Television Eras Ending And Beginning

TelevisionLast week saw the ending of one geeky era and the beginning of another.

First the ending.  For the past ten(?) years, Grant Imahara, Kari Byron, and Tory Belleci have been entertaining and enlightening us by busting myths alongside Jamie and Adam on Mythbusters.  They brought life to the Hwacha, showed that the Ewoks really could crush an AT walker with logs, and proved that you really can catch a greased pig.  Now, however, the announcement has gone out that the Mythbusters will go in a new direction – or, rather, and old one.  In the beginning of the show, the focus was on Jamie and Adam.  Now, Kari, Grant, and Tory are leaving so the focus can move back to just Jamie and Adam.

This might wind up being a good thing.  Perhaps, fewer myths will be tested but with more depth shown per myth.  Or, maybe they will just cram more fluff into each episode to fill the time left vacant by the loss of "the Build team."  Given how good they work together, I’m hoping that Discovery Channel gives them their own show.  I’m not sure what they could do, but I’m sure there’s plenty of topics that they could cover involving science and requiring interesting builds.  Whatever they do, though, I wish them luck and can’t wait to see them in action again.

In happier news, a new era of geekiness began on Saturday night.  That’s when Peter Capaldi officially began his reign as the madman in the box on Doctor Who.  Yes, Capaldi has now begun his turn as the twelfth Doctor.  Though, depending on how you count, he might be the thirteenth Doctor.  It’s all very wibbly-wobbly.  Without giving too many spoilers, I found Capaldi’s first episode good, but uneven.  It’s hard to get a handle on a Doctor’s first episode post-regeneration.  As each Doctor regenerates, he takes some time to get to know what kind of person (Time Lord) he is.  So we can’t quite tell from the first episode how the new actor will be.  With Matt Smith, it took me until his fourth episode before I accepted him as the Doctor.  I did, however, think that the first Capaldi episode was a good "bridge" between Matt Smith’s Doctor and Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.

NOTE: The "Hi-Def Television" image above is by bnsonger47 and is available via

Aloha Friday: Advice

This morning, I gave NHL two very important pieces of advice.  The first came when I talked to NHL about failure.  Lately, we’ve noticed that he isn’t trying to do things that we know he can do.  He’ll say “I can’t do it” or “It’s too hard.”  If pressed, he does the task easily.  We believe the problem is that he’s afraid to fail.

Yesterday, I was watching an online video of the Mythbusters.  They were trying to test a myth from the movie Hellboy where a speeding car has it’s hood smashed in by Hellboy and goes flipping over.  Kari, Grant and Tory were having problems as the giant metal fist they made and the SUV wouldn’t get into right position at the right time.  Suddenly, I remembered the Mythbusters motto: Failure is always an option.

On the way into school today, I told NHL about this (promising to show him the episode later on).  He remembered other episodes we saw where they tried something and didn’t get it to work.  Specifically, he recalled Adam and Jamie’s Christmas-themed Rube Goldberg device which failed in every way imaginable and a few ways they didn’t imagine beforehand.

Were the Mythbusters frustrated?  Sure.  Were they upset that it didn’t work right?  Of course.  Did they quit?  No.  I told NHL that, when the Mythbusters failed at something, they figured out what went wrong, fixed it as best they could and tried their best again and again and again.  I told him that failing at something wasn’t bad.  Everyone fails at some point in their lives.  It’s how you react to the failure that’s key.  If you cry and whine and never try again, that’s bad.  If you dust yourself off, figure out what went wrong and try again, you’re learning from your mistakes and turning the failure into something useful.

