Odd Squad

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 09:36 pm
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This PBS kid's show is entertaining and quite funny in some parts: Odd Squad

That website is good too; you can watch the episodes there, and it has other special features. Awww man, it even has a downloadable 2017 puppy calendar.

tunnels, bridges

Sunday, August 6th, 2017 12:35 am
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A while back, my dad had told me about a TV series I might like - "The Bridge". He said that one of the characters, a female cop, has Aspergers, and was sort of like me. I didn't get around to watching it, except a trailer. From what I read, it was a crime drama and I don't like watching gruesome and unpleasant things, so it wasn't at the top of my list.

But recently, I stumbled across a similar show on PBS (The Tunnel, season 2), and the character Elise immediately drew my interest and reminded me of what my dad had said. For a moment, I wondered if this could be the show he had been referring to, but no, this was a British/French show, and I'm pretty sure he had been talking about an American one.

It turns out that The Bridge was originally a Scandinavian TV show. The American TV series was based on it. The British/French version is the latest remake.

Anyway, the characters and plot of The Tunnel were so intriguing, that I ended up watching the rest of season 2, in spite of the subject matter also being very gruesome and unpleasant. I got Qiao to watch it with me, as he generally likes gruesome crime dramas. Next we'll watch season 1. Maybe I'll even check out the Bridge shows later on.

I feel a kinship with the character Elise. In many ways, she is different from me. But still, her difficulty in interacting with others feels very familiar, and I can totally relate to her.


Sunday, July 9th, 2017 01:58 am
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Am just now watching a CNN series on the 1980s.

The first part they showed was about MTV. I didn't know that MTV refused to play black artists in the beginning. Back then we were living in Germany, and the only American channel we got to watch was AFN, the Armed Forces Network. I didn't get to watch MTV until 1985 or later, when we were back in the U.S. But nonetheless, it seems like nearly all the music that was popular in the 80s is among my favorite music, even without me having seen the videos for those first years.

There was a segment about the space shuttles and the Challenger disaster on Jan 28, 1986.

I had a memory of being at home, listening to my radio in my bedroom, and hearing about the Challenger accident on the radio... as if I was hearing it live*, or right after it had happened. The apartment/bedroom of my memory matches the year, 1986. Both the year before and the year after, I lived in other places. So the memory must be at least partially true.

But I just looked it up, and the accident was on a Tuesday, at 11:39am in the same time zone as I was. So surely I would have been at school when it happened. I don't remember hearing about it at school though. If I was home that day, what could the reason have been? Even if the school day ended fairly early, it wouldn't have been that early. So surely I must have been at school, gotten home at the normal time, and then heard about it on the radio after the fact. Unless we had a half-day for some reason...

Surely if I had been home at the time of the launch, I would have been watching it on TV, not listening on the radio? Or were space shuttle launches not televised live back then? ...

When a national disaster unfolded live in 1986
If you were an American kid in 1986, you probably remember exactly where you were: That's because so many classrooms were watching the shuttle launch live via a special NASA satellite feed to showcase what would have been the first American teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe.

No, I don't remember watching it live in school. Gah, no way to verify my patchy memories.

*I do think it likely that I listened to the launch live, probably on PBS, because I was into astronomy and NASA and things like that. Maybe we didn't get CNN at the time, or maybe I didn't know it was being televised too. I remember listening to other launch attempts on the radio, including aborted ones. (But as this post shows, I no longer trust such old memories. Maybe I only heard replays, not live broadasts?)

This morning I was lying in bed trying to figure out how long ago Qiao bought his house - was it 2 or 3 years ago? And how long ago was his accident? 2011 or 2012? And when was my brother living in my house? etc., etc. All that only within the last 7 years or so, and I'm already getting it all mixed up in my mind. At least now I have ways of looking up what happened when in my life. But not for 1986. I did occasionally write in a diary back then, but not about the space shuttle.

Update (7/10): I think I figured out why I was not at school that day. According to historical weather sources, it was a very cold day. In my area, it was under 20 degrees until 9am, and didn't go above freezing until the afternoon. Such weather is not usual in the South, and school was probably cancelled to keep kids from having to walk to school or wait for the school buses in such cold.

iTunes and DRM

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 11:21 pm
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I finally managed to buy that song I wanted from iTunes.

