Saturday, February 03, 2007

Space, The Final Frontier...

A few musing on Star Trek before I head off to bed...

I've long felt that some of the established conceits of Star Trek have been right, perhaps, from a dramatic viewpoint, but wrong, wrong, wrong from a technical standpoint.

For example, the whole problem with starships doing anything at Warp speed other than transversing space.

How many times have the various Star Trek series (tv, movies, books, comics) presented us with ships battling each other at Warp speeds? Too many to really count, I imagine.

And that, I have a big problem with. What are the primary weapons being used? Phasers and photon torpedoes. Phasers are a light-based weapondry, so far as I'm aware, and photon torpedoes are actually physical torpedoes fired from the ships. How do these weapons even WORK while a ship is in Warp? Warp speed is faster than light, and I can't wrap my mind around the idea that phasers are faster than light... and the photon torpedoes shouldn't be capable of this, either, unless they're fitted with mini-warp drives.

And if they have mini-warp drives, then they have a warp core... which, if that's the case, could be a lot more devastating if a warp core breach could be initiated upon impact. So then, they would be warp torpedoes, which would make more sense, perhaps.

Even assuming weapondry that functions at relative speeds while in Warp, how can ships even manuever against each other? Even the slightest percentage change in course would take one ship so far away from its opponent that they'd be out of range for standard weapons fire. Let's say that the Enterprise is battling a Romulan vessel while under way at Warp speed, and the ships are travelling at Warp Six.

Warp speeds are calibrated so that Warp 1 is the speed of light, Warp 2 is the cube of that (or is it the square? I forget right now), Warp 3 is the cube or square of Warp 2, etc. Let's say it's the square, just for simplicity's sake.

So, Warp one is 9,460,730,472,580.8 km per year (the speed of light). That's 299,997.7953 km per second. So even at Warp 1, making a one degree course change would move the ship about 833 km off their original relative course, if I have the numbers figured right. (OK, I'm rounding down). At Warp 2, it'd be 693,889 km off course. At Warp 3, it'd be 481,481,944,321 km off course.

You can see how at Warp 6, it'd be so way off course, the Enterprise would have no way of engaging the Romulan ship!

To get an idea of what kind of distance we're talking about... Pluto's average distance from the sun is 5,906,380,000 kilometers. So at Warp 3, a one degree course variation would put the Enterprise (in one second) about 81 1/2 times the distance from Pluto to the Sun away from its original course.

This is, of course, assuming that I'm figuring the numbers right... and I suspect that I'm not, and that the differences would be even greater.

So let's just say that I'm convinced that ship-to-ship battles would have to take place at impulse (i.e., sublight) speeds in order for it to work... especially with biological lifeforms operating the controls (perhaps Data could operate the tactical station with the proper speeds to do this).

The next thing I want to talk about is the transporters. Transporters are the most powerful technology that exists in the Star Trek universe, and I figure they're the basis for a lot of other technology as well (such as the replicators and the holodecks).

If anyone put any thought into it at all, the transporters could be the ultimate medical miracle. It's been established that when someone is transported, they're converted into energy and their molecular pattern is stored in a pattern buffer. It's also been established (in one of the Next Gen episodes with Pulaski) that the pattern is even stored from the previous transport so long as a crewman is still assigned to the ship.

So, let's say that the Enterprise is in orbit on the Planet of Swedish Bombshell Masseuses, and Ensign Bobby gets a little too wild and crazy partying, and stumbles against a banquet table, sending a crystal bowl filled with bacon and onion dip onto the floor, where it shatters... and Ensign Bobby falls on it, and the razor-sharp shards of the crystal slice his hand off.

Now, in the Star Trek we've seen, medical personnel would show up to save Ensign Bobby's hand, and reattach it. But they shouldn't need to. In reality, LaForge (we'll say this is the Enterprise-D in this story, and Geordi's hanging with this party, since he doesn't have a current dream babe he's romancing on the holodeck who doesn't really exist except as a holodeck simulation) hits his comm badge, and says, "LaForge to Enterprise... please have Chief O'Brien beam up Ensign Bobby, but use his previous pattern for materialization."

In transporter room 3 (because they have so many transporter rooms, you know), O'Brien gets a lock on Bobby, overrides the re-integration to use the saved pattern, and when Bobby appears, he's none the worse for wear.

Of course, he doesn't have any memory of what's happened since he beamed down, but he also doesn't have to go through the memory of having his hand sliced off by sharp crystal.

No reason why they couldn't do this, unless it's established that some crew members have signed a "no stored pattern reintegration" request.

