Monday, August 22, 2011

Went back to school

Today was my first day. The classes were fun. Sort of.

I sort of dread the one class because it's going to be about arguing effectively and rules of logic, which isn't dreadful at all, but we're going to be making arguments in class and I expect it has the potential to include a fair amount of cringe-worthy college-age passion about "causes." The last thing I want to do is get in an argument with idealists who just graduated from high school. (Does this count as a "don't commit this to the internet" sort of sentiment?) I do want the logic class though.

And Algebra. The first Math class I've taken in over 25 years. So far I remember the material once it's shown, but before that the problems are entirely opaque and I couldn't even guess where to start. The on-line homework is new and confusing. On the one hand the way each step is shown is wonderfully helpful. On the other hand, I'm not sure if I exit if the problems that are not completed are counted as irrevocably wrong.

And I'm the only student in my Earth and Planetary Sciences lab that is an EPS major.

Tomorrow I've got the EPS intro lecture class that goes with the lab, and Greek Mythology.

And now it's way past my bedtime. ;-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Conan the Barbarian - Review

Sword and Sorcery tends to embarrass itself at the movies. The genre is simultaneously deathly serious and silly beyond all reason so it's easy to see how that might all go wrong. It seems less ridiculous if you're reading the story in a book. I don't know why, it just does.

So making a new Conan is a risk. It's a risk because any movie in the genre is a risk. It's also a risk because the original Conan movies were pretty darn good and who can top Arnold? Conan IS Arnold and Arnold IS Conan. It's a risk because too many people already know what Conan is and what Conan ought to be. Everyone has preconceptions the new movie has to live up to.

Well, I think they did good.

No, it's not brilliant. It's not as great a movie as, say, Iron Man, but then nothing is. What it is is solid good fun.

The plot is the plot to Conan and nothing particularly new. His village is slaughtered and his father is killed, he advocates independence and individual dignity, he glories in slaughter while he roams the world searching for the men who killed his father.

The world is Conan's world. There are still cities of thieves and barren wastelands and everyone is either predator or prey. The villain still has overblown and outrageously unappealing plans to gain ultimate power so he can trash the place even farther. No one is building anything and as far as I can tell no one is producing food for anyone. The first time I saw the first movie I understood that the economy did not work. But, oh well. It's a fantasy.

Still, they've added a level of sophistication to the world that was less apparent in the earlier movies. (Confession: I've not read the books, nor the comic books, where I'm told that Conan is far far from a muscle-bound dummy.) We see Conan as a boy and I think that those sequences support the idea that he always was something rather special and rather frightening.

The political landscape is one where there are slaves and slaves masters, and then there are barbarians. Conan divides women into the categories of "warrior" and "whore." In his village woman were warriors and respected, which emphasizes the divide between the free barbarian tribes and those people under subjugation. The sub-villains are barbarian leaders who submitted their own people to dominion.

Conan himself is portrayed as clever and rather shrewd, even if it's mostly implied between sword battles. In keeping with modern sensibilities about atmosphere and sanitation, everyone looks rather in need of a bath and the battles include copious blood splashing about. Actually, come to think of it, someone actually *took* a bath in the movie. They had a tub on the deck of the pirate ship. Conan actually had some body hair as well... pit hair and some on his chest. I was specifically looking for this because body-builders tend to Nair their entire bodies and the norm for barbarian movies has been slick hairlessness, as if barbarian warriors waxed. So, yay, hair! The ladies still all had nice make up, but that's okay.

Bottom line... they did Conan proud. This is good, solid fun that no one will have to pretend later that they had nothing to do with. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Personal stuffs... crabby rants...

I bought at least some of my books today. I'm starting (returning?) full time at UNM this fall; easing in with a relatively light load of classes. I expect that math will be a struggle as I've not had a math class in 25 years and I can't afford to do "just enough" since I'm going to have to take more for my major. In any case, it's got to be solid. My other classes range from less worrisome to "easy A" even though I'm a bit hesitant to say so. It just sounds sort of bad. I'm looking forward to them all and am actually quite excited about them because it's all interesting stuff. It's much easier to do well in an interesting class for an interesting subject than one that is so easy it's dull.

So school is looking good, so far. Once it starts I have some administrative things to do. They gave me a whole bunch of transfer credits, enough so that I'm classed as junior year, but few of them applied to my "core requirements" which they really should have done, so I'm going to see what I need to do to get as many of those as I can. I also need to change my minor declaration from merely English to English with a professional writing concentration.

So where is the crabby rant part?

Argh. I probably shouldn't even do it, because people shouldn't complain about their jobs. Lets just say, if my boss sees this it won't be the end of the world. If a potential employer sees this, well I haven't named my employer and do tend to get on well with everyone. In this case it's grin and bear it. But it's still a whine. But I feel like whining, dang it!

I totally busted my butt to get all of my classes in the afternoon, getting all classes that apply directly to graduation and doing so shortly before the semester started so there were few classes to chose from. This was not a minor sort of effort. Spring semester I'll register as soon as registration opens and it will be much easier. In any case, success! My mornings are entirely clear. I'm on the schedule at work from 7:00 am to 11:30, M-F. The earliest I will ever have to leave work is 11:30 on Tuesday and Thursday for a 12:30 class. There is no conflict whatsoever between school and my work *schedule*. The thing about my work schedule is that we start at 6:45 and we work until we are done. This Wednesday that was until 8:30 am. Didn't even pay for gas. Sometimes it's until 1 or 2:00 pm or in very rare instances, 3:00.

So today I dropped the single 11:00 class I had and registered for an on-line class to replace it and told my bosses what my final schedule was and that I'd got my mornings entirely free. What I got for that was, "It doesn't matter, we have to take you out of the stock room."

Firstly, this is a lie. And it's the lie that makes me so angry. They aren't going to take me out of the stock room. It would be idiotic to do so. I'm not worried about keeping my job or staying on the stock room team. I've been doing this job for a year and while I'm not the fastest, I know what I'm doing and am reliable. The person doing the schedule will keep me right where I am. The handful of times that the stock team will stay past noon between now and Christmas are irrelevant.

The lie makes me angry. It makes me angry because my boss wants me to feel insecure about keeping my job. Does she think this will make me work harder? Does she think that I will be more loyal if I think I could be unemployed at any moment? Does she think that she's supposed to occasionally be a *capricious* hard-ass in order to prove she's a hard-ass?

I have no clue.

I do know that I'd far far rather take morning classes and not have to stress about my schedule, simply taking what I need to take at my *own* convenience. If I was told honestly "sorry we have to let you go" it would almost be a relief, not having to try to juggle both. But no one is being honest. There are a number of reasons that I won't quit, so she's safe, too.

Complaining about work is something like the #1 "don't do it" rule for blogs, but I'm hitting "publish" anyhow.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Planet of the Apes

The Rise of...

Saw it this morning.

I will say this... it didn't FEEL like I was cheering the end of the human species.

Contrary to what PETA said (IIRC) the apes weren't getting their own back, not getting some sort of revenge against humans. What the movie does is establish how the apes got smart and set up the reason they were able to fill a void. The movie used an amazingly light touch in dealing with animal research. None of the villains were among the scientists or researchers. That medical research was dealt with as a complex thing and the motivations of the researchers shown to be anything but evil, made the simplistic treatment of the three individual humans who were villains a disappointment. Important plot points depended on teh stupid. It would not have been hard to do better.