I May Have Started This

Waaaaaaay back about 2003 I described Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. I feel like it has taken ten years for it to become something of a meme, enough for people to say that, yes, Die Hard is not a “Christmas movie.”

For the record, I meant it tongue in cheek. I had developed a tradition of rewatching Die Hard at this time of year because it’s so worth watching again, and the Christmas elements made it seem timely. The same is true of While You Were Sleeping, even if that is not a “teach it in how-to-make-a-decent-film class” the way Die Hard is.

Arguably the meme peaked for me a few weeks ago when I saw a character is Josh Roseman’s fantastic Secret Santa ebook refer to Die Hard as his favorite Christmas movie.

So while I sympathize with Sean Hackbarth in his defense of it on Facebook, I am more inclined to agree with Doug Mataconis et al.

But I reserve the right to keep calling it “my favorite Christmas movie” if only out of habit. It’s a Wonderful Film.

Sprechen Sie Deutch?

There are 21 counties in America where a substantial number speak German at home, which I agree is more fascinating than the amazing number where that is true of Spanish.

The real story lies in where, and in what other languages are included. Predictably, in my neck of the woods, it is Portuguese. There is enough of this that you see a demand for portuguese speakers to work for doctors, and bilingual signs in places like banks. The same applies to Chinese in Eastern Massachusetts. When I lived in Quincy, you were almost out of place if you weren’t either Irish – and not necessarily umpteenth generation off the boat – or Chinese. Bilingual signs everywhere, and a Chinese supermarket near my apartment.

No surprise there’s a lot of French up near the border between Canada and the Northeast.

Surprising might be the lack of Pennsylvania counties where German is 10% or more, and the number where it is not the highest even when looking at the specs for the uncolored counties that fell under 10% of one or another.

If I Were Religious…

I might be intrigued by the fact that only 4.9% of the universe is matter and such that we can perceive. Most of the rest is dark energy. Plus some dark matter thrown in. OK, even if I were ot religious per se.

Hmmm… energy we can’t perceive directly. All around us. Suffusing or underlying the material world. Use the Force, Luke. Channel the One Power, Rand. Pray for God’s power to achieve miracle, Father. What do you mean consciousness appears not to be an entirely corporal thing, scientists?

My take on dark energy and the unseen has long been that there is so much more to the universe than we can perceive or perhaps even conceive of, and it could open endless possibilities. If there is that much energy extant and we could ever tap it… and it’s everywhere. Tesla would be pleased. If it’s a well of all the “souls” that ever were or even may be, to which “you” return, well, wouldn’t that be something.

It sure fires up ideas for fiction.

Speaking of Obsessing…

 

You Are a Red Gummy Bear

You are the gummy bear most associated with raspberry and cherry flavors. And like a berry, you pack a lot of flavor.
You are an intense person with strong feelings and reactions. Life can be very sweet for you – and sometimes bittersweet.

You feel like your life is full of ups and downs, but you just notice them more than most people. You are very emotional.
You experience the world on a deeper level than most people. This can be exhilarating, but it can also be disturbing.

When you love someone or something, you develop a strong obsession. You don’t go halfway on anything.
You love luxury and you love to treat yourself to something nice. You spoil yourself a bit – no one else is going to!

Facebook and Me

Once upon a time, I was in the fourth grade, lo these many years ago. 1970/1971, to be exact. I had my first crush, which was not something I understood or could have labeled at the time. She was in another classroom, I never learned her name, and when I tried to figure out the next year who she’d been, I couldn’t. Nobody looked like her. It was formative, in that the way I felt was how I expected love to feel, and it may have helped set the stage for my addiction to unrequited serial crushes that started in seventh grade. The closest thing I had to a crush between those two times was the year-younger sister of a friend in sixth grade, with whom I now work. If anything, that one set a pattern of being terrified, rather than merely clueless. Anyway, in fourth grade, the peak experience was when we were in much-hated gym class at the same time, doing some kind of dance thing, and I got to hold her hand briefly in the course of that. It was like… magic. And she looked nothing like Meg Ryan.

