Nightmare Climber

We went to the AK Zoo for Father’s Day. Can you guess what this charming fellow is?

Porcupine Climbing

That’s right. It’s a climbing porcupine. Did you know they could climb? And with those teeth, do you think there’s anything in your house they can’t go through? Sleep soundly!

I posted about a dozen of my favorite pictures over on my Flickr page. Don’t miss Yoga Bear. (That’s yogA, not yogI.)

Nature’s Bounty

We’re about 80% of the way done with the extreme pruning project for the oleanders that ring our backyard.

Oleanders (Still Fighting)

We never did find a store that sells Ladybugs’n’Stuff, but we did find one that sells Aphid-Be-Dead in great quantities.

That only leaves one thing: the bees under the shed. They don’t want us messing with any of the oleander bushes on the east side of the property line. The good news is that a properly-treated bee sting hurts less than a scratch inflicted by an oleander bush. The bad news is that I have one sting and Mrs. Jones has two, so we’re knocking off…for the time bee-ing.

Castle

I haven’t blogged lately. (No duh.) Christmas is a busy time for a preacher-man, and January’s busy for a Presbyterian. Plus, I had a vacation in there, too.

But I’m back now, and I thought I’d mention my latest TV show. As you know, I watch TV while I do my cardio workout every night.

Back in September, as you may recall, I decided to try this show with Firefly alum Adam Baldwin called Chuck. That was pretty good. But there’s only three seasons of Chuck available at Netflix, so I finished it awhile back.

After that, I watched some movies, but in mid-December I decided to follow up Chuck with Firefly alum Nathan Fillion‘s show Castle. Which I really liked.

It’s another romantic comedy like Chuck, but the setting is different. Instead of Nerds and Spies, it’s Cops and Murderers. You can go read about it at Wikipedia and elsewhere, but I just finished the second season and now I’ve got to wait until summer to find out what happens next. (The big question: when it hits Netflix, which will I catch up on first: Chuck season 4, or Castle season 3?)

Google Refine

A while ago, Google bought the company that made Freebase, a tool for making sense of messy data. Earlier this week, they released a 2.0 version of that software, now renamed Google Refine. Watch the videos to see what that does.

This looks pretty darned impressive. For great chunks of my career, I’ve been doing work like that the hard way. In the 1980s, I started my career by doing data reduction in Fortran, but quickly graduated to sed and awk, and in the 2000s I used perl and ruby. Of course, when I say “the hard way,” that is in hindsight. Each of those was an improvement over what I used before, and this looks like it could be a similar type of improvement.

(I still do some of that kind of work even now. It’s been a couple of years, but I probably spent at least a week, spread across too many evenings and weekends, massaging the church directory from a text format Word document into tabular spreadsheet data.)

Chuck

I’ve been looking for some TV-on-DVD to watch while I exercise, and a couple of weeks ago I hit on the series “Chuck.” Initially, I only watched it to see what Adam Baldwin (a/k/a Jayne “I’ll be in my bunk” Cobb) was doing these days. But as of a couple of episodes into season 2, I’m liking the whole show. Of course, I have to root for the nerd to get the girl.

Inception

I had a chance to see an actual in-the-theater movie today, so I went to see Inception. I thought it was pretty good, in a the-dream-is-reality Matrix-y kind of way.

I was kind of shocked to see that movie tickets here cost $12.50. That’s the 4:00 pm showing. If they charge more after 6 pm, I don’t want to know how much it is.

I didn’t buy anything from the concession stand, so the theater didn’t make anything off me there, but they did rent my eyeballs to some commercial-packaging service for the last 20 minutes before showtime. I saw ads for some summer replacement program on TNT and various foods and drugs. Then showtime came, and I got another 10-15 minutes of ads for coming attractions.

I don’t care how bad the economy has gotten, it can’t be a depression. Because in the depression, people could still afford to go to the movies.

I guess part of the reason so much money changed hands was because the movie used a 4K digital projection system. Most of the time, that was fine, but for some shots it looked like it needed to be a 6K or 8K system. The theater was showing a 3D movie in the other room. I don’t know if that’s something you can do with a 4K projector or if they needed separate systems for each. But all that fancy equipment has to get paid for somehow.

Anyone have a Hi-8 camcorder?

Does anyone has a Hi-8 camcorder I could borrow?

I’ve got some old tapes I’d like to convert to DVD. Our Hi-8 camcorder is busted, so there’s no way to play the tapes back, and that’s step one of any conversion.

I don’t want to pay a service to convert them. I’d rather borrow a camcorder and do it myself. I’d even buy one, if the price weren’t too horrible.

If you can help, comment on this posting. (You’ll have to set up an account, but then you can comment on any posting.)

City Pool

I left work early today, because my wife was taking the kids to the public pool for the last day of summer. But when I got there, it was closed. When I got home, I asked WTF and she told me this was the last day, but that means the last day for the staff. They spent it cleaning the swim rings and whatever else you do at the end of the season, then they all left.

That’s par for the course. When they aren’t shutting the pool down during operating hours, they’re letting little kids crap in it. Then they shut down for a day while the chemicals kill off anything that got in the pool.

It sucks that Yucca Valley doesn’t have a real public pool. Instead, it has the High School’s pool, except for about 10 months of the year.

(If it had a pool designed for kids of all ages, instead of high-schoolers, they could have a smaller wading pool for kids of crap-in-the-pool age, and reduce the risk of having to shut down the pool for everyone.)

But I don’t know what’s up with not having a public pool. You’d think a pool would be a no-brainer for a town of 25K in the middle of the desert.

Of course, the town could just tell people to put in their own pools. It could just cut taxes accordingly, and people could use their money to buy pools, or home theaters, or off-road-vehicles, or whatever else melts their butter.

But, honestly, that wouldn’t be the best thing here, though, since this is the desert. It doesn’t make sense to have a whole bunch of small pools all over the place evaporating, when you could have just one big one doing it. Likewise for draining it at the end of the summer.

In fact, if you had one big pool, and were able to amortize its costs across a lot of users, you could put a building around it, so the water doesn’t evaporate. And you could use it all year long, so you wouldn’t have to drain it at all. In fact, you could use the other three seasons to help pay for it.

That’s such a great idea, in fact, that somebody else already thought of it. There’s a pool just like that here in Yucca Valley. It’s called the Senior Center and Pool, and is located at the Morongo Basin Senior Support Center.

It would be awesome if there was something like that for people who were under 55+.

But kids don’t vote, so they can use the high school pool, from mid June to mid August. The rest of the time, they can look forward to being 55. And if they get bored doing that, they can get tatoos and piercings and join gangs and tag buildings and sell drugs.

To be fair, there is a skateboard/BMX concrete-jungle by the library. Of course, it’s a sunk cost, approximately $zero/year to operate.