Dec 302013

catchingfire(No spoilers.)

We had originally planned to see the second Hobbit movie with Clan BamaDan today, but Lea’s puny, so we postponed hoping to get everyone together later in the week. Today’s alternate plan wound up being the boys and I seeing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I won’t do a full-up review as it wouldn’t be timely, but here are a few thoughts.

I liked all three books, but I really only loved the first one. I thought the first film was well done, and I knew I’d see Catching Fire, but figured I’d just catch it one night on the Xbox or something. So I hadn’t really paid a lot of attention to this film beforehand, which wound up giving me a few pleasant surprises. I love Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amanda Plummer, and they have memorable supporting roles. I was delighted to see them without knowing they were coming. Other thoughts:

  • Jennifer Lawrence and Donald Sutherland continue to be archetypes of absolutely perfect casting. You can’t get it any more correct than this.
  • Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen is in a similar arc of character development as Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. (You know, the person who makes you say “I think following her greatly increases my chance of living, so I’m going to”?) I adore a strong woman action hero who is effective without jettisoning her femininity. More, please, Hollywood!
  • The production design is lush, effective, and comprehensive. What a beautiful, horrifying world! Judicious CGI restraint is an art all by itself.
  • I can’t be certain, but it seems to me that this film is much gorier than the first one. I think the PG-13 rating has steadily slid into depths that were unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago.
  • It is a more violent film in general than the first one because the plot is more violent. There is more overt violence from the Capitol.
  • The run time pushes my upper limits at 2:26. I don’t automatically resent a movie running over two hours, but there better be a good reason for it. Catching Fire is never boring, but it might have been a little more effective at a tauter length.

I enjoyed this film more than I enjoyed its book. We had a good time.

 Posted by at 4:49 pm
Dec 282013

The 60-watt and 40-watt incandescent light bulb ban takes effect next week. There are two things here a lot of people are missing:

  • The light bulbs don’t become illegal to sell next week; only to manufacture. They will still be available in stores for some time into 2014.
  • Rough service bulbs will remain available.

Rough service bulbs look and burn like regular bulbs, but they are considerably more durable (and consequently more expensive, though not by much). When we moved into our new home in 2000, the builder had installed Teiber 130-volt rough service light bulbs throughout. It was literally almost six years before one burned out.

So, when it comes to incandescents, I haven’t bought anything but rough service bulbs in a long time anyway. I use (no connection except being a satisfied customer). That link includes 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs—you know, the ones that were banned at the start of this year?—in case you think I’m pulling your leg.

Therefore, it would appear we have ample incandescent options for the moment, anyway. So stay with them if you want to.

And now I’m going to ask you:  do you really want to?

It’s certainly debatable by reasonable people whether federal action was the way to handle this problem. Big government types hail the great advances made by the light bulb companies in order to comply with their wise laws, while others claim the free market would have driven innovation without them. However we got here, we’re here, and we have options.

lightsLongtime readers may recall my enthusiasm for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). I still have many of them deployed and I do like them, but they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Some of them are a little slow to warm up. Few of them can be dimmed. All of them have special disposal instructions. On the positive side, they do consume far less electricity than comparable incandescents.

My only big complaint is that I’m not getting the advertised long life from them. I haven’t kept detailed records, so I have no hard data, but I know I replace them more often than rough service incandescents. I wonder if they’re really lasting that much longer than regular incandescents would, really.

I started stepping into current LED bulbs last year, with this bulb (again, no connection other than being a satisfied customer). The only compromise with this one is about a one-second delay between flipping the switch and the bulb lighting. These are 8.5 watts apiece, and I think the claimed 50-watt equivalent is a little low, frankly. I use these three across in bathroom vanities very satisfactorily. The light is bright, with an appealing color.

I have a few more powerful ones installed here and there. My table lamp and floor lamp in my living room both have LED bulbs, and if I didn’t tell you, you’d never know it. That’s how pleasant and bright they are.