I never want to go through that much trouble to buy a song again, even if, like this one, IAMX's I Come With Knives, I really want to support the artist for making such a wonderful song and video. Maybe, if an MP3 of the song had been available to purchase on the band's website, or on Amazon, it wouldn't have taken me over 4 years to buy it.

The band's website only has the full album available, and only as a CD, not MP3s. Some of the other albums are available as MP3s, but not that one. Likewise, Amazon only has the full album on CD. The MP3 version seems to be a single instead, as it only has 4 songs, of which 3 are different versions of "Unified Field". The only place I found the song I wanted was on iTunes.

The plus of it was that the iTunes price was in GBP, not dollars. So I got to use up some of that GBP balance I still had left over on my PayPal account.

The 2 TV show episodes that I wanted to buy are also priced in GBP, which would have been another plus. But after doing some research, it seems that if I bought them, they'd be in MV4 format, which I'd only be able to play on that desktop computer from inside iTunes. Because of the DRM, I wouldn't be able to play them on my normal laptop (without iTunes), nor even on the TV (no, that computer doesn't have an HDMI port). So I won't be buying them after all. There's only so much I'm willing to put up with. Sure, maybe I could use some software to strip out the DRM from the files in order to play them on my other devices without iTunes, but that would defeat the whole point of buying them legally.

gymnastic floors

Saturday, March 4th, 2017 03:03 pm
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I was watching a bit of gymnastic floor exercises on TV, and for the first time ever, noticed that the floor seemed to be bouncy. Not simply padded, absorbing shock, as I had always assumed, but springy, giving the gymnast added bounce.

Then I wondered what was under the padding; how complicated is a gymnastics floor? It turns out that it is called a spring floor, and it really does have short metal springs under it.

This Slate article provides some history of gymnastic floors. They didn't always have springs, which partly explains why gymnasts can do more complicated jumps nowadays than in the past.

Dirk Gently

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 11:33 pm
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The first episode of the new Dirk Gently show on BBC America was awesome. Wow.

A lot of blood and people dying, but still wow. I want to see more.

I was a bit disappointed before, when I found out there already was an earlier Dirk Gently series on the BBC, and that this new series was made for the U.S. I wondered if I should watch the other series first. But Qiao taped this episode for me (as I had expressed interest in it), and I'm glad I got to see it.

I read the books a long time ago, but I don't remember any of the plot, so I don't know if this episode was at all based on the book or not.

entertainment watching

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 09:50 pm
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The same NetFlix DVD has been lying near my TV for nearly 9 months, and I still haven't watched it. Not enough spare time. I've been paying $5.63 a month for the opportunity to watch it. I don't want to return the disk until I've at least watched enough of it to know whether it's one I'll like or not. I suspect I won't like this one very much, but I might. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.

There's no benefit in me taking the time to watch it, as once I return it, another disk will just take its place.

Some movies are only available on DVD, not streaming, so I don't want to cancel the DVD plan. I'm not sure I'd even be able to get this plan at the same price again.

Last September, I bought season 3 of Last Tango In Halifax (streaming) from Amazon. Since then I've watched 5 of the 6 episodes. That's no doubt related to why I haven't had time to watch the DVD. At the beginning of the year, I also watched Downton Abbey and Galavant on TV, and a few other movies here and there.

After I finish Last Tango, I also want to watch the last season of Doc Martin.

doc martin! mole

Saturday, February 6th, 2016 09:41 pm
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They snuck in a new season of Doc Martin without me being aware of it. Now I'm already behind on the first 3 episodes.


A jar of Mexican mole sauce, which my mom gave me, has been sitting in the back of my cupboard for several years. I wasn't sure what to cook with it, and since the main ingredient is chili peppers, I was afraid it would be too spicy for me. I envisioned it being as spicy as some of those Indian spice pastes in jars.

But today I finally cooked with it, using the guidelines posted by user mexicanjl on this chowhound page. I used a can of diced tomatoes as I didn't have any tomato puree. I cooked some vegan chicken strips, poured the sauce over them, and had pasta along with it. The mole is nowhere near as spicy as I was afraid of. It tastes more like paprika to me than hot peppers.

