What if English were phonetically consistent?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile so when I came across this YouTube video by Aaron Alon I thought it would make a good SEB post. 

In it he demonstrates just how weird English would sound if it were phonetically consistent the way that languages like Japanese are. He gives examples of how each vowel can have multiple sounds then picks one and proceeds to use that single vowel sound for all instances of that vowel in the words that follow. Things get increasingly weird as the video progresses. 

It’s back! Return of the Son of the SEB PODCAST!

Despite it being almost three years since the last one and no one suggesting anything for us to talk about, Dave Hill and I managed to blather on for an hour about whatever we wanted to including some spoilery talk on Avengers: Infinity War. You’ll find it embedded below and the spoilers start at 47:17 so skp the last 13 minutes if you don’t want to hear them:

The Return of the Son of the SEB Podcast.

Hey, remember how Dave Hill of ***Dave Does The Blog and I would occasionally get together online and talk about stuff that you guys wanted to hear our opinions on? Remember how the last time we did it we were both shocked and appalled that it had been three years since the previous podcast?

Well, fuck me if it hasn’t been almost three years again since the last one.

So it’s about damned time that we get together for another one. The last one was accomplished via a Google Hangouts live stream and, other than a small technical hangup audio-wise early on, it worked pretty well so we’re doing that again!

That means we’re once again looking for suggestions of things you’d like to hear us talk about whether we’re qualified to pontificate on it or not. Given the political prediction I made during the last one that I was completely and totally wrong about, you can be sure I’ll probably be completely wrong about something I say during this one.

You can leave your suggestions in the comments here, on ***Dave Does the Blog, or on our social media accounts if that’s what suits you. We’ll scrape ’em together and see what kind of trouble we can get into with them.

The actual live stream is set for 1PM EDT on Sunday the 6th of May so you’ve got some time to think up something good. I’ve got an event for it on G+, but it’s currently set to private. If there’s sufficient interest in watching it live as we stumble through it I can always make the event public. Let me know.

Continue reading

In search of a dorky bike helmet.

Today is the day I finally pay off the bicycle I am purchasing in an attempt to engage in some exercise that I won’t hate doing on a regular basis. The bike itself is made by a company called Felt Bicycles, which I’ve never heard of before, and the bike itself is called The Bixby and has a bit of a retro feel to it. This is it here:

Now I’m all set to go to the sock hop on my cool new ride.

Single speed, crank backwards to brake, no frills, but able to hold up my fat ass as I endanger the local wildlife and neighborhood children while barrelling down the street at speeds no one my size and shape should be legally allowed to attain.

I’m going to look like a complete dork.

I may as well embrace that fact and find an appropriately dorky bike helmet to go with this bike. The folks at Sweet Bikes in Canton, MI already have something in mind for me when I go in today, but on the off-chance it’s not dorktaculous enough I did a Google search to see what I could find that would fit the bill. As it turns out, a lot of bike helmet designs seem to lean heavily on the “alien egg sucking on your head” philosophy such as these examples:

Those are all vaguely cool-ish looking and a little dorky in their own right, but not properly dorky. Not like, say, a watermelon helmet:

Or how about one that will match my favorite choice in shirts:

Both of those last two come from the folks at Nutcase Helmets and they’ve got a range of nicely dorky bike helmets to choose from including a Space Cats option that has me SERIOUSLY tempted because I love ALL things Space Cats.

These are all pretty dorky, but can we get even dorkier? I think we can. What about one that has built-in turn and brake signals?

Yeah, that one is $180 which is over half the price of my bike so I think we’ll skip that one for now.

Sadly, some of the absolute best dorky helmets are only available for kids. Things like these light up mohawk helmets:

Or this awesome T-rex eating your head helmet:

I’m bummed that this Lego Hair by Danish design firm MOEF bike helmet is just a prototype and not actually available:

Better than my actual hair.

Of course there’s nothing more dorky than a bike helmet trying NOT to be dorky:

Ha ha ha! We’re TOTALLY wearing bike helmets, but YOU think we’re just uber-stylish hipsters risking serious brain injury!

What is surprising is just how expensive some of these bike helmets can be. The ones from Nut Case that I’m tempted by are $70 or so, but I suppose that’s a small price to pay to keep your skull intact.

For now, we’ll see what the folks at Sweet Bikes have in mind, but I may just break down and get that Space Cats helmet in the not too distant future. That theme is one of my weaknesses. What about you guys? Got any suggestions for super-dorky bike helmets I should consider?

My encounter with a Ghost Cat.

