July 4th, 2012

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A Smattering Of Things

Weather Here

Temps still peaking in the mid-90s. We had a chance of thunderstorms and rain in the last 24 hours, but it didn't work here in Allendale. There was lightning when I went to bed at 4am -- no rain. And a big peal of thunder at 9am -- no rain. But it's "abnormally dry" right now. One stage below a drought, I gather.

Weather There

Hard to believe what's been going elsewhere in the U.S. Named storm Debby drenched Florida. But massive fires in Colorado, Utah and elsewhere. I've never had so many online friends having to pack up and evacuate or have their gear ready to go. Fire is a terrifying event and even when it's not right up on you, the smoke can be overpowering.

Then there was the derecho. Last week we were supposed to get hit by a line of thunderstorms, but they tracked south of us and only the counties by the Indiana border looked to be getting any of it. Then came the reports that an intense straight line wind storm called a derecho blasted 700 miles from Indiana to the East Coast. I've run into derechos a couple of times. Once in Medina NY as a little boy, trying to walk home into a 60mph wind. Here in West Michigan, we've gotten 60-70mph continuous winds a number of times. It's why the new roof we put on the other year has hurricane rated shingles.



So the storm hits June 29th and millions of people are without power. Most of Ohio is out of power. And they're sweltering in high heat and humidity. And... I've a number of friends who are looking at power restoration dates of the sixth or seventh. Over a week. Strange how hard it is to get knocked out of the 21st century at home -- it's why we have a 12kW automatic backup generator -- and yet I'm hearing about this because there are pockets of power and Internet.

Excitements On TV

It's the beginning of July and that means it's the Tour of France. The rerun of Stage 3's finish in on right now.

And as Le Tour de France was beginning, last weekend NBC was showing the last part of the a series of races connected with next year's America's Cup. At first I was disappointed with the new AC class boats, as they're doing catamarans again. But gosh, the technology of showing yacht racing has gotten even better than before, between the projected lines where you can actually see who is really ahead to the cameras on the boats themselves.

I'm in no physical shape to do bike racing, yacht racing or Olympic events, but I surely enjoy seeing those who can.

The Avengers 2D [PG-13]
Celebration North Theatre #15, 3:00pm

Of course I saw The Avengers in 3D (DW) back on 11 May, but Mrs. Dr. Phil was off in Nicaragua at the time.

Very enjoyable the second time around. Works well in both 2D and 3D. Cast is terrific, Joss Whedon actually wrote dialogue. This is, so far, the class act in summer adventure movies. Do stay to the very end of the credits in order to see both Dr. Phil Specials. (grin)

Highly Recommended

TRAILERS: Mostly things we've seen before. New trailers for the new Spiderman and Batman movies. I will say that this may be the first time I've seen the Frankenwienie trailer in 2D and not 3D. Though the 3D work is quite good, should you be inclined to see that movie, you might want to do it in 2D, because the artwork is dark and much more visible in 2D. Just saying. And for years it's been something of a joke about movies based on video games sucking. Well, Wreck-It Ralph about a bad guy in an old video game who is tired of being the bad guy, may finally be able to make a great video game movie actually about a video game. Think Monsters, Inc. but for the 8-bit crowd. (grin)

Dr. Phil
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Your 4th of July Reading List

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (DW).

Remember...

As family and friends gather and picnic, the grills run hot in the heat wave, neighbors threaten to burn down our houses with wild fires started by their fireworks, and we conveniently forget about our fellow citizens without power or serving in faraway lands and seas, it is hard to think about those who toiled to create this nation. Having recently seen The Patriot on TV, we'll probably bring out the DVD of 1776 and marvel at how close it was that America wasn't, and the seeds sowed in Philadelphia 236 years ago which spawned the action in the same colony/state of 149 years and a couple of days ago in Gettysburg -- and not the vampire battle.

A little reflective reading. First SF writer Elizabeth Moon on the disgraceful treatment of an amputee veteran for the sake of politics. Second an interview including Jim Wright, whose blog at Stonekettle Station is must-read material. You don't have to agree with Jim, but he writes reasoned, thoughtful and damned profoundly funny thoughts for adults about where we are and where we're going.

Finally you can click on the link at the top of this post and contemplate all the words I quoted two years ago, not just the sound bite top ten.

There'll be a quiz on this reading in a couple of months. (grin)

Dr. Phil
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Writers -- Read This!

And Stay For The Comments

Nikki Kimberling, friend from the 2004 Clarion workshop and editor of my lesbian military SF story "Under Suspicion" in Tangle Girls, has posted a wonderful piece here on "Get A Job, You Handsome Bum (and while you’re at it, get a hobby, too.)"

Yes, it's a blog about gay writing -- get over it. The discussion about our protagonists and viewpoint characters, plus some pithy and insightful comments will give you plot bunnies for years.

Here's a money quote:
For example, my other career is in professional cooking. Because being a chef is now considered sexy, many writers are jumping in with characters who are either chefs or who work in or own upscale restaurants. As a result, I’ve purchased and then subsequently DNF-ed a number of books where the author clearly did no research into the restaurant industry. Probably the most memorable gaffe was an author who had their protagonist, a lowly peon who had been cooking less than a year, sass the chef without incurring severe, immediate punishment. What should have happened to the mouthy little punk? Well, here’s a hint: Gordon Ramsay’s savage mood swings are neither a put-on, nor particularly rare for his profession.

(And incidentally… Note to any of you decide to write about an upscale restaurant: go read the menus of some Michelin-starred restaurants before you start describing the food. Chicken Cordon Bleu went off the menu of most fine dining places at approximately the same moment that Schwan’s started delivering it frozen to your doorstep, which is to say, at least two decades ago.)

Much food for thought -- and thankfully one that I've thought about a lot over the years. But oh the new ideas! I was so excited to share this, that I've cut into my intended afternoon nap, so you owe me -- go read. Now.

Dr. Phil
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