27 March 2008

The Only Lonley Boy in New York?

I am in the Sheraton New York (not my hotel) for AERA, a giant educational research conference that meets this week in Manhattan. I just finished my session, which was pretty well received even though I had ventured out of my philosophical comfort zone to talk about ethics and assessment. The presentation was really all I had scheduled; I traveled all this way for 20 minutes of work. I do plan to attend some sessions later today and tomorrow, but it does make me wonder if it was worth packing my suit when all I am about to do is go back and change into more comfortable clothes.

I arrived yesterday and hung out with grad school buddy Kurt. We wandered around, hitting up "Curry Hill" and a very cool spice shop so he could get some stuff for his wife before wandering to The Strand. Last night we ate at John's on Bleeker for some great pizza.

The only real issue so far is my hotel is kind of far away, on the east side of the park at 62nd street. It's not really that far with the subway, but the hotel is 6 blocks from the nearest subway station, so getting anywhere is sort of a drag. Still, it's New York. Aren't your feet supposed to hurt?

24 March 2008

What I am doing right now

I am sitting on my couch, which now backs up to our large front picture window. From here, I can see though our dining room, out the sliding glass door, and to the trees beyond our deck. There are no leaves on the trees yet.

It is still light outside, but getting dark in here. It is hard to see the keys. The sun has gone down beyond the houses across the street and the blinds are closed.

My wife and daughter are at my father's house. They left today at lunch. It is quite in my house since I turned off the TV at 7:30, when Jeopardy ended.

I watched a Firefly episode (Objects In Space) as I ate my dinner of leftover chicken wings. That is not healthy (the wings, not Firefly).

I miss my family in the quiet house.

I have been thinking about this blog and what to do with it, if anything. Why can't I write more and write consistently, and that's not saying anything about writing well.

I took my fingers off the keys to use the touchpad to highlight "well" in the previous sentence and make it italics.

Is this how Twitter works?

Now this has devolved from description to stream of consciousness, so I will stop.

21 March 2008

Lost -- 13 March (Ji Yeon) and 20 March (Meet Kevin Johnson)

(It's been a crazy couple of weeks, with work, Sarah's birthday, family in town, and spring break. But things are back on track, beginning with Lost catch up).

It makes sense to discuss these two episodes together, because structurally they are similar. In both, the falshbacks and flashforwards really drive what is going on. The cliffhanger of Ji Yeon is resolved in Meet Kevin Johnson (which, of course, ends with another cliffhanger) and the misdirection of Ji Yeon is nicely counterbalanced by the straighforward narrative of MKJ. And we get two versions of who is behind the fake wreckage of flight 815.

Ji Yeon resolves the "Who are the Oceanic Six?" question. We know that it's Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, and Aaron. I guess Aaron does count, though I think that's kinda lame. We still don't know how of why it's those six, or what really happens to Jin (or Claire, or anyone else). Coupling the Jin flashback with the Sun flashforward was a nice device, I thought. It kept us guessing while reminding us of the ass that Jin was, which explained why he was able to forgive Sun for her affair, which made it more affecting when we saw Jin's grave.

It was also a nice device when coupled with the Michael flashback of MKJ. There's no time travel or dimension hopping trickery that gets Michael as Ben's man on the freighter. Driven by guilt, Michael tries to redeem himself by doing Ben's dirty work (which, we remember, was what got him into trouble in the first place). Most of the episode was flashback -- a straightforward narrative as Michael relates his situation to Sayid and Desmond. There was a bit of supernatural weirdness, nevertheless. Libby appears to Michael twice, and we learn that "the island won't let Michael die." Just like it wouldn't let Jack kill himself by jumping off the bridge or Hurley kill himself in a high speed chase.

