Addicted to heroines

February 10, 2013

heroinesI’ve recently noticed that my favorite characters is popular fiction tend to be similar in a lot of ways.

1. They’re almost always women or girls.

2. They are usually the smartest characters.

3. They are highly capable.

4. They don’t really fit in / they aren’t popular.

5. They don’t care that they aren’t popular.

6. They challenge societal norms and follow their own paths.

7. They have their own personal belief system.

Lisbeth, Hermione (doesn’t follow #6 as well) and Arya generally fit these criteria. Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged) is also a good example as she’s bright, capable, principled and liberated. Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice) also fits this mold, as does Lyra Belacqua (The Golden Compass).


Don’t worry, be happy

January 26, 2013

happy-facesThis week I watched a documentary on Netflix that is in line with my thinking of late. Happy, directed by Roko Belic, illustrates the nature of happiness across the globe.

A few highlights:

People in general think that good or bad major events (getting married, losing a job) are far more important than they really are when it comes to overall happiness. In reality, the highs from these don’t last very long and neither do the lows.

Flow, or being “in the zone” is an important part of happiness. This can be achieved through exercise, sports, or even everyday tasks like gardening or cooking.

Acts of kindness and compassion, even if minor, make us happy.

The part of happiness that is determined by the circumstance of life (job, money, house, relationship) is a mere 10%. The rest is genetic (50%) and habit based (40%).


January 22, 2013


This morning I read an article on Ars Technica about something called “revenge porn.” Essentially it’s when someone posts nude or erotic photos of a former girlfriend (or boyfriend, though this is less common) on sites designed for this purpose. Amazingly, they also often post the name of their ex and sometimes even phone numbers and email addresses.

So what is the matter with these people? This is a ridiculously classless move. If you’re not going to delete such photos upon breaking up it’s the least you can do to keep them as secure as possible. Sharing them online should certainly dissuade other women from dating such men. Perhaps someone needs to create a site where women post the names of men who post the photos and names of women (or even better, people could be less bitter and not post in the first place).

I would think these types of sites would dissuade the fairer sex from sending or posing for such photos, though apparently this isnt the case as it’s alarmingly common amongst young people these days (from what I hear). My generation seems to be wise enough to avoid this trend for the most part (swimming pics don’t count).

Finding Clairity

January 20, 2013



My friend Clair had a brilliant idea that I’d like to share with the hope that it catches on. Check it out on her blog here. Okay Clair, now that you’ve fixed engagements it’s time for you to tackle Valentine’s Day…

January 18, 2013


I’ve been craving more new music lately after being exposed to Gotye and Kimbra. Today I came across this easy to navigate Amazon top 100 of 2012 and listened to each preview and purchased the ones I thought were interesting. Here’s what I chose:

Ho Hey by The Lumineers
Thrift Shop (feat. Wanz) [Explicit] by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Myth by Beach House
Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men
Till Death by Barcelona
It’s Time by Imagine Dragons
Counting by Autre Ne Veut
Adorn by Miguel
Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
Sleep by Allen Stone
Fineshrine by Purity Ring
Poppin’ Off [Explicit] by Watch the Duck
Lost In The Light by Bahamas
Tessellate by alt-J
Faithful Man by The Expressions Lee Fields
Madness by Muse
I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz
Begin Again by Taylor Swift
Let Her Go by Passenger
Henrietta by Yeasayer
Writer’s Block [Explicit] by Brother Ali

It’s an eclectic mix, and I’m curious how many of them I’ll like enough to listen to repeatedly. I might go through the Top 100 Selling Songs list too after I’m done with these, but I suspect I won’t like as many in that list.

Cryptic Citrus

January 16, 2013

lemon-sliceIt’s been an interesting week. My bucket list post has influenced me a bit more than I expected and helped me focus on productivity. While I haven’t actually competed any of those 10 items, I’ve made good progress on a few that didn’t quite make the cut. I seem to have an unofficial 2013 list that I suppose I should organize (#1 will be organizing the list). In addition to these things (some of which are inspired by a fascinating book I’m reading), I’ve also done a couple of things I’ve never done before, and I’ve made two big discoveries that have impacted my life significantly… Evernote and the power of lemons. Yes, lemons.



