Unexpected Zombie TV Show Enjoyment

Posted by TechyDad on March 27, 2015 under Television

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I can be a bit squeamish when it comes to my TV show choices. Medical dramas are not my thing because I don’t like seeing people sliced open.  A two second scene of eyeball gouging (shown on Wil Wheaton’s now-canceled show) solidified in my mind that I’ll never watch Game of Thrones.  And Walking Dead? Definitely not.

So why am I currently loving iZombie on CW?

First of all, the show is not gory. Yes, there are occasional bouts of blood, but they are minimal. In the pilot, a boat party turns zombie feeding frenzy, but there are so many quick cuts that the brain eating and dismemberment is more implied than shown. In the second episode, a zombie kills two people in a car. All you see, though, are the windows suddenly get red.

How do they handle the brain eating? In a very matter of fact manner. Liv, the zombified main character, works at a morgue so she gets her brains from people who are already dead. She doesn’t just munch on whole brains, though. She cooks them in noodles or adds them to pizza pockets. She also adds tons of hot sauce because apparently undead taste buds don’t work well.

The lack of gore wouldn’t be enough to sell me on the show, though, were not for the twist. When our zombie protagonist eats someone’s brains, she takes on some of the memories, talents, and quirks of the people who once possessed said gray matter.

In the first episode, Liv becomes a kleptomaniac – pocketing things because they are there. The second episode shows her getting very "passionate" about many things. (Leading to a very funny "good cop, horny cop" scene.)

Liv winds up using her "skills" to help a police officer solve murders. Eat some brains, see flashes of the person’s life, use them to crack the case. The officer thinks she’s a psychic, but we’ll see how long she can keep that ruse up.

For the most part, Liv keeps her zombie nature suppressed, but when she gets angry, her eyes turn red and she goes "full on zombie." Woe be anyone who gets her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

We’re only two shows in and iZombie is definitely shaping up to be a very fun show, which was a pleasant surprise considering that the main character wants to eat brains.

NOTE: The "Zombie TV" image above is by cliparteles and is available from OpenClipArt.org.

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Museum Butterflies And NHL’s Little Fan

Posted by TechyDad on March 24, 2015 under Aspergers, Autism, Museum

For the second year in a row, we went to the Museum of Innovation and Science in Schenectady, NY to see their butterfly exhibit.  As with last year, NHL didn’t want to go into the butterfly house for fear of hurting them.  Eventually, he did go in and look around, but he was clearly nervous about being in there and wanted to leave ASAP.  (I’m proud of him for trying, though.)  As for JSL…

jsl-butterfly

I’m not sure what species of butterfly this is.

This one got friendly and spent some time on my finger.

butterfly_on_finger

After the butterflies, we walked around the museum for awhile.  Honestly, the exhibits are ones we’ve already seen and done, but it has been awhile and the kids loved seeing them again.  My favorite moment came when NHL went to the drums.  Now, he plays the drums in school and is pretty good.  He has a pretty good musical ear and descent talent.  This drum machine has headphones that you put on so you can hear your drumming while everyone else hears just the light tapping of your sticks on the pads.  (Side note: We need one of these at our house NOW!!!)

As he’s drumming along, this other family is looking at an exhibit nearby when their little girl (who looked about one year old) looks at NHL.  She instantly becomes mesmerized by him and was just staring at everything he was doing.  I let NHL know that he had an audience and he offered the little girl his headphones so she could hear his drumming.  The girl’s father helped put them on her and NHL started drumming again.  The girl’s eyes seemed to glaze over as if she were trying to tune everything out but the beat that NHL was playing for her.  She had this big smile on her face, enjoying the private concert.

Then, NHL offered her the drum sticks.  The father helped her into the seat and showed her how to hold the sticks.  She tapped the stick on the pad and quickly understood that it made that noise.  As she started regularly tapping the drum, I remarked to the girl’s dad (just before NHL dragged me off to another exhibit) that it looked like he had a drummer-in-training.

I just loved how NHL handled the entire thing.  That drum exhibit is probably one of his favorites – especially since he loves playing real drums so much.  He was not only willing to give it up, but recognized the enjoyment that the girl got from watching him and decided to forgo part of his own experience so that she could enjoy it more.  Then, he gave up his very seat behind the drums so that the little girl could drum away herself.