Still, mysteries abound. The biggest one emerging from these two episodes is who, exactly, put that fake plane at the bottom of the ocean? Ben would have you believe it's Whidmore and all indications point to Whidmore being both obsessed with the island and not a very nice guy. He has the documents to prove it, even. But we know Ben is a big fat liar. We were reminded of this, in a very direct and bloody fashion, by the end of MKJ. Karl and Rousseau lay dead or dying, while Alex surrenders to whomever killed them. Was it The Others? Did Ben know and send Rousseau and Karl to their deaths? He's certainly capable. He killed his father. He's lied and lied and lied to anyone and everyone to suit his own mysterious purposes. And we have Gualt's claim that Whidmore actually recovered the flight recorder of the fake 815. If Whidmore spent all that time getting that black box, then did Ben arrange the fake wreckage? Why? Of course, it could have been Whidmore's team that killed Rousseau and Karl. Didn't the chopper pilot have to "run an errand" in Ji Yeon? That could have easily been to insert some of those assault rifle wielding guys on the island.

Other things -- all the nice irony going on. Sayid turns in Michael for working for Ben, yet we know he ends up working for Ben in the future. Michael sacrificing his friends on the island (and killing two people) to save Walt, only to lose Walt when they get back to the world because he confessed to Walt what he had done. I like this stuff. It's what makes Lost literary.

Finally, this post talks about some connections between Lost and Stephen King, especially The Dark Tower. I think it's pretty interesting and hope to do a future entry in response. It looks like I will have plenty of time, since there isn't a new episode until the end of April. Aggh!

09 March 2008

Sunday General Update -- leaks?

Eleanor has an ear infection, so her sleeping patterns have been all sorts of wacky lately. This morning, she woke up at about 7:00, screaming. Sarah got up, fed her, and brought her into bed with us (we had already been up twice during the night). Eleanor then fell back asleep on my chest until 9:30, which was doubly nice. The sleeping late was great, but having my little girl asleep in my arms was pretty special, too.

We knew we were not going to make church, so Sarah and I set ourselves to some cleaning. Sarah discovered a bunch of water under the sink, which filled me with dread as I envisioned a Sunday trying to be a plumber. I emptied out the cabinet under there, dried everything off, then tried to find the leak. I ran water through both sides of the sink, ran the garbage disposal, ran the dishwasher, and even sprayed the little sprayer thing, but no leak. I guess that's good, but I still wonder where the water came from.

Sarah tried her own plumbing project -- using baking soda and vinegar to clean out our shower drain, but she had trouble getting the drain stopper out. She asked for my help, and I fiddled with the thing for 30 minutes before discovering it simply screwed off. So, we've cleaned out the drain.

No real need to be a plumber today, which is a good thing.

07 March 2008

Lost -- 6 March (The Other Woman)

So, a Juliet centered episode. I like Juliet, although it seems like a lot of people do not. Still, after last weeks excellent episode, this one didn't quite stack up. We did learn that Ben's enemy is Whidmore, confirming a storyline that has been brewing for awhile. We were teased with the identity of Ben's man on the freighter, but it looks like we will find out next week. We got confirmation on Ben's obsession with Juliet, which has been hinted at since Juliet was introduced. We also got to hear the voices of the island again, which led to another character appearing and disappearing. I wonder if Dan and Charlotte were really saving everyone from poison gas, or disabling some of the island's defenses to make it easier for the people on the freighter to do whatever they are trying to do with the island. Locke appears to be getting dumber every week, falling (again) for Ben's manipulation. But Ben has shown he is the master at that sort of thing, so it's no big surprise. I did like the nod to the Red Sox, which makes two or three times their Series win has been referenced. And I still like Juliet.

05 March 2008

R.I.P. Gary Gygax

E. Gary Gygax, the man who invented Dungeons and Dragons died yesterday. Through D&D, Gygax indirectly gave me countless hours of fun, kept me out of trouble, helped develop my vocabulary and math skills, and led me to make lots of very good friends. His passing was not unexpected, as his health had been declining for some time, but it is sad nonetheless.

The NPR story is here. io9 has done a nice bit about Gygax and sci-fi

But I think Wil Wheaton explains best what it meant to be a geeky kid and find D&D.

Now I am all bummed out again.