The other night as I was headed upstairs to go to bed in the dark I happened to glance out the kitchen window where I saw a fluffy grey cat sitting bolt upright in the corner of my garage door staring back at me through the window. I was so surprised to see a cat just sitting there that I stopped and stared at it. We spent a few moments staring at each other as I was trying to determine if the cat was looking for help because it was below freezing outside and it seemed to be trying to shelter from the wind. I finally decided to go out there and see if it was in distress.

As I stepped out the side door of the house, the very next thought that popped into my head was: “And that’s how he was murdered by a ghost cat. All his wife found the next day was his slippers in front of the garage door and he was never seen again.” Which is, of course, nonsense, but I’ve seen enough horror movies in my time for my brain to jump right to that scenario. So it was a little startling when I rounded the corner of the house and there was no sign of a cat. At all.

I took a couple steps to look down the side of the garage and out of the corner of my eye I saw a cat shaped blur run down the neighbor’s driveway. So, he/she was fine. When I got back inside, Cuddles came out from behind the blinds of the doorwall. Turns out they had been having a cat-off and I interrupted them. My bad.

Homeownership: A new era in my life.

Next Monday at 12 noon is when I will close on my first home. Possibly my last home too unless I win the lotto or something. This is it here:

Home sweet home.

It’s a three bedroom ranch with a finished basement and two and a half bathrooms. There’s a gas fireplace in the basement and a small wet bar. It’s eight years older than I am, but, unlike me, it’s in pretty good shape despite its age.

My entire adult life has been spent either living in someone else’s house or in apartments and now that I’m on the cusp of owning my own house it occurs to me that I have this odd contradiction about the stuff I own. I have a lot of stuff. A good chunk of it is still packed in boxes in the basement of the townhouse we’re currently renting until the end of May. Mostly books and kitchen stuff that won’t fit in the tiny kitchen we currently have. Also, there’s a number of additional boxes still in my in-laws basement from when we lived with them for awhile.

Some of those boxes contain Christmas decorations I received as gifts from back in my 20’s that have only seen the light of day once when I first received them and have been laying in wait for the day that I finally purchased my own house and had someplace to display them. That’s right, I have home decor that’s at least 20 years old with a few bits that are at least as old as my daughter. One is a porcellian horse drawn sleigh and another is a huge musical snow globe with a Santa in it. Non-holiday decor like some Sun/Moon/Stars wall sconces for candles are also in there. I’m really looking forward to having someplace to display them for the first time.

On the other hand there’s a ton of things I’ve never owned before that I’m going to have to purchase. Things like a ladder. At a minimum I’m going to need a step ladder and I’m sure sooner or later I’ll need an extension ladder. Another would be a lawn mower. I won’t need a huge one, but I’m going to need something unless I find a reasonable lawn care company.

I have had a dining room table before, but it was a small, round one that barely fit four people that I had to get rid of when we moved back to Canton due to lack of room for it. I’d like to get one that seats at least six people. I’ve got a power drill, but no bits for it. I may actually have to drill something in the future. I’m going to need a screen for the fireplace. It’s gas so there’s no real danger of sparks popping out, but I do have two cats that’ll be running around the joint. The fireplace also doesn’t have a mantelpiece and the more I think about it the more I think I want to add one. It’s a bit boggling to consider that I’m thinking of buying a mantlepiece.

That’s a lot of brick for what is a small firebox. You’ll note there’s no chimney for it in the first picture of the front of the house. That’s all for show.

I’m going to need to pick up carbon monoxide detectors for the first time in my life as well as replace smoke detectors from time to time. Hell, I’m going to have to learn about furnace filters and when to replace them and what size to get. I should probably buy a couple of fire extinguishers, which is something else I’ve never had to think about before.

A rake. We don’t have a ton of trees on our property, just one in the back, but it’s going to lose its leaves come fall. I have to remember when trash day is as I’ll no longer have a dumpster I can toss garbage into whenever the need arises. Also curbside recycling. Cleaning gutters will be something new for me. There’s that need for a ladder again.

It’s weird and exciting and a little overwhelming to think about. It all becomes my reality next Monday. I’m more than a little nervous about it. It’s taken me a long time, but I somehow managed to pull it off. Buying a home was one of the bigger challenges I’ve struggled with for a long time, but I believe I’ve done it without putting myself at too much risk. It’s a nice house. I’m hoping I don’t fuck it up too badly.

Mark Twain on Christmas.

