Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 Things About Me

Well, my wife is pushing for me to do a "25 Things About Me" list. It's not quite as sentimental as hers since I don't express a whole lot of sentimentality online.

1. Like my wife, I read constantly. I haven't gone without a book to read for several years. I buy them faster than I can read them.
2. Although I read constantly, I read very slowly; roughly at a talking pace with a lot of rereading to make sure I catch important details.
3. Despite having grown up with a family of sports fans, I despise watching sports. I hate the sound of a crowd, I hate the monotony and repetitiveness of most sports, and I hate how obsessive so many people become about them (often to the exclusion of more important things).
4. I dislike crowds, especially when they consist of strangers. At places like the mall, I become anxious, tense, and slightly disoriented. I've had similar experiences at parties with friends when the room became too loud and crowded. One advantage of working in the Idaho desert is that it's wide open and quiet.
5. At about the age of 18 I learned how to fly. I got as far as flying solo before college interrupted my lessons.
6. When I was young I wanted to be an astronaut. Later I wanted to be a pilot. In high school my poor eyesight dissuaded me from trying to become a pilot, so I decided to design aircraft instead. I wanted to become an aerospace engineer, but BYU didn't have an aerospace engineering program, so I went into mechanical engineering. Now I work with nuclear power.
7. I was one of two valedictorians in my high school. The salutatorian's graduation speech was better than mine or the other valedictorian's.
8. In my senior year I was captain of our high school's academic league (think of it as group Jeopardy!). It was in academic league that I really got to the know the girl that became my wife.
9. I hold a B.S. and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from BYU. As a graduate student I specialized in heat transfer and fluid mechanics. I have co-authored three peer-reviewed articles on gas turbines that were published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; two of the articles won Best Technical Paper Awards in 2006.
10. I enjoy learning new things about a wide variety of subjects such as history, archaeology, paleontology, languages, science, religion, etc. Since there's no practical limit to how much information the human mind can hold, I don't believe there's any such thing as useless knowledge. Learning is an end in and of itself.
11. I have had a driver's license for almost 13 years and have a spotless driving record; I have never received a parking ticket or a moving violation, nor have I ever been pulled over.
12. While in high school I went on a whirlwind tour of Europe with a group of students. We hit Edinburgh (Scotland), London, Paris, Cologne, and Amsterdam. For me the highlights of the trip were Edinburgh Castle, the Tower of London, Westminster Abby, and Notre Dame.
13. I was a B+ math student until I entered calculus. For some reason, calculus made more sense than any other math class I had taken and I brought my math grade up to an A.
14. I hate having dirt, grease, or grime on my hands and often can't go for more than an hour or so without washing them. I have been this way since at least the age of three. I was never a good Boy Scout (I had barely reached Tenderfoot by the time I turned 18), because I couldn't tolerate being unable to wash my hands while camping (I didn't like all the hiking, either).
15. I am politically conservative and have been since I was a young teenager. Growing up in southern California, it was usually me versus the rest of the class during any debate in history or government class.
16. I like snakes and would love to have one as a pet, but my wife (like my mother before her) absolutely forbids it.
17. I hate dogs. They're noisy, smelly, and troublesome. Plus I'm allergic to them (they make my throat close up).
18. I have suffered from frequent headaches since at least the age of four. I have them about four days out of each week.
19. I love studying World War II history, especially about the air war. I own numerous books on the subject, have visited museums and air shows showcasing WWII-era planes, and I've flown in a World War II-era B-24 bomber.
20. I unconsciously adopt the mannerisms of people with whom I interact on a regular basis. This includes facial expressions, ways of speaking, the use of certain words and phrases, etc.
21. Although a religious person who reads frequently on the subject, I can't appreciate a lot of the sentimentality that you often find in religious literature. I would rather read a scholarly paper by a BYU professor analyzing a scriptural passage than any of the myriad inspirational books that are so popular with Mormons.
22. I listen to unconventional music. For the most part I listen to movie scores (particularly those by John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, or Hans Zimmer). When I feel like something more upbeat I listen to They Might Be Giants (they did Istanbul Not Constantinople) or "Weird Al" Yankovic. Only within the past few years did I start listening to country.
23. Although I tend to dislike noise, I don't like silence either. I will always have either music playing in the background or the TV will be on.
24. Since junior high school I have admitted that, by all standard and accepted measures, I am a nerd. It was funny to see the look on other kids faces when they called me a nerd and I openly and proudly admitted it. It completely destroyed the effectiveness of their teasing so most just gave up.
25. If a conversation interests me, I am able to pick it up where it was left off... even if several hours or even a day has passed since the conversation ended. It drives my wife nuts.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

America, You Got What You Voted For

So, one of the first things Obama does after getting into office is to reverse a policy held by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush; he "lifted a ban on federal funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions". For those who were paying attention during the presidential race, this is exactly what he promised to do in his first days in office.