Much later, in 2007, I was invited to Facebook, which I joined under my given name, but didn’t use for an extended time. Basically just had a couple of former colleagues as FB friends. I forget the impetus, if there was one, but before it quite got to where everyone was on Facebook, I became more active and added a lot more people. I thought it was cool to find people from as far back as elementary school, in most cases getting to know them as I never actually did before. In the most extreme case, I friended someone I’ve known her entire life, since she was nine months younger than me. Her father was my father’s best friend, and her parents were the witnesses when my parents got married.

I was surprised some of them even wanted to connect with me, since from my perspective maybe I was embarrassed, which for me tends not to fade or be forgotten, or didn’t like them, or thought they didn’t like me. Time. It passes. There are clear exceptions, and some I don’t understand, as they tend to be people I did like, remember fondly, or have no reason to be embarrassed about.

So it came to be that I even had many of my crushes as FB friends, especially the most major ones, including the first major one, from seventh grade, and the last major one, notable for having finally broken me of fixating on some girl or another – or more than one at a time, sometimes – and convincing myself I was in lurve, capturing That Feeling. Or trying to. The huge exception is my ninth grade crush, arguably my biggest, who strangely, since we never dated, was the first ever to say “I love you” to me. I even have one of the only two girls I think of as people I dated before meeting Deb, whom I arguably didn’t date, just married. Quibbling would give you a couple more, including the one of the major crushes who convinced me no girl would ever have me, and one whose sister’s wedding I was her date for.

But who was the mystery girl?

Finally, this girl named Cheryl came along and friended me. I didn’t really remember her, and only vaguely recognized her maiden name. I never knew her at all. Then someone posts a class picture, with her front and center, in sixth grade. There she is. Looking identifiably the same. She looked completely different, later, with the short hair I actually remember enough to associate with the name.

So I discussed it with her and learned she had not been at the school in fifth grade and part of sixth, thus not being able to identify her the next year. I am so close to certain it was her as to make no doubt. She described our gym teacher as sadistic, and was pleased she brightened the experience a tiny bit. Heh. He wasn’t like the elementary teacher, but the main high school gym teacher I had is one of those Facebook people I have steadfastly not friended. Between my elementary gym teacher and my moderate degree of disability, I was put off gym, or the more recent fad of going to commercial gyms voluntarily, forever. She was tickled, because she didn’t think anyone liked her in elementary school, and pretty much had only one friend. Made worse by an abusive dad. In a fit of synchronicity, she once lived in an apartment just three houses away from where I am now, her favorite one ever. Now she’s in another state, with a superb husband, grown kids, and cute grandkids.

Privacy? All the internet are belong to us/AOL revisited? Scary data mining? Well, yeah. I have a friend who won’t go on FB, or anything else, because she is convinced it will make it easier for the scary conservatives to round her up when they liquidate all the Jews, forgetting that fascists who did that and the like are of the left. Yet I can see being concerned, while it’s also going to have to come to fighting technology and non-privacy with the same. And yeah, it stole the thunder of the blogs circa when I started ten years ago, where you had a sense of community and cross-commenting and linking, but the mega blog sites that want to be news sites also did that (we always talk about how we missed the monetization boat, yet it might not be all that) I will always be appreciative of Facebook resolving that longstanding mystery for me, as well as connecting me with the lives of people I might never have crossed paths with again. That is what it’s all about.

Like Ground Beef?

You Are Grounded

If slow and steady wins the race, then you’re going to be crowned grand champion. You are consistently consistent.
You pride yourself on being dependable and reliable. You are a rock, and you are especially loyal to your friends and family.

You’re the kind of person who finds it hard to say no to someone in need, and why would you even want to? Helping out gives you a sense of purpose.
You do well with a routine and consistency. You find ‘boring’ to be quite rich and deep. You enjoy perfecting your everyday tasks.