The empty mole jar has a smooth rim and can even be used as a drinking glass.
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Galavant Season 2 seemed to me to start out a bit slow, but last week's episodes made up for it.

a few spoilers for 'Giants vs. Dwarves' and 'About Last Knight' )
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squee!! There's gonna be a new Sherlock movie with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and the other familiar castmembers! Sherlock and the Abominable Bride, this time set in the 1890s, will be shown on PBS on Jan 1.

And then on Jan 3, the new seasons of Galavant and Downton Abbey will premiere.

Oh, and I haven't even gone to see the new Star Wars movie yet. I want to rewatch episodes 2 & 3 first. Reading this article: Padme Didn't Die of a Broken Heart, made me realize that my memory of them is fuzzy. I had even forgotten that Padme died in episode 3. Since RoTJ, I always thought that she was alive during Leia's childhood on Alderaan, due to the scene where Luke asked her if she remembered her mother. I had thought he was asking her about their shared mother, because he never met her.
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This evening, I watched a repeat of "The Reichenbach Fall" on TV (over-the-air). I was able to follow most of the story pretty well this time, although a few bits still went by too fast. I started thinking about the next episode, which I remember parts of, but I'm not sure they ever gave a real explanation (as opposed to the mock ones) of how Sherlock survived the fall from the roof.

So, I start typing into Google, "did they explain", and the first auto-complete prediction is "did they explain how sherlock survived".

So out of all the things in the world possibly needing explanations, that is the #1 thing which people ask about? Or is Google clairvoyant?

that's my saturday

Sunday, July 12th, 2015 02:43 am
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I started watching Last Tango in Halifax on Netflix from the first episode. I've watched 4 so far, probably over the course of 4 weeks.

Even with shows like these which keep my attention and interest, I still pause them quite often in order to do other things. I've just got so much to do. That's also why I can barely find enough time to watch one episode a week. I watched the last one Wednesday night, past midnight* just cuz I wanted to, and naturally didn't get enough sleep that night because of it.

*actually, based on my browser history, I started watching it before 11pm, but then got side-tracked looking up info on audio sync issues and how to get the subtitles to display while watching it on the TV.

I get envious of Qiao and the amount of stuff he watches. He just finished watching all 10 seasons of Criminal Minds back-to-back (233 episodes! based on what Wikipedia says). He seemed to be watching 3 or 4 a day. (How can anyone do that and not have nightmares from it?) Today he watched 3 movies for a change. And he did an online course.

I vacuumed, washed 4 loads, changed sheets, ironed my shirts, fixed a seat cover for the chair, cut grass, cooked yellow squash, and washed dishes. Then I ate dinner and played some Words With Friends. At 1am, I thought I'd still have time to watch an episode of Last Tango before going to bed. But I decided to do a quick donation first, which ended up taking longer than expected (dang Firefox telling me I need to update Flash when apparently I already had the latest version, and dang Adobe website not displaying anywhere what the latest version number is, so that I waste time reinstalling the same version I already had). Then I read some DW. Now it's really too late to watch an episode.

I still need to do some research for a trip I'm going on. Not tonight, but I should tomorrow. I need to check Angie's List for ideas on who to use for some tree trimming. I still want to research HVAC options, and various other stuff.

My hands are hot. I forgot to wear gloves while using the string trimmer.

So many injustices in the world. So depressing.

A few days after I started taking SAM-e supplements, I had one of those rare tingly/goosebumpy feelings while hearing a song on the radio. It seemed encouraging. But in the weeks since then, nothing. They seem to be having no effect at all, and I'm getting tired of taking the dang pills already. I was going to start taking a larger dose, but that seems even more of a nuisance.

Wasps are getting into my stove's range hood. I had closed off all the small openings to prevent wasps from getting into the house a year or 2 ago. Yesterday I heard some buzzing up there. I discovered a bunch of dead wasps on the filter. Plus 2 still alive. I saved them; got them outside. Cleaned up the dead ones. Unblocked the openings; better to have a few wasps get in the house, than having them trapped and dying up there. Faced a dilemma: should I cover up the part of the filter that is meant to let light though, to keep from having the kitchen light attract the wasps? Though in doing so, I would no longer be able to see if any wasps are trapped up there (like the one I found today and freed). I ended up putting foil over it.