There are those that stereotype people with Asperger’s as always self-centered and never caring about others.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I just love it when NHL takes that stereotype and smashes it to pieces – especially when he keeps a pretty good beat as he drums the stereotype away.

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Handling Old Posts: Update or Preserve?

Posted by TechyDad on March 18, 2015 under Blogging

update-postWhen you’ve been blogging for awhile, you can have a vast body of old posts that people might stumble upon.  Despite being years old, the content might still interest your visitor enough that he or she would want to share it with their friends on a hot new post-sharing platform such as Pinterest.  Except for one problem:  You wrote your post long before Pinterest ever existed.  All of the steps that you might take today to make your post Pinterest-friendly weren’t taken when your post was published.  Back then, you engaged in the best practices of the time, but best practices have changed.  What do you do?

Option #1: Update Your Post

Your first option is to go back and modify your old post.  Strip out those links to larger-sized images, change the title so that it is more SEO friendly, take a new photo and add text to it so that it will work on Pinterest and other social media platforms.  The benefit to this is clear:  Your post might go viral if you put some work into it.  After all, keeping your posts modernized is good, right?

The problem is twofold, however.  First of all, this seems like you are changing the past.  Your great post from couldn’t possibly have been Pinterest-ready when it published months before Pinterest launched, right?  To some degree, we do this when we update a website’s look and feel.  After all, when I launched TechyDad in 2008, mobile development wasn’t really a large concern.  However, were you to view my first post today, it would look nice on a mobile browser.  Still, there’s a difference between changing a site’s overall structure and changing the content of a post.

The second issue is time.  Sure, you might modify this one post to bring it up to date, but how many other posts do you plan on editing?  I have over 1,300 posts.  If I was able to "modernize" them at a rate of 5 per night, it would take me nearly nine months to go through them all.  This would mean no time for writing new posts or anything else.  Just updating my old posts to stay up to par with current standards – which might change by the time I’m done.

Option #2: Preserve The Past

This option entails no work at all.  Just keep your posts the way they’ve always been.  Sure, it might be a bit harder for people to share your posts, but you can focus more on creating great new content rather than updating older content.

Of course, the problem here is that you are ignoring potentially viral posts that you’ve already written.  Perhaps all your five year old post needs is a few new images and tightening of the copy and it will take the Internet by storm.  Should you really let a potential hit languish just because it is "older"?

 

I don’t think there’s any one good answer to this.  For the most part, I side with the second option.  My limited time available to devote to blogging/social media and my desire to preserve the past as-is makes me partial to not changing old posts.  However, I could be persuaded to make some minor changes to select old posts such as uploading a better image.

How do you handle old posts?  Do you keep them as is or update them to adhere to modern posting standards?

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Goodbye Cable, The Cord Has Been Cut

Posted by TechyDad on March 12, 2015 under Television

cut-cordLast week, I wrote that we had made the decision to cut cable.  On Sunday, I disconnected our cable boxes and we walked into a local Time Warner Cable office and returned them.  The employee helping us briefly tried finding us a better cable deal than we had been offered on the phone, but realized this was not to be.  So our cable TV service was turned off and we walked out as cord cutters.  We actually wound up doing better than we thought we would, cost savings-wise, as the employee in the office was able to get us a lower price for just Internet access than the phone representative was.  When we left, we were saving over $80 on our cable bill from what cable TV and Internet would have cost us.  Even factoring in Hulu and some Amazon VOD means we’ll save about $65 a month.

So how have we fared so far?

B is adjusting well to life without cable.  She actually doesn’t watch much TV to begin with and what she does watch is mostly available via Hulu.  Once Downton Abbey starts up again, we might need to supplement with some Amazon VOD, but until then she’s just fine.

I’m settling in as well.  As I’ve been typing this, I’ve been watching The Daily Show with John Stewart on Hulu and realized that Hulu will automatically proceed to the next show in the cable lineup (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore) and then the next one after that (@Midnight with Chris Hardwick).  It’s like I’m watching my own mini-Comedy Central station!  As for my other programs, some of them ended their seasons already and I don’t mind the delay that I’m experiencing with the others.  It’s a lesson in delayed gratification.  I don’t really need to see that episode RIGHT NOW.  I can wait a week or three.