The next piece of advice came after NHL told me that a classmate of his had called him a “loser.”  This hurt me deeply.  As I’ve written about before, I was a victim of bullying for many years.  I thought back to when I was a child hearing insults be thrown my way and thinking that I had no recourse.  I tried to come up with some advice for him.  This was my advice:

Don’t listen to them, NHL.  You aren’t a loser just because someone says you are.  Don’t let their words have any power over you.  If someone puts you down or criticizes you, tune them out.  Ignore them.  Of course, if mom, dad or your teacher say you’re doing something wrong, don’t tune us out.  Pretty much everyone else can be tuned out, though, when they say negative things about you.  The most important opinion is your own.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: What piece of advice have you given your children recently?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the McLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #67

An Evening With A Mythbuster

Early this week, via a local blog, I heard that Grant Imahara would be making an appearance.  He would speak for a bit and then have a question and answer session.  I went back and forth about attending considering the time it would be (8PM which would mean B would be putting the kids to bed by herself instead of with my help).  Finally, I decided that it was too good of a chance to pass up.

So on Thursday night, I went home, made a quick dinner for everyone and then got ready.  Just before going, NHL was upset that JSL was playing on his LeapFrog ClickStart computer.  He wanted to play but JSL wasn’t sharing.  To be fair, though, the ClickStart is JSL’s and isn’t really designed for kids NHL’s age.  So I started my computer and let him play some Math Rider (a review of that is coming soon).  Then, I left my computer and math geek-in-training to see a myth-busting geek.

P1350962 The talk itself was interesting.  He spoke about his movie work and being invited to join Mythbusters.  At the time, he had just finished filming another reality show, Junkyard Wars, and didn’t want to do that again.  Plus, Star Wars 3 was coming up and he really wanted to work on that.  So he turned down the invite and completed working on the Star Wars Prequels.

A few years later, though, he found his movie special effects skills being performed more and more by computers (instead of robotics and models).  Another Mythbusters invite came at just the right time and he hopped aboard.

I learned things about him that I didn’t know (he wore the C3PO suit for all public appearances and it was really uncomfortable!), things about the Mythbusters that I didn’t know (Jamie has a disguise for airport trips. He takes off his beret and puts on a baseball cap.) and heard plenty of stories about him and his colleagues.

As I mentioned before, this was going to have a Q & A portion.  I knew that I wanted to ask a question, but didn’t know just what.  I figured he has heard “What’s your favorite myth?” at every talk.  NHL, remembering the duct tape episode, said I should ask “How strong is duct tape?”  (Note to self: This Spring, NHL and I really need to work on a Duct Tape Swing project.)  Finally, I decided and walked up to the mike.

I told him that, as the father of a 7 year old, I use Mythbusters to encourage a love of science in my child.  I mentioned NHL’s duct tape question and Grant mentioned seeing my tweet.  (I suppressed the urge to exclaim “Grant Imahara read my tweet! SQEEEEE!”)  Given how every episode is prefaced with “Don’t Try This At Home” (for obvious safety reasons), I asked if they had ever considered doing a Do Try This At Home special.  Busting some myths or performing some experiments in manners that parents and kids could duplicate in their house.

The first reaction was from the audience.  Everyone applauded.  Then Grant complimented me on the question and said he’s never heard that one before.  He mentioned Kari Byron’s show on the Science Channel, Head Rush, which does feature some “Try It At Home” segments.  (I had set this to DVR but it initially filled up my DVR so I had to remove the recordings.  I’ve reset it to record now that more space was cleared off.)  He said that it was a very good idea, but probably not too likely given that the Mythbusters episodes thrive on things (explosions, gunfire, crashes, etc) that really can’t be done at home.

P1350969After the Q & A was over, we were given the opportunity to get our picture taken with him and get autographs.  I had him sign my copy of the Mythbusters book: “Don’t Try This At Home.”  (Ironically, this book was published just after he joined the Mythbusters and there’s not a single photo of Grant in it!)  He complimented me on the question and we got our photo taken.

Then it was time to pack up and head back home.  My computer-and-math geek-in-training and my little geek-ling were fast asleep.  I showed B the autograph and the photo of us together.

Thanks, Grant for such an entertaining and informative session.  Here’s hoping that I get to meet Adam, Jamie, Tory and Kari sometime soon!