In case my fellow Americans don't know what this implies, it means that your tax dollars can now go to groups that encourage abortions or that pay for them. Doesn't that make you happy to know that you can now financially support the murder of unborn babies?

Oh yeah, he also reversed a bunch of anti-terrorism policies. So, how many Americans thought that the "Change" Obama was talking about meant making it easier for people to a) murder unborn babies and b) to be a terrorist and to try to kill everyone else? Okay, I see the Change, but I'm really not seeing the Hope. Maybe the Hope comes when Obama pays my mortgage.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bad Movies

I haven't posted in quite a while, in part because we spent Christmas vacation in San Diego with family. I'll leave it to my wife to give the details on the vacation.

Anyway, for Christmas my mother gave me the Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary Collection (this was merely Volume 13 of the series, but I guess they decided that "20th Anniversary Collection" had a certain ring to it). Before I left for college my mother and I would watch MST3k on Saturday mornings on the Sci-Fi Channel.

For those who aren't familiar with it, MST3k is about a human (Joel for the first five seasons and Mike for the last five) and two robots (Tom Servo and Crow) who are trapped on a spaceship and are forced by mad scientists to watch bad movies in an attempt to drive them insane. To keep their sanity, they continuously comment on the movies.

Recently FoxNews.com had an article on the worst movies of 2008. This list even included Cloverfield, which was pretty good except for the motion sickness it can induce in viewers. I find declarations that 'such-and-such current movie is really bad' to be absurd; clearly these people have never seen Manos: The Hands of Fate. Here's a list of some of the worst movies I've ever seen. All of them I saw with the benefit of commentary by Mike or Joel and the 'bots on MST3k. To watch these movies in any other way is to risk madness.

Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
A man, his wife, his daughter, and his dog get lost and ask to spend the night in a stranger's house. Unfortunately, the house belongs to "The Master", an undead something-or-other, his equally undead wives, and his large-kneed servant Torgo. The Master has a giant red hand printed on his black cloak (no, it's never explained). Poor sound quality, lousy acting, and poor editing truly make this movie. Ironically, the plot could have been made into something good in the hands of a talented cast and crew (this film had neither).

Laserblast (1978)
A teenager who can't seem to be able to button his shirt finds an alien laser weapon that turns him into some sort of laser blasting zombie when he wields it. Stop-motion aliens (that look like shell-less turtles) retrieve the laser as a completely undeveloped CIA/FBI/MIB-type character looks on. Cameo by an embarrassed Roddy McDowall! This movie is so aimless and inane it's impossible not to laugh at it, even without the MST3k riffing. The movie seems to be unable to explain the purpose or position of the omnipresent federal agent and the movie's climax makes absolutely no sense. I loved it.

Space Mutiny (1988)
Our heroes must prevent a mutiny on a generational starship. Who knew they made movies this bad in the late '80s. The spaceship special effects are pretty good since they used old Battlestar Galactica footage. The beefy hero with a high-pitched voice, the heroine that looks to be about 20 years older than she's supposed to be, the ship's captain who looks like Santa Claus, and the villain who really needs a mustache to twirl make the movie hilariously funny. The "climactic" chase scene involving armed vehicles (which appear to be golf carts or floor buffers with plastic missiles attached to the sides) is utterly sublime. I have never heard my mother laugh so hard in all my life.

Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
Aliens from Neptune in a ridiculous spaceship attack earth (i.e., Japan). Only Space Chief and his flying car can stop them. The movie is dominated by the standard Japanese schoolkids in shorts (who populated the 1960s and 1970s Godzilla and Gamera movies, too). The hero is the goofy Space Chief who employs the typical "karate" moves on the aliens and flies a spaceship that looks like it should have a big wind-up key sticking out of it. An extended scene of Space Chief's spaceship fighting Neptunian fighter craft, with the requisite destruction of a model Tokyo, is utterly painful. It's during this scene that both Mike and Crow actually walk out of the theater (this is forbidden on MST3k; the two were forced back into the theater when the mad scientist turned off the life support in the other parts of the spaceship).

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964)
An aimless teenager visits a carnival where he becomes the hypnotized assassin of a gypsy fortune teller. By the end of the movie he joins her other acid-deformed servants in a disappointingly short five minute rampage. While the point of the movie is supposedly the zombies, they take up only a few minutes of screentime. Various dull carnival performances actually take up most of the movie's running time. The movie is made even worse by horrible sound quality (the "hero's" foreign friend is almost completely incomprehensible).


Related Posts with Thumbnails