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Thursday, July 11th, 2013
11:10 pm - Look! I am updating my Live Journal!
I still love this thing, but I update it so very, very rarely these days. Everyone went to Facebook about six years ago, and now people are even leaving Facebook for Vine or whatever. And of course a lot of LJ bled off to Dreamwidth.

But I'm still here and still posting!

Namely, I got a tenure-track job! I am an assistant professor! After close to five years of entries on going up for a job, interviewing for a job, not getting the job and so on ad infinitum, it's finally happened.

I have a tenure-track job!


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Thursday, June 16th, 2011
3:29 pm - Getting Swoll
So yesterday was my visit to the gym for chest, biceps, and shoulders. To my surprise, even though this week is the week to up my weight, I was strong enough on that workout that I'm going to kick my weight up another notch again next week. By next week, I'll be bench pressing 180 pounds and curling 45s (with a weight of 80 or 90 pounds on preacher curls). Legs are still lagging. I'm still pretty weak on squats: I'm only squatting around 110 pounds, which is incredibly light, but them, I'm also running a lot, which might just mean that I'm never quite giving my muscles adequate time to recover.

My resting heart rate is now at about 54 beats a minute, which could be better, but is not bad at all for a slightly doughy, pale, desk-bound academic.

I'd eventually like to push my bench press up to 220 pounds, i.e., about forty pounds heavier than I'm benching now. Why 220? Well, that's the weight of the bar plus two forty-fives on each side. The level of ego boost from that would be very nice indeed.

The only thing that might stop me is that crap in my life can often come up that gets me behind in my schedule of lifting or makes me miss more than two weeks, which often causes me to go right back to a lower weight. If I can actually keep up my schedule, and increase weight every three weeks or so, I could conceivably be at my goal of two plates on each end by the end of next fall. And that, my friends, would be awesome.

Since this is a post that does reveal me as vain, but doesn't really compromise any personal information, I'll even do it without the friends' lock.

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Sunday, October 10th, 2010
7:09 pm - Things that Embarrass me
Back when I was 18, I read Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. That doesn't embarrass me.

What embarrasses me is that I saw nothing at all objectionable about the fact that the villains of the story are an army of black cannibals (with hippies serving as the brains of the outfit). How did I not realize that was awful at several different levels?

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Friday, September 10th, 2010
11:32 am - Well that's sad
So apparently America's flying laser cannon failed it's second test. Poops. Well, we still have our flying robot assassins.

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Thursday, September 9th, 2010
1:44 am - Why it actually does feel like 2010
We have an International Space Station high above the earth.

Down below, the United States of America has an army of flying robot assassins and one working laser cannon.

Not quite as science fictional, but odd (and mildly disquieting) is the fact that the White House has a presidential kill list drawn up--and our president is a liberal Democrat. Welcome to the future!

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Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
10:20 pm - More Laser Cannons
So somehow I missed this. It appears that back in February, the United States Missile Defense Agency successfully shot down a missile in mid-flight in a successful test of the Airborne Laser.

The United States of America has a working prototype of a laser cannon. Holy. Crap.

This has got to be the greatest thing ever.

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Saturday, July 24th, 2010
8:33 pm - My countryment disturb me
So I wanted to find a YouTube video of Obama's speech in which he announced an increase of troop strength to Afghanistan. So I naively entered "Obama call to arms" in the search. The results, oh, holy crap, the results were terrifying. They were *not* Obama's call to arms... Holy crap, these guys are nuts. I hope the Secret Service is doing similar YouTube searches.

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Thursday, July 15th, 2010
6:12 pm - So look who finally figured out how to cap the oil spill
It wasn't someone on the team of the best engineers that BP's money could buy: It was a plumber. Seriously, that has got to be the coolest thing ever. The man didn't even give his name, just called in with an idea of how to fix the problem, and it worked. That man is a fucking hero.

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Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
10:25 am - AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So I ran some of my dissertation through this nifty thing folks have been linking to that compares your writing style to that of other writers. The result?

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

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Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
9:47 am - Safe Family
My brother has safely finished his deployment to Afghanistan! So after one seven-month deployment to al Anbar and another to Helmand, he is, hopefully, done with war zones for the time being.

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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
4:30 pm - Enjoying LJ Again
Okay, so I'm really enjoying making LJ entries that aren't about my job anxieties. And learning to enjoy LJ again. It's too bad that the medium is moribund and that all the cool kids are on Facebook these days.

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Monday, May 10th, 2010
8:09 pm - Question for anyone with a Kindle or similar e-book reader
How are they for reading PDF's?

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010
8:29 am - My subconscious mind gives me my comeuppance
So I constantly mock Lost for the lazy writing, cardboard characterization, and nonsense science. I am thus chagrined that two nights ago I had a nightmare involving John Locke, Sawyer, and the Smoke Monster. I guess the story telling is more effective than I give it credit for.

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Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1:52 pm - Lost
So I suppose that I should put in a spoiler warning.

Column of Smoke Shaped Spoilers Ahead!Collapse )

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Friday, July 24th, 2009
3:40 pm - Milestones of Life
Today was a good day. This morning, I walked into CMS and submitted by dissertation to Ruth Harvey. Now all I need to do is defend.

I'll probably defend in mid-September, and, having run the numbers, it turns out that I may not be able to afford to simply sit around until then. The new tentative plan is that if the last two sessional gigs here in TO that I'm waiting to hear back on fail to materialize, I'll pull up stakes and relocate to Texas in mid-August. I'll then return to TO to defend in mid-September.