I figure the replicators have to work using transporter technology, too... and in conjunction with the deflector shields, which protect the Enterprise from meteoroids while traveling at Warp speeds.

See, I figure what the deflector is really doing, but they're not telling us, is generating a transporter field in front of the ship, and beaming any debris in space into the pattern buffer, where it's stored (since they don't need to reintegrate them as meteoroids, only the energy would really need to be saved) until Jean-Luc Picard is in his ready room, and decides he has a yen for Earl Grey tea, hot. Then, the replicators take enough energy from the energy buffer (as we'll call it) and uses the stored pattern of a cup of Earl Grey tea, hot, and materializes it for Jean-Luc.

Now, this may sound disgusting, but I figure that the same thing is in use for the Enterprise's toilets, as well as the used shower water (as well as any other waste to be disposed of)... it's converted to energy and saved in the energy buffer until something needs to be replicated.

I think the Holodecks have to use some transporter technology as well, at least when creating solid stuff to be interacted with, such as scenery and objects. I'd think this would be more energy efficient than creating solid holograms (which would be needed for simulated people and animals in order to control them properly).

That's probably enough Trek musings for the time being... I've had other thoughts relating to Star Trek I may get around to posting sometime, like about Voyager's Doctor, what rotten bastards the Vulcans were in the time of Enterprise (the NX one, not any of the NCC-1701's), the Klingons, and so on and so forth.


For Those Thinking About Foster Parenting...

OK, so today, I attended a free CPR/First Aid/Bloodborne Pathogens training, as I mentioned before. This was a requirement for getting the foster parenting license.

The class started at 10:00 and ended at 3:30, with a half-hour lunch break.

Can I be completely honest with you readers here? Of course I can.

Honestly, what training I received today could've been done in a much shorter time period... like maybe four hours.

Part of why I feel that is that there wasn't really as much detailed training as I was expecting there would be. For example, the entirety of the first aid training was simply being told what to do for various sitations. (Actually, the entirety of the class was conducted lecture style, with a PowerPoint presentation projected on the wall to follow along with... a PowerPoint presentation that had a lot of misspellings and typos... with the exception of CPR training, in which we all practiced what we were taught on the dummies -- adult and infant)

So, when we were talking about broken bones, we were told to put the appendage in a splint. We weren't shown how to properly do the splint, mind you... just told to do that. I really don't feel adequately prepared to perform much of any first aid on anyone based on that training.

Now, given most of it was simple lecture, with little hands-on (and that only being the CPR portion), what really started to irk me was the stupid questions people would ask.

OK, ok, we've all heard that there are no stupid questions, right? Well, I've never been fond of that saying. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked a question that was answered on the PowerPoint presentation on screen at the time they asked the question I could probably have stopped at the comic book shop on the way home and bought the comics that are waiting there for me.

And what irked me even more was when two people asked the same question, one right after the other!

So, if you're considering getting licensed to be a foster parent, and you're undergoing training, here's two tips for you:

1) Read what's being projected on the tv or screen or wall before asking any question, just in case the answer is right there.

2) Don't try to ask ridiculously specific situational questions during any training, because more often than not, the answer will be along the lines of "It's on a case-by-case basis," or you'll be told there's not really time to explore every single concievable situation that might occur.

There were even stupid questions that were asked right after they were told the answer. For example, we were being instructed on anapholactic shock (I probably spelled that wrong, but I'm not conducting training, am I?) in the event of an allergic reaction. Now, immediately after our instructor told us that the epi-pens were only available via prescription, someone asked a question that indicated that they thought they were available in first aid kits or could be bought by anyone! Hello?!?!? The guy just said they were available from prescription only!

So, as I'm sure you can probably guess, I'm not all that satisfied with the class today. This was really the first training related to foster parent licensing I've felt was not only inadequate, but also a complete waste of my time.


No TV Comic Cover of the Day?

Well, no... at least, not posted Saturday night, anyway... image hosting service Flickr is doing some kind of upgrade tonight that's keeping it down until 1 a.m. Pacific time.

So maybe I'll have to double-post them Sunday night!


Emerald City Comic-Con!

So... it looks like I'll definitely be attending the Emerald City Comic-Con this year!

Now, make no mistake... I fully planned to go already this year (after having to miss last year, due to financial constraints). But you may recall from a large number of posts ago that con organizer Jim Demonakos mentioned in an interview that he hoped to have a fan/pro trivia contest this year... and if you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you'll recall that about two years ago, I was the organizer of the first fan/pro trivia contest the ECCC had (I called it "You Call This A Trivia Contest?").