You are agreeable whenever possible. Disagreeing stresses you out, so you only stand your ground when it’s necessary.
You are patient and very open to changing your mind. You are always willing to hear someone out, and you are a good mediator.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day nine years ago, we were on our way from Fresno to Las Vegas, arriving late in the afternoon at the Luxor. After checking in, we searched for the place where you pay the government for the right to be married. And searched. Eventually, we found it. A clever sales guy outside snagged our business for the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. No idea where we’d have ended up, left to our own devices. That worked out, and we rewarded him for the good sense to patrol the opposite side of the street from the mob of other chapel sales people.

And so we got married, as originally planned, sight unseen, we’d hit it off that well long distance. Is friendship the best basis for marriage? Does agreeing on most things supply longevity that might not be there if it were mainly about an overheated attraction? Perhaps. We each had some second thoughts, even then, and we’ve not been problem-free. Yet we don’t seem to be going anywhere, and non-traditional though we may sometimes be, the kids do not appear to be doomed to grow up in a sundered household, as I and so many did. Have the rocky parts ultimately strengthened us? Arguably so.

All told, I can’t imagine my life alone, or with that hypothetical wasn’t-gonna-happen someone else. Or without the three kids. These specific kids, born of this particular mother. I can regret my age and timing, and ponder mightabeens, but wow. Just wow.

Time travel to the post I wrote after my return home, five days later, apparently my first substantive post following the wedding.

$63>$5

When I got my stents, they put me on Effient, which is now $63 a month for my copay. At the time, we asked why that versus Plavix, which is $5, and the hospital cardiologist thought it possible, even likely, that my regular cardiologist (a funny description for someone I have seen once) would switch after a month of “and we mean it” treatment at the hands of the newer drug. I understand they have slightly different mechanisms, but the main thing is the result.

It’s been a month. Took my last Effient today, and have to get one or the other today, for morning. I am still waiting for a call back from cardiology. She is not in today, so they were leaving my cardio a message. We are so strapped this week, it borders on being not possible to fill the prescription, but not doing so could be deadly. Lovely situation. And one I’ll have to start planning around, so as not to be in it again.

Even if we get that drug this month, it’s a huge hit to the budget if we can’t switch, which is already hundreds a month in the hole. That’s a big kick in the balls, being worse off in real terms than before we increased our income hundreds per month this year, to the point where we are poised at the edge of the donut hole. Get into the donut hole, and suddenly costs are more than what you make extra, between tax effects and loss of income-based benefits of the sort we’d prefer not to need.

Teaching a Four Year Old Relativity

This is funny.

I must say, I did a bit better teaching a bit of cosmology to a rapt seven year old, when she asked about the edge of space. Better still with the entire history of the causes and results of the Civil War, slavery and the civil rights movement in about ten minutes or so of lecture mode, prompted by a question on it by the six year old, who then left while I discussed it with the seven year old. Also did a pretty good job of explaining what money and value are, though that’s an ongoing lesson.

Paterno and Sandusky

I read an article about Paterno and the Sandusky thing recently (it may have been within the context of a broader article about how pedophiles groom and often get away with it indefinitely), and was fascinated by the description of Paterno’s total immersion in one topic, one obsessive interest. It made me say “total aspie.” It’s a wonder he could function as well as he apparently did.

That later made me realize that, before the scandal broke, I could not have told you who Paterno was without context, though I’d have recognized the name as one I’d heard of, and thus presumably famous for something.

I’d never heard of Sandusky at all.

Is that weird, or what? I’m probably a rarity, in both cases.

Jerky Burgers

Inspired by a graphic on Facebook of non-rotting burgers and fries from multiple fast food joints, I looked up the truth about the proverbial McDonald’s burger that won’t spoil. I thought I recalled it being bogus, but I couldn’t remember details, so perhaps I’d merely assumed as much. The scientific method: It’s a Good Thing.