Hobbies

I used to think being a Jack of all trades meant a person could do many things with great alacrity and skill.  I was happy to think of myself as a Jack of all trades; a person who was always willing to jump into something new and do it well.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Jack of all trades is only half of the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  As it turns out, this may be an even more apt description of myself.

Much like my lovely wife, I find that my interest and focus changes with some frequency.  In the past, the following things have captured my interest: fishing, woodworking, cycling, my 280zx, jogging, Magic: The Gathering, and writing.

Part of the problem is, however, that in a desire to not do anything half way, I throw myself into each of these pursuits with great vigor.  I will give you an example which is perhaps (though reports cannot be confirmed) a source of great ire from Mika: my 1981 Nissan 280zx.

Initially, we purchased the car because it was affordable, and it appeared to be a good opportunity for me to learn about car maintenance.  Soon, however, I didn’t want to simply maintain the car, I wanted to improve it!  So I set out to learn as much as I could about the car, and I quickly discovered that many people were able to successfully change out the engine in my car for the turbo version of the engine in other models of the same car.  Quickly, the completion of this project became my ardent desire.

Around the time of graduation, I even went so far as to purchase a car for parts which had the engine I wanted.  I began work on the transfer, which I had been assured was a simple process.

I quickly learned that when mechanics say that swapping out an engine is easy, they mean two things: 1) It is easy for mechanics, and 2) it is easy compared to other engine swaps.

As a result, I am left with a half-finished project.  The engine has been taken out of the donor, and placed into the silver car,  that is as far as it has gone.  I mostly blame winter, but maybe I can now also blame myself.  Just a little.  Don’t tell Mika.


Evan on Superheroes

This week, Evan talks about superheroes, a red octopus, and dinosaurs!


Root Beer

I like root beer, or as Evan calls it, root beard.  I think part of why I enjoy it is that I feel root beer is a soda that has not lost its heritage.  I have always found the history of soda to be interesting, particularly that sodas began as medicine, and that the first soda fountains were in pharmacies. Root beer heralds from a time before sodas were fruit-flavored sugar delivery systems.

A couple years back, I began a quest to find an absolutely fantastic root beer   It would need to have the right combination of flavors and fizz to make it.  Starting a while back, I began to keep notes on the different root beers I tried.  Here are some of my findings so far.

Cool Mountain Root Beer

This soda had a strong, fruity flavor, reminiscent of the national brand Barq’s.  The fizz was very strong, to the point that it began to have a numbing effect and was hard to drink.  Overall, not a very memorable soda. 2/5

Dr. Brown’s Root Beer

This soda had the quintessential “root beer” taste, but was very strong.  The primary notes were anise and wintergreen, and it had a definite caramel aftertaste.  This soda was very fizzy, and between the wintergreen and strong fizz, I only got through half of the bottle before the tip of my tongue started to feel numb. 3.5/5

Frostie Vanilla Root Beer

This soda was an enjoyable blend of flavors!  It tasted like a root beer float, more than a straightforward root beer, so if you don’t like root beer floats, this is one to avoid.  This soda went easy on the carbonation  and so had a smooth finish.  Overall, an enjoyable experience.  4/5

I’ll keep you posted as I go through more!


Evan on Zombies 2.0

Evan is still very interested in Zombies, but this week we get to hear about zombies of a plant variety!  Also, there are dinosaurs.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Review

When I first heard that Peter Jackson was at the helm of the movie version of The Hobbit, I was fairly excited.  Then I heard that they were going it in two movies, then it was three movies.

Regardless, I was excited to see the movies, because I enjoyed the book as a child, and I enjoyed Peter Jackson’s rendition of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.  Mika and I made the effort to see the movie.  This is kind of a big deal, as we typically make it to only one or two movies together in a given year.

I am surprised to see myself saying this, but here it is: skip this movie.  While I enjoyed the parts of the movie that were actually part of the book, the movie felt ill-paced, boring, and forced.

The pacing of the storytelling was horrendous.  It felt as though it took a good 30 minutes to just get to the movie!  There is a reason that movies leave out certain parts of books.  Not all aspects of a book, even the most well-written books, are fit to be put on the silver screen.  Now imagine that instead of trimming parts of a book down to the parts best suited for visual adaptation, you keep in all of the parts regardless of how well they work.  Not only that, but you’ve added in extra parts to make it feel longer.  Imagine a Lord of the Rings film where they not only included Tom Bombadil, but also the biography of Tom Bombadil’s wife as recorded from Tolkein’s private notes.  With all of the unnecessary parts added in (or embellished from the book), the movie did not flow well.  While the parts of the movie that were actually in the book were interesting, were well thought-out and were able to maintain my interest, there was at least an hour of material that were not.  The 30 minute introduction, and the additional 15-20 minutes spent on Radagast, and another 15-20 minutes spent on the white orc completely ruined the natural flow of the story.  The experience felt like the makers were trying to justify making three movies, rather than tell the story of The Hobbit.

This led to the next problem, the movie was boring.  One might assume, and justly so, that in a movie lasting 2 hours and 40 minutes, you would walk away feeling entertained.  You might hope that you would walk away feeling like you knew the characters.  However, it was to the contrary.  The portrayals of the characters were muddied by the additional parts added in Jackson and his crew.  By two hours in, when the movie had finally reached full steam, I was already worn out by tales of dragons, how dwarves mine, and a wizard covered in bird-feces.

Finally, the movie felt forced.  The Hobbit, by its nature as a children’s book, was a much lighter tale than The Lord of the Rings.  It is much more a fairy tale, and much less an epic fantasy novel.  It is filled with silly songs, riddles, and lighthearted banter.  While the movie still had these things (how can they justify cutting anything when stretching a story this much?), it also felt as though it were trying to be as serious and somber as The Lord of The Rings.

In short, when I walked out of the theater, I thought, “I don’t want the director’s cut; I want the audience cut.”  I want a version of The Hobbit with only the best parts of the book.  I want a version without the extra bits added in.  I want The Hobbit that I can sit down and watch two hours and forty minutes and get the whole book!


Evan on Zombies

Hopefully, this will become a weekly feature of the blog.  This week, Professor Evan expounds on the origins of zombies.  Perhaps even more interestingly, he explains what happens to the zombies after they die.


Carnivores

The other day, Evan started telling us all about carnivores. It quickly became a conversation about a mouse-wolf-coyote (or kai-yot-tee, if you’re Evan). It is a bit long, but is totally worth it. He does this on different topics about once a week; we enjoy the lectures, as they prove to be very informative.