Of course, the great monkey-wrench in all of this will be the question of what happens if I've relocated to TX and one of these late-opening positions I've applied for comes through. If that happens, I'll be needing to relocate twice. But that would be a good sort of problem to have.

If worst comes to worst, I'll look to find some sort of placeholder job in TX and join the ranks of the U6, starting back on the lovely treadmill of job applications, but this time as a PhD rather than ABD.

Life, on the whole, is good.

current mood: accomplished

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Saturday, July 4th, 2009
2:24 pm - Hooray for America!
Happy Independence Day!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

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Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
11:45 am - Journalism
One thing that writing a dissertation has meant is that I often find myself looking for distractions, and, thanks to wireless in Robarts carrels, I've had distraction in spades. Now, when one is using the intertubes for distractions, one can look to things like, oh, Memory Alpha or YouTube. If I'm feeling hyper responsible, I can look to JSTOR to furnish distractions.

More often, however, I choose a distraction that lies somewhere in the middle, namely newspapers and magazines. The great triumph of the internet is that now I have ready access to just about every magazine and newspaper out there. Two of my favorites for political news and discussion are The New York Times and The New Republic. In these two publications, I have two favorite journalists. C. J. Chivers of the New York Times is the best war correspondent I've ever read. And he's got more cred than any other reporter ever. He was a Marine Corps infantry officer before leaving the military to be a journalist. As a Times journalist, his reporting from Afghanistan (particularly the Korengal valley) has been outstanding for the vividness of how he describes what the soldiers and Marines there go through and the landscape itself. There are also small tidbits that make his writing a delight, such as Chivers, the former Marine, interviewing a Marine who says of the Taliban, "But they are not very good shots. If these guys knew how to shoot like even the U.S. Army, we would be taking 50 percent casualties on all of our patrols."

One of my other favorite journalists is The New Republic's Michelle Cottle. I can't put my finger why I so appreciate her writing, but this latest entry of hers on the magazine's weblog is a good example of her down-to-earth, absolutely human style of writing. She also mentioned in an article several years ago that she was raised Evangelical Protestant and is still kind of emotionally scarred by it, which is something with which I can sympathize.

So I guess the main point of this whole entry was to serve as an encomium to two very good journalists.

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Thursday, June 25th, 2009
11:26 pm - Robots in Diguise, Again
This evening, I went and saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It was a glorious, wonderful mess--giant robots beating the crap out of each other, Marines battling Decepticons, Optimus Prime deploying from a C-5, and the Matrix of Leadership. More importantly, seeing characters I recognized from childhood filled me with a swell of nostalgia. Absolutely wonderful.

I can't believe I'm saying this about a Michael Bay movie, but it could have done with less of the talky bits. There were some sub-plots and minor characters that only made the movie drag. If you're watching the Transformers, you're watching it for one thing and one thing only: to see giant robots fight. Have however much plot you need for giant robots to be fighting, but leave it at that.

What I also loved was that this movie was essentially a three-hour commercial for Hasbro, General Motors, and the U.S. Military. Of course, the military thing is no accident: the Pentagon's standard policy is that in movies that portray the U.S. military well, they supply the studio with military equipment, personnel, footage, etc. This was definitely one of those movies. (After all, one of the ways that the movie showed that the Decepticons are truly evil--aside from their murdering civilians, glowering expressions, glowing red eyes, and sinister voices--was that they desecrated the American flag.)

God bless Michael Bay, and God bless Optimus Prime.

current mood: Exhilerated

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
6:59 pm - Weight Training
Down the road in a gym far away,
A young man once was heard to say:
"No matter what I do, my legs won't grow."
He tried extensions and leg presses, too,
Cheating with those sissy workouts he'd do.

Back of the gym, where the big men train
'Midst the anguished grunts and the sounds of pain
Where big iron rides high and threatens lives
And the noise is made with the big forty-fives
A very big man with legs like trees,
A great barrel chest, and a monstrous back
Laughed as he pulled a weight from the stack.

He said: "Son, don't try to lie,
And don't say you've forgotten
The trouble with you is
You ain't been SQUATTIN'!"

I am bound and determined to do something about my chicken legs. At the moment, though, I'm actually fairly happy with my upper body: I'm weighing in at a little over 190 lbs., with a height of about 5'10" and a 33" waist. Well, I'm happy with my upper body with the exception of my lats. I'd really, really like for them to be larger, and I don't like that I was kept from lifting for just under a month by a pulled bicep.

I'm up to about a nineteen mile week with running, although this week is a light week to let muscles recover from the damage they take from the repeated pounding of running. Next week, I'll kick things up to twenty-one miles, and I hope to eventually get to 30. Hopefully, having switched to squats will help me with that.

One reason that I didn't squat for the longest time was that I was afraid for what the effect would be on my back. My upper back is a bit f*cked up from an injury I sustained a few years ago when I slightly dislocated one of my ribs. So far, though, I've felt no ill effects. Who knows, perhaps it will actually wind up helping my back, since one thing that the physical therapist so many years ago told me was that the best way to ease the pain in my back would be to strengthen the muscles.

Okay, back to work on my dissertation.

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11:38 am - Moment of Self-Realization
I think that I actively hate Michael Pollan.

I only dislike Wendell Berry.

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