I should have taped the foil on from the bottom instead of the top. Then I could have more easily removed it to check. Too late now. Sigh.


Sunday, January 25th, 2015 03:38 am
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After watching all 10 episodes of the first season, it's still mainly Maura and Ali's characters that hold my interest.

Spoilers follow )


Saturday, January 24th, 2015 09:18 pm
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Amazon has the whole first season of Transparent watchable for free (today only), so I wanted to watch some more episodes.

I again spent over an hour unsuccessfully trying to get the video to play full-screen on the TV over the HDMI cable (like I do for YouTube and Netflix videos).

Using Flash, the video is so jerky that I don't want to watch it.
Using Silverlight, the video doesn't even start - it does some kind of looping/buffering thing.

I cleared all application data from Silverlight. I uninstalled and reinstalled Silverlight. I disabled hardware acceleration in both Firefox and Silverlight. I tried using IE and Chrome. The problems persisted. I was able to get a few short clips to play ok... but they weren't full screen, so maybe that is why they worked.

Anyway, back to admitting failure and watching it on the laptop screen.


Geez, even playing it on the laptop, the sound stutters somewhat.

Oh good lord, maybe all I had to do all along was click the button to turn off HD? ... ::sigh:: No, even then it's still jerky on the TV.
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In movies and shows like Criminal Minds, when women or girls are the victims, most of their on-screen time is spent crying, pleading/begging, whimpering, and screaming.

Whereas when men are the victims, they do much less of that.

Is there anything in real life to corroborate those kind of portrayals? Would a typical woman in that kind of a situation really act like that? Or is it mostly myth? It seems very unreal to me, and grates on my nerves.

When women are the victims, there are frequent cuts between the rest of show's action, to these scenes of crying, whimpering, etc. It is as if those sounds are meant to spur on the people trying to find and save them, or meant to provide a feeling of suspense for the viewers. It's like, oh those poor women are so helpless and in such danger, they must be saved, and quickly!

Wouldn't a real person, regardless of gender, spend more time struggling and trying to escape, as well as trying to verbally reason with their abductor, rather than crying and whimpering? Why are women portrayed as being so emotionally active and physically passive?


Sunday, January 4th, 2015 10:34 pm
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Well, I enjoyed the first episode of Galavant tonight. Nice fluffy humor with singing and dancing. Downton Abbey was entertaining too, though trying to keep up with all the sub-plots left me feeling somewhat drained.

Now I have to try to shift my sleep-wake cycle back by 6 hours. These last 2 weeks of vacation, I was fairly consistently going to bed between 3 and 4 am, and getting up between 1 and 2pm.


Monday, September 29th, 2014 07:46 am
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(I'm splitting my prior post into 2 separate ones, in order to expand on a subject.)

My impression of the Transparent pilot:
I'm intrigued by 2 of the main characters (Maura & Ali), and somewhat put off by the other 2. I was quite put off by the sex scenes, and by the many shots of bare breasts, and squeezing of breasts. The bathroom scene showing bare female buttocks didn't bother me but together with all the rest, the show seems like it was scripted to attract viewers who like female nudity and sex scenes. So while I'm intrigued by part of the story, I'm also put off by a lot of it.


Not liking the nudity and sex scenes probably makes me sound like a prude. Maybe I am? But I don't think that movies/films/books shouldn't be allowed to have scenes like those; I just don't personally like them.

Why don't I like them? What is it about them that so puts me off? It's not just any sex scenes, or any nudity that puts me off. Only certain kinds. (Although most explicit mainstream sex scenes would fall into that category, which is why I don't watch porn.)

Take the show "Gray's Anatomy". Its characters were having sex or talking about sex and relationships all the time, but those scenes didn't bother me much (beyond rolling my eyes and thinking "there they go at it again!"). But most of those scenes weren't very explicit and didn't involve nudity.

I suspect that what I feel is similar to the aversion that some hetero people feel when watching explicit gay scenes. But what exactly is it that turns me off, and why?

Light spoilers follow )