NHL and JSL seem to be getting used to the no-cable lifestyle as well.  Heading into cutting the cord, they began to complain that they would miss all of their favorite shows.  In my typical math geek fashion, I crafted  spreadsheet tracking which shows they (and the rest of us) watched.  There were over half a dozen shows that they watched that, pre-cord cutting, they just "couldn’t" do without.  After cutting cable, only two shows have been even mentioned.  NHL watching the episodes of Uncle Grandpa that have made it on Netflix.  He doesn’t mind watching the same episodes over and over and over again.

JSL, on the other hand, really misses Teen Titans Go.  He’s talked about it a few times.  I’ve been pricing the season DVDs and the Amazon VOD options out and the DVDs seem to be the better deal.  (Our savings definitely allow us to buy more DVDs.  Cutting the cord might mean less cable company profits, but it might mean more profits for the companies selling DVDs.)  The other transition he is having a tough time with are commercials – or the lack thereof.  Believe it or not, JSL actually liked commercial breaks.  When we would watch shows on our DVR, JSL would make me promise not to fast forward through the commercials.  No, he wasn’t watching them.  Instead, the commercials starting meant he could leave the couch and play with his toys for a few minutes.  Now, watching TV means either no commercials at all or a short 15 second commercial on Hulu Plus – way too short of a time to get any decent play in.

OTA-AntennaWe also ordered an antenna which I quickly hooked up.  Now, we’re getting an assortment of local stations in HD.  Luckily, the area we live in has plenty of stations to choose from.  Your mileage may vary if you try this where you live, so check Antennaweb to see what stations you can get, how far away they are, and what kind of antenna you will need.

Before we cut cable, I remarked that I thought actually making the decision to cut cable would be harder than living without cable.  So far, this seems to be true.  We discussed and considered cutting cable for so long that actually getting rid of it seems almost anti-climactic.  It turns out that we really don’t miss cable all that much.  As the weeks and months pass, we’ll forget about having 200+ channels and only really caring about a dozen shows on a handful of them.  Instead, we’ll pay for only the shows we want to watch and the savings will quickly add up.

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Mourning Leonard Nimoy

Posted by TechyDad on March 4, 2015 under Geeky Pursuits, Life

Leonard_Nimoy_(5774458356)Unless you just beamed back to Earth you know that, last week, Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83.  Nimoy played many roles during his life, but he will be best remembered as Mr. Spock – the half-human/half-Vulcan science officer and first officer serving under Captain Kirk on the USS Enterprise.  As Spock, Leonard played a character who was both apart from humanity and part of it.  Someone who observed human traits from afar and dealt them himself.

I was first introduced to Star Trek in middle school by a friend of mine.  (The same friend who would later help me overcome some severe bullying by talking to the bullies and getting them to stop.)  While I enjoyed both the original series and The Next Generation sequel series, I identified the most with two characters.  In Next Generation, it was Data – the android who couldn’t feel emotions himself but tried his best to understand them.  In the original series, though, I most identified with Spock.  As Scott Kurtz put it: "I was an introverted math obsessed child who felt completely out of place among my friends.  Mister Spock is my spirit animal."  He was having a character in his comic strip describe herself, but he might as well have been describing me.

At the time, I didn’t know anything about Asperger’s Syndrome.  I didn’t know why I was the way I was.  All I knew about Autism was gleaned from the movie Rain Man which meant I thought it meant you talked kind of funny and could count popsicle sticks when they were dropped on the floor.  Still, I knew there was something different about me.  I didn’t "get" social situations like other people seemed to.  I felt both apart from society and drawn to it.  I couldn’t stand the spotlight yet craved to be in it.  It was all too easy to imagine myself as Mister Spock observing the interactions of humans as they went about their daily business, trying to find a logical reason for it all.  Somehow, not being part of it all seemed slightly less painful when I was purposefully acting as an observer.

Yes, Kirk was the man in charge.  Scotty could rig anything to work in half the time he claimed it would take.  Bones was cantankerous but an excellent doctor.  However, it was Mister Spock whom I felt the closest to.  None of that would have been possible had it not been for Leonard Nimoy’s wonderful acting.  He brought lift to a beloved character and embraced it even after Star Trek left the air.

The original Star Trek was always supposed to be an optimistic view of the future.  A beacon of hope.  Leonard Nimoy’s acting certainly helped to give me hope during a dark time.

Farewell, Mr. Nimoy.  You lived long and prospered.  May your memory endure for generations to come via the characters you brought to life.

NOTE: The photo of Leonard Nimoy above is by Gage Skidmore and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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