Well, tonight I got an email from Jim asking if I'd be able to do it this year.

Naturally, I said yes.

What this means, of course, is that I will need to start preparing some questions for this year's show.

I had some ideas for mixing it up last year that, obviously, I didn't get to use, and I think I'll utilize some of them this year. I'll keep the same basic format from the first one, with different categories of five questions each, each question worth one to five points (as each question is harder than the one before), and the fans will get to answer first, giving them an apparent advantage.

Assuming that Kurt Mitchell, whose knowledge of comics trivia is even scarier than mine, will be present, I'm hoping to use him as a "lifeline" that the fan teams will be able to use if they're stuck.

Yes, fan teams. Prior to the contest, people can sign up a team of four people, and they'll face off against whichever comics pros volunteer to challenge them, and depending on the block of time we have, the rounds will be about ten to 15 minutes each. Obviously, the best thing the fan teams can do is to either know the right answer immediately, or give up if they haven't a clue, so as to get through as many questions as possible (I think some teams the first year could've scored higher if they didn't take so long to try to come up with what turned out to be the wrong answer).

Anyway, I'll probably give each fan team three lifelines to Kurt that they can use if they're stumped.

There will be some special categories in the contest, too:

The first one will be the Bizarro category. These will be standard trivia questions, except that the proper answer must be expressed in Bizarro fashion (for example, if the question is "Who is Superman?" the answer should be "Superman am not Clark Kent." If the answer is not phrased correctly, they don't get credit. Optionally, if they can come up with an acceptable opposite answer, they could get credit for that... An acceptable alternate Bizarro answer to that question might be "Superman am Peter Parker.").

The second special category will be a visual category, where I'll provide a picture of something or someone that they will have to identify. An example of this might be the Ultimate Nullifier.

I'm also pretty certain that I'll make myself the subject of one of the categories... so the questions for that category might be, "What is the name of my blog?" which anyone who reads this would know. Another question might be, "What is the name of my dog?" which, even if you don't read this blog, could possibly guess would be Krypto.

I'd like to come up with some other special categories, too... and I plan to recruit the members of my semi-defunct Comics Trivia List on Yahoo to come up with questions, too!


Friday, February 02, 2007

Latest on the Foster Parent Preparation...

Since I know a few people check my blog primarily for info on our foster parent preparation, a brief posting: Saturday, I'm heading out to Shelton for CPR/First Aid/Bloodborne Pathogens certification, which is one of the requirements for becoming foster parents. Jessi's already required to be certified for her job, so she doesn't have to go.

That's about the last thing we've got to do before Thursday's home-study meeting. Jessi will be meeting up with my mom on Saturday morning to do some shopping for bedding, and we're hoping that she'll be able to bring the crib back down with her.

I'll post again Thursday with what happens at the home-study meeting!


Speaking of Transcribing... I was in the tail end of the post below (go ahead, scroll down and read it, I'll wait)...

Last night I had an interesting transcription for BCI/Eclipse's upcoming DVD release of Filmation's Jason of Star Command, focusing on Sid Haig, who played the villain of the series. Unlike all the other interviews I've transcribed for them (and special features producer Andy Mangels, whose website I really need to add to the links list one of these days), this one was on audiotape, not videotape.

Now, ordinarily, I prefer audiotapes to videotapes when I'm doing transcribing, because I actually have a transcription machine with a foot pedal that I press down to play, and when I release the pedal, it rewinds back a short distance (adjustable on the machine itself), and typically, it takes me about twice the amount of time recorded to do the transcription (i.e., about an hour to transcribe a 30-minute interview), subject to how fast the people talk, how clear they speak, and how good the recording is.

Minor digression: I remember one interview I transcribed for Twomorrows where, no matter what I did, I could hardly make out anything said at all on the tape. Imagine reading a transcript with page after page of the occasional phrase or sentence, with no context behind them!

Anyway... my transcription machine uses standard cassette tapes. I was sent a microcassette tape with the interview on it.

Fortunately, I'd long ago purchased a microcassette recorder, and I even bought a patch cord for dubbing it onto regular tape. I knew where the mc recorder was, and I had batteries for it (thank goodness it takes AA and not AAA batteries!)... but somewhere in the four or five moves I've made in the past 8 years, I lost the patchcord! So, instead of dubbing the tape to a standard cassette, I had to keep reaching over and hitting the rewind switch on the mc recorder!

Still... it only took me about 2 hours to transcribe the 45 minute interview.

I did, however, miss being able to watch the expressions of the person being interviewed. I guess I'll just have to wait for the DVD to see what Sid Haig looks like these days!


TV Comic Cover of the Day


I wonder how many of you readers remember Filmation's Fantastic Voyage animated series? I seem to recall it was on ABC in the late 1960s/early 1970s. It was loosely based on the motion picture of the same name, but without Raquel Welch. This may have been the first of Filmation's shows where they adapt a popular TV show or movie into an animated series, but with their own twist to it (others include Journey to the Center of the Earth - that was Filmation, wasn't it? -- My Favorite Martians, etc.).

This is another series I hope comes out in a DVD boxed set soon -- and I hope that BCI/Eclipse is the one to release it, so that I'll get to transcribe the interviews for the special features!


TV Comic Cover of the Day

Here's a Four-Color Comics issue featuring Circus Boy, a TV show that's fairly obscure, and would probably be even more obscure if not for the actor playing the title character!


Recognize that blonde kid? His name then was Mickey Braddock... but later, when he was older, and his hair was brown, he took the name Mickey Dolenz. Yes, of the Monkees!

There was even en episode of the Monkees that took place at a circus in which, in one scene, Mickey was singing the theme song to his old show.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Work Stuff...

For those of you interested in what's happening at the job since my temporary shift change... well, the training is proceeding about as fast as I expected. Not that I'm complaining about it... after all, this is mostly stuff I've had little or no experience in to date!

We'll see where things are next week, shall we?


TV Comic of the Day


Today's TV Comic of the Day is this issue of Car 54, Where Are You? Of course, like pretty much all of the TV Comics of the day I've been posting, I've never read a single issue of the comic. I have, however, seen the tv show (or, at least, a few episodes of it), but only back in the days of HA! (Wow, same as for Lancelot Link, right?).

I recall the show was very funny, and quite enjoyable. Well, I'd get a bit tired of Gunther Toody's "Ooo! Ooo!" bit after a while.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Would Indeed Be Remiss...

...if I didn't mention that fellow blogger Bubblegum Fink (see the links list for the link) has announced that he's giving up his blog... at least for a while.

Now... you know... this is starting to really annoy the heck outta me. First Robby Reed's Dial B for Blog calls it quits, now Bubblegum Fink? All the rest of you bloggers that I read, you'd better not be thinking of quitting, too, you hear?

Never fear, devoted readers of my random thoughts... I have no intention of ever quitting this blog! Do you hear? NEVER!!!!!!! I'll keep posting for as long as I think I still have readers, and maybe even beyond!


Jessi's Got Her Car!

Yes, that's right, Jessi finally got her 2003 Toyota Matrix today, after way too many days of waiting (at least, she feels that way). We were waiting on new tires to come up from Portland, but then they ended up coming down from Seattle instead... but she finally got the keys and drove it off the lot earlier today!

And then, while I was at work, she was able to find that cup holder adapter I mentioned a few posts back we were looking for! If you've been looking for a cup holder adaptor yourself, hie thee hence to your local Cut Rate Auto Parts store, that's where she found hers, and she's blissfully happy!

Unfortunately, the Cut Rate Auto Parts website (by the way, did nobody notice what that anagramed to?) doesn't list specific items for sale, else I'd give you a link showing the adapter.


TV Comic of the Day: Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp #1


And while chimps are not gorillas, they are the only related species that I have a TV comic cover of!

I loved this show when I was a kid... what wasn't there to like? Chimpanzees dressed in human clothes, acting out secret agent stories, with the occasional interruption of the pop music band "The Evolution Revolution"? And watching a few episodes back when Comedy Central was HA!, I realized just how many puns there were in each episode!

This is a show that DESERVES to be released in a DVD complete series boxed set!


Shout-Out to Sarah!

I just got a Google Alert this evening that Sarah's Olyblog posted recently about my Salmon joke... and saw that she'd also linked to my recent post about the foster parent preparation!

Thanks for the plug, Sarah!


Half an Hour From Now, It Begins...


Unfortunately, with all the rearranging around here lately, it seems I can't find where my gorilla suit is stored, so I may only have to celebrate it in spirit.


Monday, January 29, 2007

TV Comic of the Day


Yes, today's TV Comic of the Day features Bullwinkle J. Moose, one of the true toon stars of television! I don't know how old I was when I saw my first Bullwinkle cartoon, but I've been a fan of the graduate of Whassamotta U and his pal, Rocket J. Squirrel (as well as all the other Jay Ward cartoons) ever since!

Was the animation terrible? Why, of course it was... ultra cheap, I believe mostly produced in Mexico... but it made up for the bad animation with creative character designs... and the best writing in cartoons!

