because cutting corners is the best way to kill yourself in any kind of aviation.

So I'm not surprised that a "free" helicopter from the Department of Defense cost $2 million all told. DoD doesn't "surplus" equipment unless it's used up.

It used to be--decades ago--that you could buy a "pickled" Jeep at surplus. It'd come in a crate, never used, and you had to assemble the thing yourself: put in axles, attach tires, and so on. Dad once talked about doing that with me as a "father-son" project but of course nothing ever came of it, and I think that's a shame. Oh well. (Probably by the time he had the idea they were getting scarce, anyway; Viet Nam had been over for several years by then.)

* * *

The rot in the socialized educational system has become pandemic. Homeschool or private school; sending your kids to a public school is only going to ruin their futures.

* * *

Vox Day gives us a glimpse inside the Evil League of Evil.

I am an aspiring member, by the way.

* * *

If high speed passenger rail were economically necessary in the United States, we would have it. It's worthless and not necessary.

If it weren't, there would be money to be made in it, and people would be lining up for a chance at earning that money. There aren't, it isn't, and we don't need it.

* * *

I had a pretty nice day at work today. Whee!


Mrs. Fungus said today's post needed more lambs, so here they are: