July 30, 2008

We Don't Want Your Filthy Blood

The Armed Services Blood Service was holding a blood drive today, and I've not given blood for years. I figured I was finally eligable again. Well, it's now been long enough since I was in the 'Stan... but I've been in the Phillipines less than a year ago, so they sent me away.

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July 28, 2008

Stupid Storm

I had been planning a photo-taking trip to Shuri Castle over the weekend. But there's a typhoon in the area, passing us on it's way to Taiwan. So instead of the normal boringly perfect Okinawa summer weather, we had wind and rainshowers.

Not that I mind a chance to stay inside and do some reading, but I hope that the weather is better next weekend for some touristy activites.

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July 26, 2008

RIP Dr. Pausch

This video went flying around the internet a year or so ago. Carnegie Mellon University had a "Last Lecture" series, with the conceit being that speakers were asked to give a talk summing up everything they know, as if it were the last talk they ever give.

One of the school's more prominent professors was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and given only a few months of "good life" to look forward to. He presented his Last Lecture on the subject of "Achieving Childhood Dreams".

If you've not watched it, you should. It's the longest video hosted on Youtube, at an hour and a quarter. But it's worth the investment.

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July 25, 2008

A Little Late

I got promoted almost four months ago. You are supposed to get all uniforms updated within one month of promotion. Whoops. In my defense, I was at sea when I picked up, and the ship's store doesn't carry Marine insignia.

But when I got home, I kind of forgot about it/put it off. Better late than never, so I took my stuff over to the alterations shop to get all my new rank insignia sewed on.

And while I was at it, I'm sixteen months overdue on attaching my service stripes... had to get those too.

All told, getting my uniforms updated was more than a hundred bucks. Good thing they give us a raise.

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July 23, 2008

Tortise Knows No Fear

Via Boing-boing, this little tortise does not tolerate cats on his terrain. It's like a zombie movie— he's slow, but implacable.

http://view.break.com/293055 - Watch more free videos

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July 22, 2008

Paging Dilbert

We have two maintenance meetings a day, to schedule what shops are doing what work. In an effort to increase the maintenance department's productivity, we are now having a third daily meeting.

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July 21, 2008

Another Reason

Every so often I wonder whether I'm making the right choice by getting out of the Corps. Then I get a little reminder.

I just answered a knock at my door. It was the corporal that'll be my replacement as desk sergeant. Unbeknownst to be, he'd been at work since we started this morning, fourteen and a half hour ago. I wish he'd called and told me, I would have come and helped him out. He came by not to bitch (although he has every right), but to let me know that I'm going to have to be at work in six hours. I wish someone had made that decision about three hours ago, so I could have gone to bed early.

And tonight is Field Day, so I have to make certain my room is spotlessly clean tomorrow morning. So I can't risk making a mess cooking breakfast, and I'll be reporting to work before the chow hall opens. I am predicting a lot of bitter Marines at work tomorrow.

(I didn't know my guy was working late, because I spent the afternoon at Camp Foster transferring my vehicle and getting other checkout paperwork done. Still waiting on getting my offical orders out though, as I need my final physical exam first. But having discovered that requirement, I got the exam appointment moved to this week, instead of next week.)

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July 19, 2008

Traumatize Your Infants

Courtesy of cracked.com, here's twenty items that will traumatize your baby.

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I'm Watching For Los Federales

Due to a paperwork slip-up, my extension until mid-August didn't get filed yesterday. So as of today, I am no longer under contract to the Marine Corps. I hope I can manage to get paid.

Also, it means I am now an illegal alien in Japan. I was joking with a friend that I should turn myself in and get deported, under the assumption that they'd get me back in the States much sooner than the Corps is managing. The downside is, if I get deported they'll probably make me pay for my ticket. That's no good.

The paperwork will the system Monday, and I hope it counts retroactively.

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July 18, 2008

Iron Man

When the Burma mission was called off and we all got back together on the Essex, the Thailand shore party (bunch of skaters!) brought with them a bootleg copy of Iron Man. After watching it, I'm not impressed. I kept yelling at the screen for the general idiocy going on. Just a few points will illustrate my irritation:

1) Iron Man's power source on his chest provides, as the hero ("Tony Stark") declares, "Three gigajoules per second." Gee, if only there was some kind of unit of measure equivalent to a joule per second. It's really cumbersome, the way we label light bulbs as "100 joules per second" and "60 joules per second" and so forth. Stark is supposed to have summa cum laude engineering degree from MIT. I dunno what the hell they're teaching these days, if MIT grads don't know what a joule per second is.

2) That power source, which looks to be about ten cubic inches in size, puts out 50% more power than the Hoover Dam. It is highly unclear why Stark Industries is a defense contractor. His power source kicks cold fusion to the curb. Weapons are low-margin: he could make much more money by putting the oil and coal industries out of business.* The power supply also appears to not give off any unpleasant radiation or pollution, seeing as how it's inserted into his chest.

3) Stark claims that the power source will produce energy for "three lifetimes". I'll estimate that to be three hundred years. So it'll produce 2.840E+19 joules over it's lifetime. For comparison, that's roughtly the energy given off by the detonation of a 14.7 megaton bomb. Per e=mc^2, it'll convert 316 Kg of matter into energy over that lifetime.

4) Our hero is warned that he's been neglecting the business, and the board has removed him from control of Stark Industries. He complains that "I own 56% of the voting shares!". His assistant sadly shakes his head and says "Yes, but the board has rights too, and they just removed you." Seeing as how it's a major American defense contractor, I'll assume that his company is incorporated in the United States. In which case the board doesn't have any rights other than whatever rights Tony wants to give them. The next scene in the move should have gone down like this: Stark gives one share as a gift to his secretary. He announces a shareholder's meeting to begin sixty seconds from now. One minute later, he calls for a quorum: because he's in the room, they've got it. He moves that all the directors be fired effective immediatly. His secretary seconds. The motion carries, 56% of shares voting in favor. The laws on corporations generally require a board of directors, so he now nominates a new slate of directors, to consist of himself, his secretary, and his dog. Motion carries with 56% of shares voting yes. Move to adjourn. Next, the new board of directors appoints one Tony Stark as new CEO of Stark Industries, and recommends he take out a full-page ad in the New York times, to consist of photographs of the old board of directors, under the headline "You Lose, Suckers!"

Now, I'm told that according to the comic, #4 would never occur to Stark, because he's a drunken idiot. But he's not protrayed that way in the movie, plus he has a loyal assistant who certainly would know the way companies work.

All that above is criticism to the movie's writing and worldbuilding. The actors do a credible job, at least as good as the typical superhero movie. Similarly, the directing is unoffensive, if also uncreative. And I didn't spot any boom mics hanging into the picture, so I guess that counts for something.

In general, I wouldn't recommend spending money watching this movie. Wait for it to show up on network TV. Or skip it entirely.

* Footnote: Oil would still be useful as a petrochemical feedstock, and coal to purify into carbon for steel and other industries. But Stark's power supply would replace most forms of internal and external combustion overnight. And we know that his power source is incredibly cheap to manufacture, because he builds one out of scrap metal inside a cave in Afghanistan.

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