Quote

“The xmas holidays have this high value: that they remind Forgetters of the Forgotten, & repair damaged relationships.” – letter to Carlotte Welles, 30 December 1907

Well, that election didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

I admit it. Back when Trump first announced his candidacy, I thought he was mainly doing it as a publicity stunt. As he came closer and closer to winning the nomination my incredulity only grew. There was no way he’d be the nominee because the Republicans weren’t that crazy, right? Surely they were sane enough to recognize how unfit for office this man was and yet he still became their nominee. I got a little worried then. Not too worried, though, because there was a part of me that still couldn’t believe the populace would hand him the reigns to the country. Just based on some of the horrible things he said — let alone some of his past actions — it seemed clear to me that any rational person would see this was not a man who should be President. Yeah, I can be foolishly optimistic at times. To the point that it can override my natural tendency towards cynicism.

So, I wake up yesterday and Donald Trump is President-elect. My first thought was: “Well shit.”

I often annoy my wife by trying hard not to speculate on what other people’s motives are. I try very hard not to assume I know why two people are fighting or who is right out or wrong unless I have a great deal more data than I usually do. Why did so many people vote for someone I find personally reprehensible for President? Someone who might do damage to our country that could take decades to undo? I’ve heard all sorts of reasons. Any and/or all of which might have been why. My natural inclination is to think we’ve all lost our goddamned minds, but I know that’s not really true. I don’t know that I’m smart enough to puzzle out the answers and there are others already analyzing the hell out of this election that are better qualified to pontificate on it.

What I do know is that this is the reality we live in now and we’re going to have to deal with the good, bad, and ugly as it comes along. There are a lot of people that are scared shitless right now — minorities, LGTB, etc. — and with good reason given some of of things the President-elect has said he will do. I can’t change the election, but I can do my part to try and stop the damage this administration may try to do. I’ll be reupping my membership in the ACLU for starters (https://www.aclu.org/) and I’ll be donating to a few other organizations when I can. Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) and Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State (https://www.au.org/).

I’m also going to try and keep an open mind about President Trump. I don’t know that he fully understands just what he’s gotten himself into and I hope — that small knot of optimism again — that once it starts to dawn on him that it’ll sober him up a bit. I even dare to hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, it’ll make him a better person and a not-entirely-terrible President. My inner cynic laughs at the thought and I’m not one to buy into miracles, but I was so wrong about how this election would go that I cannot ignore that I might be wrong about how the resulting administration will turn out. Right now, hope is all I got so I’ll cling to it.

That said, you can bet your sweet ass that if he does turn out to be as horrible as I fear he will be that I’ll be blogging about it. I’ve not been as active on here since Obama got into office whereas I was all over Bush’s shit. If nothing else good comes from this at least it may be the catalyst that gets me back into blogging regularly once more. I’m not planning on packing up and fleeing to another country. This one is as much mine as it is anyone else’s and it won’t progress from my turning tail and running away.

For now I’m going to try and focus on the good stuff in my life. Friends and family and the upcoming holidays. There’s still lots of things in the world that make life worth living. Yeah it’s that old hoary chestnut of counting your blessings, but it does help sometimes. Shit is probably going to get rough in the near future and I will deal with it as I see it coming down the pike and I’ll try to help others along the way.

Until then, there’s this:

bublecorn

Welcome to Autumn.

Yesterday was the fall equinox which means summer has officially ended. I used to mark the passings of the seasons with an annual post, but I’d fallen out of the habit. I’m a day late with this one, but better late than never, right?

Personally, I’m ready for fall as this summer has been somewhat brutal temperature-wise here in Michigan. Right on cue the forecast for the next week has us at 70° or under for highs and the lower 50s to upper 40s for evening temps, which’ll make for nice sleeping weather without the A/C going.

So in celebration of the new season I thought I’d dig through my pics for a nice autumn shot:

les-fall-2009

I really like this pic, but it’s from 2009 so it’s not really representative of how I currently look. Also shorter beard and less gray and also leaves haven’t started turning yet, but what the hell. I look good in it.

The only pics I have from around this time last year are a couple of shots from a fire drill at work that aren’t particularly autumn-ish. There’s also a pic of an autumn moon as I was leaving for work that is mostly darkness so we’ll have to make do with the above. Hard to believe that’s from seven years ago. I look so much older today:

What the hell happened to me?

What the hell happened to me?

If I ever meet the person that came up with coffee cake…

… I would give them a big kiss on the lips. It’s brilliant. Cake you can eat with coffee at breakfast time. That’s a man and/or woman who said “Fuck your conventions! I WANT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST!”

Mmmmmmmm. Coffee cake.

Mmmmmmmm. Coffee cake.