Pail Punting Preliminaries

January 6, 2013

bucketlistI finally got around to watching The Bucket List the other night and enjoyed it (could Morgan Freeman possibly be more likable?) and like every other soul who watched that movie got to thinking about my own such list. I’d never written anything like this down before so I was curious to see if I could quickly list 10 things worthy of inclusion. That’s a long bucket list, I know, but I figure I have plenty of time (hopefully) to get them all done. So here’s my list (subject to change as I consider in more depth over the coming days/weeks/years/decades):

Tony’s Provisional Bucket List

1. Learn to speak another language proficiently (not Klingon)
2. Spend a significant block of time overseas living as a local (goes with #1)
3. Learn to play the guitar reasonably well (simple songs) and sing on key
4. Learn enough construction skills to renovate a house
5. Write a book good (lucky?) enough to be published
6. Take or audit at least one philosophy class
7. Learn to board surf
8. Design and build a house or building of some kind
9. Take a bar tending class and/or a cooking class
10. Learn to sail at an intermediate level

Feel free to share a list (or a partial list) in the comments section. Don’t be shy – life is short, after all.

die-hardMy family celebrated Christmas on Sunday this year, so when the time came for the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there was no anticipation of the gathering that makes the holiday special. But even though that gathering is 90% of the total for me, I do have a few other minor traditions that complete my Christmas. I don’t bother with a tree or anything like that (bah, humbug) but I do watch what I consider to be Christmas movies.

On the 24th I started with the Kulla family Christmas classic, Die Hard. While it may not seem right for the part, it does take place during the holidays. Yes it’s a violent action movie, but it’s also very funny. Who can forget “Ho-Ho-Ho. Now I have a machine gun.”

The closer that night is also non-traditional, though perhaps less so. Love Actually gives the holiday a larger role than Die Hard, and I like the loosely connected multiple story lines. It has the usual romantic comedy silliness about fairy tale style love, but also some depth. My favorites are Colin Firth and the Portuguese girl and the little kid’s crush. Normally I despise little kids in movies since they can’t act and tend to be annoying, but this time it works.

Yesterday was the big day, and I treated myself to a trip to the theater to see The Hobbitt. I’m a big fan of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings saga so I knew I’d like it. The theater was full and the movie didn’t disappoint. One thing I really like is that they didn’t try to “one up” the original trilogy visually, a mistake almost all sequels and prequels make. There were a couple of scenes clearly meant for 3D (I find 3D a bit distracting rather than enhancing) but they were brief, and one scene recalled the absurdity of Jackson’s dinosaur stampede in King Kong, but otherwise it was excellent and I look forward to next year’s installment.

To complete the double feature I fired up the projector last night for The Holiday. Yeah, another romcom (no, I’m not handing in my guy card). I’m a bit surprised that I like this movie so much considering I generally don’t like Cameron Diaz or Jack Black, but they’re both pretty good in this one. But what I really enjoy is the interaction between Kate Winslet’s character and old Hollywood writer. They give each other strength (or in her case, gumption) and that truly is a gift.

December 12, 2012


Cool date. Too bad nothing memorable happened today (so far).

Even though I haven’t been posting, I’ve been learning stuff:

I’ve started a top secret learning project that won’t be unveiled until it’s complete.

SYSK taught me about how Meth works (backed up by a few eps of Breaking Bad)

They also had a cool episode about genetic engineering of children, which led me to…

A happiness gene has been identified in women. Should we crank it up for all babies in the future? It sure would make dating easier for the men of the future.

On ArsTechnica I’ve learned that photosynthesis is nearly 100% energy efficient in an article about how biology may use quantum mechanics.

Any of these could make a full post, and maybe they will if the world doesn’t end on the winter solstice. We shall see!

Addition by Subtraction

November 15, 2012

I love bridges, parks, and architectural lighting. They make our world a more beautiful place if done right. But of all the city planning changes I can imagine, the one I’d recommend for most of Rhode Island is removing the utility poles that litter our downtown streets. Not only are they ugly but they are a major factor in power outages during hurricanes (should still be fresh on our minds) and blizzards (coming soon). The before and after photos above are from Marblehead, Massachusetts and the difference is striking. There are over 100 million utility poles in the United States, and removing them is one use for my tax dollars for which I actually approve (and that’s a rare thing indeed).