I like using LED bulbs. I’ll just have to wait and see on longevity. If these start blowing a year or two in, then suddenly they’re overpriced at even $5 each, aren’t they?

Between pull-outs and the small purchases I’ve made over the years, I have probably 3 dozen each 60- and 75-watt incandescent light bulbs, almost all of them rough service. Given that I’m gradually replacing them anyway, I expect that to be a lifetime supply.

Put back a few incandescent bulbs if you need to, but I invite you to check out that LED bulb above as well. Just get two or three of them and see what you think. I bet you’ll be impressed.

 Posted by at 5:27 pm
Dec 272013

In a move as shocking as the sun rising in the east this morning, A&E has announced that Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty has been lifted.

From the start, Robertson’s only transgression was that his word choice was perhaps a bit less than artful. There is no evidence he is evil, despite the knee-jerk hyperventilation of thousands of perpetually finger-pointing and tongue-clucking liberals all desperate to be among the first to denounce his “hate” and therefore highlight themselves as sensitivest of all.

In reinstating Robertson, A&E has followed the money, but it has also followed common sense. This was never anything but manufactured hair-trigger offense, perpetrated by those who are divisive for profit. (Hey, speaking of, I read today that Jesse Jackson demanded a meeting with A&E and Cracker Barrel management. What a shame he won’t get an opportunity to use his legendary diplomatic and bridge-building skills to find common ground here, eh?)

Phil Robertson’s views are not my views. Guess what? That’s all right.

It’s a big country.

 Posted by at 5:45 pm
Dec 262013
  • We had dinner with one of Lea’s old friends not long ago, and he convinced me that Skyrim was acceptable, content-wise, for the boys. So Santa brought it. The timers are suspended through the end of tomorrow. We’re playing a bunch of Skyrim. (I think I’m starting my own game tonight post-bedtime. I don’t have a timer ever. Ha ha ha.)
  • I considered today how carefully must screen and qualify their consultants for Mayday, the instant face-to-face video support available on its Kindle Fire HDX tablets. Can you imagine the nonsense those people must put up with in the middle of the night?
  • I tried a peanut butter and sriracha sandwich this afternoon. (This combination has many enthusiastic advocates.) It’s all right. It tastes better than it sounds like it would. I still don’t understand the extreme zeal for it.
  • After suffering numerous smaller-but-still-significant paint incidents throughout our ownership, a piece of paint the size of a sheet of paper peeled off the tailgate of Lea’s Honda Odyssey on Christmas Eve. I really hate it because I’m very pro-Alabama, but I’m never having another vehicle produced at the Honda plant in Lincoln.
  • Conversely, the continued quality, reliability, and durability of the Technical Writing Express (a 2008 Nissan Versa) has been impressive (and it’s built in Mexico and has what is basically a Renault engine). Driving it is about as exciting as using a photocopier, but it’s been consistent. The only thing really showing any age at all is the steering wheel. I’m going to need a cover for it.
  • My dad gave my family and my stepbrother Chris’s family nice microscopes for Christmas. We’re both excited about having it around for our children. (We’re also both excited about learning to verify the continued effectiveness of our respective vasectomies. As with anything else, there’s advice online for that. Heh.)
  • And yes, I know vasectomy is approximately 99.95% effective as birth control. I also know two different men who have post-vasectomy children with their faithful wives.
  • The Capital One commercials for the Quicksilver credit card with Samuel L. Jackson have undergone a running change. When they first started airing, he said “every damned day.” Now he says “every single day.”
  • I have posts in the works on the current state of light bulbs and on “gateway” hot sauces—suggestions for taking a few, safe-but-broadening steps into the glorious world beyond Tabasco and Texas Pete. Watch this space.
  • Lea and I enjoyed ample opportunities to appreciate how blessed we are this Christmas. I hope you’ve had a similar experience.
 Posted by at 6:22 pm
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