If you've never seen a Bullwinkle cartoon, I feel sorry for you... and direct you to hie thee hence to your local video store (or click over to Amazon) and purchase whatever Bullwinkle DVD you can find (except for the live-action movie of a number of years ago), and watch 'em!


Small World, Indeed...

My post the other day about preparing to foster parent got the attention of Adam Wilson, a reporter at the newspaper I work for , and he linked to my posting here! You can see his link here


Quick Note...

As longtime readers of this blog may be aware, typically I'll make my blog entries between 11 pm and midnight each night, sometimes earlier. But with the new shift I'm starting at work today (which will continue for the next three months), entries will likely be made a little later at night, probably around midnight or so at the earliest (although, depending on how long it takes me to read the blogs I read -- which I usually do before making my own entries -- it could be earlier).

Chances are, nobody will even notice, but if you're accustomed to reading this around a certain time each night, you might!


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Latest on the Foster Parent Preparation...

So, preparations are proceeding apace here at Chez Knutson for fostering a child... mostly today. I already knew my parents were going to be running some stuff down here that had been in their garage (stuff my sister had used for her kids, the youngest of which is now 11 or 12, I believe), and they indeed came through, bringing a potty trainer, a high chair, a stroller, a Winnie the Pooh little couch that folds out to make a nap bed (which I've dubbed a "Pooh-ton"), a rocking horse, a small table and chairs, and a few other assorted items. They weren't able to find the crib they've got in storage.

Prior to their arrival, Jessi and I decided to go out and purchase the Eddie Bauer car seat we'd seen last weekend at Big Lots for $100 (it's last year's model - this year's model is about $260 at Target). We also planned a stop at WalMart (to pick up some photos) and Grocery Outlet (to get soda and breakfast ceral - if you have a GC in your area, the $1.00 boxes of Malt-O-Meal cereals usually found at the dollar stores are 50 cents each there now, buy 'em while they're available!). We'd decided before leaving we wanted to get something to put on the door of the office to keep the child from getting in here, one of those things that you have to squeeze in order to turn the knob, so we figured we'd stop at Home Depot to see if they had them first (we had a gift card with a small balance on it, part of the refund when we returned the door knobs we thought we would need but didn't), but they didn't have the knobs.

WalMart was the second stop, and they did have the knob covers we were looking for. We also got a nice photo frame that holds 8 4"x5" photos before heading to Big Lots. We found another set of frames there we liked (we wanted to put up more photos in the house), and then learned they were sold out of the car seat we wanted!

We had the presence of mind to ask them to call the other location in the Olympia area to see if they had any left, and they did, so we ran over there to purchase it. They had one display model and two in boxes -- and the two in boxes had a bright material on them that would show dirt all too easily, so we bought the darker-colored display model. We got a few dog treats there, as well.

We next went to the Grocery Outlet on that side of town, but it's so much smaller than the one near us that we couldn't get everything we needed there, so after stopping at Subway for lunch, we went all the way back to our GC (which is very close to Home Depot, Big Lots, and WalMart) and got what we needed there.

Then it was home to get the car unloaded, and do some cleaning up before my parents arrived. They stayed for dinner, and then had to head for home.

We're still in need of a few things... mostly bedding for the toddler bed and the crib (which we're trying to find non-gender-specific stuff for, which isn't easy)... but we're coming along nicely!


TV Comic Cover of the Day: The Bugaloos #1


The Bugaloos were one of Sid and Marty Kroft's follow-up series post-H.R. Pufnstuf, although it was a bit of a twist from the Pufnstuf/Lidsville theme, in that no "normal" kid was brought into the enchanted land.

It's been a long time since I've watched a single episode of the show, but I have read about it in "Pufnstuf and Other Stuff," an excellent book about the Kroft shows and the Krofts themselves.

I'm not sure why I'm including the link to order the book, since nobody (so far as I'm aware) have ordered anything through my Amazon Associates links... but it's a bargain price there for a very enjoyable read!


The Superhero Catalog!

I'm sure that many of you around my age remember the Superhero Catalog, a comic book-sized catalog published in the 1970s that more or less had all the various Heroes World ads from the comics, plus much, much more!

Since I can't sleep tonight, I figured I'd try to find some links on the web in case anyone's scanned these. This site has the Spring 1978 catalog all scanned in for your viewing pleasure.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the only issue available on the web anywhere... and if you've been reading this blog for a while, you've already followed that link when I originally posted it.

I still hope to come across some copies of this, and scan the pages in for sharing.